1. Growing up the term workaholic didn't exist.
  2. I assumed everyone's mom made her own spaghetti
  3. sauce, bottled her own grape juice, drove to the
  4. farm to get milk and eggs, made dresses for
  5. her daughters to wear when they stood up
  6. in a wedding, gave her children baths in
  7. separate bathrooms because it was more
  8. efficient than bathing us one kid at a
  9. time, and set the timer for everything 
  10. so she would know how long tasks took.


  1. My dad's idea of being on time was arriving
  2. at least fifteen minutes early, sometimes we
  3. were there half an hour before anyone else.
  4. I was the oldest so if there were other kids
  5. over I watched them as well as my younger
  6. brother and sisters. Until my next youngest
  7. sister grew taller than I did people thought
  8. we were twins, they thought the same thing
  9. of my two youngest sisters, one time someone
  10. asked if my brother and I were twins.


  1. Not long after I was married the family I
  2. had just married into offered us a house.
  3. It was a great price so we bought it despite
  4. my objections because even though math
  5. was never my strongest subject I could
  6. add his income plus mine and see that we
  7. were going to fall well short of where we
  8. needed to be financially. My first job out 
  9. college was in finance. How do you save 
  10. for retirement when there is no plan?


  1. People in my family were excited about the
  2. house. They came over and helped his family
  3. paint and put in flooring. Sure there were a 
  4. few things that still had to be done, but we
  5. could do those later. It wasn't until I moved 
  6. out that he hired contractors to finish projects
  7. we had started back in 1998. My dad helped
  8. us put on a new roof above the garage while
  9. my mom told me how excited she was for
  10. me to put in a garden next summer.


  1. After I graduated from college I went from
  2. three jobs down to one. My junior year I
  3. weighed less than a hundred pounds, but
  4. the medical community had no idea what
  5. the head to toe rash was from. I spent my
  6. twenty-first birthday in bed with a case
  7. of strep throat, unable to swallow anything,
  8. not even mashed potates. Later on I would
  9. discover that I was allergic to several plants
  10. in the nightshade family. Pizza anyone?


  1. Both of us worked full time before we had
  2. children. When I asked for help with the
  3. dishes and laundry he explained that he
  4. worked full time and did the snow removal
  5. and lawn mowing. I explained that I would
  6. be more than happy to trade since I could
  7. learn how to sit on a riding mower, but it
  8. wasn't until almost twenty years later that
  9. I was allowed to sit on the tractor his
  10. twelve year old cousin drove around our yard.


  1. My mom knits sweaters for her grandchildren,
  2. she volunteers at church, she used to describe
  3. the scenery for blind people at the theater,
  4. when I was in college I would come in at two
  5. in the morning and sometimes I would beat my
  6. parents to bed. They needed money and I
  7. totally got it. I was expected to pay for
  8. everything, but not allowed to claim myself
  9. on my taxes when I was forced to file,
  10. my parents needed me as a dependent.


  1. I remember asking Jill and Jane's dad when
  2. he was going to be home, most of the time
  3. he wasn't sure, it seemed that there was
  4. a server going down so often I wondered if
  5. they were ever actually up and running.
  6. "Go outside and play." My parents told
  7. us, maybe your parents said that too. So 
  8. we did. Hours of snow fort building until
  9. I came in because my right foot was a sickly
  10. shade of yellow due to lack of circulation.


  1. We were at my youngest daughter's soccer
  2. game when a woman standing next to me
  3. asked if I was okay. I was so cold I was 
  4. literally shaking in my boots, but my mom
  5. answered for me as if I was deaf and mute.
  6. "She's fine. She's fine because she's made
  7. up her mind that she's going to be just fine."
  8. After that I told my mom we could drive
  9. separately to events. She gets crabby when
  10. she can't smoke when the craving starts.


  1. I have no idea how many books I've written,
  2. there's a stack of notebooks in a pink 
  3. backpack that I bought at Target for $4,
  4. it outlasted a much more expensive purchase.
  5. My girls had trips to Florida, after our first one
  6. they wanted to know if their mom was
  7. going to throw up on the plane again. I didn't,
  8. but since they had printed the wrong gate
  9. on our boarding passes we missed our connecting
  10. flight; screaming kids and torrential rains in Atlanta.


  1. I've always had food to eat and clothes to wear.
  2. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, I brought my 
  3. own food and still managed to get exposed to 
  4. wheat, probably the result of my mother baking
  5. her world famous rolls and flour flying everywhere.
  6. No matter how many times I try to explain what
  7. it means to have celiac disease and food allergies
  8. she still doesn't get it, despite having had to take 
  9. me to the ER when I was a kid. Christmas Eve
  10. I got two shots, one in each arm, but I could breathe.


  1. If you ask my mom what she's going to be doing
  2. in August during January she will pull out her
  3. calendar to check which opera she's going to be
  4. seeing, but she'll text us the day before my 
  5. sister's birthday in September, because that
  6. never arrives on the same day every year. My
  7. birthday is at the end of December, this year I 
  8. told my family I was going out with friends so
  9. of course that's the day that they want to get
  10. together to celebrate Christmas.


