You’ll Never Walk Alone

Dear graduating 2019 MA Cohort in the Linked Learning Curriculum & Instruction program (and friends),

This morning as I woke up, I saw your many posts from commencement last night.  I saw the joy of celebrating this momentous occasion with students, colleagues, friends and family.  I saw the light of the culmination of a program that has had its ups and downs for you all. And in all of that, I saw hope, my hope and yours, reflected in your radiance.

I also woke up with the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (see video above) playing into my head, and it made me think of you.  (Note: While this song is most recently famous for being the team song for the Liverpool Football Club, I know it from the musical Carousel and more specifically from my high school choir, and it’s stuck with me all these years.  I really loved the version that I posted above, which took me a minute to find on YouTube)

So, with all of this, in my head and my heart, this is my commencement speech to you, which is more like an open letter to you, my last lecture, I suppose, about the times you will feel alone, but that you will walk on knowing that truly you are never alone.

Teaching can so often feel lonely and isolating.  When we are in our classrooms and our lessons aren’t going well, for whatever reason.  When we are looking at our grade rosters, knowing that each student has such amazing potential for success and feeling their greatness in our hearts, then seeing that those numbers and letters don’t reflect that greatness, especially for students from historically marginalized groups.  When we are trying to advocate for what’s right for students, colleagues & communities and coming up against institutional barriers, so many institutional barriers, at so many levels.  When we are fighting for a living wage after coming home exhausted each night.  When we have to say no to myriad social invitations (because, hey, we’re still cool and have friends) because we need to prep or grade or do something extra that prompts our non-educator friends and families to say, “Why are you working so hard? Why don’t you just show them a movie?” or “Don’t you already have a worksheet for that?” or “Aren’t you done at 3pm?”  When you are sitting in a classroom, trying to grow yourself, and being saddened, sickened, frustrated by how much you know and don’t know about the educational system and how much there seems left to do. When we, on the regular, stare inequalities and inequity in the face and don’t know what to do except for cry, then regroup and come back to do better.

I know all of those feelings.  I’ve felt them all in the last month, maybe even the last week.  I want to acknowledge that these are the realities of being an educator that cares deeply for students, that believes in their greatness, and that teaches in a  school system that is so far from ideal that the injustice wears you down sometimes, especially when you know that even with many individuals at many levels trying their best, the systemic nature of inequality is persistent.

But, here’s where the lyrics to the song come in.

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark 

(Well, don’t be so afraid that it scares you into inaction)

At the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark

(There are always moments of golden sky and sweet silver songs — they come in the small moments of seeing student growth and improvement, your own growth and improvement, those incremental changes in your classroom & schools.  They also come in the big moments of commencement, of collective action that results in better teaching and learning conditions for students, in structural change that I know can come through our collective advocacy)

Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain,

Though your dreams be tossed and blown 

Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,

And you’ll never walk alone.

You’ll never walk alone. 

My dear forever students, colleagues and friends, walk on with hope in your hearts.  Hold it, keep it and cherish it, like I hold on to you, your growth, your commitments, your collective action, like I cherish each and every one of you.  I will never walk alone because you all walk with me.  You will never walk alone because you walk with one another.  You carry me.  You carry your students, in your heart.  Teaching is about not walking alone.  It is about being a collective; it is about working together to bring about structural change, because we cannot do it alone.

Stay with one another when your dreams are being tossed and blown, when you see the end of the storm.  Celebrate your victories, regroup after your defeats.

I love you.  I believe in you.  I know that we will continue to build coalition and to work towards change.  I am so proud of all you’ve accomplished in this program, but I know that it is truly a commencement, the end of a program, but the beginning of a lifetime of continued growth and improvement.

Thank you for letting me walk alongside you in this journey.

With all my heart,

Dr. Hsieh

Acknowledging Who I Am & Not Just What I do

Me, on a recent trip to Seattle, in a boba shop where I didn’t get boba (but I did get tea!)

I want to talk some more about humanizing interactions.

Yesterday, after a pretty horrible Monday and Tuesday, I had an amazing Wednesday.  I had tea, pastries & dim sum with a dear friend who is chosen family; had an incredible impromptu “office hours” conversation with a colleague who is leading another part of a grant that I’m working on about (among other things) being Asian American, mentoring and striving for social justice while maintaining self-preservation; had a scheduled conversation with some cross-campus colleagues about how to better align our work for teacher candidates; and then had an amazing happy hour/ early dinner with a new friend, who already feels like family, about personal identity and institutional oppression.

