13 Lessons from 2013

Happy First Monday of the New Year, everybody!

I’ve never been so very into celebrating the new year. Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher. So to me, the new year happens in September. But this year, I’m participating in the reflection. Maybe that’s because I spent two days in the car driving from Connecticut to Alabama to see my sister and nephews. (And three days driving back. See “Why My Daughter is Crying.“) Long car rides are excellent times for reflection. Whatever the reason, I present to you…. Thirteen lessons I learned in 2013.

1. Lists are an excellent way to cover all of the topics I meant to cover over the past few weeks but couldn’t because I was busy with holiday prep and a kid with a broken arm.

2. I really need deadlines and accountability to get any writing done. I made my goal public when I wanted to finish my bookby Easter. And it worked! I need to keep doing that. So hey. Guess what. I’m going to start submitting it to agents next week. Ask me about it, K? I’m also participating in a writing group in NYC. Time to start one of the two books I have brewing in my head.

3. My kid really can’t have artificial food coloring. Not at all. Not even a little bit. I wrote about it here and here. And then I promised a follow up called “I Heart the Kardashians.” And. Well. I think I’ve already established that I’m behind in my blogging. So. Operation No Food Dyes Ever continues to be a success, even through the holidays. Lily just doesn’t want them and won’t eat them, even if Mommy and Daddy aren’t around. (She was offered a blue cookie at school and told her teacher she couldn’t have it. She was given applesauce instead. Thank you, Lily’s school, and thank you Lily.) But we did hit a snag when we realized it was in make-up. That might not seem like such a big deal for a 4-year-old. But she likes to play with lip gloss and chap stick. It’s not that she’s allowed to wear make-up. She likes to play with it. And Chapstick is like, a dollar. So it’s an easy reward. You can imagine the drama, then, when I tried to buy her a cherry Chapstick, thought to check the ingredients, and yep, red dye. UGH. Lily and I then spent the next 45 minutes or so checking the ingredients of every “mouth stick” (her word for it. Cute, right?) at CVS. And they all. Had. Artificial. Dye. And she was getting more upset by the second. (Because she was also tired and hungry.) I get that I could have said sorry, no mouth stick for you, scooped her up, and forced her into the car. But I was frustrated for her. She’s a kid, and this was even more of a restriction than I ever imagined. Finally. FINALLY. I saw the Kardashian Beauty line. I should make it pretty clear that I have very few opinions about the Kardashians in any way. But they made a drugstore line of make-up with natural ingredients. And for that, they have my thanks and respect. (And yes. I know all about Burt’s Bees. They didn’t have any.)

4. Speaking of my daughter ‘s beauty routine. I’ve written and spoken quite a bit about our struggles with her hair. Things got even more complicated when she broke her arm and it was hard to take a bath. But we have discovered a solution that works for her. I call it… THE FAUX FRO. Lily likes to wear the style she calls “Lily Hair,” which is just out and free. It’s really cute and matches her personality. She hates braids and other protective styles. But she can’t wear it free all the time. It would get way too tangled and lock up. So. Here’s what the Faux Fro looks like. Yes, the picture is blurry. Because my kid is never still. Ever.


It looks basically just like her hair is out and loose. But really it’s about 20 small ponytails.
It’s not perfect. But it works for now.

5. The Battle of the Hair is a part of transracial adoption that we “knew about” but couldn’t possibly have understood. It is one of the tough parts. But this year I experienced a beautiful part as I read Lily the book “Born From The Heart.”. I saw it at a bookstore by chance, and a few minutes later was crying like an idiot. I bought a copy for Lily, one for a good friend of hers who is adopted and had a birthday coming up, and one for each set of young cousins. I read it to Lily when I got home that night and we had the following conversation.

Lily: Did he come out of her belly?
Me: No he came out of someone else’s belly which makes him…?
Lily: Adopted! Oh! I was born in YOUR heart!
Me: That’s right sweetheart. You sure were.
Lily: I wish you could have a baby in your belly.
Me: You know what? Me too. Some mommies just don’t have babies in their bellies. But it’s ok, because I have you.

“Born From the Heart.” Go buy it.

6. And speaking of adoption and never having carried a baby in my belly. I am realizing more and more that baby showers and pregnancy announcements are still difficult for me. They might always be. And I am trying to give myself more grace in that. You might have a friend who has struggled with infertility. Maybe that friend eventually became a parent through adoption. Her difficulty with pregnancy announcements and baby showers doesn’t mean she doesn’t recognize that she is a mother now. And she doesn’t need you to explain to her thar she is a mother now. Please just extend her the grace I am trying to extend to myself.

