Mom friends or friends who are moms?

I always cross my fingers that Friday morning will be sleep in day…but Potamus usually has other ideas. And so I trundled out of bed at 6:15 this morning for a hungry boy who wanted to watch some Jake & the Neverland Pirates like he does everyday before school. I tried to curl up on the couch and sleep, but between episodes ending and the dog barking I was barely successful at even resting.

So I decided to bundle him up to get some errands done, and hopefully get a chance to run off some of his energy at the mall’s play area. I was sitting there getting him acclimated, facebooking my friend Mari, and hoping that he’d stop CLINGING to my leg and go run around, when from across the play area I hear “Monk-Monk!” and I look up to find my college acquainted, her daughter, newborn son, and another acquaintance from a mommy group I attended on maternity leave. I hadn’t yet managed to align my schedule up to meet with Christy, since her son was born, so I rushed over to hang out with them and catch up. It started off well, the small talk pleasantries, and a wee snuggle sesh with her son, but then I started to feel…awkward.

Mostly I started to feel awkward when Christy announced that our other acquaintance was going to have another baby…because whoa nelly that’s personal, and she’s not due until this summer, which makes her not that far along and maybe doesn’t want the news to just be announced from the rooftops. At any rate, the thing I realized that I was supremely uncomfortable about was that what we were relating on was…being moms. And the emphasis on having TWO kids, and how TWO kids is more of a deal than having ONE kid (like me), and I felt less-than. I also think that the fact that I’m a working mom set me apart, too, and I left the interaction awkwardly after about 30 minutes and had to text Mari to make sure that I wasn’t going crazy.

Holding that newborn I felt repulsion and jealousy. I know that I want to at least try to have another kid. But I also know that I am also really really loving being a mom AND a person. I was reminded at how overwhelming the whole early breastfeeding experience was, and the total consumption of ALL THINGS BABY was, and I didn’t like talking about it and didn’t fit in, either. Because so much of my world is about being ME, a person who happens to also be a mom. But my identity is multifaceted, and Ijust cannot seem to relate to stay at home moms who appear to have lost any ability to talk about anything except poopy diapers.

God I feel so conflicted, and left out, and trying to remember that my path to motherhood is valid and my own, regardless of how it looks or doesn’t mesh with other people’s path or experience of motherhood.

But it’s hard.

While they were talking about how bad they felt putting their kids in a home daycare for 1 day a week in order to ‘get some stuff done,’ I was sitting there feeling ZERO guilt for the 4 days a week of daycare that Potamus goes to…and ZERO guilt for doing yoga 3-4 times a week, and ZERO guilt for having a job and friends who drink and managing to shower every day since his birth. I think that the issues might be that when I was first a mom I met mom friends…friends where what we had in common was being moms of newborns. And now…now I have this desire to have friends.

Friends without kids, who appreciate kids and are okay with Potamus coming along.
Friends without kids, who don’t like kids, and are okay with me only sporadically being able to hang out when my schedule permits.
Friends with kids, who are friends…with kids. Where we can talk about being parents, but mostly we can just hang out and do fun stuff and have our kids come along, like last weekend where we went to a brewery with kids in tow, after having them run around at an indoor playground.

It’s okay that my life and priorities are different than other mom’s lives and priorities…and just like when I didn’t have kids, it’s okay to be friends with people I click with, rather than trying to force myself to be friends with people who I don’t feel like I click with…right?

How do you handle the mom friend dilemma?

My Speech Before the Movie Remember the Titans

I sat cross legged on the desk in front of the room. It was a minute passed the start of class and I was silent. Some students had just come in and were getting settled. I waited. My silence had an effect on the room. Conversations in the back of the class slowly stopped. The students in the front of the class looked at me wide-eyed. When I had 99% of their attention I said:

Before this job I was a crisis counselor. And one day, when I was on-call, I went to a house and the student they expected me to counsel was 350lbs. And she was stark naked. I stood in the doorway of her apartment building, and she was naked, developmentally delayed and didn’t speak English because she wasn’t from this country originally. And I thought to myself, “what the fuck do I do?” Because nothing in my schooling prepared me for this. (class erupted into giggles).

