Book Review: Open Boxes

I’ve always considered myself a pretty open person: open to discussion, education, trying new things, disagreement, dancing when people are looking. It wasn’t until I read Christine Organ’s Open Boxes, though, that I discovered my open appearance is a facade.

openboxesI’ve realized, with today’s social climate, and my voice in it, I’ve begun to ‘separate, package, hide.’

“The world can be a drab, disheartening, and downright nasty place at times. It’s no surprise that we find it easier to simply separate ourselves with our pretty boxes, stuffing our hopes and fears into plastic flip-top receptacles.”

I’ve been separating the good from the bad because it seems wrong to package them together. Why is that? Certainly goodness has always coexisted with awfulness. One doesn’t have to fully eclipse the other. I needn’t feel shame for being happy even amid a world fill with cruelty, sadness, and despair. I can still be me, the me who enjoys laughing. But, lately, my boxes have been sitting neatly beside one another, yet wholly separated. Fear has a box. Inside it is all the side eyes and comments I’d get if I were to share a happy picture “too soon” after my own commentary on another senseless, tragic death. But that’s what I do. It feels normal to flit from thing to thing; they’re all happening simultaneously.

Flitting doesn’t mean forgetting.

What I liked most about the book is that it isn’t a typical self-help, ohm, find your way to inner peace, namaste kind of book. It is authoritative yet guiding. You will consider the relatable (how is that not a word?) analogies because it’s easy to do so. You won’t feel bombarded by worrying about why you haven’t achieved removal of the boxes yet or why your inner peace is alluding you (I’m looking at you, Deepak Chopra). You’ll just feel like you’ve been given things to consider, maybe differently from how you were previously thinking. Don’t be afraid; this is a good thing.

There’s a lot of talk lately about introverts vs extroverts and how to deal with either. In Open Boxes, Organ gets us to consider this, even if covertly. Are you a natural introvert or is it self imposed? Why is that box there, keeping you from having a fulfilling life? (This is not to suggest, though, that having boxes is a bad thing. It’s what you use them for/do with them that causes trouble.) Organ challenges us to look deeper, interrogate ourselves. She does so with specific moments from her life. One that resonated deeply with me was self care, because for various reasons, it’s simply hard to maintain. I don’t do it enough.

At the same time, she reminds us that “not enough” is a plague. This phrase used to run rampant through my head, throughout the day as I lamented all I had intended, but was unable, to do. It started to saturate other parts of my day: I didn’t spend enough time on my hair; my dress didn’t fit well enough; I didn’t have enough cabbage for that night’s dinner; there wouldn’t be enough time to wash more than one load of clothes. “Not enough” started to invade my life. But Organ is right when she says this does nothing but lead us to the dreaded “Comparison Game.”

Organ feeds into our desire to identify. She tells fluid, good-natured stories that we readers can undoubtedly relate to. It makes the book more enjoyable, less here, do this exercise to achieve removal of the various boxes you’ve created to keep people out. Instead, readers are subtly asked if they want to discover ways to a more open life (open is relative; she’s not telling the reader HOW to fix themselves). It’s an invitation to travel with Organ on her journey and discover what one can along the way.

So, are you open? Do you compartmentalize? Are your figurative life boxes open or shut? Do you have too many? Do you feel unfulfilled, like the keeping of the boxes, the separation of aspects of your life (from yourself or others) is weighing you down? Read Open Boxes and answer these questions, find ways to combat the boxing up of your true self. Be open to wonder, about yourself, your surroundings, how you’re affected by those around you, those afar, happenings in the world, even how the Internet works (hell if I know). “Wonder holds us captive for a few moments to the magic and mystery. It holds open a space between the question and any possible answer, whispering let’s just rest here a bit. Wonder tingles, tantalizes, stills, and calms.”

Be open to it. “Box-keeping doesn’t work all that well for those of us who want a life of meaning, purpose and joy.”

 

Open Boxes is available to order here.

I received a copy of Open Boxes to review. All enjoyment, enlightenment, and words herein are my own.

