Dear Tate,

Today you turn 10-years-old. What a decade! What a life you are living! I am so grateful for your sweet nature and kind soul. This year has obviously been a challenging one as a parent, but you make it easy, buddy. You are always looking for ways to help and ease the burden on others. A few months ago, you came up to me after a long day and said you had a surprise. You had created an entire spa in our living room, complete with pillows on the floor as a bed, soft music, candles and even plants and greenery. You then told me to lay down and put an iPad in front of my face playing episodes of the show “Parks and Recreation.” You rubbed my back and even had a bowl of candy corn next to me, in case I was hungry. The whole thing was just lovely, perfect, charming and completely encompasses who you are.

For Christmas this year, it wasn’t your own gifts that you cared about, but the gifts you purchased for others. You were bursting with excitement to give me a giant, wrapped gift you had put under the tree. Turns out, during a trip to Target with your grandma, you saw a painting you decided I had to have. You told Grammy, “My mom deserves this, she does so much for everyone else.” The painting is now hanging in my living room and it’s a constant reminder of your giving heart. I love it.

You have persevered this year during a time that has been so difficult. You have been out of school since last March, finishing 3rd grade at home and now doing 4th grade remotely from home as well. This wasn’t an easy choice for our family, and I’ve worried so much about what this choice means for your development, both academically and socially. But the upside is that I’ve spent more time with you (and your sister) this year than ever before. We are together almost constantly. I have discovered so much about how you learn, and I know this will benefit us even after the pandemic is over.

You have also missed out on your activities, which were a huge part of your daily life before COVID. This year you played baseball, but that was it in terms of team sports. Gone were the days of running from one activity to the next, and while sometimes we all enjoyed the reprieve, you also missed it a lot. And even when you did get to play, it was so different. No more team dinners or pizza parties or hang outs after games. Instead there were masks, distancing, and lots of Clorox wipes. But you did what you always do…you kept smiling. You enjoyed the time you got with your teammates and did your best to keep learning and growing.

I’m so, so proud of you, Tate. I cannot believe that you are 10, and how much you’ve changed in the last year. I am so grateful to get to be your mama (and now, your teacher too!). I wouldn’t want to spend this pandemic year with anyone else. I love you, bud.



Pandemic Self-Care

Everything is so hard right now. I say this as a person with extreme privilege, and I admit I feel so much guilt for even sharing that things are hard when I have been more than lucky during these crazy times. That guilt has kept me quiet, especially online. I decided to delete a few of the social apps from my phone and only check for work (which is my job, so I can’t completely disengage), but it wasn’t a planned hiatus. I just really haven’t known what to say.

I still have a job. So does my husband. I am still working from home. We have good Wifi access. My kids are schooling from home indefinitely. It isn’t easy (especially as I have become the de facto home teacher, which is certainly NOT in my wheelhouse), but many days it’s not totally awful either. I only know a few people who have gotten sick, and all are doing well now. All of the grandparents are okay.

And yet, it’s still hard. The days feel endless and also there is no time to get anything done. I have a friend who described having kids at home remote learning all week like having toddlers again. Every time I get started on one task or another, I’m drug away with a “Mooooommmmmm!” I have been able to keep up my productivity at work by logging in after hours or on the weekends to catch up. It’s the biggest election season of my lifetime, and I am the chair of a political action committee. I feel like I’m constantly working, advocating, teaching or parenting…and it’s all in the same space. And with a teenager and tween in our home, there are lots of emotions flying around. Our kids have handled this better than I could have imagined, but it still really sucks. I’d guess we are more cautious than about 80% of the people they know when it comes to social distancing, which means I’m the mom who says no a lot. In the last few weeks we’ve opened up our bubble, but we still aren’t allowing the kinds of activities that many of their friends are participating in, and that is hard. They miss their friends, their schools, their feeling of normalcy.

Me too.

