I Love Being A Soccer Mom


Never in a million years would I ever-ever-ever have imagined I’d say this out loud:

I love being a soccer mom.

But, wait. Soccer moms are put-together suburbanites. With perfectly bobbed hair, and outfits that look thoughtful even if technically activewear. With a roast chicken ready for dinner by the time their husbands walk through the doors. With children who are clean and smell like vanilla cookies. With homes that are immaculate and shiny. With mini-vans and yoga classes and music lessons.

Except I don’t know a single mom that is actually like this when I think about it. Maybe one. Or two, at the most. But, hardly any.

I wonder if the era of venerating the likes of June Cleaver and Carol Brady is over? Because these days I see more moms (and dads) out and about with their kids in leggings and sweats, tshirts covered in breakfast and toothpaste, and the most remarkable bedhead. Only a pillow and a restless night of sleep with a toddler across your face could create that kind of coif. When I look around it seems like many of us have for the most part stopped worrying about upholding some illusive ideal surrounding looks and parenthood. Not that you all don’t look good – I mean, you do, you all are really beautiful people – but the image of put-togetherness seems less of a priority. I feel it in the way my eyes flicker up to meet the quick glance of the mothers and fathers at the library or children’s museum like a silent fist-bump: I see you. It’s about solidarity and survival. Anyways, we likely – at least, I, – save the energy and effort that goes into brushing my teeth and hair for the rare occasion we go out in the evenings with friends or the significant other, and dress as if it’s 1999, and we are still in college, our lives and children not even a twinkle in the night full of jello shots and beer pong.

Sigh. I’m so glad those days are over. Jello shots. Gross.

“Mostly good is enough. Mostly good produces healthy kids who know they are valued and either forget the other parts or turn them into funny stories.”
Jen HatmakerFor the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards

Because, honestly, I seriously love being a soccer mom. I am ready to embrace it. You know, the kids are at an age where they are just learning and doing so much. The amount they figure out each day grows exponentially. We can hardly keep up with them. One minute they’re crying that they can’t take the lids off of the markers. The next minute they’re channeling Picasso and Monet with all sorts of mediums, not only markers, but glue and tape and scissors (mostly, supervised).

And so, this is what a soccer mom means to me. It means loving their stage of life right now.Click To Tweet

It means loving watching them run and kick and do the worst jumping jacks ever with Coach Keelan. It means loving watching the kids learn to play the piano, and actually sit longer than five minutes to pound out a couple of stanzas with Ms. Susan. It means loving seeing her absolute delight when she finally figures out how to do the monkey bars by herself and he feeds the dog and lets him out on his own initiative.

Who are these people?!?!?

Being a soccer mom means for me loving learning what it means to have children, and be a child. Because what they’re doing is changing and shaping me, teaching and transforming me on a regular basis. It means seeing differently. It means loving hard. It means learning how to receive and welcome. It means being okay with mistakes and failing gloriously.

It means a little bit more proximity to that elusive, but wonderful kingdom. Click To Tweet

I love it. I love it all. I mean, I am so unbelievably exhausted and I still yell and shout and get totally frustrated at their insanity, but I love it.

I love being a soccer mom. I really do. You all are my witnesses – I said it. I love it. Now I just need a minivan.

Ordinary Effects and #WholeMama


The crowded Starbucks.

We’re crammed together at a table of refurbished wood dark but glistening with the reflection of a hot summer morning sun. He took the lid off his coffee cup and I keep staring at the steam that swirls up in front of a backdrop of windows facing out to an impeccable suburbia. A dense forest of trees and cars that rush by in a blur – stillness and speed having a disorienting effect on me as I sit in my own clash of buzz and quiet.

The ordinary is a thing that has to be imagined and inhabited. It’s also a sensory connection. A jump. And a world of affinities and impacts that take place in the moves of intensity across things that seem solid and dead…The vagueness of the unfinished quality of the ordinary is not so much a deficiency as a resource, like a fog of immanent forces still moving even though so much has already happened and there seems to be plenty that’s set in stone. This is no utopia. Not a challenge to be achieved or an ideal to be realized, but a mode of attunement, a continuous responding to something not quite already given and yet somehow happening. 