#BlogHer15 is in the Bag

I’ll never be able to give you a complete recap. I’ll never be able to remember all the tiny moments that make up a BlogHer conference. The sessions, the meeting new people, the reconnection with friends you see once a year or less often but might talk to online every damn day, the inspiration, the education, the empowerment, the conversations, the laughter.

Oh, the laughter.

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Heather Barmore, Nicole Blades, Natasha Nicholes, Denene Millner, Jasmine Banks (laughing her ass off because one of us is an asshole with her jokes), Luvvie, me.
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When you know you’re hilarious but SOMEBODY around you is all WAIT, ARE YOU HIGH?

Whether it’s done overtly or while trying to be quiet going home because you accidentally boarded the train’s quiet car (with Aliza whom, quiet, WHAAAAAT?) (#quietcaraccidental on Twitter), the laughter is a balm for whatever ails you. The laughter, even if your ailments are few, will still knock you down and make your stomach muscles scream stop, but please don’t; it’s a good hurt.

The conference started with the founders of #BlackLivesMatter. If you left the room with dry eyes or without considering what to do or without being affected SOMEHOW? We can’t be friends.

Every year BlogHer seems to top the previous year. The programming this year was, as usual, informative and inspirational, but it was resoundingly thoughtful, timely, and relevant. I don’t just mean #BlackLivesMatter. I mean the total of it: Ava Duvernay’s accomplishments as a woman film director (as a woman, as a Black woman, if you need me to drill it down — but make no mistake; when the video is released of her interview, pay attention to that women film directors statistic of 7 percent. It’s women period, not just Black women. And as she pointed out, Native American, Latina, and Asian women have even less representation). Every Mother Counts and the statistics about maternal health and childbirth. The pitches, the sessions, the speakers, the focus on young people — their ideas, their lives, their challenges, their accomplishments, their importance to our future. Inspiration was everywhere, even in people 20 years your junior. It was being fostered, harnessed, shared.

But you know what? I do mean #BlackLivesMatter. Because this conference sees thousands of women and men from various backgrounds — bloggers in parenting, food, healthy living, politics, you name it — having this as the surprise pre-conference event? That mattered. That sent a message that BlogHer and SheKnows care about what is happening, about, dare I say, Black people specifically, and they stepped up. Period.

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You want to write better? Edit? You want to talk about mental health, starting a business, using social media? Learn about video? Photography? Branding? Self esteem in women? Entrepreneurship? Parenting? Writing about parenting? When to stop writing about parenting? What to share online? You want to learn about others’ stories? You want to partner with AT&T? Get samples of Shea Moisture that will make more strangers than usual compliment your hair? You want to find out how to help various, important causes? You want a photographer to follow you around like he’s not following you around but he totally is everywhere you are and you can’t wait until the photos are released because you know some will make you laugh all over again? You want to listen to a down-to-Earth celebrity discuss what’s important to her so you can see she’s human like you? You will get these things; you will. And more. You will leave fulfilled by whatever it is you were open to receiving.

I went to the storytelling about mental illness session by Elan Morgan (Schmutzie), A’Driane Nieves, and Sarah Fader. It ran 25 minutes over, into lunch time and my stomach was touching my back because I refused to pay another $21 for three pancakes, JESUS BE AN IHOP, but there was no way I was leaving. Nope. It was therapy. I don’t know the woman’s name, but there was an impromptu guided meditation at the end by a woman who wasn’t even on the damn panel, and I was all the way there for it. I DON’T NEED TO EAT; I AM BREATHING THROUGH MY ISSUES WITH OTHER ISSUED PEOPLE. Who was that woman, y’all? I saw her a few times after and I promise you, each time, I automatically breathed deeply and mentally gave thanks.

Thank you.

Majora Carter. JESUS BE SOME CALM. I knew she’d win #ThePitch. I felt it. I was rooting for Luvvie because DC’s HIV infection rate is one of the highest in U.S. cities and never ceases to shock me, so Red Pump’s work is needed and appreciated. But once I heard that all six would receive $100K toward her business? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiid. I didn’t care who won. THEY ALL WON. But again, that’s what BlogHer has always been about. Women entrepreneurship. Betterment. Lifting up. Yougotthisness.

