A letter to my daughter on her 11th birthday

Dear Pumpkin,

Happy birthday. Today, you are 11 – which is mind boggling to me – feels like such a big number and I’m sure part of that is knowing that you’ll be heading to middleschool this far – so this is going to be a year with some change. I know how you feel about change.

You’re kind of worried about middle school – of the locker, the classes, and when I told you the other day that they had recommended you for advanced math, you got so upset. The thing is – I know you’ll be fine, but you’re worried that math will be too hard, that you won’t be able to keep up. You are your own toughest critic, and while I admire your drive to do well, I wish you could realize how amazing you already are, and that your worth is not defined by a grade in math.

(I also know that you come by these perfectionist tendencies honestly, and I’m sorry – and I’m trying to do my best to make sure you know that you being you is enough – always – and that I’ve always got your back and I will always love you no matter what)

You are a creative and shining star and I love that about you. You still are so much your own person and I love that about you. I think it’s really special that you are true to yourself and don’t follow someone else’s path.

I love that you love to read – you are an avid reader and you have a list of books you want to read. You read series and you love to spend time in bookstores. Not only are you an amazing reader, but you’re a strong writer as well. You want to be an author some day and I believe you can do it.

This year, you did something new called Odyssey of the Mind – which was cool to see – you and your team worked so hard to creatively solve problems, think strategically and perform a skit. I saw you thrive in that environment – with other creative kids. I love how you are excited to try new groups and explore challenges, especially when they build from your love of creativity.

You just finished a week of theater camp this summer and that was exciting as well. You looked amazing on the stage – you had such poise and presence. I admire that! You learned so much in one week – memorizing a script and performing with only five days of practice! You even learned a whole song and dance number. I was really impressed – and I’m excited to see if you’re involved with plays and musicals in school this year.

You still love dogs, especially our pup. I bet someday you’ll end up fostering dogs. Lately, you’ve even asked me for a cat (no go! I’m allergic!).

Recently, I got you and your sister hooked on the musical “Hamilton” so you both want to be Schuyler sisters for Halloween and I love that too. (Also, y’all amaze me the way you can recite the speedy parts of “Guns and Ships”)

You are tender hearted and sweet and kind and sensitive. You are beautiful and funny. You are sassy and bright. You have brought me immeasurable joy in the last eleven years and I can’t wait to see what this year brings. Eleven years ago, I held you for the first time and got to begin to learn who you are. You are a wonderful daughter to me and sister to Princess, you are a kind friend, and a lovely and wonderful human. You are pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.

I love you so very much and I am so very lucky to be your mom.

Love,

Momma

 

Thursday Ten: A Third Down edition

  1. So, yeah, June is almost over. It feels like summer has barely started but it’s actually almost a third over and how is that even possible? (THE TIME IT FLIES)
  2. With a free download from the Starbucks app, I downloaded the 5 Minute Journal this week. Just a few days in and though it may well be shortlived, it’s good for me to work on practicing gratitude and looking for the moments that made me happy.
  3. I have watched an insane amount of Greys Anatomy on Netflix this week. I’m still pretty sure I could intubate y’all if you needed it.
  4. I was selected to be one of the “Awesome People” on the launch team of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Textbook, due out on August 9. I’m not paid to have opinions – just received a free copy of the book – which I devoured in the span of a few hours while sitting by the lake a few weeks ago. It’s classic AmyKR – whimsical, joyous and sweet. I’ll be posting more about it in the coming weeks, but y’all might consider pre-ordering it, especially if you need a feel-good book to read this summer.
  5. Finally, after over a year of the envelope sitting on my counter, I’ve finally booked an appointment to use the spa gift card that’s inside of it. Next week I have an appointment at a local spa, where it will cost an ungodly amount of (gift card) money to probably dye my hair the exact same color it is now.
  6. I’m working on so many big projects at work right now that I’m barely finding time to breathe, but still making sure that when I can, I get outside for some fresh air and exercise. I used to be a “work through lunch” kind of person but I’m glad to have ditched that habit for the most part.
  7. Dog farts are lethal.
  8. There’s a three day weekend coming. While I’m excited about that, I’m still focused on just getting to the end of next week. I know, I know, wishing my life away, but basically? Just trying to get some projects crossed off the list.
  9. I haven’t cooked in ages. I have no desire to cook. It’s too hot. I’m too tired. I’m not prepared. I’m sick of ordering (and paying) for takeout, though. Next week, I get my shizz together. Tonight, I need to menu plan and make a grocery list.
  10. Hard to get excited about puny fourth of July fireworks after the awesome of Disney fireworks… but I’ll still try.

