We Are Both Right

In Defense of School-bought Lunches

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I have enough faith in our school district to let them feed my children every day for lunch. Do you? ©dmgoodguy/stock.xchng

I don’t know what my children are eating for lunch today. As I write this (the first day of school here where we live) my kids are at their respective institutes of learnings, getting ready to enjoy their midday meal. They both opted to buy, despite us not yet having a calendar spelling out what the food choice for the day will be.

They like buying their lunch most days and that’s OK with me. Is it because our school district more progressive than most when it comes to healthy school lunches, offering organic, all-natural fare? Not really, although they try — serving grilled chicken Caesar salad, roasted chicken (or turkey), omelettes and even orzo salad on some days.  But don’t get me wrong, they serve up their fair share of chicken and pizza nuggets and nachos too.

I let my kids buy lunch because they want to (and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t), the price is right and it saves me a step in the morning. I have rules — they have to buy the lunch being offered or the alternative (generally a sandwich of some kind or a bagel with yogurt and a string cheese) and they have to promise to take and eat all the components of the meal that is being served — the entree itself, plus milk (flavored is acceptable) and the snack, which is generally fruit (sometimes canned, yes, but fresh most of the time).

Do they actually eat all of those things? I have no idea. But they tell me they buy them (and I believe them) and I feel like if this variety of food is on their tray it’s hard for them to throw it out. The ladies who work in the cafeteria (and see how much food is wasted every day) may scoff at my logic, but there it is. And according to research, I’m not too far off in my thinking that school lunches aren’t all bad — if a child is wise about his purchase.

According to the USDA, schools must “provide lunches that are consistent with the applicable recommendations of the most recent of the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans including: eat a variety of foods; choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits; choose a diet moderate in sugars and salt; and choose a diet with 30% or less of calories from fat and less than 10% of calories from saturated fat.  In addition, lunches must provide, on average over each school week, at least 1/3 of the daily Recommended Dietary Allowances for protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C.”

Seems pretty reasonable and I think my district does a good job of following these guidelines while offering up things the students actually like to eat. Where kids get tripped up it seems, is when they buy lunch items a la carte — some pudding here, some ice cream there — and they don’t buy what the food service director has put together. (I don’t know how it is by you, but in our district, they do not monitor what the kids buy so it is conceivable that a child eats only dessert for lunch.)

Do I worry that my kids are eating things that aren’t as healthy as they should be when they buy their school lunch? I suppose a little, but honestly, I’m not necessarily always serving the highest-quality things either, frequently turning to boxes, cans and bags for our sustanence.  A poor excuse, I know, but it is what it is. My concern above all else is that they eat something. The school isn’t serving them bags of sugar or giving them some salt to lick, it’s a basic meal that covers most of the food groups.

All that and an education too? Works for me.

What about you? Do your kids buy lunch or bring? Which would you prefer they do?

Suzanne and her husband do such a great job of making lunch for their kids every day. Forget about my own offspring, I’m going to their house every day for my midday meal!

Reuniting with my High School Classmates — via my Husband

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I much prefer reminiscing about my high school years in the comfort of my own home, using my old yearbook! ©CathyK/stock.xchng

I remember very clearly the day I found out my ten year high school class reunion was cancelled. I was standing in my kitchen, about five months pregnant with my daughter A. when I got the phone call. I started dancing. As I continued to talk to the reunion representative about refunds and whatnot, my husband T. walked into the room.

“Did we win a vacation or something?” he asked as I twirled around him.

We might as well have.

I didn’t want to go to my high school reunion for myriad reasons. I had only promised to attend because my dear friend Tracy (who was traveling from six states away to come) had threatened me with bodily harm if I didn’t go, and because my husband T. had agreed to go with me.

I know that when it comes to having a spouse at a class reunion I’m in the minority. But the truth is, I was a nerd in high school and to this day, I’m very shy. I have trouble making small talk and I tend to panic a little when I’m entering into a new social situation.  I also have, I don’t know what you would call it — low self-esteem, a phobia, or maybe I’m just plain crazy — but I am convinced — convinced — that people don’t remember who I am. It’s to the point that if I see an acquaintance somewhere out of context from where I know them, I will go out of my way to not run into them for fear of embarrassing myself. I tell myself that I’m being silly (hysterical) but time and time again I find myself fleeing a perfectly nice person. A class reunion, filled with people I knew 20 years ago, is fraught with opportunities for people to forget who I am (despite the cheesy name tag).

