Alternatives to “What do you do?” and “What are you going to do with that?”

It’s not that careers aren’t an important part of our identity, they just aren’t the only part.

When I took my first improv class a little over four years ago, I was careful on the first night of class to ask other people, “How do you spend your time besides coming to improv class?” I phrased it this way because I didn’t just want to know what people got paid to do; I wanted to know how they chose to spend their time.

The most common question I get about my doctoral program after “How long until you’re done?” is “What are you going to do with a PhD in information and library science?” I think a more interesting question is “What do you want to get out of a PhD in information and library science?” Because honestly, who knows what I’ll do? Independent of what I might like to do (and teasing that out is a whole process itself), obviously I’ll be at the mercy of market forces.

But if you ask me what I want to get out of it, I have a great answer:

I want to spend some time in a situation where my number one professional priority is acquainting myself with the evidence about what works in libraries. I want to understand qualitative research methods better. (This was really my #1 desire and I think I’ve done a really good job of working on this.) I want the opportunity to think deeply about what effective library services for youth look like and how they can facilitate exploring passions.

Isn’t that more interesting than “I mean, maybe teach future librarians? Or just be a better librarian myself?” I think so.

If you want to get to know people better than just these surface questions without getting too awkward and personal, here are some questions you might try:

  • What’s fun for you right now?
  • What kind of expert are you?
  • What do you want to learn/try next?
  • What kind of people are you hoping to meet?

They’re good questions to ask yourself, too.

Now: June 2018

Here’s a complete list of everything I’ve got going on right now. And by “going on,” I mean a level of intensity ranging from “thinking about maybe doing it” to “seriously working on it.” (Categories come from the Integrative Nutrition Circle of Life exercise.)




  • Reducing grocery spending via using my Soda Stream, freezing leftovers, and eating out of the pantry/fridge/freezer


  • Revising culturally sustaining pedagogy online curriculum module and writing other modules for Project READY.
  • Reading the archives of YALSA’s The Hub ya lit blog and trying the books mentioned there


  • Working on the Makerspaces section of my comprehensive literature review

Health, Home Cooking, Physical Activity

  • Focusing on water: drinking it, bathing in it, swimming in it

Home Environment

  • Putting together a list of tasks for the handyman

Relationships, Social Life, Joy

  • Reaching out when I feel isolated

A blog post about everything.

This might get a little stream-of-consciousness. Consider yourself warned.

I went to a play today. It was Wakey Wakey, the last performance of the last show at Manbites Dog Theater‘s physical performance space. I’ve always been sort of Manbites-adjacent; I remember when they had a space in a different part of town than they do now. I have been friends with or worked with many other people involved with them. The art they have made over the years sits in this beautiful space – a sort of off-Broadway space – that is not beholden to the commercial, but is art explicitly intended to inspire conversation, as opposed to the let’s-put-on-a-show vibe of many theatre projects (including all the ones I’ve ever produced). Being in that space – reading the program – and most especially smelling that small theatre smell of painted scenery – made me feel keenly how this is a piece of my life that I have let go – certainly since having my son, but in some sense extending even farther back – to when I began college almost 19 years ago.

And yet the theatre is in me.

Wakey Wakey is a good show for making you think about the parts of you that are with you and in you that maybe you’ve been neglecting.

I started to think about Sarah Ruhl, and her book 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write. I haven’t read it. I want to. I want to read everything Austin Kleon recommends on art and motherhood.

Last week I had a frightening dizzy spell. It started as I was going to sleep Tuesday night. I thought, “Probably I’m just tired. It’ll get better overnight.” It did not. Wednesday morning I was genuinely afraid to go downstairs. W. was out of town, so it was just me and toddler M. We walked across the hall into my home office. I popped him in front of the TV with some Daniel Tiger and ate some candy I had on hand. At the end of the Daniel Tiger episode, I felt better enough to venture downstairs. I called in the grandmas, and my mom came over so that I could engage in enough self-care to try and get better. I thought maybe I was having hypoglycemia, because I’d only eaten a scone and cheese for dinner. Then I remembered that my hormones were acting all wonky in a way that maybe was leading to anemia. I thought maybe the intense nursing that M. has desired for the past couple weeks was leaving me dehydrated. Over the course of the day, through the careful application of food, water, and caffeine, I got mostly better. Thursday I wasn’t dizzy anymore but I was exhausted. Friday and yesterday (Saturday), I was basically a lump for most of the day.

