Month: August 2015

Finding the Right Therapist, or How to Recognize You Have the Wrong One

“It takes a few tries to find the right therapist. Don’t give up.”

I was told variations of this multiple times by multiple people. They were people who had struggled in similar ways, so I believed them. Except that it was repeated often, in almost the same words. Following this seemingly simple instruction turned out to be very difficult that I began to wonder. Is this just a platitude? A thing we say to offer hope in a hopeless situation? Ultimately I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not just a platitude. It is a fact and a necessary process. By the end of this post it will be clear why.

I had no good methodology for finding the “right” therapist. Sometimes I went on recommendations from friends, neighbors, or primary care doctors. Though most of those recommendations were “I’ve heard of this therapist and have a vaguely positive impression attached to the name.” The few times I got an extremely specific recommendation from someone who had worked extensively with that therapist, the therapist was invariably closed to new patients.

I was left with trial and error, which is not a great process for someone who is struggling with feeling hopeless. Unfortunately this mirrors the medication treatment process for mental health as well. So we spent a couple of years trying this therapist and that medicine before switching things around. One kid got better, but not in any way I could relate to the therapy sessions she’d had. Two other kids got much worse. Until lately they’ve been better at least partially because of our experiences with therapy.

I’ve now had direct experience with seven different therapy relationships across four family members. At this point I can tell you far more about how to tell when you have the wrong therapist than I can about finding the right one. It finally occurred to me that this is actually useful information. No one told me what should constitute “not working” and so I stayed in several of the therapy situations much longer than I should have. It is hard to make good judgement calls in the midst of emotional chaos. It is even harder to abandon groundwork that you’ve spent effort, time, and money to establish in order to start over with yet another complete unknown. The thought of having to start over kept me doing “one more session” for weeks. So I’m going to tell you the knowledge I gathered from my experiences. Then I’m going to tell you the stories of how the therapists we had were wrong. From the combination you may be able to glean information to inform your decisions.


My experiences are not universal, some of what I say here may not apply in your situation or may be wrong for you. Listen to your own instincts, which can be hard in the midst of emotional chaos, I know. Listen anyway. Only take the pieces of advice that help you. Discard the rest.

It should only take 4-6 sessions for you to build a rapport with a therapist and start doing emotional work that is beneficial. If you don’t feel these things, move on.

It is not rude to abandon a therapy relationship. You don’t have to apologize or even explain. You can say “this isn’t working” or you can simply cancel your appointment and go elsewhere. Therapy professionals will not be offended or hurt. They understand that some relationships just don’t click.

Your therapist should never make you feel judged. If you feel judged you are not safe to find out what you really think and feel.

If you’re helping someone else with their therapy, how they feel about the therapist matters more than how you feel about the therapist.

It is normal to sometimes resent your therapist, but if that is happening week after week, it is time for a different one. Resentment is a sign that you feel attacked, which means you don’t feel safe with the therapist.

It is easier to have a regularly scheduled appointment than to have as-needed appointments. If you need a non-regular schedule, don’t leave the therapist’s office without scheduling your next appointment.

A sign of a good therapist is that they’re willing to change tactics when one is not working.

One of the reasons it may take several tries to find the right therapist is because you don’t know what you need until you start dealing with one. It is an iterative process.

There are different methodologies in therapy, what helps one person will be ineffective with another. Sometimes the therapist is a mis-match because they’re most comfortable with a methodology that doesn’t work for you. (IE: cognitive behavioral therapy when what you need is PTSD focused therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy.)

The financial cost matters. Sometimes a therapist can be wrong for financial reasons, because high cost can give your brain yet another argument not to go. This stinks, but it is true. Many universities have low-cost clinics where their grad students get to practice being therapists.

The therapist should be respectful of the anxiety and emotional energy that goes into admitting help is needed. One who doesn’t answer phone calls or drops you as a client is the wrong therapist, no matter how good they might be when you actually have an appointment.


Therapist #1: For Gleek. The therapist was young, a grad student. I thought this would help her build a relationship with Gleek. But all the sessions ended up with me and Gleek together sitting on the couch. The therapist spent most of her time dissecting the parent/child relationship rather than digging in to find out the inner workings of Gleek’s thoughts which Gleek hid behind a shield of chatter. I came away from most of those sessions feeling resentful and judged. It is likely I was projecting my own self-judgements onto the therapist, but she wasn’t sensing or solving that. The therapy relationship ended because the therapist graduated and moved away.

