Tag: Happying


To Do

To do:


Open a window


And then listen

Wear your favorite color

Be imperfect


Create something beautiful



Light a candle

Or twenty

Sprinkle sugar on your cereal



Write a letter


Cheer someone on



The Cure for Crustiness

I have mixed feelings about parenting magazines. On one hand, they can be very informative (How to potty train!), but on the other hand, most of the information is hardly revolutionary (1. Put child on potty, 2. Give sticker as reward, 3. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done). They can provide a sense of community, but on the other hand, glossy photographs do not count as friends. I suppose for me, it all comes down to how the magazine makes me feel about parenting. Wondertime, for instance, makes me want to go nibble on my girls’ earlobes and noses and perfect little elbows just because I’m so delighted to know them.

I wandered onto a popular magazine’s website the other day, though, that made me feel as if I’d walked straight into a spider web. Days later, I still can’t brush off the articles: Why I wish I’d had a girl instead of a boy. How my husband should know better than to expect sex as long as we have kids at home. How I ruined my daughter’s life: A memoir. I couldn’t put my finger on the exact problem until I read their mission statement, which was (and I paraphrase): “Too many magazines imply that parents should like their kids, when the truth is, WE DON’T! So let’s get together and bitch about it.”

I sort of understand. Parenting is a tough job; the workday is 24 hours long, and a lot of poop is involved. It requires enormous sacrifice, patience, wisdom, and creativity. And karaoke skills. And strong stomachs. I find it incredibly dishonest when people claim that parenting is easy. It’s so, so not.

But it’s good. Swinging-at-the-park good. Spontaneously-giggling good. Dr.-Seuss good. Earth-shattering-love good. No words could fully depict the goodness of children: life’s gift to adults who might otherwise grow old and crusty. The magazine’s opinion—that parenting is awful, end of story—is poison. Because the fact is, all the sleepless nights and temper tantrums and sticky floors and rearranged sex lives pale in comparison to the joy of hugging your children each morning, showing them the world, and discovering that those tiny people love you every bit as much as you love them.



We notice flowers. Bright bits of lace on the grass, living confetti. We say “ooooo!” and discover magenta, petals dripping jewel-toned paint. We pick haphazard bouquets to stick in a chipped mug and watch during breakfast, because we need pretty.

We dance, every day. Living room dance hall, disco lights through open windows and the stereo up just loud enough. Even I, despite my traumatic experiences with skirts, put one on so we can twirl and twirl. We spin ourselves dizzy, lighter than air and beautiful as gilded carousels at play.

We mother. She with her well-loved plastic baby, I with my well-loved squirming one. We wield bottles as tools of our trade, spit-up cloths and a cheery “hooray!” for rolling over (two for trying to crawl). Even her cars, after VROOOMing across the floor, are put down for naps, blankets tucked up around their fenders with love.

We take over the kitchen. Not hostile, oh no. We’re delighted conquistadors, tasting, stirring, and tasting again, messy dishes left spooning in the sink. We make our own kinds of coffee—mine dark and steaming, hers invisible and spill-proof—and we say “mmm-hahhh” together, eyes closed for emphasis.

We wear pink. And blue and turquoise and orange, and truth be told, I wear mostly brown. But she shows me how to wear pink with charisma, shirts that sing opera and sparkly toenails that send giggles to each other in Morse code. We are pretty.

I love little boys, their grit, grime, and rough-and-tumble, their perpetual bounciness and smudginess. I always thought they were what I wanted, a personalized pack of Lost Boys and I their Peter Pan. But now? Not in a million Never-Neverland years, not even for a pocket full of disgusting treasures offered with a grin, would I choose boys over this:

Dance party 1

She and I, girls.



Today is the most perfect tribute to springtime I’ve ever experienced. Those of you still slodging through gunmetal winters, take a deep breath and imagine…
Pastel-tinted sunbeams bounding through your open window.
Tufts of sky-scented breeze rolling end-over-end like cotton balls at play.
Ice cream swirls of pink and white dripping from shy tree buds.
Bird chirps like flutes and oboes and tinkling celestas, piping grace notes over the mid-day traffic.
Fresh laundry line-dancing (ha!) for the joy of warmth and light and newly unfolded air.

Springtime in Texas, where I grew up, is really more a melty form of winter. The sky takes on the surly color of old pipes, leaking gray water continuously until summer hits it suddenly with a wrench. Texas never really gets cold, but its Februaries and Marches suck out inner warmth like zombies, complete with the drooling and the clammy outstretched fingers and the diseased-cow moaning. (“Uuuuunnnnnnnhhhhhhhh.” I have no nostalgia whatsoever for the sound of spring.)

This winter has been a rodeo for me… and not just me, I suspect. One of our friends told us the other night that he has two wives–a cold-weather one and a warm-weather one. I understand, though I often wish I didn’t. Surviving winter can be a fight, a constant bundling and layering and gritting teeth; it’s a struggle to unclench, a struggle to thaw. However, when the outside world suddenly softens and blooms, I feel myself relaxing. My pent-up tensions drift away on a stray breeze. I lighten up.

There may be a month of winter left, but my mind is bursting ahead into spring. I’m already thinking in terms of strawberries and open windows, flower pots and Easter egg hunts, swinging with Natalie and picking daisies with Sophie. I’m taking the heavy blankets off our bed and planning picnics, and oh, it’s a much-needed loveliness.

What springtime hopes are warming your minds today?


Good Things

(Because who wants to stop at five?)

1. White chocolate yogurt heaped with toasted coconut flakes. (How can one get addicted to something as theoretically revolting as yogurt?)
2. The soundtrack to “Once” — an emotionally genuine masterpiece.
3. Sophie grinning at Natalie, and Natalie happily reporting, “Him loves me!”
4. Electric lemon sunshine, making me want to kiss global warming right on the mouth.
5. The writer’s strike being over (“Chuck” withdrawal is painful–think amputation).
6. Both girls letting out simultaneous sailor burps this morning and then cracking up together.
7. Living room dance parties, which, sold in pill form, would be the world’s most effective antidepressant.
8. The first fluttery kicks of new inspiration.

What good things has today brought you?

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