I interpreted this episode as my body telling me that it was time to contract. Time to replenish. My mom said to me, “Please don’t let yourself get more depleted,” and I thought, “Yes, that’s the word.”

I was the opposite of replete. I felt like a jack o’lantern after the emptying and before the carving and lighting up. I felt scraped out. I genuinely felt as though my life force had left my body in very physical ways.

Today I started to feel better. I’m beginning to get a handle on it.


I unsubscribed from all my newsletters with It’ll be easy to add back the ones I miss.

I unsubscribed from all of my RSS feeds.

I unsubscribed from all of my podcasts except The Hilarious World of Depression and Self-Service.

I lay in bed reading novels and playing mobile games.

I decided to let the Self-Service podcast be my guide. And it led me to water. Literally. An early episode is called “Stay Hydrated, BB,” and I decided to let go of the idea of calling things in for the next year of my life except water. I’m calling in water: for drinking, for swimming in. For making magic.

I was listening to Cinderly’s Mermaid Podcast months ago (I definitely want to pick this one back up!) and in one episode the host visits the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid camp. One of the experienced mermaids tells her, “The water is a teacher.”

I have held that thought in my mind ever since.

Water changes its shape to fill the vessel it is in. Water can be solid, liquid, or gas. Water can carry things. Water can erode things. Water water water water.


I wasn’t kidding when I called this a blog post about everything and threatened stream-of-consciousness, y’all.

Being a mother feels like being a piece of kintsugi. It shatters you and puts you back together. You are shinier and more beautiful than before. You are disconnected from yourself, but all the pieces of you are still there. It’s easy in the early days to think they’re gone, but they’re not.


Some months ago I told W. that I felt like I needed a side-hustle because my research assistantship doesn’t bring in a lot of money, but that I simultaneously was struggling to do what I have to do now so I couldn’t really take on more.

“You’re a full-time mom and a full-time grad student,” he told me. “I would encourage you to consider one of those to be your side hustle.”

It was only this week that I realized mom is the primary gig and grad student is the side-hustle.

I’m feeling pretty silly right about now.

I kind of want to read Chris Guillebeau’s book Side Hustle and see if I can apply anything from it to how I organize my schoolwork. I told myself that I can buy it once I finish turning my concept map for the current chunk of my comps lit review into an outline.


It’s important to recognize that when you are caring for loved ones, even minimally, it’s going to impact what you can do elsewhere. It’s important to give ourselves grace and permission both to take a break from caring for others in order to care for ourselves, and to accept that the rest of life will move slowly when care is our number one priority.


Back in April, I did a lot of massaging of my online identity to make it fit a job I was applying for. I did want that job, and I do want to be the person who would get that job… but I didn’t want that job right now, not really, and I didn’t get the job, so that worked out well. (It’s the kind of job that isn’t available very often, in that it’s one particular position in one very specific organization, so I decided to go for it even though I wasn’t really in the place where I was ready for it, because I don’t know how long it’ll be before another chance comes along.)

Anyway, the massaging I did of my online identity has left me feeling a little dissatisfied, a little inauthentic, so I will probably be doing some reconfiguring of my bio everywhere, and my pictures and everything, to feel more like myself again.


I’ve recently started to allow myself to call myself a writer.

I wonder if I’ll ever be comfortable calling myself an artist?


How are you doing?

If you don’t feel like replying here, you can drop me an email. kimberly at this domain name right here. Love you, Internet!

Perpetual Mood:Kitty Pryde - The dust is your life going on.

2018 So Far

I was listening to Lindsay Mack’s Tarot for the Wild Soul monthly medicine podcast for June, and she suggested that this is a great time for review because we’re coming up on being halfway through the year. Then I read the Astrostyle horoscope for my sun sign, Cancer, that said it was a good time to think about what I want to bring into the next year of my life, since my birthday is coming up soon. (About six weeks to go!) These are both great examples of the value I find in woo woo stuff – an invitation to consider what’s already within me and set my intentions for moving forward. I embraced the synchronicity of these two suggestions and decided to look back over the year so far, and then start making plans for what I want to bring into my 38th year on earth. (I’ll be turning 37. My dad will correct me if I call it my 37th year, since I had a whole year here before my first birthday, so.)

Before we make plans for the future, though, let’s look to the past!