(HOLD UP. [Y’all say] WAIT A MINUTE: Can I talk about the food for a minute? I’m rather disappointed that my life away from the conference doesn’t have tiny baked treats with icing. BlogHer may think they just chose the color orange and actual oranges matched, but I think there’s more of story there — vitamin C might prevent the BlogHer bug. Oooooh. I ate an orange every time I sat at a table. Keep your cooties to yourself. What would you do without my insight? You’d be lost, that’s what.)

I love you, IssaArnebya.

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Teneshia Warner. I was not expecting you. I am thankful beyond words that I got to experience you. The message of perseverance, of determination, and of a little bit of y’all kiss my ass for thinking I’m a stalker, can go a long way. Word.

Momo. You are mine, forever and ever, amen.

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DON’T ASK NO QUESTIONS.

If anyone ever asks you if online friendship is real? Refer them to these photos. And then say yes, you missing out asshole.

 

Ashley, Kristin, and me
Ashley, Kristin, and me

James Oliver, Jr. read a piece at the Voices of the Year community keynote that I was totally unprepared for, especially as Issa sat behind me with her son. And then Jenni Chiu sensed my need as I sat there staring 10 minutes after the program was over. She knelt in front of me, then physically got on the floor and looked me in the eye. She hugged me, and she stayed until I let go. THAT IS REAL.

I’ve said it before: let no one define the conference for you. Go for your own reasons. And don’t bitch about the level or lack of swag. Because.

Every emotion imaginable was covered. I laughed, I cried, I was moved to act, research, find out more. I was encouraged and gave encouragement. That’s the essence of BlogHer: one can be there for inspiration but then find out she was inspiring others. When someone walks up to you and says something you wrote four years ago still resonates? That’s the power of it all. Your voice matters. Your actions matter. Believe no one who says otherwise.

My roommates — Addye, Jasmine, Tabatha – were wonderful. I can’t write about every moment; some were infinitesimal. But seeing friends I admire, missing those who couldn’t make it, hearing about causes and lives and babies and husbands and work and wondering why Kleenex isn’t yet a sponsor refueled me. And I’d do it all again, precisely the same way, with everything you didn’t know you needed right there in my bag.

Just like this:

@arnebyaherndon doin POISON! W/back up from @issamas & @luvvie #BlogHer15

A video posted by addye_b (@addye_b) on

Under the Magnolia Tree – Fiction Short Story Series

Here’s something new. I’m going to share my short stories with you from time to time. Here’s the first.

**

April sat on the stairs, the baby’s wail in her ear like a siren. Nothing she did calmed her. Nothing made her stop crying. Was it colic? Constipation? Was it something she was eating making its way through breast milk to upset her daughter’s stomach? What the hell was wrong with this baby? This isn’t how everyone told her it would be. She was ready for the after effects of the emergency c-section; prepared, even. She was ready for some crying, some diaper blow-outs at inopportune times in less opportune places. But she was apparently ill prepared for sleepless nights and hours long crying jags.

The past few nights had been amazingly difficult. Ellis hadn’t even gotten up to help her. She tried not to be too hard on him, though. He worked hard for her to extend her maternity leave to six months instead of the firm-offered six weeks. Six weeks. Who can leave their infant after just six weeks, she remembered thinking. It gave her a reason to be generous to her pregnant secretary who would receive even less time off.

She rocked Ava, singing low. Just go to sleep, she wished. She knew it was another hour before Ellis would be home, before he could relieve her, albeit temporarily, so she could take a hot shower, get away from the incessant screams for a few minutes. She selfishly hoped Ava would keep screaming. Ellis never seemed to believe the baby was as inconsolable as April described.

Maybe she should try the stroller, go for a walk. But she was so tired herself that that seemed torturous. Standing to go inside, she heard her gate open. She turned to see Maggie, her neighbor and friend, and relief overwhelmed her.

