Apr 182012
 
First things First, HI CARA!

 

 

Have I mentioned yet that my husband is a model? He works for a few different agencies and does lots of print work and now that you know, you will probably notice him around here and there. He was recently in a Snyders pretzels commercial, snuggled up next to his hot pretzel wife, being hand- fed by her. He does a lot of snuggling other models. He once called me panicked from a shoot and whispered into the phone- “They want me to fake KISS this girl! Should I leave?” And I said, “LISTEN TO ME- You get your head in the game, kiss that woman, and bring home that paycheck, mister.” True story. Priorities.

Craig never tells anyone about his modeling career. He is very shy about it. His friends tease him a lot and so do mine. My extended family is merciless. Perhaps a better wife would be sensitive to her husband and refrain from writing about things that embarrass him. But it seems to me that there are many acceptable reasons for embarrassment, and being incredibly good looking just doesn’t make the cut. Sorry, Sweet Husband. Please consider this post to be an opportunity for character building. Sort of like your marriage to me.

I had a very dramatic pregnancy with Chase. In addition to the whole immaculate conception thing, . . . our doctor found a bright spot on Chase’s heart and a cyst in his brain at our first sonogram. These two markers, along with some other factors, led the doctors to believe that Chase had an increased risk for many serious health issues. We had appointments with specialists every week, and we researched and prayed and worried. It was quite a stressful roller coaster for two kids trying to get to know each other. It was like marriage boot camp. Craig and I learned early and fast how to depend on one another, and how to be dependable. We learned that in a marriage, you never crumble at the same time. You wait your turn. And we learned that when it gets really dark you just pretend you can see, or you sit quietly and hold hands until the light returns. It always does, eventually. During that time Craig and I learned that we could do hard things. It turned out to be a hell of a way to start a marriage, actually.

When I was seven months pregnant with Chase, he stopped moving completely. He didn’t move for 24 hours. I was teaching at the time, and during my lunch break I ate a candy bar and lay down, sure that the blast of sugar would get him going. It didn’t. I became terrified and called the doctor, who told me to get myself to her office right away. I called Craig, but he was in a meeting and didn’t answer his phone. I drove to the doctor’s office by myself, and sat in the waiting room and cried. I thought for sure that the doctor would tell me Chase was gone. I wanted Craig really, really bad. I prayed “help help help help.”

The doctor called me back to the examining room and asked me to change into a robe. She laid me down on the table and strapped the monitor around my belly. She told me that she would need to monitor Chase for several minutes and then she’d come back and meet with me. She asked if I’d like a magazine to keep my mind occupied and I said yes, please. But I didn’t really want a magazine. I still just wanted Craig really, really bad.

The doctor handed me a magazine and patted my head which made me both comforted and afraid.Then she left the room. I opened up the magazine with very shaky hands, and this is what I saw.

 

 

 

 

That’s Craig. That’s my HUSBAND. POSING as a STROLLER VALET.

In an ad that he’d done a decade before, and that neither of us had ever seen.

And here’s what I felt God say to my heart in that cold room all by my lonesome.

Look, sister, it’s ok. Craig will be pushing a real stroller soon and your son will be inside it. And no, Craig won’t be wearing that ridiculous vest, promise. But stop with the Immaculate Conception story, honey. Nobody’s buying it.

Craig busted through the exam room door while I was still staring at his picture in the magazine. He had listened to my phone message and talked to the doctor. He appeared to be completely terrified.

As Craig grabbed my hand, I looked up at him, smiled, and told him not to worry… everything’s going to be all right, I said.

 

 

It IS going to be okay. I know it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But someday it is all going to be all right. For today, we remember to breathe, we treat ourselves the way we want to be treated by others, we drink large glasses of water and we get outside for fresh air every two hours. These things will help until everything is okay.

What else helps? Share your secrets.

I love you all so much.