-Ordinary Affects by Kathleen Stewart.

Rereading this book on the ordinary again and it’s fitting for numerous reasons, one of which is that it is the #wholemama theme this week. I chose ordinary as my One Word for the year in 2013:

So that’s what I’m going with for this year – 2013. Paying attention to what seems small and insignificant. Gazing at what is normally around me instead of passing it by. Being present in the mud and muck, the water, the laughter, the skies, the bite of a cold wind, the pink of a child’s nose and cheeks, the fleeting thoughts and difficult-to-describe emotions. Embracing the ordinary. Leaning into the ordinary. Growing in the ordinary. Looking out for the ordinary and how it might lead me to kneel at God’s feet, kicking softly in that bed of hay, covered in dirt and cow hairs, his blankets and swaddling loose, and the sound of gurgles and slow blinking…to kneel before God-Incarnate over and over again. It makes sense…to approach God’s very first human throne I would be led there not by a burning bush or even a choir of angels but by something as ordinary as a star and a road.

It’s strange to think that a word can continue to summon meaning and necessity.

Kathleen Stewart writes about her project: “[It is an endeavor towards] speculation, curiosity, and the concrete it tries to provoke attention to the forces that come into view as habit or shock, resonance or impact. Something throws itself together in a moment as an event and a sensation; a something both animated and inhabitable.

The ordinary is a shifting assemblage of practices and practical knowledges, a scene of both liveness and exhaustion, a dream of escape or of the simple life. Ordinary affects are the varied, surging capacities to affect and to be affected that give everyday life the quality of a continual motion of relations, scenes, contingencies, and emergences…They’re things that happen…in impulses, sensations, expectations, daydreams, encounters, and habits of relating, in strategies and their failures, in forms of persuasion, contagion, and compulsion, in modes of attention, attachment, and agency, and in publics and social worlds of all kinds that catch people up in something that feels like something.”

Sometimes my body rebels against the ordinary. I keep thinking that I can, will, should pursue the sensational and magnificent, and the continuous trek I make to the refrigerator for juice-apples-cheese-carrots all day long seems lacking in any kind of glamour.

Is it the ordinary that my insides revolt against ... or I wonder if I fear getting lost in this banal routine?Click To Tweet

I think of Kathleen Norris and her spiritual discipline of folding laundry. And Brother Lawrence who discovered a kind of peculiar gratification in washing dishes. At least a few times a day I almost touch on it, too, my hands plunged into the soapy water and the rhythm of scrubbing and rinsing and organizing. A baptism over and over. The steady hush of towels and tiny t shirts and shorts increasing in stacks all around me. But, it’s those socks that wrench me out of whatever tranquility. I can never find all the socks.


The ordinary is the stuff of our lives – it doesn’t arouse feelings of momentousness and relevance. The conversations around me about kitchen renovations and the distance between the refrigerator and island that make me feel like I might lie down in the drive-thru here at the Starbucks … it is everyday life. It simply is. And when I go back home to the continuous push-and-pull of children needing something and everything … same thing – it simply is what it is. And the ever present choice in front of me is to either try to escape it with meaningless pursuits of attention from the wider world or I can bear down and clutch that reality in my fingers as though it is a dandelion blowing away in the wind.

Because it is.

It’s not to say that escape periodically isn’t ok – we need a respite – a break – a change in scenery. But all these moments can be occasions to make meaning. To make beauty and art. To make music. To see and receive more.

The Christmas Spirit is that hope
which tenaciously clings to the hearts of the faithful
and announces in the face of any Herod the world can produce
and all the inn doors slammed in our faces
and all the dark nights of our souls
that with God all things are still possible,
that even now unto us
a Child is born!

I want to experience that hope, that tenacity, that radical possibility in the midst of the ordinary this year, and to share that experience with others.

Part of #WholeMama this week as hosted by Esther Emery. Lovely conversations!

