Wednesday, August 12, 2015 what cost?

The question came at bedtime. 

"Momma, why does everything in the whole world cost money?  Is there anything that you don't have to pay for?"

Straight from the mouth of my 3rd grader... 3rd grader? Already?  I.  Can't. 

It's a legitimate question.  Worth asking, worth answering.  He's my little old soul, my wise one, my thinker.  The one who asks questions.  I worry about him sometimes, because I'm a thinker too, and I know from experience that overthinking can cause so much undue pain.

Honestly, it was a hard question to answer.  I was laying there with him, trying to come up with a list of things that don't cost money. It was quiet. I was tickling his arm to help him fall asleep, like I've done since he was a baby (even though he's in the 3rd grade).

"Well, these arm tickles don't cost anything," I say.  (lame)

It wasn't a good answer. 

"Mom.  Watching TV even costs money because you had to buy the TV."  He didn't stop there. "And even walking on the land in our back yard isn't free, because you paid for it." 

"That's true.  But the air we breathe and the relationships we have with the people we love don't cost a thing," I say, hoping it will suffice.

It was not what he wanted to hear. 

I couldn't come up with anything satisfactory. 

I wanna say that he could read a book for free, but I know he'll say that you have to pay for the book.  I wanna say that he could go for a bike ride for free, but I know he'll say that you have to pay for the bike.  I wanna say his public school is free, but the truth is, we pay taxes to pay teachers, and I don't really want to explain that yet. 

So instead, I say that this is why the relationships we have with people are so very important, because they don't cost a penny, and they bring us the greatest joy.  I say that this is why he gets in trouble when he fights with his sister or shows disrespect to me or his father or anyone else, because, short of the family he one day creates for himself, we are the most important people in his life.  I go on to say that there are a lot of things in life that are free. 

People who come into our lives who mean something to us.
A smile.

Really, though.  How do you explain to a 3rd grader that what matters most is to love and be loved?  And that it doesn't cost a dime...

He was silent.  I could tell he was digesting this.  But who knows how much of it he really got.  Because I said, "..oh and we don't have to pay for these sweet cuddles at night and in the morning, right?"

"Yeah, but the bed we're laying on costs money," he countered.


I love watching this boy's brain develop.  It's remarkable to see.  And it's free of charge.  (I think...)

Image result for money isn't everything quotes

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Coffee and green paint

Sweet baby girl figured out how to make coffee.  Yes, coffee.  She's almost 7.  I suppose she's watched me grind up beans, dump the grounds into the filter, and fill the carafe to the brim with water every single day of her life.  It's probable she knew how to do it by heart.

Anyway, she brewed a pot.  Brought me coffee in bed.  With cream, just like I like it. Presented it on a plate with my favorite Kind dark chocolate-peanut butter bar, along with a handmade note.  "Happy Parents Day!  I love you to the moon and back, momma!"

Parents Day?  Who knew? 

"I saw it on the calendar," she proudly exclaimed.  "It said 'Parents Day.'"  I was stunned and touched.

Meanwhile, she didn't know that I hadn't really slept well.  Not sure why.  But I awoke with a slight irritation, and it stuck all morning.  Not the kind that would push me to snap at the next episode of bad behavior or scream about the mess I stumble upon trying to get to the laundry piles I loathe.

It wasn't the kind of edginess that makes the whole day bad or sends me into a panic.   Just the kind that maybe a lot of mothers have.   A tiny bit of nervousness that wasn't there before kids, since back then we weren't responsible for the lives and well-being of little people.  We didn't have saddled on our shoulders the daily duty of teaching children how to grow up, cope with life, and be decent.   We could always crawl back under the covers whenever life didn't go right. 

Sometimes, the bit of tension robs me of the present moment.  Steals away the gift of savoring the coffee made by a darling little girl on a Sunday morning.  I'm always worrying, thinking "what if," "what next," "now what."
This morning, it's definitely there.  I can feel it getting heavier in my chest. Maybe because shortly after the coffee sweetness came the property disputes over $1-store toys no one really cares about.  The tit-for-tat.  The upset.  The hurt feelings.  The cries for "mooooooooooom!' to make it right.