And knowing this doesn’t have an end in sight just makes it all so much more difficult. I am, as always, very active during this political season, but again, I’m keeping it offline, at least on my personal accounts. I’m not sure why….maybe because I am sick of preaching to my own liberal bubble or I don’t want to argue with strangers on the internet anymore, but I haven’t felt the need to post and share and advise and comment. I have campaigned for amazing candidates, dropped literature on doorsteps, made phone calls, donated funds, and done what I can. I have reached out to everyone in my life to make sure they have a voting plan. I can barely watch the news, but I do listen to at least 10 minutes of NPR a day so I feel informed. I am trying. This marathon that began in 2016 is nearing it’s (hopeful) end, and I am more than winded. If you have a friend who is politically active, reach out to them. We are very tired.

Last year around this time I was in a major car accident. I sustained some injuries to my neck and back, which luckily cleared up by early this year. But in the last two weeks, the pain has returned, seemingly out of nowhere. Last week I was laying in bed reading when my sweet son came into the room and said he had a surprise for me. I didn’t want to get up, but I drug my tired body from my bed and down the stairs. He had set up an elaborate “spa” in our living room. He stacked pillows on the floor, had moved all my house plants to fill the room, and had rain sounds playing from the TV. He told me to lay down and then proceeded to give me what may be the best back massage I’ve ever had!

Last night he pulled me aside again, and this time he had set up his spa in my bedroom. He had built a cave out of pillows, and he had me lay down and stick my head inside. Inside this pillow fort, he had set up his iPad, and had it playing episodes of one of my favorite shows, “The Good Place.” He then rubbed my back while simultaneously hand-feeding me candy corn from a bowl he put next to the bed. This kid….

Everything is hard. But everything is okay too. I am just trying to keep swimming. And when all else fails, candy corn.

*Photos in this post by Sahsha Kochanowicz

The End of Endless Spring Break

I’m writing this the day before our first day of school for the year. Our family chose to do remote learning this semester, as I’m still working from home and we felt that was the best option for our family. And technically, right now all the students in our school district are remote for the time being, but knowing that we have a full semester ahead of us feels a bit daunting. Instead of focusing on the unknown, I’m looking back at the summer we were able to have, even with the restrictions due to the pandemic. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to safely and cautiously travel a bit this summer, both to Colorado and multiple trips to my family’s lake cabin. After being together in our home working and schooling and living for months and months on end, a change of scenery was extremely welcome.

I want to remember all the good times we had this summer, not just the disappointments, cancelled vacations and camps, and challenges. I want to remember Lucy falling in love with skateboarding in Aspen, Tate learning how to waterski, watching my brother-in-law get married in the mountains, hiking and biking, watching the sky change at sunset and staring at the Milky Way at night. I want to remember watching my kids actually play together, laughing and acting silly, not putting on a facade for friends. I want to remember sitting around a fire pit with my family, making s’mores and listening to them talk, laugh and share. I want to remember that the summer of 2020 wasn’t all bad. In fact, there was a lot of good in there too.


One of the things Tate and I have been doing since we’ve all been home during quarantine is running together. This kid needs a lot of structure to stay active, and when a friend mentioned the Couch to 5K app, I figured we would give it a shot.

This run was the same as many of them, but different, because we talked about Ahmaud Arbery. I consider talking to our white sons about the reality of racism and bigotry to be one of the most important jobs of motherhood. Not just Martin Luther King, Jr., but Malcom X, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin too. And so many more.

It’s hard to resist whitewashing racism for him, to make it easier on myself. But that’s why these kinds of horrors keep happening. So I told him the truth. And I told him that as a white boy who will become a white man, it’s part of his duty to speak up. It’s also part of his duty to hand the microphone over to those who don’t often get the chance to speak.

We talked about how his grandpa was on the first integrated high school basketball team in St. Louis, and when they’d travel, his black teammates weren’t allowed to eat in the restaurants they’d stop at on the road. So he, alone, would go inside, get them food, and eat on the bus with them.

