Category Archives: Homeschooling

Am I Enough?

This is the question I’m struggling with right now, especially as the new school year starts, as new routines and schedules get hammered out. I’m also putting more focus and energy into other areas of my life that I’ve put on hold to be a parent, and once again, I feel myself dealing with the question: Am I enough?

Am I doing enough?

Am I good enough?

This is straight-up tied to being a perfectionist, something I’ve struggled with over the years to let go of, to be who I am, to do the best that I can and celebrate in what I have accomplished. And yet… every once in awhile… my perfectionist finds a new way to creep on in, to sneak into my subconscious, to create doubts and negative self-talk. A little, tiny voice nagging that I should do more

Read more with the kids.

Play more.

Connect more.

And, of course, there’s always more we could do, more to focus on, more to strive at being better…

A couple months ago, I dealt with how my perfectionist came into my writing process, and it wasn’t the usual way either. It wasn’t during the actual creation, when I put words on page and have learned to trust those words (and my unique author voice). You see, I’d already dealt with that part. Instead, my perfectionist had taken a stranglehold during an entirely different process: the end process. The part where my stories get out to readers.

I would stop dead in my tracks when it came to the editing, the copyediting, and straight-up, the publishing part of my business.

I was surprised. Shocked, actually.

I had no idea my perfectionist, my critical voice, had been sitting there, happy as a clam, completely stopping my work from, you know, actually reaching readers. Since then, I’ve worked through that part of the process, and am even making really awesome, fun strides with my publishing business.

And yet, that’s exactly one reason why I’m now dealing with this question:

Am I enough?

You see, as I focus on my business, it’s taken my attention away from other areas of my life. Mainly, my family. I’m not connecting with the kids as much, we’re not playing as much. Not enough board games or sitting down and doing art together.

Which… if I actually step back and look at my life, I would (hopefully) see how silly my worry is.

I mean, yes, I am putting attention and focus on my business — but that’s part of my self-care. This is super important, this focus on self-care. Especially too if I want to function as patient and kind parent, someone who has the energy and the reserves to help my kids through their big emotions, to even want to get on the floor and play a tickle game, or to drive to the LA County Fair or go to Disneyland.

I am important too, and I’ve finally reached a point with my youngest that I can put energy to this other area, a very important area of my life, which I had happily put on hold to grow our family.

And yet… the worries and the self-doubt are still there.

A huge, huge part of the problem is my brain, of having lived through my own childhood, of living in this American culture for 35 years, still has all these labels, this hierarchy of what is deemed as important.

And, what isn’t.

Sitting on the couch and reading books together, or learning by playing board games (especially as a homeschooler): important.

Swimming with friends for hours, playing with dolls, playing Mario 3D World with Kate, dancing with Eric: not important.

And that, really, is ridiculous.

I intellectually know this. I do.

In fact, I’ve been working on letting go of all these thoughts and worries, of what our world deems as ‘learning’ and ‘education’ ever since Kate was two years old and yet… yet here I am, questioning the importance of play and joy.

For myself. For my kids.

I know I’m feeling more pressure this year (and really, right at this moment) because, technically, Kate should be in kindergarten. I mean, she’s a baby five but, according to most states, she’d be in kindergarten and therefore:

Learning great things of importance! Learning things that are clearly not hanging out with friends and playing!

Agh! It’s enough to drive me crazy.

I know how I feel about education and self-directed learning. I know the value of simple play and social interaction… which is exactly what she’s getting. Right now. Every week. Every day.

And yet, here I am, mentally beating myself up because somewhere inside me, it doesn’t feel like not enough.

Which is my perfectionist speaking.

My perfectionist that can look at the day we had, completely filled with trying to meet everyone’s needs, of driving up and visiting with grandma and grandpa, playing with their big-ass dogs (and my helping Eric to work through feelings of his safety and growing comfort). And then after, going to the park to play with a whole bunch of other, older kids. I can look back over our entire day, and somehow, in some area, my perfectionist finds it lacking.

Here’s what my perfectionist points out to me:

You didn’t play when Kate asked you too.

Why didn’t you join her with painting? Or coloring Pinkie Pie’s tail?

You should put your own work aside. Stop typing up those notes for your online workshop. You’re neglecting her.

(Never mind the fact that I facilitated how many days playing with friends, swimming and playing with dolls, even video games? Not to mention the outings this week, from rock climbing, visiting an ice cream art museum, and spending a ton of quality, fun-time with Grandma??)

Which my perfectionist then chimes in:

Well, what about Eric??

Were you really connecting with him enough?

My perfectionist, with all her negative self-talk, doesn’t stop there either. She’ll point out: See? He’s sorting those colored Legos on the floor. By himself. Why didn’t you join him? Why didn’t you use that as an opportunity to work on his sounds and his growing comfort with turning his voice on??

(Never mind that every moment he’s awake I am aware of his speech, finding new and fun ways to play sound-games that are natural for him and me. That we play tickle games and hide-and-seek games like crazy. But hey, those moments just don’t count.)

This is my own struggle, dealing with my perfectionist and the negative voice in my head that some days (like, right now) feels like I’m in a constant, epic battle with.

You’re getting a glimpse into all these thoughts I’ve got going on, but I recognize them for what they are… and I’m trying to work through them.

I’m trying to pick apart the threads and figure out the real cause of why I’m having them in the first place. And generally, if my perfectionist is involved, it has to do with fear.

Fear, and protecting.

Clearly, some part of me is afraid of something, or feels that I (or my kids) need protecting. Maybe from the great ways I can single-handedly Screw Them Up —

Which, is just silly.

I literally just got off the phone with a friend who, after I told her what my week had been like and everything we did (as well as mentioning my struggle with these these negative thoughts) she said:

“It sounds to me like you’re doing plenty.”

Which, I am.

I mean, I know I am. Helping them through their emotions, taking the time to connect, to empathize, scheduling fun outings with friends as well as stuff for to do as a family (like rock climbing). Then there’s keeping the house in somewhat order, and the endless dishes, cleaned. Oh, and let’s not forget preparing and cooking real food (at least most of the time).

I know I’m doing the best that I can, and I know that my life, and my kids’ life, will look completely different than everyone else’s. For example, a lot of kids Kate’s age are focusing on school, on learning to read or beginning math. But for me, my focus is continuing to help her with language.

I’m getting her out with friends, focusing on my modeling and recasting, having new experiences (ice cream museum or meeting Moana for the first time at Disneyland). Those experiences are a fantastic jumping off point for more words, more language, more conversation.

That’s my focus for her, right now.

And what’s super amazing is all the people in our life who matter most, grandparents, close friends, they all intuitively understand that too. I’m not getting badgered with Kate and reading or anything else that might look school-related. Instead, I’m getting these smiles and looks of amazement over what Kate said or how she interacted with someone.

But other than language, I’m really tuning into what learning will look like for us as a family, and specifically, for Kate.

As a family, we believe in self-directed learning. You might not, you might send your kids to school or you might follow a more classic, homeschool approach. But for us, this is what we believe in… following a child’s interest, helping them to facilitate in an area they’re excited about. It means I need to be aware of Kate and her passions, and when I see something, ask myself: how can I help that grow?

For example, Kate’s aunt was over the other day and she was rolling some dice to build a character for the Dungeons and Dragons campaign Sean’s running. As her aunt was rolling those dice, she was getting quite passionate about what numbers she was rolling. She was trying to create a sorcerer, so having a high strength number and not a high intellect number, was bad.

So Kate’s aunt was having emotions about the outcome.

She was having emotions… about numbers.

Her aunt would get a set of numbers, write them down, and usually, be pissed about some number not fitting into the sorcerer character she wanted to build. So, she’d start rolling again.

And again.

And again.

And Kate, interested, came to the table and watched. At first she got a paper and pencil, and started drawing. Then, later, I noticed she was writing the numbers.

Thirteen. Four. Eight. And entire page-worth of numbers.

I was shocked.

This was the first time I’d ever seen Kate write numbers or even have an interest in numbers. But there she was, writing them all down. And then the day after, waiting for food at a restaurant, she started filling in numbers for a Sudoku puzzle all on her own.

So I asked myself: what can I do to help facilitate this interest?

Let me tell you, just rolling a bunch of dice and writing the numbers down didn’t mean squat to Kate. She just started coloring.

And that’s when I had my realization of why Kate had been drawn to the numbers in the first place, why she started writing the dice numbers down with her aunt…

It was because of the emotions. Those numbers meant something to her aunt. They had meaning. They had a purpose.

And, they were fun.

Kate wanted in on that.

I’ve already come up with some ideas, of how we can go forward from here… like, when we play our weekly Dungeons and Dragon session, to start the game earlier. That way Kate can participate or just watch. I’ve also picked up a role-playing book for My Little Pony (yes, there is such a thing) and am thinking about running a campaign for her and her friends. Sure it will require some adjusting, but it’d give her the chance to have her own emotions about numbers, about gameplay and cooperation, all of which, of course, will continue to build on her language. I even got a board game that mimics a playing style similar to a role-playing game that can scale for different ages. I’ve already put this in motion, inviting a few friends to come over, to try out the role playing game, then get into some amazing board games I have as well…

And this, this right here, is why all my worries are just plain silly.

I know what I need to do. I know what I am doing, and gosh darn-it, it’s enough.

I am enough.

I know this won’t be the last time I struggle with these thoughts. I know too it’s just not my perfectionist at the wheel here. Self-esteem is playing a huge roll, in my comfort to stand up and say, “No. I am going to walk this other path and I’m going to be comfortable doing it.”

The comfortable part is one I’m still working on and I plan on diving down into what this means for me, in how it’s manifested out of my own childhood and experiences. Journaling and really delving into what’s causing these different negative voices and anxiety.

Let me tell you, this self-exploration thing is a never-ending journey and it feels like every time I clean up one wire and one connection under my hood, I find a half-dozen more that need fixing. And, I’m okay with that. I like this feeling, this feeling of moving forward. Of learning about myself and why I tick the way I do.

As long as I try to balance my needs and dreams, of being a writer and an entrepreneur, with being a parent, I’ll be struggling with these thoughts. I doubt they’ll ever leave me… but as I said, I think I’ll get better handling this anxiety, this stress. I feel more confident in my abilities and in what I’m doing.

And also, I know parents who’ve chosen a more normal, mainstream life (meaning school but who are also engaged and supportive in their kids’ lives) also have these same doubts. That they aren’t enough, that they need to do more and more, to give even more of themselves.

I think it’s a normal part of parenting.

Also normal: when you do something different from the mainstream… like homeschooling or being the primary speech partner for your kids or being an entrepreneur —

All those doubts hit you extra hard.

And then you beat them down…

Until the darn things find yet some other way to come at you and try to take you out at the knees…

And you go through the whole process again.

And again.

The truth is, I am doing my best… my best to provide the right kind of learning, the right kind of environment and opportunities for my kids. No way in hell will it ever look perfect or will I ever be perfect. There will always be more I could add to my day, more connection time, more reading time, more social time. In fact, we could swamp our lives with more and yet, still feel like it’s not enough.

And that’s just bullshit.

All I have to do is look at my kids, at their joy and smiles, look back to where we started out journey and where we are now.

Because the truth is, I am enough, just as I am.





These days it’s crazy easy to pack our schedules. To fit in two and three outings a day, an art class or two, and heck, why not stop at the park with friends because, you know, it’s a good chance to get energy out (for our endlessly moving kids) and what’s a few three or four hours of fun before bedtime?

And it’s not just a packed physical schedule either, but mental ones as well. Like for me, every moment of free-thought time and filling it with audiobooks or podcasts (a favorite pastime for me while driving) or if I’m desperate for a TV show and story, propping up my laptop on the counter during the ridiculously, time-consuming process of cutting veggies and washing, I swear, the endless supply of dirty dishes (to the point where I had no idea we actually had that many dishes!).

Well, turns out, all those events and outings, and stuff my brain’s chewing on, that’s kinda a lot. And it really starts to add up.

Not that there’s anything wrong if that works for you and your family. But what I’m learning is that time at home is critical, especially for my family.

We’re a bunch of introverts.

If I schedule both weekend days with socializing everyone is getting ready to have their own personal meltdowns and not just the two-year-old (he just gets the distinct advantage of it being, mostly acceptable, to stomp and cry and scream). So, I already look at my schedule with more awareness than most folks. Yes, I could have swimming with friends the same day as we have a play date at another’s house… except I’m gonna be exhausted, and yes, my kids will be having fun (but exhausted, and hence, cranky)… but then I still need to handle those pesky details like bedtime and teeth brushing, and of yes, you kids do need to get fed three times (or more) a day.

Then, of course, there’s my goal of being a patient and empathetic parent with my kids. They’re constantly moving in and out of their own BIG emotions throughout the day. If I’m barely hanging on by a thread, it’s a good chance I’m probably gonna lose it and yell (and then immediately regret it).

And yet, even with my awareness, I still make mistakes.