And I’m sitting here in a similar situation. Because this is the first class I’ve taught where, on an individual level, I really like everyone. I came to be a mental health counselor because of a belief in unconditional positive regard, and that means that no matter how many times you fail your English class, or keep having anxiety, I will not judge because I see the essence of each one of you and it is amazingly awesome. And yet, I work for an insititution that systematically oppresses young people, and expects conformity over individuality. And so I’m torn. Because on an individual basis I think that most of you will be ready to progress, but for some reason the classroom dynamic isn’t there, and so I really don’t know what to do. But I’m sitting here wanting you to know this, because I have a tendency to hide behind anger and annoyance and if you were all just dicks to me I could write you off and not be upset if you failed. But that’s not the case, and so I don’t know what to do. But I do know that yeserday a teacher called one of our students (not in this class) pathetic, and worthless, and I am extremely protective of you because I want you to achieve your goals…and be successful…no matter how you define that for yourself. But my job is to make an assessment on whether you are ready to advance to the next classes, and we aren’t there yet as a class. And I needed to be vulnerable and share rather than blindside you at midterm evaluations. Because I have enjoyed getting to know each of you, and I enjoy joking and our discussions, and your writings…and yet it still seems like there’s something missing. And so we can discuss it as a class, or we can just take some time to think about it, but I’ve never been in this place before, and I feel stuck and don’t know how to move forward.

I could have heard a pin drop the room was so quiet.

And then when I was done, a student spoke, and he said:

“yeah, it seems we still sorta have a highschool vibe in here.”

And another asked if it meant they needed to just be quiet and listen more, and I said that wasn’t it entirely. And another said that she felt I was a different type of teacher, that I cared, and that the other professors won’t care and could just fail them. And another said she really liked how comfortable people were sharing and that it felt good to her.

I told them they weren’t getting in trouble, and that this wasn’t a bad or shaming lecture, but that it was something I was feeling and wanted to share. And the body language was at least 85% engaged and seemed to be in agreement, even though some of their honest verbal feedback had a slight edge of defensiveness (which is understandable).

And so, not to beat a dead horse, I left them sitting in that place of vulnerable sharing and without a resolution to get started on our lesson for the day (as I’m still subbing for my co-teacher) and we watched Remember the Titans, which was supposed to go along with our lessons on diversity, but also, in a strangely coincidental way, went along with this idea of rising to a challenge, and changing, and becoming a team and people that we can be.

Results are pending on whether this worked. Or if they even heard me. Or if the students I wanted to hear me heard me. But I did something different today, leading from a place of honest vulnerability, rather than my typical sarcastic bravado and flippance. I hope they noticed. I hope they heard the message at the heart of it…that they are worthy.

The Weight of Empathy

I am feeling Sad.

I’m not sure where along the line it happened, but my heart opened up to this new batch of students and I am stuck holding a tension of hope/optimism for their future and the dull realization that even if they ‘pass’ my class they might not ‘succeed’ here in the college level.

I posted to Facebook this Sadness, and my professor friend, Russ, asked the great question about my Sadness:

Is it the line of work or the inherent belief or feeling that things should be better?

My response was:

Both, probably. I’m not an inherently optimistic person, but with young people I see the future and it’s amazing…and then I also see how they themselves, and life, and the very institution that I participate in is also contributing to a cycle where the future collective and theirs individually isn’t as amazing. Its an overwhelming feeling sometimes…

I’m not naive enough to think that I can solve it all…the years of self doubts or self-fulfilling prophecies or labels or external circumstances that left them in the situation they’re in. I’m not naive enough to think that the institution I work for even has their best interests at heart, for public education, and even institutes of higher education, are maybe not about creating thinkers or individuals but WORKERS, which is a rough tension because they want jobs (ya know?!). I meet these wonderful young people, with their whole life ahead of them, and I can see dazzling futures ahead of them…and I can see how they have so many obstacles in their way…some of which are put their by themselves.

For example, I pulled a student aside this afternoon and said that I really liked him, that he was smart and probably shouldn’t even be in a college prep class like mine because his work is exemplary, but that other teachers aren’t going to like his behavior, and I really don’t want him to have to repeat my class. His response?

“Oh. I’m sorry. Was my behavior bad today?”

