Monday, December 31, 2012


As I focus my intentions for 2013, here's what resonates:

-  Increase connection with my husband,
- Nourish my family,
- Seek and embrace friendships,
- Inspire by setting a positive example,
- Delight in my children, and
- Explore creativity.

I kid you not- I wrote my intentions with no acronym in mind. With some minor wordsmithing, this is what emerged. And, yes, that is what really resonates. The message to look INSIDE to love and support myself as I prepare to do the same for other surrounds me now. Kris Carr recently wrote that your purpose may have nothing to do with your vocation or avocations, but rather with your journey to connect with your inner light. Brilliant! Also, today I finished Marianne Williamson's awe-inspiring book A Return to Love - a manifesto for acting with love towards yourself so that you may be loving in the context of the world at large. All this amazing knowledge pouring forth is definitely having an impact. Yes, Universe in all your wonder, I'm listening!

Setting the acronym of my intentions aside, you may notice that I tend to be ambitious with my goals. It's my overachiever nature, I say smiling proudly. No worries here, the plan is already in place. I'm investing time and energy in a project that hits many of these intentions in one fell swoop.

......I'm now a book reviewer for Hay House! Sassy scholar me is positively glowing with delight that I can be of service by reading books and writing reports on them. Yes, Sassy Scholar, I love you and thank you for all the hard work you put into your school years. You may now read and write with purpose. My nerdyness is radiating through my smile!

Even more radiance-inducing, however, is the fact that at 7 AM one morning I was writing in Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book to uncover my dream job of writing for Hay House, and before noon I discovered this opportunity. Poof!  Life can really be this magical. Thank you and wow!

Hay House is a haven for spiritually-minded folks who seek the wisdom of amazing authors. The publishing house offers free books to bloggers who review them. That's where I fit in. I can't wait to bury my nose in their awesome works and expand my knowledge of wellness for the mind, body, and soul!

My first assignment is Kris Carr's new cookbook, Crazy, Sexy, Kitchen. Kris is a NY Times best-selling author and champion of plant-based eating. Her new book is poised to provide both knowledge and recipes.

On this end, I'm looking forward to getting playful in the kitchen with Jeff and the kids, connecting as a couple over delicious dinners, nourishing the whole family in whole health style, and chronicling the adventure through writing. (See, I told you I could hit lots of my intentions with this project!)

Before hitting the books, I need to acknowledge my partner. He's the "we" in "I' am now reviewing books. I hereby count my blessings that I'm married to a man with culinary and photographic talents - talents I don't share but heartily admire. On the other hand, Jeff would never get excited about reading and writing like me. His inner child would blaze four runner trails through the woods while mine would spend an entire weekend reading past bedtime and writing in my journal. We completely compliment each other which makes the project a way for us to enhance our relationship as we rely on each other's respective strengths, while giving us each an individual energy boost as we utilize our own creative talents. The chance to share this with one another is also radiance-inducing.

So...draw the blinds neighbors, it's about to get Crazy, Sexy in the Roche Kitchen! (Fade to hysterical laughter, rosy blushing, and the thought that I really shouldn't have said that.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dragging Up Old Rag

Last Sunday my husband and I dragged each other up Old Rag. Sadly, this isn't a metaphor! We hiked 9.63 miles up and down a rocky Shenandoah mountain on a cold, wet October day. The trek, marking our eighth anniversary, was a fitting analogy for our marriage.

We started early, leaving the house pre-dawn and our families of origin by age twenty-two. In both beginnings we set out quickly and easily, holding hands, smiling, excited with starting a momentous journey together. Soon, it was uphill. Our pace slowed, but the views got better and the feeling of achievement grew. We relaxed and enjoyed each other’s pleasant company, celebrating small successes along the way. Then, amidst all this peaceful progress, came...THE SCRAMBLE.

We knew part of the "fun" of this hike was the rock scramble, we just didn't know how very much "fun" it would be. We'd read a blog or two in preparation. We'd known people of lesser physical ability who summited. Like newlyweds, we were over-confident, ignoring the warnings of experienced park rangers.

On a dry day, it might have been easy, but our day was not dry. There are all sorts of comparisons between this and our marriage. Life is rich with complications. Our hearts break from the ordinary and the extraordinary, and this year saw lots of heartbreak for the Rambling Roches. Many of them, like the rocks on the trail, we should have seen coming. But, that isn’t ever enough. Twenty-twenty hindsight doesn’t alleviate pain, nor does the promise to do better next time absolve fault.

After I thought we’d nearly completed the dreaded scramble with ease, my heart sank. It hadn’t even begun. When I saw a blue-blazed arrow pointing eight feet straight down a narrow crevasse, I dropped my jaw and stared back blankly at Jeff. While I had kept our pace steady and swift to this point, Jeff now took the lead to steer us through this difficult challenge. I think this is how our marriage works, too. I am driven and determined to succeed and achieve, raised with the mantra “it’s not a race, but I won.” But, on the foggiest of nights, I couldn’t get anywhere without Jeff as my beacon.

As we continued, the rocks were slick making it difficult to secure footing. Jeff was sometimes in front reaching for my hand, and sometimes behind reaching for MY behind. There were times when I used all of my muscles (kegels included!) to reach the next rock. Jeff remained a patient force, guiding us both up the scramble. Without his strength, I could not have made it through.

After several miles at a twenty - thirty minute per mile pace, the mile containing the scramble took us one hour and forty-one minutes. Even more than the summit, this was the most memorable, most remarkable, and most enjoyable mile of our journey. Through the adversity of slick rocks, we showed our care and concern for one another. We stayed together. We loved each other through it and despite it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The end of the hike was a picturesque, slowly-descending trail through the woods. It was beautiful, though the scenery was unvaried. Eventually, the serenity of the tree-lined path seemed only a taunting reminder of how far away the car remained. By now, we were fatigued and the view that we were both longing for was that of our Subaru containing dry clothing and the means to deliver us to a massive cheeseburger.

While we enjoyed the descent together, it wasn't what spoke to our souls. In our marriage, we're not there yet. When we are, I hope it is like our hike: holding hands, smiling, and peacefully reflecting on the wonder of our journey together. For now, we’re still managing the scramble: alternating leads, encouraging one another, guiding one another, and using all our skills, abilities, and muscles (even kegels!) to make it…together.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Processed Food: Irony and Love

The irony of October Unprocessed is the increased usage of our food processor. In decreasing our reliance on factory processing and artificial ingredients, our kitchen is brimming with fresh foods that require...processing. In just over a week now we've broken out the Cuisinart to assist in:

Giada's Marinara Sauce - which we adored over Spaghetti Squash,

Lara Bars - I added raw vegan protein powder for the perfect accompaniment to our 9.63 mile trek/scramble up Old Rag last weekend,

Zucchini Apple Spice Muffins - which I loved but the kids didn't appreciate,

Pop Tarts - which were a big breakfast hit with the kids when served with peanut butter, and

Strawberry Jelly, a recipe Jeff indicates was modified so intensely that he's not sure he can replicate it.

While I've never considered myself much of a cook, my husband's bright culinary light outshines mine even on an off day, I have found joy in "processing" food for the family, much like I used to find joy in baking as a girl. When you bake, you feel love and joy as you are assembling and mixing the ingredients. It comes back to you when you see someone's face brighten while tasting what you've created. In not allowing a conglomerate-owned factory (or anyone else for that matter) to process my family's food, I get the privilege of putting love and joy into creating healthy meals and snacks. Thoughtfulness and consideration are built into the process as I adapt recipes to suit the dietary needs and taste preferences of my kin. Sometimes the love and joy I expend while cooking is reciprocated when deliciousness is appreciated with smiles or glowing words of affirmation. Sometimes I receive it simply with the knowledge that my family has been fed and nurtured in a healthy, nutritious way. Processing food at home allows love to be part of the process again. Many thanks to October Unprocessed for reminding me what the process of feeding others is all about.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Food Thoughts - Roasted Spaghetti Squash and Homemade Marinara

