Jun 262014

Originally published December 11, 2009

Chase’s first grade class is studying Needs and Wants. Yesterday, he brought this classwork home in his folder:

Needs and Wants

In case you’re having trouble reading…the assignment says “My mom or dad would like________” and in the blank Chase wrote: “JUST 2 MINUTES OF PEACE” and then as if this wasn’t enough information for his teacher about the climate of our home, he added an illustration of a woman screaming “AAAHHHHHH!”

I just thought you should see this in case you were considering taking to heart any of my suggestions about finding peace for yourself and peace for your home.

Why does the boy feel he needs to share publicly all of our little family “situations?” He ALWAYS does this. I have no idea where he gets that.

Here’s to wishing for JUST TWO MINUTES OF PEACE for you today. IS IT REALLY TOO MUCH TO ASK??????????

Love, G and Chase (Two Shameless Truthtellers)

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Jun 252014
Our Messy, Beautiful Summer Week 1: Parenting

A guest post by Wendy D’Alessandro

boy-walking-250During a parent/teacher conference my son’s teacher said to me, and I’m paraphrasing here, “His writing needs work.”

The man must have seen the panic in my eyes and the wheels turning in my head: writing needs improvement…more writing, then…you shouldn’t have slacked off with the summer journal writing…if anyone knows the importance of written communication, it’s you!…tutor…the thought of fighting about going to a tutor makes me cringe…when was the last time my child read a book that wasn’t required reading?

My head swirled with panic and planning and finger pointing (at myself) for having failed at something as important as making sure my kid could write well. Then the dear, sweet teacher said, “Don’t worry, Mrs. D’Alessandro, he’ll be fine. He’s a good kid, thoughtful and kind. You can’t teach that. The writing, you can.”

I almost cried on the spot, and I wanted to reach for this kind man’s hand and say,Thank youThank you for reminding me there is more to raising a child than making sure he excels in every subject at school.

Instead, I waited until I was in the privacy of my car and its tinted windows, and then I cried on the spot. I berated myself for being so serious, all the time, about everything. For being a mother whose focus becomes so clouded that she forgets what matters just as much – actually, no, more – than doing well in school, and that’s being a good, kind, caring person.

I know this. I’ve written about this very topic. A 4.0 GPA does not guarantee a child’s success in life. So why do I need reminding there is more to my child’s life than a stellar report card?

I have no idea.

It’s so easy to talk the talk when it comes to finding balance in our kids’ lives. I know I can talk the talk with my friends and family, and even while writing my parenting column and this blog post. I know the right things to say about discipline and homework and chores. I can offer sound parental advice to friends; and I know my gut instinct gives me better advice than a roundtable of parenting experts.

And yet…

It’s so hard for me to walk the walk. So hard to raise my children the way I know they should be raised, versus raising them in a society that has created this perfect parental myth we feel we need to live up to.

A myth that says if we’re a good parent, then our children won’t stumble and fall, and make lots of mistakes and messes.

Our children won’t struggle at math and not make a travel sports team.

They won’t bomb that really important exam or say something mean to a friend.

They won’t crash and burn when asked to diagram a sentence.

They won’t do stupid things, like vandalize a gumball machine until they get the blue colored gumball instead of every other colored gumball.

We won’t think inappropriate thoughts, like lately we prefer our dog’s company to that of our teenagers’. Okay, that one is mine and mine alone, and I feel small for even thinking it.

In other words, our children won’t mess up because we’ve done everything possible to make sure they won’t fail. We won’t mess up because, darn it, we should know better. And we should know better, right?  After all, there are a million blogs, books, magazine articles, videos and parenting experts telling us how to do it.

And yet again…

Sometimes I still don’t know what I’m doing.

Here’s the thing. Growing up is hard, and parenting is messy. It’s confusing and frustrating. Until you stop, breathe and look at your children. Put aside the fact that they didn’t make their beds today; or you had to hound them to take out the trash; or they said the steak you cooked for them had the consistency of a hockey puck; or they squeaked by with a “C” on their exam, and if they would have studied a little bit harder…well, you know the story.

Look at each child as a person, not someone you’ve been charged to raise. Each is perfect in his or her unique way. Each blessed with special gifts. Each put on this earth to live a life only (s)he – not you – can create. We can only guide for so long, and then we have to let go, little by little, and hope for the best. Pray for the best.

Eventually, we all figure this out. Some of us (that would be me) need reminding from time to time.


Wendy D’Alessandro is a mother of three teenagers, a wife and a public relations specialist. She works from home with her Tibetan terrier dog at her feet, and she shares her parenting journey – blunders and all – in her bi-weekly newspaper column, The Mommy Chronicles. Visit Wendy at www.wendydalessandro.com.