I have a bad habit of telling myself nasty narratives about my own value: specifically, of thinking I don’t do anything. Life as a hybrid stay-at-home-mom/grad-student-working-on-comps is weird. You don’t go into an office. You don’t go to class. You theoretically set your own schedule. You spend a lot of time doing what your kid thinks sounds fun. You need to be ready to be interrupted at every moment of your day, yes even when someone else is taking care of the kid. It’s easy for me to let this unstructured amorphous blob of a life I have lead me to believe that I just sit around all day goofing off on the internet. I’m wrong; I know I’m wrong; but it helps to have documented evidence to remind me I’m wrong.

So here was my review process: I sat down with my bullet journals for 2018 and made a list of any metric I thought was interesting. I’ll be sharing those metrics here along with some additional notes. Categories are ad hoc.


Submitted paper proposals: 2. One conference paper, one contest paper. The conference paper was rejected but I received some valuable feedback, Reviewer 2 Syndrome notwithstanding. (And honestly, Reviewer 1 was pretty harsh, too. Reviewer 3 was very encouraging, though.)

Submitted IRB applications: 1. Approved!

Comps prepared: See my earlier posts for notes on this.

Professional development modules drafted: 1.

Presentations given: 3.

Webinars attended: 1.

Job applications completed: 1. I’m not on the market, but there are a very few (okay maybe 2?) jobs that I would jump at regardless of my life circumstances, and one of them came open recently. I applied. I haven’t heard back beyond a confirmation that they received my application, but I’m not devastated because, as I mentioned, I’m not actually on the market.


Well Child Appointments: 1. And really, anyone who takes a toddler to the doctor should get a gold star, because they’re squirmy af and getting a weight/height measurement is always tricky. But my kid is done with vaccines until he goes to school!

Trips Taken: 3. At the end of February, M. and I accompanied W. on a work trip to Knoxville, TN. At the beginning of April, I took a whirlwind tour with my sibs, bro-in-law, and M., stopping in Savannah and Melbourne on our way to celebrate my grandmother’s life (she died in November at age 98) and then stopping in Melbourne and Atlanta on the way back (spending a couple of nights in Melbourne with my other grandmother, and a couple of hours in Atlanta with one of my bffs – remember that a best friend is a tier, not a person). WOOF. And then at the beginning of May, we took a much briefer trip just down the road to Greensboro, again accompanying W. for work travel. We went to the Children’s Museum and the Science Center. FUN!

Adjusted to new childcare situation. This has been huge. It’s taken a lot longer than I anticipated, but I think we’re hitting our stride. M. and I became members at Nido, a coworking space/Montessori school community. In the first few weeks, he was so demanding that they were devoting one teacher exclusively to him, which obviously was not sustainable. He threw a tantrum every time I left him. He would go on nap strike rather than sleep there. We were both stressed out by the whole thing. Now, he happily waves bye bye to me and takes two hour naps there. It’s been a long transformation, but what a big one! Next step: me leveraging my time there to get a lot more work done.

Health crises managed: 2. M. woke up with a slightly swollen eye one morning and by the next morning it was swollen shut. We had to figure out how to get him to take antibiotics. It turns out the least sneaky way is the most effective: squirt them inside his cheek and exhort him to swallow. Also, my dad had a pretty major surgery (it went well!) and I didn’t contribute much, but it still had a pretty big impact on how the day-to-day went for us during his recovery.


Podcast episodes recorded: 3

Podcast episodes edited: 2

Journal pages filled: About 300. It’s worth noting that these are bullet journal pages, so this is a lot more lists and brain dumps and a lot less long-form writing than you might think. And a lot of this is notes that overlap with the comps preparation mentioned above. Still. 300 pages. It’s not nothing.

Blog posts made: 167 (including imports of old Instagram photos)

Doodles made: 2 so far. Keep up on Instagram for more.

RPGs played: I’ve got two running. One is face-to-face and one is via Slack.


Books read: 9 (Including a couple of re-reads)

Haven’t tracked podcasts listened to or TV watched or articles read, but: a lot.


Crises managed/in progress: 3. Got into a car accident (my fault). My wallet was stolen. There’s a big deal leak in our house, apparently from a flaw in our waterproofing somewhere (i.e. when it rains, we get water damage). I haven’t actually finished handling any of these, but I’m in the process on all of them and have taken steps.

