I Dream of Flying

by Charlotte on March 22, 2010 · 56 comments

Gym Buddy Allison took this pic – in addition to being She-Ra in the gym, she’s also a phenomenal photog.

He was just a small boy on a swing.

A boy like any other boy on a swing like any other swing on a day like any other day. Nothing remarkable. Nothing special. Just a boy. One very small boy.

So why was I crying? It started with his feet. You see, his legs were too short to touch the ground which left his Spiderman-clad feet swinging ineffectively in the air. The swing would not obey his impotent commands and twisted gently in the breeze, thwarting his dreams of touching tree branches. Of flying. Of falling back to earth to be caught at the last second and jerked upward again until the sun shone full in his face and the laughter escaped his throat. But he couldn’t kick off and even if he were to somehow overcome the initial inertia binding him to the earth, he hadn’t learned how to pump his wee legs yet and so would be quickly righted by gravity.

He called out for someone to push him but his voice had no sense of urgency, almost as if it were done merely out of habit and not because he thought anyone could hear him. He was not altogether wrong. Up until that very second nobody could hear him.

In one sharp moment my world of vision-less words collided with his world of wordless visions. He was calling for me. His tiny, tinny voice which rasps my exhaustion-honed nerves more than I’d like to admit, finally pierced the swirling cloud of words and ideas that cushion me so tightly that small things like appointments and friends’ birthdays and dinner menus aren’t merely forgotten but are actively not remembered. Things like small boys.

Three things I learned outside today:
1. There is half of a dead rabbit in our backyard. Just the bottom half, in case you are curious. Discovering that there is a wild raptor in our suburban trees is oddly thrilling. Also: I have no good answer to “Why that rabbit has no face, mommy?” other than the truth: A bird ate it off. That feels wrong.
2. My baby has light auburn, almost strawberry blond, hair and in the sunshine her eyes look like two sapphires. Nobody in our immediate family has light hair or blue eyes. She is a beautiful alien creature that I know less about than I thought I did.
3. A six-year-old and a seven-year-old will give up their video games to poke sticks in the mud if I let them take off their shoes. Even though it is 60 degrees cold outside. Mud can only be appreciated with bare toes.

People have been telling me ever since I had children to enjoy this time now while they are young because it passes so very quickly, that the magic that enlivens Velveteen Rabbits and vanquishes dragons and allows mommy kisses to heal wounds will disappear like so many Lite Brite pieces on Christmas morning. I thought I understood what they meant. The problem with that advice – besides the fact I find the sharp little Lite Brite pieces every time I sit down on our pee-perfumed couch – is that it often comes from a place of forgetful regret. These advice-givers are not pacing the floors at 3 a.m. with my inconsolable, colicky infant and chunky vomit crusted on the inside of their bra. These random people in the grocery store are not humiliated when my son drops trou in the middle of a crowded amusement park to relieve himself on a plastic tree. These elderly people were not there the day my son climbed out of his car seat, over the back of my chair, jumped on my head and tried to claw my eyes out while I was driving down the freeway because – and I’m serious – I wouldn’t buy him Chinese food for lunch at the mall food court. But most of all these Further Along Parents aren’t there for the daily grind of meals and baths and bedtimes and tantrums and the relentless around-the-clock stream of demands. Children are black holes of need. Perhaps they have forgotten this.

Admission: Having young children is the boot camp of parenthood. At least it is for me. I’m not proud to confess this. I know it isn’t this way for all mothers. But there it is. Which isn’t to say I don’t love my children. I love them with a ferocity that surprises, stupefies and even frightens me. As their mother, I am the one in charge of this great balancing act of supply and demand – a skill that I am not very good at yet. Perhaps I will never learn to manage both my selfish desire to read and write until I am sated, with their desire to be sated by me. Yet my shortcomings as a mother should not punish them. This neediness is not their fault.

Today my son needed a push. So he could fly.

I dream of flying.