These conversations were life-giving, because they acknowledged the best parts of who I am.  In these conversations, I felt respected, heard, valued and that I could both contribute and be contributed to. In most of these interactions, I felt deep love and personal connection to the people with whom I was talking, and in all of them, I felt shared commitment.

These were humanizing interactions.

I think it helped that they were in person, face-to-face.  I find it harder to dehumanize someone when you’re in conversation with them (i.e. talking with, not at them).  As my friend Min reminded me (I think? She has a lot of wisdom so I’m going to attribute this to her), it is our biology to seek belonging and connection with one another.  But, I also think that it was refreshing that these conversations weren’t solely, or even primarily, task-oriented and focused on meeting a goal.

Don’t get me wrong. I am often goal-driven and task-oriented, and I think that we need goal-driven, task-oriented, productive work meetings to move forward on many projects.  I/We get the job done that way (hey, I am the daughter of immigrants).  And I don’t do these tasks, participate in these meetings, or get things done because I want any particular recognition or accolades.  I don’t do them (anymore) to prove my self-worth.  I do them because they help to enact my personal commitments.

[Note: Also, rest assured that my commitment to change and to choose powerfully, asking for institutional acknowledgment and compensation for my work done, instead of giving away my time and energy out of obligation, is still in tact.]

However, what yesterday made me realize is that, what is deeply important to me, more than compensation or acknowledgment for all the things that I’ve done, is to be seen, heard, and acknowledged for who I am.  There is a unique difference that each of us makes as individuals.  Yes, individual change and impact can only go so far, but without individuals (working in coalition), institutions will not change. People are important. Individuals are important.  And, our individual humanity and perspectives are important.

If nothing else, I hope that what I communicate to the people around me is that they matter, not just for what they do, but for who they are.  We are each imperfect, but I believe each person is also trying the best they can with the set of knowledge and beliefs that they have.  It costs me nothing to acknowledge them and who they are, and it can make an invaluable difference in someone’s life.

Peace in the Process

Last week, my son got a D- progress report that I received via e-mail with no warning.

If you know me (and/or my son) in real life, you might imagine that this was an incredibly shocking moment for me.  My son rarely gets a B in his academic classes and since the beginning of this calendar year, we’ve been closer, not more distant, so I was sure he would tell me if he was struggling.  In fact, we had just had a conversation about the class he got the D- in (English, which I used to teach) because he’s reading The Outsiders which I used to teach regularly. He hadn’t reported any issues, in fact, he commented that it was way easier that Twelfth Night, which he read at the end of the last quarter.  This is a class in which he got an A- in the first semester.

Given all this, my first reaction was understandably denial.  This seemed so out of the realm of possibility that I thought it was in error.  Then I was angry, at the teacher and my son for not informing me of the situation before being hit with the progress report.  I texted my son, logged onto powerschool, saw the culprit grades (a poor notebook check where he had a D in classwork and low F in homework) and texted him more to find out more information. I also e-mailed his teacher.

Then, I had to calm down.  I had an interview to conduct for my current research study and I had out-of-town family coming that afternoon, ironically to celebrate my son, whose birthday was at the end of the week.

My son arrived home and our relatives were at the house already.  I could tell that he was trying hard to keep it together and be pleasant while also looking sideways at me like, “How much trouble am I actually in once they leave?”

But, something miraculous happened, dear reader.

Once our relatives left, I talked to my son (sternly, but without yelling at him).  I had him take out the notebook rubric. He explained to me that one of the sheets was in his binder (not his notebook) but that he had lost one of the sheets and gotten half credit on a bunch of his homework because he had misunderstood the directions. Upon further probing, he said that the substitute had told them to take reading notes instead of annotations for one chapter and he had assumed (despite the fact that the prompt said “annotations” and he knows what annotations are) that he just needed to take notes for all the homework.  We walked through the other assignments that he got half or no credit for, found a few errors, but he acknowledged that the bulk of the responsibility was his.

I sighed. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed in him, and maybe a little in myself, but, I mean, what was there to do about what was done? Nothing. So, what could we do moving forward, working with the situation we had.