In conclusion…

That’s a lot more than nothing, am I right? I should probably cut myself a break and stop thinking that I’m someone who takes up space but does not help. And I didn’t even mention all the invisible labor of parenting and adulting: meal planning, food prep, ordering diapers, clothes shopping, noticing which things we run out of and setting up Amazon subscriptions for them, figuring out developmentally appropriate activities, deciding how to spend the day… (I should note that I have a partner who recognizes a lot of this labor, rendering it visible which thank goodness, and who does a bunch of invisible parenting/adulting labor himself – laundry, dishes, yardwork, sweeping, mopping, reading to the kid while I make a smoothie – thank himSo when I call it invisible I’m referring as much to my own tendency to devalue this work as anything else.) Plus basic self-care, which I occasionally manage: showering, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth, washing my face, putting on clothes, remembering to eat, remembering to take my medicine and supplements…

Honestly, we all do a lot, don’t we? Just to live in this world?

Let’s give ourselves some credit. I will if you will! (I will even if you won’t. But I hope you will.)

How to Learn Anything

A couple of months ago, I asked my friends, “What do I know or can I do that you wish I would teach you?” Learning is my favorite thing, and I wanted to find out what my friends thought I could do already that I could help them learn. I found out that there wasn’t just one thing, but instead a sort of class of things. They said how to podcast, how to knit, how to learn another language, how to do improv, and how to sing. Those are all things I can do and they all have one thing in common: each of them goes beyond being a simple skill, and instead encompasses a whole domain of knowledge.

There are a lot of blog posts and articles that will give you tips for learning anything, but they tend to take the approach of learning how to do a particular skill. What I am good at, and what I’m going to teach you how to do in this blog post, is engaging with a knowledge domain, which encompasses finding relevant resources and using them both to learn a suite of related skills and to build a network of other people in the same knowledge domain with whom you can learn and grow (and who might even become some of your best friends).

Here are all the different techniques I use when I decide to get obsessed with something new.

Ask a friend. Do you already know someone who is really into the thing you want to learn? I don’t like to explicitly ask folks to teach me these things, but I am comfortable saying to a friend, “Hey. You’re into [x]. What are the top five resources you use to keep up with it?” This is a good way to find out the best places to go, without putting an ongoing burden on your friend.

Read a book. I like books because they are great places to get a lot of information in an organized way. They can take you step-by-step through a process. They can connect you with other resources to try next. They are portable. You don’t need headphones to enjoy them. I have used this book as I’ve learned podcasting, and even though it’s ten years old, most of the information in it is still pretty valuable. To find a book relevant to your interests, you can Google the topic and add “book” to your search, like so. You can search or navigate the categories at Amazon or GoodReads. You can use WorldCat to find relevant books in libraries near you. Or you can read on for more tips…

Read a blog or online magazine. Blogs are great because they can keep you up to date on the newest happenings in a domain. They often have rich archives you can read through, organize related blog posts into series, and have comments sections where you can meet other people who are interested in the same thing. When I want to know the latest happenings in the world of web development, I visit A List Apart and Smashing Magazine. As with books, the easiest way to find new blogs is to search for your topic and add “blog” to your search. You can also try browsing through an aggregator like AllTop or use the Discover features at popular blogging services like WordPress, Medium, or Tumblr.

Subscribe to a newsletter. E-mail newsletters are experiencing a renaissance, and I’m excited about it. I subscribe to several podcasting newsletters, and I always have a sense of what is hot or new in the podcasting world because of it. One of the best things about these is that once you subscribe, you never have to come back. They just keep popping into your inbox and are there whenever you are ready for them. Again, an easy way to find these is by searching for the topic plus “newsletter.” The newsletter publishing service Revue also offers a gallery you can browse to find newsletters that might interest you.

Watch a video. YouTube is the most obvious choice for this, but it’s not the only one. There’s Vimeo. And, of course, your public, school, or academic library may have subscriptions to video services that you can access for free to find things that aren’t available on the open web. I honestly don’t know how anyone parented before YouTube. When my son was a newborn, I used a YouTube video to learn how to swaddle him. It was immensely valuable.

Join a forum. There are many specialized forums for various areas of interest. Just like with books and blogs, a search for the topic plus the word “forum” should get you where you need to go. I did that “ask a friend” thing when I wanted to get into mermaiding, and my friend Lareina Ladyfish pointed me to MerNetwork, which has a resource page that then points to several valuable threads.

Use social networking services. Already spending a ton of time on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? Why not turn that into learning time? Use hashtags to find people talking about your topic. Look for relevant Facebook groups and Twitter chats.

Take a class in person. It feels obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. This is how I learned to do improv, and there are some things where this is the way to go. In person, you’ll get to practice the thing you want to do with immediate feedback from a dedicated teacher. The easiest way to find these is to search for the thing you want to do, plus “class” and the name of your city. (For example, “aerial silks class durham nc.”)

