Mommy’s Handcuffs and Whipped Cream

We’re walking through SuperTarget when I realize Tyler is carrying a pair of handcuffs.

“Dude, what in the world? Put those back please,” I said. “Where’d you find them?”

“They’re yours, Mom. I found them in your room, in that bag of gifts from your wedding shower.”

(I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.)

“Mom, it’s so cool. There’s all kinds of toys in there from your friends.”

(I’m mentally racking my brain. What did he find? WHAT DID HE FIND??)

“And everything’s brand new, never even used.  So can I have these, Mom?” He holds the handcuffs up for me to see.

“No. You can’t.”

“Why not? Why do you need them?” He coupled this question with pointed, potent eye contact.

“Never mind. You can have them.”

“What about the light-up hula hoop? Can I have that?”

(I want this conversation to end now, please.)

“You can… borrow it. But the plastic wrap and chocolate syrup are mine.”

If you need my son, he’s in the backyard bossing around an imaginary circle of circus lions with his new leather whip.

In Search of Perfect: I Do Gross Things

So I have a ridiculous story for you, but I can’t tell you any details or kind people will lose their jobs. Stay with me.

The thing is, in college, I wore this perfect shade of lipstick. And I needed to find it again. And I will go to great lengths because this week the lip color is empirical and the struggle is real.

The color of the lipstick… let’s call it Perfect.
And the top secret makeup counter… let’s call it Makeup Counter.
And the woman… let’s call her JuJu. Because her name was actually similar.

So I went to Makeup Counter. And this woman came from behind the counter, and she spoke to me in her broken English-Asian accent. “Hello! My name is JuJu! I help you?”

“Hi, I’m Trish.” (I am practicing that being my name.)

“How I help you, Trish?”

“Well, I’m in search of this lipstick that I wore in college, which was just… a few years ago. And so you might not have it. But it’s called Perfect and I’m in search of it because I’m getting married on Saturday.”

“Oh! You get married! You so cute! Congratulations!” Except she said, “Congwadjewatiooons!”

“Yes, thank you. So the color is called Perfect. Do you have it?” I was kind and gracious, but also to the point. Because, you guys, lipstick.

“Perfect? It start with P?”


She disappears behind the counter, and I begin perusing second choice colors, just in case Perfect is a thing of the past. She came back and she said, “No, we no have Perfect.”

“Ah, sad day. Okay. Then let’s find something else that will work.”

She brings her magic spray that makes all the germs go away on sample lipstick tubes, and we set about the task. I’ll try this one. No, it’s a little too pink. No, this one’s a little too raisin. No, this one’s a little too grape. No, this one is a little too rose. No, no… and each time, I’m wiping off the bad color so I can start with a fresh palette. My lips were a little worked over at this point.

But then – THEN – I found this perfect shade. It looked just perfect. I said, “JuJu! I think we’ve found it! This is perfect!” And I look at the bottom of the tube to see what it’s called, and lo’ and behold, it’s Perfect. It’s the The One I’ve been looking for and writing sonnets about for seventeen years.

She said, “Oh, that the one? Yes, but we no have that.”

“You don’t have what?”


“This? This color?”

“Right. We no have it.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, we no have it.”

“I’m holding it in my hand.”

“Yes, even though you have it, we no have it.”

“You don’t have this.” I hold it up. To gesture directly to what she doesn’t have.

“Right. We no have”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, we no.”

“But you have this one.”




“Juju. Yes.”


I need to add more words to this happening dialogue. “So, you don’t have this. Then can I have this? Like, this one?” 

“Ew. No.”

“Yes. You can give it to me, right? You don’t even have to give it to me. I’ll buy it. Or—I know! I’ll buy a different color to use on a different day, and you can give me this Perfect Color for my Perfect Day.”

She narrows her eyes. “No. I no sell it.”

“Then you could give it. To me.”

“No. It gross. People use.”

“No, no! It’s not gross. Because see? You have your magic spray and you already took all the germs away, and it’s good. I already put it on, and now my germs are the ones on the top. You can just give me this.” I watched her thinking. I knew I was breaking her germ-free Makeup Counter resolve.

“JuJu, you just give me the lid, and I’ll put it in my bag, and we’ll be done.”

“Aha! No lid. It has no lid, and that is why I no sell.”

“No problem, I don’t need a lid. Please. I need this color.”

She leaned into whisper. “You tell nobody?”

“Nobody.” (Just, you know, these several thousand few who will read the story online.)