Or maybe not mistakes. Really, they’re just choices.

Sometimes I am quite aware of what I’m walking into and what situation I’m setting myself and the kids up for, while other times it’s a straight-up opps! And then other times, I still push us a bit more.

Maybe it’s a once in awhile thing, like visiting dear friends up in Montrose one day and the next have my three-hour hair appointment, which while wonderful and desperately needed (I got some super cute pink highlights, by the way), it also meant I was socializing for three-hours and I’m now freakin’ exhausted. Oh, and it’s not like I can go home and kick up my feet. Nope. I’m full aware that I’m on kid-duty because poor Sean has dealt with a distraught Eric because his mommy abandoned him in his complete and total, utmost need. Meaning: I left him… at home… alone… with daddy. a complete and total toddler tragedy, yes? Anyway, soon as I walked in the door I told Sean to check out and take a nap. He needed it.

But the point here, is we need downtime. Your family will certainly have different mileage than mine, all four introverts that we are, and for us, we need that downtime with a capital N!

Every week I almost feel like some kind of battle-planner, marking in the large events, from going to Disneyland or the Aquarium or driving through downtown LA to visit my parents or friends. The next day needs to be like nothing. Maybe we can handle a short afternoon stint, like swimming and invite some few friends over (certainly something physical for the two-year-old). Or, maybe not. And really, if I want to do stuff like playing board games or reading or art with my kids, especially Kate, well, when’s that actually going to happen if we’re always on the go? If we’re always up and about?

Plus, I still got those damn dishes to do.

And the endless snacks for all these outings to get prepared, along with the backpack and Eric’s necessary change-of-clothes (I bring several). Then there’s me, doing this crazy (or, it feels crazy at times) gig of trying to run my own writing and publishing businesses, and I’ve got to get those things in the schedule too.

Turns out, there’s only so many hours in the day. Even more important, there’s only so much brain computing power this mommy-me has.

By the end of the day, I’m shot. Just, done. Brain’s working on its low emergency mode and to do anything creative at all? Or heck, even read a book? Wow. Sometimes that’s a feat! And do some giant mental exercise of playing a board game (and against Sean no less)? Yeah. Not happening.

So… downtime.

It’s critical. Probably more so for my family than yours, but I think we when we find ourselves on the go so much, visiting with all these wonderful, exciting people in our lives and all the opportunities we’re continually faced with, all the choices we have… and I think we actually start missing out.

On the little things.

Like cuddling on the couch with me on my laptop getting in this blog post, somehow managing to type with Eric sprawled on my lap watching Wall-E and Kate, pressed against my side, asking for my help as she does the puzzles in, “My Monster Can Read” app. Or when Kate sets up her board game, Unicorn Glitterluck from HABA and says to me, “Mommy play? Come here, Mommy, play.”

I need to be able to close my laptop, with no worries or stress — what I was working on can get done later (because I’ve scheduled downtime into our week meaning I can get it done later), and then, just play with her. Then play again because she had such a great time, and now Daddy’s up so we can all play together!

We’re starting to move into art because Kate’s interest in this area is growing, and this is part of the self-directed, homeschooling journey we’ve chosen for our family, to follow their interests… so I certainly can’t ignore her when she’s giving me this big ol’ hints in bright pink My Little Pony drawings, now can I? Or when Kate starts writing out numbers as her auntie rolls a bunch of dice for her Dungeons and Dragon character (hmm… I guess we’re gonna start those game sessions early so Kate can join in too!).

And it’s not just about Kate or Eric either.

It’s me too.

When my brain is stressed, trying to gauge the timing of everything, the endless little lists that need to be complete before I can walk out the door with my kids (teeth? clothes? shoes? hair brushed… well, no one will notice and we’re seriously running late). It’s overwhelming. So overwhelming that I can’t possible be creative at that moment.

And that’s what I need to start protecting, as well as making time for.

Being creative.

Or more to the point, daydreaming.

I used to be so good at this day. Boring day at school? Boring office job? Oh man, I had the coolest, craziest adventures going on in my head. But it also helped me fall into the stories I was writing… thinking about the characters… hearing their distinct and personal voices.

I know darn well that I need this quiet. If I want even a shot to tell a story I need to give myself the quiet time to simply let my creative voice come out and play. I need to turn off the podcast, because while informative and fun, I need to be bored. Bored enough to start hearing and seeing the story come to life.

And I’m really, really bad at this part.

I mean, there’s so much I want to do and so very little time I actually have, and this whole daydreaming thing? Oh, it’s so easy to put it off as “less important.”

Big ol’ sigh right here.

Which is about when I get stuck on a story. The words flowing out my fingers ground to a halt. I mean, sure I can keep typing, and with every darn word it just feels wrong. Like the story is starting to spiral in some direction that I can’t see, or even where it needs to go.

That’s one of my first clues that I’m missing something. That I lost the story or the character did something that they wouldn’t have done. Or I didn’t jump to the right place in time.

All I’ve got is this feeling, this creative gut-thing and it’s little (quiet) red-flashing light.

If I’m to busy, if my brain is overwhelmed and overworked, I practically miss it. Then I have to go and cut about 7,000 words of the new novel and redraft cause I was kinda missing the real important character emotion in there, or, at least the one that this particular story needed.

But, I’m learning.

Really, I am.

It’s taken a lot, of trying and trying again. And I’m constantly looking back at my weeks and days, looking at everything I’d like to accomplish and just what I and the kids can realistically do. Also too, that I need to be flexible. Sure, I’ve got some staples, like every Friday I host a Nature Day outing that’s open to all ages of homeschoolers, and while I used to never miss, I’m feeling the need to be flexible again. To go to Disneyland with Grandma or some friends (especially when it’s a hit-or-miss with people showing up). But that means I can’t stick in a whole lot in those mornings (or expect to do a whole bunch when we get home). I usually get in my fiction writing for that day and that’s it. So, Thursday can’t be over packed with outings or visits, or as I’ve learned, even short Disneyland trips (we tend to not want to move much the day after).

I just got a new scheduler that allows me to pencil in the week’s activities and goals. It gives me space to write and I can flow through the week, even write in times for when something needs to start and can it, really, fit in? That’s helping. It helps too to see across the top what my goals are cause if I fill out the whole box chances are, I’m not exactly being realistic.

Like I need to start getting videos of Kate and Eric to send to our speech pathologist. I’ve got a 2-week block to get it done, and it’s important. It also takes a lot of time. I can plan for that now. I can go with the flow if one day it doesn’t go well (or the actual video got messed up).

But I think the biggest part is really looking at yourself, at your family, and being aware. Temperaments, energy levels, driving time and do you honestly have enough time to make dinner from scratch and get everyone to bed before the sun actually rises and you’ve got to start the process all over again? And how about your own daily movements, hmm? Do you have time during the week to get in your hour-plus yoga session or go rock climbing?

I think this goes double for us homeschoolers.

I mean, there’s so much we can do! There’s so many opportunities, places to visit, classes to take, and why not jump into as many as we possible can?!

Well, you can.

And then it will either work for you and your family, or it won’t.

Or you’ll find yourself craving some of that quiet at home. Of maybe just taking the afternoon to bake some cookies, letting your two-year-old playing in the flour, measuring out cups to his heart’s content (and knowing full-well that’s not going in the batter if you actually plan on making, you know, actual yummy tasting cookies). Or perhaps cracking open some books, sitting and reading and seeing if your kids come wandering over because they want to cuddle and be read to.

If we’re constantly on the go, constantly moving, how can we allow for these quiet times when the real magic can happen? The real special connection when it’s just you and your kids.

Or, for me as well, me and my creative voice?

We each need some amount of the quiet, of this downtime, and it’s really, really hard to see it for how valuable and how precious it is. And it’s hard to look at the schedule and start saying “no.” Start crossing off visits or memberships (because then you feel this need and responsibility to use it).

Allow yourself, and your family the quiet, and then just wait and see what kind of magic happens.

Because really, it’s something truly special.

Like noticing that Kate had drawn butterfly and rainbow marks from Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash (if you don’t know, they’re My Little Pony characters). At that moment, I had no idea how well Kate knew them, even picking out the exact colors from the chalk to match the character’s colors (and without looking to double-check). And yet, when I stopped moving, when I gave us all this moment of quiet, I got another glimpse into her amazing little mind.

This, right here, is why we homeschool. This, right here, is why I’ve chosen to be a parent — and this particular kind of parent.

And I’m so glad to have paused long enough to see and experience this joy with her. (And then she asked me to take a picture and send it to Daddy, which, we did.)

So, think about your busy, busy days and remember to sometimes pause and see just how many rainbows and butterflies your young one is dreaming up.


Parenting Children with Differences: My Journey


When you have a child who doesn’t fit in the so-called typical box, who walks to their own beat (or jumps or skips), or who just sees the world in these constant, vibrant and shining colors… your life as a parent becomes forever altered. Changed. It needs to be. Because these children, for whatever their unique reasons and differences, can’t be treated as a normal, neurotypical child.

That means us, as parents, have to change.

We need to switch around our expectations. Expectations we have internally, from the small ones like asking them to “go get a diaper for the baby,” or simply watching them interact and play with their same-age peers (including these increasingly social, complex interactions). Then there are the expectations society and culture has placed on them, like waiting quietly and patiently in line at Target, or the expected obedience of a two-year-old to stop turning on (and off) the Jacuzzi’s bubbles. And… when the two-year-old doesn’t listen, the stranger then takes it upon themself and threatens to put them in school. Never mind the fact that this is exactly what all two-year-olds do, or that this particular boy simply can’t understand the complex words — called language — coming out of your grumpy, old mouth.

As parents, we are expected to make our children listen, to get them to comply and attend. And I don’t know about you, but both of my differently-wired children really don’t give a shit about what other adults think or feel. Or their rules. (Though they tend to listen to my guidelines about what’s safe — because I’ve gone out of my way to give them as much grace and free reign so when I do ask them something, they generally comply.)

You see, my kids don’t fit into the “normal” box that society puts children in. I mean, I won’t even go into my beliefs that our current culture isn’t exactly welcoming to the curious, inquisitive nature of kids but I will say, the simple act of telling my kids something, and expecting (with the snap of my fingers), that they’ll listen… yeah. Not so much. Not for this family.

Which means I had to shift my expectations of what my kids can do… and then must tell society and strangers, to take a flying leap when it comes to defending them, or simply, just being their voice.

Like there was this one parent at the beach who told me: “I’m sorry I yelled at your daughter, but she’s not listening when I tell her to not put her dirty feet on the blanket.”

Me (speaking straight-forward, but definitely snippy because… this lady just yelled at my kid): “She doesn’t understand you. She has a language delay.”

Other parent: “Oh. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”

Me (thinking, but unfortunately not quite strong enough to say): Maybe you should really go for kindness first and ask why a child isn’t listening.

As parents, we need to have the grace, the trust, and confidence in our children, and in ourselves, to let them be different.

To let them be who they are.

That also means this constant battle of standing up for them, and at times deciding silence is the better course of action (like grumpy old man at the Jacuzzi). And this, my friends, takes a tremendous amount of courage and bravery. To stand apart from all our parent-peers, to accept our children for who they are, little quirks and sometimes big quirks, and love them.

Accept them.

Stand by them.

I’m not saying this is easy, dear lord it’s not. And for some of you, who really do have children with differences, who are harder to handle, whose emotions are incredibly intense, or who fall on the spectrum or another type of genetic disorder where the simple act of sitting up, the path you walk will be much, much different than mine. You are amazing parents, each and every one of you, and my goodness are your children blessed to have you.

But even with this wide, wide range of differences, I think there are a few things I can share from what I’ve learned so far, on my journey as a parent.

The truth of the matter is, we love our children. Our hopes and dreams were different than the ones given to us, the ones that came with our children. I mean, when I was a parent I never dreamed that I’d be writing all these blog posts about having not one but two late-talkers! I never dreamed that I’d be a homeschooler or someone who followed a respectful parenting approach. I thought my kids when they hit preschool age would be going off to school, and yet, here Kate just turned five and she would be going to kindergarten.

Going. To. Kindergarten.

Wow, is the thought a bit mind-numbing for me. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with anyone sends their kids to kindergarten, in fact, I’m very much in the minority on this one. But let me say this, Kate literally just turned five, so she, developmentally, is a whole lot younger than her other would-be classmates. But, here’s the kicker: her language is at the level of a three-and-a-half-year-old.

Think about that. Put yourself in her shoes. Going to kindergarten, already as one of the youngest kids there, and your language is still only at a three-year-old. And maybe you also have this type of personality where you need to be precise and accurate or you get extreme anxiety… and now here’s this teacher asking you to do something, like sit down or get out your scissors for some verbally, instructed directions on some art project. Can you imagine what that would be like?? And then not having the one person, your constant, your voice, there to help you interpret what your needs are or even what the heck you’re trying to say??