Maybe it's because we are on epic meltdown #2 in 15 hours time. Over what? I can't determine. They'd been gone for a week in the Rocky mountains, and my guess is they were exhausted upon re-entry from vacationland.


Maybe because already the heat index is near 100 degrees, and it's not even noon. 


But when I saw the green splatter of paint on my kitchen carpet, I felt that anger-adrenaline-grit-my-teeth-and-growl surge through my body.  The step-up from the slight annoyance that began the day. 

Deep breath #1.

I had to immediately check myself.

Deep breath #2.

I realized why the paint was there.

Deep breath #3.

It was impossible to be angry.

Deep breath, deep breath.  To the bathroomTears flowing

The paint was there because after she made coffee, she painted her hands and feet to stamp the handmade card she gave me. There was no way I could be mad.

The thoughts came fast.  None of the messes matter.  Why the angst each day, why the worry, Dawn?  Why not enjoy every sacred moment with these two amazing angels who love you in ways they can never, ever comprehend?  Angels who teach you that you are able to love in deep and abiding ways you never believed possible.  Who cares if the laundry doesn't get done?  Who cares if you trip over Legos everyday?  Because the fact is, you've been gifted something amazing.  The chance to be their mom. The chance to choose love, not fear, every single moment.    


Isn't it true, then, that in the messes, in the paint, in the laundry, in the dishes, in the stains and dirt and tears and needs and cries -- isn't it true that there really is so much love? Right there.  In the middle of it all.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Children's "social" life?

If you're old enough to read this blog, then, likely, your parents didn't post pictures and videos of you on the internet.  Not on Facebook.  Not on Instagram.  Not on Twitter.  And they certainly didn't "snap" your mug and let it play on Snapchat.

But we do. Most of us do.  I'm guilty. In fact, a May 2014 study shows 27 million women in the U.S. identify themselves as mothers on Facebook.  And we all post, post, post.

All my mom ever really did was occasionally embarrass me by demanding a hug and kiss at school drop-off.  (I didn't want anyone to see).  On special occasions, she wanted me to pose for a picture.  I obliged, but always got busy playing outside or riding my horse or dressing up my baby dolls, riding bikes and running free.  When those pictures were developed, I was always among the first to see.  

Now everything is seen by everyone.  Every kiss.  Every hug.  Every moment of play.  Every first-day-of-school photo.  Every last-day-of-school photo.  Every birthday, birthday cake, birthday party.  Every benign, mundane moment of life.  What we eat for lunch, when we workout, where we vacation, and who we befriend and even date. 

I can't even answer why we do this, so it certainly raises valid questions when it comes to our children.  What are rules are we teaching when it comes to what is sacred, what is secret, what is private and only known by our families?  Are we training them to think that if everything is special every single moment, then nothing is really special in the end? 

I recently read that children born after 2001 are considered "Generation Z," and they're called "Boomlets."  By age four or five, they would rather play with computers and smartphones than traditional toys, like Barbie dolls. 

I agree with that.  Just last night, one of my children grabbed my phone and before hopping on Minecraft, started looking through my Instagram feed (eek, phone grabbed back quickly, as my content is not edited for children!).  Then, a few moments later, the other posed with her neighbor friend and exclaimed "take our picture! put it on snapchat! then let us do a video!" 

WHAT?  At ages eight and six, they know social media.  And they know how to use it.  (disclaimer:  my kids DON'T have phones or social media accounts).

I didn't post what they asked me to post.

But it's a constant struggle. What photos of them do I post? What shouldn't I post?  How often should I post?  And then there's the fact that because of my work, I live a somewhat public life.  But should they?  How public should our children's lives be?   Because when they get older -because of my posts, our posts- they will have led a somewhat public life, too, one they did not choose.  That statement alone makes me never want to post again in protection their privacy.  But I know I will.  And so will most moms I know.