Thursday Ten: A Change Is Gonna Come

  1. As I type this, I think back on the post I wrote last week. The one where I was so maxed out, so stressed out, so overwhelmed. Well… I’m still there. And feeling this way is not a good thing for me. I’m trying to practice self care as best I can – yesterday, I worked out twice! I drank lots of water! I reached out to my friends! But… I’m still having a very hard time and I’m not quite used to this.
  2. There are 39 messages in my spam folder right now and they’re almost all from the Gap.
  3. I am watching season 12 of Greys Anatomy on Netflix and getting my heard stomped on over and over again with all the drama. In a good way?
  4. I downloaded a new app called “Streaks” in order to try to create some healthy habits in my life – it’s the only reason I’ve managed to remember to floss my teeth for the past 8 days in a row.
  5. Tickets for Hamilton Chicago went on sale and by the time I was able to try to get tickets, all I could find were tickets that are $500+ each… or tickets with an “obstructed view.” (Hey theatres: why would you obstruct the view of the stage?) So what I’m saying is: I didn’t get Hamilton tickets.
  6. And I hate that I am even feeling badly about my life at all because so many people I know are going through some SERIOUS stuff and I’m all like, “Wah wah wah…I’m overwhelmed.” Realistically, we cannot compare our challenges to those that other people face – otherwise we’ll make ourselves even crazier trying to minimize our struggles for fear they’re not big enough to be justified. We don’t have to do that. At least, I don’t think so.
  7. You know, a year ago I was terrified. A year ago, I was newly diagnosed with Usher syndrome and I didn’t know how long my eye sight would last. I was looking for signs all the time about my vision – was it better, was it worse? My visit in Iowa changed a lot of that fear to hope. About my eyes. I think that has altered the changing about the other stuff. In some good ways and some less than great ways.
  8. As you can see, I’m working through my thoughts as I type this list.
  9. It hasn’t rained in a very long time and my yards are dry and what’s there is more likely a weed than grass.
  10. Is it Friday yet? It would be really lovely if it could be Friday.

And that’s about when my brain melted

Have you ever started filling up  your kitchen sink to wash dishes (because your dishwasher is broken and every time you think you’re going to buy a new one, well, something else comes up and then you don’t get a dishwasher and you have to keep handwashing everything even though it makes you want to punch a manatee) and then walked away, completely forgetting what you were doing until you register the sound of the still running water and you glance over at the sink, the water dangerously close to the top of the basin?

Or you were pouring flour into a glass measuring cup and the flour crashed out of the jar in a huge glump and then the cup overflows – flour everywhere.

I don’t know what’s up with the kitchen analogies but essentially what I’m saying is this: these containers have a finite capacity to hold stuff. You try to put too much stuff in, and eventually – poof – stuff everywhere.

That’s…kind of where I am. Dangerously close to being an exploding bag of flour or overflowing sink.

And it’s not a great feeling.

My grandma died on Wednesday.

My mom called me on the drive to work – and in the span of ten minutes, I was on a roller coaster: the paramedics were on their third round of CPR and no response to… they had a pulse and grandma was on her way to ER.

Sobbing, I navigated through a dismal road construction bottleneck while sobbing to my coworker on Bluetooth, telling her I would not be into work. I arrived at the hospital the same time mom did, and we were immediately ushered into a family room

Not a good sign.

We waited for everyone to arrive.

There’s not much you can do in a moment like that. You sit, and you cry and you wait. You try to get ahold of family on the phone. You scroll Twitter and feel envious of the people who haven’t had their morning go completely astray. You check your email.