I’m not worried about the social and play aspect of kindergarten. Boy, let me tell you, this kid has got that part down. But the rest? It terrifies me to even think of Kate being in that situation. She’s not, though, because of me, because of Sean. Because she has a family who understands her and her particular needs.

Remember, what works for your child won’t work for her, and what works for Kate is not going to work for Eric or for your child with their own unique needs.

It’s all about the children, them and their specific needs.

But you know, it’s about us too.

The parents.

It’s about us as we face those hard, frightening, and dark moments. Our reality is that we don’t have neurotypical kids, kids who talked on time, who have great social eye contact and socially engage right on schedule. As parents, our reality is very, very different from the rest who have the “normal” kids. And I don’t know about you, but my early experience, especially with the medical professionals and early intervention, was, unfortunately, very focused on the fear, very focused on… “oh it’s so bad, your child’s not doing this or this or this.” It’s like, in their minds, you can have one kind of kid, the good and the “normal,” or the other, where they see your child as DOOMED.

I wish I was exaggerating.

And yet, it was because of those moments that gave me the strength to stand where I do now. To face those fears, the worry, that total blackness that can easily consume you if you let it… and choose instead to believe in your child.

To believe in them, for who they are.

And then, to stand there and tell the doubters, friends or family or certainly professionals, that they’re wrong. You see what you see, as a parent, and you know in your heart that you’re right.

And you stand by that because you simply know.

I write this now completely from a place of peace and of confidence in myself. My journey, as a parent, has been no less miraculous than Kate’s. From where I started, walking out of Early Intervention in complete tears, knowing that they were dead-wrong about my child, that they didn’t see the child I knew in my heart, the child I saw at home every day, that’s not who they saw. They saw instead a child who was willful, who was introverted, who wouldn’t listen… and who couldn’t understand them.

Not at all any fault of her own, Kate simply didn’t understand the words they were speaking. Not to mention the lady doing the testing was someone giving off all kinds of ‘I hate kid’ vibes and you better believe my emotionally sensitive child picked up on that.

I was terrified.

I didn’t know what to do, what options there were for me. All I knew was I needed to support, but not how or why or even what it was exactly that Kate needed.

All I had was her, and what I knew in my heart.

If you met Kate today, you never would imagine that the words “autism” were almost threatened around her. Never. Today, it would never cross your mind. And if you closed your eyes and simply heard her talk, right now, without even seeing her, you would think she was just a young child. Which is pretty typical of a language-delayed child… but one who’s completely happy, completely vibrant with life and joy.

And that success, that joy and happiness, that’s because of me, because of her dad, because we chose to walk a different path… her path. It was our believing in her that got us to the point. Our willingness to step outside the box, with her, and give her the help that she specifically needed.

And was I confident starting out? Was I sure and comfortable when we quit speech therapy and went to a consulting approach, where I was the one being coached?

Hell no.

I was super tentative, unsure, questioning everything I was doing. Sometimes I talked too much (not good when you have a receptively delayed child), or I’d talk with a question at the end… think of the up-turning of your voice to make it sound like a question or a query. Again, not good when you’re working with language delayed kids. The more questions you ask, the more they feel like they’re on the spot and they shut down.

I had a lot of learning to do. I had a lot of growing to do.

And yet… this is where I stand. At this point where our speech professional asked for permission to use my recent videos as a fantastic example to other parents with nonverbal kids.


Me, who started out so unsure and tentative, who was terrified of screwing up my kids. And yet, during our last consult call, our speech professional continually told me how wonderful I was working with them, especially with Eric, that we’ve created this fun, back-and-forth play and how incredibly patient I am with him.

Let me give you an example…

Eric’s playing on a blanket and I’m playing a tickle game with him. Eric loves the tickle game. I tickle, he laughs, and then I stop. And wait. I wait for thirty seconds. He’s looking around, at the ceiling, and then he comes back to me. He looks right at me and makes his “mhmm” sounds (which means “more”) or even takes my hands and pulls them to his stomach. And I immediately respond with more tickles.

Did you catch that?

I waited, patiently, for 30 seconds for him to respond. I trusted that he would come back to me, and he did. Because he loves this type of play.

What I just described is the essential foundation before any kind of language can happen. The enjoyment shared between us, that Eric is engaging and asking me to keep playing, the looking at me, the sounds he used for “more.”

If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d completely skip over the significance of that moment.

And you know, when I started, I didn’t know. But I learned. I learned and kept learning, and more than anything, I continued to be tuned in to what my kids needed, to who they are. I almost laughed when our speech professional complimented me on the video because a whole bunch of times I forgot it was even on.

I got lost in the play and the joy of my kids.

I was playing with them. That’s all.

Everything I’d learned has become so natural, so incorporated into our family and our life, I don’t even think about it. I can tell you too, the family members who spend the most time with my kids? They do it too, and they don’t even realize it.

They don’t realize they’re recasting or modeling.

They just do it.


I mean, as Kate moves more into complex language, I’m thinking best how to model language and recast to best help her, but all the rest? It’s natural at this point, it’s like breathing.

Again, I didn’t start this way. In fact, I didn’t know there were other options and explanations for children who are different, who didn’t just fit into the autism box that was being pushed on us. I had no idea there were actual language disorders when we started this journey, and for that matter, our first pediatrician didn’t know either (and when I mentioned it to her she completely discounted me — so I found ourselves another one).

And I say all this, that I’m in this amazing place of peace, and I don’t have answers yet for Eric. He’s still too young to know anything for sure… but I don’t need to know. Why? Because he’s showing me everything that matters… everything I described in his reaction to me, his engagement in play, in wanting to play… that’s what I need.

For right now, on this stage in his journey, that’s everything I need.

Eric is moving at his own pace, in his own way, and I can see that. I can see his progress and it’s been amazing — for him. I don’t need a specialist to look at him because I know, in my heart, they will only see the child they want to see. They won’t see him. They won’t know and understand the significance of Eric engaging with my mom in play, or his favorite, ten-year-old mother’s helper. They won’t know about this amazing moment where he completely engaged in a continuous play with this other mom while camping… playing peek-a-boo, hiding and seeking, asking her to pick him up (by holding up his hands) and then going limp because he wanted her to spin him. All that, without a single word. And this mom understood his cues completely. And he was looking right at her, smiling and laughing, completely engaging.

Those moments, just like that, are the little pieces we need to get to language. Little stepping stones, if you will, but not something you can see in a 30 minute consult. Or even an hour or two hours.

There are great professionals out there, people who understand where I’m coming from, the problem is you’ve got to wade through a lot of bad ones to find the good ones, and frankly, I just can’t have that in my life. I can’t internalize their thoughts and emotions (that is, unfortunately, the way I’m programmed).

What Eric needs, is me, to believe in him. To be focused and engaged and open. Because this kid can sense all that negativity. He knows darn well when I’ve got all that swirling around inside me and oh boy does he shut down fast… and then he has an even harder time dealing with his emotions.

And my speech professional totally understands. She agrees with me, agrees with my decision that’s best for Eric.

But even with her I had to stand up for Eric last time we talked. I had to explain what she didn’t see in the videos… that no, he doesn’t orientate to objects more than people, that it was my fault because of the videos I’d chosen to send her. And you know what, during our latest conversation? She didn’t bring it up one time. Didn’t even mention it. Not once. Instead, she told me how much happier he seemed, this content little boy. He wasn’t agitated like he was in the past.

I told her Eric had been growing, that he’d hit his middle-twos and had this just amazing amount of frustration because he couldn’t communicate (along with his darn stubbornness to not actually be clear with what he wanted in the first place). This was very different than what we experienced with Kate. For her, it was like a puzzle to figure out how to communicate what she wanted. With Eric, as his awareness of the world expanded, he would just go from zero to sixty in the frustration factor. And it’s getting better. Little tiny steps for sure, but the more I focus on our little successes, the more content I feel with where we are… right at this moment.

I am a very, very long way from this journey being over.

With Kate, we’re looking at continuing to help and support her as she moves into more complex parts of grammar, at reading and education (for us, in a child-led way). With Eric we’re just continuing to move forward with where he’s at, encouraging play that needs our involvement in order to be fun. To help him trust in the sounds and the words that will eventually come.

But the truth is, I know who he is and I trust in that, I trust that he’ll keep guiding me, pointing me in the direction that he needs me to go… regardless of where we’ll end up.

And that’s what I like to remember most of all:

There’s a reason these children were given to me.

They came to me, and no one else, because I was the person most equipped and able to help them, to understand and empathize with them. Me. What a gift I was given, and the more I’ve shifted my thinking to this, the more I’ve grown and learned as a parent, and also as a human being.

Kate opened up my world to being different, to raising a child who sits on top of her own box, who walks a different path and is still completely beautiful, completely her own person. And because of her, she opened the door to be the parent that Eric needs me to be.

But the real truth is that I didn’t get to this place overnight. It took a lot of work, a lot growing, and a heck of a lot of trust on my part. But I am here; I am in this place of peace and confidence.

And you know something? I’m really, really looking forward to seeing the path Eric takes me on next. It will be different, but it will be all his.

I can’t wait to see what our journey, together, will look like.

Learn by Living



With everything I’ve got going, life is a bit crazy at times. Raising two young kids (late-talkers to boot), homeschooling, not to mention my own writing and publishing business, which I’m slowly resurrecting after surviving two years of my cute little boy’s existence. I also recently hosted Kate’s fifth birthday party, an event that wasn’t complete without a lost Elsa balloon and the said cute, little boy burning his fingers on the grill. My kids had lots of emotions that day, and because they did, that meant I did. But hey, that homemade cake was really good… even if I didn’t actually get a piece, and enjoy it, until we got home.

Life there’s a bit overwhelming, right?

And sure it’s not all crazy times. In fact, I have some pretty amazing moments and days with my kids, when I’m just so connected and in tune with them, but no question about it: I’ve got my hands full.

Which is why it makes perfect sense that here I am, now starting a monthly camping group. A small, intimate (and hopefully) close group of homeschooling families. People who simply fit together, who my kids will look to as their family-in-nature, exploring different State and National Parks, going on adventures and seeing where it takes us —

And… you’re probably shaking your heads at me, thinking I’m straight-up nuts. Crazy, even.

Possibly. Probably.

(Sean certainly thinks so.)

But to me, it makes perfect sense, a perfect fit really for this next stage of our journey.

At least for me.

I’ll back up a couple decades here to where this desire, for me, actually started. When I was younger… from like 7 (I think?) to 13, this was what our family did. Every summer we would be gone for a month or two at a time, camping and visiting every National Park we could fit in between the dog trials my parents were part of. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of places we’ve been, the different little museums we checked out during those years, but what I can tell you is that it gave me such a deep, profound love for nature. Something that is so engrained that it’s simply part of my core, of who I am.

But it’s also more than that…

It’s some of my absolute best memories with my family. It’s the time when I felt closest to them, and not even the big “events” like when we went to Disney World with relatives. In fact, it was more those little moments, those snippets of memories that are the most precious to me. Like when we’d drive out of Los Angeles in the middle of the night and head to Las Vegas. I have no idea why that direction always seemed to be our first destination of choice, camping at the RV lot in Circus Circus, but it was — and I loved it. Loved driving at one or two o’clock in the morning. The roads completely empty of cars and that desert… just so darn black. Not a single light in sight (for a bit anyway, and then they got really cool and really colorful). But that empty stretch of road, that blackness, was my favorite. It’s when I got to sit in the front seat and listen to all the Classic Rock tapes my parents had, from the Beach Boys to The Who, and I would just sing and sing and sing.

It was great.

Great connection, great fun, and also, a whole lot more. You see, as a parent and when we first started looking into homeschooling, those experiences gave me the insight I needed to feel confident and comfortable in our decision, not just to homeschool but to unschool (also called self-directed learning). When we, as a family, decided where we would go together. What would interest us most?

Like that Quake Lake up in Montana, just outside of Yellowstone, where a mountain literally slid off its top during an earthquake and created this lake. You can see the tops of pine trees sticking out of the water, like silent sentinels guarding a place where people died and homes were swept away, where now ospreys make their nests and leap into the air. It was eerie, with a a kind of stillness I’ve only felt a few times since.

But… I remember that place.

I haven’t been back since I was a child, but I remembered all those images, remembered the feel of the place. It left an impression on me, one I carry with me now, even as an adult.

Looking back on my childhood, I asked myself, what do I remember? What did I learn? And almost just as important, when did I learn it? Was it during school? Or heck, can I remember learning anything in school (we’re talking specifics here)?

And in contrast, what did I carry with me into adulthood?

For me, those answers were party obvious.

As a writer, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to explore and play with these places, the experiences that touched me most. I’ve written magazine articles for Women in the Outdoors, Jakes Magazine, and Montana Outdoors. I wrote about trekking on the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska, complete with ski poles and crampons as a teenager (and with all the emotions that went with being a teen). We hiked by ice climbers and looked down these brilliant, aqua-blue crevasses and the melting water literally falling down under our feet and into the ice. And yes, it was also cold and my feet really did hurt, but it was amazing.

