Monday, May 29, 2017

The May rush is nearly over

From Saturday's Briefing:

Hang on, folks. You can do it. June is just around the bend.

Soon, our calendars will be less crowded. We can hang up the fancy dresses, put away the Sunday shoes. We can sit down to family dinners in which all members are present in both body and mind.

When May has passed, we can breathe.
The refrain is the same every morning this month in our house: "What do you have tonight?"
Each of us seems to have something — or more than one something — that celebrates an end or marks a new beginning. The inevitable overlap requires practiced logistics as well as special guest appearances by helpers who juggle their own crazy calendars.
Take Monday night, for example.
Katie had middle school tennis tryouts at the high school.
Cooper had solo and ensemble contests at the same high school, but first he needed to come home to change.
I made it home from my final staff meeting of the year (wearing neon yellow for "Reading Brightens Your Future" theme day) in time to drive Katie to the tennis courts. While caught in comically slow parking lot traffic, I waved to Cooper, who was speeding home on his bike.
He was in the shower by the time I pulled into the driveway. His hair was still damp as I drove him back to school for competition.
I arrived for a standing Monday tutoring appointment at exactly 5 p.m. While I was teaching adverbial prepositional phrases, Katie was practicing volleys and Cooper was warming up with scales.
Katie completed tryouts in the middle of my tutoring session and caught a ride home with momma friend Liz, who ferries children from the high school all afternoon.
Cooper finished his second song while I was wrapping up. I sent a text to offer a ride home, but by then his walk was nearly over.
The three of us reunited briefly. As I listened to tales from the court and the band hall, I made a grilled cheese sandwich to fuel my next journey. I left veggies, bread and cheese on the counter for the kids' DIY dinner and returned to the minivan. Next stop: back-to-back church committee meetings.
Both children were still immersed in homework (what is May without some giant projects looming?) when I returned home, this time for good.
It was late, but we need clean clothes and clean dishes, so we launched into super-attack chores mode, taking out the trash, folding towels, loading the dishwasher.
In the middle of all that work, we discussed the obvious: "What do we need to gather for whatever we have tomorrow?"
Cooper needed dress clothes for his National Honor Society induction, which would take place immediately after marching brand practice, leaving no time to change at home.
I needed a beach towel for outside reading day at school.
Katie, mercifully, needed nothing special (except perhaps a nap).
I hesitate to complain about May because it represents what makes our lives joyful -- music and friendship, growth and possibilities, milestones and community. And one day, I know, May will no longer revolve around my children's schedules. I'm not going to wish away these days.
I will, though, embrace June and its slightly lazy days with open (albeit tired) arms.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. She can be reached at

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We miss out on new memories with our kids if we dwell in the past

From yesterday's Briefing:

Moms, I have a gift suggestion for us all. For Mother’s Day, let’s give ourselves permission to live in the moment.
Too many of us live in the past, reminiscing about babyhood or toddlerhood or any day but today. We stare misty-eyed at Timehop photos that reveal innocent eyes, chubby cheeks and seemingly simpler times.
We also live in the future, looking forward to milestones and independence and any event but today. We envy parents who no longer change diapers, then those who no longer pay for daycare, then those who no longer need to ferry their children from place to place.
Our children deserve our attention and adoration today.
On a recent Saturday in Dallas, I woke up to the glory of my children right now.
Katie, Tyra & Cooper at Klyde Warren Park
Together we walked the row of food trucks at Klyde Warren Park, each of us gravitating toward a different cuisine. In the old days, we would have all stood in one line, then another, then another. We’d finally sit, 30 minutes later, crabby and hungry, two-thirds of us eating cold food.
These days, though, I can hand cash to each child. They are old enough and responsible enough to stand in line alone, to order their own food, to pay, to pick up and meet back at a designated table.
We meandered to the playground after our Tex-Mex/Vietnamese/barbecue feast. I was inching toward wistfulness, thinking of days gone by, when Cooper and Katie would have raced to the giant climbing structure, would have begged to jump in the water, would have waited in line for the giant swing.
Instead, Cooper settled in on the bench next to me. (He chatted with me in between Snapchat posts.) Katie wandered to the merry-go-round, not to hop on but spin the little kids as fast as possible.
As I soaked up the sunshine, I worked on soaking up that very moment. A teenager who (most of the time) enjoys my company. A preteen who finds happiness in helping others.
After Katie was worn out from one too many turns of the merry-go-round, we walked a few blocks to the Perot Museum.
We were always on the same floor at the museum, but we weren’t always together. While Cooper was battling with robots, Katie was designing her own light show. While Katie was composing music, Cooper was building towers. 
We enjoyed some shared experiences, but I didn’t feel the need to corral and hover nonstop. When we eventually hit the gift shop, I didn’t have to pry tiny fingers out of the bins of shiny rocks or explain 27 times why we didn’t need another stuffed animal.
Do I miss those days? Absolutely. I don’t have to stare at a photo to remember exactly what it was like to push tiny Cooper on the bucket swing at our neighborhood park or to remember tiny Katie falling asleep among a nest of 27 stuffed animals.
The fact that those days are long gone makes my heart ache a tiny bit, yet longing too much for yesterday steals joy from today.

This Mother’s Day I’m choosing to celebrate how those bygone days have accumulated to reveal the quirky, thoughtful, slightly mischievous children who call me, “Momma.”  I won’t spend a moment wishing away the day, though I trust more celebrations are in store.

Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. You can reach her at