We reviewed the teacher’s policy on late work, and came up with a plan.  He would go in the next morning, apologize for the poor quality of his notebook (which was not his best effort), show his teacher the assignment that was in the notebook that hadn’t been checked off, ask if he could use a late pass for the assignment he did have but didn’t turn in, advocate for the miscalculated half credit on the homework, then he would do better.

He would not ask for an exception to any of the teacher’s policies, nor was I going to go and do it for him.  We talked about how this was an important lesson to figure out in 7th grade and how he had put himself in the tough position of having to pull his second semester grade up from a low start, a position he wasn’t at all used to.  We also talked about how this situation meant he needed to go beyond the minimum if he wanted to show that he wanted to improve.

His teacher was lovely.  Although she hadn’t contacted me prior to the progress report, she was responsive to my e-mail and generous (more than I expected) in terms of her willingness to let him turn in the entire notebook assignment in late (counting it as a single assignment rather than a conglomeration of smaller assignments) to be regraded.  I know my son, so her other offerings to help him work on organization and to help him focus in class by changing his seat were appreciated, but not necessary at this point.  The goal wasn’t to punish my son, but to do the things that would help him to best succeed in the future.

This is probably the biggest parenting win I have ever had.  That D- was an opportunity for me to prove to my son that what mattered more than a grade was who we needed to be in response to the disappointments in life, even and especially when we have some responsibility for them and can take action to address them.

It was not all a week of wins, but this was a big one, and it showed me that peace is possible in the process of parenting, even when you hit major bumps in the road, and there are always bumps with a toddler and a teenager in the house.

The Incredible Power of Love and Community

There are times in life when thank you seems inadequate.

This is one of those times.

Yesterday, in desperation, I wrote a post about a situation our family, namely one of our older daughters, was facing.  I didn’t know what I could do, and compounded by my own grief and exhaustion, I wrote the post because I needed to move it from my head and my heart out into the world, because it was a burden too heavy to bear alone.

I didn’t even know if anyone would read this post, but it didn’t matter.  What mattered was that it was not our family’s secret and burden to bear alone anymore.  Saying it made it real, allowed me to reflect on it and gave me a space to let others into our world.

But what happened after that was extraordinary.

Literally within minutes, I had several friends respond and reach out to me, offering various gifts: time, space, legal consultation, to set up a GoFundMe site, advice, prayers, and understanding.

I did not expect any of it.

I had thought about crowdfunding, but was hesitant.  I knew my daughter’s need was great, but the sense of my own guilt at not being able to provide everything she needed was really strong. And, neither my daughter nor I ever have been comfortable asking for handouts or asking for even what we need. I felt like I really needed to just figure something else out.

But, when a friend texted me to offer to set up a site for us, and made a compelling argument for allowing others to contribute to what was an acute need in an ongoing journey, I hesitantly agreed. I told her I’d set up the campaign myself so that I could control what parts of our story were told (I’m fiercely protective of my daughter’s privacy despite my own openness to the world). I did so, but resolved to share only once on my page and then just be grateful for even $5 and love.

The crowdfunding and offline donations raised the equivalent to almost 4 months of our support for our daughter which has already allowed her to pay off accumulated debt from this last acute flare-up of her illness (complicated by flu & food poisoning) and provides just a small cushion to keep her in her apartment for a few more months as she tries to figure out how to cope with her ongoing condition. It allows her replace things that had to be thrown away when they were infested with insects.

But, more than all of that, it provides her hope that she is not alone.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than hearing your child, who has done nothing but try her best to do things on her own for her entire life ask you, “Why is all of this happening to me? What do I do?” and having no answer.

But, I have learned that there is nothing more powerful than the love of community–not just through money (although we are SO GRATEFUL for the monetary support) but also through time, encouragement, advice, emotional support, and prayers.

Every single thing means everything to us.

So, even though it is not enough, thank you.  Thank you. Thank you.

It’s That Time of Year Again…

It’s that time of year again.

Sunday, February 3, around 5:30 am, I’ll be preparing to run the Surf City half marathon.  I’ll also be thinking about my mom, who passed away 24 years ago around that time, on February 3, 1995.

Yesterday, I was driving in the car to work, heard a song and started crying.

This morning, I woke up and felt a strange mix of sadness and anxiety. I turned to my husband and acknowledged what we both know.