Besides, how many other kids got to say they hiked a glacier? (I thought I was pretty darn cool, by the way.)

I also have a deep love for mountain goats, of all animals. You probably have never heard of them before, and yet, they’re my favorite. Why? Because I remember, in Glacier National Park, Montana, looking up at one of those black, craggy mountains with binoculars, trying to find this speck of white that my dad had claimed he’d seen (I never saw the mountain goat myself). But all the pictures I saw while we were there?

I thought they were beautiful. Majestic.

It was a love that again, I carried into adulthood. An interest that pushed me to write what became a lead article for Montana Outdoors (along with a few others) and ended up making me a good amount of money, actually.

And it was because of that love, the unique place that was Glacier National Park, which pushed me to try our first family vacation there. The result was a definite mix, especially the whole not-sleeping-for-a-month (Eric had decided the vacation was a great time to start teething). But I got to see my mountain goats, holding my six-month old boy, and yes, I cried.

It was that beautiful a moment, that touching for me. I can’t wait to go back.

We also stayed two days in Butte, Montana so I could sneak in some research in between the needs of my kids. Butte, you’re asking? Never heard of it. I hadn’t either until some family vacations took us through there and again, a place left an impression on me. This one wasn’t as obvious as the mountain sliding into a lake, but no less powerful. I have an entire historical mystery series set there, as well as a whole new fantasy world. Also, Eric got to hang with me (literally, he was in the baby carrier) while I got a personal tour of the Dumas Brothel Museum.

All of this stayed with me. Something I saw or experienced as a child, something I learned by living.

This was why our decision to homeschool came so easily to us, especially in regards to self-directed learning. All I had to do was look at my life, at what I remembered growing up, and the answer was there.

Just sitting there, waiting. All I had to do was trust in it, trust in my children to learn, just as my parents had trusted in me.

Also, just like I’ve been waiting so anxiously for when the moment was right, when I could start this journey of exploring and camping with my kids. When they got big enough so I could, you know, actually enjoy parts of the trip and not just be in work-mode the whole time.

The camping group I’m putting together is small. There have been opportunities to join some other large group camping events, but that didn’t work for me and my family (for me it’s a mess of anxiety with all those people I don’t know). But a small group? A chance to really connect, to form some deeper friendships? That I can totally do. Especially when you get together the right group of people, people whose energies really compliment each other, especially those who share this deep love of nature, who believe a childhood in nature is essential.

I’m really, really excited.

And I’m excited for my kids. In my heart, I know this will be an even better opportunity for Eric. For late-talkers, one common thread is when they go to new places, have new experiences, you’ll hear new words start coming. It’s not a guaranteed thing, but what can happen, when they’re ready, is the experience itself becomes this little shock to the system. Or maybe a little rocking motion to get things going. Something new and exciting and super fun and the words just kinda pour out without them being able to contain it.

Again, my intuition is telling me this will be good for Eric.

Also when we’re camping he can simply run and be himself, to pee on rocks and trees. I mean really, nature is a place where our rules, ones we’ve laid down as adults, simply don’t apply. And for strong-willed little explorers, with their own (very opinionated) little minds, this is a good thing. A good experience for them.

So yes, this camping group is an added load to what I’m already carrying, but for me, it’s worth it. Worth it to finally be at this place, to share this experience with my children. One I’ve looked forward to since before they were born. And I hope I can give them the chance to build their own memories, follow their own path, and have it not be regulated to only those summer months when school is out.

They can do it every day, as often and as long as they like. And not only that, but building a community of friends and family around them, kids of so many ages, to share and grow up with, to follow their lead and learn through living.

Wow. What an opportunity. One I’m so jealous of, but just can’t wait to get started… and see where this next adventure takes us.

The Introverted Parent


Society, at least from my point of view, doesn’t really give a shit about us introverts. You know, those people who get incredibly exhausted being around others, who feel completely drained when they go to big group gatherings, the kind of people whose idea of a day off (or heck, a vacation) is staying at home.

That’s me.

Actually, that’s my whole family.

Sure we spent four wonderful hours on Saturday, socializing and catching up with long-time friends and their adorable kids (in which everyone had a fantastic time), but throw in two hours of driving (thank you, downtown LA) and for the rest of the weekend, each and every one of us, were fried. Fried. From me and Sean, to Kate and Eric.

We’re introverts.

Going out and having fun means we need time to re-center ourselves, to settle in and fill up our cups. The day after a fun, socializing event, we’re in front of iPads or playing video games or reading books or coloring. Sure Eric might be sprawled across my lap (he usually is), since that little boy needs constant connection, but he’s also doing his own thing and he doesn’t want interaction. The same with Kate too. I jokingly tell Sean I’m never alone because I’ve got one kid pressed against my side, the other on my lap, each of us lost in our world but still having this connection.

We each need our own space. We all need quiet, this alone time to recharge our batteries, to refill our cup (or throw in your favorite description here).

The point, is we each need this time to refill our well of energy.

Now, you might be reading this and thinking, “So what? You’re different. You need to time at home, what’s the problem?”

Or, maybe you read all that and you’re nodding your head going, “Wow! I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

The problem is society, and pretty much anyone with an opinion on parenting. Think about it for a moment. Think about all the stuff you’re supposed “to do” to be a good parent, to help raise healthy, happy kids. Constantly engaging with your child, through play or talking. Lots of one-on-one interactions. Lots of play outside. Parks. All the feeding and care associated with such outings.

Oh, and make sure they’re having healthy, whole foods and none of that drive-thru crap. Which, of course, means the endless cutting of vegetables and bucket-loads of fruit (while at the same time praying your toddler doesn’t get into too much trouble, or if you’re living in my shoes, he doesn’t take that moment to poop on the floor because he knows darn well you aren’t watching).

There are some of us, who, for that day I just described, can’t do that.

Like really and truly, can’t.

We’re not built that way.

Some of us can’t go out to endless events, art classes, park days, and on top of that, have one-on-one play dates (or go to school, if you’re the schooling family). Oh! And let’s not forget two different outings in one day, each lasting hours each.

There are some of us who, when we stumble into our glorious home (sometimes with upset, crying kids cause they’re also are low on energy) all we want is to collapse on the couch and drink a glass of wine.

Or two.

And yet… as a parent, I’m constantly bombarded with messaging all around that I’m not doing enough — that what I’m doing isn’t good enough.


What about the book time and reading together?

What about sitting on the floor, playing one-on-one?

What about the speech play for Eric? Did we have enough physical play? Did he get outside enough to run around?

Well, what about Kate? She’s Miss Constantly-Wants-to-Socialize.

And guess what’s that means? Going out. Together. And me using energy resources to help her and guide her, while running after Eric and making sure he steers clear of the street (not kidding, park days usually clock in a good mile for me).

Oh yes, and let’s not forget the message that screen time is bad for kids. That we will damage our kids if they’re watching too much TV or playing on the iPad or whatever. Now, you can totally have your own opinions about this, I’m certainly not judging you or your family or your values, not at all. What I’m saying though is we’re all different and we all have different needs. And can we please, at least for the moment, lay off of putting all this blame and guilt on people who are just exhausted? Parents who, truly, are trying to their best??

For me, by the end of the day I’m bone-tired exhausted.

After an outing I need my kids to be quiet, to give me some peace and quiet, even if it’s just so I can get together dinner. It doesn’t matter that all I want is to call it a night and go to bed at 6:00 with the kids. But what’s hard is constantly hearing the critical voices in my head, whispering that I’m this bad parent because they spent how many hours playing games or watching movies?

Guilt. Shame.

I swear, it feels like I’m constantly fighting them. Constantly fighting this message that I’m not doing enough. How, pretty much every day, being Super Mom isn’t enough (or Super Dad, whichever parent or caregiver is at home).

On top of the usual parenting challenge course (I swear, sometimes I feel like those little dogs running through those competition-obstacle courses), I’ve decided to be the main speech partner for both of my kids as well as homeschooling them. At this point in our life, the homeschooling part is literally just playing and living life. We’ll color and paint, play some board games, but it’s really following Kate’s lead and where her interest is (like making word hide-and-seek books).


It’s the one-on-one time that’s challenging.

Playing board games requires Godzilla-Eric to be napping (or Daddy around and keeping his little hands from grabbing the scissors Kate’s using for her word books). Or with Eric, the speech play means Kate needs to be engaging in her things and willingly to leave us alone for a few minutes.


Well, for the speech part, Eric needs one-on-one time. Time where I’m able to pause, give him a chance to think through what I’m doing, what my words (or actions) are asking of him. He needs time and space to do this, which for him means comfort and a feeling of safety…

And the minute I start engaging and playing with him, as I’m laughing or clapping when he puts the shape into the puzzle box, Kate comes running over because she wants to play too.

Cause, we’re having fun.

Which is all well and good except, again, Eric is a “need-my-space” kinda kid. He gets frustrated when she starts putting her grubby hands on his shape pieces. And his only mode of dealing with frustrations is, no surprise, crying and trying to hit her.

It’s not going well.

Or I should say, it’s not easy.

Kate has needs (she wants to play too!). Eric has needs (translation: leave me the heck alone; I want to play with Mom. By myself.). And then me, well, I have needs too (oh please, just give me five minutes of quiet).

For us, all of those needs are also tied to our energy. And how much we have (or often, don’t have).

Because we’re all introverts I really need to have my awareness keyed on the energy pulse of each of us… myself, the kids, Sean too. In the situation above like I just described with the puzzle box, and while this is true of all kids, it’s especially true of mine (who are both introverts and late-talkers). I need to set back and see why the heck this situation (Kate’s interference, Eric’s frustration) is happening in the first place.

Kate wants interaction and play of her own. With me.

Eric wants the same… but without Kate butting in and doing the puzzle for him.

Well, okay then.

Let’s just add that to the energy schedule as well as shopping at Costco and farmers market. Oh, yeah, and we’ve got Grandma coming over that day too.

It’s a constant juggling act and one I’m slowly starting to accept (and internalize), is going to look different compared to everyone else’s. The life choices we made (homeschooling, speech play) as well as the ones we didn’t get to choose (introverts, late-talkers), all that means our home life will look different than most of the families out there.

There are choices we need to make, like screen time or only one outing a weekend (or day), that fit us. That fit our needs.

And really, parents, we need to start accepting that for our kids to be happy and whole, we have to be happy too. We need to start taking care of ourselves, to start putting our needs in there too. Because we can’t be patient and kind, can’t be centered and present if we’re constantly on that edge of exhaustion. We’re gonna snap and yell and whatever.

Our needs matter too.

And for you introvert parents out there, who know exactly what I’m talking about, you have double-duty because society as a whole doesn’t understand us. They like the people who are constantly chatting and socializing, going out and all these grand adventures… well, that works for them and that’s fine. But it doesn’t work for us.

And it’s okay.

But all of us, truly, we need to be in tune with our kids and their energy. It’s really a juggling act, of checking in with ourselves, checking in with our kids and our spouses. Like how on the Saturday we saw our long-time friends, I made the choice to let Sean sleep in while I went to farmers market with the kids (which means I’ve got a wiggling Eric in my arms as I try to pay or stuff the food in the stroller). It’s stressful for me but I did it because I knew Sean’s needs were greater than mine… if we were to survive the day. I also did the driving (it’s also too stressful for him). But the second we got home? As soon as the kids were in bed?

Oh man I went to bed.

I checked out.

Cause that’s what I needed.

Being a parent is hard. Being an introverted parent is even more challenging. We need to monitor our energy levels and that of our kids. For those of you introverted parents with extroverted kids, those kids who thrive on all the outings and socializing, oh man do I really feel for you, and how you’ve really got to be aware of your own self-care. (Truly, you guys are amazing!)

All I’m trying to say here: is it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be a different kind of family because all of our needs our different.

We need to care for our kids, and we need to care for ourselves.

So if you find yourself getting hit with all those messages… that you’re not doing enough… that you’re not good enough… keep in mind, a lot of those messages are geared towards an extroverted world.

And guess what?

That’s not me. Or my family.

We do what work’s for us, what makes us happy and whole, and that means we can’t be wrong.

All we can do as parents, day in and day out, is our best. To simply try… and even if that means our world and our life look different than everyone else’s.

We try.

And then the next day, we try again.

Surviving Times of Uncertainty


Here I am, confident in my abilities as a parent, comfortable in being my children’s speech partner, trusting in my intuitions as a mother, and yet… there are times I’m afraid. Afraid that I’m wrong, afraid that I’m missing something others see and I don’t, afraid that my intuition this time, might be wrong.

This is uncertainty.

The not-knowing.

The wait-and-see.

It’s the stage Eric is in with his language development. He’s moved passed the baby/young toddler stage where kids pretty much get a pass for not talking (as it still hits the “late” end of normal for talking) and we’ve now solidly moved into the realm of being speech delayed.

But what exactly? The cause? How much? What the heck is even going on?

Who knows. Only time will tell.

