I have made so many mistakes as a parent it actually makes me nauseous to think about it. My girls grow and change at lightning speed, so just when I think I’m on my game, the rules change and I blunder and yell my way into another mistake.

But, I can honestly say I have done a few things right and one of those things is going back to the same vacation spot year after year.

There is something magical about returning to the same place throughout the years, particularly when you are growing up. The place itself becomes charmed and full of meaning; every room, every stonewall, every crooked gate. It’s as if time is reversed and you walk forward into a memory, a wonderful memory.

My girls and I have been going to Eaton’s Ranch in Wolf Wyoming since they were 5 and 6 – which isn’t that long to me but it’s a lifetime for them.

In years past we have sometimes gone with friends, who have fallen in love with the ranch themselves. But all our pals seem to be busy and Bill is editing a movie he just directed. So this summer it’s just the three of us, and when I asked my girls if they wanted to skip Eaton’s, they looked at me as if I had just suggested eating their pet baby rabbit. So we are going.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - Felicitations for JulyThe day we arrive we always walk along Wolf Creek and spend hours building toy boats, using whatever is at hand, and float them down the stream, which runs by our cabin.

At first, there is a kind of restless panic, about my kids being bored, about my not working, about having not enough TO DO! There is no real Internet service at the Ranch. Well, that’s not true you can sometimes get a signal up by the shoeing shed.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - Felicitations for July
It takes hours to make the boats, but it’s worth it.

Your cell phone feels like a phantom limb that itches and calls to you but is ultimately useless. It takes a couple of days to change your internal rhythm, but after day 3 you sink down into the slower pace, your belly relaxes, and you breathe deeply.

As we all know, unplugging changes your worldview. My daughter describes it as, “Things get small, and I don’t worry about the outside world here. We are just doing whatever we are doing.” Our day isn’t bookended by what we are finishing and what we haven’t done yet.

But it is the 7000 acres you can explore on horseback that calls to you from the moment you arrive. You can hop on your horse in the morning and ride back into the corral at the end of the day.

The mornings are cool and clear, the evenings are gorgeous.
The mornings are cool and clear, the evenings are gorgeous.

We usually take a ride to the duck pond with lunches in our saddlebags. There, we drop the horse’s reins; loosen their girths, and skinny dip in the pond all afternoon eating PBJ’s and hard-boiled eggs.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - Felicitations for July
Georgia sharing her lunch with Buddy.

You can climb up the big cottonwood tree, grab the terrifying rope swing, (give a mighty jump so you don’t impale yourself on some dead tree branches) and plunge into the water.

Two years ago, the steps were broken so we climbed up a horse – stood on his butt and jumped from there.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - Felicitations for July
That’s me jumping off Peecaboo’s butt!

Then the following year Bill packed some tools on his horse and rebuilt the steps, while the girls fished.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - Felicitations for July
Chaps and carpentry don’t usually go together, but Bill makes it work.
Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - Felicitations for July
Bill playing ukulele on the porch.

In the evenings we play cards on the porch of our cabin, which was built over 100 years ago, until it’s time to go to bed and start all over again the next morning.

Friday nights there is a dance in Howard Hall. The older cowboys gallantly danced with my girls when they were younger and the handsome wranglers dance with my girls now that they are old enough to blush.

I feel like this is something I have given my girls that is an unadulterated good. It’s non-negotiable. I felt the same way breastfeeding them. I couldn’t mess up breast milk. It was pure goodness. I feel the same way about the two weeks at the ranch.

Listen, we still have fights, and I still yell obscenities and blow it whether it is in our idyllic 100-year-old cabin (where a bat lives in the roof) or on horseback. So if it sounds perfect it’s not. It’s just about as good as REAL IMPERFECT life gets.

What about you? Did you grow up returning to the same vacation spot year after year? Did it mean a lot to you? How about your children now? Any secret vacation spots you want to share?

I wish you a long and happy July,

Love,

Flicka

Bill waving goodbye while the girls fish.

Happy June. We’ve reached the other side of Mother’s Day, Father’s day. In May WTF celebrated the Imperfect Mother. I thought, Oh how sweet! So, this month we can celebrate the Imperfect Father… huh… but I have never heard of a “Perfect Father” or an “Imperfect Father”. I haven’t seen any books on the NYT bestseller list titled, “The Good Enough Father.” WTF? It’s obvious Fatherhood doesn’t need the qualifier of “Imperfect” to fight off the tyranny of “Perfect.”

