This is the piece I performed at the 2015 Inaugural Seattle Listen to Your Mother Event. Stay tuned for video footage, coming soon…

Before my daughter, Lilah, began preschool in September, the school sent us a list of required items and asked us to include them in an emergency kit.

Should Mt Rainier decide to blow its top…

Or “The Big One” rattle us all half to death…

These kits are meant to provide children with basic supplies and a connection to their families.

But any parent who has ever put one of these kits together will tell you they wait until the last minute – and literally do it holding their breath. Imagining your child going through something so scary, without you, is the worst possible thing you can conjure. Yet we are forced to stare this reality dead in the face.

If God forbid Lilah ever sees the contents of her kit, it will mean the worst case scenario has occurred.


Here’s what I’ll say if she does:

1    The Hat
You’re right. We should have taken the time to find a pink hat instead of packing the hand me down blue hat. Not because I believe girls need to wear pink and boys need to wear blue. But, because, although you’re 2 years old already, you still don’t have very much hair.  So I’m sorry if when they were frantically looking for the little girl from Room 237 they passed right by your trembling body because they assumed you were the boy from 216.

2    The Over-sized Sweatsuit
True. That is one hell of an ugly outfit. Which is exactly why we didn’t mind parting with it, in all of it’s green velour glory, for the whole school year. The fact is that you seem to outgrow your clothes overnight! We needed all of your cute outfits for the days when we aren’t having an emergency. Besides I hardly think anyone noticed your Tony-Soprano-like-tracksuit with the power being out and all.

3    The Mittens
The partially charred hand-me-down mittens weren’t my fault. You can blame your brother for that. Believe me, he is now perfectly clear about the fact that sticking one’s hands into an open fire is not the recommended approach to roasting marshmallows. But the fact is that Target wasn’t selling mittens yet, since it was still summertime, so these were the only ones we could scrounge up on such short notice.

4    The Bag
About the bag situation. I know. It’s a hot mess. But the over-sized sweat suit took up so much freaking room; we couldn’t get the 1 gallon Ziploc to actually zip. So I wrapped the Ziploc in two of those clear plastic bags – you know, the ones from the produce section of the grocery store, then twirled the tops together and tied them in a knot. I do regret not at least using a proper twist tie.

5    The Picture
I’m not gonna lie, it’s not the best picture of you. But we wanted to include a picture of the whole family and the problem is that I’m always the one taking the pictures. So this is the only picture I could find where we’re all together. I’m sorry you happen to look like a constipated goldfish.

6    The Diapers
I’m not sure why I thought four diapers would be enough to last you an entire day. I should have considered the fact that you would be shitting your pants more than usual. But I’m sure Emily’s mommy packed enough to go around. She always does. 

7    The Letter
I feel awful (just awful!) about writing your comfort note on a thank you card. It was the only thing I could find last minute. But I make no excuse for what I actually wrote in the letter:  “Dear Teacher Helen, Lilah can’t read yet. Thank freaking god! Please say something nice and comforting to her because I couldn’t stop crying long enough to actually finish this letter. You are an ANGEL!”

I just wasn’t tough enough that day.

But I promise, God, if we can just make it through the rest of the school year without needing to open the emergency kit, next year Lilah’s kit will be the best damn one you’ve ever seen. I’ll add Pixy sticks because I know how much she loves sugar and I’ll even decorate her Ziploc bag with glitter glue, so she’ll know just how phenomenally special she is.  And no matter how painful it is, I’ll begin by writing her a letter from the heart:

Sweet, Sweet Lilah,

You learned to string words together when you were just 11 months old. One of the first phrases you said was “I all done”. You’d say it when you wanted to get out of your high chair, so you could run around and chase your brothers with your dirty little food-caked fingers, or when you were ready for us to come get you out of your crib after nap-time, so we could scoop you up and nuzzle your hot little cheeks, or when you were tired of being in your car seat and you wanted to climb into my arms, no matter how many times I told you I couldn’t hold you and drive at the same time.

That’s why I can picture you right now, waving your two tiny hands in the air, to say with sign language what you are also saying out loud: “I all done. I all done! I ALL DONE!!”

I bet you didn’t know I can see you even when we’re not together. Isn’t that magical? I can touch you, too. Did you feel that? That’s me squeezing your little hand, taking in your sweet toddler scent, gently rubbing your back just the way you like it. I’m there with you, right now, by your side. We all are.

Soon our whole family will be home again. And we’ll have many more adventures together. We’ll dip our toes into the icy ocean waves, dig our feet into the warm sand, and roast marshmallows over the open fire. You’ll be so tired you’ll fall asleep in Mommy’s arms, and I will sit so still. So very still. Because I’ll never want to stop holding you. 

Lilah, I know you probably feel like you are “all done”. Be patient – this will be over very soon. Now it’s time to be a strong little girl. Be a good listener. Try to help Teacher Helen. Try not to fight with Theo. Maybe give him a hug instead. I’m sure he could use one.

With Endless Love,

From Your Adoring Family