By Audrey Hines McGill We walk into my two boys’ new school and check out their new classrooms. We meet their new teachers; I say hello, and then introduce the boys. I explain how we’ve recently moved cross country for my husband’s new job. But what I don’t tell these new teachers is that I’m secretly hoping for a new start, a reprieve from judging eyes and ignorant staring that made up much of my previous interactions with teachers and other parents at my children’s prior school. I wish my boys have more play dates and birthday party invitations. I dream of neighborhood friends and for my children to feel like they belong. At this very moment, I also secretly hope my children’s telltale eye rolling tics don’t happen as we make our introductions. Just for a little while, I hope for a break from the explanations and the reciting of diagnoses. For just a few minutes, I want my children to safely blend into
By Maria Kostaki I hated breastfeeding. Not because it hurt. Not because… I can’t think of another reason normal women don’t like breastfeeding, but not because it hurt. A few minutes after my son was born, my midwife placed him on my breast. It was the second most magical moment of my life; the first was watching him pee on the OR floor as the OBGYN shouted “Oh! He’s blond!” and handed him over to the nurse to clean up. The following day he spent nine straight hours on my breast. I had a C-section, he’d insisted on staying head up in the womb and my body’s quarters were growing dangerously small for him. It hurt to sit up, to lie down, and it definitely hurt to have an extra seven pounds on me for nine hours. But I didn’t hate it yet. It was still magic. A week later, this is how my day goes: 10:00 pm: Stumble up the stairs
By Jennifer Berney My seven-year-old son might be in love. I can’t tell you for sure because I’m determined not to ask him, and even if I did, I’m not sure that he could answer. But I can tell you what I’ve seen. Yesterday afternoon, when I arrived in his classroom to volunteer, my son sat next to a girl—let’s call her Abby—a girl who I’ve been hearing about for months. My job was to bring pairs of children to a table in the hallway so that they could complete a special worksheet. I tapped Abby and my son, asked them if they were ready to join me, and when they stood up they were holding hands. The gesture seemed so natural, as if in standing up their hands had simply joined. They walked to the table this way in comfortable silence and as I trailed them I felt as though my own heart might burst. “Do you see this?”
By Elizabeth Richardson Rau Best friends often don’t come in the prettiest packages. The true friends I have made are like me, willing to show dents, battle wounds and flaws. In 2011 my world imploded when I left my husband. The decision was the right one; the fallout nothing short of apocalyptic. It was during this time that I learned that friends of substance run towards the burning rubble that life can become while most others flee. This friendship culling, much like that of a spring garden, is laborious and painful but necessary so as to make room for more sturdy roots to thrive. During times of crisis it feels devastating, but, as one of those fleer-friends once told me: God sometimes draws straight with crooked lines. You will get where you are meant to be with the right people standing beside you, even if the journey there doesn’t look like you expected it. This was the friend who, after
By Stephanie Meade “I wish I could eat pork like Eryn!” It’s a harmless statement really. My four-year-old wishes a lot of things. She wishes she could have a dog and a monkey, she wishes she could “buy” a princess (I explained to her you can’t buy people but left the discussions of slavery and human trafficking for a later date), a certain dress or a stuffed animal. Sometimes she wishes she could be other people or have other family members. But something in this statement felt a little like sandpaper on my skin and I couldn’t at first pinpoint why. The month of Ramadan just finished—a time of spirituality and fasting from sunup to sundown—and I tried to fast like I always do but didn’t succeed beyond one day. The maximum I have fasted is 12 days, which made me feel like a superstar. But when you think Muslims are fasting for 30 days, my sense of accomplishment dwindles.
By Pamela Valentine There’s some conversations that you simply can’t prepare for. We had to tell our babysitter that our oldest child was transgender. We didn’t want to, or for that matter, even have to. Our child’s gender was nobody’s business but ours and shouldn’t play any role in how a babysitter treated him. But last summer, she had known him by another name, a female name, and used female pronouns. Now, things had changed. I imagined a breezy announcement as we ran out the door. “Bedtime is at eight, not a minute later! They can both have a cookie after dinner and oh, by the way, our oldest is transgender. Have fun, see you by ten!” Yeah, somehow, I just didn’t see that being the way to do it. Writing a letter, like we did for most of our family members, wasn’t the solution either. First of all, I didn’t have her mailing address. Secondly, she was our babysitter,
By Meghan Moravcik Walbert Illustration by Linda Willis I make a list of all of the essentials. The things he needs and the things I know he will really want. The things that will help him fall asleep at night. The things he will cry for. I put the finishing touches on the photo book I will send with him so that hopefully he won’t forget our faces too quickly. I order yet another copy of Goodnight Moon. This time, it’s a recordable version that will help him remember how our voices sounded as we read to him each night at bedtime. I will stock him up on size 4 T-shirts and summer pajamas. Maybe a new pair of Crocs. Yet another pair of sunglasses even though I know, I know, he will probably break them in the first week. I will buy him these things in advance to get him set up for next season, which he will spend
By Dierdre Wolownick “Number One’s rolling!” My son’s finger shakes in anticipation. I follow his stare and see one perfect white egg roll onto its other side. All around us, people gasp. Kids of every size and ebullience level fill the museum; we’ve been jostled and stepped on all morning, elbowing our way through airplanes and plumbing, the human body and impossible machines. Science-in-art. Hands-on things to push, pull and measure. But nothing has so captivated as this little warm pyramid of glass with sixteen eggs in various stages of hatching. Nothing to push, pull or touch, no moving parts, absolute silence. It doesn’t seem like an exhibit that we wouldn’t be able to tear our little movers and shakers away from. Yet here we stand, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, motionless. I never knew my son or daughter could stop moving for that long. A tiny speck of beak pokes out through a hole in Egg Number One. People cheer.
By Sarah Kilch Gaffney They are so much of why you are back on your feet, of how you are able to continue moving through life. Great friends are thrilled for you when you go from the least likely of the bunch to settle down to all-out smitten and engaged in the span of fifteen months. They wonder a little about this fellow you met in the middle of the woods and how you’re only 22, but then they meet him and no one has any questions, just joy. They agree to hike four miles round-trip to watch you get married in your favorite hiking pants (with a veil thrown in for good measure) on the mountain closest to both your hearts, and then help to remove the blowdowns from the “altar” before the ceremony starts. Even when most of them are doing more productive things with their lives, they don’t judge you when you decide to put off graduate
By Wendy Wisner I so desperately want to wrap him up in my arms. And I can’t. At least not in the way I used to. When I turned 8 years old, I declared 8 my favorite number. I liked its loopy, curvy shape. I traced it on the roof of my mouth. I saw it everywhere, and in everything. Eight o’clock was my bedtime. School started at 8:00 a.m. I read Ramona Quimby, Age 8 cover to cover, thinking the book was written to me. I thought everything was about me, really, and that everything could have a direct effect on me. If the kids on the playground got in trouble for exchanging Garbage Pail Kid cards, surely I was next (even though I was watching them from the other end of the playground). My teacher pointed to the graffiti sprayed on the door to our trailer classroom, warning us never to do such a thing. I was sure she thought I had done it. After all, my friend