The lollipop bank

I am a writer; a blogger. I write on this site, I am writing a book, I write notes in my kids’ lunch boxes each day.

Sometimes, my posts are long with lessons; sometimes they are my way of chronicling life in the moment; sometimes my posts are photos and other times they are haikus.

Today my post is a story. A little story that meant ever so much. It is nothing more, and certainly nothing less. But it is a story, and I would love to share it. Much of what I share on here is deeply personal and, to be more candid, hard.

Today, I am going to tell you about the lollipop bank.

On Tuesday, I picked up my son from school. He now goes to school 5 days a week, 9am to 3pm, like a big boy.

Because, as hard as it is to admit, he is becoming a big boy. Next month he will turn three.

My baby will be three.

And in recent months–even weeks–I have seen so much growth in him. His language has had another explosion so that I can converse with him like a person. I attribute this to both his schooling and, most of all, his sister, whom he adores

(as their relationship is well chronicled on here).

He speaks in ways that are not only articulate, but eloquent at times. He amazes me.

And so when I picked him up from his classroom on Tuesday he spotted me, ran to me, shouted, “Mommy!” and dove into my arms.

That, my friends, is what it is all about.

He had me carry him all the way down the stairs and out the door and across the lawn and into the parking lot to our car. He is not a small child (always hovering around the 100th percentile, particularly in height) and I am a small adult, making it a difficult combination. But when he asks me to hold him, I do. Part of this is because I savor the snuggles. But part of it is because I feel as though I owe it to him. But more on that later.

I had to run an errand between his pick up and meeting my daughter at the bus stop and so I asked him if he wanted to come with me to the bank.

His blue eyes lit up. “Are we going to the lollipop bank?” he asked, excitedly.

“Yes, we are.”

And before I could even speak, he took the words out of my mouth.

“I won’t cry this time, mama. I will be a biiiiiig boy.”

Because last time we went to the bank together–during the stressful period when we were closing on the new house–he was a disaster. He cried and ran around and fought me. And I could not get through to him. He wanted to press buttons and turn knobs and, of course, down as many lollipops as one 35 pound person can possibly consume.

I told him how happy that made me to hear as I buckled him into his car seat.

“It is very, very hot in your car, mama. But I thiiink it will cool down, he said as he settled in to my back seat.

(note: his inflections are the cutest!)

And so, we went to the bank. The lollipop bank.

And he was true to his word. He briefly went over to a small computer and typed away on the keyboard, but it was not bothersome, no tears were shed and there was no running around. And he only ate 4 lollipops.

“Can we get one for Boppy, please?” he asked. “I thiiiink she will liiiiike…pink.”

When we left the bank (within five minutes which is a minor miracle) I kissed his cheek and put him back in his carseat.

“I am so proud of you,” I told him. And he looked up at me, his eyes big Pacific Ocean looking pools, and so I was forced to kiss him again.

I leaned into him, placing my head on his heart, and I felt tears stinging my own eyes.

“I love you so much. And I want to tell you something,” I tried to keep it together.

“Yes, mama?”

“I am so sorry that I wasn’t there for you the way that I should have been when you were a baby. But I love you so much. You can’t imagine how much I love you.”

The guilt that I have been wrestling with for three years was bubbling up inside of me like a pressure cooker, but I did not let it boil over. I just sat with my head on his chest, listening to his heart beating and the sound of him crunching on his candy.

As much as he has grown up, I knew that my apology to him would (thankfully) go over his head. If I am being honest, it was more for me than it was for him, but what I was able to give him was a spontaneous expression of love and that is always a good thing.

“Can we go get Boppy now?” he asked sincerely, and so I broke our embrace, kissed him one more time, and drove away in Luna, the name he has for my new, white car.

I felt so many feelings on Tuesday afternoon, some good and some hard, but I got to hold my son and tell him how much he means to me.

All in the parking lot of the lollipop bank.

(To my) dear son

Dear Son,

In thinking of this post I will be honest in that I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had written you a letter like this before on this very site. That there was another post called “Dear Son” and my search just now confirmed my suspicions; almost two years ago I wrote you a short letter on here, when you were just a chubby little baby, unable to walk or talk; when bedtime together was noteworthy and not nightly.

I know that since that post I have written many letters to you and sent them to the the email address that I made for you, and so “dear son” is not a new phrase for me to type on this keyboard, but I wanted to write a letter to you today, and you are, in fact, my dear, darling, precious boy; my dear son.

My eyes are wet as I type this. You are in the other room, playing sweetly, and I miss your little body, yearning to hold you. Yes, that is how far we have come.