Post Script: Today is the day I drop down to three days a week of blogging, folks. Maybe less if there are more swings that need pushing. You will also see a lot less of me around the ‘net. This has been a long time coming. I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails since the Jelly Bean has been born. Why? When I first started blogging, I read somewhere (Where? Who knows where thoughts come from, Joe?) that the cardinal rule for a good blog is that you must post something every day. I don’t know if that’s true. All I know is I can’t do it anymore. Some of you, I imagine – perhaps vainly – will be disappointed. Others will probably be relieved – one less blog to hit on the comment rounds. Either way this feels like failure to me. I’m a girl that likes to do everything 100% or nothing and I’m tempted to just walk away. Two things hold me back: 1) I can’t stop writing, even if I wanted to. 2) I love you guys too much. It’s a very selfish thing really but reading your comments and sharing your lives through e-mails and your blogs has been one of the great privileges of my life. I don’t want to lose you. So I’m going to try this thing called moderation. Other bloggers have done it and survived. Wish me luck.

Written By Charlotte Hilton Andersen for http://thegreatfitnessexperiment.blogspot.com only! Not to be re-published without permission.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Legally Fabulous March 22, 2010 at 3:56 am

I am a newer reader of your blog, and love it. I don't have children, but enjoyed this post.
I will keep reading even if you don't post as often… life happens, I understand. :)

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Rozemary March 22, 2010 at 4:10 am

You area a sweetheart and an amazing Mother with her mind and heart in the right place. I miss you, old friend! And am even more and more impressed with you each blog post I read (even though there will be only three a week). :)
You are making a good decision and don't worry, you status as -SUPER MOM- and -WONDER WOMAN- (as far as I'm concerned) are still VERY much intact.
Have fun helping you children "Fly". :)

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azusmom March 22, 2010 at 4:12 am

Just gonna echo what Rozemary said. Blog as much or as little as you need to, we'll be here!
Having babies and toddlers is so much more difficult than anyone can imagine, unless they've been there! And, yes, as they get older, we DO start to romanticize those days.

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Jenn March 22, 2010 at 4:19 am

Wow Charlotte! This is beautiful. I read it three times with tears in my eyes.

I don't intend to dismiss your feelings but I would like to say I see the commitment to your priorities and convictions a major (and all too often rare ..generally not personally speaking) success.

I will be looking forward to those 3 days a week.

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Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) March 22, 2010 at 4:20 am

Oh Charlotte. Welcome to the moderation module. If the first rule of being a good blogger is to blog daily then I've sucked ass since I started my blog. I made it my rule to never post more than every other day. And as you know recently I have cut back even more. Honestly, the first day or so I felt sad, then I didn't feel that way. The world still marched on and I'm hoping that people still appreciate my posts even if it's only twice a week now. I know the same will take place in your blog. You have such a rich full life and you need to fly.

PS. This may have been one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read.

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anna raway March 22, 2010 at 4:38 am

Who know where thoughts come from Joe, they just appear! Mmhmm! Love this post and I understand how you feel gf!

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mjb March 22, 2010 at 4:46 am

Good for you. I'm so glad to hear you're doing this (not because I don't like your blog…)

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sariqd March 22, 2010 at 5:06 am

I love, LOVE this post. It resonates with me with trying to juggle a newborn & 2 kids who are going through such a difficult transition. Yet, I was being selfish with spending time on the internet, writing & etc… then it came. The realization that I was sucking at being a good Mom happened when I realized that I hadn't hugged my daughter all day and she told me she was lonely. (Yes, it made me wanna puke & I'm still lashing myself.)

Btw – you're still giving 100%. Think about it. You've just redefined your standards as in posting only 3 times a week.

Love you girl!

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KUrunner March 22, 2010 at 6:51 am

While it will be completely sad not to turn on the computer and have a new witty post everyday, but kids grow up waaaay too fast. I look at my oldest and wonder how she turned 8 because it really does seem like just yesterday, she was the baby.

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 22, 2010 at 8:59 am

I read Deb's comment and she has been a ROCK of support to me in my own major blogger conundrum.