“You tell someone, I have no job.”

“But I won’t.  And you’ll have your job, and I’ll have good lipstick. Perfect, in fact.”

She thrust it into my Bath & Body Works bag. “There. You go now. You go. Look pretty.”

And so now I have the most perfect lipstick in all the land, and I will forever call it perfect even though it’s been worn and tested by millions of women, and the science of that makes it one of the grossest things I have.mydesign

(Except for the time that I found a tube of lip gloss in the parking lot of WalMart and I could tell even from an aerial view that it was the color I needed and so I tested it on my hand and indeed it was perfect. So I kept it. And I never once had a single adverse reaction on my face. Only glorious, pristine shine.)

Sometimes I do gross things.

But you guys, lipstick.

p.s. Peter said, “And you kiss me with those lips… Just maybe don’t tell me all your stories, babe.”

Wedding Week: Doing This With Children

There’s a lot about this that I’ve done before, but there’s one major variable about this Wedding Week that is all new to me: Doing This With Children.

I was mapping out the wedding week, in my cute little bullet journal with doodles and dots and scribbles to make it lovely, and right in the middle of it all, I include things like: Last Day of School. And Pay School Lunch Fees. And Return Library Books before Leaving for Honeymoon.

When I got a call from the boys’ school this morning, I was bracing myself for someone to tell me that somebody’s sick, someone threw up, someone who belongs to me will need stitches in his face or his lips removed from a baseball. I mean, it’s not an unfounded go-to. We kind of have a history. (One year ago next week is when we all launched into the journey of #BrokenFootSummer. So it’s not like I’m inexperienced with things going differently than planned.)

But, quite thankfully, nobody’s sick. Nobody needs stitches or to have his lips removed. There was just one sad little boy who was… wait for it… hungry.  He had forgotten his snack, and he was unraveling over the phone.

(How much do I love his teacher, who knew what he needed?  My cup overflows.)

If you’re a Love and Logic parent who thinks I should just let my kid be hungry because the snack was his responsibility all along, then you haven’t gotten married during the same time frame as The Last Week of School, and you don’t have a child whose blood sugar makes his entire emotional framework shut down, and I don’t want you to write me letters. Just stop reading now.Paper lunch bags with red apple on school desk

I remember when I was student teaching and a student in my class was melting down in a dozen ways. Many things were wrong, and the greatest of which is he didn’t have a pencil. We called his mom, and I was hoping she would stern some sense into him and make him buck up and get through the day and make a pencil appear like a rabbit out of a hat. But instead, she showed up a few minutes later with a literal bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. I remember being so frustrated because she wasn’t on my team. But I wasn’t a mom yet, and actually as I think about it, I wasn’t even really a teacher yet. I was only textbooks and theorems. I wasn’t yet grace and soft edges. I didn’t know then that sometimes you don’t need tough love and boundaries. Sometimes, on some days, you just need your mom to show up with what you need.

On this day, when my boy made that same melting phone call that sounded so much like the one my student made to his mom all those years ago, I didn’t give him tough love and boundaries and logical consequences. I remembered that everything about his life is changing this week. I remembered that we’re all a little emotionally ramped. Every blessed one of us. Including the blasted dog.  It feels like everything we know is changing this week.  So maybe I could just love him through this little hiccup.

I told him, “I’m on my way, buddy. With muffins.”

Get Drunk on the Lovely of it All

It is Wedding Week. I am in the last seven days of one of the most sacred seasons of my life.

I am ‘between beds’ like some people are ‘between jobs’ or ‘between relationships.’ We’ve moved the Single Girl’s Bed out, but the Married Couple’s Bed hasn’t arrived yet. So I’m sleeping on a mattress on the bedroom floor, and my boys are in their sleeping bags on each side of me. Only seven more sleeps for the three of us alone in this house.

It feels like a tangible, beautiful ending and a big, beautiful beginning, somehow all at once. I know I’m in that sacred place where time stands still and everything matters.

Dorothy Parker was once quoted and often repeated, “I hate writing, but I love having written.” Glennon Doyle Melton, whose writing I am pursuing in a crazed, fiendish frenzy of swallowing whole, said, “I don’t love parenting, but I love having parented.”

I think this is gloriously exactly how I would describe this season, the one that will end in about 150 hours.

I didn’t love single parenting. But I love that I single parented.

I didn’t love the long, hard nights, months, weeks, days, minutes. But I love that I survived each one.