Hindsight: The therapy format was wrong for what we needed. It was set up to treat the parent/child system and ended up giving me lots of parenting advice that I already knew and had already applied. The next time I set up therapy I specified individual therapy.

Therapist #2: For Gleek. She was a woman in her fifties with a long practice dealing with children. I deliberately sought that out because I wondered if my reaction to the other therapist had been an inexperience problem. This therapist was recommended to me by Gleek’s church leader, specifically because the therapist did art and play therapy. I found the therapist good and easy to talk to, but Gleek became increasingly resistant to going. “I don’t like how nosey she is.” Gleek said. Ultimately Gleek was doing so much better (because of medication and changes at school) that the therapist and I agreed we could stop therapy for a time.

: Gleek did not have the right rapport with the therapist, so the therapy was not working as it should. It is possible that the therapist and I could have banded together to push through her resistance. Instead we opted to give her some control. That turned out to be the right call. We did establish that if life gets hard again, back to therapy we’ll go. But we’ll pick a different one.

Therapist #3
: For Link. I chose to go through the comprehensive clinic at BYU in part because it was far less expensive than other options and we were paying out of pocket for everything. I also thought that a young male therapist might have a better chance to connect with Link. This meant a grad student therapist again. By week four the therapist was having trouble getting Link to open up, so he brought me in for a joint session. It went really well. Unfortunately this meant that the therapist always brought me in for all the sessions. It became relationship therapy between Link and I rather than the individual therapy that Link needed. He needed solutions which did not include me. Also I think that speaking with me was more emotionally rewarding for the therapist than speaking to Link. The therapist could poke at my pain and induce me to open up. He was completely unable to do the same for Link. I kept trying to keep him focused on Link, but we ended up talking about me half the time anyway. It took weeks of me being increasingly stressed and resentful of the therapy, and Link feeling the same way, before I recognized the problem and called the clinic to request a different therapist.

Hindsight: This was a similar problem to the one with therapist #1. We had different visions for what the troubles were. I probably could have had a meeting with the therapist and re-calibrated the treatment, but starting over was less work and Link was more likely to cooperate. Continuing to make Link go to a therapist he didn’t like would have damaged my relationship with Link.

Therapist #4
: For Sandra. This was actually the same therapist as #2. She hadn’t worked for Gleek, but I’d enjoyed talking with her. The interactions with Therapist #3 had forced me to see that I was struggling, so I made an appointment. It went well. So did another one. Unfortunately she was by far the most expensive therapist we’d gone to and everything was out of pocket. We finally got onto an insurance plan which covered mental health care (Yay Affordable Care Act!) and she wasn’t listed on the plan. I’d paid her prices for Gleek, but it was harder to justify paying her prices for me. So I’d delay between sessions until I was in crisis. Then I’d call for an appointment…and she’d fail to call back. I’d call again and she texted two days later saying “I have an appointment available in two hours, does that work?” It did not work. Also, I’d requested a phone call to make the appointment, not a text. Ultimately these communication issues were the reason I dropped her. If I gathered the emotional energy necessary to call and set up an appointment, I needed the process to go smoothly rather than stretch out for days adding stress to my life.

Hindsight: She was a good therapist, but her business running skills interfered with my willingness to go to her. My next attempt at therapy for me will be an office with multiple therapists and a full time secretary who handles appointments.

Therapist #5: For Link. This was the therapist we were assigned after therapist #4 went badly. I’d considered changing away from grad students, but decided to give it one more shot. By this time I’d been told the advice about giving a therapist 4-6 sessions to connect, so that was the plan. Right around session four, the new therapist ran aground in almost exactly the same way as the prior one had. Link wasn’t opening up. He’d give answers, but they were mostly shrugs or “I don’t know.” This therapist met with me separate from Link and hammered out a new plan. He started playing games with Link. The whole goal was to connect first and then gradually use that connection to teach Link how to connect without games. Then they could get at emotional issues. It was a brilliant plan. I approved. I think it would have worked. Unfortunately about a month later the therapist made a personal decision that took him out of the grad school program. He worked to hand us off to another therapist, and was as conscientious as he could be, but it was still a big blow to Link and to me.

Hindsight: Not much useful to offer here, except that this process can be hard in unexpected ways.

