Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Respect the Loophole

1:25 p.m - 1/4 of an inch of juice left
I drink coffee as the vehicle for the 1,000 calorie flavored creamer. I eat bread for delivery of the fat-laden butter. The only reason I walk on the treadmill is because it makes it Ok for me to listen to Eminem even though I'm older than his mother.

I eat Raisin Bran for the raisins in milk and Lucky Charms for the cute baby marshmallows. (most people get the Lucky Charms one, but tell me the Raisin Bran one is just dumb because why not just eat raisins. Duh. Because I love raisins in milk but raisins in milk as a snack would call too much attention.)

Life is full of loopholes.

You can say you're doing research while you Youtube ThugLife cat videos. “I have to do this. It keeps my hand on the pulse of America's humor, kids!”

In summer's muggy haze, there is no easier time for a dinner loophole than quartering up a chilled head of iceberg lettuce to cool everyone off. Who wants real food anyway?

All you need for a loophole to present itself is a good set of brains, both hemispheres, one for sound reason, the other for downright conviction.

My children are masters of the loophole. They can slip in a cuss if they turn it into a reminder of how my hearing isn't what it used to be. "Mom, I know you think you heard me tell my brother he was going to get his ass destroyed, what I actually said was 'I wonder about tonight's asteroid storm.' You know you need to ask the Dr. about your hearing." True enough, my child.

You can loophole making faces at your brother because your mother says Don't say anything mean to your brother and you're not saying anything. Saying "Don't touch him" makes you wish you would have said Touch Him because the almost of a one inch away poking finger is more annoying than the landing of the finger.

Loopholes allow me to visit my kids at work. I can go to the grocery store where one is a bagger and to the pool, where the other one lifeguards. I had to buy groceries anyway, which explains why I'm at the store during his shift, and before one starts huffing and puffing that I'm at the pool spying on him, let me just say that the only reason I am at the pool is to see if the Silver Swimmers were holding a Waterworking Those Bat Wings lap session.

When I see how long my children will make the quarter inch of apple juice that's left, last to the point of them barely pouring enough into a glass to wet a hummingbird's lips, because of my words, "The person I see drink the last drop of juice, has to go to the basement and get a new gallon," we're entering some loophole-ripe ground here.
Here we have an empty gallon of juice. With no one responsible for bringing up the replacement, since I didn't see who drank the last drop.

  It is impossible for me to get angry in the face of such beautiful circumventing genius.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Keep Talking

In the week that my mother passed away, my inbox was flooded with emails of support and friendship. My community texted me, some even called, to tell me they were there for me and that I could count on them for anything I needed. It meant more than I can say to feel the support of people around me who stood by me, even if they had no experience with the pain of my loss.

After that initial week, an occasional question would flit in, asking how I was doing, maybe, but for the most part, life went on for everyone else, as it always does.

And I understand it. We all like easy, status quo, we like to return to things where we left them before we had to look up from our own lives for a moment.

It feels like that time now again, about Charleston.
The first time reaction posts of the horror of Charleston have slowed to an ebb. We're now celebrating Marriage Equality in America, which is rightly so a mind-blowing historical and just event. But today is the start of a new week, and we return back to the lives we have.

It's human nature to tire of work. Emotional work feels equal in effort to physical. Writing about Charleston is an emotional landmine—as anything that is about race. Tempers flare, friendships are lost, and the confrontational nature of opposing sides makes some of us feel like running to our homes and locking the doors behind us.

But we can't let the talk of race die down because the impact of racism in America continues. Even if in your heart, you tire of explaining to people—sometimes even in your family—the dialogue needs to remain. Racism hurts us all, every one of every color. How many times in the past have we pretended with other things in our lives, that something isn't there? It doesn't work. Problems don't disappear.
We all need to keep talking about race, and not leave the work from here on out now to people of color. Whistling about how we don't see color, and we're not the ones with the problem, or how we're not racist and have taught our children to not see color, does not make racism in America fall away. It is there. To see it, read the news on any single day. It's not enough to write our one golden post or deliver our one in-person request to not engage in hateful bigoted dialogue. Without a doubt, anyone being vocal is appreciated, you could even say it's our duty. But we can't dust off our hands now with “my work is done here.”

