The Defender

She’d been told she was serving the wrong side,
protecting the guilty
rather than punishing them.
She saw it as sometimes protecting the innocent—
the very least among them—
doing for them what they could not do for themselves.
She was the voice for those
who had already been convicted by the media—
for those in jail,
whose guilt had not been proven.
Her faith kept her sane,
for she knew the guilty ultimately never got away.

Musings on Motherhood


Twenty-Five Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mom

1. I have learned patience, because I had to teach it to myself, or else go crazy.  Sometimes, instead of praying that God will make her easier to deal with at a particular moment, I pray that He will help me better handle the situation.  Babies cry, and it’s okay if you need to give yourself a “time-out” sometimes.

2. “Baby brain” does not go away.  Unless my child is asleep, I have never been able to focus on something like I did before.  That’s part of being a mom.

3. I don’t always sleep when the baby sleeps.  That’s when I get things done.  My house is cleaner than it’s ever been, because once they start crawling, they will find every microscopic piece of dirt and put it in their mouth.  And if that’s all it is, don’t fret over it.

4. I find myself looking for clues, a hint, at what my daughter may become.  We see her turning over her xylophone, spinning the wheels, trying to figure them out, and we think, “She’s going to be an engineer.”  When she inspects Brian’s teeth, it’s, “She’s going to be a dentist.”  We will nurture her talents as we nurture her (especially if it means she’ll make enough to take care of us in our old age).

5. Though I am a creative individual, I found I’ve developed a more playful imagination.  There is a certain sort of magic about childhood that’s precious.  My daughter likes to lift up an edge of the area rug on our tile floor and I pretend there’s another world under there (like the other little girl in the mirror).  Children are filled with wonder and curiosity.  Nurture that as well.

6. Sitting on the floor and playing with my child is quite cathartic and relaxing after a long day at work or a heavy study session.  It refreshes me and helps me focus even better when I have to return to adult matters.

7. I now have a reason for swinging on the swings at the park.  (I have to show her how, after all.)  I’ve been sillier than I’ve ever been in my life.  Blowing bubbles is fun, and jumping on the trampoline will be fun–all over again.  One of my favorite things to do when I was little was to line up all my dolls and stuffed animals and yell at them (I guess that’s what I thought being an adult was all about).  I find that I am living a second childhood (not reliving), and that is not a bad thing.

8. I’ve developed a new appreciation for Dr. Seuss.  I didn’t grow up with him (my parents preferred Mother Goose) and I always thought his illustrations were ugly.  But, a preschool teacher friend of mine was big on him, so I gave him a chance and, like “Green Eggs and Ham”, I tried him and now love him (and his drawings).  It is never too early to read to your child, and you can never have too many books.  And, if you manage to acquire some board books that aren’t in the best condition (or, if not, just go to the dollar store), let them have at them, so they can learn how to turn the pages, and just have the experience holding a book.  I read at least a novel a week, and I make sure she sees me reading.

9. Songs hold their attention more when you use sign language.  I made up sign language for all twelve stanzas of “London Bridge is Falling Down”.

10. My selfies have diminished and Hannah is now the darling of my camera.  My interest in photography has increased.  When buying a camera, get a good one.  It’s worth the investment.

11. I’ve found myself wanting to learn more, for the more I know, the more I can teach her.

12. 90% of my daughter’s time is unstructured, but 10% is learning through play (or just plain playing), the Montessori way.   I’ve learned that when kids are bored, they are forced to use their imagination.

13. Baby talk.  I’d always said I’d never do it, but I do.  (Hey, Shakespeare made up words, too.)

14. There is no such thing as too many paccies (or batteries).

15. If you think you’re selfish when you’re single, that naturally diminishes when you become a mom.  As much as I want a new wardrobe, I want her to have the preschool experience more.

16. It’s okay to not jump up and comfort them every time they fall.  Sometimes distracting them is enough to ward off a crying jag.

17. It’s okay to let them get messy.  It’s good for sensory development to let them play with their food. (Mine loves to smash avocado all over her face and hair.)  If they’re hungry, they’ll eat it.  And putting them in the bath afterwards to play is a snap.

18. Everything takes longer with a baby.  I have found that I’ve had to prioritize my time more.  Do I really need to see that episode of “Law and Order” again?  Children also aren’t made to be quiet and still all the time.  That’s what the DVR is for.

19. I have received a lot of unsolicited advice about child-rearing.  None of it has been useful.

20. It’s okay if you can’t breast-feed.  It doesn’t mean you’re lazy.  Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, no matter how much you want it to.

21. I know I will never be able to protect my children from all “bad” foods.  There will be parties, there might even be McDonald’s.  That doesn’t mean I ever have to take her there.