This is so true: "All I know is I can't do it anymore. "

Me neither. I am sacrificing sleep, my time w/ my family, etc for people I don't "know" in real life. Something has to give in my own situation too. And when you're relieved to see a blogger NOT post b/c it's one less comment to leave, not just you but in general (and thank you for saying that!) that means it's spiraled too far…and I admit to feeling that way.

I totally need to find balance. It's a full time job and I want to be part time :) I am black/white, all in or not, on things like this so that is why i cant or havent reduced. I dont know how to do something halfway, I am balls out or just out.

Please, please LMK how it feels for you to not be a part of things, if gasp, your traffic suffers, if you care, likely not! and why should you, i cant believe i even wrote that. But just the whole cutting back…as time permits, if even, write me and LMK how you're doign with it. That's another thing, another reader who "wants something"…I am that annoying reader for you now!

xoxo

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carla March 22, 2010 at 10:23 am

You know I support you and, in fact, decided the same thing starting april first.
I have one child. one day job. one blog. one husband. and I CAN NOT FIND THE BALANCE LATELY.
How on earth you do it I shall never know :)

maybe for now we could put our bloggingheads together and when Im not posting Ill link here or vice versa?

I shall email today.
we missed you this weekend.

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Cara March 22, 2010 at 11:01 am

charlotte, just a quick note to say I never stopped reading, and as long as you keep writing (regardless of frequency) I'll keep reading.

now go be a mom, it's so much more important than being a blogger, x

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Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 11:23 am

Take care of yourself and family first. Your blog is bright spot in my day but shouldn't be a burden for you. Best wishes

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Leigh Anne March 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

I sit here in tears reading this post. Days (or perhaps 2 1/2 weeks) from delivering my second baby) and knowing that my first baby has been suffering through my pregnancy exhaustion and moodiness. To the point that 2 weeks ago she looked at me with tears in her eyes and told me she just wanted happy Mommy. To the point that 2 weeks with her grandparents was desperately needed. It was not her fault exactly.

And these posts are the reason I will read even if you only post once a month and even if I rarely if ever comment.

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Primal Ninja March 22, 2010 at 11:48 am

Hi, I am relatively new to your blog, but wanted to say I have really enjoyed reading it and the archives over the past month or so.

Family is so important and I am sure your readers will want to read the blog even if you posted once in a blue moon.

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Dr. J March 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Beautiful, buddy!! I dreamed of flying too :-)

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Allie (Protein Girl) March 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Motherhood is the Marine Corps Basic Training of Parenthood, sometimes it's survival. When gray haired grandparents wistfully shake their head in the store, "enjoy it while it lasts" it feels like your face is in the mud and your military commander is saying "Enjoy it Private! This is as good as it gets!" Enjoy this?

But then, there are those bonding hair brushing moments like last night that melt my heart. And there are those little legs kicking on the swing that suddenly stop time and all we can do is choke back the tears.

"This too shall pass" goes for those hard moments and unfortunately, also for the best.

Love your writing Charlotte!

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JavaChick March 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I'll miss the daily posts, but I totally get it. I couldn't keep up with daily posting and I don't have kids. I don't know how you've kept it up as long as you have!

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Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I almost never comment, but today i felt that i needed to. That was a beautiful post and to make it even better it was capped off by a quote from my favorite movie! (I <3 Empire Records)

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Fit Mama March 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Enjoy the better weather with those little ones! I agree that it is such a difficult balancing act, and I just have the two. And I doubly agree that young childhood is the most difficult stage. Specifically newborn-hood, in my case. I'm counting down the days until my little Jill turns into an interactive infant rather than a lumpy newborn…

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman March 22, 2010 at 1:38 pm

This is so beautifully said. I’m not a mom, but I can understand your motives perfectly from this post. Go out and enjoy the sun and grass and air with your kids. As long as you’re not leaving us for good, we won’t hate you. Just don’t leave us for good, OK?

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véronique March 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I don't believe a blog needs to be updated daily in order for it to be successful. For instance, with an RSS feed your readers will know when you've added content. Regular enough posts keep a blog alive. 3 a week is plenty.