We need to keep on writing and speaking on the injustice and existence of racism in America. Especially when others have stopped. The hostility from some we know may continue, and we will probably be told by others that we don't see the whole picture—That's when our words take on even more importance.

America has finally started talking about race. Voices dying down can bring that same death to this topic.
You can keep the talk of racism in America alive, but your voice has to be the breath within it.

Please keep talking:

Series of Nighttime Fires Bring Arson to Six Black Churches
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrating Today

"I'm not doing it for you. I'm doing it as a message for everyone. I'm wearing this everywhere today."

And so we did. I, with him, dressed in our rainbow best, celebrating.

All over this town.
* * *

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Truth About Appearances

I was asked on twitter today about balance--and I knew they weren't talking about my Wii Fit score. They wanted to know what advice I had on getting it all done. It being, all of 'it'. I sat at the other end of the screen, surprised, because Wow Do I look like someone who has it all together?

How did that concept ever appear? I wanted to apologize if I made it seem that way because I am no master of my universe. Instead I said "There is no balance. Only daily work and reminding myself to be my personal cheerleader."

Later this afternoon, I googled "Balance+Life+Women" and found out a few things that made me laugh out loud in an ouch that hurts to know way. For instance, did you know you're supposed to do certain things daily?

True, one site suggested that for balance in life, you need to outline time needed for your daily non- negotiables.

And then they gave The Big 7:


They offered the tip that if you must, let some things slide, like TV. As if I didn't feel bad enough already about not meeting The Big 7 up there as it was... I find out that I should have had time to watch TV in there? I was even failing at watching TV??

Here's how I handle my Big 7:

-My exercise is speed walking for 50 minutes like I'm in England. Then I do 10 minutes of arm exercises. I also ignore all articles that begin with "Get that bikini body ready now!"
-My sleep is wherever I land in the house between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7.
-Homecare? (hire out, says the article) Yeah, no, tried it. By the time I picked up the house I decided I might as well clean it. Or not.
-Work hours for me are easy. I have one of the best jobs that suits me more and more each year. I get paid to play with preschoolers.
-Bills? I don't like to talk about money. That's not good, I know.
-Childcare. Schedule it? I am on deck, on call, that's how I like to do it all--with the kids in the background.
-Cooking? Now you hit on a non-negotiable. Food allergies, five hungry people. I'm the one who does feeding time because I'm the smartest, fastest, and best at it.

We are all scrambling for time. If we compare what others accomplish to what we've done, this won't ever work. We don't know if someone has a friend who comes over to help, or a mother that lives just six minutes away. Someone might have kids who play well by themselves, and still others may just have the knack for organizing their time.

Each one of us sees what someone else is doing and it's kneejerk simple to go to a chastising inner dialogue. Why aren't we writing more, exercising more, laughing more, funning more? We want to get things done and be productive, but what is THE TRICK?

I've thought long and hard about a better answer to give to that tweet from this morning. Almost 12 hours later, I'm pretty sure I know what it is.

The Big 7 up above don't count if you don't start with the mother of them all: if you don't have this one thing, the one you must do, nothing will work. Everything we do takes energy and without This One Thing, you'll be sapped of it. So-

Take care with how you talk to yourself.

That is all of it right there. Nothing will have your shoulders landing on your knees faster than the spiral of self-talk of how you're not as good as anyone else, how you can't keep up with everyone else, and how all that you do is half assed and slapped together.

Want to feel overwhelmed? Tell yourself you'll never find the time to do anything.
Want to feel muddled and confused? Just think of all you have to do over and over.
Going for anxious? Remind yourself of how far behind you are from your goals.

We need to feel good about ourselves to find the energy and drive to pursue and commit to the things we want. If you want to fire yourself up for all that you want in life, remember where good feelings come from. From hearing something good. That means no more of how much better and more together others are than we are. I'm no psychologist but I'd bet my cheetah spotted shoe collection on how depleting critical self talk can be. We have got to reframe our relationship with ourselves.

So. Don't do it anymore. Stop bad talking yourself. The Big 7 up above are whatever The Big 7 are to you. Take your non-negotiables from there.