All I know, is what I see as a mom. That’s a really heavy mantle to wear, at least right at this stage. This step in Eric’s growth, this uncertainty place where he either needs more help… or… he just needs more time.

I know what I feel as a mother, and that, is more time.

But it still doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of fear. Even me, so confident and so trusting, I feel it too. And it’s hard to sometimes set it aside and let myself believe in what I’m seeing.

In what Eric is showing me.

To be at this stage where pretty much anyone else will see and declare (from their short interaction and even shorter relationship they’ve developed with him) that he needs help or services. It doesn’t matter that they’re only seeing a tiny slice of who Eric is (because that’s all Eric will allow them to see). It doesn’t matter that the child I see and I’m with 24 hours a day is showing me the little pieces that say: we’re okay.

That’s he’s okay.

That he just needs more time, love, and trust.

A huge part is Eric’s personality. He’s an introvert (like the rest of our little family), and if he doesn’t know you, or if he isn’t comfortable with you (meaning, unless you’ve actually attempted to build a relationship with him), he’s hiding behind me or putting his head on the ground. Or, he’s completely ignoring you.

He is also, however, the spitting image of his dad.

When I watch Eric, I see Sean in him. Heck, I even see his grandpa, an engineer and mechanic, someone who understands how pieces move and fit together. Someone who doesn’t need or want a lot of social interaction when he’s focused on doing his thing. Being present and around others is enough.

When Eric moves his train set, upside down with his head on the carpet, watching between his legs, I can see a focus there. Studying. Trying to understand how the pieces work. It’s not the kind of focus where the world falls away. Believe me. If I leave the room, you know, to get myself some good ol’ peace and quiet, you better believe two little legs are running after me.

And during the play itself?

Eric doesn’t want my interaction. He’s got this.

Of course, if a train goes off the rails you better believe he’s rushing right over (sometimes crying, sometimes wanting to smack me — after all we are in the middle of BIG time two-year-old emotions here). He’s handing me the train or the track, when I pause (because I know what he wants me to do, but I want him to be clearer with his nonverbal cues), he’ll look up at me or put my hand right where he wants the train piece to go.

But during the actual play with these physical toys?

He doesn’t want me there. He’s focused. He has an idea of play. He doesn’t want to look up at me with a smile, a “See? Did you see this? Wasn’t that cool?”

That part right there, is a concern of our speech professional. She’s worried that he’ll be orientating to objects more than people. The problem with her assessment is it’s limited by video. She only sees what I manage to record, and if you’ve been reading my blogs for any given amount of time, you know my kids are pretty strong willed.

When Eric has those moments, of “WOW! Did you see that?” You better believe it’s spontaneous. It happens so fast and is gone again all I have time for is to smile, laugh with him, register in my mind what I’m seeing, and then he’s moved on again.

But the point is those moments are there. All the time.

Because remember, this isn’t just about one kind of play at one given time. If Eric is constantly sharing with me while watching a movie, or playing his word game on Endless Reader? He’s constantly looking at me. Sharing. Laughing. I laugh with him and this will gone for a good 10 minutes (which is a huge chunk of time in toddler-time).

Or if we’re doing actual physical play?

Or dear Lord, there’s no issue there. At all. There are times when all I want is to actually sit down and relax, and he’s there, pulling my hand… running down the hallway, looking right at me. When we get to my bedroom he’s running into my arms. Then back again. This is a play we’ve developed, where I have my arms outstretched and he runs into them.

There’s constant sharing. There’s constant visual referencing.

This is Eric choosing to engage in the play. He’s asking me to play (and pulling me to play).

These are little things that our speech professional wasn’t able to see from the video, when she made her comment of Eric and being concerned of him orientating to objects more than people. I asked her to be specific. She told me she wanted him to engage with me more, initiating the play, this visual referencing, and after hearing all this, I was able to clarify that he did do these things.

She was very excited to hear this, but her worry still stuck in me and my heart.

I’m a mother. I can’t help but worry.

So, I started writing everything down. Keeping a journal. And the more I did, the more I focused more on this aspect, of having him be clear (with pauses between what he wanted me to do and my actual doing them), with my immediately engaging and responding if he visually shared something with me (like he does with the iPad), all my worry drained away.

Not only is he doing what our speech professional wanted, he’s doing it all the time.

Eric has a specific area that he’s not as engaging, and that’s only with physical toys. And again, it’s not like he’s playing with toys for giant chunks of time (believe me, we really wish he would cause two-year-olds… breaks… parents need breaks). But what I’ve determined, what I’m believing in, is at these moments I’m seeing his personality. I’m seeing his dad in him. I’m seeing his grandpa.

And it’s not that Eric won’t allow me to engage in play. If I do something silly when he’s playing with marbles, like dropping one down my head and laughing, then doing the same to him. He’s looking at me. He’s laughing. But then goes back to whatever plan or idea he had in his head. He shared the moment with me, and now he’s back to whatever he was doing.

I mentioned this stage was a heavy mantle because it is. Because all we have is what we know and see as parents. These moments with Eric are still to spontaneous to capture on video. He’s to uncertain and timid with people he doesn’t know. And he’s very attached to me. The idea of having a therapist come and work with him? You better believe Eric will want nothing to do with that person. I mean, we’d even talked about having a mother’s helper come over and Sean just laughed and said, “You really think he’s going to leave you alone.”

He’s dead right.

Kate loves playing with people. She loves interacting.

Eric is a different person.

And again, he’s just like his dad. (And you better believe his dad isn’t worried at all. And it’s because he sees so much of himself in Eric. He’s, rightfully so, defensive for Eric. He doesn’t want to force Eric into a box that demands we must share with others, we must not focus on areas of interest, we must socialize all the time.)

Or speech professional even admitted that she can’t recommend us getting other outside help (even though our answer is no, for many reasons, but mostly because of Eric and his personality). She can’t recommend it because she doesn’t believe it would help. She’s told me numerous times that I’m already doing everything I can to help him. And I am. I have been for months now. The other reason is she’s very worried that any help we did get would damage Eric and his progress.

Of that, I have no doubt. Zero.

What I know of this child, of everything he’s shown me, is someone who just needs time. Time and love and support.

And trust. Trust in him.

That’s a hard place to stand. It’s scary. It’s frightening. To be there, with my little mommy stick and it feels like I’m beating back the world. You don’t see the child I see because those little bits, those little hints are still knew and timid and developing.

I know because I feel it. I see it, every day.

Because Eric isn’t just the spitting image of his day, but of me too. Eric’s need to connect is very, very real. The way he’s constantly around me, touching me, heck even somehow curling into my arms in the middle of the night to sleep (without me even noticing). And it’s not just me. It’s with Sean, and with Grandma too. How he pulls their fingers, leading them to the couch, all so he can curl up next to them.

This is not the behavior of a “child orientating to objects more than people.” Oh, no, it is far, far from it. If you could see what I see, if you could see his story, the whole full breadth of it, you’d see it too.

But more than that, I’ve seen Eric’s awareness suddenly blossom in the past month. His awareness of me, of this sharing and engaging our speech professional so wanted to see. In just a few weeks, it’s like this light switch flipped in Eric’s brain and he’s suddenly looking at me all the time, and for ten or twenty seconds at a time which is huge. That’s a really long time!

Was it because of my focused work with him?


But what I truly, truly believe, is that he was just finally ready. It’s like, he finally shed his hesitation, whatever it was that made him feel uncomfortable, to not want to look at me and engage as others his age did.

And does this translate to other people?

Well, if you’re Grandma Charlie than yes. She’s constantly on the floor and roughhousing and playing. And Eric is right there, seeking her play and her help. If you’re related to him but are just going to sit there and watch him play? Forget it. You don’t exist to him. But if you make a halfway decent effort, especially if your effort is one involving, you know, play, oh he’s noticing you.

The truth is, I’m seeing everything I need to know, everything I need to believe in, right before me.

All I have do is trust.

This word, this trust, it doesn’t mean being in denial, it doesn’t mean neglecting concerns or worry. What it means is following and believing in my heart. Of letting go of that worry, all those fears, and just living with the child I have.

Right now. Living in this moment.

I know, without a doubt, if I’m not careful, fear and worry will come roaring back in. I know because it happened before with Kate and it’s a place I do not want to go again.

Why? Because if I let it, this worry will become a monstrous black beast, eating me alive. And it’s a terrifying place to be. Going down this worry-rabbit-hole is not good for me. It’s also not good for my kids.

When I worry, when I lose myself in this fear, in something that I personally, absolutely have no control over, well, it means I can’t be present with my kids. I can’t be connected with them, can’t see the world through their eyes, to living with such joy.

The fear won’t let me.

You see, this isn’t my first rodeo with a late-talker. If I had allowed the fear to control me, if I’d believed in what all those people had said about Kate, the Early Intervention assessment-lady, the neurologist, our pediatrician at the time… if I’d believed in them who knows where that would have taken us and Kate. But it wouldn’t be to a good place.

Kate didn’t start talking until she was four.


That’s a lot of time to simply let go and trust in her. Trust that the words would be there when she was ready, supporting her in all the ways that she needed.

And now here I am with the uncertainty again… and I’m choosing to let go of it.

I felt the fear because we should allow ourselves to have these feelings. They are not wrong or bad. They are feelings and they are valid, after all.

Feel them, accept them, and then, try to let them go.

I talked with a whole bunch of my friends after I got off the phone with our speech professional. I needed support. I needed people who loved me, who trusted in me, who let me get all those emotions off my chest without judgment. And the more I talked, the more I came back to the realization that this is simply who my son is. It’s his temperament and personality.

So, I did my journaling, I did my focused work with him, I focused on the living and the joy.

I’m back to a place of acceptance. It was still scary for a little while, but that fear, and that uncertainty, it fell away day by the day.


Because of Eric.

Of my awareness of him and all the little steps, all the little clues, and the pieces that added up to this emerging little boy who I’m watching, right now…

Crawling on top of Kate, hugging her, engaging with her in play. And they’re both laughing.

At the end of the day, my children are happy.

They’re laughing, they’re smiling, they’re filled with such joy.

I’m going to choose joy over fear. I’m going to live in this world with them, help them, support them, guide them, but always, always listening.

To them.

After all, they know themselves the best and when I listen to my mother’s heart, I know it too.

All I have to do is let go, and trust.

And look, I understand this ‘trust’ is not always an easy path to follow. You could have late-talkers or children with other special needs, or maybe you’re homeschooling, or maybe your child is just a bit differently wired than the rest. Regardless of the reason, this idea of letting go and trusting in your children, well, it’s not an easy one to follow. It goes pretty much against everything we’ve been taught in our society, and it’s only “easy” if you have the right kind of support around you. Support from your spouse (or significant other). From family (oh, man is this one huge!). Support from your community or tribe. Support from your child’s medical team.

For us, for me, I’ve needed to surround myself with people who believed in our kids, in the same way Sean and I do. We’ve been upfront and honest with our family, we’ve shared what we’ve learned — both from our speech professional and what Kate and Eric themselves were telling us. I imagine if we had less support, if we had those people who only cast doubt and worry into our lives, we would have separated from them. At least for a little while. Certainly during the times of uncertainty (like where Eric is right now).

Trust is a fragile thing, at least that’s how it feels to me in this world we live in.

Living in trust is not an easy path to walk. It can’t be because this path looks so very different from the one that our schooling and society has taught us to accept. You have to be strong to even think about stepping off that road and hopping onto the yellow-brick one.

Or maybe yours looks pink with bright green stripes.

Or maybe it’s a little overgrown with these tiny little vines slipping up and over rocks, but regardless, it still is a road.

It’s your road.

And I do believe, regardless of your situation, that you know the answer… about your child, about the right path for your child (and for you). And it will look different than mine, or Kate’s, or Eric’s, and that’s okay. In fact, it should look different because your child, and your family and your life, are different from ours.

Yes, you can have support from family, friends, and professionals, but the real answer comes from that intuitive, special connection between you and your child.

I ask you to listen to it, and somehow, if you can, believe in it. Believe in what you know, as a parent. Believe in what your children, your very bright, unique, different children, are telling you.

I know. I know. It’s easy to say and crazy hard to do.

Believe me. I know.

But it’s totally, totally worth it.

Living Dual Lives (The Writer. The Mom.)


The last time I went to an in-person, writer’s workshop was when Kate was 18 months old. She’s now four and a half, well on her way to turning five. Two years of not getting my cup filled of just being with other professional writers, the energy, the vibes and all the craziness that ensues. And the learning? The reading so much great fiction?

My God do I miss it.

Yet, as much as I miss it, I knew without a doubt that this was another year I had to bow out of the annual Anthology Workshop hosted by WMG Publishing and Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It’d been the first Oregon coast workshop I’d signed up for since Eric was born, but I did it knowing that I very well might have to cancel. Well, turns out I did and I’m really, really glad I was honest enough with myself, and also accepting of the life I’m living right now.

Or I should say, the season of my life.