From a girl who is also an all or nothing type, let me know how that moderation thing you speak of works out. I fail to start most things or give up most things because of this character flaw. For instance, I can't start a diet until the stars have aligned, my social calendar and schedule is free (which is never!), etc. I can't just SORTA start. I have to TOTALLY dive in. It's why I am really bad at pursuing something "on the side", like my singing… if I can't do it full-time, full-in, I freeze.

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Patricia March 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I must confess, I've been surprised that you've managed to be blogging so frequently since you had your little jelly bean. With my 2 month old and 3 year old, I barely have a chance to reply to emails or even read blogs on a daily basis.

I agree that it's tough to enjoy this time while they're young. I often feel guilty when I'm taking the other half of the advice, take time for yourself. When you have a whinny toddler and a needy infant, it's hard to appreciate all the moments! But when we do have those magical moments you can't help but feel the amazement of having brought those babies into the world!

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bjbella5 March 22, 2010 at 2:22 pm

What a wonderful post and I am so happy to hear you are cutting back! As someone who also struggles with "100% or failure" issues I can imagine how hard this was for you. I love your description of motherhood as the "balancing act of supply and demand", oh so true and so very hard!

Congratulations on your decision!

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Geosomin March 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Charlotte,

I'm always grateful for your honesty. And kindness…

Take the time for you and your family. They are so very much more important than little old us…es. Write for *you*, not us. .

I haven't had my little peoples yet an I am in awe of people who cabn be parents and have lives as well. I can barely keep it together as it is! Do whatever you think is best to have the time with them you need. It can't all be vomit contests and screamfests! Cherish the good stuff that comes along with it…:)
We'll be here cheering from the sidelines.

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Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

your fans will remain faithful, Char, whether you post twice and week or five times, whether you leave comments for us/them or not. We come b/c we adore your insight and style. Good for you for doing what you want/need. xoxoxox

Leslie NeverSayDiet http://www.ivillage.com/there-room-hollywood-gabourey-sidibe/124698

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Allison March 22, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Oh, Charlotte… I don't know you at all but sitting here in the warmth of a Northern California spring morning I would gladly hop a plane to cold wherever-it-is-that-you-live to hug you.

Not only do I not mind your decision to back on your blogging, I honor you for it!

Two rules of Mommyhood I try to hang on to:

1. The days are long but the years are short. The trick is figuring out how to soldier through one and treasure the other.

2. Don't stand if you can sit, Don't sit if you can lie down, and Don't stay awake if you could be sleeping. (and for you I add: Don't blog if you could be pushing a swing.)

Go get 'em, Mommy.

Allison

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VaMomof2 March 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm

You have been super human for too long – heck – reading your wonderful prose just once a week would be enough for me! With things just blooming and summer on the way, enjoy life.

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Jo March 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Blog every day? What?

I've been doin' it for six years, and I've never blogged every day. Screw that noise, Charlotte.

And don't you dare feel any sense of failure about posting or not posting. You're a mother first, blogger second. You take what time you need to live your *real* life. The internet will always be here later.

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marathonmaiden March 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm

((hugs))

you need to keep your family and yourself as the top priority here! so try not to feel bad about not posting as often as you have in the past (obviously easier said than done). you sound like you have your priorities right!

i'll keep reading no matter how much (or little) you post. just make sure you don't lose your wit when you do post becaause i love it when you make me laugh :)

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Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I've been pretty astounded that you've been blogging daily since the birth of your latest. I keep wondering "Where in the heck does she find the time?"

Twice a week is fine and dandy!

dragonmamma/naomi

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AnnieRuns March 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Hi Charlotte,

I would continue to read your blog even if it was just 1 day a week. You are a wonderful writer and reading your blog makes me laugh out loud every time. I can only imagine that it will be even better when you take this opportunity to acquire more life experience. Enjoy your beautiful family!

Hugs,
Ann : )

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Alina March 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I am so happy you are going to continue blogging! Personally, I read you through my Reader, so whether you post once a week or seven, it's the same to me as long as it's your voice!