Exercise - absolutely I do not miss a day. I want to live.
Sleep - without a doubt I am working on change. This year, I started changing into pajamas.
Homecare - clean toilets, floors, non-sticky counters and folded laundry. Enough.
Childcare - is what you need it to be in the season you're in. Parenting is dynamic. Children grow, life gets easier. It's easy to forget that. Your time to do will come.
Bills - a definite work in progress.
Work - I'm lucky, I like mine. I get to color! And play-dough in the morning!
Cooking - this is my fun. Dicing carrots, chopping garlic, feeding my people. This fills my tank.

This is how my Big 7 work for me.

And just typing that, made me smile already.

So go on, love on yourself and realize that we never know how others make it work, we can only know what makes it work for us.

Peace out.

* * * 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Years Don't Lessen: On a Father's Day Without a Father

The first time that I saw Pirates of the Caribbean, it was with my husband and our three children. There is a moment within seconds of the movie starting that Orlando Bloom crosses the screen, and it knocks the wind out of me. “Oh! That looks just like my dad!,” I gasp.

“Cool, mom,” say my kids.

“No,” I say, “I mean it. It really does.”

But they have already stopped listening and keep sucking on their Sour Patch Kids, while I sit, frozen. They can't understand. For the next 27 times that Orlando pops up on the screen I call out how he could be my dad. My kind children politely look at me, and nod.

I haven't seen my father since the beginning of first grade, and now I have him in front of me, larger than life, for 90 minutes.

“My dad. It’s my dad.” I whisper, but I know I'm saying it to myself.

* * *
My father had skin the color of shiny copper and eyes that were green with flecks of yellow. When he smiled, he made me grin so wide I thought my skin would crack.

Growing up, we had a radio in the kitchen, a beige plastic rectangle with gold colored dials. The station was set to AM radio and The Beatles were always playing one of their Top 10 singles. I would hear the music from whatever part of the house I was in and come running, ready to dance the Twist for my father.

He couldn’t hold back his laughter at seeing me shake my five-year-old body back and forth while I sang for him, "Ooooooh he was just seventeeeeen!” Laughing and clapping, his smile opened into double laugh lines on the left side of his cheek. They would get so deep that they looked like I drew them in with black magic marker.

My parents were from Colombia, South America, but coming to the United States didn’t stop them from having the parties they were used to having there. In our basement, their old records would be pulled out: Carlos Gardel was the favorite. My father, holding a brown bottle of beer in his hand and his always present cigarette perched on his lips, would slide his feet back and forth until he was in the middle of the basement floor. I would secretly watch, hidden around the corner of the steps. Seeing him dancing with his eyes closed, lost in the music, was more than I could bear. I would blow my cover and run to him. My summer nightgown streaming behind me and my bare feet slapping against the cold cement floor, I jumped into his arms. Finally, I would be there, his cheek scratching against mine and pressing into his neck to breathe in Old Spice. I wanted him more than anything else in the world.

My father didn’t talk very much, he mostly laughed. He would wink, I swear it was only to me, and I would cover my mouth with both hands to stop from exploding. My father knew how he was my everything, and it was not something he ever took lightly. Each gesture to me was a grand one and his magic was in making time stand still. He could freeze a moment by looking into my eyes and all around me became distant and fell away. All that was left was just my father, and me, and that was the world.

I was in love with my father. I would wait at the end of the day for him to come home from work, my forehead leaning with all my might against the front screen door so I could see as far out as possible while I watched for him. Then, there, in his grey work overalls, I would spot him. Like a horse bursting through a gate, I galloped down our front steps. Taking two steps at a time I would begin shouting, "Papi!" When he saw me, he would stop walking and crouch down, and wait. It was then that his dimples would appear.

One day, I popped out the mesh of our front screen door from the force of my body. My father had to replace it.

* * *
These memories of my father flood over me that afternoon as I watch Orlando Bloom on the screen. I force myself to concentrate on time with my family, but I can’t stop missing my father. My throat begins to ache and I only see him, with his eyes closed, a palm of one hand softly on his stomach, the other held up in the air, swaying his shoulders side to side as “Adios Muchachos” plays on our stereo.

