To Bounce or Not To Bounce?

It’s taking a really long time to bounce back from August and the first half of September. The past two days, I’ve felt some natural return to normalcy which is thrilling in it’s own right. Normalcy gets a bad rap.

The kids had picture day, and Trenton didn’t give the money to his teacher. He paid for his book order but kept the check for his pictures tucked safely in his back pack.
When we walked through the door, I asked how his pictures went, “Show me how you smiled,” I said.
He did.
“But mom,” his smile immediately dropped and he spoke VERY seriously to me, “Did you know you can’t have the pictures unless you PAY for them?”
Head drop. Heart drop. Mom just knew in that moment that the check never made it into the proper hands.


They’re growing rapidly. Sometimes it feels exponential.
Alice, I’m happy to report, isn’t in school. She’s at home and she’s very ALICEY.
She’s also very ELSA-Y. Not to be mistaken with CINDERELLA-Y. Because she’s NOT. She’s ELSA.
She’s been very attached to me these days, and it’s been really funny. When she was born, I told Danny, “I’m just going to go with her gut… let her dictate things in the beginning. When she wants to eat, we’ll do that.”
It was an experiment for me -I was a stay at home full time at that point, and I had the freedom to see what the gut of an infant felt like. It relaxed and calmed everything in our house
set us all up for boundary-lacking chaos a few years later. Because she’s still dictating things around here.

I realized how bad it had gotten the other day when I exerted all of my parenting moxy into a trashy situation. It all started when I was hit with a beautiful wave of gratitude for my children -they are really good kids! Sometimes I get so busy task-mastering that I forget to just ENJOY the fact that the people growing up in my house are big blessings.
I just so happened that pay day was that day, so I resolved to surprise the kids with a fun sushi dinner and a redbox rental. They were overjoyed.
“So you guys get sushi and a movie and you get to stay up a little later, that’s a given,” I said, “But if you would like that AND a doughnut, here’s a list of stuff that needs done before we can go into town to buy the dinner stuff and rent the movie.”
Oh, they got to WORK. They FOUGHT over the work.
“Mom, I DID IT but he put his initials by it and HE DIDN’T!”
“I NEVER!!!!!!!”
That’s when the tears joined the party and I listened to the THINKING part of my brain that said, “BREATHE THROUGH THIS” and not the FEELING part of my brain that longed for something numbing like chocolate or ear plugs or alcohol.
While cleaning up, Trenton found his long lost magnet set. He began tossing them around and one ended up in the trash.
“Mom, can you get it?” he asked.

This was prime. PRIME. A teaching moment! And I was being A GOOD, PATIENT PARENT.
“Trenton,” said, pulling him nearby just like they do in the Hallmark promos, “Sometimes in life things get messy and hard and they stink. They REALLY stink. You won’t WANT to do them, so you get to make a choice. You can DO THEM and show yourself how capable you are, or you can choose not to and live with the consequences which can be okay too. If you find your magnet in the trash, you will have it back and then we’ll get doughnuts. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it and you’ll just not have your magnet anymore. You get to choose.”
“Yes, things that stink really do stink.”
It was getting deep in SO many ways.
“It feels that way right now, but YOU ARE SO CAPABLE.”
“I’ll be happy to help when I see that you’re working hard on it and not just waiting for me to do it for you.”

Being a good parent is a very hard thing to do. I turned back to what I was doing (dishes) and I used the thinking part of my brain to rehearse my own words. I sent them to God and my feeling brain only interrupted sometimes.
Pause. Breathe.
“I am capable of being patient. I can let natural consequences take their place. IF HE DOESN’T GET HIS ACT TOGETHER AND GET OFF THE FLOOR I’M GOING TO LOSE MY BRAIN!”
Pause. Breathe.

“Trenton,” I grit my teeth but kept my tone under control, “You can make a choice. Magnet or no magnet. You are capable of doing hard things. If you get it now, you can still get that doughnut. If you don’t, you just won’t get a doughnut because your chores won’t get done in time. It’s your choice. You’re capable, you got this.”
“I’m. not. talking. to. you. anymore.”

Five minutes later, he had the magnet in his hand and he proceeded to clean up some other gross, stinky, nasty stuff on the counter because, “I could.”
I then walked straight up to the toddler -who hadn’t done a darn thing except make a mess behind everyone who was cleaning and cooed, “You wanna doughnut?!”