A ventilator was breathing for my grandmother and I was thinking about work and the things I would have to delegate to someone to get done and a teacher was emailing me about an award my daughter was being surprised with the next day at a ceremony I would be unable to attend because I was chaperoning my other daughter’s class trip.

The glass measuring jar. The overflowing sink.

One by one family arrived. The priest arrived. The doctor disconnected the ventilator and we watched as she took her last breaths.

We cried and we hugged and then we didn’t know what to do next and so most of us just went our separate ways.

That push and the pull of all of the obligations facing me in that moment, that’s what has replayed in my mind over the past few days. The moment when I realized that no matter what I did, I couldn’t possibly do all of the things when they needed to be done, to please all of the people.

It was also the moment when I realized: there’s just too much.

If you thought that this was going to be the kind of post that tells you how to overcome that, well, you thought wrong. I had this epiphany several days ago and I’m still pretty much a mess.

I don’t sleep well. My home office is filled with laundry that needs to be folded. There is a crockpot sitting on my counter that needs to be emptied of leftovers and scrubbed clean, but it’s the first time I’ve found to write in days, so I’m typing this post, eating Dots candy and watching the Food Network Star on Netflix. I only feel a little bit bad about that.

In trying to find peace, sometimes all I can see is the clutter on my bookshelves. I stress about work projects and problems that never come to be because I’ve just created some imaginary worst case scenario and beaten myself up over it…only to have it never happen.

I am an overflowing sink.

And I don’t know how to turn the water off.

The thing is, I suspect I’m not the only one. In fact, I know I’m not. And it’s a bit sad, I think, that so many of us are operating in this mode – this gogogogogogogogogogogogogogo mode of getting things done and running-running-running-gotta-get-it-done until we are about ready to collapse.

Until we are wide awake at three a.m. imagining awful things, pulled so far in every direction, feeling like we’re not succeeding anywhere.

Things are going to change. They have to. Because I cannot function like this anymore. My sink is overflowing and I’ve got to let some of this water out. Somehow. Someway. Soon.

 

 

A Letter To My Daughter on Her 14th Birthday

Dear Princess,

I’ve been writing these letters for more years than I can remember without looking but surely somehow we’ve gone from elementary school to middle school to where we are now, just weeks away from graduating 8th grade – about to begin your high school career. [Side note: I still think the idea of “graduating” from 8th grade is asinine, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be there, teary eyed and so proud of you.]

It’s been an amazing year. I admit, the thought of the end of this school year has me a little bit sentimental – as we dug through photographs to put in the eight grade slide show and the choir concert slide show, I watched you grow up in pictures, from this round faced toddler to this graceful young lady. I never stopped paying attention, I was always watching and yet – somehow you teetered right out of childhood.

This year you were one of the leads in the school musical and oh my god was I so blown away – not only by your voice which was clear and beautiful and so perfect for the role, but by your presence. Your confidence and charisma radiated – and I could not take my eyes off of you on that stage and I kept thinking to myself, “I get to be her mom.” How lucky I am.

Your grades are excellent and when you struggle, you work to pick yourself back up. Some parents have to prod their kids and chase them down to do their work but I’ve never had to do that with you. You push yourself harder than I could dare imagine – and you are your own biggest critic, not that that’s a great thing. But you are self-motivated, and that I am grateful for because you do things for you and not because of what I, or anyone else, tells you.

Another year of gymnastics under your belt and a slew of medals to show for it. You had meets where you felt like you were on top of the world and meets you left disappointed and discouraged, cheeks streaked with tears. But my gosh, you tried and you tried – and when you went to the state gymnastics meet, I’ve never seen you work quite that hard. You medaled on the balance beam and even though you missed your goal of qualifying for regionals by such a narrow margin, I saw the joy on your face as you raised your arms in salute on the podium.

People tell horror stories of what it is like to have teenage daughters but I don’t feel that way at all. You’re pretty freaking likeable. You send me the funniest texts, and you have a dry sense of humor that’s probably several years older than you are. And I love it.