“I saw a waterfall, mommy,” you said today, as I picked you up from day camp, in the soccer shirt that you have been wearing, at least at some point, every single day for a couple of weeks now. (side note: you have turned mommy into a laundry machine and I even felt the need to write your camp counselors a note that said, “I have to tell you that I am really a good parent and that his soccer shirt gets cleaned every day, but he insists upon wearing it and I am trying to pick my battles. I hope you don’t judge me!”) But it’s so you to fall in love with something passionately and not want to let it go. I cannot imagine from where you got that trait.

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This photo above not only illustrates the soccer jersey story, but also says so much about your personality. Let me tell you the story behind this photo:

I hope with all of my might that whenever you are reading this post this next statement still holds true, but you and your big sister are the best of friends. You adore your “Bop” as you call her; while we wait for her bus to bring her home from day camp, you ask, “Where’s my Boppy Girl?” and I melt each time.

So, one night last week, while daddy was traveling, you kept sneaking out of your new big boy bed and out of your room and into your sister’s room so that you could spend more time with her before succumbing to sleep. As much as she loves you, even she got tired and wanted to go to sleep, and so I had to bring you back into your bed a dozen times, finally warning you that if you left your room again, I would have to close the door. You did not want that. And so, you smart little two-year-old punk, you won on a technicality here: you didn’t actually leave your room, but you still got to be as close as possible to your sister–to your Boppy girl. And you were so persistent (read: stubborn) that you slept like that. I hope that you are always this tenacious and that you always have this much love.

You and I have bonded so much recently and I cherish our close connection. Our love story did not start out so lovey, my dear son, and for that I am so sorry. I always loved you, but I was not the kind of mother I wanted to be for a very long time and I think that I will always feel guilty about that. I am not consciously trying to make up for that now in a forced way, as you make it easy and effortless to love you endlessly. Now, we snuggle together every night, we sing Broadway showtunes (you are so my kid), you ask me for kisses and I savor each one.

“Kiss my head. Now kiss my chin. Now kiss my mouth. Now kiss my elbow,” you say, and I am honored that you ask me to kiss you and that you give and receive love so beautifully.

You certainly worship your sister and you adore your daddy, but I think that we, you and I, have a special thing going, kid. When I leave the room, now, you ask for me. I am the one who can assuage your anxieties and from whom you want solace after a boo boo or disappointment.

And, again, I feel so incredibly lucky that you have given me this second chance, because I had it in me all along, and you must have seen it somewhere, because, if I am being totally honest, I did not.

I do not want to dwell on the negative, but I want to apologize to you for the fact that I was not always your number one, as I was with your sister and as I had hoped to be.

I am sorry that I was not the one to soothe you to sleep as you transitioned to your crib. I am sorry that I do not even know how that happened. I am sorry that I do not remember what we gave you to eat as your first food. I am sorry that I had to leave you for a little while in order to try to take care of my own health. I am sorry that I did not take you on long walks in the stroller because I have not been allowed to take long walks for two years. I could go on and on and on, but the tears are making it hard to type.

Dearest son,

I am so proud of the strong, resilient boy you have become. I am so proud of how you face challenges with bravery and strength. I am so proud that you can recognize and identify a song from it’s very first note. I am so proud of your empathy (as you ask your sister, “You happy, Bop?” if you catch her not smiling). I am so proud of you for being the kind of person who gives others a second chance, because that is what you did for me. For us.

I love you, baby. I love all of our special moments, many of which I will keep to myself so that I can tell you later as a secret between just the two of us.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

And if you ever look back at my story, one that I have made public before you gave me the consent to do so, do not for one minute think that I ever loved you any less; love, I have written about you because I love you more. 

With mad love, soccer jerseys, notebooks and songs from Hamilton, 

I say,

I will love you forever. Or, as you say, “Up to the moon and staws.”




I had a conversation with a friend yesterday, and we both admitted to being overwhelmed.

We talked about never having enough time, often feeling “less than” and, the hardest woe with which to cope, guilt.

 It is so much easier to see problems and solutions from the outside. For example, as my friend and I spoke, I encouraged her, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, telling her that she is doing a fantastic job in every aspect of her life. I also told her that she had to take the time to take care of herself and offered some advice and help.

 I spoke to her about my own stressors. This week, I am moving, both of my kids are starting new camps, I have the book’s manuscript to finish, blog partnerships to make and maintain, relationships to tend to and one area consistently gets put last: my needs.

 And here is the kicker: All of the things that I just wrote about—the things that are making me feel so overwhelmed—are all good things. They are blessings and I am so fortunate to be making these positive life changes. And that makes the bad feel even worse. I am supposed to be happy, and when I am not, I feel guilty.

