I had just settled myself into our empty nest when our youngest son, Dylan, decided to ditch dorm living and move back home. It had been a rough entry to University for him — with pain and back surgery overshadowing his first year of freedom — so while I knew that his return would ruffle some of our routines, I was secretly breathing a sigh of relief to have my youngest child near me again. The kid had barely unpacked his suitcase and I was back into full-time mom mode.

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“Have you eaten anything today?”

“Did you study?”

“What time did you go to sleep? You need more sleep.”

“When are you going to get a haircut?”

“Didn’t you wear that yesterday?”

“Where ya going?”

“Who’s going to be there?”

“Drive safe.”

“Drive safe.”

“Drive safe.”

And so on.

Dylan humors me, most of the time. Thankfully he’s well past the eye-rolling stage of teenage-hood, and a tad more understanding of my necessary mothering (I think?). He knows I can’t help myself. He knows I’m just looking out for him. And I’m sure he knows that one day he will be free from my constant reminders to brush his teeth or pick up his clothes.

What he doesn’t know–what none of my children could possibly know — is that it’s not the act of letting go that I struggle with, it’s the being let go of that does me in. And the letting go usually starts with the “I got this.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” “I got this, Mom.”

“Do you want me to go shopping for jeans with you?” “Mom, I got this.”

“Did you sign up for classes yet? You know…” “I got this.”

And they do. My children are making decisions about their future. They are managing adult relationships and negotiating car loans. They are decorating their homes, picking out furniture and learning new skills. And half of these children of mine are taking care of babies! They’ve clearly got this. Making this shift from first string mother, always in the game — to one that sits on the bench, suited up and waiting to be called — is not easy.

Sitting on the bench, I don’t have any input into what’s going on in the game. The plays are made without my approval. As skilled as I am in my position, the kids have drafted other (life) players on their team now and so I wait. Don’t want contribute to “too many men on the field” or have a penalty flag thrown at me for encroachment, so I wait to be called. Ok, yes, I’m a football fan, and the more I think about it, the more similarities I see between the game of football and motherhood. Our careers typically last less than 20 years. And even when we’re good for a few more years, we’re tired. As many times as we fall down, we know we have to get up and keep playing. We have to stay conditioned, both physically and mentally, because we never know where the next “hit” is coming from. And as hard as we try, we don’t always win.

There are disappointments. And there are celebrations. And, we hope, lots of touchdowns and happy dances in the end zone. And just when we think we’ve figured out “our” game, one of the plays change and we are forced to adjust. Accepting the fact that my youngest child has benched me is getting easier. It helps to have him close, where I can watch from the sidelines. From the bench, I’ve learned that he will give his last $20 to a homeless man. That he takes his new role as uncle to his two adorable nieces so seriously. I’ve learned that family is the most important thing to him. And I’ve learned that he wants to learn sign language and loves algebra (what!?).

During these past few months, I’ve learned that he’s got this. And I couldn’t be prouder.

This post was originally featured on Gwen Morrison’s blog, eat drink ‘n play. Featured image via.

Are you prepared to go on the most wild ride of your life, as told by one couple’s Twitter accounts?

Marco Rogers and Aniyia Williams of San Francisco recently had quite the interesting experience with the birth of their daughter – Marco delivered her himself! In their home! With no medical staff on site. 

We’ll let their tweets do the talking:

We are waiting with bated breath.

And now our nerves are kicking in. 

Of course.

Aniyia, we praise you. 

Oooooookay….

THERE IS AN APP FOR WHEN YOU’RE GIVING BIRTH? 2016, baby!

Keeping it in mind, yes.

What an amazing team. A strong, badass woman and her helpful husband? YEP. Love it.

Oh god! 

ANIYIA, you are amazing. Never forget that. WARRIOR.

Out of all the words in the English language, we’re very glad they picked “banana.” Hell. Yes. 

Oh lord! 

Did we mention Aniyia runs her own damn company?!

We can’t even imagine. Oh wait, yes we can, SEEING AS WE KNOW HOW HORRIBLE CHILDBIRTH IS. Can’t even imagine it without the care and comfort of a hospital, quite honestly.

YES! Go to the hospital, go, go, go!

KAISER you need to calm down right now, what are you even doing?!

Okay, this might help…

WE ARE STRAPPED IN, MARCO. WE ARE READY.

