a hidden language of the soul

Yesterday evening, for the first time, my 4 & 1/2 year old daughter Cora and I attended the ballet. She has taken just one ballet class at the local YMCA, but Cora seems hardwired to favor all things dance, fashion, and singing.


Gerald Pereia, “Ballerina,” 3/19, 2011, Flickr.


[Aside from the  warbling singing I regularly do around the house, Cora and I have little in common when it comes to dance and fashion. My “dancing” experiences are strictly limited to the dance clubs/bars I visited during college, and one could hardly call it anything more than inebriated gyrations.]


At any rate, I don’t get out much anymore … to anywhere. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. No. I was somewhere in between panicked and lock-myself-in-my-bedroom-and-hide-in-the-corner kind of freaked out. These days I manage the depression and anxiety far better than back in August last year, but I am also not magically cured just because I am in therapy and taking medication. Leaving the safety of our home and then sitting in a large theatre was daunting, to say the least.

But this evening wasn’t about me. No – this night was all about Cora. And I wasn’t going to let the depression or panic attacks hold either of us back.

I wanted to take my sweet girl to a live performance – just the two of us – and experience something magical with her.  Perhaps watching real ballerinas perform on a real stage would plant a seed. I suspect the seed is already there … maybe this was like watering the little thing… coaxing it to grow.


Malt Jurlado, “Ballerina,” 11/8/2010, Flickr.

Last night, for the first time, I think I truly saw my daughter and I witnessed her blossoming as a creative and eternal soul. We spent the time before, during intermission, and after the performance connecting – talking about the theatre itself, the dancers, the lights under the steps. Drawing ballerinas. Hugging as she sat on my lap during the performance. Her eyes twinkled and sparkled. And she was at ease – comfortable in her skin and not contending with two other siblings to be seen and heard.

I don’t know what heaven is like, but if it feels the way last night did, then I would live for even just a second of that paradise.

Afterward, we picked up some ice cream – Neapolitan (Cora’s ecstatic choice!) – and, once home safe and sound, we scooped some in glass ramekins. We even embellished the little scoops with whipped cream and sprinkles. Mind you, it was already 10pm – well past Cora’s bed time – but curfews be damned. This was a special occasion.

When she looks back on the evening, what will Cora remember? She’s already retold the story line from each ballet featurette to John, Myles, and Grace. She continues to gush


Don, “Ballerina,” 11/19/2013, Flickr.

about the costumes.

I hope she remembers there can be magical moments.

I hope she remembers how loved she truly is … exactly as she is. Just for being Cora. Shine on my sweet little lady. Shine on.





hot as a hare, mad as a hatter

Recently I visited a medical website that shared the following old mnemonic:

blind as a bat,

dry as a bone,

red as a beet,

hot as hare,

mad as a hatter.


Flickr: R. Crap Mariner, “Last day of Winter,” January 9, 2014

These similes capture exactly how I feel as a mom. I can write my way out of a corner, and I think I am pretty good at teaching my students to do the same. But when it comes to motherhood, I am blind as a bat.

You see, my husband is a stay at home parent. I work full time. I practically work two full time jobs (if you count the online teaching at a different university). We agreed to this set-up (him at home, me at work) before we relocated to the St. Louis area.

It isn’t easy — for either one of us.

I often feel like the impostor mom. I worry that I am not loving enough, engaged enough, or consistent enough. When those moments surface, I worry I am not supporting the kids or my husband. I fear I’m dry as a bone — emotionally speaking.

When I convince myself of that, I feel red as a beet.

Most days, I chase the kids like a rookie parent.(Hot as a hare — being slightly out of shape doesn’t help either.)

Mad as a hatter? I don’t think it is politically correct to call myself crazy, but technically, I have been diagnosed with clinical depression. Close enough, I guess. I hope my mental health doesn’t screw up the kids.

I’m thinking about all this because, for the past week, my psychologist Dr. Jasmine has had me working on one of my negative core values : “I’m an impostor.”

My impostor syndrome extends to other aspects of my life (work, friendships, even family), but it troubles me the most when I think I am an impostor mom.

I’m constantly learning that motherhood, unlike a persuasive essay, doesn’t come with a textbook of rules and examples. And motherhood along with a full time profession is even less clear.

[Motherhood isn’t clear in the first place, so this means adding any other hat just muddies the waters even more.

And we never wear only one hat in life.]

I guess I’m acknowledging (to myself) that it’s OK to feel like the “confused academic mom.” Actually, “baffled academic mom” works better. BAM. BAM!

BAM – I did it again. I screwed up. But it’s OK. Perfection isn’t part of the parenting playbook.. which didn’t exist in the first place.

On second thought, I guess I can finally let go of that impostor core value.