I didn’t love being the only one who could love these children this much. But I loved the sacred privilege and the endless deepening of my heart.

I didn’t love the sleeplessness. But I loved the reasons I was so tired.

I don’t love that I have wrinkles. But I love aging gracefully and with good stories.

I hate that I was widowed. But I love wearing that badge: a satin heart torn, repaired with gold stitching.

I hate that I had to do this season, ever and at all. But I love that I lived it with every cell in my being.

There is a tangible end in sight, and a beautiful beginning.

* * *

A friend wrote this to me this morning, and I want to read these most beautiful words every day until they become part of me, as all of this has become part of me.


Dear Tricia,

Happy Wedding Week! This week will blow by. Soon you will be on a honeymoon, getting to know your husband in a thousand beautiful ways. So don’t let the week blow by. Get drunk on the lovely of it all. Let the joy and excitement and conversations around you absorb into your pores and nourish your soul.

Remember to take deep breaths, not to calm yourself down, but rather so that years from now, the slightest hint of a similar scent will help your mind recall the aroma of love surrounding you this week.

This moment belongs to you. It can never be taken away—not ever, Tricia. This is your glorious YES from God.

So my prayer for you is, starting today, that time slows down for you and it is all just magical.

I love you sister.



Good night, beautiful world.
Tonight, I’m in love with all that you’ve given me.

The Vulnerability and Joy: “I’m Getting Married in Nine Days.”

I’m getting married in nine days.

The thing about being engaged is that it puts you in a constant state of transition, and as far as I’m concerned, transition is the worst. I’d rather be on one side of the fence or the other. Sitting on it is nothing but uncomfortable. So we’re getting married in nine days, and we need to bridge this gap and cross the finish line. This needs to happen.

I’m a mess of emotions and anticipation and lists and impatience.

I’m a hearty, note-taking student of Brené Brown. I like to think of myself as one of her graduate students, auditing all her courses by long distance. (And of course, we’re on a first name basis in my healthy imagination.) Brené says that joy is probably the most difficult emotion to feel, that when we lose the ability or the willingness to be vulnerable, joy becomes something we approach with deep foreboding.

Foreboding. The feeling that something bad will happen.

Joy: a feeling of great happiness.

This is the story of my life right now, the terrible and forever coupling of these two feelings that seem to counteract and activate one another. I’m getting married in nine days, so something must be wrong.

She says, “Joy can feel like a setup. We’ve learned that giving in to joy is, at best, setting ourselves up for disappointment and, at worst, inviting disaster. We’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’re trying to beat vulnerability to the punch. We don’t want to be blindsided by hurt. We don’t want to be caught off-guard, so we literally practice being devastated.”

As I’m writing this paragraph, Peter called to tell me the results of his physical today. He said, “Honey, buckle up, because you may get more than you bargained for. The doctor said I am completely healthy, and I’ll probably live into my nineties.” I literally gasped on the phone and I started to cry.

This excellent bill of health prompted a sure response from me: quick intake of air, and then the demanding whisper, “Shhh. Please don’t say that.” And then tears. Someone telling me he is healthy only makes me sure he won’t be for long. And so I practice my own devastation.

I hate living in this vice. I want to just run and jump into this next season of my life with the same gusto as when I used to run and jump into the ball pit as a little girl.designSure they would catch me in a soft balloon landing, I’d run and close my eyes and leap, delighting in the big splashy rainbow that swallowed me whole. I want that abandoned leaping again.

Brené says there is one cure: Gratitude.

She says that none of us are immune to that uncomfortable quake of vulnerability that accompanies joyful moments. But the most experienced among us have learned to use that shudder of vulnerability as an invitation to acknowledge how truly grateful we are for he person, the beauty, the connection, or simply the moment before us. You can’t keep bad things from happening. You can only be thankful that it’s not right now. And then, says Brené, when the bad things happen, you’ve strengthened your own fortitude to handle it.

So, let me get this straight: practicing my own devastation doesn’t actually prepare me for it. Instead, joy and gratitude strengthens my own resilience.

I sit up tall, determined to get a handle on this. I  take a deep breath that feels like determination that’s ragged around the edges. And Peter walks in to the restaurant and now to the table where I am writing today. He left the doctor’s office and drove across town to the tears he heard on the phone. He sits down, and he’s so tender with me, which nearly breaks me in a different way.

“Honey, what’s happening? What are you feeling?” he asks.

Tearfully, I say, “I’m feeling . . . thankful.”