Therapist #6
: For Link. This was the therapist that therapist #5 handed us over to. They had this nice transitional plan where the new therapist would attend sessions with Link and the prior therapist. She was a young and pretty grad student. Link met with her twice and told me that he wasn’t comfortable with her. I wasn’t surprised. There had been a young pretty female math teacher at school that Link had refused to go to for help. Talking to people is hard for Link. Talking to girls is even harder. I called off the appointments and put Link on a therapeutic hiatus while some other things settled down in our lives.

Hindsight: Link needed an older brother/ role model and a young female therapist was not going to work in the same way. An older, motherly or grandmotherly woman would probably be fine. Any future therapist selections for him will keep this in mind. I’m also likely to try a therapist with a different approach, such as dialectical behavioral therapy instead of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Therapist #7: For Patch. I think we began seeing this therapist before Link’s good therapist quit, but I’ve put her last on the list because she’s the only one whom we’re still seeing. She’s a grad student at the same clinic as Link’s therapy. She and Patch hit it off right away. It helped a lot that I recommended that games be part of the therapy. (Having learned from Link’s experience that this can foster connection.) I can tell the therapy is working because Patch doesn’t resist going. Often he is excited or happy to go. Also the therapist usually brings me in for the last few minutes to let me know what they talked through and what would be a good focus for the week ahead. I know that they really are beginning to dig down in and untangle some of the emotional knots that Patch has been carrying around.

Hindsight: This is how you know when therapy is working, life feels easier. It is subtly easier so that you may not even be sure if it being easier is because of the therapy.

I don’t have many concluding thoughts, except to say that writing up this post helped me to see why it is sometimes necessary to try multiple therapists before settling. Each therapy relationship helps you learn more about what you need and want in a therapy relationship. It is not a failure to need to ditch one therapist and try out another one, it is a refining process. I wish I’d known that when I first started, it would have made the process easier.

Small Surprises in Growing Up

It is always the little things that surprise me as my kids are growing up. Or maybe they are big things, but the key is the surprise. In stories these are the surprising yet inevitable plot moments where the audience first gasps and then says “of course, how could it be any other way?” This time it was an email.

“Link needs to register for selective services before his eighteenth birthday.”

I blinked at the email, in a sort of shocked pause. My boy is too young to have to register for the draft. Except he isn’t. Not anymore. It is only about two weeks until he is a legal adult and many of the rules change. One of them is filling out a form that registers him as a young male eligible for the draft should our country have a major military conflict and need more soldiers than it currently has enlisted.

No one has been conscripted or drafted into the United States Military since 1973, the year I was born. There hasn’t been a draft in my lifetime. The odds that my son will be called upon to fight my country’s battles are negligible. Our country has enough strong and good volunteers who fill those roles. But staring at that email, I had a moment of fear. For a moment war loomed and I felt connected to generations of mothers before me who sent off their sons, and to mothers now, who still do because their sons and daughters volunteer. My son is not a warrior. He doesn’t even like to play violent or bloody video games. And if he struggled and nearly broke when faced with the challenges of high school, I shudder to think what boot camp would do to him. I spent a long moment picturing what going to battle could do to him physically and mentally.

After a moment, the shadow of fear passed. I filled out the form to register him. This is one of the responsibilities of being a citizen, along with jury duty, and paying taxes. Yet when I hope and pray for peace in the world, there is just a slight bit more fervor in my prayers. I know that my family and I are very fortunate in the peaceful existence we’ve lived. It is good for me to face the fact that not everyone gets to choose a peaceful life.

Watching Shooting Stars

It was the final day of the annual Perseid meteor shower. If I’d wanted the full display I should have gone out at 1am that morning. Instead I found myself laying on my back staring at the sky while the clock ticked over into the next day. Three of my kids and I were spending the night at a cabin in a state park. We were far away from city lights. The night was clear. All we needed was for the Perseids to cooperate and trail a few lingering meteors across the sky.

I lay there with my children, waiting. School would start for them in only a few days. I didn’t know how that would go. We were waiting for that too. Light streaked across the sky and I gasped, just a small, involuntary intake of breath at the sudden appearance and disappearance of light. It had been years since I’d seen a shooting star. I sent a quick prayer after it, almost like a wish.

Please let us grow this year instead of shrink. Please let us have happiness instead of hurt. Please, I don’t know what we need for this year, please help us figure it out.

More lights dashed across the sky. Some faint. Some bright. There weren’t many. Nothing like the display that people had described from the night before. I didn’t wish on them all, but each of them stole my breath for just a moment.