That’s when I realized that I first make monsters and then punish them. Boundaries, Alicia! Boundaries! But how?! How do I deny doughnuts to Alice Michelle?!
And after taking them through the grocery store -which event was seriously crazy and I only lost one kid once, so that’s something! -we stopped off to say hello to my grandma who fed us tacos.
Sushi was second dinner, and we watched “Home.” It took me over 30 minutes to realize the movie wasn’t about creatures called “Boob.”
At the end of the day, Danny asked how my day went.
“I played good cop, bad cop, psychiatrist, cook, friend, nurse… and I don’t know. It’s pretty crazy. It was pretty funny.”
Someone please sum up a day of mothering for me in a few succinct words because I’m just too frayed in the brain to even.

I bake cookies because I’ve convinced myself it heals the fray in my brain.
“Where are the cookies? Where’s the bowl?” I asked last week when I looked up from the dining area and couldn’t see the pan and bowl I KNOW I’d JUST set down.
I walked quickly to the kitchen and found Alice’s calling card. MISCHIEF.

Our evening walks down Dad’s farm are always accompanied by a baby and a stroller. They’re something I really look forward to because they give me a chance to practice being present -to not get wrapped up in the rush of getting back home to start dinner. I work on not catching up on messages on the walks, but just taking the slow evening and letting it be slow.
It seems easier to slow down in the evening time. Maybe because everything is lit up with Arizona Sunset Gold?
Alice also takes the time on our walks to catch imaginary “KLEENERS” which are actually praying mantis (praying manti? How do I pluralize this? them?) that Lacy calls “Clingers.”
She stops her stroller and gasps at the ground next to her, “KLEENER!” She scoops up air and passes it to us all.
These walks are not for the rushed of heart.
Because once you have the imaginary insect, you have to CARE for it and not step on it, but Trent is a boy and Trent WILL step on the air JUST to get a reaction and then Mom will pick up the stroller to take the baby and Alice will have a melt down because


Sometimes I take the farm walk alone and sit on the bank of the irrigation ditch and talk to God about how my body hurts, how sick I am, how hard it is to be nauseated every day and not know why… I talk to Him about everything I can’t control, about the shame that eats at my soul when I’m not physically well. I talk, talk, talk, and sometimes I don’t talk but I know I’m still communicating. I go beyond words with God.
When I open my eyes, He goes beyond words with me. He shows me a tree I’ve stared at before but never really SEEN. It’s grown wild and strong on the banks of the ditch. It’s a Chinese Elm and I HATE CHINESE ELM. They kill everything around them, almost refusing to be cut down and killed on their own!
But I realized that day that the ditch -the place where the water was flowing -had revealed the roots of the tree.
God reminded me how much I fuss about the surface symptoms of my life without letting His living water rush over and uncover the roots.
I recenter, I reground.
I stop fussing about the leaves. I can’t control my sickness, but I can control how I respond to my sickness and how I respond to my sicknesses and EVERYTHING comes back to my “roots.” It comes back to what’s in my center… rather, WHO is in my center.
When God is in my center, life is peaceful even when it’s awful. When I’m in my center, life is chaotic, even when it’s sunny.
Roots, roots, roots.

Sometimes I have to get out of the house and away from the children who help me grow so much. I once read that Socrates married his wife because we wanted the challenge she would give him. She had a reputation for being a hard woman -someone really difficult to get along with -and he wanted to growth a woman like that would give him. He wanted to see what it would uncover in him.
That man. He was incredible.
I feel that way about my kids -they uncover so much about ME that is hard to face, and sometimes I just need a quick trip to Sonic for some Sprite. Did you know I live by a famous corner?
Because I do.
I took Lacy out to my grandma’s to watch the General Women’s Conference. I again walked the farm road, holding her hand and talking with her about things girls talk about together. I love her so much -really, Lacy is a beautiful gift to the world… with all of her gifts and all of her faults and all of her HER-NESS, she is a force!

It’s crazy how bouncing back from the past month and a half has looked A LOT like slowing DOWN. And now I wonder…
Do I really WANT to bounce back?


  1. Ohhh, my friend. Listening to your transcription of your conversation with Trenton just made me laugh, then hurt, then laugh again. Those patient parenting moments are SO hard when you have to hold on through the lesson that you know they need to learn.
    Also, Maggie is our Alice. I’m really having to work on boundaries with that girl, whilst feeling guilty that I spoil her more than I do our boys.
    Also, I love you and the lessons you teach me. You are amazing and it’s always fun for me to hear your voice through your words.

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