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My Mother’s Love

My Mother’s Love

My Mother’s Love

A dear friend of mine recently lost his mom to the cruel disease, dementia.  In his memorial speech, he stated some powerful, emotional words, sharing what he has learned about love in the past few years.  To be the best (father, husband, friend . . .) he could be, he should “love others as my mother loved me.”

It seems so simple and obvious, right?  A mother’s love is undying.  It’s powerful enough to hold up through unimaginable exhaustion, tantrums, back-talk, harsh words, throw-up, fevers, school plays, daycare drop-offs, snuggles, shared books, dinner time, silly times, calm times . . . all of time.  It is so profound that I can’t appropriately capture it in words.  For each of us, our own mom (Mom, Mommy, Mother, Mum) has always known just how to comfort us, to encourage us, to discipline us, to support us.  And while the mother-child bond is certainly a unique and special one, there’s no reason we shouldn’t spread love like that to others as well.

I started wondering whether I do this.  I remember the time in grad school when I held the barf bag on a turbulent flight while my friend repeatedly threw up in it.  I remember thinking, “Wow, I will make a good mom someday if I was able to stomach that!”  But am I?  Am I showing love to my children in the same perfectly attentive and tender way my mom loves me?

I’ve been reflecting on this a bit.  To love others like my mom loves me, I need to remember 5 Ps that she masterfully demonstrates.  See if they resonate with you, too.

5Ps of My Mother’s Love


I never stopped talking as a child.  And yet I remember one and only one time when my mom asked me to please be quiet.   She has the patience of a  . . . well, I don’t know what.  But it took a LOT to get her to raise her hand next to her forehead and say, through gritted teeth, “I have had it up to HERE with you.”  But even that is telling.  She’s only 5 feet tall, so “up to here” wasn’t so bad . . .

I don’t seem to exhibit the same patience with my children.  Granted, they are three high energy boys, almost 100% rascal, while my mom “only” dealt with my angelic sister and me as children.  I yell more than I planned to and more than I want to, but sometimes it’s the only way to get my kids to listen.  I’m working on it . . . and it would help if they’d put their shoes on the first, or even the fifth, time I asked them, instead of the twenty-third time.


There has never been a time in my life when I needed my mom and she wasn’t there for me.  Whether it was sleepless nights because of bad dreams in the ‘80s, or one month ago when I had the flu and just needed her to visit, she is here.  I think I’m checking the box here . . . with friends, co-workers, and most importantly, with family.  I have some late nights and travel for work, but I try to be 100% with my kids when I’m with them.  I know I can do better, though.  Put the phone down.  Close the laptop.  Let the laundry or dishes pile up.  (Yes, that’s going to be my excuse for a messy house from now on)  Focus .  Focus on those little faces and look them in the eye so they know I will always be there when they need me.


My mom is my biggest fan.  I think I could do just about anything and she’d feel proud of me.  And she has an unparalleled ability to make others feel special and proud, too.  Each of my children knows what they mean to her.  Each of her students feels her support.  I know I’m proud beyond words of my kids, but I want to make sure they know it and they feel special, too.  That means I should stop occasionally responding in a snarky tone when they ask me something over and over.  No matter how exhausted I am, I need to give them the spotlight and let them know how special they are and what they mean to me.  The world.  The universe . . .  I don’t remember my mom ever having used snarky tone with me.  Maybe it’s selective memory.  Or maybe she’s just that great.


Laugh!  At yourself, at a show, at a joke, at a memory, at something you see, at a funny thought.  Laugh, and let it roll right out of you.  My mom has a hilarious and indescribable chuckle that builds into a raucous, joyous, hilarious crescendo as it rolls.  It’s awesome.  You can’t hear it and not laugh yourself.  We laugh a lot in my house, but I need to remember to keep it light with my kids.  After a long, stressful day, when I know I have hours left of stuff to do even after the kids go to bed, sometimes I forget to keep it punchy.  But when I do, it’s fun for all.  More of that is in order.


Moments are precious.  People are precious.  Our time together is precious.  As much as I hate that word, it’s true.  Precious moments go flying by each day, and you don’t get them back.  So, notice them.  Live in them and breathe in them.  Take a minute to recognize that your son wants to hold your hand, because someday he’ll be old enough to not want that.  When he wakes up in the night, comfort him.  Let him snuggle in your bed.  Read one more story.  Have an extra dessert (or two!).  Live in the moment and tuck in your heart how truly precious connections between people are.