Now for the flip side of things – let’s check on Aniyia.

Girl, you do what you gotta do. 

Now back to Marco – 

AHHH, IT’S ALL HAPPENING.

Are we in the movie Twister right now? We’re sweating. Are you guys sweating? Seriously, this is some serious stuff. 

Oh god, we know that. 

MARCO YOU ARE A DAMN GOOD MAN.

Back to the brave queen herself – 

F*CK THE BRA, F*CK THE WIG. Can this please be made into a motivational poster?!

LAY DOWN AND REST? Who can rest at a time like this?!

OHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT IS RIGHT.

Except this is real life. And it’s somehow more intense than a movie!

Back to Aniyia – 

BACK TO MARCO – (THIS IS MORE INTENSE THEN ANYTHING WE’VE EVER EXPERIENCED)

We seriously can’t deal.

FORGET THE DAMN CAR, MARCO!

“I don’t have time to read shit.” Maybe our favorite quote from this whole thing?!

We’re starting to cry.

Our hearts are literally stopped.

No. Words.

Holy. Moly. Anyone else feel like they burned a thousand calories up until this point?!

Noted. 

Oh no! Oh god.

We can’t breathe, we can’t move. 

TEARS, EVERYWHERE, DOWN OUR FACE, ALL OVER.

We’re weeping. 

LOL HEY EMT’S  WE GOT THIS.

*Claps* *Lifts hands in praise*

Look at HER!

So beautiful. So perfect. Marco & Aniyia – you are our heroes. 

Featured image via. 

It was one of those every day moments. At least it seemed like it until a fellow mom, a complete stranger, stopped me in my tracks and talked some sense into me. We were at the American Girl store celebrating my little girl’s birthday. I was squatting down to take her picture so we could commemorate all the girly goodness of the afternoon. All of a sudden there was this random mom with a stroller and two kids standing next to me.

“Oh, why don’t you let me take a picture of both of you so you can remember this day,” she said sweetly.

Out of habit I awkwardly refused. “Oh, um, no, that’s okay. Thanks though.” What I really wanted to say was, “Ugh. Not today. I’m feeling fat and I’m not happy with this hair cut and I know I’ll look enormous standing next to my skinny little daughter. And do you see these black circles under my eyes? They’ll give away how tired and old I’m feeling. I don’t really want my child to look back on this picture some day and see her mom looking so… flawed.”

But this stranger wouldn’t accept my answer. She was actually insisting that I get in the picture with my daughter. I was starting to feel uncomfortable. We went politely back and forth for a few rounds and she was adamant that I take a picture with my daughter. For a moment I thought she was bordering on pushy.

“No, seriously. Just go stand next to her. Just do it,” she said insistently, but still smiling.

Ugh. Fine. Not wanting to make things feel any more uncomfortable I sighed and walked over to pose with my daughter, feeling both annoyed and maybe a little glad that she actually talked me into it.

“Smile. You look great!” she said cheerfully.

Oh my gosh, is she really this sweet? How did she know how I was feeling? Okay, this is clearly a mom who just “gets it.”

She handed me back my phone and said “There you go. I took a bunch so you can pick your favorite.” She was already starting to push her stroller away.
Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-American Girl

“Thank you so much,” I called to her. She stopped, walked back over to me and gently touched my arm and smiled so incredibly kindly. “I had cancer…So I know how important it is to be in pictures. You’ll be glad you did it.”

Before I could even speak she was walking away with her two young kids in tow. Everything just stopped for second as I let the significance of what she had just told me sink in. Then I realized I was just standing there with my hand over my heart and a lump in my throat.

It wasn’t a coincidence, it wasn’t just one of those things. It was exactly what I needed to hear. And I got it. I got the message. Thank you, fellow mom for reminding me how lucky I am. I hope you know you made a difference. Whenever I look at this photo I will resist the urge to immediately find the 38 things I don’t like about the way I look. I will think about you. And how you didn’t just capture the day we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. You captured the moment you changed my perspective and my priorities. Life is good.

This post was originally featured on Marie Bollman’s blog, Make Your Own Damn Dinner. Featured image via.