We watch Gilmore Girls, and you get my Friends references and sometimes we all go have ice cream for dinner. You help me talk your sister into brushing her hair. You are a pro at sorting laundry and you tell me what to eat when I’m hangry.

Fourteen years ago, I saw your face for the first time. Fourteen years ago, I held you in my arms for the first time Today, you are nearly as tall as I am and we wear the same size shoe (which means that we can share Chucks which is pretty much the best thing ever though I have yet to actually wear your Chucks – though I did wear your koala socks to work the other day).

I am excited for your future. Recently you’ve decided that you want to own a bakery when you’re older – and since you’ve started a Pinterest board for it, it must really be a thing. Whether it’s a bakery – or something else – I cannot wait to see what the years ahead bring for you.

Let’s start with this one. Fourteen is going to be a good one. I can feel it.

Happy birthday, Princess. I love you very much and I’m so very lucky to be your momma.

Love, mom

 

Thursday Ten: A Vacation From My Vacation edition

  1. A week ago, we were in California and now we’re back and I have been exhausted ever since. A quick trip to see Chris win an award for work and to spend a few days at Disneyland and then back again – just a matter of days but it was good to get away even if I’ve been sleepwalking since I got home.

247 | 365

2. And yep, I still hate flying. I was fortunate that the long stretches of time in the air were quite smooth, but even the littlest bumps set me on edge. I am the actual worst. The one kind of awesome thing about being scared of flying is that my fear leads to some nice conversations with the poor unfortunate souls stuck sitting next to me. The conversations I had with people who saw fear in my face – well, I’m grateful that in this world where we all tend to put on our headphones and keep our eyes forward, there are still some people who truly see you.

3. I am frustrated that I spend so much time wishing away my weeks. For example, do you know how giddy I am that it’s THURSDAY and I’m only one day away from Friday? And while whooohooo the weekend is almost here, I don’t just want to endure my weekdays. I need to shake that sense of rushing through my life, because that sucks.

4. I have been working on the Couch to 10K running program and managed to hit a 70+ minute workout last night. I never have that kind of time to get a workout like that – which could be why these run/walks are kicking my butt so badly. You’re supposed to do them 3 days a week, but who has that kind of free time? Not me, which is why I’ll never be able to run six miles without stopping to walk.

5. Seeing the fireworks spectacular at night at Disneyland was one of the most awesome things I’ve seen in a very long time. I took so many pictures and so much video – I loved it so much. You never really outgrow the magic of Disney, I guess.

6. It’s raining a lot lately. I know, that’s a spring thing, but I wish it wouldn’t rain quite as much. My backyard looks like a jungle and I don’t have time to mow it.

7. In the home stretch of the school year so that’s starting to get chaotic as well. Concerts, field trips, and all of that fun stuff. Makes for a chaotic few weeks. The Princess will be 14 in just over two weeks, so there will be a birthday celebration coming soon, also. Will be ready for summer to come and slow life down a bit.

8. SOooo. New Instagram logo. It’s pretty bad. And according to my kid, it’s somewhat traumatic. (We’re a family full of people offended by bad design, I guess)

9. Tomorrow’s Friday.

10. A summer vacation fell through this week and while I’m bummed, part of me is a tiny bit relieved I won’t have to deal with that whole re-entry back to the real world after vacation thing again. I should probably learn how work-life balance works.