On a personal note, I am 24 and kind of terrified of children in part because I am already anticipating the future guilt and stress that comes with it (I see it in my loving career mom, for sure!) But I turned out ok. I really wish you the best of luck with meeting your own needs and your expectations of yourself as a mother! If you figure out the secret, please write about it.

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M March 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Hah, you think dropping to 3 days a week will get rid of me (and the rest of your readers)??!! NICE TRY, think again.

Plus, having a mom that is always available (even though I'm 22…), is the most amazing thing in the world- I'm half a country away, but if I need mittens, you can bet they'll be in the mail the afternoon after I call, it's fantastic. Though, she does have more time now that her youngest is 15…regardless. Plus, it's pretty adorable that her main question is "Are you cold? Do you need more blankets?". It's like she forgets that the rest of Canada has heating also…and that I own many many blankets and sweaters.

How could anyone fault you for wanting to be the best mom posible?

When's the book being released?

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Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I love your blog. I think it's funny and smart. I really enjoy reading – and I love your perspective on things.

So on the one hand, I will totally miss the daily posts. But on the other – you do need to live and enjoy your life, kids or not.I get that.

I tried to do the blog thing – on top of a full time job, a part time job, workouts, errands, life in general. I couldn't keep up. Some people may not understand just how much time and energy it takes to keep posting all the time, monitoring comments, commenting elsewhere on the net. It was a third job – too much. And so I gave it up totally. It wasn't worth it to me.

I just can't imagine how some people are able to post three times daily. What kind of life must they have? Who has time to live life and do that? The ones I have seen that can keep it up are mainly the ones who don't work and don't have kids. But still . . .

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Joshua March 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm

The first thing I do when I get to work, literally, is load up your blog. I will continue to do so just so I can read what's new or find something in the archives. You do what you have to do, we'll be just fine waiting for you.

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workout mommy March 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm

totally crying right now. i'm missing too many moments for what!? a full time job that i don't get paid for?

(smacking self in the head.)

Reality check needed, thank you!

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Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 7:03 pm

**standing ovation***

bravo Char! I am one who romanticizes about those days with young toddlers at home. Those are the carefree days…just wait:) i would love to be ruled by diapers and naps and storytime instead of school calendars.

good for you. now take off and fly!

Mary Kate

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BRITT March 22, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Well, I can't really add anything that hasn't been said- I agree with everyone here… I love this post, and SO admire you in so many ways. I'll still be reading, 3 posts a week, or 3 posts a year. :)

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Joan March 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I just discovered your blog on Friday – and it is so funny and refreshing! I only have my one 17 yo, and I do tell moms with younger kids to enjoy it while it lasts. Kids keep on needing us though.
I read somewhere that the reason to blog every day is to keep up the habit.
Looks like I have plenty of older posts to entertain myself with.
Thank you for this blog!

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ERIKA March 22, 2010 at 8:51 pm

You're my hero.

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Pubsgal March 22, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Delurking, because there is was an amazing post on many levels, not just one of the most insightful posts I've read on parenting in quite some time.

1 – I love your blog; I enjoy your writing tremendously, and you get some great discussions going. It seems to me that you've got a loyal following that values you & your quality of life, as well as your blog. I believe that's the mark of a professional blogger much more than one's frequency of posting. Bucking the trend and cutting back to what's workable for *you* is a brave and powerful thing; I hope it will encourage others to feel like they can do the same. It really doesn't have to be all or nothing.

2- I'm not too far removed from the at-home-with-toddler days, and although I have only 2 kids, I remember having the same feelings: the love-them-desperately simultaneous with about-to-desperately-chew-off-arm-for-a-break feelings. Time seems to me to lighten the grinding moments and amplify the good stuff, which is why I'm probably about 5 years away from making those "treasure *every second*" remarks. (Because maybe in 5 years my 8-year-old will no longer kick, scream, and try to claw his way out of our grasp during the flu shot clinic. ;-)

3- I can relate to the media overload. I was writing, reading, commenting blogs; tweeting and reading a whole bunch of tweets; and monitoring Facebook (refuse to verb that noun)…and I was feeling totally overwhelmed trying to do that on top of career + parenting + taking care of my health. I pared way back on all fronts. I love the health and fitness blogging world, and it was fun reconnecting with Facebook people. And it was hard at first to disconnect, but I'm glad I did. It was just getting too crazy-making.

