The Missing Element?

From Motherlode to Mamiverse the discussions on balancing family, work, parental roles, marriage, and life in general continues to be juggled between the parents and most of the time, it seems, excludes the kids.

Why aren’t our children part of the discussion?

When my sons were just beginning grade school and learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I introduced them to John F. Kennedy. They were on the apex of an “I want” blue streak, (insert toy, DVD, pet, or candy).

I was primed to give them my usual spiel about the importance of earning and saving their money, but instead remarked, “You know, an older friend of mine, someone like Grammy, once said to me when I was young, “…ask not what your parents can do for you; ask what you can do for your parents.” I apologized to President Kennedy for masticating his legendary quote, but someone like their grandmother packed a bigger punch than a president. They stared back at me with furrowed eyebrows.  I explained that my older friend was asking us to think of others.

Now my sons are leaving high school and I continue to remind them, using the correct version of President Kennedy’s quote, that the world doesn’t owe them anything, instead its about them contributing to their world, community, and  family.

So, how do we include our children?

Crazy, Loco Love on MITM

When it comes to loving my teenagers, Crazy Loco Love stretches me just shy of breaking point. At times, the connection between our children almost seems hardwired to snap, split, and break away while they reach for adulthood. They seem like strangers when they’re sheathed in snarky self-absorption. The plausibility of body snatching pods intensifies: I’ve stared into their eyes, just in case.

My mother used to call it amor salvaje, a rough and tumble love. Before becoming a mother, I conjured up Rarotonga, the love goddess of the jungle featured in the weekly fotonovelas we swapped with friends. My mom meant teenagers baring more than just teeth and stomping their way through life, “Just wait and see. Maybe you’ll be lucky.”

Now, I do see. My old-school Latina bag of tricks has a hole in one corner where lectures, ground rules, and pronouncements scatter and fall on deaf ears. The once tried and true approaches to keep conflict from boiling over are tattered from overuse and seldom catch my teenagers’ attention anyway.

Continue reading at Mothering In The… and when you’re done, please LIKE or retweet my post. Thanks!

Getting Closer!

Earlier this morning, I finalized the book cover changes with CreateSpace and should receive a physical copy in the mail early next week, if all goes well.

In the meantime, here’s what the front cover looks like…

SM_Book Cover


I’m in a reading slump.

There are two books of fiction and a memoir scattered around the house that I’m a few chapters into, but so far, theirs no tug at the bookworm in me. I’m not holding these highly regarded books responsible; its me.

Won’t you help?

I want to read.

I need the escape.

So, please recommend some of your favorites.

What books have sucked you out of the ordinary and taken you away?


Mami, How Often Do You Mate?

When my oldest was in first grade, he would jump into the car talking a mile a minute, for weeks, about the hen in his classroom that about to lay her eggs. He was dying to see her lay them, but was even more so mesmerized by this thing his teacher called mating. Strapped into his car seat behind me, he explained the process in detail and went on for quite some time with a professorial air.

Hand extended out the back window, he said, “So, Mami, how often do you and Papi mate?”

I was about to put my years as a family life educator to the test, and explain the difference between animals and humans mating, but instead replied, “As often as we can, mijito.”

His satisfied grin and change of subject reminded me that indeed, less is more.

Twelve years later as my oldest is months away from graduation, I find the same is true. They talk. I listen. At times, I laugh and empathize other times my jaw goes numb, but now more than ever, less is more.

Less on our part, means opening up an opportunity for our young adults to step up and do more for themselves. Missteps and all.

Post Adoption Overwhelm!

When I read Rosie Molinary’s post, How to Build Attachment After Adoption on, I was sucked back into fifteen year old memories of coming home with my sons.

What a mixed bag of emotions! I was relieved beyond words to leave Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and the 24/7 fear that had become a noxious second skin. I was home and grateful that my man no longer had to commute from northern California to El Paso, Texas to visit us. I no longer had to depend on public telephones or barricade the front door with furniture before going to bed.

I’d daydreamed that we’d parade around our neighborhood with our toddler sons and host parties to celebrate our homecoming, but instead I only wanted to cocoon with our family. I turned off the telephone ringer, closed the living room curtains, and forced my man to deal with well-meaning neighbors while my guilt escalated.

How I wish Ms. Molinary’s sage advice had been available to assuage my ever mounting guilt over what I perceived to be selfish and crazy behavior on my part. She outlines five practices to build attachment with your children: Slowly transition, Stay home, Avoid the party, Take it all on, and Talk, hold & play. They are also critical in helping curb the overwhelming emotions circling the new family.

While most of us think of adoption as a happy ending, it took time to explain to family and friends that my four-year old hadn’t given up hope his birth mother would find him. He missed the life we had in Juárez and while he liked la casa americana, he wanted to go back.

So while our loved ones wanted to rejoice that after a decade of infertility we finally had kids, my sons and I weren’t quite ready to celebrate.

What A Problem!

The New York Times’, The Motherlode needs blogs. KJ Dell’Antonia wants a fresh, new blogroll.

“So I’m hereby bringing back a Motherlode staple: the blogroll. A fresh, new blogroll, cleansed of the defunct and abandoned sites that once brought it down, and filled (I hope) with voices crying in the wilderness in the classic blog sense…. But what I really hope to share and read are bloggers doing the real thing: writing about life as a parent in a way that makes it all fresh and new and infuriating and joyful again…”

Well, let’s help her out! Please submit and other blogs you’ve been following and telling others about. Thanks!

A Valentine


A Valentine

Camouflaged Love

I received quite a few comments offline for yesterday’s post, On Loving a Teenager.   Parents at the end of their threadbare rope felt an instant of relief to know that what they were feeling for and from their teenagers was in fact love.

Doesn’t look like love. Doesn’t feel like love, but it is. At times it’s so messy, hurtful, and chaotic that a trace of harmony or hint of love can’t be found in the silence or obnoxious behavior, but it’s there.

My mother told me so countless times when we traded stories and I asked for advice. She’d endured eleven different types of teens, some were easier than others, but with each one of us, she dug deep and managed to find love to give and receive.

Crazy, Loco Love

When I read Karen Maezen Miller’s declaration of love on Mothering in the Middle, I knew after the first two sentences that the post I’d been writing had become a draft for another day.

Crazy, loco love stretches us in more than just directions when it comes to our children. Ms. Miller’s boldness and vulnerability opens up a space for conflict and love to traverse.

On loving a teenager

“They love us in a different way.

I said that when someone asked what it was like to have a teenager.

I feel like we’ve lost a daughter.

My husband said that after a silent and inconsequential Sunday.

Just shut up.

I said that to her after a ride in the car yesterday.

And yet, there is love, so much love between us and it has gone nowhere! I am standing on the high bluff over death valley, infinite openness in all directions, stunned dumb in the emptiness, but I know the space before me is pure love. Pure love. Life grows here, even when we can’t see it. Refreshed in a cool night, fed by invisible rivulets. A whisper of sea sails five hundred miles across five mountain ranges, and the whisper is this.

They love us in a different way.

They love us in the space, the space that is nothing but love…”

Read more