There is no way to describe my mom’s love, but I know it and I feel it in my heart.  If I can stick to these 5Ps, I can love others as she loves me, and that’s what I hope to do.  Do you plan to, too?


#mobtruths #motherslove #parenting





Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids

Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids

Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids
Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids

My family has a lot of Thanksgiving traditions:  My mom will take out her ancient list of what to serve, she will polish silver platters, she will work extra hard, my dad will take the gross stuff out of the turkey, someone will tell a story that makes no sense at the dinner table, everyone will break out into laughter, there will be turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and kugel and crescent rolls and 10 other things my mom has added over the years to ensure that every person has their favorite requested dish.  There will be kids, there will be adults, there will be that awkward age when older kids don’t quite want to be there but still manage to have fun because of the turkey hat we all pass around and wear.  There will be the same chocolate truffles we’ve made for 31 years now, and they will be called “stupid chocolate balls” by my uncle as he secretly sneaks them from the fridge before dessert is served.  But one thing there won’t be:  us going around the table and stating, one by one, what we’re thankful for.  It’s not that we’re not thankful . . . we just don’t really state it, assuming instead that it’s reflected in our laughter and our togetherness.

My kids are, of course, learning the history of Thanksgiving at school.  I want them to realize it’s more than a big meal and lots of desserts at Grammy & Boppa’s house.  Here are two simple traditions I’ve started with my sons to capture their mindset each year and to get them thinking about things to be thankful for.

Turkey Traced Hand:

It’s a simple as tracing the child’s hand, turning it into a turkey, and writing on the paper what they’re thankful for.  We do this every year, hang them up during November, and then save them to look at in future years.  It’s fun to see how the answers vary over time, from being thankful for candy and Cheerios to being thankful for family.

Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids
Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids

Thankful Rocks:

The year my first son was born, I gathered some smooth rocks (or you can buy some like this) and a Sharpie marker to bring to the Thanksgiving feast.  I asked everyone to write down the year and what they were thankful for, and then I filled a glass vase with the rocks.  We’ve kept up the tradition — another way to see how the answers change over time, and a nice, always-present reminder on the shelf that we are thankful for so many things.

Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids
Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids
Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids
Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids

What are your favorite simple Thanksgiving traditions?


Raising boys: There will be nudity.

Raising boys: There will be nudity.

I’m learning a lot raising boys.  Like just how much they love to be naked.

Completely nude.  I suppose little kids, in general, do.  But as the mother of three boys, I think especially boys love to be naked . . . as often as they can and for as long as they can.  Wherever they can.

I never planned to visit a nudist colony, but with three sons of my own, I sometimes feel like I live in one.

What do I do about it?  Nothing, as long as they are appropriately dressed when we go in public (i.e. in underwear and pants or shorts of some sort).  I know that one day, sooner than I think, these little tushies will stop running by me bare, and will be covered by clothes and too big to sit on my lap.  In the meantime, I keep my clothes on and I laugh.

Raising Boys
Boys love to be naked



Baby is growing up: A virtual time machine of memories

Baby is growing up: A virtual time machine of memories

Baby is growing up:  A virtual time machine of memories

Baby closeness - tucked into my virtual time machine
Baby closeness – tucked into my virtual time machine

My baby is growing up.  He’s turning 3 very soon.  He just learned (on his own, because my heart couldn’t handle correcting him on this one) to say “I want you to hold me” instead of gazing at me with those deep brown eyes and saying “I want to hold you.”  Every time he has said those words to me over the past year, I’ve had a flood of invisible, keep-it-together, don’t-fall-apart-as-your-heart-melts kind of emotion.  I thought,

“I want to hold you, too, baby.  Forever.  I know you’re growing each day, saying more “I do it myself, Mommy” and learning new things, and I love that.  But you’re my last baby, so I’d appreciate it if you could stay baby-ish a while longer.  If not in size and the way you think about the world, at least in your willingness to snuggle and to need me.  Because I need you.”

Why is it so hard to see our babies grow up?  I don’t want to say it’s bittersweet, because it’s really mostly sweet and delicious and glorious and fulfilling.  But it’s also really hard.  Hard to know that the crib that appeared in your house as you prepared to become a mommy will someday not be needed at all, that those chances to nibble on tiny toes during even the messiest diaper changes will become a thing of the past and that those toes might someday be stinky and sweaty from a day of running in the mud.  That those embraces, where baby’s face is so close to your own that you could breathe in his innocence and his sweetness and you can actually taste the love between you and your son — those, too, will someday disappear.  No wonder we want to hold on a little longer.  No wonder I find myself and my friends saying “slow down, time.”