Because individually he is probably the most respectful student ever. But he was sharing his ear buds with a friend. And they were really into their beats and got sidetracked by whatever social media device was handy, and they were relating to each other and it was fine if it had just been ONE student. But the self awareness doesn’t extend past their own chest. There’s an inability for them to see how their (for lack of a better term) dickish behavior is compounded by the dickish behavior of other students, and suddenly the environment of the classroom becomes one of supreme DICKISHNESS.

It’s true.

They contribute to the overall climate of the class, and it’s heading in a sinking ship direction. I’m not sure how to steer the ship back into safe waters…where they’ll be allowed to express themselves, but also conform. Because we all have to conform. I don’t get to wear pajama pants to work. Or no pants to work. But that’s what I’d like to do, you know?

And when I push  aside my annoyance, and get to a deeper, more true spot, it’s my empathy and big Sad that these students are maybe ignoring the SOS calls and heading straight into another iceberg in their life. I know it’s not my job to save them, but my heart wants to save them. I want them all to be successful in ways that they can’t even imagine for themselves. I’m stuck in the tension of seeing them so clearly and also having to uphold a standard of conduct and academia that will result in them ‘fitting in’ in college level classes.

The Evils of Tenurehood

My stomach is in knots. I just received an email from a student, saying she had recorded her instructor (another instructor in MY DEPARTMENT) calling one of the students “pathetic” “sad” and “ain’t got no mind.” And I am both furious, and powerless, because the beast of TENURE is alive and well on this college campus.

See, I’m a part-time, adjunct faculty. Sure I teach 15 credits, which is considered by many to be a full-time load, but I’m classified as adjunct. And the other two days I work I am classified as…classified, which means I’m paid hourly. Yes, my paycheck is strange and hard to sort out, but this isn’t about me. This is about working with students who are ‘at-risk,’ who are at the last point in their school career and might not have the internal strength to make it 12 weeks being called ‘pathetic.’ I know I give my students a hard time, and drop the F-bomb too many times to count in a given lecture, but I care deeply about each of them. The kid on the spectrum with an i-phone strapped to his wrist, or the girl who gave birth in the last week of class, or the gangbanger who had been in prison for 5 years.

None of my students are pathetic.

Sure they get on my nerves, but I care deeply about them.

And I want to protect them from the world, and don’t feel I should have to protect them from other instructors here on campus…especially not one in my own fucking department.

I might be shaking as a write this.

Because, while I read the tenure emails and hear all the bitching about adjunct faculty and lack of true benefits and yada yada yada I also feel a tiny bit of relief that I’m not tenure-track. Sure it makes the ultimate job security a little shakier, but I also trust in a karmic safety net that if I couldn’t continue here, I would be able to continue somewhere. And so, frankly, at this point, I’m not seeking a tenured position. My good friend, who also works here, and is knee-deep in the tenure process, is a first hand experience of why I don’t want to go through the hoops (at least not right now).

But mostly I’m so frustrated at how tied my hands our to the injustice that this instructor is causing. My boss has no authority, because he’s only over part-time adjunct faculty. And the deans (because yes, there has been more than one) have basically said ‘wait it out until s/he retires,” which is coming soon…but not soon enough.

While standing in the cold cooridor telling my boss about this recording, I felt so helpless that the institution is basically saying, “it’s okay THAT kid’s being raped, because it’s not MY kid,” and hoping the problem goes away. It feels like the fucking Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and I don’t understand why we’ve set up a system of ultimate power and authority that cannot be questioned.

I want no part of it.

If I am not a good instructor, or I am being horrible to students, then fire me.

Daredevil Evil Genius ‘Baby’


I gave birth to a daredevil evil genius child.

While at yoga on Saturday, I get a text from Boof with this picture. Apparently he turned his back for a few minutes (my guess is he was in the bathroom) and he heard a lot of rustling in the living room…came out to find this scene before him.

Whoa, gotta get a leash for that kid, right?

Is the drive to climb things a leftover evolutionary trait from our life in jungles past? Because I don’t really see any necessity to it’s use today, except to get cookies off the counter. And he’s taken to climbing the changing table, and the TV console and possibly soon the bookshelf. I know that my biggest task is going to be to teach him how to climb DOWN so that he’s remotely safe and self-sufficient, but I really don’t like him doing the high chair balancing act on our coffee table.