How my husband would help me in this situation I’m not sure. It’s not like he could introduce me to all my former classmates (maybe he could carry a sign?) but it does all come down to me feeling a lot calmer and less frantic when he is standing next to me. When he is by my side I feel more secure and more like myself. It’s like bringing a piece of home with me.

The reality is too that my husband is an outgoing, gregarious guy. He is in his element when there is a crowd. And as luck would have it, we grew up in the same town and went to rival high schools. Although he graduated the year before me, he happens to know many of the people I went to school with, thanks to his athletic endeavors. (Did I mention my husband was NOT a nerd?) So maybe he could reintroduce me to the faces of my youth after all.

It’s funny, I’m incredibly proud of my life. I can remember thinking in high school that things had to get better, that I wouldn’t be the nerd forever. As it turns out, I still am, but I have everything I could possibly want — beautiful children, a supportive (no kidding!) spouse, a lovely home, a great job and some awesome friends (who remember my name!). I should go to my reunion shouting about how I turned out from the rooftops, but I know that’s not going to happen.

So instead, if next year my luck runs out and my twentieth reunion is actually held, T. will be with me, eating rubber chicken and dancing to the top hits of 1992. Who knows, maybe I’ll even have a good time.

Suzanne and her husband have a “no spouses allowed” policy when it comes to reunions, preferring to hang out with people they both know. If T. can’t come to my future reunion, I wonder if I can convince Suzanne to come in his place.

An Ode to the Not-So-Terrible Toddler Years

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They might be "terrible", but for Amanda, the toddler years are some of the best. ©We Are Both Right

As I write this, my two-year-old son, S., is sleeping. His arms are sprawled out, as are his legs — his limbs seemingly taking up all available space in his crib, flung into every corner deliberately.  As he does when he is awake, it appears he has given 110 percent to his nighttime ventures. Even in his slumber, he is passionate, fervent.

He is a toddler. We all could learn something from him.

I am jealous at his ability to live solely in the moment. You see, for a toddler, there is no tomorrow or yesterday, heck there is even no five minutes from now. There is simply now. (NOW!)

So because of this lack of recognition of time, it has been my experience that toddlers are “all or nothing” kind of creatures. S. is not just tired, he is EXHAUSTED. Not hungry, STARVING. Not thirsty, PARCHED. Why whine a little when a full-blown meltdown works just as well? I have never seen a S. make just a small mess — instead he is like a tornado, wreaking havoc and destruction he goes.

But his display of emotions and toddler behavior run the whole gamut. (And sometimes within minutes of each other.)

S. doesn’t giggle, he gives a belly laugh. He smiles with his whole face and when I ask for a kiss, I get twenty. He hugs with his whole little body. And his ability to change the mood in a room is astounding — when he is around, I am instantly cheered.

He is not simply happy but JOYFUL.

It’s easy to tell when he discovers something that he enjoys because he does it with his whole self — every part of him, every aspect of his toddler behavior partaking in the experience. I love it. Because his reactions are real and true. They are all him.

When he wakes up in the morning, he is exuberant in his bellowing: “MOMMY! MOMMY I WAKE UP!” He happily picks out his own clothes, tells me what he wants to eat and what he’d like to do today. He will skip or run any place we go, excited to see what is coming up next.

Is it frustrating when he shrieks like a banshee when I most need him to be quiet (church, the bank, when I’m on the phone)? Sure. Maddening when the only shirts he wants to wear lately are the ones with stripes? You bet. Would I prefer it if he’d sit quietly in the cart or the stroller when we go to the store so I can actually get the shopping done? You have no idea (or maybe you do). But despite my eye rolling, I love it. S. is a toddler, doing everything with passion and an energy for life and living that I wish I had. It’s wonderful to watch and a pretty great way to live.

Yes, I could learn something from my toddler. I hope I do!

What about you? Obviously we love our kids at any age or stage, but which one is your favorite?

Suzanne was once told that the preschool years are the most amazing, and now she believes it!

The Word’s Most Reluctant Sports Parent

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Even in a crowd, I'm easy to pick out at games -- I'm the one with my hands over my eyes. ©code1name /stock.xchng

Depending on your perspective, I’m either the best sports parent or the worst.