Take a class online. For some things, it’s easier to learn on your own time. Platforms like Craftsy, CreativeLive, and Skillshare let you consume instructional content on-demand but also offer an environment where you can converse with other learners and receive feedback from the instructors who developed the course. This is how I learned to knit. The nice thing about many of these is that once you purchase a course, you can revisit it. Which I will definitely need to do with knitting, because like Liz Lemon, every two years I take up knitting for… a week.

Find an organization, meetup, or conference. In some cases, the best way to learn a thing is to just jump in and do it, even if you don’t feel ready. To do that, you might find an organization or event that is dedicated to it, like a community theater group, a ukelele jam, or a makerspace. You can find all kinds of groups at You can also really immerse yourself by going to a multiday conference or convention. Just search for your topic with “conference” or “convention.” I went to Cosplay America this year, even though it would be generous to describe me as even a casual cosplayer, but I learned a lot that will serve me well when I really dig into cosplay. (Which I will.)

Find a mentor. This might be easier to do once you’ve tried one of the other options and met some people, but there are some people who reach out to strangers via Twitter or similar and ask them to be their mentor with some success. For tips on how to do that, read Never Eat Alone. I tend to obtain my mentors through more traditional means. A mentor doesn’t even have to know they’re your mentor, though; you can just watch and learn from them. But if you’re lucky, you might find out that they were intentionally mentoring you all along.

And finally…

Ask a librarian. For many librarians, helping people find the resources they need to learn what they want to learn is explicitly part of their job description. If you’ve exhausted all those possibilities above, or you’re overwhelmed by all those possibilities above, and you’re not sure where to start, find a librarian. Tell her what you want to learn. Ask him where you can find the best resources. Explain to them what specifically about doing this new thing excites you. Don’t know where to find a librarian? If you want to actually meet one, face to face, you should probably find a local library. If you’re shy about that, you might be able to find a chat reference librarian who will meet your needs or you can ask a librarian at the Library of Congress.

Did you find this helpful? Be sure to subscribe or follow me for more like it!


Doing My Part to Fix the Internet: A Follow-up

A little over a year ago, I wrote about how a post by Vicki Boykis and a comment by Chris Aldrich had inspired me to do my part to fix the internet. Since that time, I’ve worked hard to get my WordPress site set up so that I can write content here, send it out to other places where people who want to follow me can see it, and get their responses here. I have, for the past six weeks or so, really succeeded at Vicki’s first mandate:

…write your own blog on your own platform.

In that original post, I talked some about her other suggestions, but I haven’t followed through as successfully on those. I think I’m going to take on her second one next:

Share good content.

There are several things I’m implementing to help me do that. With respect to sharing in WordPress on mobile with Android, Chris has generously shared one way to do that. I have tried it, and while it works, I’m now content to simply copy and paste a URL from the thing I’m sharing into the relevant field in my WordPress post editor. I keep my New Post page bookmarked, and I’m good to go. (My current setup is enabled by the Post Kinds plugin and made easier by the External URL Featured Image plugin, both of which I am aware of thanks to Chris.)

But of course, to share good content, I also need to consume good content. I do this by following blogs and subscribing to newsletters. I use Feedly for subscribing to blogs and Pocket for saving articles linked from newsletters for later reading. (Chris has written a great post about another WordPress plugin, PressForward, that can replace both of these services, but my current web hosting plan doesn’t give me the power I need to use it for the amount of content I’m taking in.)

I’m working on a following page to share what blogs and newsletters I’m subscribing to. (I have one but it isn’t displaying like I want it to, so it’s in draft mode until I figure it out.)

But I want to fix the internet in other ways, too, which is why I’m going to dust off my recollections of HTML5 and CSS3, learn PHP, and dig into WordPress so I can do things like build my own themes and create plugins that give WordPress the functionality I’m missing from it.

Would you like to join me in fixing the internet?

Internet Memories, 1993

I’ve been on the Internet for a quarter of a century. I think I want to write a big, full memoir on the subject, but for now I’m just going to make some notes.

I got my first email address in 1993. I was in seventh grade. My dad set it up on a public access server at the university where he worked. I don’t know why I was so excited to have it, because nobody else I knew had an email address. But I was sure that email would mitigate the loneliness I felt. I had a loving family and excellent friends. I had basically the best middle school experience a person could hope for. But I still felt this need for more connection, and I thought this tool would get the job done.

I signed my crush’s yearbook with my email address. We went to different schools for eighth grade, because of redistricting, or because I moved. (They both happened at the same time.) He never emailed me.