I wasn’t alone with the stars. My children lay with me, sometimes silent, sometimes cracking jokes with their cousins, always exclaiming out loud when lights streaked across the sky. I was glad to have them there with me, watching the lights and the darkness.

Shooting stars did not bring us any answers, just a beautiful moment to treasure.

Empty Hours

I wandered through the house and it was strange and quiet. All four of my kids were off at their schools. Howard away at a convention. I paused to think when I last had the house to myself for five hours in a row. I don’t know when it was. Probably before Howard started working from home instead of trekking to Dragon’s Keep to do his drawing. That was eighteen months ago. Last December was when Link started being at home during school hours and my days were regularly interrupted by urgent meetings, surprise school pick ups, emotional crises, and home schooling. This morning they all left cheerfully. And they came home calmly. In between I had hours. I just wandered around in those hours rather than settling to a focused task. Come Monday I’ll try to build a work schedule around having those hours. It is time to proceed as if all will be well.


“How is it not having the afternoon pick up?”
“Do you like having all the kids out the door earlier in the morning?”
“How is it all going?”

Kiki’s questions were good ones, appropriate to our relationship and to her interest in family at home. Yet I struggled to answer them. I could easily tell her stories about events. I told her about her siblings coming home. I described things that happened. But these questions all asked for evaluation and I was coming up blank. It took me until this morning to figure out why. I’m semi-consciously trying to avoid assigning value to the beginning of school experiences we’re having. The fact that Link came home from his first day of school happy does not mean I should plan on that continuing. Gleek came home and was a little grouchy at my desire for interaction. After being social at school she only wanted to be left alone with her book. Patch was increasingly hard to wake up each morning. These things are mere data points. I don’t have enough information to see patterns yet. Also, I’m trying very hard not to tell myself stories about what the beginning of school events mean. I don’t want to spin small events into huge anxiety as I imagine catastrophic failure of all things education. Neither do I want to believe that all will be well only to be plunged into grief later when reality does not match expectation. Perhaps I’ll be able to evaluate next week, but even then the only point is to make daily adjustments in how things work, not make predictions for the future.

Four First Days

The apartment was clean and neat, but definitely showed some wear from years of prior tenants. It felt empty, devoid of personality with no roommates at home and few personal items in the shared living space. Kiki and I hauled her belongings up three flights of stairs in the hot afternoon and stacked them in piles by the door of her new bedroom. Shopping came next to fill her fridge with the food she will eat and to buy a desk/table for her to work on. We carried those loads up as well.

Then it was time for me to go. I had a three hour drive back home. We sat for a moment in silence, in the empty apartment, with Kiki’s things in piles before us. Last year I’d dropped her off into a crowd of familiar roommates. She’d been immediately swallowed up in continuing friendships and chatter. This time we both remembered a little too clearly the hard parts of the semester before. The emptiness of the apartment left space for those memories to bounce around and become worries.

In a small voice Kiki asked “Will you help me assemble my desk and chair?”
I stayed an extra two hours helping with assembly and buying pizza for dinner. On our return from fetching pizza, we pulled in at the same time as one of Kiki’s roommates. Having a friend banished the emptiness. I bid Kiki goodbye without feeling like I was abandoning her to loneliness. This was confirmed later in the evening via Skype when Kiki was cheerful and partially moved in.

Patch was headed out the door for his first day of junior high. He asked me where his hoodie was. I answered and watched as his fingers twisted the hem of his shirt. The twisting was a small sign of the anxiety he felt, as was him asking for his hoodie. It wasn’t cold outside, he felt safer with the hood wrapped around his head. Gleek walked him to the bus stop. School for her didn’t start until the next day. This was an orientation day for seventh graders only. I watched them walk off together, Patch taller than his sister by a good two inches. Last fall Gleek was still taller. I’d been carefully biting my tongue for the last two days. I’d wanted to ask Patch a bunch of questions, to talk through all the things which might cause him stress or anxiety. My mind reviewed all those worries as he walked away. Would it be too overwhelming? Would he ratchet up in anxiety? Would he have panic attacks? I hoped not. But I knew that obsessively talking it through was more likely to create anxiety than to relieve it. Anxiety is a transmissible ailment for those who are prone to it. I did my best to keep mine to myself. We were much better off treating this departure for school as routine.

