A Holy Parenting Pinnacle.

by Lori Dwyer on April 9, 2013 · 30 comments

My children grow older in great jumping stretches, strides of development and intellect that take me by shocked and awe-struck surprise. They learn things while I’m not looking, not watching, not quite paying attention; some days they seem to eat the world whole and regurgitate it, piecemeal and filtered down to it’s most keenly observed and amusingly purified status.

They make decisions. They form their own likes and dislikes, opinions and quirks. Desires and preferences and aches and soft spots. They become little people, a formation of their own selves. Without ever needing my- nor anyone else’s- permission.

My son leaves for school each day buoyant, blessed, the sunshine of scabbed knees and school awards all over his happy smile and lightly freckled nose. He adores Big School and he’s well behaved and popular, smart and polite.

I’m so proud of him I could pop, burst apart at the seams with a sunshine of my own. I worry so much for him it aches at my heart. He rarely mentions his father, hardy ever; and when he does its with the sunny side-up– spotting a star and saying goodnight, sharing a wistful  memory of ‘when we lived in the Purple House‘ with me (some days, it seems he keeps more memories from there than I do, and I don’t know if that’s happy or sad, awful or heartening).


My daughter is now older than my son was when his father died. Sometimes I look at other children, younger children, unsteady on their feet and still with a baby-fluff of hair on their heads and I think to myself, in a tone that carries a desperate guttural sort of sobbing sadness- she was so little. She was so young- just a baby, really. And again, I don’t know if that’s good or bad, a happy occurrence or a sad one.

I still keep tabs and measurements on my kids- maybe I always will. I track growths and accomplishments- toilet training, learning to count, my son writing his name, whole nights of (blessed) unbroken sleep, wobbly teeth and birthday parties. I pay extra attention to them, record and file them in the recesses of my mind. Accomplishments made. Things done. Less out of a fear of forgetting all of them, with no one to remind me; more because these are things I have witnessed, alone. My children’s accomplishments are mine as well.

My children have been mine now for much longer than they were ever Tony’s. The majority of their growing, their formative years- that’s been done by me. And I look at them sometimes, myheart beating with a pride I never thought possible, because I’ve never felt it before; my head rings with ‘mine, mine, mine’. Because I have done this. I’ve created two beautiful, smart, funny, caring and empathetic people. As a solo unit. And the three of us, we are a team.

Conversing with The Most Amazing Man In The Universe just a few days ago, we happened to touch on the subject of (in my own ill-thought-out wording, with no criticism from either of us, as negative as the phrase may sound) mothers ‘like me’. Mothers- single mums and partnered mums- who seem to struggle just that little bit. Mothers who allow washing to pile up, who feed their kids hot chips for dinner. Whose houses are always slightly chaotic, with pets and toys and half-done projects interrupting the flow of organisation. Mums that are hopeless at cooking and planning weekend outings, and let their kids watch too much TV.

The mothers that seem unable to contain the chaos of small children. The ones who wouldn’t know a housework roster if it bit them on the butt while they were vacuuming around and not under the lounge (again).

The chaotic, disorganised parent whose children turn out all kinds of awesome anyway- polite and pleasurable, earnest and enlightening company. Flowers of unmitigated perfection, grown of a garden unkempt and tended with the very best of intentions.


I’m that mum who’s always running just that little bit late, the one who forgets permission notes and homework (but hasn’t missed a library day yet). This morning, I’m attending a (godforsaken) school assembly, to watch my little man receive a special award. I’m feeling all the satisfaction that comes from years of bitching hard work and rampant parental insecurity finally manifest itself into one of those allusive “I’m doing OK at this parenting thing” moments.

It’s like some kind of holy parenting pinnacle. A rest stop on a long road that’s not marked with signs and where I have no GPS. An un-navigated journey I began naively that sometimes seems endless and I’m always worried about running out of fuel before I can stop and replenish again, getting lost and finding no one to ask for directions. 

This pit-stop feels like a victory. One that belongs to me and my kids. It’s ours, and ours alone.

I did this, raised these gorgeous little people.

And I did it all by myself.


Updated: The award itself turned out to be specifically for the Chop’s “caring and responsible personality”.

For today, I will answer tosuper-mum’ and ‘best mum ever’. In my own mind, at the very least.



by Lori Dwyer on March 19, 2013 · 7 comments

Once upon a parenting forum, in the time of the Before (a long, long time ago), I knew a woman named Lulu.

Actually, Lulu wasn’t her real name, just her screen name. But that’s what everyone on this forum knew her as– Lulu. And everyone on this forum knew her– she was a site moderator and unapologetic alpha-female. Lots of bloggers knew her as well. Her blog, Unperfect Life, is still here. She buried her sister just days before she died herself.