I have to excuse myself from my children and leave for the bathroom. I don't have the time to explain to them that I didn’t have my father long enough. I was a little girl who adored her father and he was here for much too short a time.

My father died two months into the start of my first grade; a shocking suicide. His death so abrupt that no one could get me to stop looking out of our front screen door for him. They gave up trying to pull me away, and I made the mesh pop out again. No one was there to replace it, and it remained split, with a bulge in the middle until my mother moved us to a new house.

My life has been filled with Father’s Days since then, and all of them, without him. I have never not thought of my father on this day and of how much I loved him. This Father's Day will begin like all the other ones have since, with my first words being, Feliz Dia de los padres, Papi. Te amo.

Happy Father’s Day, Papi, I love you.
* * *

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Since I began blogging over five years ago, BlogHer has been a part of my online life. They are committed to publishing all of our stories, not just the pretty in life--though those are needed, too--of what life is like for many who are different from you or me.

This month, BlogHer is covering intersectionality. If you've heard this term and aren't sure what it means, I am honored to have a post featured on BlogHer today about intersectionality and the role it has played not just in my life, but for others, too.

I would love for you to read it and share it. My hope is that it sparks discussion, and honest introspection.

Thank you.

*Thank you, BlogHer, for your commitment to community and to community for all of us.

* * * 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sometimes The Way We Have Always Done It, Doesn't Work

When I think of how different I am from how I used to think 10 years ago, 20, I can't believe I am the same person.

I am, but I have changed. There are things I no longer fear, and things I have grown confident in. What has led me to pursue the hope of growing into a better person and fingers crossed, one that helps make our world better even for one person, is to consider that my thinking needs to change.

This week, I read articles that left me in a private moment of stillness. The writing in them the kind that calls on us to be open, not reactionary, and to examine what it is we harbor. Even if we buck against it.

I am hoping that you read at least one of them. And then to reflect honestly about the words here, we can't always be right and we can't always keep thinking the way we've always been thinking.

It's time to see the world as it is for others.

Thank you.

From Alternet . Taking Responsibility for Racism and Why People Freak Out When They're Called Out About Race

From Huffington Post . Why It's Hard To Talk About Racism

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Climb Out of The Darkness

One in seven pregnant and new moms will have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder.
After my first child was born, I became one of the one in seven.
At my postpartum check up, Mardi, my labor and delivery nurse, recognized that the symptoms I was having were more than what people call "the baby blues". I had lost 15 pounds because I had no appetite. When I talked to her, it had been five nights since I had slept and I was too frightened to drive anywhere because I couldn't concentrate on the road. I felt isolated and cut off, and on top of everything, I had a paralyzing hopelessness that I would never get better.
I was scared. No one I knew in any of my area moms' groups were going through what I was experiencing. Mardi urged me to talk to my physician and ask for a mental health referral. Then she spoke to my husband and called my mother and my sisters, and arranged for my neighbor to check on me. Mardi saved my life by creating a community around me.
Along with a mental health counselor and the care and comfort of people around me, I came through to see the other side. It is because of my community's support that I know that asking for help is vital to recovery from postpartum depression and mental health. When we share our stories of challenge, we inspire and give hope to others who now find themselves where we once were. Everyone around me kept the threads of my life from unraveling when I had let go of the stitches. Because of their time, care, and love, and most important of all, their belief in how I would get better, I did. I would not have survived without my community.
My struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety was one of the most terrifying points of my life and one that I will never forget. I was able to survive, the only word that fits with what that time in my life was like, because of the support and community of those who were there for me.
This is why I support Climb Out of The Darkness, an annual walk and climbing event to raise awareness and funds for the postpartum website, Postpartum Progress. The climbs are held on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, June 20. Women around the world climb, hike or walk to signify climbing out of the darkness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and into the light. Milwaukee's climb will take place at 9 a.m. at Havenwoods State Forest.
Postpartum Progress' mission is to provide families with a stronger start by increasing awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and have a resource site where information is available to moms seeking information on symptoms and treatment. Katherine Stone, the founder of PPP, is a dedicated advocate for women who are seeking help and information with PP disorders. Her hope is for all postpartum moms in the midst of struggling with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to know that they'll get themselves back. The people they were before their illness, will be there again.
Join Milwaukee on June 20, 2015 for the annual Climb Out of The Darkness hike, at Havenwoods State Forest at 9 a.m. Click #TeamMilwaukee for information on how to register. We hope to have you climb along with us as part of the community of warrior moms who are surviving and thriving with the hope and support of others.
Join Postpartum Progress and climb out.
Postpartum Progress: together, stronger.
*To learn more about the symptoms of postpartum mood disorders, please visit Postpartumprogress. com
* * *