Whole Mama

Anna, I See You


My eyes are squeezed shut in the mornings when I hear her pad softly into my room. She’s always the first one awake. Always. Like clockwork, just before 7 am, her bladder awakens her, and after she is done with her business, she climbs quietly into my bed and puts her face right next to mine. I pry my eyes open and the tip of her nose is pressed lightly against the tip of mine and there’s a smile that stretches across that gorgeous face. Without my glasses I’m almost blind, but at this range I can see the perfect sang-ah-pul on her eyes. Her dark lashes seem to reach out to me.

“Good morning, mommy,” she whispers quietly, and I say, “Hi, beauty, did you have good sleep?” She nods at me, and says she’s hungry.

I roll out of bed with a sigh and a thud; my feet land on the floor. And off we go.

The rest of the day I feel like I’m running up and down the stairs beating the same path from my room to their room to the laundry to the kitchen back to their room and so on and so forth. The kids need apple juice. I need to pee. The kids need socks. I need to wash my face. The boys want their damn ninja turtles. I need to put a shirt on. The girl wants a scarf to tie her baby doll to her back. I need to find my glasses. The baby boy wants to have a dinosaur shirt like his big brother. Where’s my coffee? I run around the house looking for that cup of salvation. There it is. It was on the dryer. The girl needs socks. I need my shoes. The kids need their lunches. I need my phone. The kids want to watch Rescue Bots. I need them to get in the freaking car … right now and sit down and put on your seatbelts!

Did I brush my teeth? Shoot. No. 

They go to camp or school for a large portion of the day. And my mind is in a daze as I try to organize a to-do list, and then sit exhausted from that task alone. After stopping for errands and writing emails in between I pick them up and we come home. And it’s that same trajectory as soon as we walk through the front door. The kids need juice. I need to pee. The kids need socks. I need to send an email. The kids want a show. I need to make a phone call. Then Anna wants me to come to the bathroom with her.

As I stand and wait for her I am looking at my phone again. Reading a blog, maybe. Looking through Instagram. Tweeting a random thought. Or honest to God staring off into space to try to remember that thing I forgot from a minute ago. Or maybe just looking at the wall and wishing it was a happy hour bar. She gets up to wash her hands and sees herself in the mirror. And she sees me, too.

Mommy, do you see me?Click To Tweet

She will say this to me often throughout the day. “Mommy, do you see me? Because I see you.” Lately there are (more) times (than not) when I am short with her and say, “Yes, Anna, of course, I see you” or I snap, “Anna, stop asking me that question, and get in the car,” or “Anna, hurry up and finish going potty and wash your hands.”

It’s been a hard month.

I’ve been snappy and short, impatient and inconsiderate, absent-minded and absorbed. But. Those moments that I see Anna, and our eyes meet in the mirror, I realize her needs are actually really pretty uncomplicated. Juice and socks are helpful. Ultimately though she just wants me to see her.

Seeing is loving when it comes to parenthood and childhood. Click To Tweet

As she grows older I know that she will have to deal with judging eyes, skeptical eyes, diminishing eyes, a gaze that might look at her and see an object (and I swear to God I will kill anyone that dares to see her as anything but wonderful). So I want her to see me seeing her.

It hits me that my needs are pretty simple. Coffee, yes, absolutely, without a doubt. And chips and salsa. And maybe 70 degree weather.

But all I really need is to be seen by her, too.

The Case for Women: Nan-Hui, Purvi, Rekia, and Caitlyn

The Case for Women: Nan-Hui, Purvi, Rekia, and Caitlyn

We’ve entered that stage with Anna. The season where princesses and fancy dresses are the driving force of her life. Headbands with boys. Pink. Oodles of pink and purple and flowers and butterflies. And Frozen is on almost once a day.

I suppose we could have done much worse. At least it’s a story about female empowerment and the love between women and sisters. But I can’t help but think about the state of women today – the fantasy and reality. The stories of real-life women, everyday women, ordinary and regular women, and then namely the women of color who have been served with major injustice makes me wonder if I should still burn all notions of Disney princesses to the ground.