My kids have both been playing sports for a while now — both kids started soccer when they were three. My son played lacrosse and still plays basketball and baseball and my daughter plays lacrosse and softball.

When my kids are in action, I sit quietly in the stands, watching the game. I never know the score, don’t know how much time is left or what inning it is. I do cheer, but not too often and it’s usually a “good try!” after someone has made a mistake. I never, ever, coach my child (not that I would know what to say) other than to shout, “I know you can do it!” I clap after any good play, no matter which team made it.

I believe that competition is good for kids. I’m not a parent that thinks all games should end in a zero-zero tie, nor do I think that score shouldn’t be kept. I do. But I do believe that too much emphasis is put on the competitive and “being the best” aspects of games way too early. My son started Little League when he was 7. The boys on his team and those he competed against were his age and a year older. It was a coach-pitch division. On the first day of practice I was horrified to hear a couple of parents discussing the vitamin supplements they were giving their kids and how the sessions with the personal athletic trainers were going. For elementary school children.

My son played lacrosse when he was 8. I had to stop going to the games because I couldn’t deal with the parents who were so passionate about the game, they couldn’t control themselves. Like the father who constantly harangued his son during play, giving him directions that often contrasted with what the coaches were saying. Or the other dad who ran on to the field during a break in the game to scream in the face of his third grader, telling him that he was going to have to “walk the expletive home” if he didn’t stop making “stupid plays.”

Fun times.

I realize that parents like this are not the rule, they are the exception. But they exist and they concern me. Whatever happened to playing sports for the fun of it? Certainly there is a competitive element — an important part of the game for sure — but is it naive of me to think that the main reason kids want to play sports in the first place is to have a good time?

I sign my kids up for organized competitive team sports because they ask to. In joining and playing on a team, I hope they learn some important life and social lessons in leadership, teamwork, discipline and what to do when things don’t quite go their way, whether it’s a bad call or a bad day. I hope they get some exercise and get fit in the process. I hope they learn to both win and lose well, with dignity and grace.

I’m glad that my kids have confidence to play sports — the thought of standing up to bat or shooting a basket from the foul line terrifies me. That they have not only the courage, but the ability to do it, makes me very proud.

But above all else, win or lose, I want them to be happy. And to be kids.

Suzanne doesn’t quite paint her face with the colors of her kid’s teams, but she’s definitely more ardent about sports then I am. Still, I’d trust her to coach my kids any time.

I’m Not a Referee, Nor Do I Play One at Home

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When it comes to sibling rivalry, do you get involved or let the kids battle it out? ©alfredo-9/stock.xchng

A half hour. That’s how long my kids were home on their last day of school when I made them turn off the television and go to their rooms.

Why? Because they were fighting of course. Over what, I have no idea. Does it matter? If I want to stay sane, it shouldn’t.

Thirty freakin’ minutes. As I said to them on the day in question, “Are we really going to do this all summer?”

I have three children — a 10-year-old boy, an eight-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy. For all intents and purposes, let’s leave the little guy out of it for now and focus on the older two. (Although I had to stop in the middle of writing this because that sweet toddler bashed his sister in the back with a bat. But that’s a different problem.)

While for the most part they get along pretty well, they definitely have their moments when they are nothing more than oil and water. It’s natural of course — not liking the person that looks and sounds like you, the person who is your chief competitor in practically everything — television and video game selection, snack choices, the best seat on the couch, mom and dad’s love and attention, etc. etc. etc.

And sometimes, a person can rub you the wrong way by simply sitting there, not doing anything at all. Breathing. And if that particular person happens to live with you and you are with them practically 24/7, it’s not unreasonable to think that maybe they might get on your nerves a little bit.

Although when they are fighting over something silly (and trust me, at this age, it’s all silly) they might just get on my nerves a little bit.

So what do I do? Unless there is physical harm involved, nothing. And even then, unless it’s serious, they get sent to their rooms. Because if I got involved in every single one of their squabbles I would really get nothing done. And they would never learn. By letting them work out their differences on their own, I think (I hope) they are learning important conflict resolutions skills that will stay with them as they get older. (Provided they don’t think that pummeling their work colleague with a hail of Nerf gun bullets is acceptable.)