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Speak Mulch To Me

What makes life worth living?

What can a person do to add meaning to their life?

What will be the last thing that we think of right before we go toward the light?

Would it be... this?
Oh, yes. Yes it would. If you were my spouse.

Mulch would be what makes everything worthwhile. Mulch would be why we work, why we put in the hours, why we set aside the weekend, why we toil until that first day of summer.

Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, and found in the places where others overlook. And when you are on this side of life, as we are, you grapple with mortality. You question purpose and use of your time on earth.
Or you find your answers in mulch.

You rake, hoe, and lose yourself amidst the layers of bark. Mulch is the cure for what ails my husband. His weary working soul is fed, as is his flesh, through the satisfaction of aching muscles that evidence a job well done.

The week after Memorial Day, my husband will place his call. He will shiver as he requests his color choice, Euro Blend. I used to wonder why we had to devote 3-day weekends to the process of topping our soil, encircling our trees, spreading our flower beds, covering them with tree debris.

 I used to roll my eyes at the annual spreading of the mulch, how we would lose 3 good days of weekend time. I teased and ridiculed his love for mulch.

Then I grew up. I finally noticed with head-out-of-my-ass eyes the joy that working on our house brings to him. I felt his appreciation for all of us, for me and our children, when we spent this time with him. Over our 20 years together, I was slowly getting the point. We weren't losing time, we were making time. Mulch was the Love Language that that cheesy relationship expert wrote about in the '90s. This was how my husband bonded with his family, having the 5 of us together in the front, side, and back yard, made him feel like we were our tribe caring for our cave.

Neanderthal? More like primal.

When we're filling up our wheelbarrows and dumping, spreading, placing mulch with garden gloved hands around our trees and the hedges that line the side of our house, I see my husband smiling. I can feel his calm, the serenity of his zen. He will go to each of us and with brown staining pats on the back, let us know what he feels.

“Good job, guys!”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Looks great, honey!”

“Thanks, Mark.”

Then with his hands on his hips, he'll survey this third of an acre and sigh, Yeah, the yard looks good.

A dump truck delivers the magic mulch on a Thursday. On Friday we begin to spread. On Saturday, we have more to spread. By Saturday night, I'm testing the waters and asking if perhaps we have mulched as much as we can mulch. Sunday, 4 o'clock, we are finished. As I walk around to the front to try and understand what it is that he sees, I stand on the sidewalk and look. He is kneeling--spreading the finishing touches of mulch around the mailbox.

“Thanks, honey.”

“No problem, Mark. The mulch looks good.”

“I mean thanks for marrying me.”

I spend three days with my gravely knees on a gardening pad, swatting away mosquitoes and with my pollen mask over my face. And next June, I'll be here again. With a pitchfork in my hand, shoveling Euro Brown into our red wheelbarrow. Doing what makes my husband's life meaningful.
Because in every scrape of my shovel scooping up wood chips, he will hear, I Love You.

* * *

Thursday, June 11, 2015

BlogHer Strong

In four weeks, I'll be Conference Strong.

I'll be idea-open, inspiration-ready, community-bound, and with my people.

If I were the commune living type, I could only be hoeing and raking the carrot patch alongside BlogHer people.

On July 15th, I will be attending my 5th BlogHer conference. For someone who has never been the one to attend conferences, it's an event I can't get used to. The thrill has never worn off and the excitement about going still makes my stomach quake, but not in a too uncomfortable Immodium way.

I will be with the faces behind the words I love. There will be new friends to meet who will feel like I've known them for years. We will all be together speaking the same language, that of loving the internet connection and the world it has opened up for us.