Finding balance as a working mom has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced.  I was lucky enough to secure a part-time arrangement with my company for the first several years after having my first son.    I spent one weekday at home with my kids, reading in the early morning sunlight (actually, often before sunrise!), making up songs while pushing the stroller around the block, taking a Mommy and Me music class, playing with friends.  I was so grateful to be able to have a day off with my sons each week.  But even with that, time has passed too quickly.  I’ve always tried to make the most of the saying that it’s the quality of time, not the quantity that matters, trying to be 100% with my kids when I’m with them.  So why does my heart ache so bad now that my final baby is turning 3?  I have polled my stay-at-home-mom friends, and they feel the same way as they watch their babies grow.  So, it’s not that I missed all those baby days by working.   It’s that I miss them.

I admit it makes me cry to think of those special days of the past.  I had laughed when my mom said “It’s a very special time,” when I had my first son.  I wasn’t laughing at the sentiment, but at the inability of words to properly express the depth of love and emotion and amazement that occurs in those very special first few years of motherhood (and which, I’m certain, will continue for all future years, too).  I cry now for how beautiful and simple they were despite the complete lack of sleep and the constant challenge of everything being new.  I miss the state of discovery as I learned about myself as a woman, a wife, a mother and as baby discovered shadows and sounds and tastes and textures.  But I remember them.  I remember them vibrantly, and I have tucked them in my mental video vault to replay over and over.  That memory vault will never get full.  It’s my virtual time machine since, so far anyway, we haven’t figured out a way to slow down time.

Am I sad that my final baby is turning 3?  Yes and no.  I’m excited for him and for the adventures that lie ahead.  I’m proud of all of his accomplishments, big and small (He ate a whole grilled cheese sandwich today!  Exciting!  He peed in the potty!  Woo hoo!  He asked for a tissue after he picked his nose!  Progress!).  And I can’t wait to see how he and his older brothers continue to bounce off the walls and wrestle each other as I yell “Gentle!  Careful!”

I’ve learned that no matter how often I try to watch the present in slow motion, it still becomes the past.  So I’m going to keep watching, keep remembering, keep filling that vault so I can watch a replay whenever I want, while making sure I am present in today, creating these memories with my boys.

Happy Birthday, sweet Baby D.


Living with Hungry Boys: The Mommy Diet

Living with Hungry Boys: The Mommy Diet

Hungry boys — a big part of the adventure of being a mother of sons.

Mothers of boys know — and we hear it all the time — “boys are always hungry.” So far it seems to be true, even after I confirm their bellies are full.  Now, what can I eat?

Raising boys means lots of food
Boys are hungry. So am I.
Raising Boys to Dream Big. Always.

Raising Boys to Dream Big. Always.

Raising Boys: Dream Big and Never Stop Reaching

As a mom of three boys, I know this to be true:  raising boys is an adventure, and life is complicated.  We’re under pressure as parents, and our kids are under pressure, too, as they navigate through the ups and downs and obstacles that come their way.  Earlier this summer, while playing outside with my kids, I glanced over at the driveway and snapped this candid picture of my youngest son. I couldn’t help but think, “Yes, reach!  You can do it.”  I instantly drafted the poem below in my head.  I hope to share it with my boys someday.  I hope you enjoy it, and I hope my kids and yours never stop reaching.

Dream big. Always.
Dream big. Always.

Because the biggest dreams
Can come from the littlest guys
Dream big, my sons
I see it in your eyes

There are no limits,
Not even the sky
Dream big, always,
Reach up high

When the world tells you no,
Say “yes, I can”
And keep on trying
Again and again

Dream big always,
my rascals, my loves
Reach beyond,
Find what’s above

Spark an idea
Borne from your mind
Dream big, always
Little boys of mine.

Change the world,
You’ll get there in time
Dream big, always
And you will find

When you are men
You’ll look back and know
Your dreams were the future
Telling you where to go

Follow those dreams,
Follow your heart
And dream big, always
You’ve got a great start.

-K. Lesh, June 2016

#motherofboys #mobtruths #raisingboys #mothersandsons


Obstacle Course Birthday Party: Wipeout theme

Obstacle Course Birthday Party: Wipeout theme

Host an Obstacle Course Wipeout Theme Party 

Obstacle Course and Ice Cream Tower Contest!