It’s that time of year again.

This year, the anniversary of my mother’s death is perhaps made more poignant by my journey to reclaim some of my cultural identity through learning my heritage language and beginning a Chinese studies degree.  It stands out as more real because I requested for my 40th birthday that people tell me stories and memories of my mom which brought her home for me in a different way.  It is perhaps more painful because I am not choosing to bury my pain, but instead, seeking to bring light to so many invisible stories, my own and those of others.

So, if you see me (IRL) in the next few days, I will be however I am because grief ebbs and flows, even grief of loss that happened 24 years ago, but know that however I am, I am carrying an invisible weight in my soul that is present with me every day, but more present at this time of year.  Some years it is easier than others.  This year, apparently, is not one of those years, even though I am the most joyful I have ever been in my life.  But that’s okay.

Here’s what I know helps me: 1) Being loved; 2) Getting things done that need to get done (but not too many extra things); 3) Space to grieve; 4) Writing; 5) Crying (sometimes); 6) Good thoughts, prayers and the nod of understanding from those that also know how deeply sudden loss can hurt, even many years later.

So, this is it for now. Time to sigh and pay my monthly bills and head to a full day of work and class.  Thanks for being with me through this time of year.

Mothering, Mom Guilt & Mom Shaming

Three of my four kids 🙂

“Mom, I miss Aisha. Where is she now?” Nate, my 12-year old asked me casually over breakfast this morning.


“Well, son, I actually don’t really know,” I replied

“Why not?” Nate asked.

“Well, Aisha hasn’t really been in contact with us for a little while,” explained my husband.


“Is she in touch with Asha?” Nate asked.

“No, she isn’t really in touch with anyone in the family,” I replied, then adding for whatever explanation I could, “Sometimes, we have to make choices that are the best choices for us, even when it’s really hard.  Aisha is an adult and even though we all love her, her choice right now is not to be in touch with us. She has my number, and I don’t have a way to contact her, so I know that if and when she’s ready, she will reach out.  It makes me really sad, but I just have to trust that she knows what’s best for her right now.”

Pause.  Nate doesn’t really say anything, or maybe he says a, “hmmmm.” The morning goes on. Jojo, oblivious to it all, tells me that she’s finished her whole breakfast, and waits for my congratulations and offer of a clementine to take in the car on the way to preschool. They leave for school as usual. I go on a run. I come back, and, in cleaning my office, I find a large manila envelope I’ve started called “Letters to Aisha.” I can’t read them today, but maybe I’ll add to the envelope later.

It’s a conversation that I’ve known was going to happen eventually — “Where is Aisha? Why don’t we see her anymore?” In the 16 months since we last heard from the older of my twin daughters, and the 3 years since we last saw her, it’s been a conversation that I’ve been bracing for. It went as well as could be expected.  Perhaps, Nate will follow up later after he’s had time to think. And then we’ll have another conversation. I feel more assured that it will go okay because there’s nothing to say but the truth.

My son is close to his older sisters and loves them.  We love them too. But our family story is complicated and has been difficult, as it is for many families, adoptive, biological, mixed.  And, not wanting to tell my adult children’s stories for them, I don’t really talk about it much.  But, today, the conversation happened, and I answered as honestly as I could without assuming more than is fair. It is what I believe, but it is not easy for me.

Being a mother is a challenge.  Over the weekend, I was talking with my friend Yafa and we were talking about the insult that could hurt us the most.  Mine was, “You’re a bad mother.” Objectively, I am aware that I am not a bad mother.  I have done my best to care for all 4 of my children. I have loved them, sometimes beyond what was healthy for me, in the best ways I’ve known how, and provided them with everything I can to help support and sustain them.  I have listened to them, and tried to understand their perspectives when we don’t agree.  I have created safety through boundaries.  I show up to places and events that are important to them as much as I can.  I model the type of human being I’d like for them to be.

However, mothering, like many things in our society seems tied to how successful our children are or seem to be.  Whenever something isn’t right for any of my children, I ask myself whether it was because of something I did or didn’t do.  Even now, as my older daughters are adults, I wonder if there was something that I could have done while we were all together to have changed some of the outcomes in their lives and our family.  For my younger children, when work keeps me away from a performance or when my daughter tells me on FaceTime that she really misses Mommy or when my son tells me (2 years after the fact) about how much of an emotional struggle 4th grade was for him, I wonder.  I realize that my children are agents in their own lives; they all make choices and I have some say in the situations that my younger children face, but much less as they get older. I also know that they all have parts of their lives that I can’t and don’t see. I get this, but it is hard. It is hard because I love them to the core of my soul.