“Hey, Mags.” She sighed, as Ava continued to yell. April jiggled and bounced but nothing seemed to help. Maggie walked over and held out her arms. April could’ve cried she was so grateful. She also couldn’t believe how much she’d wanted to just sit Ava down and walk away. Or throw her. She preferred the lying down; much less messy.

Maggie took Ava, tightened the blanket around her, and started to pace, whispering something low and melodic. The baby was asleep immediately, and while April was grateful, she was also irritated. What was wrong with her that Ava wouldn’t sleep for her? Maggie asked if April wanted to go inside for awhile, have a nap or a shower or a shot of tequila. April smiled and said, yes, absolutely, a shower was in order. Not only did showers always recharge her, but they gave her the chance to have more time with Ellis when he got home rather than handing Ava over and running away.

“Will you come in?” April asked.

“Not yet. It’s too nice out.”

“Okay. I won’t be long. If she wakes up there’s milk in the fridge.”

“I’ve got it. Go.” Maggie waved April away, smiling. April walked toward her, remembering to ask, “How are you?”

Leaning into her friend, Maggie almost told her the truth. “I’m good.” April nodded and headed for the house, turning back to whisper, “I feel like I’m drowning, Mags.”

“It’ll get better. The internet says so.” April laughed and congratulated herself for not letting the screen door slam.

Maggie sat on the porch swing and rocked with Ava. The wonder of babies, she thought. The ache was still there but not as stabbing as it had been the last few weeks. It was starting to subside to a dull thump in her stomach whenever she heard a baby cry or saw a pregnant woman, or held Ava. Things would be so different if Shelly had lived. Mark would be different, their life together would be different. And she wouldn’t be leaving a city she loved.

The magnolia tree was blooming, as beautiful as ever, proving that Mother Nature didn’t care about life’s adversities. Spring always came again, whether there were babies to enjoy it with or not. The grass would need to be cut soon. Someone else’s problem now since she listed the house for sale earlier that week. She watched the clouds as tears fell onto Ava’s blanket. Shelly was due just two days before Ava. Maggie wondered whether she’d be as spacy and overwhelmed as April. Probably so, but then, they’d have each other. Without her own infant to swap stories about, it all felt wrong, strained.

Standing to fish a tissue from her pocket, Maggie looked up and cradled Ava closer to her. Mark was standing at the gate.

##

April woke to Ellis humming downstairs. The faint smell of cilantro was wafting up the stairs, which, if she could smell it, meant he was using too much, again. She smiled because he never thought he’d used too much. Stretching, she winced as the heaviness in her breasts told her she’d missed a feeding. How long had she been asleep? How nice of Ellis to keep Ava away from her while she slept for – she glanced at the clock – three hours? How was that possible? She remembered showering, then sitting on the bed for just a second. Maggie or Ellis must have given Ava the breast milk in the fridge by now. Dammit. She’d been planning to use that later in the week when she went for a much needed pedicure. April got up slowly, enjoying the ability to move at her own pace, not an Ava-demanding one, and got dressed.

“Hey,” Ellis said when she came around the kitchen corner. April tried not to fixate on how he had to use every pot when he cooked, how he didn’t clean as he cooked.

“Hi.” She pressed against him, smiling, still irritated by the mess, but glad to have him home. She moaned when his arm pressed into her breast. “I missed a feed, I guess. You let me sleep a long time.”

“Ava let you sleep.”

“What do you mean, you haven’t fed her? That’s good. I don’t want to pump. But this is the longest she’s ever stayed asleep. Feels weird.”

Ellis raised his eyebrows. “Huh? I didn’t wake you when I came in, figured you were both asleep. Ava’s upstairs with you.”

Before he could finish, April was racing across the kitchen floor, sliding in her slippers. She kicked them off and took the stairs two at a time. Thoughts raced through her head, but fear was in her chest. Those first few days postpartum came rushing back at her, thoughts about how she might hurt the baby.

Ava wasn’t in her crib. April doubled back to their bedroom, pulling back the comforter, lifting it from the floor to look under.