Love,
G

Apr 232012
 

 

 

 

**this is a MONKEE TOOTING ITS OWN HORN. Yes, it is. **

 

 

“The plain fact is that the world does not need more successful people, but it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.” – David Orr

 

Do you think this is true? My guess is that most of you Monkees do. It’s a Monkee-ish sort of thing to believe. I definitely believe it. I think that much of our work here at Momastery has to do with redefining success. What does a successful person look like to you? Picture her, please.

And since many of us are parents, it’s also helpful to consider what it means for our kids to be successful. What does a successful child look like to you? Picture him, please.

One of my best friends and I had a long talk recently regarding kid bragging. She asked me why I never spoke about my kids’ accomplishments, on the blog or on Facebook or even with her. She knows that Craig and I have a steadfast rule – no bragging to anyone except each other or the grandparents. We used to allow ourselves to brag to our sisters, but now that they have kids, they’re off limits too.

Basically, our rule means that we keep our mouths shut in public and then we talk in bed about how our kids are better than anyone else’s kids in the whole entire world.

My friend said that she thought this rule was a mistake. She explained that some of her happiest moments as a child were hearing her mother brag about her to her friends. She was afraid my kids were missing out on that childhood delight. She really made me think, because she’s one of my best friends and an incredible mom.

I think my friend brought up a really interesting point, and I don’t know what the right answer is. I do know that the decision Craig and I made was based upon two factors.

  1. Our children’s confidence in our unconditional love for them.

 

My parents were teachers, and they placed a  lot of importance on good grades. I never got perfect grades. I wasn’t a genius, and I was very disorganized and not all that great at following directions. So I always felt like a bit of a failure at report card time, because I knew that to my parents, good grades meant success. So I felt unsuccessful. My parents weren’t proud of average grades- but lack of pride didn’t mean lack of love. I think that’s hard for a kid to understand, though. I think kids get pride and love mixed up all the time.

Craig and I don’t place a lot of emphasis on grades. Our kids do fine. We know they’re trying, so when we get their report cards we scan over the left side  – the math, science, etc –  and then we look harder the right side. The citizenship grades. While these grades certainly don’t equal success, we care about them more. We never do perfectly on that side, because no Melton really knows how to perfectly exhibit self control…but then again, perfection’s not what we’re going for. Things usually look pretty decent overall, so we give out some high fives, ask the kids if they’re proud of themselves, and get on to dinner. Sometimes we ask if there’s anything  they’d like to work harder on next quarter. If they say yes, we ask them to write a note to their teacher explaining what grade they’re trying to raise, so the teacher can offer pointers and look out for improvement. Mostly, we feel grateful. Even when things could look better on that report, we feel grateful.

Moving from pride to gratitude is a small shift, but an important one to us. We’re grateful that so far, school is a safe place for them, that they can do the lion’s share of what they’re asked to do, that they are learning how to be good citizens. Grateful we got lucky enough to raise them in this country, during this time.

It’s like when I write an essay that I know is GOOD and I hit publish. Proud is not the right word to describe how I feel at that moment. Grateful is a better word. I feel grateful that God blessed me with another thing to say, and another nice way to say it. I feel grateful for the gifts of inspiration and time and health and energy that were necessary to get that essay done.

When I got the book deal, everyone said, “Aren’t you proud?” And my answer was no, not really.  Because the book deal was something that was given to me, like grades are given. Sure, it can be argued that grades and book deals are earned, too – but all of that can be a bit arbitrary. For example, I know some fantastic writers who’ve never gotten a book deal and let us be clear that Snookie did get a book deal. She’s a New York Times Best Seller. SO.

And there are plenty of kids who coast and bring home straight As and plenty more who work their tails off and bring home Cs. So.

I’ll tell you what I AM proud of. I’m proud that I showed up at my computer everyday so God could do his work. I’m proud that I kept showing up, even when I was sick or tired or BLAH. I’m proud of that. That’s a choice I made and a discipline I kept.

And I’m proud of my kids for showing up. Whatever happens after that, whether they win a trophy or not, get an A or not, score ten goals or not – I probably won’t praise them much. High fives and hugs all around, but not too much praise, and not too much criticism.  Because praise is really just the flip side of criticism. They’re both judgments.  As soon as someone tells you how AWESOME you are at something, you immediately start worrying about what will happens if  you stop being awesome at that thing. We all get pride mixed up with love.