In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn. -Octavia Butler

Think about these stories as of late:

Earlier this year , the state of Indiana sentenced 33-year-old Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison on charges of feticide – an act that causes the death of a fetus – and neglect of a dependent. She received a 30-year-sentence on the felony neglect charge, 10 of which were suspended. A six-year sentence for feticide will be served concurrently. Patel is the first woman in the U.S. to be charged, convicted and sentenced on a feticide charge. Reproductive rights activists are outraged. “What this conviction means is that anti-abortion laws will be used to punish pregnant woman,” says Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director for National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

Nan-Hui Jo (조난희) is a loving single mother, undocumented Korean, and survivor of domestic violence. After fleeing to Korea with her child to escape her abusive partner, she has been charged with “child abduction.” Nan-Hui has been in jail for over nine months without bail. Upon her arrest, her six-year-old daughter was given custody to the child’s father.

On March 3rd, she was found guilty of “child abduction” and is awaiting her sentencing on April 28th. Nan-Hui now faces possible felony charges, indefinite detention, and/or deportation, resulting in permanent separation from her daughter.

Nan-Hui Jo has been criminalized because she is an immigrant, a survivor of domestic violence and the fierce protector of her daughter.

Likewise Rosa Martinez Duarte, a mother of 4 who is a victim of domestic violence, is likewise facing deportation.

Rekia Boyd was fatally shot in the city’s Lawndale neighborhood in 2012. The shooting occurred near the intersection of 15th Place and Albany Avenue as an off-duty Chicago detective stopped to look into a “disturbance” that reportedly involved a group of people gathering near Douglas Park. According to police, after the detective stopped and announced his office, a man — Antonio Cross, 39 — allegedly advanced toward his car with a gun in hand. The officer opened fire from his car, striking Cross in the hand and Boyd, who was standing nearby, in the head.

Have we come very far? We might be able to say, yes, in general, but when I look for shining examples it tends to be narrow and specific. White. Educated. Cisgendered.  Suburban. Economically viable.

And then there’s Caitlyn Jenner. I’m so happy for her debut, and despite the negative response from the insanely Christian Right, which I won’t totally go into how enraged I am at the vitriol they spew in the name of God – I am overjoyed by the expression of support and encouragement. By people of all walks of life. There’s hope. But, Jon Stewart reminds us that there’s still work, when it comes to the treatment of women. The media’s focus on her appearance reminds us that perpetual objectification and sexualization of women’s bodies is oppressive to women:

“Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen, but now you’re a woman, and your looks are really the only thing we care about,” said Stewart on Tuesday’s episode of “The Daily Show,” mocking the media’s focus on Jenner’s appearance and calling out coverage that became immediately disparaging to other women.

“Okay, I have to ask the most important question: Does she have a better body than Kim Kardashian?” was a comment in one broadcast, while, “Do you think Caitlyn is actually hotter than Kris [Jenner]?” was said in another.

“Look, we want to give a woman a compliment here. We just need to make sure another woman gets taken down a peg in the process,” quipped Stewart. The comedian also called out slut shaming over Jenner’s outfit and questions over the use of air brushing on the photo before eventually ending the segment with a sincere message from the heart:

“Caitlyn Jenner, congratulations. Welcome to being a woman in America.”

Even further, Laverne Cox reminds us there’s other work, too, and it’s equally if not more compelling. There are still young people who are at risk every single minute of every single day. There are trans people of color who are on the verge of losing their families, their homes, and their lives. There are trans people who are constantly trying to be who they are despite the violence done against their bodies. I can’t call myself a feminist if I’m not advocating for all women to find dignity, value, and life. And I fee this all the more acutely as Church struggles to make space for all – conforming and nonconforming to whatever societal or “biblically-mandated” convention. 

I have a feeling that for the few readers of the blog I’m preaching to the choir. But as each day goes by, and Anna gets older, I am more and more convinced that a queer of color perspective is necessary to my writing, ministering, organizing, parenting of not only her but of Desmond and Ozzie, too. I want Anna to feel free to love and be a princess but I want Desmond to do so, too. I want Anna to play with trucks and building sets, and not girls’ building sets. I want Ozzie to play with ninja turtles and wear sweaters with flowers because he chooses it. I want them to know and love their bodies in whatever manner they deem fit because their bodies are their bodies. Bodies matter. All bodies matter. Because it’s about acceptance – that they know they are accepted no matter what, and that we in turn are called to love and accept others. Full stop.