Ellis met her at the door. “What’s happening?”

“What do you mean what’s happening? Ava isn’t in the nursery. She wasn’t in the bed with me, I knew co-sleeping was a bad idea.” He grabbed her arms.

“Slow down. Where did you put her when you went to lie down?”

“I took a shower. I fell asleep –” Maggie.

April fell against Ellis, making a noise between a cry and a laugh of disbelief. Of course, Maggie. “Maggie had her. I came in to take a shower. She probably thought I was tired so she took Ava home. God. I’ll get her.” She started for the stairs, turned back, “Tell me we’ll laugh about this someday.”

Ellis shook his head and said, so low April had to walk closer, “I think you need to talk to someone.”

April stopped walking and gave a slight nod. She wasn’t agreeing, but acknowledging. She knew how this looked, how it seemed. Mothers don’t forget where their babies are. But she was fine. Ava was fine.

She walked through the kitchen, turning off his now burning pasta sauce (why does he keep making pasta? I hate Italian food, she thought), and grabbed a piece of cheese off the counter. April started down the front stairs and stopped when she looked across the street. There was a for sale sign in Maggie and Mark’s yard and it looked like the local gardeners were preparing to cut down the old magnolia tree. She loved that tree. It was just blooming, so even though it was still chilly, the tree said spring was coming. A moving van sat in the driveway. She watched as a burly man in a torn jean jacket closed the rolling door and looked at a clipboard.

April threw the piece of cheese at a bush and started down the yard. She turned back and picked the cheese up because she remembered Maggie saying they’d had a mouse a week or so ago. She waved at Henry and the yard guys. He waved back and yelled, “No one’s home, Mrs. Ferguson.” April just smiled. She was going to have to talk with Henry about the tree later. She pushed the door open. Except for the large furniture like the sofa and beautiful, old China cabinet, Maggie and Mark’s house had been packed up. Had she been that out of it that she hadn’t noticed any of this happening? April thought about how Maggie hadn’t even hinted at leaving, but she understood it. That’s probably what she came over for today, to say goodbye. But all April did was pawn her baby off on a woman who’d lost hers.

“Told you, Mrs. Ferguson. The Sutcliffs are gone already.” April turned fast at Henry’s voice, bumping her arm against her breast, sending a wave of pain across her chest and a stream of milk into her bra. “They deserve to get away, yeah?” She mumbled a thanks and ran back across the street. Ellis was on the porch, walking toward her, looking behind her.

April was tugging on her hair, the way she always did when she was upset. “Where’s Ava? What did Maggie do?” Ellis asked. April’s mind was swirling with what ifs, but she knew her friend.

“Maggie hasn’t done anything. She wouldn’t hurt Ava.”

“I’m not thinking about her hurting her; I’m thinking about her taking our child. She’s grieving her own baby. And you let her visit too much, holding an infant when she has to go home without one.”

April hated that Ellis’ thoughts mirrored her own. Yes, she knew Maggie was hurting since losing Shelly. She also knew that for seven years, Maggie has been the closest thing she had to a friend in a town that didn’t care for her or her policeman husband.

“I need to pump.”

“Are you serious? Ava is missing and you’re concerned about tight titties?”

“Don’t be crass. And she’s not missing. There is a perfectly good explanation why –”

“There’s an explanation why your so-called friend has our baby with no milk, no clothes, no diapers?” The swirling feeling started again. April hadn’t thought about any of those things, so sure she was that nothing foul was going on. Nothing foul was going on! Maggie wouldn’t do anything to Ava. But none of this made any sense.

As she sat in the rocker in the nursery and pumped, feeling her body relax as she released the pressure from her breasts, April thought back to how quiet Maggie had been earlier, how she hadn’t mentioned moving. They hadn’t talked about Mark’s arrest in much detail, but she knew Maggie thought Mark hadn’t intentionally pushed her on the stairs. They’d tried so long to get pregnant and then Shelly stuck, and then the accident at nine months. It wasn’t fair. But Maggie wouldn’t hurt Ava. April removed the breast pump and started to get dressed.