So we tell our kids – there’s nothing you can do to make us love you anymore or any less. That was done and decided the second you born.

Anyway -If my kids are still living in my basement in their late thirties, we’ll know that my “redefinition” of success and lack of praise and criticism backfired. I’ll keep you updated.

 

The second reason we don’t brag about our kids:

Our love and respect for other parents.

Every time I see a friend’s Facebook post about their child’s straight As, it pings my heart a bit. Because I’ve been a teacher, and I know that for the vast majority of parents, report card night is a difficult and confusing one. Some kids try hard and still miss the mark. Parents wonder why. Parents worry that there’s something wrong with their kid, that they’re doing something wrong as a parent.  It’s tough. And I fear that logging on to Facebook and seeing the all the public celebration might make that evening even tougher.

And every time I hear a friend talking about their child’s reading level or prowess in math or science fair state win, I feel a pang in my heart. Because I know that SOME mother in that group has a child who is dyslexic, or struggling hard with math, or is too painfully shy about her stuttering to present at the science fair.

And every time I see someone post about their child’s seven goals, I think about my mama friends at home, struggling with their children who have Lyme, or PANDAS, or cerebral palsy, whose kids have a hard time making it up the stairs much less up and down a soccer field.

And so our decision not to publicly brag is related to our belief that we are parents within a community of parents. And that parenting is hard, in different ways for every parent, and we don’t want to make it any harder. For us, it has to do with trying to live well in our places. To first, do no harm. Because we don’t parent in a vacuum.

 

Here’s when I admit that one time I did brag on facebook.  Because once Tish came home from pre-school and told me that a new child had joined her class that day. She told me he looked lonely at recess. And so she left her group of girls, walked over to him and said, “Welcome to our school. Do you want to play with us?”

We couldn’t help it that time. We put her on our shoulders and marched around the house in a happy parade. We went out for dinner. I posted it on facebook. Because that is some SUCCESS, people. We can’t always control ourselves.

But before I posted it, I thought…will this hurt anyone? I thought not, so I indulged myself.

 

What are your thoughts? When does sharing become bragging? Is bragging okay? When is it not okay, in your opinion?

This is a tricky, tricky subject and must be handled with great care. Please remember that bragging Monkees are loved just as much as non-bragging Monkees, and EVERYONE gets a soft place to land here.  Let’s speak openly but carefully, and talk about how this issue makes us feel, as mamas. No right answers, let’s just listen, learn and love.

Love You,

G

 

 

Apr 302012
 

 

 

This week shall heretofore be named: Miracle Week.

The theme of the incoming emails in my inbox this past month has been: G : I need a miracle. There are marriages crumbling, children suffering, homes foreclosing, parents dying, addicts spiraling, hearts breaking.

It’s bad. It can get really, really bad out there. Life is hard- NOT because you aren’t doing it right, just because it’s HARD. Whenever I write that, people say “No- that’s so negative- it’s all about perspective. Life is beautiful.” And that always makes me wonder for a bit. I wonder if they’re right, that maybe life isn’t hard, that maybe I’m just experiencing it too hard. But I always come to the conclusion that – Nope, I’m right. Life’s hard. Not just hard, downright impossible, BRUTAL sometimes. And they’re right, it’s beautiful, too. No denying that. And/Both.

So at Momastery, many of us have accepted the truth that life is BRUTIFUL.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL was a GREAT movie and a nice bumper sticker, but it doesn’t ring COMPLETEY TRUE to me. Sort of like the “Life is Good” shirts. I mean, I like those shirts. Love them, actually. But I won’t wear mine lately, just in case I run into my friend Anna, who just lost her precious and only son Jack in a freak drowning accident near her backyard. Life is not always good and it is not always beautiful. Life is just NOT OKAY sometimes. But it sure is knock-you-out-gorgeous sometimes, too.