There are some people in my life that are pretty judgey about my ‘letting’ Potamus climb on things. These people aren’t parents, though, and have no idea the exhaustion that would result in constantly telling him ‘no’ and making him sit still like a doll. And Facebook trolls friends on Boof’s profile had the nerve to write, in response to Boof’s caption ‘hopefully he will use his genius brain for good and not evil,”

“He will use his brain for both…..but a wise parent will instruct him how to shun evil and cling to what is good! This is not evil, however (unless he was told not to do this). It was brilliant!”

Which makes me want to throw up in my mouth a lot  little, and rage against the whole Christian machine because seriously? The sort of Christian drivel being spewed in Facebook posts makes me want to a) give up Facebook altogether, or b) teach Potamus about EVERY DAMN RELIGION OUT THERE out of spite. He’s not climbing onto the coffee table because of original sin motherfuckers.

But I digress.

How do I channel my son’s physical need to climb in a healthy and positive way? We don’t have the resources yet to buy a Big Toy climbing thing for the backyard, and the weather is crummyish outside, so going to the park after work (or on the weekend) isn’t as much of an option. When it’s nice, like yesterday, we took him (sans coat even) and he tromped down the sidewalk and hit things with a big stick. He’s definitely a physical kid and I want him to be encouraged to be physical in a way that’s safe for him!

What crazy dangerous cool things have your kids done that made your hair turn a little bit gray? How do you handle douchecanoe comments from friends and family members?

Form over Depth


I’m persuaded by beauty.

In yoga I look all around and am mesmerized by the incredible postures. I know what the post ‘should look like,’ and want my body to  BE THERE ALREADY!, but that’s not how it works. Because wrenching my body into a pose only ends up simulating beauty. So, instead, I focus on form, knowing that depth of posture will end up in beauty in the long run.

It’s hard for me, though, to stand in a posture and see myself in my mind’s eye doing the full posture. My leg extended nicely, my hand reaching forward, my abs tight, body strong. But when I look in the mirror I’m only standing there, with a semi straight leg. My imagination doesn’t match up with reality. And yet, when I’ve focused on good form, wherever I am currently in my posture journey, I begin to notice the subtlety over time…how I am able to now wrap my arms around my leg, or that I can feel my shoulders extending. These are things that 6 months ago I didn’t know I would ever be able to do, and the progress has been a snail’s pace slow, but beauty is coming.

Finding Friendships as an Adult

Caspar Babypants

Taking the boys to Caspar Babypants. Potamus is like 4 months old here…

For awhile I assumed that my ‘best years’ (as far as the ease of friendship-making) was behind me. College was this time, where I’d meet someone in a class, or at a coffee shop, or in an extra-curricular activity and BAM we’d be instant besties. We’d do things together day and night, since we had all the time in the world. And very many of these relationships are the ones that I still revisit, like Laura in Albuquerque and Ruth in Oregon. But as an adult, it’s been different…we have so very little time to meet people, and then even less time to hang out on a regular basis. So friendships form over longer periods of time, and with many, they drop off because of time constraints before ever making it to that bestie level, ya know?

A few years ago, probably 5 or so, I was introduced to Mari through my sister-in-law. They had gone to junior high youth group together. I was initially intimidated, because hello have you seen how gorgeous she is? And cool. We weren’t instantly friends, but as the years progressed, and we hung out more in the friend group, we realized how much we have in common (though at first glance it appears we have zero in common).

And then I had a kid.

Suddenly I was thrust into the world of motherhood, and working motherhood, something Mari was doing beautifully. And we hung out more and more. And then she had another kid, on Potamus’ birthday, and now we finish each other’s sentences. It’s to the text-the-same-thing-at-the-same-time level of strange connection. Boof jokes that I text her like I’m a teenage girl, and maybe that’s true, because it’s been a long time since I’ve had the in-person type connection with someone. A friend I can tell anything to, without fear of being judged. A friend to be vulnerable with in person, as I have other that are a phone call away.

Like last night, as I was crying into my red wine, she came by to cheer me up. And seeing her 4 year old and Potamus playing like friends, while we sat and commiserated on the couch, was the most touching moment ever. But it didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen with someone expected. And that’s what making friendships as an adult is about. Putting in the time, pushing past insecurities and following through on making those plans that you want, even though you’re afraid to make.