Ellis knocked on the door and opened it. “I called in a favor. Joe needs to talk to you. We’ll try to do this quietly at first, but an Amber alert might be inevitable.”

“Ellis, come on. That’s a mistake.”

He was trying hard not to yell. “And you’re being stupid. Put nothing past Maggie. She’s hurting. She lost her baby, her husband was arrested for causing her to lose the baby. There’s a baby next door whose mother would rather sleep all day –”

“Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson. If you’re ready?” Detective Joe Sanborn was tall and too thin, with wax-like skin. He’d been at the door, pretending not to listen.

“No, I’m not ready, Joe. Ava isn’t missing.”

“April. She’s not on a fucking field trip! When are you going to take this seriously?” April walked to the kitchen, wanting more cheese, but it was warm now. She ate a piece anyway and thought again about a mouse. She put the cheese away, glancing at a shadow on the baseboard like she’d conjured up a mouse just by thinking of one. She could hear Joe talking in the living room.

“Sergeant Ferguson, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I overheard you say your wife sleeps a lot. We have to cover every angle, so I hope you aren’t offended when I ask about her mental state. My wife does work in that postpartum depression stuff, so if there’s any chance your wife –”

“My mental state is fine.” April stood in the archway, aware that something had changed with Ellis. He was staring at her like he hadn’t seen her in a long time.

He was fast in her face. She backed up, unafraid but prepared. She realized she felt like fighting. “Why are you so calm? Why aren’t you tearing your hair out demanding someone find Ava? You’re walking around here giving the impression th-th-that you’re un-un-unconcerned.”

Ellis always stuttered when he was angry. April smirked. “What the hell are you laughing at?” he screamed.

She’d wondered before how it happened, how happily married people got to the kiss my ass point so quickly. But now she was seeing the progression of distrust up close. And she knew for sure they were forever changed by this.

“Listen, Joe. Maggie is just having a rough time. I have no doubt she’s just out for a stroll. She’ll be back as soon as Ava starts screaming.”

“According to Ava’s schedule, she’s been screaming for an hour, April. Wake up. Give us some idea where Maggie could be. She has nothing to care for Ava with. Nothing.” April pretended to get water, but she noted how many bottles were in the fridge. None was missing.

“Mrs. Ferguson, I know she’s your friend, but right now, your daughter could be in danger. Even if Mrs. Sutcliff won’t harm the baby, we have reason to believe Mr. Sutcliff isn’t that nice of a man.”

“What does that have to do with anything? Mark’s in jail.” April watched as the detective looked at Ellis, and Ellis slowly turned to her, inhaling sharply like he’d caught her eating icing from the can again.

The detective said slowly, “Mr. Sutcliff made bail today.”

It all made sense now. Maggie not saying anything about the move, her quietness during the visit earlier. April remembered Maggie complaining that her milk wouldn’t dry up and imagined her sitting in a one-room apartment with nothing but a rocking chair, an open window, and her breasts to feed and soothe April’s daughter.

She felt herself slide down the wall.

##

Maggie was pacing, hoping Ava would settle back down. She longed to nurse her, knowing the baby was hungry, but knowing more that it wasn’t her place. “What are you doing, Mark? This is ridiculous. You know Ellis probably already has the police there.”

“They won’t call the police. We’re their friends. Or at least you are.”

“This baby needs her mother. She needs to nurse.”

“You can nurse her.” Ava had woken once, but Maggie was able to get her back to sleep.

He was quiet a moment. “Mags. I didn’t hurt you on purpose. I couldn’t.”

Maggie said, “I know” without lifting her head. “But this. What is all this about? Why do you have a gun?”

“I’ve had this gun for years, locked in a box at the top of the spare bedroom closet. I’ve gotten some threats, Mags. People in the neighborhood think I hurt you.”

He explained his plan: they would leave. The baby hadn’t been part of his plan, but it made sense. Maggie deserved that baby. She deserved to be happy. She deserved everything he’d taken from her accidentally. “Leave with me.”

“No.”

