Oct 022014

Kindergarten Report

I’m in a new life season over here. I’ve got all three kids in school and I’m working from home, so I’m taking my turn. I’m heading into the school to help the kids’ teachers when I can.

For all of you parents who can’t make it in because you’re in a different life season- I’d like to offer you my OFFICIAL KINDERGARTEN REPORT:


The over-achievers are concentrating and the artists are doodling and the rascals are rascalling (why do the rascals always have the most hard-to-resist grins?) and the ones that struggle are with the teacher getting some extra love and smiles. They’re painting and sharing and getting band-aids for invisible paper cuts and singing math songs and talking over each other and telling twelve minute stories during circle time that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic being discussed.

Teacher: Who can share something special about fall? Little One: Oh! OH! ME ME ME! Teacher: Yes. Sarah. Sarah: MY GRANDMA’S NAME IS ALICE AND SHE HAS A BLUE CAR AND ALSO NINE CATS!!!! (then twelve more minutes about each cat, obviously.)

But let’s cut to the chase. I know what you’re most worried about. LUNCH. Parents worry about LUNCH.  Thinking about our babies eating in a cafeteria brings every lonely feeling to the surface.  Elementary School Cafeteria =  LORD OF THE FLIES!!!! HOW WILL HE SURVIVE?  Here’s the thing about that. Lunch is hard for them. For one reason: THE FREAKING KETCHUP.  At this very moment there are one million kindergarten hands in the air across this land. One million of those hands are either requesting ketchup or complaining about their inability to OPEN KETCHUP.  (WHY, KETCHUP MAKERS, WHHHYYYYYY???? WHY DO YOU MAKE THESE PACKETS SO HARD TO OPEN??? WHY DO YOU HATE LUNCH LADIES SO MUCH????? ) Also, parents: you can stop spending so much time planning your kids’ fancy lunches. Nobody eats them. Nobody. Except, of course, the ones with fruit roll ups and brownies and 6 pounds of sugar in their bags. They eat it all. Well played, sugar mamas.

LISTEN TO ME: THE KIDS ARE FINE. They don’t miss us. I KNOW they swear they do and they cry before drop off and they make us feel fifty shades of crappy before 8 am and I’m not saying that they’re lying: but let’s just say THAT THEY ARE DRAMATICALLY MISREPRESENTING THEIR EXPERIENCE. I don’t know why they do this. I think that maybe after our babies are born and the nurse takes them away to have their “first bath” she actually takes them a workshop entitled: “THIS IS HOW TO LAY ON THE MOMMY GUILT HARD AND FAST. DO IT OFTEN AND EARLY- SHE’LL BUY YOU MORE CRAP.” Don’t buy them more crap.  They’re happy. I watched them all really closely this morning- and they are being cared for. We have a-freaking-mazing teachers in this country and they are DOING THEIR WORK so that we can breathe and do ours. And all of them- the overachievers and the artists and the rascals and the story tellers and the strugglers – they will be okay. They have nets. Breathe Deep and Carry On, Warriors.

P.S.  Those lessons you’re teaching your kiddos about BEING REAL and HONEST? They’re working. One little man walked up to me this morning, touched my hair and said, “Oh. My mommy cut her hair really short like yours. She cries about it a lot.” So. Good job, parents. I guess.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Oct 012014


Sometimes I get angry.

When I write about my anger, people get uncomfortable. Sometimes they even get upset. It’s really interesting. I thought you were the Love Wins lady, they say. I thought you cared about kindness. Why do people think that anger isn’t kind? Every internal or external love revolution starts with a little anger.

We should stop telling women and girls that they are not allowed to be sad or angry. Forbidding half of the human experience to half of the human race is quite insane and dangerous. It hurts women – bad. We internalize this “women don’t get angry” message and so every time we feel angry we layer shame on top of our anger. And so instead of using our anger, we hide it. We numb it with food or booze or snark or TV or sex or whatever else. We assume that if we are angry- there is something wrong with us instead of considering that maybe we are angry because there is something wrong with the world. Perhaps that “something wrong” is even something that we could help change. Maybe anger can be our fuel. Maybe anger is like compassion, in that it can point us directly toward the place in the world we were born to help heal.

A couple of years ago I was in the kitchen listening to Alanis Morissette. I love Alanis with all of my might- which is a lot of might. My then six year old daughter walked in and said with a touch of scorn, “Is this the angry lady again?” And I laughed and said, “I like how Alanis is passionate. I like how she’s not afraid to share her feelings, even when her feelings are angry. I love how she turns her love and anger into art so it helps others. She reminds me that it’s okay to be angry. ” And Tish said, “Girls shouldn’t get so angry.” And I said, Hm. I’m a girl and I get angry. And Tish looked at me and said, “Oh.” Then she went back to her room. A little while later, she tapped me on the back and said, “I get angry sometimes too, mom.” Phew, I said. That means you’re human. You know, I think anger is like fire- it can be used to save the world or burn it. We’ll just figure out how to use our anger to save the world, kay?Kay” she said.