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“It was one of those every day moments. At least it seemed like it until a fellow mom, a complete stranger, stopped me…

Posted by What The Flicka? on Thursday, January 7, 2016

The first post baby visit from Aunt Flo always takes me by surprise. You’d think that since this isn’t my first time at the childbirth rodeo I would remember what it’s like, but I guess the whole selective memory thing applies to unpleasant postpartum events as well as the pain of childbirth. There are lots of things nobody bothers to tell you about having babies, and that first post baby surf of the crimson wave is definitely one of them. In an effort to keep you well informed about all of the not-so-sexy aspects of motherhood, I’ve put together a list of five things to know about your first postpartum period.

1. You will not see it coming.

I’d like to gently suggest that you refrain from wearing white pants until you’ve survived your first post baby cycle, because I guarantee that you will be completely unprepared for Aunt Flo to visit. There’s no telling when she’ll show up – it could be anywhere from three months after giving birth to right after you wean your little one. My period didn’t come back until my kids were nursing once a day, but every body is different. My advice is to make sure you’re prepared or risk having to use one of your kid’s diapers when you’re caught unawares at the local park that doesn’t have a bathroom. Not that it’s ever happened to me or anything, but I’ve heard tell.

READ MORE: 6 HELPFUL THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM MY SHITTY DAY

2. Does this come in Extra Super Max Absorbency?

You know that scene in The Shining where the elevator doors open and rivers of blood come gushing out? That’s kind of what your first postpartum period will be like. Just blood everywhere. Your bathroom will look like a crime scene from CSI in which the victim’s artery was severed. I honestly do not know how blood gets on the ceiling, but it does and it’s probably best if you don’t point it out to your significant other. Oh, I know you thought you bled a lot after you gave birth, but it’s like Aunt Flo is making up for not visiting you in over a year and she has no intention of leaving until you have ruined at least six pairs of perfectly nice underwear and several sets of bedsheets. Of course, by the time your period comes back you’ve blown through all of the disposable underwear and adult diapers they gave you at the hospital, but they should really provide you with an extra batch for later use. Sure, they may be bulky and hideous and not fit under any normal clothing, but it’s not like you fit into your pre-pregnancy pants yet anyway.

3. Holy cramps, Batman.

Remember those menstrual cramps you used to get in middle school, the ones that were so bad that your mom actually let you stay home? Well they’re back. I know you thought that having bad cramps went the way of your puberty acne and New Kids on the Block mix tapes, but they say that everything comes back into style, and your period cramps don’t want to miss out. I personally think that pushing a small human out of your lady parts should exempt you from ever having to feel pain in your uterus again, but nature disagrees. Your cramps will be so horrible that you might actually make sounds similar to the ones you made when you were in labor. Unfortunately, unlike in middle school, you can’t call in sick to motherhood.

READ MORE: PREGNANCY BOOBS ARE GREAT, UNTIL…

4. Does this come in size “I’ve given birth”?

Things get a little stretched out when you have a baby. Yeah, it kind of goes back to the way it was before you had kids, but the truth is that it’s never quite the same as it was before, especially if you had to get some stitches. As a result, the feminine hygiene products you purchased before you pushed a small human out of your lady parts might not be as effective as they were prior, and you might have some slight leakage. I guess this is probably a sign that I should be doing more kegels, but who has the time? Sure I’d like to stop peeing myself when I laugh, but I don’t get a chance to shower every day, so ain’t no way I’m devoting any “me” time to vaginal exercises. I just wear my old pregnancy underwear and throw a pad on there for good measure, because I may be bleeding like I’m still in middle school, but I don’t want my pants to broadcast that.

5. I DON’T HAVE PMS MOTHERF*CKER!!!!

Yes, yes you do have PMS and it is horrible and you are a raving bitch and no one wants to be around you. The problem is that you don’t realize you have PMS because you are exhausted and you have children and taking care of small humans makes one grumpy. You will snap at your kids. You will yell at your husband. You will probably get into a fight with a stranger at Whole Foods because she’s taking too long in the bulk grains section. You will feel depressed and bloated and headachey and your child constantly needing you will make you want to throw yourself in front of the next moving car. You will beat yourself up for being a horrible mother and a horrible wife and a horrible friend and then Aunt Flo will blow into town and you’ll finally understand why you’ve been such a bitch. If anyone gives you a hard time about being just a teensy bit bitchy, remind him in no uncertain terms that you pushed a human being out of your vagina (or had one surgically removed from your uterus). It’s guaranteed to get you off the hook for most bad behavior.

This post was originally featured on Anna Lane’s blog, Misadventures in Motherhood. Featured image via.

