Walking in Memphis

Memphis is the kind of city that you can fall hard for, and even though it will take a lot of gritty work, you can see a long relationship if you both do your part.

Memphis is not like a Charleston or a Malibu or a Newport, the kind of cities that make you swoon, the kind that give you butterflies and the notion that life will always be this easy and beautiful and well-lit. Even though you know it won’t, because at some point the vacation ends and real life in that town begins.

Memphis is more like a Detroit or a Cleveland or a Savannah–cities endowed with natural beauty, but which are a little more weathered because of what they’ve seen. A little less polished because of how they’ve been treated. But still you know that with a lot of care and investment, this could shape up to be a beautiful love story….

***Memphis with Kids
I fell hard for Memphis  and I don’t care what anyone says. The neighborhoods of Evergreen, Overton Park, Cooper-Young, Midtown rose up to meet me and the sun shone warmly on my back. We scored a great little AirBnB cottage that was perfect for our family of 4. Seriously, fabulous. Message me if you want to know which.

Beale Street enchanted me mid-day.  Graceland ravished me with secrets about the King. Butler Park romanced me, the ducks at the Peabody Hotel enamored me, the National Civil Rights Museum enthralled me, and Muddy’s Bakery melted me in every way. The Neighborhood Church still has my kids singing all the songs (shout-out to Meredith–you are SUCH a blessing). The Memphis Zoo is fantastic (really well-manicured and a good number of exhibits–could have done without the bats, reptiles exhibit. Still can’t get the smell out of that place from making me viscerally gag. Ack.). I’d like to explore the Main St. area more and I’d definitely like to go back and check out the CMOM and do a tour of St. Jude’s.

Overton Park

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Looking out at the Mississippi

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Exploring Downtown, Main St. 

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National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel

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Muddy’s Grind House – recommend everything. The cupcakes were reeedonk.

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The beautiful Peabody Hotel and their beloved fine-feathered guests

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Memphis has soul, it’s been said, and now I understand why. Memphians greet you with wide smiles, open hearts, and quick laughs. Marc Cohn, I get you now, bro. I totally do feel the way you feel.

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Lorraine Motel – when the FamiLee visits

We took the kids to Memphis this week. I’d like to pat ourselves on the back for doing a bang-up job of priming them for why Memphis is such a significant place in shaping this country’s history. In particular, we took the kids to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. As historical showcases go, the museum is just phenomenal. Interactive media, gorgeous photos, and very memorable displays that take one through the history from slavery to the civil rights movement, even ending with a segment on human trafficking.

lorraine motel

The tricky thing is that we waited until the 3p entry because Tennesseans need only present their state-issued license to get in free on Mondays! The kids were a little over-hyped by that point. We didn’t want to be those parents harping the whole time; we have realistic expectations of how a 6 year-old and a 4 year-old behave in a museum about topics that are way over their heads. Example: they got on the bus with a replica of Rosa Parks and the bus driver chastising her and they were spooked. Dude. Why isn’t she moving? Oh. It’s a statue. And also, it’s Rosa Parks. Complexity.

The part of the museum that takes visitors through a reconstructed room #306 is just very special. You peer into the last place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rested his head before he walked out with his brother and friends and was shot on the balcony by James Early Ray. You see the books that were tucked into King’s suitcase. The passage is cloaked in blue and the music playing is beautiful, funereal and the whole mood is reverent.

As we approached the window to peer in on room #306, my little man said loudly, “Shhh. We’re about to meet Elvis.”

lorraine motel tatum


Memphis, y’all.

American Parenting (see also: a tad bit over it)

I have to be careful how I word this and how I identify the cast of characters since I live in a small community and folks might read this and think I was talking smack about them and retaliate by accusing me of counterfeiting all my kids’ Boxtops for Education.


Once upon a time, I was at a children’s tee-ball game. The average age of the players was no older than 6. The coach, we’ll call him Coach, was watching his wife, we’ll call her Mom, who was taping the bench where the players would sit whilst waiting to go up for their at-bats. Mom was taping the spots in an orderly fashion and doing a bang-up job.

Part of me was thinking, That’s nice, I bet she saw that on the Pinterest. The other part of me was, Yeah, I bet you those kids can probably figure out how to sit down without someone taping their names for them? And anyway, have you ever met a 5 year-old? Sitting isn’t their best gross motor skill. Unless you ask them to empty the dishwasher. Then suddenly they’re champion sitters.

Okay, but then Coach starts critiquing Mom about her measured taping skills. He starts arguing with her about there not being enough room for all the kids on the bench. Like maybe she should have used a tape measure to precisely allocate a certain number of inches for each tee-baller rump. He starts hammering out each spot on the bench where the tape line should have gone, and suddenly Mom is feeling bad and Coach is clearly irritated and I’m on the sidelines totally embarrassed that this is happening.


Why is the five year-old tee-baller and her best seven pals not doing this themselves? Even if it’s not perfect, why are they not the ones marking up the bench so that they can take pride in their butt-assignment system? Why are we as American parents riddled with so much guilt and why are we so quick to swoop in and help our kids navigate situations that we ourselves were fine to figure out. Further, why are we taking all parenting cues from Upworthy videos and bloggers (hi.) and glossy photo DIYs pinned to the internet?


“Have you talked to your tweens about over-the-counter medications?”

I read the above on the Twitter tonight.

It is not enough to cloth diaper and puree organic root vegetables and help them with Sudoku-style math every night.

You have to add not oversnorting Afrin to the list of Things to Talk about with your Tween. Or you fail.


The moral of the story is, I should never have read Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting). Laissez Faire parenting, aka parenting that encourages discovery, is so my jam.
Packing my bags for France, parenting abroad indefinitely. Who’s with me?

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