Parenthood can wear on you, and last week was one of those weeks…I recently returned to university to continue coursework on my early childhood special education credential, my teaching career resumed after a long and lazy summer, and my boys returned to school. There was a lot going on, and to top it off, my 1-year-old’s molars were coming in —plus the kids were all crankier and more defiant than usual. On Thursday evening, after a day so tightly scheduled with meetings and paper work that I literally had not had a bite to eat since the early morning hours, I happened to score a large, juicy white nectarine from grandma’s fruit bowl on my way out from picking up the youngest boy. The first bite was succulent and sweet and everything that a nectarine is supposed to be… but before I could take a second bite, my little squeals, “Oooooo Mommy! Where’d you get that? I’m so hungry for it, can I have it?” I turned to him and briefly considered shoving the entire fruit into my mouth before he could ask again…but, as only a parent would do, I handed the coveted prize over to my son, and watched as he devoured it loudly, complete with “Mmmmmmm’s and Yums!” As I silently sulked over my loss, I contemplated the possibility that our children may not ever appreciate the constant, unrelenting sacrifices we make for them from day-to-day. By Friday, amid the chaos of a full house, I found myself wondering if the Himalayan monks were taking new recruits, as a lifetime of solitude (and silence) was sounding rather enticing. It seemed I had been giving all week, with little return. That night I settled against my pillow and questioned whether or not my children were taking anything valuable away from our everyday existence together…sure, I do my part to make sure they are read to, well fed, disciplined and instructed in character education & spirituality–but lately it seems I spend more time acting as a totalitarian ruler of my very own (albeit) small country. In between all the re-directing, scolding, managing, & supervising, are the quality moments the moments they will remember? Saturday morning, while tidying up the aimless stack of papers that was taking over my office area, I found my answer. A paper slid out from my eldest son’s 8th grade language-arts portfolio…and words he had penned months earlier spoke to me, offering instant comfort and reassurance…. I am from baseballs and So-Cal I am from skateboards and baseball hats from picture frames and family gatherings Bookcases stashed with novels, Diplomas hanging in frames on the walls, I am from colorful blankets, weaved to perfection, From Christmas tamales, and burritos The countless cousins and relatives, from Nana’s pistachio cake. I am from baseballs and So-Cal, “Do we have to leave?” and Ventura beaches, From “Get an education” and “Don’t ever put yourself down,” And from stories of children playing in the orchards. I am from the towering pine trees surrounding my neighborhood, the park where I spent most of my childhood. The asphalt and green summers, When the next day seemed so far away. And with that, I found the inspiration to put aside the past week . His poem, a simple, yet powerful example of the ‘little things’ my children are taking away from this big life of ours.