7. And speaking of extending grace to myself… I have been attempting to fly with Flylady for seven or eight years. Sometimes I feel like I really am flying. And sometimes, I am such a mess I can only describe myself as grounded. A few weeks ago I had one such grounded morning. I needed to take Lily to school and there wasn’t any clean laundry and there was nothing to pack in her
Iunch and I couldn’t find anything to wear myself and I was tripping over things and I was just a mess. And I cried.

I’ve been trying to figure out how this happens when Flylady’s methods are so clear.

But I know the problem.

I am a perfectionist.

It’s part of my depression. An all-or-nothing attitude. But that doesn’t mean I have to give in to that attitude.

I am tired of hurrying. And. I am tired of things needing to be perfect. In 2013 I realized that I need to Keep Calm and Stick to the Routine. And in 2014, that’s what I intend to do.


8. And speaking of depression… One thing I’ve learned in the first few months of having this blog is that I generally get the most hits when I write about depression. (Well, depression and the Marching 110.) This tells me that I need to keep writing about depression. Not because I am trying to get more readers (although that’s always nice!) but because people must need to read about it. I find it interesting that people are often reading those posts in particular late at night. (Isn’t technology neat? The fact that I even have that information just blows my mind sometimes. But don’t worry, I don’t know WHO is reading my blog! Just which posts are being read.) Night time can be tough for people with depression. I will keep writing about it. And if you are a person with depression reading this right now and it’s late- go to bed.

9. And speaking even more about depression…. My Facebook friends know that we had a ridiculous battle with our apartment management a little while ago over our cat. We got it worked out, and I made an Epic Stories video. And I never posted it. I speak at the end about making a video the following week for Christmas. Whoops. Never happened. But here it is. My Epic Story about Dexter and how he is now a Certified Emotional Support Animal. Card-carrying. Literally? Yes. (Well, no. He HAS a card. But he doesn’t carry it. Cuz. No thumbs.)

10. And speaking of my cat. He bites. Not often. But sometimes when he gets spooked. And this is apparently a problem, if it is a bad enough bite. You can read all about that here.

11. And speaking of going to the doctor. It turns out it’s important to find the right one. When Lily broke her arm, we saw the doctor that was suggested to us at the ER. He had no idea what to do with a four-year-old. He was honestly, legitimately confused that she wouldn’t be still while he set her arm. “Why didn’t he get someone strong to sit on her?” -Every parent I have talked with since. (And, incidentally, this is exactly what the pediatric guy did.) It’s amazing how we just trust doctors because they know things we don’t. But. As my 9th grade biology teacher pointed out. You know what they call doctors who just barely make it? Doctor. From now on, major research will be done before any of us see any medical professional.

12. And speaking of seeing medical professionals. Our family does not have health insurance. I’ve written about it a whole bunch. It is not a long-term plan. We were covered by the clinic at Greenwich Hospital until this past September, when we discovered that we will now “make too much.” Since we were dropped from the clinic, Mommy got a cat bite and Miss Lily broke her arm. Because that is how these things work. We are now eligible for affordable coverage (like, a third of what it would have been) through the Affordable Care Act. I understand parts of it are a mess. But at its core- the part where it offers coverage to people like us- it may save our lives. I really REALLY have trouble finding political fault in the idea of the ACA itself. Sorry I’m not sorry. You can post as many political memes as you like. Just remember. When you’re talking about “those people,” you’re talking about me.

We did have insurance for a long time. I wrote about the peace of mind that we used to have. You can read my feature here.

13. And speaking of being featured in the media. I’ve been really fortunate in the past few months to have tons of media exposure. My lesson in this? It is both awesome and super scary. Some of the forms of exposure makes me feel more….exposed… than others. But I get responses to all of them that they helped someone. So Imma keep doing it. (Yep. I said Imma. It’s to balance the fact that I spent so much time on my list making it lead from one subject to the next to the next. That took a lot of work. As a reward, I get to say Imma.) Some of the exposure has been so exposing I haven’t even posted it. But you can see all of it in one place on my News page. 🙂

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Erin
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 13:50:48

    Love it! Especially the faux fro! What a great idea for a way to have almost free hair and not get it tangled. Totally going to try it when the current style comes out.


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