Thursday, November 27, 2014


In lieu of a family gift exchange this year, we are sponsoring a family in need. I don't know why it took us so long to have this epiphany, as I am pretty sure the same chenille throw has been re-gifted among households for the last five years. As we talked about our plan with Morgan, I tried to explain that we have much to be thankful for this year, and that some families are just not as fortunate. I shared several stories of people I know, people who work hard every day just to make it from one paycheck to the next. These are rarely the people who ask for help; rather, they struggle quietly, never sharing the intimate details of daily hunger or the fear that comes each month when the rent is due.

As she often does when we talk about hard things, Morgan sat in silence for a few moments.

"Mom, can I talk to you in private for a minute?" (Morgan likes to ask me this when she feels uncertain or uncomfortable with something she's processing.)

"Sure, punkin." we stepped into the hall and she began breathlessly whispering into my ear.

"I just don't think it's fair."

"You don't think what's fair?"

"Well, if people are working just as hard as you and Dad, why do we have more than them?"

"That's a good question, one that I don't have the answer to. And it's not fair, because there are lots of families who will be cold and hungry this year, and there will be some kids who don't get anything for Christmas. But that is why we are going to try to help make Christmas a little better for one family."

"Maybe, Mom, maybe we could help more families. Maybe we could give them some of my clothes or my toys. Do you think that would help?"

I nodded. And then my heart burst. Because life is complicated and messy. And the older she gets, the more she understands that. And the more she wants to help.  And that makes me want to be a better mother, a better wife, a better friend. Because we are all in this together. 

To those of you fortunate enough to share today with people you love and cherish, relish these moments. To those of you tortured by the prospect of having to pass potatoes and cut turkey, be grateful you have potatoes to pass and a turkey to cut. And to those of you who are alone today, either by choice or circumstance, know that we are thinking of you. And we are doing our small part to make the holidays just a little brighter. Because, indeed, we are all in this together. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Strong Like Bull

Morgan recently had her annual well check. In scheduling her appointment, I had a brief argument with the doctor's office as to whether Morgan was eligible for her visit. Like most insurance companies, we can only schedule well checks every 12 months. After several moments of haggling, I was able to convince the scheduler that Morgan hadn't actually been in for almost 2 years, not the 11 months she was suggesting. This little nugget of information was actually quite significant, as I knew it meant my kiddo was healthy enough that we hadn't checked in with our pediatrician in nearly 24 months, which is practically unheard of in the land of small children, where ear infections and runny noses often reign supreme.

Morgan was much less impressed with this victory, as she knew that this visit was also going to include a flu shot. We talked about it a lot on the way over there (I am not much for the bait and switch) and I tried to assure her that, at the very most, she would feel a slight pinch. She wasn't convinced.

When we arrived, the nurse was great. She showed Morgan all of the equipment they would be using, even giving her a paper gown to allow for the most legitimate medical experience. Not surprisingly, my child was not buying any of it. She can be a real tough sell.

I, on the other hand, thought this was the perfect time to stage a quick photo session. Despite her anxiety, she looked adorable, and like such a big kid. I reflected on how much time we had spent on that table when she was an infant, the insane number of calls I made to the pediatrician every time my daughter had a hair out of place. 

And here we were, 6 years later. Morgan is strong and healthy, smart enough to speak for herself when her doctor started asking questions about how many fruits and vegetables she eats and whether she plays outside regularly. And when it came time for her shot, she was a champ. Not only did she not shed a tear, she watched the needle the entire time, proudly announcing that she was now braver than any of the kids in her class. Not even a little bit true, but I let her have her moment.

I left the office that day feeling grateful. I called David, giving him the same glowing report I had received. We complimented each other on our good genes and went about our day. Our kid was healthy as a horse. Until early Wednesday morning, when I was abruptly awakened by desperate yelling coming from her room. "Mom!!!  Hurry!!!"

I flung the door open and switched on the light, only to be greeted by the sight (and smell) of Tuesday night's dinner. "Sorry, Mom. I didn't make it," she said, so matter of fact. There were no tears, no panic, just the annoyance that she was going to have to get out of bed. Even that was short lived as soon as she realized she got to set up camp on the couch and start watching cartoons in the middle of the night.

Fortunately, she was only sick for two days. David generously stayed home with her, using that time to both nurse her fever and map out potential hunting spots. By Friday, she was back to herself and ready for school, only to have the good fortune of this year's first snow day. It was a win all around.

As Morgan heads off to school tomorrow, I will never again take for granted my healthy child. Unfortunately, I may also never again be able to eat hot dogs. I will spare you the details, but if you've ever had a sick kiddo, I know you feel my pain.