Noticing the Beauty of Motherhood while Passing a Chevron

David doesn’t answer his phone. I immediately text him, as we so rarely call each other, unless it’s urgent.

“Just calling with a question about gas stations,” I text.

To clarify, I wasn’t stranded or in need of help finding a gas station.

Still, David instantly calls back. He knows why I’m calling. I put him on speaker as I help Diego get out of the car. We’re picking Leoneli up from daycare and I balance the phone while holding his hand.

“I was just calling because I couldn’t remember the name of my Second Favorite Gas Station,” I say, adding, “Ah! I just remembered. It’s Arco.”

“Arco? Really?” David says, “But for the longest time they didn’t take credit cards.” Diego and I nod, and walk up to the front door.

“Yeah, but they are usually really cheap,” I say, and hear David agree, and then we say goodbye.

Waiting for the door to open, Diego looks up at me with his sparkle eyes and says, “So Costco is your favorite, but do you also like the one with the red and yellow and the shape?” I smile, tilt my head and think about it.

Does this entire exchange sound completely bonkers? Yes, it does. 

Are we really in a multi-person-text-phone-family-analysis about Our Favorite Gas Stations? We are! We’ve actually had this conversation multiple times!

And truly, if I read this, knowing nothing about the people involved, I would certainly wonder about that family. Unless you mentioned one critical fact: they have a kindergartner.

A kindergartner, a child at an age where his brain is exploding with information, curiosity and burgeoning idiosyncrasies. Yesterday, he taught me a song about litter bugs, informed us that he loves chow mein, and paged through a book about Leo Messi with his brother. And for reasons that remain unclear to me, he is fascinated by how we each feel about each gas station company.

Our resident kindergartner and gas station enthusiast

This is how I find myself extolling my adoration for Chevron as we pass a station on the way home.

“But do you love that one, Mama? With the blue and red?” He asks. “Do you love it more than Costco?”

In my mind, I want to say: NO! Diego, I’m about as climate-change paranoid as any geriatric millennial-which means I’m really really worried. Fossil fuels freak me out and did you know Chevron made $36 billion in profits last year? Do you think your dad and I, who sort all our food for compost (despite the fact that it GROSSES me out) and buy clothes second-hand (me), do you think we LOVE gas stations?

But I don’t say this.

Because my kindergartner is in the backseat, eager to know my thoughts, ready to engage. His curiosity is earnest and his desire for connection makes my heart soar.

So, I hold back my laughter as I say, “Hmm, that’s really tough. I like the design a lot, but I still love Costco more. But I do really love Chevron, too!”

Because he’s interested, so I’m interested, too.

And it’s a moment like this—on its face, so absurd, but in the moment, so tender—that reminds me of the beauty of motherhood. The beauty of your child surprising you and you surprising yourself. When else am I completely gobsmacked by both the hilarity and sweetness of a conversation? When else do I just jump into a conversation, full force, even though the topic is um, not my favorite? When else am I carefully thinking about what I say, knowing that I may be saying “I love Chevron!” but what I want him to know is this: if you love something, I love it, if you care about something, tell me about it. I’m here and I want a front seat to everything that matters to you.

Only in motherhood. This completely strange, wonderful, surprising responsibility that leaves me laughing and tired and constantly surprised, each day.

(PS-we recently purchased a car. Our first in 13 years. It is electric. Diego seems to be taking it ok).

Note about this post: My wonderful friends, Erin Strybis and Kim Knowle-Zeller, co-authored a book (!!!) coming out in a few days. I met Erin and Kim through the writing community, Exhale, and we finally met in person, this fall, during our writing retreat. I’ve been fortunate to read draft sections and every chapter always left me feeling calmer and less alone. This is likely because they are excellent writers, but also, the book is absolutely a reflection on who they are as friends: they listen, they reflect, and they encourage. They’ve helped me feel more brave with my writing and inspire me to take notice of motherhood. I wish every new mother could have friends like them, and I imagine their words will help others the way their friendship has helped me.

Here is more info on the book from Erin and Kim-I cannot wait for my copy to arrive:

This post is a part of the blog tour for The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years (read two more perspectives from my friends Jessica and Melissa). With scripture, stories, prayers, and practices, The Beauty of Motherhood provides mothers with refreshment and the reminder that they are not alone as they mother. Order your copy at Amazon, Target or Bookshop. The Beauty of Motherhood releases March 21st!

10 Moments in January

There’s less than 10 days left in February, so now is as good a time as any to finally jot down some January memories!