And because I love them so much, sometimes, when I feel like I’m failing them, the mom shame and guilt are real.

I don’t talk about this shame and guilt a lot because: 1) I never want to share my older daughters’ business.  They are adults and had much of their privacy stripped away at different periods of their lives. Because I am protective of that privacy, I don’t want to talk about what’s going on with me in relation to their lives; 2) I’m not necessarily looking for reassurance. I mean, I know I’m doing the best I can. I know I’m not a bad mother.  I get it.  But sometimes, like with everything, I have to name it to let it go; and 3) Well, I like to avoid looking imperfect.

But that’s life.  It is messy and complicated. For mothers. For working mothers. For academic mothers. For me.

And today, for this moment, I have the courage to be honest about what it’s like for me.

Ending the Year with Love

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. — Colossians 3:12-14 (New International Version)

I don’t tend to bring my faith (explicitly) into this blog a lot, but it’s something that’s important to me and fitting to end this year.  This past weekend, the message at my church service was on finishing the year strong with love, and I wanted to spend a few moments reflecting on this, on the last day of the year.

Whether you’re a person of faith or not, when I read the passage above, I think about the many privileges that I have and how important it is to use those privileges to act with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love.  2018 has been a year full of opportunities to either respond in anger or reactiveness or to act with compassion, kindness and patience.

Something I’ve learned in 2018, particularly, is that all of these qualities (compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love) don’t mean that I’m not also fiercely advocating for justice.  In fact, how can we express true compassion and love without advocating for justice? But, what these qualities (when I’m able to embody them) do help me to do is remember that each person, as an individual, is operating from their own perspectives, biases and lenses, within social and societal structures.  If I can speak and listen to them, particularly with the people I know personally, and their humanity, they are more likely to hear what I’m saying.  Will we still disagree with each other?  Since I’ve considered my beliefs carefully and hold on to them strongly, yes, we probably will, on that point.  But, does it mean we can’t coexist peacefully and respectfully? In most cases, no. And, honestly, on the individual level, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the common ground we can find when we have conversations with one another across perspectives.

There are exceptions to this, where I can still hold love for the person, but in order to be compassionate to myself, I can’t interact with that person anymore, and that’s something that I’ve also learned in 2018. Sometimes, I need to walk away. Sometimes, I need not to respond.  Sometimes, the most loving thing to do is to leave a toxic situation. Sometimes, I do best to remember that change that makes an impact is structural and not individual, and I need to use my energy to dismantle structures, rather than focusing solely (or even primarily) on changing individual hearts.

Because I am trying always to embody the qualities mentioned above, I give away my time and energy in ways that aren’t actually compassionate, kind or loving to myself. I struggle most with being patient, forgiving and humble where there’s something that I need to get done or someone who needs more help than I can give.  I need to remember that I can’t be all things to all people (humility!) and that I can’t be anything to anyone, if I’m not first engaging in self-preservation.  And that’s challenging.  It’s something I need to continue to work on balancing as I move into 2019.

As this Biblical passage goes on, it talks about being grateful.  And, I am so grateful, for my community, that journeys alongside me, in life, and online, that remind me to be compassionate and kind, humble and gentle, patient and loving, to others and to myself.  I wish you all the best that 2019 has to offer and hope you end 2018 in peace, joy, and love.

O Come All Ye Faithful

Courtesy of Jill 111 via

This morning I woke up to the sound of my 3.5 year old calling for her mommy. I walked the few steps from my room to her room, and laid by her toddler bed, in her warm room, in a home we own, in the only home she has ever known, until she drifted back to sleep.

Last night, my husband and I were reflecting, before bed, on where our own parents were when they were the age we are now.  His family had just come from Peru, landing in Miami, when his dad was the age he is now, starting a new life with a 9 year old and a 6 year old (eventually, they would add a little girl to their family in the states).  My mother was caring for her own newborn (me!) when she was my age.  Soon, she would also begin a new chapter of her life, moving across the US from New York to California with a young toddler and an almost teenager, to be with my aunt, uncle and grandmother, during a difficult time of transition as she and my father divorced.