The Meaning of Children: Am I A Good Mom?


The following is another post from a series on stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. Click here for more on the series and a list of the contributors. This post was written by a wonderful blogger and writer, incredibly talented singer and courageous pastor, Melissa Greene. 

Am I a good mom?

I can feel those words roll over my tongue and I quickly swallow the idea back down with a little taste of shame and fear in the answer. It’s a thought that swirls around in my mind over and over on some days and then hides away for a while. What is a good mom? has become an even more appropriate question for me to dwell on. Or even better yet what is a good parent? A good parent loves well but is that the only answer? If so what does that look like and does it have exact parameters in which one has to fit in to? Because I often feel that I am spilling over and out of that box. Oh. Sometimes it just feels good to sigh and to watch, to pay attention to what is right in front of me.

Today what is right in front of me is my girl. My 5 – very soon to be 6 – year old. I am helping her make invitations for the neighborhood kids to come to her birthday dinner. Because this is not the big birthday party for her long time friends at the skating rink later in the week and because these are fairly new friends (we are new to the neighborhood.) So I write an asterisk at the bottom of the invite that she quickly tries to read. “No pre… No pra… What does that say Mama?” “No presents needed” – she smiles because she gets it but she quickly adds “But cawds needed. They can still bring me cawds.” Yes baby they can still bring you cards. Oh. This girl is sometimes too much. This is the same girl that just finished arguing with me because she didn’t want to wear the outfit I picked out for her. “Why do I have to be so stylish mama? Why do you always want me to match?” – This is our consistent fight of the day, among many others, when I am home. Ben, her daddy, says I can easily solve that by letting her wear whatever she wants. Agreed, but I would like to teach her how to match and how to express herself with her clothes. It’s something I’ve always loved and I want to pass it on to her. Oh sigh. Yet this is a good day. But others are hard. I work full time at a church which has flexible but long and inconsistent hours. Mama is a pastor and also, on the side, travels to sing and speak in prisons as well. I love what I do. It is an honor and a privilege. But my crazy schedule urges me to ask myself that question, “Am I a good mom?” She, the girl, she reminds me that I am.

Then there is also my boy. He’s turning 9 this summer. He doesn’t like to give kisses. It’s an interesting thing. He hasn’t done so since he was 3. But he will let me kiss him on the cheek, or head, or neck… anywhere but his cute little lips. He still wants my affection although he remains a little guarded. He’s been very much a daddy’s boy as of late. I’ve wondered if it’s due to my extremely busy schedule this year. Is it because Daddy has been the one to take him to school and help with homework? I’ve asked that nagging question – “Am I a good mom?” Then I got his Mother’s day card, the one from school where it’s fill in the blank and they answer themselves. Yes, he joked that I don’t clean very well and wrote that I am a good cook *when* I cook. Ha. But then when it asked what does she do best? He wrote – comfort me. She’s the one who comforts me whenever I am hurt or sad. She is the one I want to be with. Oh sigh. And then I melted. When I put myself back together I answered my own question with yes, yes I am a good mom. My parenting may look different than yours. It may seem unique. But my kids are unique and their needs are unique.

And so are yours.

And so are you.

So when the questions come, laugh at the answers or cry but know at the end of the day you are probably doing the best you can and that, my friends, is more than enough for your kids. At least for now, for me. It doesn’t mean I don’t strive to be better but it does mean I let myself off that hook of shame. So now I’ll go back to comforting and teaching, to kissing necks and dressing kids and most of all to deeply loving them both.


Melissa Greene is a pastor at GracePointe Church (www.gracepointe.net) where she leads under the direction of the Senior Pastor Stan Mitchell. She has been on full time staff for the past 6 years where she weekly leads music, curates the services, and now preaches once a month. Melissa also serves as the Hope Curator for the prison outreach, Timothy’s Gift. www.timothysgift.com In her earlier life, for almost 7 years, she was a member of the Grammy nominated and American Music Award winning Christian group, Avalon. Melissa is Mama to two children, Hutch and Haven, and journeys in life along side one wonderful man, Ben.