All well and good, right? But why’s it coming up now?

Well, the Anthology 2017 Workshop recently ended and I’m seeing so many of my friends posting about their victories (and misses too). How many stories they sold and to which editor, how many were a miss and some, possibly, are in that hopeful ‘maybe’ spot. This workshop in particular is a great opportunity: a chance to sell six different stories to six different editors. To see these editors fight over stories, of what was liked and what wasn’t. And the networking opportunities? Off the charts. Seriously. There’s like 40 to 50 professional-level writers that go to these things.

It makes me tingle just thinking about it.

And this year, again, I had to miss.

But what was different this time was I didn’t feel any regrets. I wasn’t saddened by, and I’ll call it here what it felt like for the past few years, like a burden to be a parent. That I had to put my dreams on hold for constant sleepless nice, constant motion and chaos (because what young kids don’t come with chaos, I ask you?).

Not this time, though, and I really wanted to celebrate that.

Instead of feeling sadness, I felt content. Happy, even. I was beyond thrilled for my friends and I didn’t have a single, wiggly thought of, “Gosh, I wish I’d been there too.”

You see, I’d taken a look at my life about eight months previously and seriously asked myself: Can you do this? Can you write six short stories in six weeks? Right in the middle of the Christmas holiday craziness (and a slew of our own families birthdays, mine included)?

And let’s not forget Eric, who would be turning two, and if you’ve got kids you know darn well what two means (and not the terrible twos, but those are there too). Nope, I’m talking teething. The two-year-terror-molars. And Eric’s sleep being as crappy as it is from like the second he was born, we could pretty much guarantee sleep would not be happening.

Turns out I was right.

On all of the above.

The one thing I need more than anything, especially when it comes to writing fiction, is a clear head. A mind free to dream and play and simply dive into stories.

That, was not my life.

Instead of feeling saddened, this year, I accepted it.

I mean, yeah, I was sad, I really, really do miss being with other writers, seeing my own craft explode upwards, let alone a chance to sell stories to anthologies. But… it was more a passing thing instead of a feeling that rocked me through my core and made me long for a time before kids.

What’s changed?

I’m not sure, honestly. Maybe I’m just maturing as a parent. Or maybe, truthfully, it’s because I’m coming out the other side of this really intense season of parenting. I’m starting to get sleep again. I’ve picked up writing fiction and I’m going strong with another writing streak.

That’s a huge success for me.

But so is this little understanding that the life I’ve chosen, even compared to other parents who have kids this age, my life, is so very different.

I used to look at other writers around my age, and as much as you’re not supposed to, I would compare myself to them. Both being at the same level, with our first few pro sales to magazines, and then watch as this other writer shot skyward with more and more sales, more books she was publishing because her career and her writing was the path she’d chosen, while there was me… who I might push hard enough to write a handful of short stories a year.

I was jealous because I knew I would be exactly where she was… if… I didn’t have kids. If I hadn’t decided to give my life to two young human beings, to nurture and care for them.

I’m not saying I felt this all the time, or for even very long, but I’d be lying if I said I never felt this at all. I did, and it was one thing that used to shake me right to my core, to make me long for the life I’d passed up on when we decided that what we wanted more than anything else, was to be parents.

This year, that feeling didn’t hit me.

Instead, it was just sort of a nod and an acceptance in our differences, in the different life paths we’d chosen. I wouldn’t give up mine in a heartbeat.

I know my writing will always be there. I know I will get back to it, bit-by-bit.

It’s not easy. Heck, it’s hard as hell, especially when my writing feedback is so few and far between. The progress I see is at a snail’s pace compared to others because that’s all I can manage with the season I’m living in.

Even among other parents, I’ve chosen a different path.

I mean, my kids don’t go to preschool so I don’t get this huge block of time to simply write. In fact, my kids won’t go to regular school at all. Instead, we’ll be life-learning with our homeschool group, going on adventures like camping trips or staying more local and just swimming at our pool or playing at the park. One day, I’ll be in a place where I can sit off from the group with my laptop and just let the words pour out (in between the usual request for snacks and such). But I’ll never have that chunk of time other parent-writers enjoy and I’m okay with it.

It won’t be easy but it is still the right path for our family.

And yes, while Sean and I did chose to be parents, one thing we didn’t chose is what that would look like.

Both Kate and Eric have language delays. With Eric, we don’t really know how much or what exactly (he’s still too young to know), and that’s brought an extra level of parenting we hadn’t planned on. When Kate was Eric’s age I was working through an incredible amount of fear. Fear at the darkness, all the doom and gloom everyone was pushing on us. I knew they were wrong, I knew they weren’t right about Kate, but they were the professionals. They were the experts.


I was just a mom.

I worked through all that, I found my way, through fiction no less, to get an incredible amount of strength and resilience I never knew I had. Or, maybe I did but I’d never before had the chance to live it. (And then I just got pissed off and well, if you read this blog regularly you know how I feel about that.)

And while we’ve come out the other end with Kate… which isn’t entirely true as she has a long, long way to go before she’s “normalizes” we at least know what the heck’s going on… but I’m now starting over with Eric.

This is a journey I’d never asked for, but one that I have, and I can say for a fact (at least at this moment), that I don’t know of any other parent-writers living this particular journey. And more than that, I’ve chosen to take on the speech work and play on my own. Not sending them off to our local school district for services or even through our insurance to get another speech pathologist to possibly “work” with them.


Just me.

Living at home, living our life, getting guidance from someone I know and trust as an expert on these different kinds. (Experts, which I’ve learned, at least my experience, are sadly few and far between.)

So while other parent-writers can leave their kids at home while they go on off to workshops and I know without a doubt, that this will be a long, long way off for me. My kids are very attached to me, they need me around. I mean, they’re around me all the time. Me suddenly being gone? Oh man, talk about a freak-out. And truthfully, with who they are and where their language is, and they wouldn’t understand if I up and let them for a week. Not even Kate could understand that concept of me being in another state, or what days are, or when I’d return.

I’m not someone who would put them through that trauma, so, they’d just come with them. And that’s what I’m planning on. I’ll have Sean or my mother tag along, to babysit while I go and learn and network.

That’s my plan, anyway.

And right now, we’ve got a fifty-fifty shot about Eric being ready. He’s having a hard time being separated from me for an hour, so an all-day workshop, several days in a row? Yeah, well, that’ll be a problem. Maybe he’s just going through something developmentally right now and it’s causing this extra anxiety. Or maybe it’s just him. So, I’m very aware that we might not be *there* yet. It might be next year that’s my first real chance to get back to workshops. And, if I have to cancel again, I’m okay with it.

That’s just what my life is right now, the needs of my kids, which come before anything else, including me and my dreams. But even that’s not entirely true because I am still doing what I can, working towards my dreams and goals. I may not be able to attend in-person workshops and conferences, as much as I want too, but I can take online ones. Or I can crack open a book by a long-term, bestselling author and study what they’ve done. So, it’s not really a me vs. them issue, just… certain pieces of those dreams need to be shelved from the time being.

And that’s who I’ve chosen to be as a parent.

I really am walking a different path. I can look at myself, then look at another parent-writer and honestly say: their life is not mine. The choices they’ve made are not mine. And that’s perfectly fine.

Personally, I could not send my kids to any kind of preschool because of who they are, language issues, temperament, and also just my own personal beliefs are as a parent and a life learner. I just couldn’t.

We’re all different. We all make different choices. We all have different families.

And I’m okay with my little bits and snippets of success. I’m okay with sitting on the couch, Eric literally tucked besides me as he watches Toy Story 3 and here I am, typing away at this blog like a mad woman. I only have a certain amount of time before the toddlerness in him kicks in and he starts doing the usual: kicking me, tugging on pants or fingers.

I’ll take what I can get, these little moments of quiet.

Every little bit.

And somehow, over time, those little bits add up to something bigger. A finished blog post. A short story. And right now, a novel. It might take me the whole damn year to write the thing, but I am working towards it… every 30 minutes, each day, and it will add up in the end.

I’ll get there.

And along the way I’ll get little reminders of the success I am having, like this one: Allyson Longueira, of WMG Publishing, has chosen my story, “The F Factor,” to be included in Fiction River: Legacies.

It’s the only story I’ve sold to Fiction River, the last Anthology Workshop I went to before Eric came along. Kate, was who 18 months old at the time, and me, working as hard as possible, for six straight weeks and writing six stories.

This is the one I sold.

This is the one that was nearest and dearest to my heart.

It’s also the one that sparked a whole series of short stories. Ones that I haven’t published yet (see the comment about Eric above), but ones I know are inching ever closer to another professional sale. Only time, and my continued learning and writing, whenever I can, each day and each moment, will get me there.

My writing is my legacy, and so are my kids. So is this journey they’ve set me on. It’s so very, very different from anyone else’s and one I wouldn’t change for the world. I never planned on blogging about being a parent-writer, or homeschooling, or about my kids being late-talkers and all the emotions, all the ups and downs that have come with it.

And yet, this is the path I’m on. It’s one I wouldn’t give up or change, not for a second, not for the world.

One day soon, maybe this October or maybe the next one, I’ll see my fellow writers in person. Even if I have two kids in tow.

Regardless, this is my life, mine and no one else’s. No one’s will ever look like mine, and that’s how it should be. We’re all different, as writers, as parents. For me, though, this is the path I’ve chosen to walk and I know in my heart it’s the right one.


Because life with toddlers is a wee-bit intense, I’ve decided to post a blog every other week. This allows me to take on more online workshops, more time to study long-term, successful writers, and just as importantly, finally getting back to the publishing side of my business.

Responsibility: The Heavy Mantle of Parenthood


Some people would call me crazy (I’m sure some people think it). And at times, I might fall a bit into that crazy side… or at least, just crazy for the amount of stuff I’m putting onto my already-full plate.

Here I am, choosing to be the primary speech partner for my kids, with very little outside support, and I’ve chosen to homeschool. Not only that, we’ve chosen to homeschool in a way that’s very different from Sean and my own school-focused upbringing. Oh, and top of that, I’m still trying to do this writer-publisher thing.

Pretty darn full plate, and one that’s ripe full of self-doubt and critiques and that age-old question all parents ask themselves:

Oh my God! Am I screwing up my kids??

And if you’ve never asked yourself that question I say buck up and be honest. We all of moments of self-doubt because of how deeply we care for and love our kids. We want to do our best by them. And because of that, there comes the self doubt creeping in…

Have I not played with them enough today? Have we not had enough connection time? Not enough time playing outdoors, visiting friends, learning new skills through living? Should we be scheduling more play-dates? Should I be sitting down and working more on sight-words more instead of spending hours at the park with friends or swimming? Should I, should I, should I….

It never stops.

There’s always something more we could be doing. There’s always a “better” way to have responded in an intense moment (like how Eric freaked out when I wouldn’t let him buy ALL the giant balls at Target).

This parenting thing, it’s a heavy mantle. It’s important. It’s weighty. Every day we make thousands of decisions that affect their wellbeing, and at the same time, not a single decision will make or break their growth or learning. We lose our way at times, we yell, we get frustrated because we’re tired and our own resources are low. We make mistakes, and our children still love us. They still forgive us. And the next day, or the next moment, even, we get to try again.

And again, and again.

Lately I’ve been struggling with my own doubts and slowly working my way through them. This wasn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last (I’m only four and half years into this parenting gig, after all).

You see, since we’re choosing a way of learning that’s child-led, that’s about following their interests and passions, where as me, the parent, becomes more of a facilitator as opposed to a straight-up “teacher.” It’s different than what the rest of our society has seen and I get looks and comments all the time for letting my kids be kids, for playing in puddles (and any bit of water my two-year-old can get his feet into). I see and feel their judgment, the same way I see and feel judgment when Kate talks — she sounds nothing like the 4 1/2 year old she is but someone much younger.

Lots of judgment.

Lots of negative feelings that I’m doing my best to shield my learning, thriving, growing kids from.

My kids may not know what the rest of the world thinks, but I do, and sometimes it’s just hard to keep that same self-doubt from leeching into my own thoughts.

Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not.

Like right now, I’m struggling to walk this bridge, of helping Kate with her language growth, but at the same time, not pushing something she’s not reading for.

Like reading (or, at least, sight words).

You see, Kate’s reading, to some unknown degree, on her own. She knows words and has the comprehension of what they are. But how many words she knows, what they are, I haven’t a clue. And because she’s a visual learner and because language itself can be very abstract (just look at how many abstract words are in this sentence alone — they aren’t things you can stick a picture next that makes sense for the visual learner). Reading will help accelerate Kate’s language and speech.

Except… I also am aware of how important play is, especially for a kid who’s only four years old. I’m also aware and mindful that if she’s not ready to do something, I can’t and won’t force her.

Of course as a parent, I want to help Kate.

I want to help her acquire her language skills, to trust in the words. But at the same time, right now I want our focus to be on play and learning through play (something that our society, in my opinion, doesn’t put nearly enough emphasis on — regardless how old you are).