Life is Brutiful. And/Both. That’s the thing. In every moment, things are both awful and good. Our children are healthy, but our friend’s children are not. We got a big promotion at work, but our beloved father is sick and not getting better. We feel blessed to stay home with our kids, but we really want to run away from home sometimes. We feel blessed to work and have good child care, but we miss our kids and feel guilty some days. We have beautiful homes, enough food on the table, and decent health care- but most folks don’t. We have healthy bodies, but we’re ten pound overweight. We have thin bodies, but they won’t work right.

And everybody’s always telling us to BE GRATEFUL BE GRATEFUL BE GRATEFUL and there is something to that. But for me, gratitude comes in moments, all encompassing, out of time moments- Kairos moments- and as a general knowing in the back of my head and heart. Gratitude is not always front and center for me.  And I don’t want to be bossed or guilt-ed into gratitude. Life is beautiful, and there is much for which to be grateful. But life is also tough. The big things are tough –  like I’m sick, and I’m not getting better, and the little things are tough, like – WHY IS THIS PLAYDOH SO FREAKING HARD TO OPEN? The big and the little stuff get me down. And that’s okay. No need to be grateful all the time. Really, it’s okay to notice the brutal. We can feel it, sit with it, and allow ourselves to acknowledge it. It won’t swallow us up forever, if we let ourselves go there, we’ll eventually see the beautiful again. We don’t have to feel grateful all the time, even if we’re living pretty sweet lives in comparison to the rest of the world. Pain is pain, and we all get the privilege of feeling it.

Anyway, my problem with all the pain my Monks share is that I can’t make miracles happen for them. This drives me an itty bit NUTS, as you might imagine. But I CAN use this blog to prove that miracles are possible. That they happen everyday. That there is reason to hope.

 

Kay- If you have a second today: Please reread this essay. Fourteen. It’s important. Don’t cheat and skip ahead.

 

Okay, are you back? Hello, Lovie.

 

So…. I’m at the zoo with the fam last week (one million mom points, done for the month) and I get an email. The email is from Mary Margaret. She has found my blog. She writes the following:

glennon.

 imagine my surprise to be reading the huffington post last week (while my husband was out of town and my son fast asleep in his crib) to stumble upon a blog written by someone named glennon. hmm, this reminded me of my old buddy, also named glennon, and caused me to do a quick google search of glennon doyle. i found your blog. i read your bio. i looked at your photos. i realized that this beautiful and accomplished mom had to be the same sad (but still amazingly fun), confused, teenager i came to adore as my roommate at dominion hospital so many years ago. your accomplishments, family and writing would be inspiring if i did not know you, but are even more so because our paths crossed back in the day. i am sure you get a million and one emails and mine is no different. you may not even remember me and that is fine, but i wanted to tell you that your candor, honesty and genuineness are clearly the real deal. thanks for giving me a new blog to check out and for reminding me that we have come a long way!

 love.

m

 

And I started crying right there in the reptile house.  I wrote back immediately and said, I’m here. I’m here. My heart stopped when I saw your name. Are you okay?

And she wrote back a few looooooong minutes later:

 

i am sorry i started an email conversation with you and then abandoned ship. i had to head out to a yoga class i was about to be late to. i live all the way across the country in washington state. just about 15 miles from seattle (where i used to live pre-child). i am healthy. i am married. my son is beautiful. XO.

 

 

She is healthy. She is married. Her son is beautiful. Please tell me- What are the chances? Sick little girls get better. Not all of them, but many do. In our eating disorder unit, 100 percent of us got healthy –  me and Mary Margaret. That end result was totally against the odds. No one in his right mind would have bet on it- certainly not our doctors- and so I call this a MIRACLE.

 

If you’d like to leave a miracle here, or on the facebook page sometime this week, take the time to do it, please. TRUST ME- there are people reading this who need reasons to hope. And they come here to find those reasons – to read stories to hold in their hearts as they walk tall through their bruitful days.

I LOVE YOU,  MONKS.

Back tomorrow- it’s Miracle Week, folks!!!!

 

LOVE,

G