A daughter, running for the dining room register as the heat kicks on, perching atop the floor vents until her bare legs turn tiger-striped with indentations. We sit together, side-by-side, quiet. She asks me to count her freckles.

I say yes.

Books finished:
The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
The Rules Do Not Apply, by Ariel Levy
Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
Barking to the Choir, by Gregory Boyle
Devotion, by Patti Smith
How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, by Joanna Faber
Other People We Married, by Emma Straub

Daily, Scout wants to touch the moon. He reaches for it, whimpers and pleas, grasps at the golden apple that cannot be claimed. Bee sings for him, I’ve been readin’ books of old, the legends and the myths, and he settles. Runs out to the sunroom for climbing, jumping, the world below his catwalk once again.

I love you, I call. YOLO, he warbles back.

Early this month, everyone but Bee catches Scout’s cold – the kind that lingers, makes it hard to sleep. We take turns napping, coughing in the sauna. Bee makes us all paper slippers and personalized lunches. My own: a plate of carrots, sweet peppers, a perfect clementine. Red wine sloshing around in a mug full of ice, later poured down the sink after she falls asleep.

Communion, in a strange sense.

All else the usual: putting words to a page, putting towels in the hamper. In preparation for an upcoming speech, I launder every last one of our spare sheets, corral the missing pillowcase pairs, fold complete sets into twine-wrapped packages for storing. Domestic hysteria, I’d thought it, but in truth, what I’d wanted to do with my speech all along was perhaps better accomplished with bedding: cleaned, sorted, tidied. Thread counts promising what words cannot.


I’ve marveled at this before, the everyday credence within our own walls. Small things to trust in – that the floorboards will again be in need of sweeping, the plants will beg of revival, the dust in want of a place to return.

This, too, from Madeleine L’Engle:

“There are still stars which move in ordered and beautiful rhythm. There are still people in this world who keep promises. Even little ones, like your cooking stew over your Bunsen burner… That’s enough to keep my heart optimistic, no matter how pessimistic my mind.”

Last week, a signing in Minneapolis. An older woman asks me to write an inscription to her best friend Joan, who has a bit of “a problem with them Hummels if you know what I mean.”

I laugh. Would you like it to say anything special?

 “To stop savin’ the good skivvies,” she says. “Never know when the whole damn ride’s gonna end.”

  • Erin, Laughing out loud at the end of this. Ohh goodness, she’s so right. Do you have a list of speaking engagements? I’d love to come.

  • I absolutely relish and absorb everything you write! You are a comfort to me and make our lives more BEAUTIFUL 💕 I too am laughing at “stop savin’ the good skivvies!” Thank you, Cindy

  • Life is so fleeting and things happen so quickly that we lose some of our best opportunities. Thank you for sharing your day and reminding us all of what is important.

  • Oh Erin, you have such a talent for finding the beauty in the messiness of everyday life. It’s something I so want to become better at. Yesterday was one of those “mom” days where I fell into bed exhausted with tears running down my cheeks. It’s so hard to love those little ones. And it’s not because of them; it’s me. I feel like I’m bombarded by what I should be doing as a mom—all the mom hacks are driving me insane. Everyone seems to have a solution. But I think the answer is just to live in it and a try hard each day to do a little better. But that’s so much harder than it sounds. I think that’s why your book is loved by so many. You didn’t give us a tidy solution. You gave us permission to struggle. The struggle is hard enough without feeling badly that you’re there. Sorry. Lots of thoughts for a Friday morning. I’m hoping today is a little lighter than yesterday, but I’m not counting on it 😂

    • Mary- sending you a warm thought and encouragement. I have no hacks or tidy solutions but hope that today really is lighter (and if not, that you recognize that you are just strong enough to get by)

    • Oh Mary, hang in there! From one mom to another, YOU CAN DO IT! Cry, struggle, fall down, get back up and do it again. We are cheering for you.

    • Oh Mary, I hear you, I hear you, I hear you. I’ve had many of those mom days! I think you’re absolutely right about the answer being to live in it. There’s no rescue parachute or easy button (I mean, of course there are the ones who promise such, but we know better, don’t we?). This is the murk and magic: the realization that we can’t get it right and we won’t get it right but we’ll get some things right and the rest of it will teach us such humility along the way. I always laugh when Anne Lamott refers to life as Forgiveness School. Isn’t that the truth?!

      Sending you love and care, Mary, and am so hoping this weekend offered you a bit of warmth.

  • Erin, could you tell me where the white lidded box is from? I am looking for something to store sewing supplies and this looks perfect. Thank you.

    • Hi Brittany! Of course – it’s an older find from Unison Home – sadly no longer sold!

  • I too loved Lila, and everything Marilynn’s Robinson has written! Gilead on audible is probably my favorite.

    • Agreed re: Gilead — good gracious that is such a moving story. And “Home” made me tear up more than once!

  • Love the, “ stop saving the skivies, and the Madeleine L’Engle quote.

  • It was a delight to meet you in Minneapolis! I wish I would have overheard that comment in person, because it is absolutely priceless. P.S. I bought a book for my mom, but I have to confess – I binge read the entire thing first because I won’t see her for a few weeks. Thank you for your words!

  • I recently finished reading Kim John Payne’s Simplicity Parenting. Thinking on his chapter about speaking less(Our words should past this test is it True, Kind, Necessary?), I miss read your book list. Seeing, “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen”, by Joanna Faber, I actually read it as, How to talk so little………kids will listen. I thought, ‘Wow! if I become monk-like the few words I speak will be listened to!’ Then following the Amazon link, I laughed at myself when I realized that it was about speaking to small children.
    It is the small smiles in a day that keep a mom going.

    • hahaha this made me laugh and, oh goodness, i LOVED kim john payne’s simplicity parenting and just finished it, too! i found the ‘speaking less’ chapter to be FASCINATING. i think you’ll love joanna faber’s book — highly recommend.

  • I love how you talk about everyday life. As a mom this was very moving and I loved your look on it all. Thanks for sharing!

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