The Keeper of Everything

Last Friday, I lost my shit. Absolutely lost my shit. It was day #2,057 of trying to get the kids in the car so we could go meet Dad at the climbing gym. Now, you should know: mama loves her climb time. It’s not a sport I’d ever have considered, were it not for the encouragement (read: gentle harassment) of my husband. Coupled with the fact that when you’re up on a 40-foot wall, you’re out of reach of any grabby kid hands or constant questions.

“Where’s my water bottle?”

“Where’s my paper?”

“Where are my stickers?”


So: climbing – the answer to “me” time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Joey climbs or plays with buddies. Junie talks to strangers and forces stickers on them. I neglect both offspring for a healthy 2-3 hours. It’s a win/win for us all.

Except that we cannot seem to get in the damn car and GO. I had tried it all: setting a timer for them to gather their things, giving them multiple verbal announcements that we’d be leaving soon, starting and sitting inside the car until they came out. Nothing worked. Every option took an e t e r n i t y. And, more frustratingly, ended in me chastising them (nearly) the entire way to the gym.

Rage-speeding 5 to 10 miles over the 35mph speed limit, I’d bark my irritation. Lamenting, more to myself than to them, the fact that I can NEVER get out of the house in a timely fashion, and why can’t everyone just get their own damn shit?! All this, only to glance in the rear view and see two bored faces trying their best to feign engagement when they tuned me out 20 minutes ago.

This was the mom I never wanted to be. Impatient. Unyielding. Angry. With a facial expression that says, “You may be trying your hardest, kid, but it still ain’t enough.”

I’ve parented long enough to know there are certain moments when you double down on demanding a higher standard. The future of your children depends on it, so they don’t turn out TOO doughy soft. Then, there are those moments when you realize you just might be acting like a douche for no reason.

As I pulled on my harness and headed for the nearest climbing wall, it dawned on me: we’re a team, this family. And team members help each other where they are weakest. Right now, my kids are pure silly putty when it comes to gathering their things and getting a move-on. Thank God we aren’t on the Oregon trail…

It’s a meditation/intention I’m setting for all parts of life, beyond my own kids: when those around me are at their weakest and most vulnerable, may I surprise them (more so, myself) with patience and graciousness in place of judgment or irritation.

I want to be the kind of person who can be inconvenienced on behalf of someone else. Who can be asked for help without judging or condescending.

Because that’s what I want from you, too.

Now, let’s climb.


  1. My kids are out of the house and I am embarking on that empty nest thing. Well, since we moved away from “home” to Southern California, I seem to be loosing my shit without any kids being around. I miss home.

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