22. They’ll walk when they’re ready.  My daughter’s pediatrician, every single appointment, would mention about her being “developmentally delayed”.  My husband would bristle at the less than tactful terminology, but we’re putting her through all the tests (as much for her well-being as for our peace of mind), and at twenty months, she is walking (and isn’t stopping).

23. I think back about my own parents and appreciate them more than I ever have in my life.  I never really knew how much my parents loved me till I had my own child.  All the pain, even the “indignity” of childbirth, the weight gain, the stretch marks, the lack of sleep, not being able to just pick up and go, the sense of being overwhelmed when you’re first alone with them, has all been worth it.

24. I never think I’m a good enough mom, but I’ve found that if you’re trying to be, you are.

25. Most of all, I make sure to make Hannah laugh.  A child’s smile is a light in a sometimes dark world, and their laughter is the music.


Relaxing at the Park on a Thursday Afternoon

Park bench

A getabout town always refreshes me, and improves my mood and performance for the remains of the day.  It was a sunny, but cool day in Northwest Florida, and I wasn’t going to waste it.

My husband and I went to Books-A-Million for a lookaround (my term for “window shopping”) with our daughter, who pretty much goes wherever we go, or stays at home with one of us.  Somehow, I think this is very important.

Walking into a bookstore is like a walking into a literary paradise–instead of a plethora of colors like the Crayola 64-pack, it’s 26 letters, all in different orders, not one the same.  Books, to me, are “unique and wonderfully created”.  Standing in the midst of it all, I realize how little time I have to read, how few books I have truly read.  I scarce can take it all in.

I use my husband’s cameraphone to take pictures of the covers of all the books I want to buy for less than half the price at Amazon, as I will never remember them.  I have quite a faulty memory–perhaps that is why I write,  why I take so many pictures.  I don’t ever want to forget how I felt when Hannah was born, how she looked when she first came out, or her incredible laugh that is contagious.  I want her to know someday what she cannot remember now.

Hannah got her first ride on a rocking horse today, and as I gaze around it, I see it is endless what we can learn, what we can teach.  The wheels of imagination are already turning, and I have to catch myself, to remind myself to enjoy this moment with her, as she is now.  There will be plenty of time to teach her how to make friendship bracelets.

We pass by the Dr. Seuss section while I think how I’d love to have my own section like that someday, but I ask myself, is Sarah Richards too plain, not memorable enough?  Should it be Dr. Something, like Dr. Yess (as opposed to Dr. No)?

We stop for coffee on the way to the park.  Sometimes I swing on the swings, but I was a bit of a grown-up today, finding myself telling my husband about rare genetic and mental disorders.  (Being a health major, I like to share my knowledge.)

We always put Hannah on the baby swing, her face away from the sun, and I was suddenly struck by the sun.  She was silhouetted, and I thought how this was a perfect day (reminding me of that Richard Paul Evans novel) encapsulated into one moment–a snapshot.  We try to cherish it, but we blink, and the moment has passed.

We’d passed by a man on the way to the swings, completely covered in a hoodie and sweatpants, his face indistinct, just sitting on a bench.  A little breeze came while Hannah was in motion, and then when I looked back, he was gone.

I do not trust men sitting alone in parks, seemingly disengaged from the scene before him.

So in thought was I over this, I thought nothing of the man behind me, near the tower of ropes.  I caught my husband staring at him, this man wearing sunglasses, who seemed removed from the scene, but watching the kids, another man a little ways back, looking at his cell phone.  The man in the glasses wasn’t interacting with the kids, and we wondered if any of them even belonged to him. When I turned to face him, I realized my perception was my reality.  I grew up watching crime shows with my mom, and I still catch a yet unseen episode of “Law and Order:  SVU” whenever I can.  I am always aware, always on alert.

The park was as bright as noonday, and yet, there was a darkness, like charcoal dust that still hung in the air.  Even though I might be happier not always seeing the dark side of things, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I remember years ago, Oprah talked about “the gift of fear”, and how fear is good, because it protects us.

There was a time I thought I didn’t want kids, because I knew from then on, I would no longer ever be free from worry.  Now I know that the peace of mind I have sacrificed is worth it, because she is.  I knew when I found out I was going to become a mother, life was never going to be the same.  It wouldn’t be quite as tidy, that sometimes, I would have to stop in the middle of what I was doing to tend to her.  A part of me feared I would be too selfish, but I find myself sacrificing time and money I would have otherwise spent on myself, simply because I want to.

One doesn’t change themselves because they become a mother, they are changed because they become a mother.  At least that was how it was with me.  I like to say that one never truly understands how much their parents loved them till they have a child of their own.