My daughter loves Alanis Morissette now. You have not lived until you’ve cooked mac and cheese next to an eight year old in pig tails singing at the top of her lungs: WHY ARE YOU SO PETRIFIED OF SILENCE? HERE, CAN YOU HANDLE THIS?

Yes. We can handle this, Tish. The world can handle you. The pretty sweet parts and the loud jagged parts. All of you. Be ALL of you. 

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Sep 292014

The thing you need to know about me is that I am an amazing September parent.

In August I quit parenting, because August is when I remember what I learned in early sobriety: the key to sanity is everything in moderation: especially family togetherness. We survive August. That is all. But then September comes and the kids head off to school where they belong and my plans for self/family improvement shine as bright as one thousand suns. I am NEW and fresh and I have TIME and energy because I am less busy being homicidal and so I AM GOING TO BE AMAZING. I am like Tim Robbins when he escapes from Shawshank. August is parenting Shawshank. September is the water.

The point is: NEW SCHOOL YEAR = NEW G. Which means I am going to do all the things. Like: I am going to SHOWER DAILY. EVERY DAY. And then I’ll get dressed. In DAYTIME CLOTHES THAT PEOPLE WEAR OUTSIDE IN THE WORLD. Like jeans and shirts and a necklace, even. I will wear these clothes ALL DAY instead of deciding twenty minutes after putting them on that I am “wasting them” and getting back into my pajamas. Other people put on clothes in the morning and wear them all  day long and that is what I am going to do because: September.

ALSO. I will go to yoga THRICE PER WEEK. I will do yoga until I am OOZING ZEN AND PEOPLE STOP ON THE STREET and watch me go by and say to themselves: Man, I wish I was THAT CALM. I will smile calmly at them.

NEXT, I will go back to therapy LIKE A BOSS. I will work out all my STUFF until I am STUFFLESS and people will watch me go by and say: I wish I was THAT WELL ADJUSTED. I will smile adjustedly at them.

After I am clean and dressed and zen and adjusted it will be time to get organized. AND SO: I will go to Target and ask the red people what the Sam Hill a “Bento Box” is and then request that they gently guide me to the BENTO BOX AISLE where I will buy seven BENTO BOXES and start using them immediately for whatever it is Bento Boxes are supposed to be used for. Whatever it is, I will be AMAZING at it. Then I will stack the BENTO boxes away nicely.(In the kitchen if Bento Boxes are small, in the garage if they are huge.) Then I will CLEAN. I will begin creating a clean family by bringing seven garbage bags to the minivan and disposing of ALL THE FOSSILIZED BANANA PEELS AND APPLE CORES. Then I will heroically place these garbage bags in the garbage CAN instead of getting tired and leaving them in the back seat and then pretending that I don’t know what stinks for several weeks.

ADDITIONALLY: I will drive to the kids’ school in my clean van and join eight committees. I will probably lead two of them. Actually I will run for PTA president. I will run on the platform of Bento Boxes for all. I will win. I will lead with graceful power. As you can see, it will generally be as if the ceiling cannot hold me.

In September I also adopt new “THINGS.” Hobbies, practices, identities- you know. Last year my new “thing” was incense. This year I decided that SWIMMING was going to be my new thing. I chose swimming for two reasons: one, because I live in Florida and have a backyard pool. Two, because of Scandal. Because Olivia Pope swims. You know Olivia Pope, right? From Scandal? We are the same in so many ways. Twinsies. I am always surprised more people don’t stop me on the street and say: I wish I looked as much like Olivia Pope as YOU DO. I assume they are simply intimidated so I just smile at them Olivialy. Ms. Pope and I have only one major difference: our taglines. When her people are in crisis and look to her she says: IT’S HANDLED. When my people look to me in crisis I say: I CANNOT HANDLE THIS. That is ACTUALLY what I say. A few weeks ago, Amma lost her shoes for the sixth time in in twenty minutes and I heard Tish say: Don’t tell mom again. She CANNOT HANDLE THIS.

So anyway, I saw Olivia Pope swimming laps on Scandal and I thought: maybe it’s the water. Maybe it’s the WATER that makes her so calm, cool, collected and capable. And so: Swimming is IT. Swimming is MY NEW SEPTEMBER THING. I AM BASICALLY GOING TO BE OLIVIA POPE. This is IT.


Nothing works the way it’s supposed to. I need a new thing. I am Olivia NOPE. The ceiling is totally holding me. September is ruint.

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