He came home carrying his hoodie, not wearing it. At some point he felt safe enough to take it off. I limited my after school questions to three. How was it? Good. Anything stressful or anxious? Not really. Anything exciting? His German teacher. The ease of his answers was as reassuring as the answers themselves. He met my eyes with his shoulders and arms relaxed. One day is not a useful measure to evaluate a school year, but it was a good start.

Link was already awake when I came to his room to turn on the light. He grabbed his clothes and headed for the bathroom. I was glad of this. I like the mornings when he is self-propelled much better than the mornings where I feel like I’m pushing against a mountain to keep him moving. I expect those mornings will come, but not on this first day of school. Link came to prayer and scripture time far more alert than either of his siblings. Patch was dragging and sleepy, not yet adjusted to the early rising. Noting his schedule written on a note card attached to the fridge, Link said “3D graphics? Cool!” This was his only commentary on the classes he has for today. I drove him to the school building and watched him walk toward it. This is his senior year. Sort of. He didn’t finish half the school work from his junior year, so he’ll have to hustle if he wants to graduate with his class. That is a conversation I need to have with him in the next couple of weeks. He has to decide whether the cap and gown ceremony is important to him. There are other conversations to have. So much growing he needs to do. I would really like to see that growth. It feels like I spent most of last year watching him shrink. None of us know what this year will bring, but the first day started well.

Gleek was out of bed before I entered her room. She had night-before-Christmas type anticipation about the beginning of school. She typed up her morning journal, only getting momentarily distracted by YouTube. I hardly had to pay attention to her at all as she dressed and readied her pile of things for school. “It’s nice to have a schedule.” she said as she loaded a dozen writing implements into a zip bag. The bag went on top of her stack of five notebooks. She was defended against boredom and the need for drawing supplies. When time came to leave she told Patch it was time to go and they walked out together.

Coda: The parents
I was grouchy this morning, though I wasn’t conscious of it until a minor frustration had me tossing a spatula into the sink rather harder than was necessary. Part of it was pure fatigue. My body is not accustomed to being awake at 6:30am. That long string of school mornings stretched ahead of me filled with 6:30ams. The weight of responsibility chafed as I prepared breakfasts on a timed schedule. I remembered how to do it all, but I didn’t want any of it. I know that school is the best way for my kids to grow right now, but I’m still tired from last year. I’m still too aware of how hard it all got.

The kids were all out the door by 7:45 and the house was quiet. The quiet felt empty, substantially different than the quiet of people doing their own quiet things. “I miss summer. I don’t want to go to work today. I miss Kiki” Howard said, echoing my unspoken sentiments. Of course we will go to work anyway, because the work is important and we love the work enough to do it even on a day when we’d rather not expend effort.

The school year has begun. Thus far the only unpleasant things have been in my head. One day at a time we’ll proceed.

The Waiting Place

Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow…
…or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another chance
Everyone is just waiting.
–Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

I don’t go to the waiting place on purpose. I never think “It is time for me to wait” and then take myself there. In fact I usually don’t even realize I am there until I’ve been sitting around for quite a while. Today for example. I have dozens of tasks on which I could spend my time, but I was struggling to get moving on any of them. It was six pm before I figured out why. School starts next week and I’m scared about it. I don’t know what emotional resources will be required of me in those first days of class. I don’t know what emotional meltdowns lay in wait for me as I take Kiki back to school, launch Patch into junior high, watch Gleek embark on more homework than she’s had in the past couple of years, and hope that three classes on campus do not prove too overwhelming for Link. Some part of my psyche evaluated all of that incoming emotional load and switched over into an emergency conservation mode. Without planning to do it, I entered the waiting place where my brain is mostly idling until the important events occur.

Getting out of the waiting place is as tricky as realizing I’m in it. It is possible for me to muscle through. I can just make myself get jobs done, but that is not the same as truly emotionally engaging with the work. When I’m focused, staying focused is easy. There is momentum and happiness in task completion. When I’m waiting, I wander off. I lose track of where I was. All the jobs are harder. It is harder to get started. It is harder to stay on task. It is harder to not get distracted. I wish I could tell myself “it will all be fine” and believe that. It might even be true. I might be conserving emotional energy for crises that never materialize. That has happened before. Not lately, but within memory. Sometimes muscling through will actually help me escape. Other times it just allows me to get things done until the thing I’m waiting for arrives. Still other times I just distract myself until the waiting is over.

Whether I manage to pull myself out or whether the waiting evaporates because of arrival, knowing that I’m in the waiting place is helpful to me. It lets me recalibrate my thought processes and recognize why my brain is reacting sluggishly to things.


