magic on a Thursday.

Thursday morning before school we went to a coffee shop for breakfast. We sit upstairs there. My kids use the time to look at screens just like most of the adults do below. I use the time to look at them. I like seeing them take the big steps, turn the corner and scale the second set. I like seeing them hang their jackets on a chair back, climb up, have a conversation with each other about the wi-fi password. I love being their mom. I've never loved anything more.

I walk down to grab some water. A cute barista is toasting a marshmallow for each saucer of the kids' cocoa. Her excitement started this. The magic.

The small torch, a hot flame—a shift in some usually meaningless experience, opening the door between ordinary and magic. A toasted marshmallow.
A hot summer afternoon, myself as a kid, laying on the front lawn. Waiting for anything to happen. A car drives by blasting good music. Simple, but it’s something. A connection. I watch the car until it's out of site and then I go back to the quiet that makes me notice I'm alive, I do exist.

We wait.
I watch my kids, sometimes they look up to see me looking at them and I smile. I smile so hard. They smile back. We hear my name.

The girls help me bring plates of toast and cocoa upstairs. Hannah gets the easy job. She picks up two plates of toast and cruises up the stairs. 

The barista, Ada and I each carry a cocoa and I grab the other two plates. 

I ascend the stairs two at a time and turn the corner. A college aged boy is holding back a laugh and I follow his gaze.

Hannah is wiping the floor with her jacket. It's not even her jacket, she borrowed it from Ada. The floor is now lightly dusted with cinnamon and sugar. There is a freshly buffed spot in the middle, butter.

She sees me and quickly hangs the jacket up on her chair back. She knows I’ve seen and now she waits. She stares at me and waits. I can't tell if she is nervous or proud. 

She watches me, seeing if I put the clues of this mystery together. The toast in Ada’s place looks different from the rest. 

You can use napkins for things like that, you know that right? 
She smiles. I know.  

I trade Ada's plate with mine. And I don't care that I'm eating floor toast because I love Hannah and I love that she would use a jacket to clean the floor. I love that she is seven. I love that she tried. I love that she is clever and silly and weird. I love being her mom even when it's hard because we don't always see eye to eye. She is growing and that means she doesn't tuck herself under my wing as much anymore. She is learning to fly. She is cleaning up after her mistakes, with a jacket that she borrowed from her sister and I would not change a thing about that. Ever.

The magic wasn't the barista's excitement, it wasn't the toasted marshmallow. It was Hannah. A child, in the wild. My child. My magic girl with her sweet smile and sparkling eyes wearing a cinnamon sugar jacket.


kind of like punching a mirror but not really.

I've thought a lot about her. Doubted her. Misunderstood her. Confided in her.
I've thrown her under the bus. Saved her. Excused her. Abused her. Feared her.
I’ve written about her. Dreamed about her. Dated her.
I’ve forgiven her.

She left me. 

She left me at a diner in Idaho. She left me on the side of the road in southern Utah. She left me at the top of a peak in Arizona. On a bus in Austin, Texas. Miles from a marina in the Pacific Ocean. She left me at Union Station. She left me in the Rocky Mountains. She left me following a late-night phone call and on that first tear filled night that followed. She left me a year ago.  

She is the girl who watched her dad hammer those nails into the rug on the stairs of her childhood home. Peering from behind thick lenses in bulky plastic frames. She is the one who spent a lot of time as a child staring into a mirror. She wondered what was happening in that world, the one she was seeing on the other side. She is the one with whom I became aware of my world. My inner voice for most of my life. Sometimes still wondering what was happening on the other side of the mirror. She was there when I got married, but not when I divorced. She was there when my first child was born but not when I fell in love with motherhood.

She left me when I stopped giving second chances to someone else, and gave one to myself.


I am that driver in the morning on the freeway, the one who hesitates while changing lanes. Slows down on the on ramp, so you get on the freeway behind your new friend who’s going 35 miles per hour. I am that in boxing, not on the freeway. (You’re welcome.)

My feet are glued to the ground, my body is stiff. I need to turn my hand, use my hips. I need to lift my elbow, loop the punch around. Protect my face. Protect my face. Protect my face. Widen my stance, shorten my stance, adjust my stance. Move around and most importantly, protect my face. I can feel the hesitation, my mind locks up, what is five? Move my feet, protect my face. The bell rings. Start a new combination. Remember the one from before and think of all the ways to improve it.

See the other boxers, see the ones who are good. See the ones who make it look easy and wonder if they started out just as fucked up as me. Loosen up, keep my feet moving, throw some punches, land one good one. Drink some water. Unwrap my hands. Roll the wraps. Want to be better.

Apply that to everything. Accept the work. Learn to love it, learn to acknowledge little improvements. Appreciate the rewards. Most importantly, protect my face. And move my feet. One step at a time. Get better at something hard, make it become something easy.

Most importantly, set a good example for my kids. Show them what a persistent, hard working, confident woman looks like.

Focused. Powerful. In control. Deserving of respect. Knows the beauty of silence. Not a victim. Not anymore. Never again.