Tate comes from a long line of resisters and I pray every day that he uses his white, male privilege to do good in the world. But he won’t be able to do that if we don’t tell him the truth about how the world really is. #irunwithmaud

Tate Birthday


Dear Tate,

A few weeks ago, you turned 9-years-old. I hardly ever write on this blog anymore, but every year on your birthday, I want to make sure I get something written here. You are such an interesting, fun, wonderful kid, and that certainly hasn’t changed in the last year. But other things about you have changed, and I know if I don’t get them down in words, they will float away, just like all memories do.

Tate Birthday

The other day a friend of mine posted something to social media about how parenting is basically deciding where in the house you want to keep the giant pile of acorns that your children bring home and HAVE TO KEEP BECAUSE THEY ARE TREASURES. I was immediately taken back to your preschool days, when you’d come home with random items in your pocket…an acorn, yes, but also a lego guy, a feather, three pennies, a nickel and, of course, a couple of rocks. Those days feel so far away to me now, but I still keep a jar of your trinkets on a shelf in our kitchen. It reminds me of how much you’ve grown, and of how much I have loved being your mom.

Preschool Tate was cute, and honestly, so is 9-year-old Tate. You’re my own, real-life Peter Pan, a little imp who sometimes gets into trouble, but who easily skirts out of it with a wink and a smirk. In fact, the smirk is your go-to expression, including in all school photos and selfies. You pretty much always have a twinkle in your eye that suggests you might be up to no good. But mostly you just like to have fun, and you don’t often think about boundaries or limits.

This year has been difficult in ways I couldn’t have imagined when you blew out your candles last year. Since you were 2-years-old, I’ve worked from home and been able to be there for you whenever you needed me. If you were sick, I was there. If you had a school event, I was there. If you needed a snack or help with homework or someone to enter the password into the TV, I was always there. But this year I began working outside of the home again, and all of sudden, I wasn’t there. We are so fortunate, because you have a village of people around you (and me!) who have stepped up to fill the gaps since I went back to work. In fact, sometimes I think you like it better this way, as you get to spend time with neighbors, our super-fun babysitter, and at playdates with friends. Your relationship with your dad has strengthened in immeasurable ways, as he has been the parent volunteering at school and coaching your teams, instead of me taking on every role. We have gained much, much more than we lost.

This year we also moved to a new home, one that we chose, in part, because it kept us at your elementary school and near your friends. You love our new house, and it’s been so fun to see you here with friends and cousins, running around our new backyard and playing football on the front lawn. There has been so much change this year, and you have handled it all in stride. I’m so proud of you.

We also had an unfortunate experience where we, as parents, made a mistake and kept you in a situation that wasn’t healthy for you. Parents make mistakes, buddy. In fact, I make them every, single day. But this one ate away at me because I knew from the beginning it wasn’t a good fit for you, but I kept you in it because I didn’t want to seem overprotective or inflexible. I let my fear of making trouble direct how I parented, and I deeply regret it. But when we finally did make the decision to move on, you never blamed us. You kept a good attitude, even when it would’ve been understandable for you to lose your cool. You stuck it out and you held your head high, and I’m so grateful for how you navigated all of it. You are an incredible person, Tate.

My hope for you this year is that you find a way to give yourself a little grace, kiddo. You are a very competitive person, and sometimes that gets the best of you. It seems especially difficult because you are someone who tends to just be really good at almost everything you try. But then, when something doesn’t come as easily, you can get really down on yourself. As you get older, there are going to be so many things that you won’t be the best at, but I don’t want you to give up. I want you to enjoy the experience of trying something new, failing, and trying again. I want you to encourage yourself, instead of putting yourself down when you’re not perfect. You’ve already been working on this, and I can see a big difference. In fact, you just went snowboarding for the first time, and your dad said you fell constantly…but you always got back up. That’s the good stuff, kiddo.

I am so proud to be your mom, Tate. I cannot wait to see what this next year will bring!



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