The mini van halen smells terrible.

It could be rotting food, or moldy towels, or just stinky little boy feet. Whatever the source it is gross.

I don’t have the energy to ferret it out, and my inner child/parenting on track training doesn’t want me to. I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me. Those kids of mine should fix it.

Its when the shall turns to should that I know I am in the shit.

The goal, the forever ever I might be inching closer but I’m not quite sure goal, is to believe in the competence of everyone around me. Particularly my family and myself. Its a self fulfilling prophecy. My faith leads to incredible capability. My doubt…tears it down.

The “should” comes from a place of doubt and judgment. And self pity. Woe is me, with the smelly van. Those kids are always working against me. Yesterday coming out of the car they carried the groceries. And put most of them away without a single prompt. I appreciate and notice that, but not as much as the milk on the island. And once the delicate balance of counter cleanliness has tipped towards chaos I join in. Tea mug left, dwell magazine right. Eh, the milk was already there, my stuff can join theirs.

So maybe I am an inner slob, and I will take the tiniest bit of disorder and strew things around it. And maybe they spend more of their life as elements of entropy, and less in the endless cycle of returning things to their proper place.

Faith is hard. Believing in competence is hard. People suck at so many things. Maybe those people’s parents didn’t believe in them. Maybe they were met with the attitude that “I know you will screw it up anyway, so I’ll just do it myself.”

I am a starter. I start many things. I maintain fewer things. Housework is maintenance. Getting and staying fit are maintenance. For a while I had faith that my great great capacity was for starting things, and that I was quite capable of maintaining them. I would often choose to start the next thing before I had maintained the last thing for very long…I saw that as a choosing of the next thing, rather than a dropping out of the first thing. Teaching for other teaching, restaurant for teaching, non profit work for restaurant…it is about then the story began to change. My faith in myself and my competence drooped.

I’m ready to go back to my old story. Fake it till I make it. I have kids who carry things in from the van. I shall carry my next project further than my last. Perhaps even all the way to completion. Faith takes practice, like everything else.

It sometimes just smells bad along the way.




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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

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