What’s your take on sibling rivalry? Do you get involved in any squabbles that your children might have?

Suzanne is more likely to get involved when her kids are fighting. I’m not sure which method — mine or hers — is less likely to raise a person’s blood pressure.

Best Sibling Spacing – Bigger is Better Than We Thought

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When it comes to sibling spacing, a break between kids might not be such a bad idea. ©Runabout

I was an only child. Until I wasn’t.

I was one month shy of turning nine years old when my little sister was born, and was over eleven when my brother showed up. While I loved having the full attention of my parents, I also loved being a big sister and adored my younger siblings. Still, when it was time for me to start planning out my own family with my husband, we were more inclined to go the traditional route, and our first two kids were born a little over two years apart.

Everything was great. The children, while not immune to the normal sibling squabbles, were ultimately friends. And while there are certain perils to having two young children very close in age (diapers, tantrums and an overflow of talking Elmo dolls spring to mind), it was also a lot of fun.

For a while, T. and I talked about adding a third to the mix. But life kind of happened and soon enough we found ourselves out and about with no diaper bag, no sippy cups and  no large assortment of baby gear in our then-smaller car. It was nice.

For those of you have been reading this blog for a while (thanks!), you know what happened next. Short version? The day my daughter started kindergarten I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. Five minutes. Two lines. Three kids. The return of the diaper bag.

While  I had lots to freak out about in those early days, one of my concerns was definitely about the spacing of our kids. We were doing so well, how would an infant fit into our little unit?  Having been the eldest sibling in a widely-spaced family, I knew the benefits, but I knew the downside too. Sure, I’d have two little mommy’s helpers at my beck and call. But would my two older children be as close to their little brother as they were to each other? I thought having a little (little) sister and brother was awesome, but I admit, there were times in their lives that I missed out on because I was busy doing my own things — going to college, getting married, having my own kids.

Two years after S. was born, I’m happy to report that my fears so far have been unfounded. S. is one of the beaming lights in C. and A.’s lives. They are sad when he isn’t awake when they leave for school and he is the first person they ask for when they walk in the door. They help me with him a lot sure, but more often than not, without my asking, they’ll be bringing him outside to play or plop him on the couch to read to him. They love being with him and he thinks they are the sun, the moon and all the stars.

Every day I’m amazed by my kids’ capacity to love. Would it have been on such display if their sibling was one or three years younger instead of eight and six? I’m certain it would have existed, but I don’t know if I would have seen in in such abundance.

How did you space out your children? Do you have any regrets?

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Suzanne’s kids are five years apart and she couldn’t be happier.

Summer Camp Mommy and Daddy (No Sewn-In Nametags Required)

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We spend a lot of time in our backyard over the summer. But really, is that so bad? ©kevinrohr/stock.xchng

My two older kids are the perfect candidates for summer camp. Ages ten and eight, they are both athletic and social and love arts & crafts and campfires and s’mores and swimming and everything else that comes with riding a big bus to a spot in the woods where they spend a week or more with hundreds of their peers.

Too bad I’m not on board with it.

That’s not entirely true. I would love for my kids to go to camp, but honestly, a lot has to do with finances and a lot (A LOT) has to do with me missing them and being a crazy mother.

C. had the opportunity to go with the Boy Scouts for a week to a camp a few states away. It sounded like 10-year-old boy heaven: fishing, swimming, hiking, whittling (seriously), bunk beds and a host of other activities that you can only manage to do (get away with) when your mother isn’t within a 500 yard radius. My husband thought it was a great idea, me not so much.

Is it because I don’t want my son to be happy (as some may or may not have accused me of)? No, not at all. This is his first year of Boy Scouts (he just crossed over in March), he’s only been on one camping trip without us, he doesn’t always have the best track record when it comes to sleeping away from home and (most importantly I think) the boys aren’t allowed to call their parents. This isn’t just no cell phones policy, they can’t even jump on a pay phone for a quick check in. And I have a real problem with that. (But will save that rant for another time.)

Now obviously there are other options. Different sleepaway camps, day camps in our area — but like I said before, finances are definitely in play here. So instead, each child will get to choose one or two smaller camps — for my son it will most likely be a week-long daily baseball camp run by his Little League and a week-long, half-day cartooning camp at a local art studio and for my daughter it will also be a camp at the art studio and something else that she hasn’t decided yet.