 At one point in the conversation I said the following, which, again, is easier said in theory than in practice:

“We have to remember. We are just humans. It would be so much easier if things were in perfect equations. If “us” + “a good thing” = HAPPINESS. And when that equation isn’t perfect the guilt is enormous.”

 We have to remember to take care of ourselves, and it can be hard to remember to do so and even harder to find ways in which we can.

I was lucky enough to find one in the form of a fantastic restaurant with a message that resonates so profoundly with me: Fuel, whose tagline is “Recharge Yourself”.

Fuel is often what I am missing in my life, as I am so busy with my daily tasks and tumult that I forget to nourish myself properly, and that is not okay. Without the proper nutrition, I don’t have energy, my brain doesn’t function well and I veer way way way off of my path towards physical recovery from my hard times.

I first found Fuel this past winter and Rocco, the sweet, charismatic owner sat with me, and he spoke to me with two things I admire most in a person: passion and integrity. He was clearly not selling me on a business, though he has created an incredibly successful one. He explained to me his philosophy about taking care of one’s body and one’s whole self. About allowing us to recharge as humans.

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(via @mommyeverafter Instagram)

This message spoke to me, specifically, as someone who is a) often depleted and b) a mother. His restaurants are designed to be kid friendly, and I was enamored with the bright, fun décor, like the fake grass growing from the counters and the neon tables and chairs. It was like a playground for health.

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I am always looking for a place to take my (sometimes rowdy) children, and Rocco explained to me that Fuel has it’s own, modern-day juke box of sorts: when you go into the restaurant you can hook up wirelessly to their sound system and request the songs you want played over the speakers, just from your phone.

Since I first met Rocco for our shared smoothies at Fuel I have been in many times, sometimes for a healthy, balanced meal (and I always order the dessert!) which is an integral part of my wellness plan, and sometimes, simply for a cup of tea, as it is a peaceful place in which to sit and chat, write or, just simply recharge.

And, as predicted, every time I have visited Fuel I have seen kids, enjoying their food, juices, smoothies and the colorful world around them.

 Today, in the midst of my overbooked day, I stopped into Fuel once again for a smoothie and snack. I couldn’t choose between the smoothies, so I double fisted. I mean, if I am going to recharge, go big or go home, right? I had the Green Tea Matcha (which was voted the best pre-workout drink) made from Japanese Green Tea Matcha and skim milk and the Protein Buster made from skim milk, peanut butter, banana, honey, & 25g. of Whey Protein (which, if you need something more substantial I highly recommend). I was surrounded by a great mix of families, individuals working and couples lunching. It was quiet enough for me to do some work while my smoothies were blended, but vibrant enough to keep me feeling up and bright.

One of the best parts of visiting my particular Fuel location in Ardmore? Clearly the manager, Jamyl, whose personality is as bold and beautiful as the store itself.

FullSizeRender (2)And yes, my dear, your bun looks fabulous.

I took my smoothies to go and sat outside for a bit, savoring the few extra minutes in my day that I had taken to fuel my body.

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When I finally pried myself away from my brief reprieve from life, I drove back to the new house, handled projects with (and I just counted) 12 different contractors, picked up my kids from camps that both ended at the exact same time and strung approximately 700 dangly crystal things on this light fixture that I just had installed in our new entrance hallway.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 7.52.48 PM(in case you are wondering, it was purchased here)

But, I will admit, I felt virtuous, like I had really done something good for myself, knowing that I had nourished myself, and put fuel in my own gas tank (pun possibly intended).

Being a human being is hard. We are all just doing our best. Sometimes, life is easier than others. Sometimes, the grass in someone else’s yard looks greener, but we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors; behind a person’s eyes. All that we can do is our best.

And, for me and my friend, we did that today. We checked in via text throughout the day, sending each other words of encouragement. She took the time out of her day to do a little something for herself and it was therapeutic. I am so so glad. I took a little break to hit up Fuel for some nourishment. Was there more that I could have accomplished today? More pages written, more crystals hung? Perhaps, but there’s always tomorrow.

So, if you are reading this, I hope that it serves as a reminder to go just a bit easier on yourself;

to let go of even 1% of the guilt if possible;

to take care of you.

Because you may be juggling a million balls, and some of those balls may be people, but without you, they don’t got nothing. So put you first.

And that’s an order.

With a full heart and full belly–



(This post was written in partnership with Fuel: Recharge Yourself. All opinions were, as always, honest and 100% my own.)