Lulu passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, just a few days after Tony died. I remember one late afternoon out the front of my purple–becoming–orange house, Fairie Sarie telling me that Lulu had died and being unable to articulate anything except Our Lulu? From the forum Lulu?”

What resulted was just the queerest feeling– one of those sliding door anomalies, where things are shifting just beneath your surface in a whole other life. In that other life, this news gutted me. It was monumental.

In this life, I was stunned but not even surprised. The whole world had turned upside down. Of course there were going to other be casualties, other losses just as great as my own.

Lulu's avatar- know this isn't how she actually looked... but it's how I see her in my mind, still.

Lulu’s avatar- know this isn’t how she actually looked… but it’s how I see her in my mind, still.

I’m not even sure why I’m writing this post. Only that I think of Lulu– a woman I never even met In Real Life– often. I hope her kids are doing okay without their most awesome, amazing mother. Bizarrely, I credit Lulu with teaching me so many things about child-raising, so many things about life in general. About standing up for yourself and believing in your own opinion. About having compassion and empathy and a sense of humour. About treating our children they way they deserve to be treated– like the little people they are.

Lulu was, online, an absolute force of nature, and I can only imagine she would have been the same In Real Life. She was funny and honest and wise in that cool-auntie way that some women have about them.

When I look back on it, try to verbalise it or write it down, the most important lesson I learned from Lulu sounds silly and simple. It’s more an attitude than a ritual. And I still put it into practice sometimes now, five years after I ‘met’ her for the first time.

Some days, its both useful and practical to vacuum the house in a tiara.


Because you are a motherfucking princess.

And why the hell not.


A Prayer For My Daughter.

by Lori Dwyer on February 27, 2013 · 8 comments

Unashamedly inspired by Tina Fey’s prayer for her daughter. She did it better.


A quick, quiet prayer to whoever may be in charge, regarding my sweet, fairy daughter. If it be within the keeping of your (admittedly skewed) sense of humor…

May my darling little girl always keep her uniqueness, her sweetness, her sense of humor. She may need it.

May she know that, no matter what, she is loved by a great deal of people; and will undoubtedly be loved by many, many more people over her lifetime. And if everyone else seems to have failed; I hope she will know that she always, always has me.

Allow her to be teased, bullied and left out, but only once or twice; just enough to grant her empathy and convince her never to hurt someone else like that. When it happens, may she have enough of those people who love her unconditionally around to break the humiliating impact.

May she feel the simple platonic pleasure of being mates with members of the opposite sex. Let her know, every know and then, how it feels to be ‘one of the boys’, so she might respect them and demand the same in return.

Let her know herself enough that she is able to find interest and hobbies she is passionate in. Let her know, through some divine intervention, that high school, homework and final exams are not the end of the world- six months after her eighteenth birthday they will probably seem insignificant, anyway.

May she be at ease with her body, know herself and how she works; and never think of herself as shameful or dirty or unpleasant. Allow her to know the decadence of food, untainted and untouched by belief her body is not perfect as it has been made.

May she fall in love, hard and fast and blissfully, at least twice. And may the first time break her heart, shatter it to pieces… much as that hurts to ask for. But allow her that so that, the second time, she appreciates and understands what it is to love someone and be loved in return.

Give her the ability to appreciate simple pleasures that come with being female. Allow her to feel the simple fancies of lipstick and high heels, having her hair done and dancing, dressing beautifully and batting her eyelids. Let her enjoy the ripe pleasure of sex. But give her control over herself, and make her at least a little aware of how awesome she is, so she avoids doing the same silly things that I did.

May she be blessed with children, should she want them. May the conception be without the heartbreak of infertility, and childbirth as fast and pleasant as her own entry into the world was.

Give her the blessing of female friendships, of sleep-overs and coffees and play dates- give her sisters in other women that she will not have by blood.

Let her work hard enough that she knows what hard work is; but never to, nor for, desperation. May she find a job where every day is an adventure, where her mind feels stretched and her comfort zones questioned.

Let her live, completely and fully- taste things, feel things, smell things, see things. May her life be peppered with experiences, with happiness and sadness and realities and laughter.  If she is afraid then allow her the strength to see through that and do the things she wants to do anyway. May she see every day as something new, every road as a possibility.

And when things do go wrong- when she loses her favorite toy; when she misses out on something she really wanted; when her best friend hangs out with someone else; when that first love breaks her heart or the pregnancy test comes back positive; or her own daughter won’t stop screaming at her for something undetermined…

May she known that I have been there, done that; and even if she never, ever wants to admit it, I kind of understand. And may she not hesitate to come to me. Without guilt or fear of judgement, though no doubt she will have them.

But may she know that whatever she confesses to, whatever the problem may be; I will always, always love her, and never turn away.

And may she know that’s because she’s beautiful, inside and out. And even if she wasn’t, I hope she knows that I would still be there, anyway. Because that just what mothers are for.