Trying on “mean” for size

We have been having an awesome summer.

Riley and Seth had so much fun at music camp, and Todd and I got to have a little bit of time together without the kids for a couple of hours in the mornings. A rare treat, let me tell you! I’d been having a hard time for a while, but my hormones are back in balance and I feel good. Riley combed her hair by herself the other day. First time ever. She just could never figure out where her body was in space before. She was not able to do it. She’d get so upset trying, making her hair a mess, and then two days ago, she just did it! Like it was nothing. Like she’d been combing her own hair all along.

Seth has learned to pump on the swing. Almost eight and he just could never get it before. It was the one physical thing Riley had sole bragging rights to over him. She is happy for him though, and now the two of them swing and swing and swing as long as I let them.


Energy is definitely shifting here for the O’Neils. Things are happening. Folks, I’m not going to be blogging much longer. I just feel a change coming. Like I need to open up a space for something else. I don’t know what it is, but I feel it. Like it’s right there.


Friday we went to visit my friend Lidi in her amazing little sleepy lake community, hidden just off highway 306. 

What you don’t see in the picture below is the pile of mud Riley has hidden in her right hand.

She’s stealthily about to try something new. 

It’s called being mean.


She sweetly called Seth over to the ladder, and when he started up it, she splatted the whole side of his face with mud. He was furious. Mud even got in his ear.

Immediately I called her over to where I stood on the sandy beach, and asked her, “What would possess you to do that to him?”

Inwardly I’m thinking, “He has been nothing but kind and patient and loving and sweet to you his WHOLE life!! @)()@#_)$”

Riley sat in the water, staring at the wet sand she’d starting dripping hand to hand, muttering “Well…well….well…well…well…”

I told her to apologize and she ramped it up,” WELL… WELL… WELL… WELL… WELL!!”

I forced her to look at her brother, who sat all folded in on himself, dejected.

“Riley, how do you think he feels right now?” She glanced up quick, then turned away. Couldn’t deal with it.

“Seth, how do you feel?” I asked. She was going to hear this.


“What else? What’s behind mad?”

“Sad,” he said, head down.  

“That’s right, sad is always behind mad,” I said to Riley.


It was time to leave, so I decided to address it later. Made sure Seth knew I saw it, and this wasn’t finished, but we had to gather up things and get going.

Within twenty minutes Riley had apologized. Had I dug my heels in, it would have been a big ugly meltdown, and I would have been fried for the ride home.

Talking to her later, she explained, “Girls are supposed to be mean,” and “Girls are always mean to boys and they don’t apologize,” and how on the TV show iCarly, “so & so is mean to so & so, and she never apologizes, and how she felt like maybe “she didn’t know how to be a girl right, and how she wishes she could be a boy instead” because it’s so confusing and makes her so mad when girls are mean.

It’s as if she were trying on “mean” for size.

We talked and talked about how anyone who is feeling connected with their Source would never be mean to anyone. How when people feel separate and alone, or threatened it sometimes causes them to act out in mean ways. How meanness is not a natural state for anyone, and how no one is “supposed” to act that way, even if many do. Even if they do it on iCarly. Girls are not designed to be mean. Girls are feminine and sacred at their core. When people are mean, they are actually very afraid and lost.

Riley seemed relieved after our talk. 

Because this mean thing? She really doesn’t have it in her.

(Riley, Lidi, Seth, Jingle and Lidi’s dog Gus)

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15 Responses to Trying on “mean” for size

  1. graceonline says:

    You are ever and still one of my heroes, Michelle. What a magnificent story. Thank you so much for telling this it. I’m going to blog about it this week, because I think it’s important to celebrate thoughtful parenting that gets to the heart of a matter.

    But then–your news! So sad. Even when I don’t have time to comment (or am using an IGadget and can’t get the comments to stick, I read your blog and look forward so to your posts. I will miss reading you.

  2. graceonline says:

    Well, crumbum, I see I left a big, fat typo in the comment above. Btw, would you be so kind as to let me use the pic of the children swimming when I post about your story this week? I would give you a link and full credit, of course.

  3. Jerri says:

    Stories like this change the world. Michelle. This one changed mine today.

    Although I will miss your stories and photos if you no longer blog, I trust you to know what’s right for you and for your life. Blessings for your journey.


  4. Isabel says:

    I too will miss your blog very much. Please reconsider?! Seriously do what is correct for yourself and your family and thank you for letting us read about your wonderful family!

    Todays post was particularly good. I have never thought about the fact that “sad is behind mad” – but its very true! The one thing I learnt today, so thank you for the lesson. x

  5. Jenny R says:

    Looking forward to see where you’re heading…

  6. Dawn says:

    I hope that this blog has served you, as you have served others through it and that whatever it is you are making space for, will bring you joy.
    Love. Always.

  7. drama mama says:

    A ha! My girls are fascinated by Sam on iCarly, too…and I’m so glad that she’s figuring it out. (Not glad that poor Seth had to suffer) Mean? No, not in her…but it has to exist to make the sweetness sweet, ya know?

  8. -e- says:

    well, this is why shows like iCarly, or anything geared to “tweens” never makes an appearance in our house.

    Meanwhile, sad is behind… sad that you re thinking of discontinuing your blog… always the one I check first, and always the one that is well written, insightful, and damn funny too. I hope you decide to continue, but if stopping is the right path, know that you will be missed.

  9. Heather says:

    Such learning moments for us all…
    It taught me that I need to not “dig my heels in” so quickly and allow my kids time to make the right decision after making a mistake. That’s a hard lesson for me.
    It reminded me that I need to remind my girls more often that what they are watching on tv is not reality.
    It made me aware of just how much your blog has impacted me and how much I will miss it. I’m grateful your mom told me about it years ago and I’m grateful for all that you’ve put into it.
    If there is something else pulling you in a new direction–go with it–full soul ahead!

    love and gratitude.

  10. Wanda says:

    Wow. Big shifts.

    I will miss you…terribly.

  11. Chloes Mom Mary says:

    Many lessons in this post and I love them all!

    I can understand about the “energy shift”. As always, I am a firm believer in doing what is right for you and your family.

    I have learned a lot from your blogging and have really enjoyed every post I have read.

    Thank you for all the moments that you have shared.

    Blessings to you and your family – you will be missed.

  12. redheadmomma says:

    I am nothing but happy for you, M. You leave miracles in your wake. I only hope that you pop back up somewhere that we can eventually find you again in some way or another. I think of your posts more than many blogs I frequent. Fly & be free, sister! XO

  13. kario says:

    I am so thrilled that your daughter has a safe place to try things on for size and someone as wise as you to help her process it afterwards.


  14. So much here to comment on. The thing with Riley saying how girls are supposed to be, based on something she saw in the media – for a while Nigel was constantly telling me how “teenagers” are “supposed” to be based on what he’d seen. And we’ve had several discussions like yours. Fortunately he now seems to be more aware of who he is, rather than how he thinks he’s supposed to be.

    I’m so glad for you that the hormones are back in balance – I know how difficult that can be. And although you will be sorely missed, I understand about the blogging thing. I’ve had to cut back recently, and although I’m not planning to stop soon, I now have more space for other things in my life. It sounds like you will too, and I wish you much love and peace with all of it. xoxo

  15. Carrie Link says:

    No, she does not. And don’t get me started on the ills of iCarly.

    Love that she combed her own hair. NEHBM of that.

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