This post is part of Momastery’s Our Messy, Beautiful Summer series.

Our Messy, Beautiful Summer

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest

Jun 232014

Our Messy, Beautiful Summer


Six years ago I sat down and wrote my first Momastery post. My dream was that here we would use truth-telling as a tool to heal ourselves and others, and then we’d hear those magical words, “Me too! Me too!” And that this cycle- this truth telling/me too hearing would help us live bolder and kinder and bigger and cozier on this Earth.

In April I asked you to write to me. I asked you to write about the messy/beautiful parts of your lives and you came through BIG. I’ve been pouring through your essays and laughing and crying and screaming ME TOO! ME TOO!! 

You need to have this experience, too. You need to hear from your sisters who are telling their stories so freaking beautifully. I read this quote recently:

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” ― Muriel Rukeyser

This summer we are just going to gently split open the whole world. No biggie.

This week we’re talking about parenting. In the weeks to come our topics will range from marriage to marriage ending, from friendship and authenticity to special needs and adoption. We are going to read other women’s stories as a spiritual discipline meant to grow, soften and open our hearts.

What’s why I read women’s stories: To grow, soften, and open my heart. That’s what I’m trying to accomplish down here- and reading helps.

Here’s your first Messy Beautiful Momastory, friends. Enjoy. 


Our Messy Beautiful Summer Week 1: Parenting

Head + Heart – My Messy Beautiful

A guest post by Jennifer Allison


Husband scooped up Little Man and we made a hurried exit from the park, a wave of shrieks trailing behind us, polluting the air like a dirty exhaust pipe on an eighteen-wheeler. Big Sister and I sprinted ahead, pretending we were not attached to these two strangers who were disturbing the peace, garnering glares and stares alike.

These are the moments, the daily events, that cause a non-attention-seeking introvert like myself to shrivel up like a Shrinky Dink in a hot oven.

Before I had kids, I did anything to avoid making a scene or drawing attention to myself.  Now, with kids, my days usually contain at least one giant explosion, usually occurring under the microscope of the public eye.

My Heart knows that this is just a phase, and this, too, shall pass.

My Heart knows that someday I will ache for that little face with big, crocodile tears running rivers down his cheeks.

My Heart knows that sooner, rather than later, I will be older, and he will be gone, and I will visit that same park and feel my heart crack open at his palpable absence.

My Heart will wish him back to age three-and-a-half.

But my Head will counter-argue, reminding me of those turbulent days that passed in slow motion, just trying to survive from one tantrum to the next.

My Head will erase any temptation of approaching those young mothers at the park with a smile and an “enjoy this time, it goes by so fast!”

My Head will know that is not what they need to hear, as they wipe runny noses, doctor skinned knees, and enforce time-outs.

As I’m entrenched in these days now, my Heart knows not to wish my children’s lives away, but my Head can’t help but cry out for an easier path ahead.  A light at the end of the tunnel, where it all won’t be so terribly difficult.

The Head and the Heart are at constant battle, tipping the scale precariously from side to side throughout the day, like a tugboat tossed about in a storm at sea.

Some moments I am overcome by the blessing of it all, these children and their wonderfulness.

And then there are the moments when I am buried ten feet deep in the desperation, exasperation, and frustration from trying my best and yet often feeling like a parenting failure.

That weariness holds me in a Vulcan death grip until I can flee the scene and lock myself in the bathroom to practice deep breathing, scarf a cookie, or play a round of Candy Crush on my phone.

Boiling point is brought down to simmer.  Sea waters are calmed.

And by the end of the night, after the scene at the park is long forgotten, we come back to each other, Little Man and I.

We crawl into his bed, turn off the lights, and I snuggle his plump, warm body, as we find each other’s eyes in the soft glow of the night light.

I savor his little boy scent – traces of peanut butter and soap – and I brush the fringy bangs off his forehead, which not long ago was encircled in curls.

He puts both of his chubby little hands on my cheeks, pulls my face close and whispers, “Mama, I wuve you,” as if revealing the Secret of the Ages.

Warm currents of honey-coated electricity flow through my veins, soothing all the wounds of the day.

“I love you, too.”

My soul inflates, a hot air balloon about to take flight, and I know I can do this all over again tomorrow.

Tonight, and most every night, The Heart wins.

And thank God for that.


Jennifer Allison is a wife and work-at-home-mom in Houston, Texas, juggling her family, a career in Advertising, and enough other odd jobs to keep her adequately crazy. You’ll find her stalking ’80s concerts, indulging in nostalgic trips down memory lane, making excuses for her parental shortcomings, or waxing poetic about the South. Her passion is celebrating the art of storytelling and connecting with her readers through personal narratives on her blog, Mamarific and on twitter as @mamarific.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest