My Evening in the Parenting Twilight Zone

I spent this afternoon and evening in the “Parenting Twilight Zone.”  Ever been there? It. Is. FAB. 

Let me explain.

It started when I had to borrow my teenagers car after they got home from school. 

“Sure mom. Anything for you! ” they chirped.  Twilight Zone stop #1. 

I open the door and of course it is full of empty soda cans, gum wrappers and general crap all over. And it stinks like armpit. Like AXX  sprayed on sweaty armpit.  No surprise there. I start the car and the radio, left on from when they just drove home, is tuned to NPR. N. Freakin' P. R.  When I am in the car driving, sure, I tune it to that, but on their own? You mean they just drove 30 minutes home from school jamming out to “All Things Considered?” Twilight Zone stop #2

I left to take one of the boys to piano. I had already sort of prepped dinner. Still had to boil pasta, pop chicken parm in the oven, and heat up the sauce, but I could do it when I got back home.

I walk in after piano, and I smell it. The chicken is DONE. The pasta is DONE. And the sauce is simmering on stove.  What the ever living Mario Batali happened to my children? 
“Thank you for starting all this before you left mom.  Dinner is so good!” Twilight Zone stop #3

Everybody eats EVERYTHING. Did my children not breakfast or lunch today? Zone stop #4.

After dinner one of the teens takes the two little ones to play golf. He does this on his own, without being asked, without whining “Do I have to take them with me?” They leave without a peep. They have on collared shirts.  I. am. speechless.  Zone stop #5

My oldest heads out to chess club. He didn’t need to be reminded he had it tonight. He left early. He was dressed nicely. He said he was excited to play that 80 year old guy again tonight.  Hold up, I think the  almost 17 year old has turned 57 years old today.  Zone stop #5. 

I am sitting all alone on the couch at 7 p.m. wondering what spaceship came down and kidnapped my sons,  leaving me four Stepford children.   I am alone, eating ice cream, at a time of day when the crap is just really ramping up ready to hit the fan. But the house is currently crap free.  #6. 

They all return home. There is no fighting. No late attempts at trying to finish homework. Nope. It’s all done. They pack their bags, shower, and head to bed. Zone number SEVEN! 

What. The. Heck. Is. Happening. Here? 

You know when your kids go spend the night at another family’s house and when they get back the parents tell you your kids made the bed, brought their dishes to the sink, said please and thank you, and was polite,  respectful and a delight to have over? 

Well I have a theory. The “Twilight Zone Kids” theory.  

Last night my kids thought they were spending the night at  their buddies house. The nagging mom in the kitchen? Nope. Wasn’t me. It was Mrs. So and So from down the street. Basically they came home from school and walked into another dimension. The “It’s not my house so I am gonna be really awesome dimension.” 

I’ll take it. I don’t care how it happened, but this dimension of the sight of my kids cooking dinner and the sound of nobody fighting,  this journey into a wondrous land of me not imagining them being great young men but them ACTUALLY being great young men? Holy Rod Serling I’ll TAKE IT!!  

My kids, your kids, everybody’s kids…. listen, we’re doing OK moms. We really are. We are raising great people. Sometimes we choose to only see the weaknesses, the failures, the annoyances. But then an evening spent in another dimension, spent watching the lessons we have preached ad nauseam for weeks, months, years,  finally reveal themselves in ways we have prayed about? Well, it is pretty FAB.U. LOUS! 

Tomorrow morning will come, and there will be devious boy antics and impatience, grumpy-ness, short tempers, and  smart mouths. But tonight? Nope. Tonight was just me in the ZONE. Maybe we should rename it the “Mom Is Kicking Ass Zone.”

Perspective Moms Need

When I get home today I will wrap my arms around your rosy cheeked face, sweet smelling hair,  and strong body, squeezing you tight until you giggle into my ear. 

Because it could be worse.

When the alarm screams Monday morning and I dread the frenzied rush, the breakfast making, the lost sneaker finding, the lunch packing, I will not lose my patience. 

Because it could be worse.

When my day is filled walking through bedrooms littered with wet towels, dirty clothes, and empty cups, I will pick them up gratefully, letting go of my burdening annoyance. 

Because it could be worse.

When the afternoon sports taxi service consumes my day,  and the errands and rushing pecks away at my patience, I will grasp the steering wheel with happy hands. 

Because it could be worse.

When the witching hour hovers over the house, and homework nags,  dinner calls, and baths sit poured waiting for grumpy, dirty little boys to take a dip, I will hush my hollering. 

Because it could be worse. 

When I slide into bed at night, exhausted and spent from the unending, thankless, and heedless job that motherhood can sometimes be, I will close my eyes and count my blessings. 

Because it would be worse.

It could be me kissing sallow, sunken cheeks, caressing a bald head where there was once sweet smelling hair, and squeezing a frail body ravaged by cancer and the chemo killing it. 


It could be an alarm beeping not to encourage me out of bed, but to tell me your meds needs to be administered, a lunch you can't stomach to eat doesn't need to be packed, and legs that can longer skip or jump do not require lost sneakers.


It could be an afternoon where the only car ride we take is the one to place a where you will be poked, prodded, scanned, and screened. 


It could be a witching hour where I am simply trying to keep a normal routine for your sibings, as we adjust to living in a strange place and in a strange town, just to be near the only beacon of hope we have left to grasp on to. Your only homework assignment is to get well.


It could be me sliding into bed at night,  exhausted not physically but mentally, trying to shut my eyes and black out the somber images, possibly inevitable horrific outcomes, and forever sorrowful future we may be given tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. 


But it is not worse. 

It is better.

It is "How did I get SO. DARN. LUCKY?" better. 

It is the kind of better that continues to move me to try and make a difference in the lives of mothers who are living in the  "it could be worse"  life. 

And you should to.

For information on how you can help bring hope to mother's  living the "it could be worse life" and make it into a "better" one, please visit          St.Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Young Woman Raises $100K Running for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

When Kyllian Warman’s father was diagnosed with cancer when she was just a high school freshman, her family, determined to have her father see her graduate high school, fought the disease with all their might. But while treatments may have failed him, Kyllian did not. Using running as “her therapy, and medicine” to see her through the tough times, at the beginning of 2012, Kyllian vowed to run 2012 miles. 

And she did. And she hasn’t stopped since. 

Then, after losing a friend to cancer soon after losing her father, Kyllian was moved to dedicate her running to raising awareness and funds for St. Jude Childcare’s Research Hospital. St. Jude Childcare’s Research Hospital.

Located in Memphis, TN, the mission of St. Jude is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of their founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay. Their ground breaking research has

Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since it opened in 1962, and St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent in the next decade. 

They  won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. And either will Kyllian. 

By running races around the country as a St. Jude Hero, she aims to witness an end to childhood cancer in her lifetime. 

The Heroes program is just one of the many endurance events that help raise funds for the hospital. Walkers, runners, and triathletes of all skill levels and ages participate in Hero events around the country, from 5Ks to full marathons and triathlons.  St. Jude Heroes are provided with personal fundraising pages, making the fundraising process easy for participants. 

By being a Hero, and an excellent philanthropic example for other young people in her generation, Kyllian’s initial goal was to raise just a few thousand dollars.  But in just a few years, she has managed to raise over $100,000. It’s no surprise that when Rick Shadyac, CEO of ALSAC, the fund-raising organization of the hospital, heard about Kyllian’s efforts, he knew he had to meet her. 

“It is critically important for our young people to embrace our mission. Our founder,  Danny Thomas, called upon young people to do this. One of the first fund-raising events for the hospital was actually a teen march. Now, the power of a new generation of young people to use social media to spread our mission is invaluable. It is critically important to us. And Kyllian has been an amazing example of that.”  stated Shadyac.

Next weekend, over 20,000 runners will line up at the start line of the St. Jude Country Music Half and Full Marathon in Nashville. Several thousand of them will be walking and running as Heroes, lacing up their shoes and tackling the course to help keep the fight against childhood cancer, and the St. Jude mission going strong.  

Standing humble among the thousands will be a very poised, special, and inspiring young lady- Kyllian. It will be her 13th marathon for St. Jude. When asked what keeps her motivated, what keeps her from hitting the snooze button on early morning training runs, she doesn’t hesitate to share her inner motivation. 

“I just consistently  immerse myself in the mission. I read all the patient stories, some of them several times, so I can recall them on long runs. I remind myself of Danny Thomas’ mission, it is a constant presence in my life. And really, what is my excuse?  There is none. So I run. ” Killeen states.

And you can too. Be a hero for a child. For a family. For the fight to end childhood cancer. 

Visit  St. Jude Heroes to start your journey to your race today. 

Moms- Get In the Picture of Your Life

My mom is having a birthday, and seeing how it landed on a Thursday, I figured it would be fitting to go ahead and share a great throwback picture of her on my personal Facebook. A real retro snapshot of how I remember her as a child- circa the 70s. I knew just what picture I would use, as I had seen it what felt like a million times. I have a few of our family’s childhood photo albums under my bed, in all of their dusty avocado green, orange acid tainted glory. The first album I opened, right there on the first page,  I found it. There were several more like it- her lazily enjoying the beach sprawled out on a woven aluminum chair, her lounging on a brown tweed couch in front of a brown wood paneled wall, feet up near the macrame plant holder. Her and my dad in front of his Harley, or at a dinner table, or handing me a can of Schlitz to sneak a sip out of (I was probably three. Hurry and call child protective services ASAP). Suffice it to say there were many photos to choose from. And in every single one she looked beautiful. Relaxed. Un-anxious. Carefree. Where were all us kids? Well if I had to guess, we were playing somewhere down the street unsupervised. Did you hear that? Unsupervised!  I mean really, how dare we? Oh wait a sec- helicopter parenting had yet to reach, or guilt, her generation into structuring every second of her kid’s days. No wonder the unhurried temperament in her expression.

I wondered as I looked again at the picture on the post I shared, as I typed her a “Happy birthday  MOM! I  love you!” and joked at how "smokin' hot" she was, if my sons would be able to find a picture of me like this someday.

I looked over at no less than 12 scrapbooks piled high on a bookshelf in our living room, knowing perfectly well they were brimming with years and years of memories and milestones.  Of first steps, first birthdays, first haircuts, preschool graduations, and t-ball games. Pictures of Christmas mornings and Halloween evenings, of car trips, boat trips, and airplane trips. Page after page of little boys doing boy things, playing with their dad, shoving cupcakes in their mouths, even being stitched up in the ER. And they all had one thing in common- I wasn’t in any of them. I calculated it would take perusing through at least seven albums before coming across a picture of me. And what exactly was that picture me? It was of me in a hospital bed holding a newborn baby. 

What happened to the years following the hospital bed picture? The baby grew-we have hundreds of pieces of evidence of it, but the woman? Did she not evolve as well? What happened to her? 

Motherhood happened, and it happened to her- to ME-  forcing me to forever be standing behind the camera, not in front of it.  As the mom, I suddenly became the family archivist, snapping photographs of our lives here and there, day after day, year after year.  And never for one second did I realize that as I snapped years of my family’s life, I failed to snap any of mine.

Sure, I have taken my share of selfies, but honestly, most of them are of me sweating after a run, in the hopes of inspiring others to get out there and exercise. There are a sprinkling of selfies of me so excited to have taken a shower and washed and dried my hair that I had to actually snap a picture of myself clean.  If you peeked into my Instagram you would see pictures of food, food, and more food (five males to feed here) of all of nature, of big and small  events I know I was at but have no picture of me actually at. There are sunrises and sunsets, storm clouds and wildlife. You would find plenty of goofy pictures of my boys, of them at sporting events and parties, of fathers and sons doing father and son things.  Even photos of strangers doing strange things in public that I felt compelled to document. 

But what you won’t find, or couldn't find in albums, photo boxes, and on all of the memory cards tossed into kitchen junk drawers, are pictures of the woman that is also the mom. 

The last picture of me I could find of myself lying alone in the sun, appearing carefree, with a face not scrunched up and impatiently thinking  “Oh honestly just hurry up and take it!” is a picture of me on a beach on my honeymoon. There was no offspring to capture making cute sandcastles, or running away from crashing waves. There was just the woman before the mom. 

That was almost 18 years ago. 

And that speaks volumes. 

I have spent my boy’s childhood behind the scenes. I have spent it in kitchens and laundry rooms, in bleachers and ballparks, classrooms and carpool lines,  grocery stores and waiting rooms. I have spent it like all moms-parenting, planning, cooking, washing, stressing, driving, organizing, shaping, and attempting to construct a childhood for my kids that is worthy of fabulous pictures of THEM. 

And none of ME. 

None of the woman who has dedicated herself to making all of that happen. Not the mom with the swinging ponytail in yoga pants or sweaty running shorts, but the WOMAN that did all of this.

When my sons are grown, and there comes a day where reminiscing about their youth may find them searching for a picture of their mom, of the woman that was their mom, where will they find it?

Today as my own mom, a true baby boomer, celebrates her birthday, and has been mothering me for 42 years, I am amazed at the lessons I can still learn from her. As I scanned that picture of her as a young mom, of her just relaxing in a chair on a spring day,  of her not behind the scenes of my childhood but in front of it, I realize she has left me a precious gift. The gift is not only this amazing picture, it is a lesson in picturing ME in my life. Of making a point to actually picture myself in my life. 

And I will start now.  And you should too. 

I asked my 11 year old son to take a picture of me today.

 “Of just you?” he asked.

“Yes, just me, sitting right here on my little front porch where you will remember  I liked to sit a lot.” I replied.

“Why?” He questioned me again.

“Because in 30 years you are going to be looking for this picture, and  I want you to be able to find it.” I answered. 

Now it’s your turn. Go get in the picture of your life. Front and center.