Dried Up, Spent, and Empty

We start our day too early and with too much to do, when granola bars pass as breakfast and pajamas make acceptable around-town attire. My kids and I drive to the doctor’s office for a nine o’clock appointment, and while I’m congratulating myself for actually remembering to schedule my daughter’s wellness check this year (unlike last), the secretary tells me after we arrive that our insurance won’t pay for the visit. The trip’s not a […]


She asks to spend Saturday at the mall, so you go. You weave your way through the traffic and the busy parking lots, the weekend crowds and the clothing racks until you find her the perfect back-to-school outfit. The sales are over and your coupons invalid, but a mother’s word never expires. You’ve been promising her this shopping trip for weeks. You sit down for lunch and she orders her favorite and you talk about everything and nothing over chicken fingers […]

Running Against the Wind

We’ve been running together a lot lately. She’s on the middle school cross country team this fall, and she always asks me to join her on her weekend runs. I try to contain my enthusiasm. She’s at a precarious age. Show too much encouragement, and she’ll completely give up. Not enough, and it’s all my fault and the world’s definitely going to end. The guy who walked across the Grand Canyon on a two-inch tight rope […]

We Can Do Better

Someone unfriended me on Facebook this morning. I’m not surprised. Our friendship ended in real time months ago; today she just made it official, like it’s the electronic equivalent of slamming the door in my face.  I can handle this cruel and final gesture, and all the emotional havoc this relationship has wreaked on me recently, but I hate how garbage like this trickles down to our daughters, how their dysfunctional friendships are often a reflection of our own. And as I’ve […]

The Honey Bee Crusade

Rainey’s been studying honey bees lately, on account of the hive we have hidden in our backyard, and because a few weeks ago, in the middle of the afternoon, a swarm of them hovered above her head while she and her younger brother played outside. “Thousands of bees are all over the backyard,” Rainey hollered when they dashed inside to take cover. And sure enough, when I looked out the back door, I saw a thick cloud of bees buzzing midair, about forty feet […]

Happy Campers

We’d be in Indiana right about now, maybe Illinois or southern Wisconsin. Our next stop was scheduled to be Lake Carlos State Park in Minnesota, en route to a family reunion in Dodson, Montana. They’ve been planning it for years, my husband and daughter, the two pioneering spirits in this family, and after months and months of wearing me down, they finally convinced me to buy a camper to make the long journey west. “What’s wrong, […]

Sick Days

She stumbles out to the dimly lit kitchen just a little after six this morning. “My throat is sore,” she says to me with a wince, “like it’s bleeding or something.” And I know what she means. Like neon flashing, I know the signs. No need for swabs or lab tests today, I know her strep is back, that maybe it never left, that the eighth empty bottle of antibiotics, the one I just pitched […]