Social media comes down to a simple basic human desire: the need to connect with other humans, to be part of a group.  But does it really connect people?  Doesn't it do the exact opposite?  Do we lose emotional intelligence in the contrived sharing and telling of our stories on the internet and not person-to-person?  What's the mystery of anyone, since all is already known?

I don't know what the payoff will be for these Boomlets.  Or us.  Or what the harm will be for Generation Z having lived life online, in public.  But I can't help but think that with every post, there may very likely be some price to pay. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"I Hate That Shirt"

Just when you get used to things being one way, they change all over again.

Like every night when we say bedtime prayers..  Our prayer goes like this:  "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to the Lord my soul to keep.  Keep me safely through the night, wake me when it's morning light. Amen."  We've memorized and recited that prayer nightly for many years.  Until the other night... 

Little-Miss-Independent paused before saying the "Amen" part, and she asked this:  "why in the world do we say 'wake me when it's morning light,' because when I wake up it's always dark?!"

I was speechless.  Had no answer for the 6-year old.

It's just what we do. It's what we've always done.   (I'm not ready for these questions)

Then, the other night we were at my friend's new, amazing restaurant Heights Taco & Tamale Co., and I was wearing jeans, sandals, and a grey Grateful Dead t-shirt (because despite my day-job, anyone who knows me knows I'm an old dead-head hippie at heart).  Well, my son had something to say about it. 

"I hate that shirt."

Okay since when did he have an opinion or even care what I'm wearing.   He's 8. 

Um, why, I ask?

"It's just ugly.  And it's not something moms should be wearing."

The banter went on... something about him cutting it up with scissors later in the night when I take it off.  He told his dad that moms should not be wearing things with skulls on them. 

About this time, the Dead's "Touch of Grey" began playing in the restaurant.  No joke, and had my friend Lee Edwards not reminded me of this, I would've forgotten.  Oh, the irony.  Or just a coincidence?

Anyway, I'm asking myself at this point if I should I dress like a nun in habit?!

I guess the point is:  it had been such a nice run of a couple years, with them repeating what I tell them to repeat; loving everything about their momma; and implicitly trusting everything mom says and does and even wears.  Now, they're asking questions about what they're asked to repeat.  And their brains are working, as they decipher their own likes and dislikes. 

I don't want it any other way.  I love every step, every stage of this journey.  I feel so privileged to be their mom and to watch it all unfold.  This is just another change, and when I get used to it, it'll all change again.  I hope I can accept every shift with grace...  In the meantime, I'm hiding the scissors.

Me (left) wearing the shirt in question with Ben Brainard & Sarah Fortner

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

First-name basis.....

So this happened.

I politely asked "little-miss-six-year-old-going-on-thirteen" to please pick up her room and make her bed.  Not a huge request, right?

About thirty minutes passed, and I heard happy girl screams outside on the trampoline.  I nicely asked girl-child to please come inside for a moment, which she did.  I figured she had possibly not completed the task I asked of her.

"Did you pick up your room like I asked, sweetie?"

"Yes, DAWN SCOTT, I did!" she replied, with a half-smile and slightly wicked look in her eyes.

Wait, what?  (I can't imagine what my face looked like at this point).  Dawn Scottdawn scott?  DAWN SCOTT??  What the whaaaaaaa

What elementary school-aged child calls their parent by their first name?

"Excuse me?" I asked. (trying not to laugh, trying not to show the seething upset within, trying to understand this new disrespect - or understand if it even was disrespect).

"I even made my bed like you asked, DAWN!"

At that point, boy-child chuckled, and then that chuckle made her laugh-out-loud, and then it turned into full-on roaring with each chiming in, "dawn scott, haha," "dawn scott!"

How does this happen?  Since when is it acceptable to call a parent by their first name?  And are they really serious, or was this just a joke to take my temperature and see how I might react?

I really didn't react at all.  I simply said, "Funny.  Aren't you two just full of it?"  Figuring that not making it a big deal may be the best route to take. 

Then I read an article in the Wall Street Journal, which basically says calling mom or dad by their first name basically means parents are ceding authority to their children.  In other words, it's an attempt by a child to gain the upper-hand. 