This inequity doesn’t make me bristle with indignation – but it does make me want to set us free! I think we are in need of a Mommy-Moses, “Let my people go!”

I mean, maybe the imperfect and the perfect are like matter and anti-matter. If we can get them in the same room together, it will lead to the annihilation of both, and then we can all sigh with relief because we are left with simply MOTHER.

The fact that any of us (or many of us) are grappling with the guilt and feelings of inadequacy in our mothering is a much larger discussion. But, for me, it’s superficial deconstruction is that even though I know that I can’t be a PERFECT Mother (which, let’s be honest, is synonymous with GOOD Mother) giving up the goal of perfection makes me feel somehow vulnerable. This is because the pursuit of PERFECTION in mothering feels like armor; my motives are unassailable both to others and myself. But, conversely, allowing myself to embrace IMPERFECTION in mothering, (just being who I truly am) feels like I am falling down on the sacred job of motherhood and failing my kids. Caught between a rock and a hard place.

Stepping back from this conundrum, I have to ask, “Who would give themselves a truly impossible job, then beat themselves up daily (if not hourly in my case) for not doing it PERFECTLY?” If we had a boss, or a friend, or a partner who did that to us, over and over, we might call that person … a Mother Fucker, no?

It’s shocking I know, but let’s look at a definition of that phrase:  “Mother fucker – a despicable … or vicious person. One who fucks his mother.”

My first step in setting us free would be to make the phrase “Good Mother” synonymous with ‘Mother Fucker.” Because that’s what we are doing to ourselves, and letting others do to us, being vicious and despicable. We are fucking ourselves.

My next step in setting us free might seem hypocritical but it’s claiming the power of Motherfucker.

A pal showed me a video recently of her 4-year-old daughter spinning around the room pretending to be a princess…excuse me! NOT a princess – a queen! “ I am a queen!” she sang as she danced around in a circle, “I am a queen” she sang louder, with a dishtowel tied on her shoulder, “I am a… Motherfucking queen!” I must have watched that video about 50 times because I thought,

“Yeah, she IS a MOTHERFUCKING QUEEN”.

Do you guys remember that line in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” when Jessica Chastain, as Maya, says, “I’m the motherfucker who found the place, sir.” And we have all heard, “He’s a bad-ass Mother Fucker.” That pronoun is the ultimate insult and the ultimate identification with power. It represents the primordial, raw power of the mother. We are mighty.

So, in June and for the rest of the summer, when we are chasing our kids around, begging them to put on sunscreen, feeling triumphant or embarrassed by our bathing suit clad selves; as we breathe in the long summer days and the soft summer nights. I have three ideas for freedom:

1. Don’t let ANYONE be a motherfucker to you, including yourself.
2. Be a Bad-Ass Motherfucker in the world.
3. Tie a dishtowel around your neck and dance around the room singing, “I am a Motherfucking Queen!”

Happy Father’s Day,

Love,
Flicka

An imperfect Mother behaving perfectly. 

When my two girls were toddlers and I was losing my sanity, my soul, and my sense of personal hygiene, I felt like a lone voice in the wilderness calling for help. Everyone around me basked in questions like, “Oh My God, isn’t motherhood wonderful?” and

“Don’t you miss your baby when you’re at work?” and

“Isn’t this the best thing you have ever done?”

I thought more fitting questions would be, “Do you think you’re gonna survive this epidemic called Motherhood?”

“How do you deal with the guilt and relief when you are away from your kids?”

“Do you ever wonder if you made a big mistake?” and finally

“Are you ready to stab your husband in the eye?”

There was only one woman who answered my call for help with, “Oh my God, I know! They’re impossible! No, you’re not crazy, children are awful!” Her words were like finding a sand bar to stand on when you are drowning.

That woman was my Mother and I loved her for it. I’ll never forget her advice to me. I asked her how to be a GOOD MOTHER and she answered: “Spend less time with your children!”

Isn’t it interesting that so many Mother’s Day gifts involve time away from the kids? Spa days, massages, mani-pedis. I have a friend who, on Mother’s Day, gets the longest shower she wants and often won’t come out of the bathroom until noon at the earliest. Instinctively we all know self-care equals taking some time away from your children and THAT can be the best Mother’s Day present of all.

