Change begins by not trying to change


Our kids are 7 and 10, and I never really got out of the habit of cutting their food for them.  WTF, right?  I’m not saying this is a good or normal thing, I’m just saying it’s a thing.  Sometimes we fall into habits that continue far beyond their useful or necessary life.

So this morning when Henry, who is 7, asked his dad to cut his pancakes, Jeff’s reply was, as is typical for him, candid, self- aware, instinctive, maybe a little ornery, definitely astute.

He said, “I can cut your pancakes, like, two more times.”

Henry, bewildered, asked, “Two more times In my whole life?!

Jeff said, “Yes.  In your whole life.”

So of course, Henry picked up his knife and sawed the pancakes into pieces by himself with no problem.

When it comes to habits that have continued far beyond their useful or necessary life, or in this case let’s say bad habits that never served a useful purpose, it also so happens that I have been mentally beating the crap out of myself for years, especially along the lines of being a Bad Mom.  So a typical Bad Mom response to this would be me thinking, Duh, Ally. Obviously he can cut his own pancakes.  He can probably do a lot of things that you aren’t asking him to do for himself, like help around the house, pick up his clothes.  He can probably run the washing machine by himself, if you’d just take the time to teach him.  You are not setting him up for success.  You are setting him up for failure.  He’s going to have entitlement issues and low self-esteem and difficulty his whole life because you are a shitty mother and have not recognized all the things he is capable of doing for himself and you have just obliviously carried on, cutting his pancakes for him, because that’s what you think a caring mom does and you are wrong.  You need to work harder at this parenting thing.  You need to be Maximizing the Children’s Development.

I wish I could say I am exaggerating this voice, but I’m probably not.

However, today, that voice did not come.

Have you ever had this happen?  Where something like grace or perspective descends upon you, seemingly out of nowhere?  Like there is this huge unveiling of an obvious truth, something you’ve known “in theory” for your whole life but have never been able to truly “get”?

I can of course “imagine” having that reaction, that voice in my head, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to type those words.  But I don’t really believe any of those words.  Instead, I have this feeling, this knowing, actually, that it’s fine.  I’m a good enough Mom.  The kids are fine.  We are all fine.

Wouldn’t it be great if that Bad Mom Voice was gone for good?  I will not be so bold or foolish to think it is, but it is on a break it seems, and thank you God, I will take it.


Love note

The second-grader decided to have a sleepover with the kindergartner.  He had already fallen asleep, though, so before she crawled in with him she wrote this note and put it on his pillow in case he woke up before she did (which is nearly always the case, so good call).


This is pretty much exactly how I feel about writing this blog.

I’m tired of thinking so much lately, so today I’m gonna take a break from writing my usual long, rambling blog post and draw a cartoon instead.


photo (1)

If this counts as a real post, then it’s number 25. (Yay.)

How was your Spring Break? (multiple-choice quiz)

How was your Spring Break?

I actually really want to know.  Not just making small talk here.

Would you say it was like this:

Family sandcastle beach

In case you are wondering, this is Palmetto Dunes, an “Oceanfront Resort” on Hilton Head Island. They tried to convince me to spend my spring break there, on their “Fun in the Sun” blog, but I foolishly didn’t listen.  I thought that since spring break for Minneapolis Public Schools fell in April this year, it would “already be pretty nice” by then.


Or more like this:

This is actually our current forecast.  But last week's weather pretty much bit, too.

This is actually our current forecast. But last week’s weather pretty much bit, too.


And/or like this:

See more examples here:

It’s great to have a relaxing week at home with the kiddos.  See more examples here:


If you are a parent at my kids’ school, I might have already asked you this question in person.  But I probably wasn’t listening, because I was still recovering from being home with my children for ten straight crappy rainy/coldish days.  Sorry.  This time I’ll try to pay better attention.

You know what?  You don’t really need to show me your photos or anything.  Let’s just keep this simple, and make it multiple-choice.  I’ll do the hard part for you, which is translating the answers.

How Was Your Spring Break?¹ (choose one)

A.  It was awesome!

B.  It was pretty fun!

C.  It was good.

D.  It was fine.

E.  We survived.

¹(Note: this version includes only the Socially Acceptable answers. Email me if you want to take the confidential version with the Honest Truth answers.  May contain strong language).



A = We went somewhere tropical.  And the kids did awesome!  Or possibly we went without the kids.  (And/or kids drove us nuts on 3 or fewer days)

B = Same as (A) above, except we had a non-tropical excursion.  Or, the kids spent some time with the grandparents.

C = We stayed here in Minneapolis where it was 40 degrees and drizzly.  We did a few fun things with the kids. But at least nobody got sick or anything.

D =  Same as (C) above, except fewer fun things.  Or possibly someone got sick.  Or else was just crabby a lot of the time.

E = It completely sucked.  But it served as an excellent reminder to get going on signing up the kids for a whole bunch of summer camps so we don’t have eleven hellish weeks of unstructured time off .  Yay!  (Helpful Reminder:  First day of Summer “Break” is June 5.  8 weeks from today . . .)