Motherhood & Words

I feel as though I’ve spent so much of the summer juggling and fretting that I’ve forgotten to enjoy these last months. I have been snappier with my girls, who are both in high-parental-involvement stages—Zoë is potty training and fully embracing all of the defiance inherent in being a two-year-old; and Stella is suspended somewhere between a little girl and a big girl, a transition that makes her moody and sensitive. One moment she’s totally fine, the next she’s furious, in tears, and yelling, “I’m just so frustrated, Mom! I hate you!” (That’s my favorite.)

But as is always the case, I feel much better if I take a moment and list all of the things in my life for which I’m grateful. So here is my list.

I’m grateful for:

• the way Stella purses her lips in concentration when she’s working on a new craft. (She can sit for over an hour and make a friendship bracelet or a beaded ornament.)

• the way Zoë whips off all her clothes a dozen times a day, then shouts, “I’m naked! I’m naked!” as she shakes it around the room.

• Stella’s pride as she heads down the sidewalk on her new skateboard, with more grace and balance that I’ve ever had. (Seriously, the girl has mad skills. She could be a serious surfer if she put her mind to it—and if we lived somewhere that wasn’t landlocked.)

• the way Zoë packs up all her plastic fruit and vegetables in a bag and announces she’s going to work at the “shoppy cop” (coffee shop).

• that I can run again. (I’ve spent hours this summer in the chiropractor’s office and it wasn’t helping—or helped a little and then stopped helping—and finally last week I started taking those little packets of EmergenC of all things, and my hip and leg feel so much better. Electrolytes! Magnesium! Selenium! Potassium! I could have run for an hour the other day.)

• D.—I have to give the guy a shout out not only for his surprising garage-building skills but also because he’s my biggest supporter, arranging his schedule so I can finish my revision by Sept. 1

• Led Zeppelin—Okay, I’ll admit this is a little strange. But can I tell you how much I’ve loved rediscovering those guys this summer? There is nothing like running down a country road in Northern MN; open pastures on either side of me, a cloudless sky above me, and “Ramble On” blaring on my IPod. (Who am I? No idea, no idea. I’m just going with it.)

• My parents, who have spent even more time with the girls than usual so I can log in as many hours at my computer as possible. I know it can be exhausting, but they keep offering. They keep showing up, and I’m so grateful for them.

• My kick-ass friends, both in person and virtual. I so appreciate that you’re always close by, always listening, always ready to make me laugh. Thank you!

I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for. Leave a list in the comment field or link to your own post. And thank you, as always, for reading.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Sheila Squillante on August 18, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Kate, I love this. And thank you for the reminder to pause and reflect and give thanks. By the way, do we have the same daughter? Josephine loves nothing more than her nekkid body! I love to see her so celebratory and self-accepting. I should learn a thing or two.

    Okay, a short list of my gratefuls:

    * preschool over the summer, as it has given me more time to write since before I became a mother. And I've actually used it!

    * my son coming slowly out of his shell with other kids. Yesterday he announced that he has a "best friend." Wonderful!

    * my daughter's incredible self-reliance. She potty-trained herself! I'm not bragging; my son (who is older) is still having MAJOR issues there. It's nice to have one parenting-related thing turn out easy.

    * and some smaller things: summer tomatoes, artichoke quiche, Anthony Bourdain and FaceBook, which lets me interact with fabulous, smart people every day.

    And I love Led Zeppelin too. 🙂

  2. kate hopper on August 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Sheila, I love your list. I think Josephine and Zoe would be two peas in a pod. Zoe has basically potty-trained herself, as well. Which is great, except when she refuses to go to the bathroom before bed and then pees in her crib AND in our bed. I don't love changing sheets in the middle of the night.

  3. Leslie P. on August 18, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Ramble On blaring while on a run. Yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean. It's the best.

  4. kqchristopherson on August 18, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Lovely as always, Kate!

    A few things I am grateful for:

    *freshly picked tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and lots of salt and pepper.

    *watching how proud my daughter is riding her bike up and down the gravel road… she taught herself how to do ride in less than a hour and is thrilled. "Mom… look at me!"

    *sitting on the front porch that desparately needs to be swept, watching the kids laugh together, while running through the grass — carefree giggles and shouts of them getting along!

    *morning kisses from my husband as he slips out the bedroom before I am completely awake.

    *the knowledge that fall is just around the corner — football season, crisp weather, pumpkin bars, school supplies, more time to write while kids are at school, Grey's Anatomy!

    Thanks for reminding me to stop and be grateful.

  5. Ines on August 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I loved reading your list, Kate.
    Thank you for reminding me there is a reason and a purpose.
    This is my list
    * sisters who are like friends
    * summer
    * swimming, swimming, swimming
    * bread
    * the children always growing, always making me grow
    * mind – full – ness

  6. Andrea on August 19, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    What a great list (and good idea).

    I'm grateful for:

    A few more weeks of summer (trying not to freak out about impending doom…I mean winter).

    The way M is always singing Michael Jackson or Beatles songs and playing "Smoke on the Water" on his guitar (truly I had never even heard of that song b/f he started guitar lessons…I think he's much better than those Deep Purple people…and I wouldn't know a Lead Zeppelin if it fell out of the sky on my head…sorry)

    The way E crawled around the house all morning snarling and then saying, "Did you see that wolf over there?"

    That Z just learned…from his mama…the art of belching.

    That the reason I have no time to myself is because I have a great job, fantastic kids, a wonderful husband and lots of loving (and social) friends.

  7. cath c on August 20, 2010 at 8:54 am

    yours is a very fortunate list, no wonder you are so grateful!

    we have a 'nakey' potty trainer running around here, too!

    i am grateful for some of the things you expressed, supportive hubby, quirks of my kids, etc and yes, i always seem to rediscover zeppelin in the summer time! especially houses of the holy.

  8. Sarah on August 20, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Love reading these! Here are a few of mine…

    *champagne grapes and Saturn peaches
    *the raspberry farm
    *the wading pool and little patches of shade in the backyard
    *my daughter has a good friend assigned to the same kindergarten class
    *my two-year-old has her first friend who's "just hers" (not a family friend or sibling of another friend)
    *my brother and sister

  9. kate hopper on August 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I love all of your lists! Thank you for sharing them here. Your gratitude reinforces my own, which is such a lovely thing!

  10. Cecilia on August 31, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    This is great, Kate, and important for us to do every once in awhile to regain that perspective that so easily escapes us during stress. I'm grateful for:

    – being able to work for myself and to work from home – I complain alot and I really need to consciously remind myself how good I have it

    – a healthy son and family…the fact that my little boy was able to visit and play with all 4 of his grandparents this summer

    – my girlfriends, live and virtual (love that one, Kate!)

    – BOOKS! Made out great this weekend at our library's quarterly sale. It makes me so happy.

  11. Scheherazade's Den on September 6, 2010 at 3:42 am

    oh i really like this post so I can't help but partake here and contribute my grateful list as well, makes a change from my tendency to whinge away.

    My gratefuls are:

    *The fact I get multiple hugs and sloppy kisses from my scrumptious toddler everyday while he says…'mama, mama' with complete rapture – oh the love.
    *Supportive family on both sides.
    *Living across from a forest I look at through our giant window everyday.
    *Being almost married to a man who bakes the most kick-ass french bread.
    *Having the best of both city and country due to our location.
    *Having a child who pleads to go to bed at night by taking me to his cot and asking for 'milka' (but then wakes up through the night so not perfect there!)

    So there, it's quite satisfying to write this down and behold the array of things you can be grateful and happy about. Nice change from whingeing and expressing darker stuff….