Mark stared as his wife of 13 years, seeing so many times when she should have left him. “I can’t go back to jail, Mag, even if I’m not charged for hurting you. They’ll call this kidnapping. I’m sorry.” Mark put the gun in his lap, released the safety.

Maggie bit down a gasp of disbelief. “I’m sorry too, Mark.”

Ava started to stir.

##

April pushed past Detective Sanborn as Maggie pulled her car into the driveway.

“I’m sorry, time got away from me. I remember you saying how much Ava liked the car so I thought that would help her sleep longer. And since I still have Shelly’s seat– I got lost in thought and just kept driving. You probably really need to nurse her.”

Ellis said, “You didn’t –”

“Of course not.” Maggie looked at the detective peering into her car. She glanced back at Ellis, hard.

“Where’s Mr. Sutcliff, ma’am?” Detective Sanborn asked.

Maggie handed Ava to April but Ellis grabbed her, too rough for Maggie’s liking. April jumped a bit, kept her eyes lowered.

“Mr. Sutcliff was released from jail today. Have you seen him?”

Maggie looked at April. Without looking away to Detective Sanborn, she said, “No. I haven’t.” April looked up and Maggie remembered her drowning comment. She looked so tired. Worse, she looked afraid.

Maggie touched Ava lightly on the head, looked at Ellis, and rolled her eyes. She tilted her head at April and nodded. She headed across the street to talk to Henry about leaving her magnolia tree alone. She wasn’t moving.

Win a $110 Target Gift Card for Your #SummerHappy

fieldtrip

I work Monday-Friday, 7:30-4. I leave home at 6:55 for the 7:03 bus, then get on the train. I’m usually there by 7:25. The office is miserably cold; I’m wrapped in a blanket most days — an actual blanket, that I bought with the express purpose of using in the frigid igloo office. The running joke last year was coworkers were going to buy me a Snuggie for my birthday or Christmas. Both of those gloriously fantastic days passed without my receiving a backwards fleece robe. I guess they were joking. I wasn’t.

We’re losing space at work, so I’m sharing a desk and have to telework two days a week. I am not complaining about this. Working, from home, rarely getting dressed, while possibly eating all the kids’ snacks because what else does one do when one is home and in pajamas with Chopped on in the background and there are snacks?

Duh.

But, now that it’s summer, it’s slightly difficult to concentrate what with the arguing and the whining and the begging for snacks I’ve already eaten. It’s been raining a lot too, which doesn’t bode well for telling them to just go outside already.

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At least it’s warm.

I keep saying I’m going to go to the library for the quiet, but I never do. There’s the whole getting dressed aspect, but then there’s just missing all of this. I complain about them being loud and bothersome, sure, but really, otherwise I’d be at the office freezing, watching the clock angry that it’s only four minutes since the last time I looked. As usual, I add the caveat that this is not how I feel all the time; sometimes I’d RATHER be at the office because conversations like this are not conducive to an editor’s ability to edit:

This is hard too. I can’t type like this, y’all.

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On days that I telework, I still do 7:30-4. When I come downstairs around 7:20, I tiptoe. There’s a pattern you have to walk on the stairs in order to miss the creaky ones. And yet, he wakes up 11 minutes after me, without fail. And he joins me. And I feed him first breakfast. There’s no electronics use for them until 10, so he plays alone until his sisters get up. We didn’t do camps this year, so the days are long free-for-alls. He also talks, incessantly, about the most random things. It doesn’t aid my concentration, but come on, where else am I going to be asked jokes like how did the elephant skate in the street? Because he had on purple underwear.

Some days are busier than others and I absolutely have to put my foot down and say no, I’m working. And then other days, I tend to listen to, then laugh at, the jokes. After all, it’s summer. And he’s Spiderman.

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The entire Happy Mamas Team is encouraging happy summer adventures by asking you to share your #SummerHappy with us on Instagram.

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You can enter ONE photo each day with the hashtag #SummerHappy via our favorite photo social sharing app, Instagram, between now and August 1st for a chance to win a $110 Target gift card.

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