Though everyone attending won't be just like me, we will all be drawn to BlogHer '15 because we are looking for affirmation, cohesiveness, and inspiration.

Our hearts will race at the joy of being with our friends. We'll talk with people in a way that texting, emailing, tweeting, and FB updates can't come close to. We'll look into the eyes of those who have grown into friends and have the opportunity to tell them what they mean to us.

I'll arrive July 15th for my 5th BlogHer conference in a row. I'll come seeking




I'll leave feeling focused, energized, rejuvenated, determined. And less alone.

And when I'm back on that plane flying home, it will be with the best takeaway of all.
The feeling of pride when I say, I am a blogger.
The BlogHer Carrot Patch Keeping Commune. Stretchy dress required. 
 * * *
BlogHer '15 takes place in NYC this July 16-18 #BlogHer15 is the world's largest conference for women content creators. The most people + the most brands = the most opportunity. It's that simple.
You'll connect with people you may already know, meet new people, see an incredible lineup of keynotes, and leave with new skills and inspiration. To find out more, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mom Haiku

Found the sweet inspiration for today's post from the incredible Ashley of Baddest Mother Ever. Pick any one of her posts, and you will find a nugget of wisdom or your delight for the day. This morning, her gift to me was Mom Haiku.

Reaching for my hand

Stopping midflight, eyes search mine

Can he? At thirteen?

Daily mama note:

Remember the quiet one

He waits for you too

No mirror can be passed

Reflections all examined

Young, and so much doubt

* * *

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Best of The Internet

-From Anglophenia, How to Swear Like a Brit. Pretty cute. And we should think twice before we throw the word "bloody" in front of anything.

-"Don't do anything stupid, " advice and wisdom from a 99-year-old veteran on Wall Street. And she's got an incredible story of her rise to good fortune, too.

-From Popular Mechanics, The Food You'll Eat on Mars. It doesn't look too bad.

-And I can't help myself, but Mars fascinates me. Especially this, Something Strange is Going On, On Mars.

Happy Sunday reading, everyone!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Quiet Revolution

There's a special excitement when you find yourself among your people.

People so much like you that you find yourself feeling you can be who you are without worry and anxiety about what others will think. At times like these, I feel whole and accepted.

I am an introvert. That's not the same thing as shy, but I could use up a whole day here explaining about the myths around being introverted. That's why I'm thrilled that today, an amazing new site launched.

Quiet Revolution.

When I tell you that Susan Cain, author of the best selling Quiet, is the creator of Quiet Revolution, it will all make sense.

I'm pinching myself because I am thrilled to tell you that I am part of the writing team of Quiet Revolution. I'll have the satisfying opportunity to write about life as an introvert and how it impacts my parenting.

Susan Cain set out to create Quiet Revolution as a place Where introverts are celebrated for their powerful contributions and, more importantly, for who they are. And where everyone’s quiet strength — no matter what their personality type — is validated."

My first Quiet Revolution contribution is up today. A confessional about my life as an introvert, and how I surprisingly missed recognizing that my middle child was exactly like me.

“Why can’t you be more fun?”
I grew up hearing that question from my extroverted mother. I could not explain to her why I was introverted, but I wanted her to be as proud of me as she was of my outgoing sisters. So when I was a teenager, I began a self-improvement campaign. I found a self-help book on how to become popular and followed the directions in Chapter 1: “Become more animated in your speech and use your hands freely when speaking.” I could have been a success story if you could get past the fact that talking with me looked like you were standing next to someone trying to shake spider webs off their fingers. I was fifteen years old, and I already felt exhausted trying to be someone else. [read more here...]

Want in on the Quiet Revolution? Click over and find the strength and support of community.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sunscreen Wars

Right here, kids. Damage from the summer of '85.

June is here and I spent my morning in the same way I'll spend my summer: chasing a child while he tries to dodge my slaps of sunscreen.

Today I was lucky. I was able to land a couple of good smacks along the ridge of his nose and his forearms. But not without his Kermit flail that he usually reserves for when he's told to unload the dishwasher.

It's summer and that means time for sunscreen wars.

