About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Me, Naturally

   There isn’t one thing that defines me - although sometimes it feels like it.  Sometimes it feels like I am MOMMY (yes, all capitals are intended).  Every fiber of being is consumed with taking care of my son.  Other times, I have 32 students who are each demanding my attention and I am not “Wendy,” I am “Mrs. Kennar.”  When there are quiet moments to reflect on my life, I realize that I associate with different natural entities, and for different reasons.  

   Here’s my hybrid:

   Butterflies have become one of my hallmarks.  Although, I didn’t always like butterflies.  Mainly because of my dad’s mother, and here I use the term “mother” loosely.  She was biologically his mother, my grandmother, but where it counts - in actions, in love - she wasn’t.  She liked butterflies, had butterfly prints and butterfly specimens framed and adorning the walls of her house.  And if she liked them, I couldn’t, out of principle.  

   Now, I am a butterfly person.  I admire their transformative nature, the way they begin their lives as less-than-attractive caterpillars and evolve into beautiful creatures.  Butterflies appear gentle and dainty, yet they’re strong and go the distance.  I like to think that’s me.  For most of my early years, I saw myself as a caterpillar, and now I like to think I’ve evolved into a more appreciated, more respected butterfly.

   Whales are commonly referred to as “gentle giants.”  For a while, I entertained the idea of becoming a marine biologist, working at Sea World or on a ship studying and observing these phenomenal creatures.  These large animals gracefully, and seemingly effortless, glide through the water, breech and leap in exuberance.  Whales are intelligent, and respected for their intelligence.  For a while, I was embarrassed by mine.  I was tired of being the “smart girl.”  I wanted to be the pretty girl, the funny girl, the popular girl - anything but the “straight-A girl.”    Whales are who they are, and we study them and respect them for it.  Whales are also quite social, living and traveling with their family pods - a concept I don’t quite understand as the older I get the relationships with my siblings unravel.

   And then there’s the moon.  For many years, I was going to be an astronaut.  No question about it.  More specifically, I would be the first woman to walk on the moon.   The moon was mysterious and enchanting, captivating and alluring, indescribably beautiful.  People studied it, wrote poems about it, painted it.  From a distance, nothing compared to the moon.  Up close though, the moon looked like a different terrestrial body.  Pockmarks and craters interrupted the surface.  And that was my teenage face - disturbed by acne markings.  If only, someone could stand back and see I did have beauty also.  I could be appreciated for my looks.  

   Now, I’m in my mid-thirties (gasp! when did that happen?).  I am who I am.  And, I’ve got some admirable personality traits that I intend to celebrate and be proud of.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When I Grow Up

   I asked my son “the question” for the first time.  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  

   Ryan is three-and-a-half-years old, and up until now, the conversation had never come up.  But we were reading (and re-reading) the charming Tina Louise book When I Grow Up, and I was curious.  What was my little boy thinking?  Which scenario did he picture himself in?  

   His answer, and the way he answered, surprised me.

   He stopped, put his finger to his chin, giving my question careful consideration and answered, “A firefighter.”  My son has never demonstrated an enthusiasm for any firefighter-related subjects.  We visit our neighborhood firehouse each year on its open house, we listen for sirens, notice some firetrucks are larger than others, but that’s about it.    And yet from all the careers mentioned in the book (teacher, nurse, fashion designer, president, Olympic athlete, magician, police officer, scuba diver, archaeologist), he saw himself as a firefighter.

   But then came my favorite part of his response.  Ryan asked, “What else?”

   I love this freedom, my son’s utter belief that he doesn’t have to restrict himself to one answer, and that any career is possible.  Because it’s true.  It’s true for all of us until someone tells us otherwise.

   No one has yet put any labels or limits or restrictions on my son.  No one has told him he’s good at this and not so good at that, and for those reasons his career choices are already decided for him. 
   I wish I felt that same confidence.  I wish I saw a world of opportunities and possibilities open to me.  Maybe then I would be more brave and undaunted and more willing to make a change with my own career. 

   With kids,you never know.  I can ask my son “the question” next week and get an entirely different answer.  I might ask him again and receive the same “firefighter” reply.  Whatever his answer, my response will be the same, “You can be anything you want.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Necessary Teddy

   I don’t always sleep alone, and I haven’t for years.

   In my memory, the first bear that kept me company during the night was a bear resembling Winnie the Pooh.  He was the color of sand and wore a striped shirt that didn’t quite cover his belly.  He was a gift from my Godfather; a man I had heard about but didn’t meet until years later on my wedding day.

   Then I slept with “Michael,” a bear I named after my older brother.  Michael was home from his army training and brought my sister and I each a small teddy bear.  Michael had a string on the top of his head, and I often looped my finger through it, watching Michael dangle and dance while my Michael was probably marching in Germany.  Teddy- bear-Michael wore a red sweater, and he was my comfort when I worried about an oral presentation in school or an upcoming test.

   Now, I’m 35 years old, and still seek comfort and company in a teddy bear.  This bear is lavender and holds a felt purple pillow to his tummy that proclaims I am the “#1 Mom.”  (I think my mom deserves that distinction).  My son and my mom gave me this bear to celebrate my first Mother’s Day.  During the day, he rests on my bedside table.  At night, he’s often in my arms.  

   My days are over-planned leaving me with no choice but to keep moving.  At night though, things change.  The house is quiet.  I want to sleep and need to sleep, and yet I can’t always relax and let go of all my preoccupations.  My little purple bear is my worry doll.  He’ll worry for me and protect me during the night so that my mind and body may rest.  

   The bears change, the reasons for worry change, the need for a teddy bear remains.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Write

   Writers write.  It seems obvious, but there’s more to it than that.  The writing part is solitary, sometimes down-right lonely.  Non-writers don’t always understand the agony of searching for the right word, the self-questioning fear of, “What am I writing?  And who will ever read it?”

   Writers write, but we also need to read and share, discuss and brainstorm, and critique.

   That’s what I did this past weekend.  For two days, I was inspired by nineteen other writers.  Individuals with fascinating stories to tell - stories of their pasts and their presents.  Stories of their experiences, their families, their histories.  

   We wrote, of course.  We asked ourselves the difficult questions - questions about titles, and themes, and potential readership.  We set goals for ourselves.  

   And then we shared.  We shared the stories that form in our hearts and souls.  

   When it seems that our world is on fast-forward, text-messaging and twittering, getting to the nitty-gritty of a message, this class proves that humans have an insatiable need to connect.  The short messages we send back and forth aren’t enough.  We need to hear each other’s stories, to see the homes we grew up in, the schools we attended, the dinners we ate with our families, the hospital rooms we’ve been confined to.  

   We all have stories.  Rich, true stories we cultivate within and then are brave enough to share aloud.  We wait for the compliments and the criticisms.  And we need both.  It’s the compliments that keep us going; it’s the criticisms that make us better.  

   Then we go back.  And write some more.