  1. Both of my children write well. The other day
  2. my youngest called to ask what time I was
  3. picking them up, she pretended she was
  4. a shoe store employee after I asked if Jane
  5. was there. My girls are imaginative and 
  6. creative, they can figure things out because
  7. they had to do something when mom and
  8. dad were both on the computer. Our office
  9. was impressive, we had a color laser printer
  10. and matching workstations, one per family member.


  1. Nobody in my family can understand why
  2. I'm content to work less than twenty hours
  3. a week at a job that doesn't pay me anything
  4. close to what I'm actually worth. Maybe I am
  5. a unicorn like my friend says, but it doesn't
  6. seem to have translated into great wealth.
  7. My friend the attorney who wants to emigrate
  8. has told me about the benefits of dating an
  9. engineer, today he told me that nobody was
  10. as handsome as he was and we both laughed.


  1. I know that there's a way to relax, to stop worrying
  2. about the things that haven't been done, my mom 
  3. would never let dishes pile up the way that I do.
  4. She wouldn't sit at her computer writing poetry,
  5. she hasn't read anything I've written in over a 
  6. decade, but I know that she's proud of me and
  7. my accomplishments because she's told me that.
  8. Why would you believe that you're lovable when
  9. people at school ask if your parents are picking
  10. you up because closing time was hours ago?


  1. If you ever want to do something really nice for
  2. people who may or may deserve it, stop by the
  3. psych ward during visiting hours. My youngest 
  4. sister brought me a change of clothes and told
  5. me that I needed more wardrobe options. I had
  6. to call my mom at four in the morning to take
  7. me there. She dropped me off and we chatted
  8. as if I was checking into a hotel rather than 
  9. being admitted for hearing and seeing things
  10. that weren't really there. No, she didn't visit.


  1. There's a way to connect with people on a
  2. real emotional level. This job has been 
  3. amazing as far as that goes. Every day my
  4. manager hugs me, kisses me, appreciates
  5. me, I work hard, but I could be working 
  6. harder. She validates me, sends me on 
  7. break when she can tell that I need some
  8. space, I don't know how she does it, but 
  9. she has a sixth sense that tells her when
  10. I'm close to bursting into tears.


  1. I've acknowledged that I have a problem. 
  2. As the child of a workaholic I've been
  3. neglected emotionally. My value is tied up
  4. in what I do rather than who I am as a
  5. person. When I was in high school I told 
  6. my mom about the test where I got 106.
  7. My professor gave me extra credit when
  8. he saw that I had gone above and beyond
  9. on my geography test. I missed the 
  10. instruction sheet; my mom blamed me.


  1. As the parent of children who were
  2. born into a family of workaholics I'm
  3. realizing that at some point it really
  4. doesn't matter how organized I am,
  5. it isn't a badge I can show people to
  6. prove my worth, I exist, therefore
  7. I have intrinsic value. After I sprained
  8. my ankle I drove the girls out to
  9. Wal-Mart and bought them gluten
  10. and dairy free ice cream treats.


  1. When I learned that I was going to
  2. be participating in an outpatient
  3. program I asked my mom if she 
  4. would go to therapy with me. It
  5. wasn't exactly a question, I made
  6. the mistake of assuming that 
  7. my mom could and would
  8. meet with a licensed therapist
  9. to talk about her daughter who
  10. was potentially suicidal. 


  1. Periodically people will ask me
  2. why I love baseball so much.
  3. I tell them it's a family, I might
  4. leave it at that, but the truth is
  5. that fans I met online have
  6. saved my life on at least two
  7. occasions. A part of me can't
  8. believe I'm really alive today.
  9. I think I'm over it and then
  10. something happens to trigger it.


  1. Let's get a plan together:
  2. What if I sat down with the
  3. girls and we went through
  4. the lists we made of fun 
  5. things to do together?
  6. What if we resurrected
  7. the puzzles despite having
  8. lost my coffee and dining
  9. room tables during the
  10. divorce?


  1. What if I asked them what
  2. was important to them, 
  3. noticed when they did well,
  4. and praised them for more
  5. than mere academic awards?
  6. They already know that 
  7. neither of their parents care
  8. about grades. We made it 
  9. through high school, I
  10. have more education than money.


  1. What if I read up on how
  2. to become more vulnerable?
  3. I have savings accounts
  4. and individual stocks for 
  5. each of the girls, what if there
  6. was a way for all of us to 
  7. get outside; go hiking,
  8. biking, or swimming like
  9. we did this summer when
  10. I could barely hobble around?


  1. What if, we could just, be?
  2. No deadlines, no racing around
  3. frantically trying to clean a
  4. house that my grandmother
  5. was going to visit, no panic
  6. attacks because my in-laws
  7. were coming over and they
  8. were going to give whatever
  9. I was making a sideways look
  10. What if I just didn't care and


  1. learned to love myself, and them?
  2. I can start now, here's a poem,
  3. I'm not finished, but my
  4. youngest daughter is here,
  5. I'm going to go over, sit next
  6. to her, pull her into my arms, 
  7. and cry when I tell her that
  8. she 
  9. is the only Jane that I have.