Hi. I'm a Monster Hugger.

Hi. I'm a Monster Hugger.

** These are missives from my past. Many of these posts were written about 2 years ago, when the  realities and circumstances of my life were quite different. I am now a single parent to a toddler. The past is an uncomfortable and rich terrain. By occasionally delving in, without lingering too long, the past provides the needed perspective to step rightly into the future. **

About two years ago, I began writing for this blog. I’ve written dozens and dozens of posts. Posts I often doubted would ever see the light of day. I’m a full time parent who also works (I am fortunate in that I can bring my daughter to work since I do childcare). Most of these posts have been written one slow sentence at a time before the sun came up, after everyone in the house went to bed, or during nap time in between unloading the dishwasher and walking the dog. The time represented by each word I’ve typed was hard fought. The time that has lapsed since writing most of these words and actually publishing this blog represents just how easily a parent’s time is lost.

I didn’t write these posts chronologically, but I will be posting them in the order that they happened. My daughter is now 2 and my life and outlook has changed dramatically over the past 2 years. Looking back at a post about my life 2 years ago is odd and uncomfortable. But, if our personal histories were more comfortable, I imagine therapists would be out of a job and we’d all be growing with ease into our limitless potential. Alas, we live flawed lives. Thank goodness for the struggle and all the sloppy richness it provides.

About a year ago someone remarked to me about how I spend all this time hugging little monsters. The phrase got me to thinking. Hugging all these little monsters in my life has taught me something about the bigger monsters in my life. Small kids are comfortable with their dark parts - they cry, whine, throw temper tantrums. Kids sit with their monsters all the time. As adults, we’ve learned to quiet them down and move them out of the way. I hadn’t sat with my monsters in a very long time. For some reason when my daughter was born, my monsters came raging into light. Suddenly, all the dark, difficult, and painful parts of me and my past were exposed. When my daughter’s monsters rage, I offer my presence, my compassion, and hugs. Why not try that approach with my own monsters? I have become, in all ways, a monster hugger.

And, so here she is. My blog. Stories about hugging my littlest and sweetest monster, my daughter. And stories about dealing with my own monsters: sadness, fear, overwhelm, depression, vulnerability, and a heart that insists on residing on my sleeve.

I have learned one glorious and awful lesson since becoming a parent: it’s that a broken heart is beautiful. When a heart breaks it’s not falling apart. It’s breaking open. I believe being broken hearted is a natural state of human existence. It is an experience that we have attempted to shield ourselves from. We build walls around it. Throw ourselves into distractions. Build immunity to our own wonderful vulnerability. We have isolated the experience of being broken hearted to the sadness after a break up. I am here to say, among a few other things, that there is more. There is more to being broken hearted. Spices are crushed, ground, and split to release their full flavor and aroma. Coffee beans crack down their sides as part of their roasting process, giving it the distinct look of a coffee bean. Seeds break underground when they grow. Our births are an intense breaking open: from belly, from vagina, from placenta. We break our way into being. Breaking open is part of our existence, part of the experience of living in this world. We are made to break. It is not weakness or something that needs to be fixed.

Whole people have broken hearts.



by Mary Oliver


Here is a story

to break your heart.

Are you willing?

This winter

the loons came to our harbor

and died, one by one,

of nothing we could see.

A friend told me

of one on the shore

that lifted its head and opened

the elegant beak and cried out

in the long, sweet savoring of its life

which, if you have heard it,

you know is a sacred thing.,

and for which, if you have not heard it,

you had better hurry to where

they still sing.

And, believe me, tell no one

just where that is.

The next morning

this loon, speckled

and iridescent and with a plan

to fly home

to some hidden lake,

was dead on the shore.

I tell you this

to break your heart,

by which I mean only

that it break open and never close again

to the rest of the world.


There was a chicken in the house when my wife went into labor.

There was a chicken in the house when my wife went into labor.