So this Mother’s Day I wanted to honor once again, Grace Huffman. She was a mother of eight, an imperfect mother herself, and she saved her daughter from being alone in the wilderness of mothering, which I think is a perfect thing to do. I love you and miss you Mom.

We at the WTF community officially stamp your hall pass for some serious me-time. Don’t waste a hall pass or a Mother ‘s Day.

Happy Imperfect Mother’s Day.

Flicka

“Hi Flicksters! I’m thrilled to introduce to you my friend Helen Hunt. We’re welcoming her as April’s guest editor on What The Flicka, and she’s going to be taking over Felicitations today to kick things off. Take it away, Helen!”  

-Felicity

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to join What The Flicka as guest editor for the month of April. I’m choosing a theme to start a discussion that I’m very eager to be a part of. The theme we’ll be following for the month is “Letting Go.”

When I was pregnant with my daughter I went on a Hawaiian vacation. It was on a beach there that I spotted a mother surfing. She got out of the water, put her surfboard down, took a bottle of water and poured it on her breast and started nursing. I thought, ‘I want to be her.’ That’s when I decided to learn to surf and ultimately where the inspiration for my new film RIDE came from. I play an editor at New Yorker Magazine who follows her son to Los Angeles after he drops out of college to surf. With the intention of teaching him a lesson, she ends up on a path of self-discovery that has all to do with letting go.

My daughter is almost eleven now. Balancing on the tightrope of when to hold on and when to let go is an art I master then lose then master then lose. There’s a lot in this movie that’s me.

I’m looking forward to hearing stories from other women about the art of letting go.

You can find our posts here.

RIDE is in theaters and on demand May 1, 2015. Click here to see where RIDE is playing near you, or preorder on iTunes here.

I ran into a friend and her 3-year-old daughter the other day, “Hi Bella,“ I said to the little girl. She turned her back to me hoping I would go away.

a historical reenactment

“How are you?” I continued. Since I didn’t disappear she decided she had to. So she turned back around, put both hands in front of her face, and BOOM she was invisible. She stood like that, stock still, the whole time I talked to her mother. That is what’s cool about being 3.

Anything is possible.

When I was 3 I thought I was an angel, until I told my older sister who said, “That’s so stupid. You’re not an angel: you’re a brat. AND you were born naked, so the doctor saw your butt, but I was born with diapers on.” Not sure how those two pieces of information came together… but to this day diapers and angels are linked in my mind.

But despite older sisters and hard reality, when you’re three almost anything is possible. You can be magical, fairies are real and so are monsters. You can become Spiderman or Superwoman in one breath. Three year olds dream big because they don’t know any better; limitations haven’t shrunk their world.

So, here at WTF, what do we want to be when we grow up? And when I say, “grow up” I mean grow up to be 4 years old. Because every 3 year old knows a FOUR year old is a BIG KID.

I keep thinking when WTF grows up it will be Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP. Because GOOP seems like the perfect website… so cool, so rich, so “In The Know.” GOOP seems like the cool 1st grader to my 3 year old WTF.

That’s just website-envy (which Freud wrote about), but dreaming big shouldn’t be about envy, it should be about possibilities.

My 3 Dreaming Big ideas for WTF:

1. That the WTF readership decides to do 3 things that scare us – and then we write about it. Or we take more naps – equally worthwhile.

2. I would love to make an annual WTF brunch and maybe even someday make it a destination brunch, like “Brunch in Hawaii for WTF!”. Wouldn’t that be cool!?

3. I want to quadruple our readership in the next year and, to that end, start categories like:

SAVE THE PLANET so people can share what they are doing personally and we can learn what is being done globally to save the planet.

MONEY AND POWER so we can be in charge of our finances and become smart investors.

POLITICAL SAVVY so we can weigh in on non-partisan issues like equal pay and childcare, and talk about what candidates and organizations support those issues. (Hmm do those sound boring? Would funny dog videos be a better idea?)

My 3 Dreaming Big ideas for myself are:

1. I want to be a television producer…okay, a successful television producer.

2. I want to keep the lines of communication open and safe with my two teenage daughters.

3. I want to be the kind of person who meditates and does yoga daily. Scratch that – I want to be the kind of person who LIKES to meditate and do yoga daily.

An actual awkward moment.
An actual awkward moment.