This morning, laying next to my daughter’s bed, I thought about the migrant children who are spending this Christmas Eve separated from their families in Tornillo, Texas.  I thought about the Cambodian-American children across the US separated from parents who were recently deported to Cambodia after years of peacefully living in the US, parents who had lived all of life that they could remember in the United States after resettling here as political refugees.  I thought about military families who are spending this holiday separated from one another as a family member is involved in an overseas engagement.  I thought about families separated from their loved ones by loss, grief, mental illness, toxic relationships, etc.

And then I looked back at my daughter, now joined by my 12 year old son. I thought about the first Christmas and the family at the center of that story, a newborn baby, mother and father, separated from their own community, but joined by a choir of angels, shepherds, wise men, who gathered to bring gifts and community when they might have otherwise felt even more alone and overwhelmed.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and if you, like me, are fortunate enough to be with family, I hope you’ll be a blessing to others, particularly those that may most need the blessings of community in this season. (And, I hope you’ll work, all year around, to bring families back together and address the conditions that lead to so much suffering in families across the nation and the world.  But, for today, if we could just bless one another, in spite of our differences, that would be a great start.)

My Boy

Our temporary “pet”: Sir Ma’am Sparky Swift snacking on an apple slice

Leave it to my son to recognize gender ambiguity in a snail (collected from our neighborhood during a dog walk to bring to school for “snail races” in science) and acknowledge it, along with ideas from his mother and father, in a 4-part name: “Sir Ma’am Sparky Swift.”

This encapsulates the charm of my boy.

12 years of an old soul in a young person, awkward and quirky, funny, mature, with selective hearing but ever-present love.

It’s such an honor to be my son’s mother.

He is the best of both his parents: loyal and loving, brilliant, responsible, creative, driven and fun.

But, he is also all of our insecurities and some of our faults, which somehow seemed to miss his sister: unsure of his place in the boy world of adolescence & middle school, worried about his present and future (except when he’s not), driven by the fear of disappointing those he loves, forgetful whenever things aren’t according to routine (ahem, forgetting to turn in fundraiser money, forgetting binder on bus, forgetting his trombone at school over Thanksgiving break).

As I watch him transition from child to teenager, and see the glimpses of the adult he’ll be, I tear up at the thought.

How did my little newborn become almost as tall as I am in the blink of an eye?  When I blink again, will it be to blink away tears at his high graduation? At his wedding? When he is holding his own newborn?

I don’t know the future, but I am glad for this present, to hang out with my son and talk about our favorite Food Network shows, drink milk tea with boba, eat lots of great food (and instagram it), and go to musicals.  While I probably will never quite be able to share in bonding over video games in the same way as he can with his dad, I am grateful for Nate’s appreciation of who each one of us in the family is, and I am grateful for who he is.

He is extraordinary. He’s a keeper.

(Unlike Sir Ma’am Sparky Swift, who will be returned to a non-plastic, natural habitat soon…)

My Girl

Artist: Johana P (with aid from her father)

“Mommy, I made you a rainbow, all in my favorite color (orange) and then I put a heart because I love you, Mommy.  And then, see, Papa helped me write, ‘I love you, Mommy!” I made it for you”

“Sweetheart, it’s beautiful! Thank you so much. Mommy is going to hang it in her office.”

“Mommy, that’s a good idea.  That way, when you miss me, you can look at my painting and remember that I love you.”

My girl is 3 and a half.

She sometimes throws inexplicable tantrums, tells me, “I don’t like that plan,” and refuses every meal option we give her at dinner time.  She is disappointed when she has to go to school, and excited for home days. She is sad when I have to leave for a work trip or a choir practice. She tells me that I pick the best presents and clothes for her.  She loves arts and crafts, reading on the couch, and children’s programming (at the moment, her favorites are Nature Cat, Phil the Cat, Daniel Tiger, and a few Puppy Dog Pals and Doc McStuffins episodes for good measure). She sings and runs and tumbles and talks.

She is frustrated then she is happy. She is terribly upset then made better with a hug.

She is my mini-me. She is my heart. She is my inspiration.

I love you, Jojo. I’m so grateful to be your mommy.