I don’t think I got much out of that email address until I signed up for listservs.

But that’s a story about 1995.

Percolating Projects, April 2018

Here’s a complete list of everything I’ve got going on right now. And by “going on,” I mean a level of intensity ranging from “thinking about maybe doing it” to “seriously working on it.” (Categories come from the Integrative Nutrition Circle of Life exercise.)


  • Daily tarot card pull as a means of connecting with my intuition


  • Things of Bronze podcast
  • Compiling a YouTube playlist of comedy sketches that epitomize my comedic sensibility
  • Developing a concept for a geeky variety show
  • A memoir about adolescence/early adulthood in the early days of the World Wide Web
  • Something for the 10th anniversary of Doctor Horrible
  • Daily blogging
  • Indiewebifying


  • Reducing grocery spending via using my Soda Stream, freezing leftovers, and eating out of the pantry/fridge/freezer


  • Writing culturally sustaining pedagogy online curriculum module for Project READY.
  • Steeping myself in the world of YA librarianship


  • Working on the Makerspaces section of my comprehensive literature review

Health, Home Cooking

Physical Activity

Home Environment

  • Putting together a list of tasks for the handyman
  • Cleaning out the upstairs linen closet as part of packing and purging in anticipation of putting our house on the market


  • Treating Will to a birthday surprise
  • All the parenting: deciding how and when to potty train, buying springtime clothes, selecting toddler tableware

Social Life

  • Figuring out when to schedule game nights
  • Planning Google Hangouts


  • Continuing to have a super cute kid with an excellent giggle

To Somebody, You Are an Expert

This morning, I popped M. in the stroller and walked him the three quarters of a mile to the doula offices for their Movers & Shakers meeting. As the first babies they ushered into the world became toddlers, the community of parents who had worked with them wanted to continue meeting with each other beyond the New Parents hangout, and even some of the babes who had not technically aged out of the New Parents Hangout group got so mobile and handsy that the parents of said babes (mine included) started to wonder how safe it was for the little ones to be exposed to our friendly acrobats. So the doulas started a group for older, more mobile babies up to age two. Michael and I make it out about once every three weeks. This is a much better attendance rate than we had for the New Parents Hangout, probably because as he’s gotten older and more mobile I’ve lost any illusions I had about being able to get work done as he played, so we might as well go play with other families.

So, as I said – this morning, I popped him in the stroller – and when I say “popped” I mean that I strapped him in his five-point harness, ensured he had plenty of pretzels in the cupholder, realized that I had left his water bottle on the floor, picked up his water bottle, put that in the grown-up’s cupholder (because again, M’s was full of pretzels) and headed out to the doula office.

Michael was the only toddler in attendance, but he had the time of his life playing with the seven-year-old son of one of the owners. As the Movers and Shakers time ended and time for the New Parents Hangout approached, other families started to arrive, including one family with a very new baby.

I told Michael it was almost time to leave. I sang him the relevant Daniel Tiger song. (There is a relevant Daniel Tiger song for almost every toddler/preschooler parenting moment. A mom used the same “It’s almost time to stop” one on a playground recently and when I said, “Hey, M! We know that song!” she replied, “Daniel Tiger is my co-parent.”) I re-filled his cupholder, this time with veggie straws. I strapped him into the stroller and asked him to wave goodbye to everybody.

As I was strapping him in the stroller, I remembered my earliest New Parents Hangout, sitting with this tiny, fragile, incoherent, precious person in his huge carrier, not knowing how to do anything yet. I imagined what that version of myself would think watching me go through this process of getting Michael in the stroller, settling him in, getting him out the door.

I decided she would think, “Wow. That lady can parent a toddler so effortlessly. That’s amazing.”

And it was beautiful to have that dual perspective, to remember myself as a newbie and be able to look upon my expert self, shepherding this relatively giant creature, having him say goodbye to the doulas.

Then getting to the door and realizing I’d left my backpack in the classroom, then going back and getting it and truly heading out, then not realizing my phone had fallen out of the stroller in the parking lot until I’d walked a couple hundred feet past where it happened, then running back to find it while praying a car hadn’t run over it, then sighing with relief after finding it lying on the ground unharmed, then continuing the walk home.

These things keep us humble in the moments when we would be proud. I think it’s nice to be able to feel both at once.

And, of course, observing this moment is a nice reminder that whomever I’m looking at and thinking, “Wow, she really has it together!” is probably struggling in some way I can’t see, and that potentially any time I’m struggling, there’s somebody looking at me who thinks I’m doing a great job.