It’s 10 AM. I’ve finished my morning snack and have taken to dreaming about food. Ahhhh, food! But, it’s not sweets that have me swooning. It’s the radically delicious roasted spaghetti squash and homemade organic marinara Jeff made last Friday that’s making my mouth water. It sounds crazy that of all the foods that could fill a gal’s thoughts, vegetables are what’s gripping my attention.  
(After a few more minutes of daydreaming about this meal and the dreamy man who cooked it, I’m back.)
The sauce was boss, coming from a Jersey girl with an Italian grandmother. Okay, she was only half-Italian and largely raised in foster homes of unknown ethnic origin, but to anyone who knew her she was pure I-talian! She might be rolling in her grave, but Jeff’s sauce was the best I’ve ever tasted. Neither boring nor overpowering, it’s just perfect to make any Italian classic a homerun.
While the sauce was the feature, the squash endeared itself to my taste buds. The sheer health of it delighted us both, while not detracting from this comfort food classic. I attempted spaghetti squash once in college, but denied it a second date. I wasn’t ready; my diet largely consisted of beer, bagels, pizza, and grilled cheese. Now that I pass for an adult most days, spaghetti squash = awesome!
One final reason this meal lights up my heart is unabashed sentimentality. Italian food on Fridays reminds me of my childhood. My working mother pleaded for my father to lighten her load by handling one dinner per week. He chose Friday and ordered pizza every week. She was thrilled just not to be cooking. I am lucky to have a husband who cooks more (and better) than I and never orders takeout when it’s his turn. This meal and its timing reminds me just how lucky I am through it all – for pizza Fridays as a kid and veggie-filled Italian nights as an adult.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy October Unprocessed!

All new eating regimes sound fantastic to me...until Sunday morning when I'm trying to pull together the meal plan and grocery list. This is when the full realization of what we can't eat sets in. It's not the longing for the newly-taboo foods that gets me; it's the sheer and utter lack of creativity in replacing these foods with better options that induces near panic.

Thankfully, I have a pencil, a notebook, an iPad, and the entire interweb at my disposal. Oh, I also have tightness in my chest and sweaty palms because even with the ENTIRE INTERWEB at my disposal, I still have no idea what to make!


As I pull it together breathing deeply the little voice tiptoes in saying, "you've got this", "you're so close", "you have all the tools you need to do this". And, the biggest tool of all (um...I mean my biggest source of strength and inspiration) is my husband.

Jeff is our executive chef and always has been. My interest in cooking prior to our marriage started and stopped with baking. As a kid, Jeff participated in family cook nights, had a foodie stepmother, and lots of exposure to fine dining (aka "fancy" meals with shrimp or "special occasions" with lobster). His love of food combined with his natural ingenuity made Jeff the ideal college cook. With almost no discernible ingredients in the fridge or pantry, he could  pull off a gourmet display. His talent was uncanny and infallible. Now, instead of delighting college drunks (or about-to-be drunks or hungover-from-last-night drunks), he brings culinary joy to the Roche brothers and their mother. Thank you, Jeff, for appearing nightly in our kitchen and helping us succeed at the October Unprocessed challenge!

Jeff is also the procurer of groceries very late this Sunday night (so late, in fact, that he closed Whole Foods), for which he deserves equal credit and praise. GOLD STAR, SWEETNESS! I am ready to rock this challenge together.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anticipating October Unprocessed

I step into the sunlight each day and wonder how I can make the world better for my children. Can I love them in such a way that they will never doubt their self worth? Can I be softer with them when they experience the painful sting of frustration? Can I encourage them more vigilantly? Can I teach them something with more passion? Can I help them learn life’s real lessons outside their textbooks? These questions and more are continual works of cerebral deliberation, including am I feeding them “right”.
For me, the nutrition questions go to the heart of matters as much as the nurture questions. I imagine Jeff and myself as farmers growing whole children – minds, spirits, and bodies. There’s no manual, and the healthy eating field has left me increasingly perplexed. Is chicken okay or is even organic chicken filled with too many toxins? Can we eat red meat regularly or only once a month? How much sugar is too much? And, HOW CAN I GET MY BOYS TO EAT VEGETABLES??? I don’t have the answers, but I do have the curiosity and commitment to search for them. (Side note: I also have an insanely high sense of “good grades= good girl” which provides me with the tenacity to never quit my pseudo-academic pursuits.)
Next on our family’s journey to find the elusive answers is the October Unprocessed challenge from Eating Rules. The rules are simple (thank you, dear Lord, for hearing my prayer and providing some simplicity here!): (1) when you eat grains, eat 100% whole grains, (2) don’t eat anything with high fructose corn syrup, and (3) don’t eat hydrogenated oils, trans-fats, or anything that’s been deep fried. Simple, and, for the most part, we’re already there as a family. Food rules creator, Andrew Wilder, also adds the kitchen test to determine if food counts as “processed”: unprocessed food is anything that could be made by a person of reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients. Really making sure ALL of our food meets this test, especially where the kids are concerned, will require some adjustments (e.g., not making them Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese for a side dish every night, because at least it’s organic, right?).
Wish us luck and love this October as we nourish our bodies with unprocessed foods while avoiding the temptations of Papa John’s pepperoni pizza, homemade chocolate chip cookies, Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar, Georgetown red velvet cupcakes, salty French fries,  Caroline’s caramel cake…..ooh, that hurts! Perhaps you could wish us luck and love AND fortitude of will!   

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Calvert Cliffs

Now that it's Fall, typical weekends involve soccer on Saturday mornings, chores, grocery runs, and hopefully something deemed "fun" for the kids. Last weekend, we hiked Calvert Cliffs State Park and scoured the beach for shark teeth. The 3.6 mile hike was fun for the boys - streams, marshland, turtles, lillypads, trees, and a mainly flat terrain. Once on the beach we picnicked before starting our search. Brice found a tidal pool and abandonned all other efforts. Finn, Jeff, and I sifted through the sand and found one large shark tooth, enough to call the mission a success. Then, thanks to Jeff shuttling Brice on his shoulders for more than half the hike back, we played on the tire playground before heading home just in time for Sunday yoga.  Phew!

Thanks to Jeff and the boys for a great weekend!

Monday, September 10, 2012

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation(s)

This summer saw us well traveled! And, at times car sick, jet lagged, and downright exhausted. Here is the cliff notes version of our trips:

Lake Cumberland

The Roche/Giannone clan visited Lake Cumberland, Kentucky for a long weekend. The water was beautiful - so inviting that we spent the majority of the vacation marinating ourselves in lake water. The kids (okay, everyone) enjoyed a three-story waterslide, tubes, and jumping off the second story of the boat into the lake below. Our fun was childlike, beautiful in its simplicity and wholesomeness, and just plain amazing for the soul. We hiked the shores looking for treasure (driftwood, rocks, and quartz), and enjoyed lots of low-key family time. What's not to adore about a vacation spent entirely barefoot and almost entirely in our bathing suits?

Finn dubbed our destination "Nantucky", prompting lots of jokes about the difference between Nantucket and Kentucky. Rich people take their private planes to Nantucket; we take our SUV to Kentucky. Rich people have private chefs; we have coolers in the back. Rich Rich people go yachting; we rent houseboats.

Speaking of the was the MEGACAT! Yes, we had the biggest boat on the lake, much to Jeff's delight. The three stories of fun included a hot tub, waterslide, bar, multiple levels of decks, eight staterooms, seven bathrooms, and a great living area. Redneck yachting at its finest, and we enjoyed every minute!

Breckenridge, Colorado

Our second adventure of the summer was out to Breck for a wedding. (Congrats to Evan and Kate Mahan!) Pat and Marilee rented a great house for 22 of us (yes, that's 22!) with astounding mountain views. This was my first time seeing "real" mountains, and I was in love with the beauty of nature. The boys and their cousins quickly found a mountain stream in the quaint downtown that they explored fully (a.k.a - wet kids!). We spent some time at an amusement park on the slopes - luge-style rides, a sled coaster on rails, and a bungee trampoline experience that allowed even me to do flips. And, we enjoyed the shops and restaurants in the cute downtown; Jeff and I love a good main street!

After the lovely wedding, we made a daytrip down to Fairplay, CO to do a wildflower hike. While we never found the anticipated hike, we did find burro days - a local celebration that involves a burro race where you run 29 miles tied to a donkey. We also found some abandonned mines and some time to hike Mount Sherman. It was a very cool slice of earth to stumble upon. The next day we drove up Mount Evans, the highest paved road in North America. (Does it count as summiting a mountain if you do it in a Suburban?)

Mount Whitney and Vegas

Labor day weekend we traveled out to Vegas and onto Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. I've never seen Vegas, and 24 hours there was enough for me. We enjoyed the pool and cabana at Mandalay Bay during the day and rented a limo to see the lights on the strip at night. The boys liked the limo even better than the lights, I think. It was perfect! Then, I was done.

The next day we caravaned (us in a Suburban, Trent in a Porshe) through Death Valley to Mount Whitney Portal, where we camped two nights. We had a fantastic time seeing Jeff's San Diego cousins and meeting their mother's family. In all, there were 44 of us extended family members enjoying the clean Sierra air and the stream that trickled right through our group campsite. This was the first time Jeff and I camped with the boys. They had a blast! Jeff survived.

We also tested our new hiking boots and my new (thank you, Jeff!) Cambelback daypack on the trails of Mount Whitney, hiking nearly 6 miles to Lone Pine Lake. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the lake was breathtaking and well worth the effort. I think we've caught the hiking bug, for sure. We're already looking forward to a possible summit attempt next year, though a 22 mile dayhike to the highest peak in the contiguous U.S. is daunting, to say the least.

We spent our last night in California renweing our gratitude for running water after three days in the woods. Dearest showers, how we will never take thee for granted again!

Our summer 2012 was packed with adventure! Many, many thanks to our wonderful family who made outstanding travel companions...mostly.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summoning Joy for the School Year

I promise that sometimes I am just happy. The kind of happy that starts in the soles of my feet and moves through me with easy ujjayi breaths. The kind that radiates from inside and outside, feeding from and offering nurture to everything I greet. The kind that simply is.

Back to school, however, does not fill me with that sense of happiness. I feel nerves over new schedules, new teachers, new procedures, not to mention actual panic over the medical forms that I submitted to the pediatrician on the day they were due! I feel guilt over whether I’ve done enough  and bought enough to prepare my children for the year ahead, the materialism I try to deny inflating and infuriating the ego I try to keep at bay. And, since my mother was a teacher, there is a subtle sweet longing for her that lingers this time of year, a reminder that I still haven’t accepted her loss forever.

Before we wait for the bus next Monday, Finn donning his “sporty and hikey” backpack and Brice proudly toting his beloved big brother’s old pack to preschool, I will work through my complicated emotions, embracing joy, vitality, and light, so that I can be a beacon shining positive energy for my children as they embark on their new journey, finding their way home to me each night. I will welcome all the wonderful things this wonderful year has to offer the entire family - new friends, new learning experiences, new achievements, and deeper connections to this big, beautiful universe.

Finn and Brice: Within you lies everything you need. You are ready, you are set, so enjoy all that lies ahead. Mama’s got nothing but love for you and this exciting new year! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Rambling Roches' Road Home

I have called 13 places home since I was 18. (I’m 34.) Jeff and I have lived in 5 states since we joined paths at 21.

We’re not gypsies or even hippies. That would give us unearned cool points, the kind of points they quickly remove when you use the phrase “cool points”. I would love to share stories about backpacking through Tibet where we scaled mountains and greeted spiritual gurus, but those weren’t the kind of adventures we chose. Sure, like all free-spirited twenty-one year olds with a little money and a lot less direction, we talked about doing those kinds of things. Instead, after three months of what could only loosely be described as dating, we held each other’s hands, jumped off the cliff that was the safety and insanity of our families of origin, propelling ourselves, free-falling with sheer terror and overwhelming joy, into the atmosphere of adulthood, hopeful for an eventual soft landing someplace beautiful. We loaded a U-Haul trailer, combined our collegial possessions, and rented a house in suburban Savannah, GA. At the age of 22, we provisioned our lodging with a washer and dryer on the first Friday night of our cohabitation. At age 23, we embarked on the trail of homeownership. By age 26, we summited marriage, and, at 27, we were the first among our friends to explore the jungle that is parenthood.

Despite the utter boringness of spirit that led us to venture into ordinary suburban living rather than international travel- the kind of plainness so insidious that it manifests in beige walls and tan couches and completely white plates – for over a decade, we continued in the thrill of that initial free-fall, wondering where our eventual soft landing would be. We threw away perfectly spectacular existences to try life anew somewhere different, the change a bittersweet relief each time. The sadness to leave what we loved combined with the excitement of fresh beginnings always enticed us to move along rather than remain and endure. (Perhaps here is where I should confess that I, and not Jeff, am usually the impetus behind our moves.)

Enter children, school-age children.

Since our son Finn was born, we’ve moved 4 times. (He’s 6.) We’ve lived in our current home since October. He’s already begging for a new and different one. But now he’s in school, and not just the daycare that we dub “school” to appease my working-mother guilt - actual public school that we pay for with our taxes. He has friends in our town that aren’t just the children of our friends that we pretend are his friends - real friends whose parents we don’t even like. 

And so, it seems it is time for us to land softly (and more permanently) in a beautiful place, for ourselves and for our children. We begin a new adventure by boldly remaining in one place for years, possibly even decades. My heart quickens at the challenge, and I gulp down a few big breaths!

We really have enjoyed some amazing adventures making our life together, deciding where to make our soft landing, where to call home. We didn’t undertake the kind of expeditions you’d read in Outdoor Magazine, but we learned simple, powerful, personal lessons about what it means to find home, plumeting through the universe with only one another until we got there. We’ve learned that kind neighbors make all the difference, that an old barn sign looks great in any house, and that living near the water speaks to our souls. And yes, you guessed it, like all who journeyed before us we found that home is wherever the four of us are together. There is a vivid thrill and a subtle, warm sense of accomplishment in discovering that we are joyful in our ordinary lives, no matter where we fall.

Jeff: Thank you for taking this jumping off that cliff with me, for enjoying the fall in all its wonder, and for always supporting our soft landing. I can love you anywhere.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Let them eat zucchini.

Last night marked a big milestone in our healthy lifestyle: we cooked something we grew! Yes, for the first time ever, I picked a veggie from the garden and served it to the family. It was wholesome, sweet, and incredibly rewarding. As a side to the porkchops (that were deemed inedible because the paint on the grill embedded itself in the meat - guess we need to add grill to our Christmas list), we had garden-fresh zucchini sauteed in coconut oil, another first for us. While this isn't perhaps a lifechanging moment, it is a moment where I can reflect that, yes, I am stepping closer to the person I'm meant to be - one who sustains and nurtures her family in a healthy, green way.

PS: The incredibly veggie-resistant boys even took a bite. Brice was not a fan, but Finn looked convincingly pleased.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Speaking of Imperfect...

I had great intentions starting a blog (don't we all?), but...I didn't make a practice of it. Both kids got strep in May, then came a slew of family birthdays and other celebraty events requiring our time and energy, and (insert other convenient half-excuse, half-explanations here). Regardless of our June failings, here it goes again!

My last post was about my insecurities surrounding motherhood. Jeff wrote me an incredibly thoughtful response:

Dear Imperfect Mother,

If you could only see the world through the eyes of the boys in your life, you would see a woman who can do no wrong.  A woman for whom you would do anything to make her happy or to try to get a smile.  The person with whom all of us would choose if we had a day to spend with only one person, only one person to bring a hurt.  If we could only have one hug , one kiss there would be no other.  You are the person who makes everything better, makes everything good again. 

It must be a burden to be so needed.  To have all of us taking from your cup everyday.  Everyday I hope we boys are getting better at working towards helping fill your cup, not just drink from it and maybe ask for our own, but replenish the fountain of life.

We want you to know that we do not blame you for any moments where you might raise your voice, or roll your eyes at our whines.  We do not see any of this as an imperfection in you, but sometimes feel sad because we have upset you.  We feel we have done something that hurt you, and NONE of us boys want or like to hurt the most amazing woman in our lives.  Our tears come not from anger or frustration toward you, but from our fear that we have hurt you and that you might love us a little less because we did something you did not approve.   If you approve, then you love.  Mother, your love cures all and is the most magical thing in the world. 

Mother, we take you as you are.  We would not trade you for anyone in the world.  Others would be lucky to have someone as hardworking, thoughtful, supportive and loving as you!

Imperfect mother, you are perfect for us!

(And, yes - I cried! There is nothing so magical as owning your faults and receiving acceptance from those who love you.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Love, Your Imperfect Mother

"There's no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one." - Jill Churchill

Dear Finn and Brice:

This Mothers' Day I want to tell you that it means the world to me to be your mother. It is an honor and a privilege that I get to witness your amazing journey through life from the very moment your life began. It is a blessing that it's my name you call in the middle of the night and it's my arms you that are the safest place in your world.

I want to be the perfect mother to you, a curse I impose on myself. When I feel like I'm not getting this motherhood thing just right (the laundry is piled, the dishes are dirty, no one has said "thank you", and sibling rivalry is flaring), it causes frustration. That frustration of not achieving perfect motherhood is what I unfairly vent on you. I roll my eyes, snap "what" when I hear you say (or whine) my name, and the tension courses throughout my body as I begin to talk loudly with my hands and voice.

For all this, I am sorry. For the ways in which my own struggles with imperfection, unworthiness, and fear of vulnerability negatively impact on your innocent souls, I am sorry. I love you dearly and truly with every fiber of my being, but sometimes the light of that love is filtered by the clouds of my insecurities.

I hope that in the moments we share in peace and comfort as a family are enough. That when you reach adulthood you'll remember snuggling on Sunday mornings, baking pizza roll ups, and having dance parties more than you remember the times mom lost it and could have used a time out herself. I hope you will feel the safety and security that comes from knowing that each and every day of your life so far, we shared a smile, a laugh, a kiss, and a hug.

On lots of these days there were tears, too - over an unshared toy, a time out, a swat from your sibling, or the fear that when mom raised her voice she was so mad she didn't love you. I will always love you despite the lack of sharing, the fighting amongst one another, the clothing left on your bedroom floor, the fact that I've told you three times to sit on your stool, and that I still can't get you to eat your vegetables. All this and so much more I'll love you through. I will work on my tone (a promise I made to my own mother during my teenage years), but don't ever let it fool you into thinking I don't care about you with everything I've got. Sometimes, unfortunately, what I've got is damaged goods.

Finn and Brice, your mother loves you; she just isn't perfect. And, that will have to be okay, for all of us, especially your mother.


Your Imperfect Mother

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Garden in My Heart: The Reality in My Yard

The garden in my heart perpetually blooms: tomatoes like my grandmother grew on her family's North Jersey farm; a lilac bush like the one where my mother posed, towel between her legs because her water already broke, on the day I was born; daisies like the ones my husband brought me each week when, at age 22, we moved into our first house together; expanses of colorful, whimsical wildflowers like those in my bridal bouquet; and bountiful beds of organic fruits and vegetables reminiscent the farmers' market. This is the picture in my heart.

The reality in our yard...dirt. It's very dirtness both daunting and appealing. It isn't barren, though. It's poised. It's opportunity. And, truth be told, a heck of a lot of work!

Wish us luck this weekend as the picture in my heart collides with the reality in our yard!