The other day I wrote how I am taking the good days and good events and treating them like little capsules of treasure. Here are a few that I’ve collected lately.


I haven’t done much baking lately, so when I made brownies they tasted extra delicious. Enough that both Howard and I tweeted about it.

Sandra: I have eaten more brownies than is healthy. Since the healthy quantity for brownies is 0, I feel good about my life decisions today.

Howard: Came upstairs to find that there are just enough brownies left in this pan for me to have one brownie before eating half a pan of brownies.

Howard’s brother Randy responded to his tweet: if you don’t slice the half a pan, it’s just one big brownie.

Howard: “We’re gonna need a bigger spatula.” — me and @RandyTayler, reducing our brownie intake on a technicality.

The conversations about the brownies were as enjoyable as the brownies themselves.


Gleek: “Mom? I have a question.”
Me: “I have an answer. Let’s see if they match.”


The bench at church was crowded because all six of us were sitting there together. I think it has been at least six months since that happened.


Curling up on the couch and watching NCIS with Howard. Kids often join us as well. We talk about the stories after they are done. This is not a show that I fell in love with right away, but it has grown on me to the point where I love it and I love the characters. The other day we watched an episode that was so well written and so well acted that there was a scene where massive amounts of emotion and meaning were communicated with almost no dialogue at all. I think those are my favorite moments in a show.


I walked up to the front door of an unfamiliar house with a yellow folder of documents in my hands. One short conversation later, I walked away without the folder. Link’s Eagle Scout Application has been turned it.


Walking into Gleek’s room and seeing that every day she has added things to the walls and made the space her own. The purple wall is a good thing.


I went to the junior high school. For the first time in two years, one trip to a school took care of multiple children. All the paperwork was in order, so I picked up schedules for Gleek and Patch. They have a good set of classes. Though Gleek did need one switch. Fortunately her school counselor agreed that the change was beneficial and made the switch on the spot. I have one piece of pending paperwork for Link, but schedules are finalized, I’ve posted the school A/B schedule in its usual spot, first bell rings next Tuesday.


I need to pay attention to these small good things so that I don’t get swamped by worries about the impending school year.

On the Desire to Hold Still

It is a strange space when things are suddenly better after they’ve been very hard. The slide downward was so slow and inexorable. I turned myself inside out trying to figure out how to help my children. I configured and re-configured schedules. I lowered the bar trying to make things possible for my son who was struggling. Time and again he went under the just-lowered bar. Everything hurt for months. He hurt. I hurt. Howard hurt. After all of that, to have things suddenly better is disorienting. I don’t trust it. Surely the climb back out should take as long as the slide downward. Also, we’re on summer schedule where stresses are next to none. There is every possibility that the advent of school will mean a return of emotional pain. So I’d like to rejoice when my children easily manage something that was a source of conflict or meltdown. I’d like to be happy that the son who moves through my house now is the one that I remember from before things got hard. Instead I feel like I’m holding very still, as if a wrong move from me could scare away the current good state of things. I’m afraid, but I know that hold-still-forever is not a viable life strategy. So I try to take each day as it’s own capsule, like a glass ball with a scene in it. If today is a good place, I hold it in my mind like a small treasure. No matter what comes next it can’t change the good I had today.

Happy Noise

Sound and people fill my house. We’ve had the loud shouts of a Smash Bros tournament between Kiki and her brothers. We’ve had the hollering as Howard and the boys shout back and forth while playing a co-op game on steam. We’ve had siblings kibitzing as Kiki plays through the story of Twilight Princess so that her visiting roommate can watch. We’ve had Gleek detailing the dream she had last night and the characters she’s creating that day. We’ve had the sound of NCIS playing while Howard draws comics. There has been the clatter of dishes and the beep of the microwave as people cook themselves food. It has been a joyous noise and influx of clutter. We are glad to all be together again after two and a half weeks of disrupted schedule and reduced household.

I keep looking at the calendar and measuring next week with my eyes. The week isn’t long enough. When it is done, Kiki will depart for school. The other kids will also leave the house each morning. Quiet hours will return. I do miss having quiet hours in my house where I’m not responsible for children. But I worry that the quiet hours will be accompanied by school stresses. Not an ideal trade for anyone. So I listen to all the joyful noise and I think gratefully about how I don’t have to move forward quite yet. I get a few more days where the kids can play all day.