And unlimited texting packages don’t hurt, either, especially if you have both have phone anxiety.



Two Buck Chuck


I’m not too proud to admit that I keep a few bottles of “two buck chuck” around for occasions like these…you know…when you need a good cry into a glass of cheap red wine. Because yeah, that’s where I am. Snivelling on the couch after a long day of work (which was really just as long as any other day, and in retrospect actually a ‘really good’ day). And more than actually sobbing it’s the feeling like I’m going to sob that’s overwhelming.

I don’t know where it came from, but I saw some baby pictures of chubster Potamus and I just had this incredible nostalgic longing for those times. The sweet little pudgy arms of my firstborn as he reaches out to touch the water in the summer fountain. He was six months old and it feels like forever ago. And I can’t imagine never getting to experience THAT moment again. And yet there’s been hundreds of moments since then that I’ve actively chosen to ignore, or numb out through sleep or Facebook or because motherhood is so fucking exhausting.

I want another baby. And it makes no sense whatsoever. With the first go round I was naively unprepared and spent far too long (from my judgemental mind’s eye) focusing on my shifting identity from non-mom to mom and pining over all the things I’ve ‘lost’ rather than savoring all that I’ve gained. Like a heart that’s too big for my chest and comes thumping out in big crocodile tears that I didn’t experience often as a non-mom. I want to know another child from the beginning. To see them grow up and experience life and learn who they are in the world. It’s a beautifully insane idea, and yet I am struggling so much  as it is in this very moment of motherhood.

Though, in the wise words of Mari’s therapist, “people don’t choose to have another kid because it’s easier or less money,” which is true truth that should be put on a bumper sticker in my brain.

But for now I’ll sip the sauce and hope the tears subside.

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

I feel like crying. I’m not sure if it’s overwhelm or that I’m finally settling back into life post-solo trip. Yesterday was filled with gallivanting with a friend on a day off, and jumped right back into teaching this morning.

And then everything fell apart.

The MLK presentation that I was asked to bring my students to, an hour into class, was running late and so I decided to just let them go because what kid wants to sit around in a college cafeteria waiting around when they go off and do other things? And we were the only ones who showed up, and it just felt like an epic FAIL of an instructor, because I trusted the presenters to be on schedule and didn’t sacrifice all the valuable teaching time that I lost today…not to mention losing some credibility in the eyes of my students.


And then the tantrums.

Potamus is clearly not feeling well, and still can’t communicate verbally what he needs, and so he cries because he can’t communicate what he wants, and he cries when I say ‘no’ that I won’t spend $27 on the cars boots, or let him only eat chocolate pretzels for dinner.

I want to drown in some tears, but I’m so tired that tears don’t come.

I’m Flying Solo…Solo…



I took my first post-baby-solo trip to Albuquerque to visit my college BFF, and boy was it both fun AND exhausting! The flight down was quiet, meditative, and I spent my time sitting in airports staring contentedly into space, writing in my journal and reading. I got in around 5pm, and so we were able to catch up before her husband got off work . We then headed out for some yummy authentic New Mexican food and margaritas!

Saturday morning she got to share her hot yoga class with me, and then we headed out to the old part of the town (aka the tourist trap), and spent our time taking silly pictures and finding hidden away gems, like a handmade soap shop where I was able to buy Boof a boar belly shaving brush and mint/hemp shaving soap!

Old Things




Creepy Old Statue


After being in the city for about 24 hours, I started to feel really sick. Apparently the altitude difference (Albuqueque is a mile above sea level and Seattle is 500 feet. Ha!) was starting to affect me. Laura said that when other people have come to visit they’ve had the same experiences…it felt like I was hungover, with a headache and felt really tired, spacey, and even a little bit panicky…though that was probably the anxiety taking over. I tossed and turned and wished I was back home in bed, snuggled up with Boof and Potamus and Scrummy in our king size memory foam bed!

The flight home was torturous for the first leg, but then I got to occupy my time with the Seahawks game on the last 2 legs of the trip! I’m so thankful that I got the opportunity to spend time just being myself, instead of being a mom or a worker or a wife. It was almost like being back in college…almost.