And, because of Kate’s temperament, I can’t push her.

If I do, she’s shuts down (just imagine a cute little girl even you the mental finger). I can’t force her to do something she’s not ready for, and frankly, as a parent, I don’t want to.

So. Here I am, walking this bridge of many, many worlds (at least it feels like). Trying to help my child, being her advocate and her voice because she doesn’t have one of her own yet (or, it’s a still a small, developing one). And I’m pushing up against professionals who want something that I don’t feel comfortable with yet (which is: working on reading).

Or maybe, it’s more the way this professional is pushing me.

This professional wants a more school-structured environment. She wants me to have structured time where Kate does something that I want her to do, so we can gear her for things like learning and lessons (even if we’re not doing them at this point). She wants me to whip out this board and write a word down, carrying it in my purse for crying out loud, so I can write some word when we’re out and about.

I’m sorry. I’m just trying to find my grocery list, trying to make sure my toddler has support and empathy when he can’t buy all the giant balls, and making sure I buy the correct Blu-Ray and not the 3D version (and yes, I need to go return that stupid thing today with my two kids in tow). My life can be a little intense at times. Heck, I’ve got a two-year-old and I swear everything is either super sweet or super intense. There is no middle ground.

And as far as the time when we sit and do something Kate’s not interested in… that goes against what our beliefs are in regards to children and learning. I mean, you, dear reader, you can believe what you like. I’ve got zero issues with that. You and I might have some crossover, or we might have none. Every person, every family is different and I think that’s wonderful.

For us, for me, I’m not comfortable with forcing Kate to do anything like this (especially considering her temperament). And when it comes time to learning, we’ve chosen this more whole-life learning approach where things like reading are simply part of our life, from reading books together (which Kate is slowly allowing me to do), to her playing video games (which has been a wealth of reading already for her), and even Kids YouTube, which she loves.

So, I know the reading and learning is happening and I love it, and I trust in it.

But at the same, I want to support her language growth, but in a way that’s natural and playful and really just fits with who we are as a family.

The only “forced” time I have is when I ask Kate to play a board game. And she loves it. She’s intrinsically motivated because she sees her daddy and me play board games all the time. And she loves the connection time. Besides, board games have been great because while I’m not “forcing” her to play, I am “enforcing” the rules (with some latitude of course). Meaning: this is how the game plays, and no, you can’t just flip over the dice because you didn’t like the outcome. It’s been great for her learning. We’re doing counting and colors in a way that’s natural and playful, and something we both enjoy.

I’m struggling with the reading part, and I have an appointment coming up with our professional (who I know will be pushing the reading and learning part on me again). So, I asked for help from the community around me, both from our homeschool group and other parents of late-talkers (who also homeschool).

And I got help.

I really, really did.

I’m absolutely blessed by this incredible wealth of knowledge from my local homeschool community, parents who have children grown and reading, who also followed this same learning-style approach that we are following.

I think the hardest part of walking this different path, of being my kids’ primary speech partner and also homeschooling (and following the child’s lead when it comes to learning), is the professionals. Sometimes, because of my own upbringing, I get a lot of anxiety. I feel pressure because they don’t necessarily believe in our choices as parents. And it’s hard shedding my thirty-five years of being trained that professionals know best. They know what’s right and what’s wrong and what could I know? I’m only a mother.

That’s right. I’m only a mother.

The mom of Kate and Eric. No one else is. No one else is around them, 24 hours a day like I am. No one can understand Kate’s words and what she’s saying better than me.

I am the expert on my kids.

It’s hard to keep strong in that belief sometimes. Sometimes this mantle of parenthood feels really, really heavy. And scary. Because I want what’s best. I may be wrong at times, I may make mistakes, but I’m listening to myself. I’m listening to my kids.

I’m trying my best to follow what feels right for us.

And as one mom reminded me, do I regret those moments where I’ve put my foot down and stood up for my child?

The answer is simple: no.

I’ve never regretted it… but I have regretted those times when I didn’t go with my mommy gut, when I didn’t go with what felt right.

So, do I have an answer yet for Kate and reading, to help her with the sight words in a fun and playful way?

Not really.

At least, not yet.

When I asked for help and support from the community around me I got lots of suggestions. So many that my introvert brain needs a good while to process through each of them, to really delve deep and see what possibilities these suggestions could bring. Would they work, or wouldn’t they? And for our family?

And that’s partly the answer right there. I don’t know yet because we haven’t tried.

Kate hasn’t tried.

And I think that’s ultimately what this journey will look like. First off, trusting we have words and learning in our every day life, which I do believe in. And then, finding ways that help promote this learning, ways that simply fit right into our natural way of living that’s fun, that we both want to participate in.

That’s the key and really, it’s going to be trial and error.

But the great thing is I do have so many options and there are many who are willing to help me out as we figure out this funky bridge I need to walk, trusting in the learning, and helping it along. But even better than that, I’m not feeling as scared.

And really, that’s what this is all about: fear.

Afraid of being wrong, afraid of doing something that deters my child’s growth and learning. That’s where the self-doubt and critique and judgment comes in. And this time, at this moment, it doesn’t have so strong a hold over me. Sure it’ll be back. I might even feel it after I get off the call with the professional who believes there’s only one way of learning, while I believe in another. But not right now. Right now I’m feeling more settled, in a place of peace and trust.

Because I’m not alone.

Because I’m not afraid to learn, to take suggestions from others (including our professional). And then, to try and try again.

Because, everything I’m doing, is out of love. And you really, really can’t go wrong when you’re coming from a place of complete joy and love. And honestly, that’s what Kate has taught me, every day I hear her speak and her beautifully unique voice.

Trust in yourself.

Trust in your children.

Trust in love.

Restart the Writing (After a Parenting Life Role)


So, I’ve got to say, I’m getting to be pretty good about this restarting thing. Ever since Kate was born back in August, 2012, I’ve had to put the writing on hold for many, many different reasons over the years and it’s pretty much been for family reasons. The birth of our first kid, our first of many sleepless nights to teething, to toddlerhood and potty training.

Then, along came Eric (and boy, when you bring another kid into the mix life really gets interesting).

We had even more sleepless nights and discovered that Kate was a late-talker. There was a good chunk of time, of several months really, where I was living in a pretty dark, mentally, scary place. I had a lot of fear and uncertainty during that time, and ironically (or not so ironic if you, yourself, are a writer), but it was writing about that experience, first in fiction and then later in these blog posts, that helped ease away those fears and find the true joy in one, important fact:

She’s my daughter.

Wholly and completely, mine.

Words, or no words.

We got through it. Not only did we get through it we’re a closer, more connected family because of it. The trust that we needed in Kate, for her to be who she was and to find her words when she, and she alone, was ready, was huge. Huge. And probably one of the greatest gift she taught us.

Through it all, I would pick up the writing and then put it down again, as parenthood demanded. Well, I’d thought I’d gotten through all the really big hurdles of parenting small kids.

Turns out, I was wrong.

No surprise, really. Parenting is all about the twists and curves that you didn’t see coming. Not to mention I’ve got not one but two late-talkers, both who I’m their speech-play partners. Well, at least I skipped the scary, dark-part this second time around.

What I didn’t get to skip was the crazy, busyness of the holidays (and for our family, throw in a ton of birthdays and anniversary celebration), and then the bigger issue was one I really, really couldn’t control:

Not sleeping.

Like, barely at all. (Which, you all who read my blog know about).

Most of my days were me just trying to survive, and trying not to lose my temper, to not get frustrated with my kids for being a two-year-old and a four-year-old.

It wasn’t easy.

Especially when I couldn’t do the one thing that gave me more energy and more self-care than anything else:


Pretty much at the brink of me going crazy, we had to make some changes. So, we did. We put the kids in the same room (which apparently they just love) and Sean takes the first shift with Eric (meaning if he gets up Sean puts him back to bed and not me). I get the second shift and start my day when Eric decides it’s time.

And you know what?

It’s working.

While our sleep (and therefore Eric’s) aren’t perfect, the change has made a huge difference. I’m getting around six hours of solid sleep before Eric needs help, so I’m no longer this raving banshee I’d been for four months straight.

Now though, it’s time to get back to the writing and that in of itself has it’s own hurdles.

I mean, you’d think I’d be an old hack at this. That I could just sit on down and let the words flow and then bam, here’s this super-cool story on the page and then sending it off to magazines, right?

Yeah. Not so much.

I’ve done this a half-dozen times (or dozen, really) since Kate was born. I do know, without a doubt, that I can do this. That’s not the issue.

The real issue is fear.

Fear to start writing again. That what I write will just be this awful, uncomprehending mess (which my brain still feels like most of the time).

Fear that I won’t do whatever story I write any justice because all of my series characters and world-based series… well, they’re just to important and I’m just gonna mess them up so why bother trying?

And writing a novel?

Dear God, I can just feel my inner creative voice shrivel up at that thought. Never mind that I’ve already written several, so I know I can do it. The issue is really one of focus, and again, parenthood. I mean, there’s just no way I can stay focused enough to fall into a world and characters, and flat-out, just a story, long enough to actually write a novel.

Translation: life being a parent couldn’t possibly leave me alone long enough to start and finish one of these damn things.

Each one of these issues are fear-based, plan and simple, put there by my critical brain to stop me from writing. To take the easy way out, to not put myself out there, to not set myself up for failure, to simply just not try.

And yet… I know how to combat this.

I’ve done it, time and again. (Too bad I just couldn’t skip over this fear stuff and get to writing, huh?)

Well, this time, like all the others, I’m not gonna let it stick. Screw my fears and insecurities. I’m going to try, and then I’m going to try again. One story may not work, I may need to redraft along the way, tossing out perfectly fine words because it just doesn’t fit the story. (Stories that I’m slowly teasing out of my subconscious, creative voice.)

You see, I know how to do this restart.

I know the tricks, I know what works for me, I know how to succeed. So I’m just going to jump, with both feet in, and see where (and how) I land.

If, at all.

I know, without a doubt, the greatest power I could give my writing is two-fold:

First, as Dean Wesley Smith likes to say, “Dare to be Bad.

I can do that. I shrug off all those negative words from my critical voice. So what if a story doesn’t make sense? So what if they all feel (to me) like this rambling mess as I slowly figure out what the story I’m writing even is?

The point is I’m writing. Period.

Some readers may like it, some may love it, or maybe it will never get touched at all because I still haven’t gotten around to the publishing part of my business, but hey, baby steps here.

The second is much easier: write every day.

That’s it.

Write something. Five minutes, five sentences, whatever, just write. (Fiction only, though; these blogs don’t count.) I discovered last year that a writing streak is the single most powerful motivator in my arsenal for writing. I could manage the sick days. I could manage the days where I’d barely slept at all because that five minutes was a goal I could hit.

My ultimate goal is writing an hour per day.

I know I can’t hit that every single day, but I can try. (In truth, when I wrote out my goals list for 2017, I had scheduled this hour for only five days a week, instead of seven.) And even if I don’t hit it, even if I “fail” to write for an hour, I will still have succeeded because I will have written.

The other part of this, one that I’m not so great at because there’s just so much I want to do, so much I want to listen to or watch or read even for the moments of quiet I get from the kids… is quiet time for myself. Quieting my mind. Stop thinking about my to-do list or what needs to happen before we can possibly leave for park day or Disneyland or adventures out in nature.

The quiet time where I let my subconscious peak out and think about stories… about characters… about worlds. Stepping back and thinking, what if

For me, this is hard.

If I’m doing dishes or cutting vegetables I might prop up my laptop on the counter and watch NCIS or turn on my phone and listen to one of the many podcasts I follow. Those are all important to me, they fill my need for stories (watching TV shows) or learning (listening to podcasts), but I’ve just got to make the quiet in my mind a priority.

When I do, the act of writing itself is much, much easier because my subconscious has already tapped into my stories. At that point it’s just a matter of quiet time alone, just me and my laptop, to put those stories onto the page, word by word. Instead of struggling to find my way to the stories, to leave parenthood and all its worries and the constant needs behind, I can simply step from one to the other. Like changing coats or putting on a different pair of pants. It makes the writing process easier, and truthfully, more enjoyable, even.

I have a long ways to go towards my yearly goals, but I’m not going to worry about them. The only goal I have, right now, on this day, is to restart my writing.

I’ve done it before, and most likely in the future, I’ll need to do it again. That’s just part of parenthood. It’s how us parent-writers make it work.

And you’ll notice, I always put the “parent” part first.

My first and primarily responsibility is being a parent. My kids won’t be this young forever. Eric won’t always be a nightmare when it comes to sleeping (which, as I said, is finally getting better — ya to the kids sharing a room!!). And as I’ve said in previous posts, I won’t be shipping my kids off to school when they finally hit school age. I’ll be homeschooling, following their leads and their interests, so really, I’ve got to find a way to make the two work: parenting and writing.

Every day, every month, what this process looks like will be different.