Thursday Ten: When The Legends Are Dying edition

  1. Today, I was stunned at work when Chris messaged me, “Prince died?” and I was like, Nooooo, it couldn’t be and then I went to Facebook and my feed was already full of the news – the awful news – and it really just seems like 2016 is ripping people away too early, doesn’t it? Prince was a musical powerhouse – and as I drove home and listened to the words I had typed out, and seen, so many times today, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…”, I felt my scalp tingle with goosebumps and tears fill my eyes.
  2. But my first instinct was to make a joke – which I restrained myself from doing – not about his death, but his death in comparison to so many others that haven’t made an impact on me. Because, well. Who cares, Sarah. Also: each of these people, these people I’ve never met, mattered to someone, lots of someones. Know who makes jokes about that kind of thing? A jerkface. Don’t be a jerkface.
  3. So, I’m consoling myself with episodes of Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. As you do.
  4. The snow has finally (fingers crossed) melted and gone away – hey, it’s almost May afterall.
  5. And… I had a great trip to Iowa to meet a new eye doctor and for the first time in awhile, I feel hopeful about my stupid retinas. I know I’m always saying it, but that’s truly another post for another day – but an important one, and someday I’ll find time to write.
  6. There hadn’t been much time to write lately. Holy moley, life has been I-N-S-A-N-E.
  7. I finally finished the Couch to 5K program – next, I tackle trying to learn to run 10K. Oh the crazy things you do when you’re staring down your fortieth birthday.
  8. Did you know May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Cookie day? Now you know. It seems weird that over three weeks in advanced, I’m already thinking about baking cookies, but the thing is I probably won’t actually do it because see number 6 – I HAVE NO FREE TIME.
  9. I wasn’t this bummed when Bowie died.
  10. Alright, Universe. It’s time for sleep. Let’s go a day without a celebrity dying, huh?

Single mom with the check engine light on

Glug. Glug. Glug. Glug.

That’s the sound my car made when I started it leaving work this evening. A rattling spinning heavy noise that certainly doesn’t belong there, and then… it was gone.

And then, less than half a mile down the road as I called the Toyota dealership to schedule a service appointment…the check engine light popped on.

I should have called for service weeks ago, I know this. But there’s always something. Evenings are filled with picking up kids and meetings and school stuff. There’s rarely a night to just go home and stay home, something’s always gone on. Weekend hours at the service shop fill up fast, as you’d expect, and my weekends fill up with activities too – gymnastics runs, events, this thing, that thing.

Suddenly glug glug glug and a check engine light.

And that was after finding my car completely dead this morning when I went to leave for work, having apparently not shut my door all the way before I went out of town for the weekend. I can only blame myself, of course, for leaving the door ajar. The battery, completely drained, required a jumpstart, which required looking up a YouTube video on just how on earth you jumpstart a Prius anyway and calling my stepdad because what the hell am I supposed to jumpstart my car with when my only car is dead?

It gets a bit tiring sometimes – all of the stuff. And while I dig parenthood, and love the groove I have with my kids, what gets especially tiring is the stuff: car maintenance, securing the trampoline so it doesn’t fly out of the yard during a windstorm, finding time to workout between work and mom taxiing and the sun setting, the cooking the cleaning the clothes washing the… you get the point.

There’s inherently so many things to do to keep a home and family running and for the most part? I’m doing it all.

And I’m so tired.

Sometimes something’s gotta give and that something is that you don’t mop your kitchen floors every week.

All too often, that something is ignoring an oil maintenance light until a series of unfortunate events leads to glug glug glug and that bright ominous check engine light and ugh oh my god how badly did I just screw myself procrastinating this one?

I’m built of pretty tough stuff but I’m tired. Today, I am fantasizing about the idea of a concierge service – one that can swoop by my office, pick up my car and take it to the dealership while I sit at my desk in my office, churning away on projects that are so time-sensitive I haven’t taken time off to get to the damn service department in the first place. On their way back, they’ll pick up my groceries and maybe they’ll call my car insurance and make my first quarter insurance payment before it’s due on Monday.

We are not supposed to glorify busy – or so they say – but my god, I am busy and I’m kind of sick of it.

I’d drop a rope if I could tell which one was which – but since I can’t, I hang on to them all, hoping I don’t screw up too badly.

I am hopeful that the noise isn’t an expensive one. I can say that I’ve learned my lesson – that next time, I’ll just take time off for the appointment, and place a priority on keeping my car running smoothly and in good condition.

But I know better.

I suspect, much like my car, that somewhere and somehow, my own virtual check engine light is on.

I figure that, like my car, I missed one or two other signs that it was time to make time to tune things up.

Tomorrow, they’ll hopefully find the source of the noise and repair it and maybe it won’t cost me an arm and a leg and I’ll drive out of there lighter in wallet and quieter in car.

My own repair might not be as easy.