First, I love this post from one of my favorite writers. Totally sums up that post holiday feeling:

Anyway, 10 moments from the month:

Diego at Camp Dewberry! Diego didn’t go back to school until January 10, so he stayed at my parent’s house a few extra days. I think the extra attention was great for him and it was so…quiet…at our house. A good intermission from reality for everyone :)

2) A sunshine-y afternoon by the beach: We returned home to a super stormy Bay Area. The first half of January was bonkers. So much rain. The day I picked Diego up in Irvine was gorgeous, and we had a milkshake and burgers at my favorite beach.

3) Finally seeing friends again! I’m not sure what happened towards the end of the year (actually, I am, just about a million viruses), but I basically gave up on trying to make any plans to see anyone, knowing that we would likely be sick. It felt pretty lonely and definitely not a direction I want to keep going down. Anyway, all to say, it was really nice of Yasser and Kaitlyn to host everyone for brunch and to have some more opportunities to see friends this month.

4) Diego’s first Warriors Game! Diego’s Christmas gift was tickets to his first ever Warriors Game. He and David ventured over to the Chase Center in a massive storm and he came back absolutely beaming. For years, I didn’t really understand all the enthusiasm with the Warriors, but now, raising a kid who watches every game, I get it. It feels really special to watch Diego light up when he sees Steph Curry and to listen to him talk about all the players.

5) Diego lost his first tooth! I’ve been d.r.e.a.d.i.n.g. Diego losing his teeth as the thought of trying to pull out one of his teeth turns my stomach. I’m sure there will be some tough moments in the future, but I was SO grateful when he bit into an orange and his tooth just fell out. He was so proud.

6) Winter beach mornings. Eventually, the rain stopped. Leoneli and I had a quiet morning on Encinal Beach where I learned his is absolutely not interested in sitting in the stroller and looking at the water, and quickly took off waddling toward the water.

7) The bus. A less fun moment was realizing that after 13 years, we finally need a new car. While our current car was in the shop, we navigated with rental cars and the bus. SO thankful Alameda has decent public transit.

8) Sick day snuggles. And, of course, both boys were home sick at different periods. This winter, with two kids in two different places, with lots of other kids, a lot of indoor time and the cold—it has been a germy doozy. I feel ridiculous how much I talk/think about this, but it has a serious impact on everything!

9) Winter sunset water walks: Always and forever, the one thing guaranteed to turn my day/mood/outlook around.

10) Ferry to ferry to Tiburon! My mom was visiting Janou for a few days, so I joined them for an afternoon. I’ve always wanted to try taking the Alameda ferry to SF, and from there, the ferry to Tiburon. It was so cool to walk from my house, take the ferries, meet up with my mom and get sandwiches, and then walk to Janou’s. No cars at all! Seeing them and catching up made for a beautiful afternoon.

Holiday Break 2022

High, low, buffalo: Holiday break edition!

High: time with all our family, a day with our favorite Londoners, a break from work, reading, fireplace nights, cheese, an actual date at an actual restaurant, the RAIN.

Low: Southwest cancellation and the ensuing rainy day drive, worrying about California’s floods, and so.much.time away from school (Diego doesn’t go back until January 10!!!)

Buffalo: giggling as the twin cousins bumbled around and Diego’s hilarious reactions to Christmas presents

In photo form, the Holiday 22 Highlights:

Christmas Eve: Silvia hosted her Ugly Sweater Christmas Eve party, with her amazing prime rib. Diego proudly explained his ugly sweater and wowed us with karaoke, and I finally learned how to make a charcuterie plate!

All the Christmas Mornings: Diego and Leoneli were lucky enough to enjoy multiple rounds of Christmas morning joy with multiple gift exchanges with all our family. Diego loved EVERY moment and seemed particularly fond of orchestrating when we open presents and calling out the gifts. Also, is it really Christmas without the ritual gifting of an Ina Garten cookbook?

Camp Dewberry Holiday Break: We got caught up in the Southwest meltdown, but eventually made it to my parent’s house. I was exhausted, so the extra grandparent hands and time off work was VERY appreciated. With all the rain, we mostly hung out at home-I relished the slow days! And seeing the cousins together.

Evie and Diego hanging out! We spent a day with our favorite Londoners. Evie and Diego played together for the first time since they met in 2019. It was SO special to watch them together and have time with Katie to talk.

New Years Eve: It poured on NYE. My dad lit a big fire, we had a “sushi pajama picnic” party (Diego’s idea), and for the first time in years, I stayed up until midnight. It was really special!

We’re easing back into reality with staggered daycare and school returns, but we’re back to work tomorrow. Grateful for this quiet time and a holiday break!