3B. (this writer gets an extra) Finally, when social anxiety is too much to bear – I would like to be able to cover my face with my hands and magically disappear.

Since you are a part of WTF and now are 3 years old (and isn’t it great to be three years old at something?), what 3 things do you want to dream big about in the next year? Send them on – we want to know.

Now go eat some birthday cake, and try and convince someone you are an angel. Because you kinda are.

Love,

Flicka

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would dive into the delicious topic of The Kiss.

In line with the old theater adage, “There are no small parts only small actors,” can one say, “There are no bad kisses only bad kissers?” No. I learned this after the worst kiss of my life (given by a writer, I felt like his tongue was playing Whack-A-Mole with my mouth). I am afraid the truth is there ARE bad kisses AND bad kissers.

But, as we all know, a GREAT kiss can literally make you weak at the knees, and a great KISSER can have you on your back counting ceiling tiles before you know it.

I remember learning to “Boy Kiss” in 6th grade. I asked Wendy Steinberg, who was foreign (she came from Los Angeles), how to do it. She made me practice on my hand – so that fist I used to draw funny faces on and move my thumb knuckle to talk, you know, like this…

Kissing Instructor

… became my imaginary boyfriend. After an appropriate amount of time I even used tongue.

It was kind of genius, and to this day I am thankful to Wendy.

But when I actually kissed a boy (while watching Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard), I realized not everyone had studied with Wendy. He forgot he HAD a tongue …and lips. We scraped teeth until the inmates won.

I also remember the first time I had an “Oh my God, take-me-to-bed-or-leave-me-forever” kiss. I was 17. He was a cowboy. I thought; “Oh, NOW I know what all the commotion is about.”

And no wonder! There is so much stuff happening when we kiss. Almost a third of all cranial nerves that effect brain function are in the lips. And that combined with the lips being packed with more sensory neurons than any other region in the body means that as we kiss a smorgasbord of messages, sensations, emotions and physical “whoojy!” are being rocketed to the brain.

Truthfully, I am not sure I am a great kisser myself. Based on my thin “white girls lips” which goes along with my thin “white girl hair” – I would have to say, no.

But I do love to kiss.

Kisses christen significant moments and are lovely bon mots capping the ordinary.

I kissed my Mother’s dead cheek before the undertaker took the body away. It was so soft and so cold and the delicate hairs tickled my lips.
I kissed a girlfriend in high school on a drunken night and it felt like kissing myself.
I have kissed actresses on several occasions. I can see why men like it.
I kiss my daughters’ sweet necks when I wake them up in the morning.
I kiss my husbands hands.

And a Kiss can do a lot of things besides connect.

It can threaten, “Kiss Off,”
It can insult, “Kiss My Ass,”
It can define, “Kiss Ass,”
It can apologize, “Kiss and Make Up,”
It can begin, “Kiss of Life,”
It can end, “Kiss of Death.”

What The Flicka But here’s what I really love -the sound. Have you ever tried to kiss without making the sound of a kiss at the very end? Just take a second and try it – if no one is handy may I suggest you kiss that part of your fist that you used to draw pictures on?

It’s not a kiss without the sound, right? It’s just sticking your lips to someone else’s body. Why do we need the sound?

Drawing from ancient Sanskrit writings (which is the first time the concept of “The Kiss” is found), anthropologists suggest the idea of “exchanging breath” led to locking lips. Why would you “exchange breath” if not to drink in the other person’s essence? Maybe that little “kiss” sound and the pull of air exists because we are inhaling a little bit of the other person’s essence – a little bit of their goodness?

And to make that “kiss” sound we need lips. Desmond Morris in the The Naked Ape basically says lips are a billboard, advertising our sexuality. All primates have lips, but not turned a little inside out like ours. Human lips are puffy, rosy, and moist; they’re just basically screaming, “What do you need? An invitation?? TAKE ME!” At least those are my cliff notes of his zoological study of the human animal. I mean lips are made from the same skin as our nipples and our vaginas. I might have heard that from Wendy Steinberg, so I am not sure it’s true.

Happy February! Let’s use our multisensory lips for good this month and not evil. On the 14th let’s all find someone we love or someone who just needs a big K.I.S.S. – Kiss Including Sweet Sound.

Tell me your best kisses and your worst. Don’t worry, here at WTF, we don’t kiss and tell.

Love,
Flicka