 

Thursday Ten: Wherein a Foot of Snow Turns Into 70 Degrees Edition

  1. Last week, mother nature walloped us with a ton of snow – in my neck of the woods, we received over a foot of snow in 24 hours. This week, temps hit 70 and all the snow melted away. While I’m not complaining, this weather pattern has made for a kooky winter. And now March is quite nearly half over, and whoa nelly. This year is zipping along.
  2. I am concerned that the United States is all sniffing glue. This election season is making me shake my head in complete and total confusion. How the hell is Trump even a thing? Can we wake up from that bad dream anytime soon?
  3. We’re already getting to that time of year where school activities are taking over life. Just this week there have been two rounds of parent teacher conferences and a choir concert. Usually, it seems this hits a wee bit later in the year – typically, we hit spring break and then it’s a downward slope of one thing happening after another. We’re getting a jump on it this year.
  4. I’m so tired this week – and it’s a bummer with this magic weather that I’m so tuckered out… but I haven’t slept well and I hate that, waking up in the middle of the night and never truly feeling rested. I suspect it will only be worse after the clocks spring forward this weekend.
  5. By the way, don’t forget to set your clocks forward.
  6. And check your smoke detectors.
  7. I just accidentally saw a Facebook picture with a snake in it so I’m sure I won’t sleep tonight either.
  8. I’ve been trying to read Mindy Kaling’s new book for a week now and I’m not getting very far. What are you reading?
  9. Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.
  10. Friday is almost here again. This is a good thing. I just finished a weekend and yet… I’m ready for one again.

We can’t all be winners

Pumpkin wears a dog hat almost every day from November through April. We bought it in Chinatown nearly five years ago, and when the weather chills, every year since, the hat takes near permanent residence on her head daily. Whether she’s inside, outside, sometimes even when she sleeps, that black and white spotted hat is nestled snugly on her noggin.

It’s a joke almost – that damn hat.

You see, part of me hates that hat. I hate that when she wears it, it’s hard to see her beautiful face – and oh, how I love that face. I hate that it tangles her hair and creates a near perpetual state of bedhead.

But part of me loves that I can pick my girl out in a crowd almost anywhere – just look for the hat. It’s her signature – she’s known for it. I also love the fact that she totally doesn’t care if other kids might think it’s weird that she’s always wearing the hat. She loves the hat, and could care less if anyone else likes it or not.

I kind of admire that about her, her individuality – how she marches to the beat of her own drummer. How she embraces weird, embraces herself. She’s so true to herself, that sometimes I think to myself that I want to be my ten year old when I grow up.

Yesterday she had a school competition. She was excited, nervous. I was apprehensive – I’ve never been to one of these before. I’ve been to tons of gymnastics competitions, so I know what to expect, but this was an academic thing, and I had no idea how it all would go.

We spent the morning racing around doing last minute shopping for the competition – a pit stop that ended up irritating me as I wasn’t expecting to have to do anything in the morning other than wake up and attend. The other moms had been talking about all of the things they had purchased for their kids to bring, and though my daughter’s plan was to bring things from her own collection to trade (because you can’t just have a competition, you also have to have a swap meet), when she mentioned that, the look that crossed the other moms’ faces indicated that wasn’t quite how things were done.

Fine. To the dollar store we went.

To the event we went.

Hurry hurry hurry. Wait wait wait.

The kids have been working really hard for months, so I was eager to see them shine. Eager to see Pumpkin shine. But we arrived at 10:30 and their first competition wasn’t until 1 and essentially we started out immediately with waiting – which is how we spent the bulk of the day. In total, despite needing to be there for hours, the actual performance for the kids was less than a half hour.

Wait. Wait. Wait.

(I am not a patient person)

We sat in a loud cafeteria filled which kids and their parents. Our team, with a later performance time, showed up late enough that the majority of tables were already filled and we tucked away in a dim corner. Dim. Loud. Waiting. Just kids and their moms sitting around the table. For hours.

I tried.

I’m not good at social but I tried. I had two books tucked in my purse – I’d honestly been hoping to read. I’d hoped that we’d be sitting in an auditorium, a gym, and that like gymnastics – when I wasn’t watching my daughter I could bury my face in a book.

