The End

by emily on September 29, 2014

My darling, as I sit here in the dark, listening to you toss and turn, I want you to know how terribly sorry I am. Terribly, as in deeply and darkly sorry, for I knew this would happen.

This is why we hiked for hours today, trying to exhaust your little body so that when bedtime came, your body would take over and pull you into sleep.

Yet, I knew this would happen.

Today, in the parking lot of a Walgreens, your face was so brave as you held your thumb out steady while I painted Bite-It onto your itsy-bitsy thumbnail to make it taste bitter. But I don’t want you to think—even for a moment—that your mama’s heart wasn’t aching and her stomach wasn’t suddenly contracting at the thought of doing this to you.

Sucking your thumb may be the purest pleasure on earth. It calms you and brings you into your center. With your thumb in your mouth, you’re a totally self-sufficient circle. You with your thumb in your mouth, well, it’s the greatest beauty I’ve ever known.

When I was in that Walgreens, did you comprehend that these were your last moments to be wholly a free child, no strings and responsibilities attached? Because, the moment I painted that stuff on your thumb, you stepped over a tiny little line. If you didn’t feel it, rest assured your mama did.

I would have let you do it forever, I swear I would have. I didn’t care if you went to medical school with your thumb in your mouth.

But you would have cared, because it was affecting your articulation. Earlier today, you were ready, but right now, I know you’d gladly trade comprehensible speech for five minutes with your thumb. My job—my painful, bitter job—is to make that choice for you.

When you grow up and remember this moment, I hope what sticks with you the most is that your mommy sat in the room with you until you fell asleep. And I want you to know that taking this sweet intensity away from you is the guiltiest parenting moment I’ve ever experienced.

I will forever be mourning the peaceful sound of you sucking your thumb.

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Scene outside the school this morning

by emily on September 10, 2014

Me (responding to some question): It was nobody.

Zachary: I am nobody, who are you?

Me: Are you nobody, too?

Zachary: Then there’s two of us.

Me: A pair. Don’t tell, they’d banish us, you know. How dreary to be somebody, how public, like a frog. To tell your name the livelong day to an admiring bog.

Benjamin: That Dr. Seuss had some good poems.

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The evening before Labor Day

August 31, 2014

Zachary had his tenth birthday party yesterday, a week in advance of the day. In contrast to his brother’s party, Zach asked to have a few friends over, order pizza, make sundaes, and watch Episode IV. I told him he’s my new favorite child. He’s going to be ten, which means I’ve been a parent […]

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The Angry Inch

July 18, 2014

“Five feet, three inches,” the medical assistant person noted. “No, I’m five feet, four inches.” “No, you’re five feet, three inches,” she insisted. “No, no. I’m five feet, four inches.” “You’re almost five feet, three-and-a-half inches.” Writing it down. She was writing it down on my chart. It was going on my permanent record. “Well, […]

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In which the novice surpasses the master

June 26, 2014

Some days I don’t feel all that necessary around here. Today was not one of those days. Today was, rather, one of those days in which I felt with great, leaden spears the importance of what I’m doing. I felt more than I have in a long time—perhaps ever—just how unbearably significant and deliberate parenting […]

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A Very Harry Potter Birthday

June 21, 2014

There have been a number of requests for pictures of the party. Please forgive the text here, folks. I can barely stand up at this point. The greeting sign, which a random passer-by asked to photograph.   The kids came into the house through here, with the Harry Potter music blaring.   The Great Hall, […]

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Go big or go home

June 4, 2014

Benjamin’s birthday is coming up. While my other two children have normal birthday celebrations that involve things like gymnastics places or going to a play with a friend, Benjamin’s birthday always seems to involve something like a Greek mythology birthday cake complete with a Temple of Zeus constructed out of marshmallows and white chocolate or […]

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Sunrise, sunset

May 27, 2014

“Just let me finish the chapter,” she mumbled, not looking up from her Puppy Place book. This is the series—alphabetical and with several books per letter—about dogs who go live with a foster family until they find their forever home. I’m going on hearsay here, never having read one myself. Lilah brought several of these […]

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Walk for Hunger

April 28, 2014

I don’t usually hit my readers up for money. If ever there was a statement so obviously about to be followed by a “however,” it’s that one. In high school, every year I participated in Boston’s Walk for Hunger, a twenty-mile walk that raises money for Project Bread, a fantastic organization committed to building the […]

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To parents of small children

April 23, 2014

Parents of young children, I want to tell you something. You cook dinner in stages, starting usually about 24 hours before you actually put the food on the table. That’s when you do cook dinner, which—let’s be honest—doesn’t always happen. What? Oatmeal is a whole grain. If you serve it with chocolate milk and bananas, […]

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