Archive for the ‘Mama Self Expression’ Category

Why Remains Suspended

Have  you heard Libby Kirkpatrick’s song To A Child? If you haven’t, please go download your 99 cent copy off of iTunes right now!  Better yet, go get yourself a copy of her entire album Goodnight Venus. Really. You’re missing out on a melodic, lyrical genius if you haven’t fully discovered her yet.

Libby is one of my closest friends in Austin. She joined me on the Sweet Songs project, contributing two brilliant songs.  I’m listening to her music a lot this week in my head yearning for her return from Boston where she’s been spending the summer with her family.

The past few days I’ve been lingering on her lyric “There is no answer to why — why remains suspended….” in To A Child.  I have floated in and out of my share of existential Why’s most of my adult life. Only within the last few years have I learned to stop myself and change the question. Because most of the time when I’m asking a Why question, it doesn’t take me anywhere useful mentally.

On the other hand, the Why’s for a developing mind are a critical part of learning and growing and remaining curious about this strange life we all live.  I hope to encourage my girls’ comfort in asking, “Why?” throughout their childhoods — and when they’re older and start to ask questions like,”Why can’t I figure this out?” or  “Why doesn’t he like me?” I’ll need to get creative and gently guide them to try asking a different question.  Like, “What information am I missing that could help me understand this better?”  and “What’s important to me in a relationship?” or “What do I stand for that is different than what he or she stands for?”

For now, I can enjoy the sweet innocence in the Why’s that come from my 3, almost 4 year-old. Rarely easy questions though. Some recent keep-me-on-my-feet Why moments from her:


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Are You My Mother?

P.D. Eastman

I have often felt like the little bird in “Are You My Mother” during my adult life. We all know the story line by heart:  A Mama Bird leaves to get her almost-hatched baby bird some food. While she’s gone, he hatches and is anxious to find his mother. He falls out of the nest, onto the ground and begins walking along asking every animal (and one bucket-loading snort) that he comes across, “Are You My Mother?”

“No,” said the kitten. “I’m not your mother.”

“No, I’m not your mother,” said the hen.

And so forth.

To a toddler reading the book, it’s apparently supposed to be comical that a bird thinks other animals might be his mother.

Imposing my adult sensibilities on the little plot, I’ve always found it to be rather agonizing.

And when I say I’ve felt like this little bird as an adult, I don’t mean I’ve been on a desperate quest to find my literal Mother.  My mom and I are like sisters, friends and mother-daughter all in one close relationship. I am not searching for her in any way.

The little bird feeling that I’m talking about has applied to my post first love, pre-marriage dating years and figuring out what I’m supposed to be when I grow up — including what kind of mother.  On the relationship front, for years and years I was looking for the perfect bird and kept dating dogs.

“Are you my soul mate?”

“No, I’m not your soul mate. I’m a dog,” said the dog.

In tandem with the life mate quest was the life purpose quest.

“Are You My Life Purpose?”


“Are You My Life Purpose?”

“No.” (more…)

Posted in Children's Book, Mama Self Expression, Sweet Songs | 8 Comments

Uncomfortably Gray

Gray Gray Gray.  Never liked it.  I’ve always had a need for black and white.

I tortured myself with a gray relationship in my twenties. A guy I was involved with who called me at least eight times a day, wanted to share every meal with me, bought me gifts regularly, took me on multiple trips all over the United States and had sex with me spent the first year we were together insisting that we were just friends. The following three years together he went back and forth between “Yes I love you” and “Maybe you’re just not it.”

During that first year I kept trying to convince him that based on what we were doing together we were actually in an intimate relationship….ridiculously determined to receive that clearly defined label that would acknowledge my significance.  And he would frequently say to me, “Life isn’t always black and white the way you want it to be.”  Indeed. I clearly suffered from a seriously low self esteem at the time to sign up  for a relationship like this as long as I did, but I forgive myself.

Going down memory lane a bit farther as I remember why my self-esteem was so crippled to have chosen this particular boyfriend — it was because I was coming off of the painful loss of my first love. We dated all through high school and college and were engaged briefly right after graduating. Eight months after we broke up, he married someone else.  I spent the next year of my life drinking heavily, crying or singing in my whiskey or wine and occasionally writing poetry.

When contemplating my frustration with a parenting subject in my life right now that I feel uncomfortably gray about, I was reminded of one of my old poems and found it in a box of journals tonight.  I wrote this during my drunk year in between the above two relationships when I wore black all the time. I thought it was artsy, sophisticated, edgy….who knows.  It was also my way of mourning what felt like the death of my first boyfriend — but worse.