For the past few months it meant putting the writing on hold as we dealt with potty training and sleeping and the final bits of teething (woohoo!!).

Now though, I’m ready to get started again and that means conquering my fears. To let my creative voice come out, play, and simply tell stories.

Good or bad, all I need to do is sit, write, and tell stories.

That I can do… even if I’m still cleaning up poop off the floor or the constant vacuum-fight between me and ants because toddlers are notoriously bad at keeping food in their mouths.

I can still write, though.

One day at a time, one word at a time.


I wrote this blog post two weeks ago, and just let out everything I was feeling, everything I was struggling with. I’m happy to say that for two weeks straight, I haven’t missed a day writing.

I finished one short story and started another.

Some days are crazy, like me writing a 1,000 words in just under an hour. Other days were only five minutes or eight. But I get the writing in.

I’m also tuning in more to my creative voice. The quiet time to let the stories and characters come to me. This, turns out, is the bigger struggle. It’s hard to put life (and all its distractions and needs and worries) on hold long enough to think about story, to get in touch with my characters, to figure out where the writing is going next…

But somehow I do.

Each and every time.

The Dreaded Question… Socialization: My Journey with a Late-Talker


The idea for this blog post first tickled me after I posted pictures from Kate’s 4th birthday party to a group of parents of late-talkers. I was surprised at the many comments I got… about Kate’s smile and how wonderful and happy she was playing with the other kids. As if… there was this mix of joy and shock that yes, this is possible for our kids.

The play with others.

In a way, it surprised me because Kate’s running and playing, her easily moving into this physical play of the park, that’s normal for me now. I sometimes forget to see that joy and wonder, of how far we’ve come and that this, this is where we are now. Our new normal.

But it wasn’t where we started.

And, if I’m really honest with myself (and I’m doing my best here), this very question, this concern, was on my mind from the very beginning.

What about socialization?

What about play and interacting with other kids when you don’t have words?

Okay. So maybe this wasn’t my first concern, at least not at the beginning because, up until around age 3, kids don’t need to be social. Not really. Actually, they’re actually pretty self-centered with their toys and food, and truthfully, their whole world is all about them! And that’s just the developmental phases they go through (I’m very, very much paraphrasing here my understanding from all the many books I’ve read). My point being, yes, get them out and playing around kids, and they might play with them. Or they might just sit down in the sand and play next to the other kids in the sand.

That parallel play is huge. It’s one of those super, itsy-bitsy steps to acquiring language, and it’s something that most other parents aren’t even aware of (or how important that side-by-side play is).

But then… something happens.

A shift, really.

At some point, I think when your kid hits three… when other kids start to look at your silent (or babbling) late-talker differently. They expect them to understand. They expect to get a response.

Suddenly, the park play of running up and down the slide, chasing back and forth, grows more complicated. There’s rules and ideas. They talk to your late-talker like they do with any other kid. And your late-talker…

Doesn’t understand.

Or if they do, they can’t respond.

It’s heart-breaking and scary to watch. You see those other, well-meaning kids, get frustrated or impatient or indifferent. They might not say something kind, or maybe they shrug and walk away.

In your heart, you know everything is fine with your child (well… if not fine it’s a progression that you know is right for your particular child… he or she will talk… when they’re good and ready). But still, you stand there, at a loss of what to do. Do you intervene? Do you become the voice for your child? Is this becoming a helicopter parent?

Or do you stand back and let kids figure it out?

Except… your child is only three or four or five and most kids haven’t learned (certainly not mastered) the tools to handle conflict well. So they do need some amount of guidance.

Oh. And your kid also can’t talk.

Not to mention all the advice everyone imparts on you on what you should do for your late-talking child, such as constantly talking to them about everything and doing it nonstop. (Seriously people? Are you telling me that when others do that to you, as a grown adult, that you don’t tune them out??) Or how about getting your kids around others their same age as that’s a great way to learn. Well… I’m not going to say no here. Again, I’m no expert, I’m just a parent. And sure there are kids who learn language better this way, every kid is different after all, but what I can tell you is what I’ve seen firsthand (and what my common sense has put together). The hardest time for Kate has been with kids her age or close to it.

And why’s that?

Because they don’t have the patience for her.

Which… makes sense. There still little kids themselves! They certainly don’t have the patience to sit there and wait while Kate figures out how to explain what she wants, with nonverbal cues. Or the patience while Kate puts together their words in her head, like a little puzzle, and figures out what they’re saying, so then she can react with her own response.

Oh. And let’s not forget another important fact here…

Kids around her age are still learning to talk themselves!

So when they’re sitting there, stringing words together, like a big sentence that never seems to stop, with more ‘the’s’ thrown in that a poor grammar checker could handle before exploding… that’s supposed to help my kid to talk?

And this advice, it comes from everyone.

And I do mean everyone.

Old lady pushing her cart of groceries behind you? Check. Mom out for a run who notices your kid doesn’t talk right? Check. Pediatrician who’s only looking at her checklist of ASD red-flags? Check.

And meanwhile, you’re scared.

Frightened, even.

And no one, not a single person with their lists and helpful advice they’d read on the internet in some study or heard from someone they know who’s also a speech therapist. And I suppose, that includes me here since I’m going to tell you about my journey with Kate.

But what I’m going for, hoping for, is to ease your mind as parents.

Yes, get yourself the best team to support your child (who’s different from mine). And that team goes from everyone to a loving spouse, grandparents, siblings, and a pediatrician who I truly hope is willing to listen to what *you* have to say and not just some checklist they’re reading off of. (You can probably guess that we ditched our first pediatrician and are looking for someone actually willing to be part of our team.) Build a team that fits for you and your family, and then… just provide opportunities for the socialization to grow.

For your child to play and have fun. With others.

I don’t see these as opportunities for my child to learn words from another, but… just the chance to play. Play in comfortable settings. Play that will allow for someone a little different than the normal child.

And that socialization we’re also so worried about?

Truly, it will happen.


In a natural way that will fit your child.

We are very fortunate that Kate is an easy-going child. We don’t have behavioral problems or tantrums (more than the normal, anyway), even with no language. She’s found a way to communicate and I’m in tune enough with her that this frustration, which can be quite common for late-talkers, isn’t really an issue. I say this all here as a disclaimer because regardless of what I tell you about our journey (and specifically, Kate’s) it will look different for you. This is especially true if you have a child who does have frustrations and who does have behavioral issues you’re working through. My hat is off to you parents and all I can say is keeping going at it. Keep your smile and love on and you’ll find your way, even if it’s slower or looks different than the rest of us. You are certainly not alone.

Now, when it comes to this socialization fear, I already had one leg up on the problem. Before we knew Kate was a late-talker, we’d decided to homeschool. Or I should say, I was very interested in the idea, especially looking back at my life, what I learned along the way, and where I ended up. Well, one of the first questions that jumped to my mind about homeschooling was socialization. I mean, that’s what I always heard about homeschooling. That socialization was the big, huge fear:

Don’t send your kids school? Well, you’re gonna have a socialization issue on your hands.

And what I do when I get faced with some big, unknown, scary question?

I read.

A lot.

So, I did. And in my research I realized that this… this isn’t actually an issue. I mean, it can be if you sit around in your house all day and never get outside, never get your kids around other human beings of all ages, shapes, and sizes. But if you make an effort, if get out of your little shell and try to find a community, you totally can. Kids want to interact with each. They want to play. They want to be together. And then so long as you’re there, so long as you have persistence and a willingness to put yourself out there and try, it’ll happen.

For your kids.

For you too.

But for some reason, when I first started talking with my speech pathologist and coach (she coaches me and I’m the one who works naturally with Kate throughout the day… and even night since a parent’s duties don’t stop when the clock hits 5:30), all that common sense, all that I learned about homeschooling and the natural process of being social, just went out the window. Because my fear had a good, good hold of me.

I asked our speech pathologist about socialization and about what I could do to help Kate.

She asked about the parallel play and I said, yes, Kate did that.

And then… she told me not worry. That it would happen and for some kids, normal developing ones, parallel play can naturally take a few years to develop.

“Don’t worry,” she said.

Oh, I totally didn’t listen.

I did worry.

And I did have many sad moments when kids said mean things to Kate because she couldn’t understand. How they’d exclude her from play or whisper behind her back. Call her baby.

It broke my heart.

I cried.

But I learned too. I learned how to stand up for her. To be her voice. To guide her and try to explain what another kid might want of her. As Kate’s receptive language as improved, so too has her play. How she’s able to respond faster when someone asks her something, like hold a bag or to run, but only run when someone says, “Go!”

But… how did this actually happen?

How did we go from moments of her being told, in a mean, unkind way to, “not stand there” because “we don’t want you here?”

Moving from that… to a place of joy and smiles?


Again, I had to grow myself. I had to learn to be Kate’s voice. I told friends, who I felt comfortable and safe with, how I felt. They gave me the sympathy and support I needed, to know that these were my friends and they cared. That they would take steps to teach their kids about Kate and her language delay. And that helped give me the resolve to not give up.

And then, I switched my approach.

I realized, for us, that when one group of kids grew very close, they weren’t as welcoming to someone different. Someone like Kate. At least, not without some amount of parental involvement and explanation to teach.

I wasn’t comfortable with that particular group, so I tried another.

When that one started getting big again, I switched to another, all the while hoping and believing we’d find our place. And I kept working at it. Kept talking with parents and when I saw a bond developing, I made an effort to compliment and thank this mom for how kind her daughter was to Kate.

And we finally found our place in our all-age park day. This is the one where you’ve got teens there and the tweens and the ones reaching double-digits, and then a handful of younger ones like my Kate and Eric.

It was this group where I saw Kate shine.

The kids her age weren’t there in the large numbers, and that was better for her. She made friends with older kids who saw she was different and asked me questions. They were curious. They liked playing with her and she liked playing with them. Then there are times when these friends weren’t around, so she’d shadow some older boys, literally mirror what they were doing (with a fake sword) and sit down right beside them.

And they tolerated her. She wasn’t bothering them (or they would have left, or I’d have stepped in).

Because these park days were working so well for us I started my own weekly meet-up. Every Friday I welcome all ages of kids to go and explore and play in nature. It’s at different locations, though there are repeats. And by doing this we’ve met more friends and Kate is in a place where she’s comfortable. Play dates at home with toys didn’t’ work for us, certainly not with kids around her age. But running? Playing at the tide pools? Splashing?

She can do that.

In fact, she loves it.

And every week, we do it again and again. She’s now seeing these same kids from week to week. She’s seeing these moms from week to week as well. She’s no longer hesitant about going to our blanket and pulling our snacks from the bag like she first was. She’s runs right in.

Comfort and control is huge for her, and I’ve kept at it so we could get to this place.

We are an introverted family and it wasn’t long before I realized that large group settings wouldn’t work for Kate. Even at her party, with all the wonderful friends she had, who she knew and enjoyed, she would break off and play with three or four at a time. Small groups. She followed where her comfort led, and this whole time, I’ve been listening.

Listening to her.

What works. What doesn’t. Who she plays easily and well with, who she doesn’t.

Now, when I show her pictures of our play days, or mention the names of some of her favorite friends, she smiles. She recognizes their names and faces. She wants to see them. When we briefly saw some friends at Disneyland and they left to do their own thing, Kate was sad. She said, “no.”

She wanted to stay with them.

And when we went to a recent Nature and Play day and I watched as she sat with another girl, and helped her build a sand castle, there was an ease and comfort in their play. Her friend was patient, and when needed, I stepped in to explain. When her friend told Kate to “hold the bag so I can put rocks in it?”

Kate took the bag. Without hesitation.

She understood.


And for those with late-talkers, especially with receptive delays, that’s huge. Her reaction, so natural, without any pause… it’s big.

But so is her smile when she sees her friends. Or she sees any kids at the tide pools like we did just this weekend, how she wanted to go up and splash them and play. Just as she did with her friends.


I’ve done everything I could to set the stage for her. Tried play dates at our home with different kids, different ages. Gone to different park days with our homeschool groups, and just kept trying. And while we tried, I kept working with her at home. I kept learning how to be her voice. She kept growing, maturing. And so did I. Then one day, in between all our smiles and my excitement, telling Sean what Kate said or did with one kid or another, until one day, this is the new normal I woke up to.

I’m still amazed by it. Still surprised. Still filled with such joy.

And I wanted to let the other parents out there know, parents who are new on this journey with their young children, or kids who are Kate’s age and haven’t reached this same social level as Kate:

You will get there.

So long as you keep your heart open, so long as keep listening to your child.

What worked for us won’t necessarily work for you. But if you keep at it, you will know when you’re on the road to something special. Maybe it’s a place. Maybe it’s a person with the right kind of temperament. Maybe it’s a wonderful older child who’s willing to come over and play with your late-talker.

But you’ll know it when you see it. And honestly, our kids are learning more about socialization than even we know… because they want to learn.

And, they are.

Trust me. They are.

If you’re willing to trust them. If you’re willing to listen.