The rest of the time off will resemble the summers of my own childhood — trips to the beach (and we are fortunate enough to live five minutes away from a free one so we are there quite often), picnics at the playground, a few spins at a local amusement park and on the hottest days, visiting places where the A/C is blasting — the library, the mall, the movies. Sometimes we will simply stay home and partake in reading, video game playing and bike riding. My husband starts his month-long vacation in July so there will definitely be a lot of family activities too with the five of us spending quality time together.

Celebrating the lazy days of summer — sleeping in, no set schedule, just letting go of everything.

Thank goodness they aren’t going to camp — I can’t wait!

Do your kids go to summer camp? Where? For how long?

After reading Suzanne’s post about the summer camp her kids go to, I may sign up for the program myself! Sorry kiddies!

Giving My Toddler My SmartPhone Makes Me Phone Not Smart. And Yet I Do It Anyway.

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Maybe a piano app will settle my toddler down? Sigh. ©Aardvark

I am a hypocrite.

Quite a bit of the professional writing that I do is for various parenting websites. One site in particular is aimed at the parents of preschoolers. I write articles and blog posts and do my best to offer well-thought out advice based on my experience as a parent as well as research from experts in the field.

On more than one occasion I have (very high and mightily, I might add) questioned the wisdom of parents who had over their (very expensive and very fragile) smartphone to their young children in the hopes that it will either:

  • teach them something important

or, (and the more likely scenario)

  • get them to stop crying or screeching or generally making a scene where the parent would prefer they didn’t

There I would sit from my know-it-all parenting perch behind my laptop, throwing around nuggets of wisdom like, “Is a smartphone for children really such a good idea?” and “Instead of handing your smartphone over to your child if they are acting unruly, try other ways to keep them entertained like playing counting games.”

And then I got an iPhone last year for Mother’s Day (thanks T.!) and my toddler S. started causing a commotion in a store and Elmo singing was the only thing that would make him stop.

OK, maybe an smartphone for children is not such a bad thing.

I must confess, on more than one occasion now, when I am truly desperate, I have handed mine over to S. or to C. or A. so they can entertain S. with it. The good news is, it works like a charm. Every single time.

I think what both makes me proud and scares me (aside from him breaking it) is that while I won’t go as far to say that S. knows my iPhone better than I do (although C. and A. certainly do), he has a pretty good idea of how it works. He knows how to push the bottom button to make the picture of himself, A. and C. show up on the wallpaper. He know how to get the music to play even if the phone is locked (which I don’t know how to do). He knows to put it to his ear and say “hi.”

My point is, he is comfortable with it. Confident. Asking for his own for Christmas.

I actually don’t have many apps specifically for him, although I know there are a ton out there for toddlers. I guess I feel like if I buy them I will be admitting defeat officially. (Even though I lost a long time ago.)

I have “Baby Flash Cards” which is just a series of pictures and words as well as an electronic book featuring Elmo. S. also really enjoys an app called “Talking Carl” which is basically this red blob with eyes, arms and a big mouth who repeats everything you say in a funny voice. I also have two Elmo songs loaded on there — I think those are his favorites. As soon as Elmo’s picture shows up he starts to dance and his face breaks out into this big grin.

Which is good that someone is grinning. Because I’m more grimacing.

What are your thoughts on an iPhone for children? Have you/would you ever hand one over to a toddler?

Suzanne never has to worry about her phone breaking as hers is off-limits to her little ones.

When it Comes to the Past, Honesty is the Best Policy

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How honest will you be with your kids about your past? ©ubik2010/stock.xchng

My friend Tracy loves (LOVES) to tell a story about one New Year’s Eve night when we were in high school. I don’t know how it came about, but along with our group of friends, the chip and the dip, and Dick Clark on television, there was an assortment of wine coolers and her mother was O.K. with it.

My friends, who for the most part not only towed the “good kid” line but probably knitted it themselves, were surprisingly thrilled about this turn of events, happy to kick back and do the wrong thing for once (even if it was under parental supervision).

I wasn’t.

It was illegal. We shouldn’t be doing this. Tracy’s mom could get in trouble. My parents would kill me.