To Be

Not Hamlet, but me.

An oak leaf maybe

Fallen from a tree.

Weathered, restless, lonely

And floating free.

She’s not the same color

As she was before

No. No ma’am.

Not since he walked out the door.

Just Red today.

More Scarlett really

O hair that she

wants to shave off.


Just to look gay.

Gay for a day.

Maybe? No.

Angst ridden.

Powerful, Strong, Liberating too.

And most times

Dear Scarlett

Happens to be Blue

Despite a kaleidascope of emotion

She prefers Black above all.

Solid, unwavering, genuine


No question of shade

In this young woman’s heart

She is

who she is

who she is.

That’s right.

This is only her start.

Now here I am fifteen years later.  I’ve gained wisdom on so many fronts; I roll with so much more than I ever did in my twenties or early thirties; and my angst has rolled over from one chapter of life’s central interest to another’s — just like a 401K plan or something.  It went from the Single, Will-I-ever-find-true-love-again account to the Married Professional Mom, Am-I-doing-the-right-things-for-my-children.

Angst du jour?  (more…)

Posted in Education, Mama Self Expression | 6 Comments

Mama Bear, Mama Bear, What Do You See?

I see laundry looking at me.

Laundry, Laundry, what do you see?

I see a dirty floor looking at me.

Dirty floor, dirty floor, what do you see?

I see unpaid bills looking at me.

Bills, bills, what do you see?

I see deadlines looking at me.

Deadlines, deadlines, what do you see?

I see crazy no sleep looking at me.

Crazy sleep, Crazy sleep, what do you see?

I see a grumpy house looking at me.

Grumpy house, grumpy house, what do you see?

Hmmmm.  I feel a spiral happening here.  What could I choose to see in this moment if I look carefully or focus my attention elsewhere? Quite literally…..choosing to look up and around….trying again:

Mama Bear, Mama Bear, What Do You See?

I see…

A red rose bush blooming

A blue sky with stretchy cotton clouds

A green tree dancing in the Spring breeze

A brown bird taking care of business

A black and white photo of Love


An orange Fortuna Goddess card

looking at me.

This card that’s one of 100 things spread out on my desk currently that I haven’t made time to sort through just caught my attention.  Flipped it over and here’s what it read:

“The Roman Goddess Fortuna was the same as as an earlier Italian goddess who presided over the earth’s abundance and controlled the destiny of all human beings. Her name, derived from Vortumna, ‘she who turns the year about,’ came to symbolize the capriciousness of life and luck, the vagaries of fate as the wheel of life turns around. Fortuna gives us a way to approach the ups and downs of life, a perspective that can offer us some equanimity as we proceed on our journey.”

Ah yes.  Thank you Universe.  Thank you for reminding me how it works.  I get it.  Some days.  And I may play this game for the rest of my life while I work through my solidly human foibles.

Just in case you haven’t come across this little gem of a children’s book, my ramblings today come from adapting the Bill Martin Jr/Eric Carle best-seller, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear.”  Animal illustrations above are from Carle.

Posted in Children's Book, Mama Self Expression | 5 Comments

Baby Book Art

Back in 2005 when I was still just dreaming of having babies, I got really into what I called Baby Book Art.  You know the stacks of books you now have with thick, cardboard pages with rounded edges?  Some day if your tots have outgrown them and you’re not sure what to keep or give away, you could re-use them for art — something fun to do with your children, or just for yourself.

Supplies you need:

  • Sandpaper to remove as much of the ink design and text as you can.
  • Paint
  • Cut up text from magazines or your own printed text, photos
  • Anything else you like!

This is one of my art books — previously a book about the letter “I” — that served as art therapy for me as I danced around loathing myself and the fear that paralyzed me from fully pursuing anything. It is so interesting to me that having children has created an opening for me to become more courageous. Something about getting through childbirth, something about wanting to say and model an “I can, I will, I am” attitude for my girls…who knows?  The fear of putting myself out there is still present — but I’m working on pushing past it and doing it anyway.

Do you relate to having played small at some point in your life?

My wish for you is that you’re living your own Big Life — for yourself and for your children — whatever that looks like for you.  Remember the famous Marianne Williamson quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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Posted in Baby Book Art, Mama Self Expression | 1 Comment


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