Ask your kids why they hate sunscreen and they'll spit their reasons out like seeds in a watermelon eating contest:

It's greasy.

It's cold.

Too much creeper touching.

I don't like to be manhandled.

It takes too long.

My clothes stick to it.

It feels itchy when it dries.

I don't like to stand and have people rub cream into me.

You make me look like a little kid when you don't blend it in.

You don't blend it in.

You're bad at blending it in.


I don't need it because I've never had a sunburn.

Yeah right! Maybe it's because I'm so damn GOOD at my job!

What my children forget is that parenting is not a democracy and that means sunscreen use is not debatable. No votes will be taken. It will not come down to you voicing your choice.

I hate sunscreen season and have tried to find ways to lessen the hysterics and wails that come with the months of June July August. I've fallen into the trap of following sunscreen trauma lessening advice like, Let them feel independence and they will cooperate! I took my kids to the store and let them pick out their own sunscreen. Purple sunscreen is what they decided.

You know what happens to a kid when he sees you slathering purple on his arms and forearms and is screaming so loud about This is why I don't have friends that he drowns out your own screams of “IT BLENDS IN!” You end up going back to the shimmery pearl hue of Coppertone.

Here's some more parenting forum advice of shared sunscreen strategies that I got suckered into, Let them decide where to apply it first.

"OK, honey, since you're a big kid now, I'm going to let you tell me where you want the sunscreen to go first. See, because you are in charge."

“Nowhere.” That's what they told me. “Nowhere is where I want the sunscreen to go first.”

I tried even more genius suggestions from parenting groups:

Get the sunscreen stick!

Nope. Strike one. My kids screamed that I would get it mixed up with the purple glue stick. Make a mistake like that once and they never forget.

Apply it while they sleep!

Nope again. What you'll get instead is one sunscreen stained $89.00 bedspread from Pottery Barn.

Sunscreen them up while you put in a movie!

You know what's worse than a stained $90 bedspread? A stained thousand dollar sofa.

And my own solution:

Apply while they sit with a cotton candy tub in front of them. Bingo. And my go-to ever since.

Today, I'm wiser than I was 18 years ago in my first summer as a parent. I bark out orders in a baritone developed across two decades, so I tell my kids to take a deep breath and hold it, 'cause mama's spraying and she's a human titanium dioxide crop duster. So get ready, young'uns, and make a mad run out of the cloud and toward toxin free air.

After I've sprayed them down, I ask them if they want to hear the story again about the number of nose reconstructive surgeries I had to witness while assisting a dermatologist in a job after college. They throw five bottles of sunscreen at my head and beg me to make them look like Data in Star Trek.

My children may never give up their resistance movement. But as long as I'm in charge of their health, my summer will begin and end with a sunblock stick SPF60 to their faces. With the noon day sun, I'll move into a heavier SPF80 cream for all over their bodies. If their protests continue, their day will feature pictures of skin cancer. More swatting away of my sunscreen filled hands will just grow into a homeschooling unit of science experiments about the sun and potential damage of its powerful rays.

But it won't be all terror and trauma around sunblock season. I've got some fun set aside too. Like scheduled refreshing sunblock breaks during the day. I take the light approach then and let them use spray versus stick. And while everyone is going in for summer haircuts, I'm letting my three go for the built-in scalp and face protection of a Shaggy do. Ear tips, foreheads and back of the necks are now safer with less struggle. The little one looks adorably like a tiny Einstein.

I have accepted that as much as I dread it, my kids will continue to fight me as long as the sun rises in the sky. Other than applying sunblock at home to minimize public spectacles, there really isn't a whole lot more that we can do. And I'm not giving up the sunscreen way of life.

Any desperate measure is acceptable in the name of Sun Safety to me. I will use myself as a walking caveat--"look at me" I say and show them my sun spotted cheeks. While they sit frozen in terror, I dab a blob on each of their cheeks, noses, foreheads and say "Let me rub it in. I'm getting better at blending now!"

Solidarity, my fellow sun protectors. Remember that you are not alone in your misunderstood ways. Find strength and resolve in knowing that all we do, we do in the name of love.
Slather on. And sunblock the crud out of your crew!
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