Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A miracle has happened at our house.

Evan has decided for the first time in his almost 2 years of life that it's OK to leave my side and be by himself.

For those of you who have not been aware of this ongoing dependency saga, just take my word that this is nothing less than a monumental event. Seriously. You see, every moment of every day has been spent not only with Evan practically glued to me, but with him erupting into hysterics if I leave the room he's in. OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration; there have been brief phases where he would play on his own for a few minutes, but every time I'd think we turned a corner he would go right back to his desperately clingy ways. The false hope is even worse than the event itself — but it kept getting worse. In recent weeks it's escalated to him throwing himself on the floor in kicking, screaming, wailing pandemonium if I so much as told him I was going upstairs.

Then just when I had reached the very end of my rope, when I truly thought I could take it no more, it all ended. Evan just woke up last Monday and decided that he would not only venture into other rooms alone, he would happily play with his toys for 10, 20, 30 minutes or more. Yesterday I got to vacuum our entire house while he played in the front room for almost an hour. That has NEVER HAPPENED. Ever.

But it gets better. Just today, I slipped out while Evan was playing in his room and sat at the computer. About 10 minutes later I heard him go downstairs and say, "Evan play all by himself for Mommy working." Honestly, no sweeter words could that boy have uttered. Hugs and kisses could not bring me as much joy as that little moment did, knowing that he's not only OK to leave me for a while, but he may even have some altruistic motive for doing so. What a sweet boy I am lucky to have.

Take my word: You seriously have no idea what this means to me. I cannot adequately describe the stress his clinginess has caused. Not only has it been completely emotionally draining to be so in demand, but to know that all your attempts at encouraging independence, or plans to actually perform a task unhindered, or wishes of going to the bathroom alone would be met with such vehemence is utterly exhausting. Compounding the stress is the fact that I work from home, and my ability to make money to support our struggling family is only as good as the time I have to devote to my work. On top of that, I've faced the daily guilt that this tug-of-war inevitably causes in a mother determined to develop patience and understanding and fulfill her child's deepest need to be loved. I have been truly conflicted in a way I've never felt.

But now we're here. We made it. We've had one week and two days of this heavenly bliss, so now I feel safe in trusting that this is here to stay.

How it all came about, on the other hand, I have no idea.

Truly, I am baffled. I'm overjoyed, but perplexed. I have no idea what brought about this change — and believe me, I have been trying in earnest to crack the case, because if Evan should go back to his old ways I want to know the trick that snaps him back into this glorious phase of independence.

Alas, I have no answer. All I can think is that my prayers have at last been answered, or I've learned some important lesson this situation set out to teach me, or Evan has simply outgrown a particularly trying phase, or all of the above.

I guess the moral of the story is this: Whatever struggle you're facing, as a mother or otherwise, hang on. There may be no way to pull yourself out of a difficulty other than to wait as patiently as you can for it to pass. You never know when the end of the road will be, so take heart. It could be just around the corner, so don't give up.

And when you make it out, don't forget to celebrate! Huzzah! Hooray! Hallelujah!

I'm off to treat us to some fries and Coke.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Scattered but strong

Wow, I can't believe it's been a month since I've written — and it has been a strange kind of month around here. I didn't mean to go on a blogging hiatus, and in fact, I wish I had been writing. That would mean I wouldn't have been living in this brain fog that's been my companion the past few weeks.

Nothing too life-altering has happened; I am simply feeling scattered and spread in too many directions. It's a natural product of my being a bipolar Gemini — always shifting moods, always catching onto big ideas — and sadly, I get to this place all too often. But at least now, as opposed to in my younger years, I hunker down and try to make sense of my world instead of running away from the madness.

One of the things I've been putting a lot of focus on lately is my latest professional endeavor. I've never mentioned this officially here, but those of you who know me in real life know I have a "Pinterest Test Kitchen" column on ksl.com, which recently made the jump to TV. So now in addition to writing weekly, I am featured every Thursday at 12:45 on KSL-TV News at Noon. When this opportunity finally came to fruition I felt like I had won the lottery. How awesome that I not only get to keep writing for a living, but I get to be inspired by and play around on Pinterest — legitimately! — and get paid for it?

Here are a few of my columns and TV appearances:

DIY dishwasher detergent recipes put to the test

Popular Pinterest recipes for easy, healthy, make-at-home snacks

Pinterest goes camping: Do-it-yourself ways to keep the bugs at bay

Anyway, I am so lucky to have this opportunity, but lately I've been getting really stressed about it. I have a grand vision and I have high hopes for this segment — not to mention the incredibly high standards I've always held myself to. Despite the success of the column, I'm still struggling to get my vision to translate to TV. This has led to an ongoing internal struggle, with me wondering daily if I need to try something else, or just suck it up and work harder, or if my energies would be better spent elsewhere and I'm just wasting my time. I can't figure out the answer to that one, so I am pressing on, ever pushing toward that mythical vision of success.

In the end, it doesn't matter what project I'm stressing over. This is what I do. My sister and husband continually chide me about this, because it's becoming a set-in-stone pattern: I start a new project and am completely gung-ho, proclaiming it the coolest thing EVER. A few months go by and my energy naturally wanes. Then, one hangup or another slows my progress, and I find myself in a cycle of self-doubt and frustration that takes another few months to power through. Then, I either find a way to work it out and circumvent the problem, coming out even strong than before — or I deem the effort a doomed failure and move on to find a new project.

And thus the cycle begins again.

It must be exhausting to live with me. If it's any fraction of what it's like to BE me, then yes, I can say with 100 percent certainty that it IS exhausting to live with me. And yet, I like to think my loved ones wouldn't have me any other way. OK, I may be totally making that up. It may be the thing that pushes my husband to his last straw one day, or the habit that drives me into eventual ruin. Or maybe the truth is this: that underneath the crazy-making self-doubt and frustration are the enthusiasm, drive, determination, and bold confidence that push me to succeed. Because yes, success (of varying degrees) is always a phase in that cycle, every time.

I didn't sit down to write anything in particular tonight; I mostly wanted to just push myself out of a writing rut. But as is so frequently the case, when I let myself follow where my writing leads I always find something redeemable about myself or my situation. I see a bigger picture and I see a moral to the story. Today, the bigger picture is that I am blessed with some pretty unique and exciting opportunities in life, and despite what roadblocks I come across, this is the bare-bones truth: I am at the heart of every failure and every success. It all depends on where I choose to stop in the cycle.

So, my message to you, friends: Don't give up. Take a step or two back if you have to, re-assess, and take a hard look at your life, but don't throw everything away in a time of worry and sadness. Don't believe your self-doubt; only believe the enthusiasm that pulls you toward all the good things in your life. It is what will take you to where your heart truly lies and where your success will take shape.