Messy and Delicious Fun for Boys:

Obstacle course / Wipeout theme party
Obstacle course party

For R’s 8th birthday this year, we decided to make a Wipeout-themed outdoor party.  We’ve had parties at bouncy house places in the past and have loved them, but this year, we wanted something that would give the kids more chance to interact with each other in a smaller setting – our yard!  At first, R thought we were building a life-size Wipeout course in our back yard, gigantic pools and all!  Needless to say, that wasn’t my plan, but we served up some easy, low-cost, messy fun for the boys, and they all had a blast!

Obstacle Course:

Our fun started with a backyard obstacle course.  It was simple to set up and take down, with loads of messy fun in between!

Wipeout theme party
obstacle course

·       Hop through a series of hula hoops (from the dollar store!) without touching your foot to the hoop.
·       Next, sneak by or under the “sweeper,” a pool noodle being swung back and forth around waist-high on the swinger. 
·       Balance as you pounce from red ball to red ball, each which is resting on a floaty pool tube (I bought mine at the dollar store, but they are available at many retailers, of course).


Wipeout theme party
obstacle course

·       Then the mess began.  Pool, water balloons, shaving cream = FUN!  Messy fun!  The boys had to step from one upside down bucket to another, through a kiddie pool filled with water balloons and shaving cream, without falling down!  Leave it to R to start the mess by faking a fall off the bucket and landing splat in the shaving cream. 


Wipeout theme party
Obstacle course
·       Next step:  A quick shot on goal, trying to get a ball into a little goal net while a friend swings another pool noodle “sweeper” at you.
·       And last but not least, crawl UP a lawn water-slide (we used Slip n’ Slide) , and we made sure the slide was wet and slick from dish soap I poured on it.  We had the boys crawl instead of walking or running up the slide so nobody would get hurt. 
We timed each kid and gave out medals in the goody bags to celebrate having completed the course. 
Can you guess what happened after each child had two runs through the course?  They all jumped into the pool full of water balloons and shaving cream and basked in the joy of slimy, sloppy mess.
Wipeout theme party
Boys. Shaving cream. Water balloons. Fun.

Ice Cream Tower Contest

After a few minutes, we wiped everyone down with beach towels and headed to part two:  The Ice cream tower contest.  Each child received a set of building materials I had arranged before the party: 

Messy fun for boys
Messy fun for boys

·       A waffle cone bowl and one big waffle cone
·       Two sugar cones 
·       Little cups filled with toppings (jelly beans, chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles,  chocolate chips, chocolate syrup)
·       Two scoops of ice cream
·       A can of whipped cream (1 can per every 2 kids)
The challenge was to see who could use their building materials to craft the tallest yummy tower within a 2 minute timeframe without it falling down (wiping out!).  It was the quietest part of the party as everyone focused on building while their mouths watered, eager to eat their construction!  After judging the contest, everyone gobbled up their creation.
After that, we just played good old-fashioned fun stuff in the yard – not Wipeout-themed, but just fun:  basketball, catch, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bikes & scooters.
All in all, it was an easy, affordable party to prepare and to run.  It was memorable and super-fun for the kids, who were thrilled to be allowed to get so messy.  And at the end, while I was tired, I wasn’t entirely wiped out.  J




Vacation with Boys: What I re-learned

Vacation with Boys: What I re-learned

Vacation with Boys:  Shirtless at the shore, kicking sand

Vacation with boys
Our family vacation.  It begins every year with a smartly packed minivan that somehow ends up over-filled before leaving our driveway, sentencing me to a 3 1/2 hour drive with no legroom.  But I don’t mind.  It’s my week away with my family, a chance to disconnect from the stresses of work and life and to make lasting memories, and for me to figure out what it means to vacation with boys.  It’s different from my girly-girl childhood.  When I became a Mother of Boys, I worried that I wouldn’t be relevant on these types of trips.  But so far so good (after all, who else would think to pack these little guys underwear and a mix of cool-weather and hot-weather clothes?).  Here are 10 things I (re-)learned this week about taking a beach vacation with boys:

  1. Shovels will be used as swords.  It’s inevitable, and by now, I really should have predicted this.
  2. Everyone (except me) will be topless.  Shirts will be abandoned, and the mere suggestion of wearing one will be met with much resistance.
  3. Wet bathing suits will be worn for hours — so many hours —  and then thrown on the hotel floor in a crumpled ball so that they will never dry, until I stumble on them, uncrumple them, and hang them on the deck.
  4. Sand castles will be built.  Sand castles will be kicked and destroyed.
  5.  I will be chased by boys carrying slimy seaweed.
  6. Crabs will be sought, and crabs will be caught.
  7. Seeing my little boys by the ocean will remind me of how truly small they are, and that they have a world of discovery ahead of them.  (And as I have a sweet moment reflecting on this, they begin to sword-fight with shovels).
  8. The wonder of the beach and its awesome sandy playground is topped only by the indoor pool. (note:  a one-night stay at a local motor inn with an indoor pool would probably be equally as thrilling as this vacation for my boys, and I love that).
  9. Farts will be funny at night.  And in the morning.  And at the beach.  And the car.  All the time, really.
  10. I will spend the car ride passing out snacks and tissues and wet wipes and toys and blankets.  Constantly moving around.  So I guess I don’t need much legroom, after all.
Boys kick sand
Boys kick sand
We caught a crab -- and let him go
We caught a crab — and let him go
So much to discover
So much to discover
Lessons from a jiggly mom-tush

Lessons from a jiggly mom-tush

Your body changes after having kids, but I love my boys and I love chocolate:

5 Lessons from a jiggly mom-tush

I grew up as a dancer – tap, jazz, ballet, modern and even a little flamenco. Many hours a week from age 5 through my late 20s were spent dancing — moving through life in steps and combinations, expressing joy and sadness and love and pain through motion, and, apparently, giving me greatly toned muscles in the process.
Enter my 30s. And slowing metabolism. And glorious motherhood! And my absolute, undying, un-interruptible love for chocolate. Not dark chocolate with all its “health benefits,” but pure, sweet, creamy, delicious milk chocolate. And my demanding job. And my long commute. And no time for dance class, and almost no time for exercise. Enter the jiggly mom-tush.

I have spent a lot of time hating the jiggle, longing for the days of the past where any pants would fit wonderfully over my perfectly poised posterior. But as I’ve gotten older, I realize we can learn a lot from this jiggle. So, my three sons, here are some lessons for you:

1. Love people for who they are, not what they look like.

I hope by now you see me as a sweet, loving mommy, a smart, driven professional, a caring wife, a fun-loving friend, a manager of the house. It doesn’t take a firm tush to be great at all those things. Just a big heart, a lot of organization, an amazing ability to multi-task, and the ability to prioritize. I hope when you’re old enough to date or marry, that you will place value on these same characteristics I display, and that you’ll love someone for those reasons, jiggly tush or not.

2. I jiggle because I love spending time with you.

Sure, my tush is a little flat from all the time I sat on the floor building block towers with you. It’s a little bigger than it used to be because of our special trips out for ice cream sundaes or making brownies together. It represents the hours I chose to work on homework with you or make up a silly game with you instead of going out running or working out at the gym. Hours are hard to come by as a working mom, and I wouldn’t trade my time with you for anything. Not even for a firm tush.

3. Health is multi-faceted.

I’m not in any way suggesting that busy moms shouldn’t exercise or that they shouldn’t find time to focus on themselves. I believe they should, and when I’m able to, I try to carve out time for that as well. I’ve gone running in 20-degree weather at 5am – not enough to firm up the tush, but enough to jumpstart my day and stay heart-healthy. And I’m certainly active with my boys all the time – impromptu dance parties in the kitchen, chasing after little D when he calls “Come find me, Mommy!” and zipping around the yard catching tennis balls and basketballs with R and E.

Right now, that’s what healthy means to me. Staying active, but first and foremost making time for my boys. (and the chocolate helps keep me happy, so that’s in the routine, too.) Staying active is important. Demanding a firm tush is not.

4. You, too, may someday jiggle.

My mom has always told me that the one thing that is certain in life is that nothing stays the same forever. My sons, you may face a day when your hairline recedes or your belly juts out farther than your chin. You may even have a jiggly tush of your own. And if you do, I hope that everyone around you loves you just the same as they do today.

5. Appearances matter.

We’re heading on our family beach vacation soon. I could worry about all the jiggle and hide on the beach blanket while I gaze at your amazing energy and watch you splash in the ocean with our friends. Or I can stand up, stand tall, build a sand castle and let the waves crash on my jiggle. Because to me, the only appearance that matters is that we show the world what a loving, happy family looks like.

Jiggle on, friends.

Move over, Mom!

Move over, Mom!

Sleep deprived,
with little feet in my back and on my head.
Diagonal_The only direction my children sleepin my bed.

 #motherofboys #boys #mobtruths #parenting #norestfortheweary