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Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) March 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm

No worries Charlotte, I'm not going anywhere. :)

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Jody - Fit at 52 March 22, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I so respect your decision Charlotte & I will keep reading!!!! I wish I had the courage to do the same. I need to do other things but I feel this is a part of me too that helps where I want to go & I am afraid I might falter…

BUT, it is true.. kids grow so fast. I said that about my stepchildren who I have known since 3,5 & 6 years ole & not the oldest grandchild is 11!!!! Where is this time going!

I am here & will keep coming!

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Katie March 23, 2010 at 12:05 am

You post, I'll read, regardless of frequency! I've often wondered how you raise all those little ones, blog every night, AND manage your rockin' bootay routine. I have always thought you were somehow granted an extra 5 hours in your day…

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love2eatinpa March 23, 2010 at 12:50 am

i'm a mom too and i totally hear you.

good luck on the moderation. you will never get this time back with your kids. you will find the balance that you are looking for.

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Kara March 23, 2010 at 1:03 am

I hope all these wonderful supportive comments are the answer you need! You are a gifted writer Charlotte Hilton Anderson.

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skippy March 23, 2010 at 2:25 am

That was beautiful,

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Anonymous March 23, 2010 at 2:57 am

I am a new reader and enjoy your posts and respect your decision. I thought you might enjoy another blog I have discovered http://thetwistingkaleidoscope.wordpress.com/

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Christina March 23, 2010 at 3:28 am

I think this might be one of my most favorite posts you've ever written yet. It was beautiful and poetic and full of love for your beautiful kiddos. Your posts have become one of my favorite parts of the day and they will be missed, but it will only make me enjoy the ones that do come even more :) Good luck with your moderation!

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Anonymous March 23, 2010 at 8:27 am

I wholeheartedly agree with what has been said above. I want to add that this portion of the post gave me goose bumps:

"His tiny, tinny voice which rasps my exhaustion-honed nerves more than I'd like to admit, finally pierced the swirling cloud of words and ideas that cushion me so tightly that small things like appointments and friends' birthdays and dinner menus aren't merely forgotten but are actively not remembered".

You are an amazing writer and you put words to my experience that I am not able to articulate. By being honest about the toll the blogging is taking on your family life, you help us all to be better people and find balance in our own lives. Three times a week is more than plenty. I would read your blog even if it were once a month. Quality is way better than quantity.

Georgia

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Bobbie's Babbles March 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Better to be a failure at blogging than at parenting. You can always go back to blogging, everything will be available in cyberspace for you to read/comment on at a later day, but experiencing the wee ones during these growing years… priceless. Good luck and don't be too hard on yourself. You're just one person.

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sarah March 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Good for you! You can tell you put a LOT of effort into your writing & I often wonder how long it takes for you to post one entry. I'd rather read 3 good entries a week, than 7 obligatory & resented entries. Go play with your kids!

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Quix March 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm

So there with you. Replace "4 children" with "taking control of an entire big budget project at work" (so about 30 children, 8-10 hours a day), and you have my life as of late. I may not get puke down my bra but believe it or not, I do have to yell out my office to use their indoor voices, put the nerf guns away before they break something, and settle disputes on "wah it's unfair that Billy got x and I have to y…". Mix that with trying to enjoy spring and actually becoming enamoured again with video games (which I should, as it's my livelihood) – and I've been scarce too.

Blogs (others) and blogging have gotten me through some uncertain and dark times over the last 2 years so I can't imagine fading away completely (and I hope you don't either), but it's become clear to me that the time for writing needs to be balanced with the time doing things worthy of writing about.

Good luck with moderation!

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Shauna April 9, 2010 at 7:36 am

I don't comment often Charlotte but just wanted to say a huge cheer and hug for writing this. I hope you are enjoying the extra time and hope you know we all think you're the bees knees and all this means is we have a wee bit more time to savour and ponder your rockin' prose between posts :)

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