Life brought me back to the question of motherhood with more urgency. This time, I answered differently.

I lowered myself onto the bench in front of a painting layered with swirls of muted sepia tones. It was happening again. I noticed spotting when I wiped in the bathroom minutes ago. Would I lose this one, too? People buzzed around me at the Barbican as I sat silent…


And other lessons learned in the first two years of building my coaching business

Two years ago I sat in a conference room at a hotel in Atlanta with a room full of strangers. I was an eager student ready to be trained as a coach. I was also burned out, scared, confused, and questioning everything. Coaching found me in the midst of a…


Responding to reminders of loss and grief during the holidays, creating new traditions, and opening up to joy again

Rows of pre-cut pine trees dot the sidewalks of New York City. Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas and New Year’s Eve are fast approaching. I walk by the pines, inhale their sweet scent, and remember the way my brother and I used to take turns hanging ornaments on the…


Crying, I called my dad to ask him about my parents’ decision to have kids.

Crying, I called my dad to ask him about my parents’ decision to have kids. How did you know you wanted kids? I didn’t think I did, but now I think I do. What if it’s too late? Earlier that week, I had been texting with my childhood friend, Willo…


The ride of my life and embracing the unknown with gratitude

It was my last day in Amsterdam. I sat on a bench, tucked behind a small, round wooden table at a bar called Dapper in the Oud West neighborhood. My phone battery was almost dead, so I paid a Euro to lock it in a charging station and opted to…


What Joan Didion, Yves Klein, and a toddler taught me about life

I picked it up in London — Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking. My friend Shannon had recently recommended it to me. The cover of the UK edition drew me in at the bookstore. Early that evening, I laid down on the couch and opened the first page…


On making space for oneself in a relationship and the dance between independence and intimacy

*Read the prequel companion piece, In Togetherness and Solitude, here first.

The temperature had begun to drop by the time T and I walked north along 10th Avenue in Chelsea. We had spent the day visiting galleries, pausing to take pictures of work we liked, and making note of what…


Letting go of the people and places that have shaped us never grows easier.

*Read the companion piece to this follow-up here first.

Our family said goodbye to Uncle Dave in December 2011, just like we’d said goodbye to Mom 20 years earlier. Both were sudden and sad and hard. And it was only a little over a year ago that our family said…


Mom was there and then she wasn’t. He left this world slowly and stubbornly, like the last bit of light leaves a summer evening.

In the fall of 2010, I drove to the house my mother grew up in—the house where I waited while she died. I headed east on Lapeer and turned left onto Eckles. The gravel crunched under the tires and I continued on until I passed the train tracks and rounded…


Divorce, a one-night stand, and potentially something more.

I’m dating again. I met him in the spring, a few months after my 10-year marriage dissolved. I wasn’t looking — a mutual friend introduced us. I had walked the block from my new apartment to the old one I had shared with my former husband to take advantage of…

Tina Essmaker

Motherless mother writing about the grief we live through and how we thrive on the other side. https://tinaessmaker.com

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