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2019 January 24
by Rachel Turiel

Rose is making iterations of slime—metallic, glittery, cloud-like—while speaking to her audience in informative Youtube-esque tones. “Hi Guys, I’m back with a really cool version of butter slime.” Her audience is a foster dog, and maybe a small percentage of Col’s brain, the part not engaged in drawing a comic strip.

Col: So, Mom. In my comic the guy just got zapped with F8 and now he’s bad so he started attacking everyone on the island. What should happen next?

Me: Mmm. How bout some part of him realizes that he just hurt people he didn’t want to hurt and he feels a little bit sad about it.

Col: (eyeroll + groan) Mommmmm…

Slime making fest.

How to make an 800 sf house seem smaller: add a foster dog.

How to make an 800sf house seem bigger: keep a xmas tree in your house for 1 1/2 months, then remove it!

Outside it is snowing. It has snowed so much this winter that a new music has encoded itself into my brain: the sound of shovels scraping sidewalk, which has become a neighborhood call and response. Outside, life is simple: bend at the knees; scrape and fling. Swishing through snow, alone, on my ancient nordic gear, has been a refuge. 

The hide tanning process does not stop for snow.

Inside, life is a bit more complicated. Mostly, I’m celebrating through gritted teeth all the opportunities I’m being given to not foist all my great ideas on my children. This requires deep childbirth breathing and holding the fierce animal of my agenda back while allowing my kids to do it their way. Sometimes this means that they choose the thing that doesn’t quite seem to be working for them. And I get to muzzle the stampeding buffalo herd of my own helpful advice, while getting curious about what their choices feel like to them, so that if they want to change things up it is their voice, not mine, that guides them. Because that is the voice they will live with.

When Rose reports, reflectively, “Sometimes I get pretty influenced by my friends,” this is not the time to call the Buddhist monastery to see if they take 11-year olds, to disable youtube and their perky, influential personalities or have a head-shaving party to throw off the shackles of conventional beauty norms. But, it may be the time to ask a casual question or two. What does that look like? When do you notice that? How does that feel?

Sometimes, I want to whisk my family to the woods until Col and Rose’s prefrontal cortices are fully developed. If I could unscramble cultural messages embedded in their brains while they sleep, I would. It’s okay for boys to hug each other. Girls don’t need to be accommodating and beautiful to matter. You don’t need to buy that next, new thing to be accepted. True belonging comes from accepting yourself. 

My friend Nathan said something so beautiful: “It isn’t our job to sweep away the cruelty of the world so that our children never see its face, but to hold them as they witness the horror and determine to meet it in their own way.”

Sometimes that horror is Rose asking a group of friends, “Can I join you?” and hearing “no.” If I can stay curious, helping Rose to explore what this feels like, perhaps (fingers crossed), she can move beyond revenge fantasies and open her heart to the emotion of loneliness or hurt. Sometimes the first question to arise is: How do I punish those who hurt me? I’d like to explore the question: What does loneliness and hurt need?

On Sunday, we all watched the lunar eclipse. The Patriots, who’ve become easy scapegoats for all my disdain, had just won the playoffs on a coin toss which I was a teeny bit grumpy about. (I may be a bit triggered by the happiness of millionaire Trump supporters).

We got out of the car just as the shadow of the earth began sweeping across the luminous moon, dusting it in darkness. Right before our eyes: incomprehensible celestial bodies interacting. A sense of wonder—which could be translated as awe for the great mystery, for the interplay of species and events beyond our control, or I don’t know, just nature—filled me with relief and reassurance because it’s always available, and I need it now more than ever. The chittering band of bushtits who showed up unprecedented in our yard this week; the sun sparkle on dollops of snow; Rose donating to Col ten minutes of her screen time. The wonder of it all! The next morning, pre-sunrise, we caught the full moon, glowing and huge, having shaken off its shadow, melting into the snowy hills.  

Oh, and Col turned fourteen. No biggie.

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Pamela Joy Marshall permalink
    January 24, 2019

    As always, when I read your blog posts (or column), I am impressed and inspired by you and your family, and proud to know you!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 25, 2019

      Pammy! So glad to share this community with you. xoxo

  2. Amy permalink
    January 24, 2019

    I always love your writing and you inspire me as a mom! Don’t put all Patriots fans in a box though. We are not rich and we can’t stand Trump and we are huge Patriots fans! ❤️

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 25, 2019

      Thank you for saying this. I will work on opening my mind. But may still enjoy harboring a teeny bit of disdain towards Tom Brady (who *is* a millionaire Trump supporter).

  3. David Smith permalink
    January 25, 2019

    Happy Birthday, Col!

  4. teresa permalink
    January 25, 2019

    Oh Rachel,
    I do SO love when you post a new blog.
    Seeing you navigate motherhood is like having someone gently rub my back while i do the same.
    Thank you.

    Happy Birthday, Col! And Happy Birth-ing Day to you, mama.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 25, 2019

      Oh Teresa, I am drinking in your beautiful metaphor and the relief it brings me thinking of your relief. xo

  5. Grandma Kat, aka Kathy in Michigan permalink
    January 25, 2019

    Oh, Rachel, if I had only recognized the “fierce animal of my agenda” way back when I should have… Would my children be wiser? Again, you are so perceptive to your children’s needs. I am sure you question yourself at times, you will even at my age. But at this rate, your children will find themselves sooner and deeper. And you too will be the wiser. Thanks for sharing with us your journey with them.

  6. Beth permalink
    January 26, 2019

    I feel like we should sit together and take it all in. I learn a different perspective every time I read what you write and it gives me hope I’m not alone and makes me reflect on how to be a bit more gentle with my brood. We love rose tons and feel lucky that she may balance Bella out a bit as your words do often times for me. Xo

  7. Joy Frazer permalink
    January 26, 2019

    Fourteen?!! Oh my goodness. Happy Birthday Col!! Yes and thanks for all your wisdom and encouragement. It’s always nourishing to read your blogs.

  8. Ellen permalink
    January 26, 2019

    It is so good that you have a post again after a little hiatus. Thank you for your humor and your wisdom. You have some wonderful skills and insight for navigating the world of teenagers.

  9. Linda permalink
    January 27, 2019

    Oh, and Col turned fourteen. No biggie.

    Wow. that is today’s beautiful thing.

  10. Lydia permalink
    January 29, 2019

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I really enjoy your blog and supportive approach to raising kids who can hear and follow their intuition. Sincerely, a non-millionaire Trump-supuorter

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