I certainly hope that's not the case with my two littles, and I'll just chalk this up as one tiny hiccup as they test the waters of independence from momma.  For now, I'm demanding "yes, ma'am," "yes, sir," "no, ma'am," "no, sir."  And "MOM."

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Why

Confession: I wanted to crawl right back into bed after school drop-off. Just for 30 minutes.

Confession: I crawled back into bed after drop-off.  For an hour.  Maybe two.

It's Monday after all. Had the best weekend, and I was tired. Our team lost the Super Bowl. The house was so quiet, with precious puppy in the bed at my feet. And anyone who knows me knows how much I love my sleep.

But then I hear my late cowboy -grandfather's voice creep in to my slumber - "Life is for the living, you can sleep when you're dead!" He said that so many times, I lost count. He would have his boots on, our horses saddled and ready to go, and I would still be in bed.

I do think sleep is one of the great miracle cures. Behind love and laughter of course. Cure-alls for most anything.

But lately I've been wanting and needing more sleep. Maybe because it's winter, cold, dreary. Doesn't really matter.  It's just that I'm having to talk myself away from the pillow, answering the questions I so effortlessly ask for a living. Especially the why. Why get up? Why put one foot in front of the other each day?  Why do this?  What is the meaning anyway?

Despite life's messes and it's sometimes-inexplicable encounters and experiences, all the times it didn't turn out like I hoped (it usually turned out better), my why is always my children.

I could not imagine a day without them. Could not imagine a day without love, really. It truly is what makes it all worthwhile. Loving each other along the way.  I include a handful more souls, not pictured here (and you know who you are) who, without their presence, I don't know where or who I would be. In any time of confusion, life always circles me back to love.   All the rest is just noise and laughter.  Reasons to justify the why.

So just before I got my lazy bones up, that quiet voice within that speaks so loudly, told me to close my eyes, go back to bed, and stop thinking so much! 

So just before I got my lazy bones up, that quiet voice within that speaks so loudly, reminded me yet again of all the answers I know in my heart to the question of why.   "Life is for the living."  Get up!  Love above all else.  Laugh every chance you get.   And sleep so sweetly when the day is done. 

It is always enough.  

What is your why?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Our" children

Just the other day, a young foster child who is up for adoption said to me, "I try to be soooo good, Miss Dawn, so I'll get adopted."

Few sweet words, but a painstaking reminder of how incredibly fractured our precious children are at their very core.

Yes, I say "our children" because they are ours.  They are in the care of the state, so we do pay for their basic necessities: food, shelter, and clothing.  We search for safe foster homes and work to get them adopted, if that is what they want.  We are all they have.  Their hope, if they even still have it, is placed in our hands.

Yet so few of us grasp what a responsibility that is.  And while our government and our dollars are earmarked to help the children in our care, who is making sure they become decent citizens?  Because, honestly, after what a lot of them have told me, if I were in their shoes and lived the horror they have, I'm not sure I'd be too invested in caring too much how life turns out for me. 

I've heard a 6-year old, alongside his sister, say he's just "sitting here waiting for somebody to come get us."

A 12-year old told me, "I think about it so much I can barely sleep.  I hope I find the right family for me."

A 13-year old girl shared with me that she felt "fate has ruined my life.  I don't really have a family, yet I do."

And then a child said once "I wake up every morning like 'is it today something's gonna happen?'"

If you haven't seen my series highlighting state foster children up for adoption, please watch.  Every single one of the 111 children I've met and interviewed shares something in common:  they don't feel wanted or loved

Imagine for a moment feeling that way.  Imagine for a moment hoping for something that- by our birth right- every one of us deserves.  Yet they don't have it, and their prayers at night include a desperate hope that someone shows up for them.  Shouldn't a family be something that's just there no matter what?   But family isn't there for these blessed children.  

It's almost as if they could so easily become invisible, forgotten. Yet there are literally thousands of state foster children living among us.  They need us.  Not just if they're "good."  Just because they exist.  They are ours.