“The TSA agents are going to pull you aside and wrestle you to the ground,” my husband says.

“Don’t care. I’m packing it.”

My husband shakes his head and walks away, something he does often when I am what he calls “unreasonably stubborn.”

The “it” is my mother’s rolling pin. I have been asked to make the holiday pies at my in-laws this year and I refuse to do it without my mother’s rolling pin.

“But my sister will have a rolling pin! Or we can buy one when we get there,” my husband tries to reason with me.

“Not the same. I’m packing it.”

Another head shake.

My mother made pies for every special occasion. My father spurned birthday cakes in favor of my mom’s pear pie. I favored the apple, rich with cinnamon and butter, carefully pulling the top crust off to eat the filling first, and saving the flaky crust top, bottom, and magical fluted edge for last and best.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Mom's Pies
My mother making her magic pies.

The tops of the pies were beautiful, little tableaux of interlocking leaves or flowers, my mother’s artistry in pastry. Not that Mama’s pies would win any contests. They were made with Crisco, no fancy butter or lard. They were a little heavy on the crust-to-filling ratio at our family’s request. She had an instinctive touch for how much water to add, for how long she could handle the dough before it got tough. And she could roll the dough evenly, no lumps or bumps, to fit the pie plate exactly.

Her pies were magic.

When Mama died almost three years ago, the pie-making fell to me. Her rolling pin came to me as well. I have experimented with chilling the dough, using butter instead of vegetable fat, throwing the ingredients into a food processor. I have personalized my own crust recipe.

But the one constant is the rolling pin. Seasoned with oil and years of holiday pies, the rolling pin creates the perfect crust. It’s like having my mother’s hands guiding mine to smooth the dough.

I won’t make a pie without it.

Wizards have their wands. For my magic pies, I have my mother’s rolling pin. I’m packing it.

This post was originally featured on Helen Mitternight’s blog, Stilettos Not Required. Featured image via.

It was Christmas 1983 and I was ready. No doubt my wish-list was long and detailed, but I’ve long forgotten what I requested. Except for one particular item.

I’d probably given up any hope of getting a Cabbage Patch Doll, or it might have been that E.T. and Star Wars didn’t hold my interest, perhaps I already had enough Smurf paraphernalia, but for some reason what I really wanted that year was Alvin. Of the chipmunk fame.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Chipmunk1

Many details of that time are fuzzy, but I remember giving my list to my dad and outlining specifically what I meant by “Chipmunk”.

“A stuffed one. You know, the singing ones. There’s Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. I’ll take any, but I’d really like Alvin. The one with the red shirt.”

READ MORE: WHY MY DAD IS THE COOLEST (AND THE PHOTOS TO PROVE IT)

He nodded and reassured me that we were on the same page, “Alvin. From the show. Got it,” and left to do some shopping (no illusions of Santa in my childhood).

Christmas arrived and I excitedly squeezed a very soft package with my name on it. Janice was written in his familiar printing. No need to sign it, I knew who it was from.

My turn finally arrived and I tore into that package, confident Alvin was waiting for me. Yes! Got my chipmunk!

Oh, I got my chipmunk alright. Meet my Alvin.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Chipmunk2

I had asked for a chipmunk and a chipmunk is what I got. I have to give eight-year-old me credit, I grinned and hugged it and gave my dad a big hug. He was so happy. He had no idea that this was not the chipmunk I had had in mind.

He was so happy.

READ MORE: DADDY: HER EVERY DAY HERO

Maybe on some level 1983-me knew the lengths he would have gone to to find a stuffed chipmunk. A stuffed chipmunk. Think about it: a realistic-looking chipmunk plushy toy. Alvin the Chipmunk could be found in any major chain store, but a chipmunk stuffy? That took a lot of effort.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Chipmunk
Chipmunk stuffy complete with plush nut and bushy tail.

It was not what I had asked for, but I got what I needed. Despite running a business, having a sick child, and raising four kids, my dad made time to get my Christmas present. It was perfect.

Despite all the stress and worry and anxiety he had, I mattered.

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories: that time I asked for Alvin, but instead got the gift of sacrifice, love, and the importance of being gracious and grateful.

He’d gotten me exactly what I had asked for. And I was so happy.

This post was originally featured on Jan Moyer’s blog, Tough Bananas. Featured image via.