I look back now and laugh (and roll my eyes) at my goody-two-shoeness (I think there were eight wine coolers total for six kids plus the aforementioned grown up), but  I do remember being completely panicked in that moment, my sense of what was right completely at odds with what my friends were doing.

Eventually I caved, agreeing to try the sweet, fizzy “hard stuff” but when I brought the bottle to my lips, I couldn’t go through with it. I balked, firmly putting it on the table and saying “no” in what I can imagine was a tone that invoked the height of sanctimony and memories of Nancy Reagan.

(That Tracy is still puts up with me astounds me.)

It wouldn’t be until two years later when I would eventually try my first underage alcoholic drink, courtesy of (gasp!) Suzanne (my most responsible friend) who introduced me to the wonder that is grocery store wine.

So there it is. My sordid backstory. In my next blog I’ll tell you about the time I returned a library book a week late.

When the day comes when my kids ask about drugs and alcohol and the pressures that come with being a teen, I will be honest. Easy for me to say. It’s easy to tell the truth about your past when you don’t have one. Still, everyone has transgressions. And whether it’s underage drinking, cheating on a homework assignment, failing your driver’s test (twice!), I think it’s important to share them with your kids.

I think (and hope) that talking with them often and honestly will only keep the lines of communication open. Whenever my kids get into trouble or are having an issue with someone or something, I try to relay a tale from my own youth. We talk about why I made a certain decision and what the outcome was. Was there something I could have done better? Do I have any regrets? I think on many levels, conversations like this humanize me, and hopefully show them as you grow up, the decisions get harder, especially when there are many different influencing factors — doing what’s right vs. doing what’s socially acceptable.

And there was a good lesson in my turning down the drink that New Year’s Eve. My friends, although they rolled my eyes at my refusal, were still my friends the next day. (And in the case of Tracy, 20 years later.)

I don’t know. Maybe I better leave this part of parenting to my husband. As a teen on a Friday night you could regularly find him in the bleachers behind his school partying with his friends. He even brought his own six pack.

Of Yoo-Hoo.

Sigh.

What do you think? Will you be (or have you already been) honest with your kids about your life as a young person?

Suzanne and I have similar backgrounds — if she had been at that party, she wouldn’t have had a wine cooler either, but still, she’s decided that not sharing her past details with her kids is the way to go.

Reflections on the Joy of Motherhood

The joy of motherhood

How on earth did I get so lucky?

I am a mother. A simple enough statement. Four little words. But the meaning behind them is immeasurable.

I am a nurse, a cook, a chauffeur, a therapist, a teacher, a party coordinator, an ATM. A personal shopper, a medic, a protector, a camp counselor,  a coach. A cruise director, a life organizer, a drill sergeant, a travel agent.

I am a mother.

Every once in a while someone will do a story on how much a mother is “worth,” that is if there was such a thing as being paid to be a mother, how much would it be. ($211,813 per year for me according to this site.)

But amazingly enough, for all I give my children, they give me more. Oh, so much more.

Because those four little words — I am a mother — means I get to be around three wonderfully, amazing children who fill my life with love and hope and endless happiness. No matter how bad or desperate things get on the “outside” — in other parts of my life, in the world at large — I have these three reset buttons waiting for me. Loving me. And needing me to love them.

First steps. Notes in a lunchbox. A baby falling asleep on my chest. Surprise parties. A big hit in a little league game. Preschool. Riding the subway. A hundred on a spelling test. First words. DisneyWorld. Baskets at basketball games. Science projects. Climbing the Rocky Mountains in a rainstorm. First note played on a trumpet. Pierced ears. First chorus concert. Scoring a soccer goal. Birthday parties. Handmade necklaces. Cards, cards and more cards. Coming home from the hospital. Moving into a new house. The smell of a baby after a bath. And “google” more, as my daughter A. would say.

And don’t get me wrong. Being a parent isn’t all songs and roses. Hardly. Many of my darkest moments — the ones that terrified me or angered me or made me feel the least proud were a direct result of being a parent. And even on the days when they drive me the craziest (and oddly enough, maybe it is on the days they drive me the craziest), those are seconds when I’m the most aware of a mother’s love, and its ability to transcend everything.

I am a mother. I am happy.

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While technically we aren’t hosting a “Where We Meet Week,” in the interest of Mother’s Day, Suzanne and I have agreed to dedicate our posts this week to all things motherhood.