That’s not the way this works.

Admittedly, it was frustrating – all the waiting. (Because if I’m being totally honest? I think it’s crappy to have kids – and their parents! – sit around all day. They could have better harnessed that downtime for the kids – maybe setting up some craft stations, reading corners, and the like – could have better occupied children filled with nervous energy far more than just sitting around a table ever could – and it could have relieved some of the parental pressure to be social).

Because.

Well, it was clear the other team moms were far closer and friendlier than me.. That’s fine, I guess – they’ve been doing this a few years. But I didn’t know what to expect. They’re lovely and friendly and social and fine… but I was overwhelmed with the noise and the dim and the kids everywhere. I just wanted to tune out.

It’s not because I don’t care.

It’s not because I’m a bad mom.

But it’s because well… that’s just not the kind of mom I am.

I suck at small talk. I suck at making friends with the other moms. Yeah, I’m nice enough, but I know that I come across as aloof and even stand offish. When I don’t hang around at practices, I know it may seem like I don’t care – I do – but I also have a limited amount of free time. If my presence isn’t required at a practice, I’m going to use that time for a sanity saving workout rather than just watching over the coach’s shoulder.

I’m not the mom who knows what to say to all the other kids – or even one who enjoys hanging out with hundreds of strangers’ children in a crowded cafeteria.

I don’t expect people are interested in me or what I have to say solely because our kids share a hobby. And that’s okay, for the most part.

And so.

The kids did their thing. They rocked it. Pumpkin wanted to leave to attend a dance with Princess and their dad rather than stay and wait for awards. Considering that when she found out her competition and the dance were on the same day, she was about ready to quit her team rather than miss her dance, I felt okay with the compromise. Would it have been nice for her to stay and see how the team did? Yes. Did I understand why she made the choice she did? Yes. I wasn’t about to tell her not to go to a father-daughter dance with her dad. That’s an important tradition for them.

But, I realize how it may have looked to the team.

And then I saw the pictures on Facebook. And I felt left out. I could see the parents socializing and I felt outside that circle. I recently heard a podcast that said that when we feel judgmental, it has more to do with our own self than the person we are judging – so while my inclination was: Well, they just have more free time than I do and I don’t want to spend all my time at school making friends with other moms, the reality is: I felt left out.

I know I suck at the school mom game. I’m friends with several people who have kids in my daughters’ school – but I’m not the super involved mom and I probably never will be. I care tremendously what my children do. I want to support them and cheer them on. I’ll probably never coach their stuff and the front desk staff at their schools will probably always smugly ask for my ID when I arrive and then say (as they tend to), “Well, we don’t see YOU much around here.”

I’m… not that kind of mom.

I’m an introvert and to add to that – most of these social situations are challenging for me anyway with my stupid malfunctioning eyes and ears. Most people don’t know that – I certainly don’t wear a sign on my shirt letting people know that if I don’t respond when you ask me a question it may well be because I don’t hear you or see you out of the corner of my eye. Yesterday’s environment felt so challenging to me, that I was really tremendously overwhelmed internally that I didn’t have anything left to give externally – I was just trying not to cry.

So it was a perfect storm of emotion to later see pictures on Facebook of the team and knowing that myself and my daughter weren’t there. To know that no one had let us know how they’d done really made me feel outside the circle. I want to be angry at them but I can’t because it’s not really anything they did – it’s realizing that who I am doesn’t always fit in the circle… and probably never will.

And that’s okay. I have a life outside of the school. I have great friendships and relationships. I know that I am going through tough stuff and I have to be forgiving of myself. I know that I don’t have what it takes to go along just to get along and that, too, makes me seem abrasive and difficult to know and sometimes like.

At one point last night I thought to myself – maybe we can move. Maybe I can start over.

Then I realized: I’ll still be who I am. I will always be who I am. No matter if I fit, or if anyone else likes it. I can’t be anyone other than myself.

And that’s when I realized that I may be more like my daughter than I think.

All I’m missing is a dog hat.