Category:

Parenting

Parenting is nothing you expected and everything you could have imagined all rolled into one. I have been spit up on, pooped on, vomited on all before 7 a.m. in the newborn years. I’ve watched my toddler shove a pearl up her nose and poop in her mouth, and I’ve even masticated food. Not as fun as it sounds. I’ve survived breast buds and the sex talk. I share everything I ever learned and you might want to know about parenting from pregnancy to labor thru to the teens years.  It’s is hard but it’s the toughest job that you’ll ever love but the salary sucks.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind children

Disclosure: Sponsored by author T.A. Barron and the Spark Goodness Program.

How do you teach your kids to be good people? Sounds simple, right? We think its innate but really, we lead by example. It’s not something you learn just from being told to do so. The way it makes you feel also is not something you can explain. It’s like childbirth in that way. The only way to experience it is to do it and to feel it wash over you like a warm rain shower in the summertime. It feels special, beautiful and fulfilling.

I’ve always told my girls that you get out of the world what you put into it. This is something my parents taught me. Life is not about collecting all the things. It is about living a life that is meaningful, intentional and purposeful and at the end of the day, it’s about being the kind of person that you’d like to encounter in the world.

READ ALSO: The Starbucks Effect

It’s summertime and the girls have had a definite lull in their schedule compared to the school year. They are required to do service work throughout the year for school. This is something they have always done. Aside from that, they’ve always seen me volunteer my time, money and experience for many different causes that I support. I do this because I believe in it and I love actively raising awareness. It gives me purpose. It makes me feel fulfilled. I want this for my girls too.

The world is what we make of it. We have to be active participants. Waiting for life to happen to you is not very fulfilling. I want my girls to know that sparking goodness does not have to mean giant, sweeping declarations of righteousness because, honestly, the idea of creating these grand gestures can be quite intimidating and daunting. I’m showing my girls that all it takes is a spark of goodness to ignite a raging fire.

Each act of kindness we perform has ripples and they reverberate and touch everyone around. Maybe it’s nothing more than grabbing an item at the grocery store from the top shelf for an elderly woman. It takes a second but she won’t forget that kindness. Though it was a second of your time, it might have meant everything to an elderly woman struggling to get her green beans. This causes her to smile and it makes her day brighter, her disposition sunnier and that is contagious.

READ ALSO: Random Acts of Kindness

My daughters see these acts every day. They’ve seen my husband buy meals for homeless people many times. They’ve seen us help our elderly neighbors, take meals to sick friends, give clothing to the homeless shelter or friends who could use them. They’ve seen me raise 10000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma. They know that every act of kindness matters.

I see, when they think I’m not looking, holding the door for people. Helping the elderly at the stores. Donating their allowance to special causes. Volunteering their free time which they don’t have much of to begin with. I am proud that they have made this a priority in their lives. I hope they never forget that every small act reaches many lives.

This year, T.A. Barron, well known for his philanthropy and creator of the popular Merlin book series that is currently being made into a film by Disney, wants to help influence children to find their inner hero.

To support this dream of creating more light in the world, he came up with the #SparkGoodness campaign that encourages individuals to bring good and light into the world. He even provided a list of ways families can spark goodness in their own communities.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind children

Those that share are highlighted via his social media feeds and entered to win a monthly prize as well as a grand prize at the end of the year. T.A. Barron even provided an easy sheet to track all of your families sparks of goodness this summer.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind childrenEven though sparking goodness is its own reward, I’d love to encourage you and your families to enter T.A. Barron’s year long #SparkGoodness contest. Those that share are highlighted via his social media feeds and entered to win a monthly prize, as well as a grand prize at the end of the year. The July prize is a set of family yard games valued at over $ 200!

How do you inspire your children to commit sparks of goodness and rand acts of kindness?

 

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tarte cosmetics, How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens

When I was a tween and a teenage girl, I was forbidden from wearing make-up. Not even lip gloss. If I was really slick, I could, maybe, get away with some shiny chapstick. Thank you Lip Smackers. But my teenage self had no idea how to put on make-up.

My dad was very old-fashioned and opposed to the thought of any sort of male looking in our direction and harbored even more disdain at the thought of us growing up. So, needless to say, middle school was the pits and even asking how to put on make-up was about as offensive to our dad as asking how to get pregnant.

Disclosure: I was gifted some of the products I use by Tarte cosmetics but all opinions on how to put on make-up and love for the product are my own.

Aside from the obvious and prevailing normalness of hormones, gangliness, body parts changing at lightning speed and an overall collective ugliness that hits everyone in those awkward years, I wasn’t allowed to paint my fingernails, shave my legs or wear lip gloss. It was just me and my caterpillar eyebrows fending for ourselves in a world of shaven legs and make-up.

READ ALSO: I shaved my 7-year-old

Honestly, I didn’t wear anything above that shiny Lip Smacker until prom. PROM! I was 17 and had never put make-up on my own face. Now, on this point I do agree with my dad, teenage girls are naturally beautiful. They really don’t need much but, I mean PROM, it’s like the closest thing you get to your wedding at 16 and 17. You want to be extra. More than Lip Smackers anyways.

Prom day came and I had my hair professionally done. Of course, it was a disaster because the hairdresser took my natural curls and made them into spiral curls and I looked more like Shirley Temple than I had any of intention of looking. Then there was the situation with my prom dress that needed last minute alterations. My prom date was awesome enough to pick up the dress, only to find out 5 minutes before we had to leave that she took the chest area in too much. So the girl who never wore make-up and had just secretly shaved her legs, had 17-year-old cleavage coming out to attack her date. You think that was bad?

My brother was dating my best friend so we were double dating to prom. My brother picked up the flowers from the florist and promptly put them in the freezer. They turned brown. They looked dead. I would have been hysterical had it not have been happening to me.

Then my friend offered to do my make-up. I figured why not since I had no idea what to do and compared to the terrible hair, come atcha cleavage and brown flowers…I needed a win.  In retrospect,  I should have just asked for a how to put on make-up tutorial but alas, there was no YouTube when I went to prom… just friends with good intentions and less skill. How bad could it be?

Bad! It could be awful. I looked like a goth princess. You see how that could be distracting? I had to wash my face off, and apply Lip Smackers as my mom tried to brush the Shirley Temple curls out of my hair. It was the worst. I was crying and mascara was streaking my cheeks. My poor prom date sat in the living room wondering wtf he had gotten himself into. You know, if my parents had planned this, they would win at the game of blockers for sure.

This is why I decided (that night at prom) before I ever had sex or children that I would never let that happen to my girls. When I went to college, the first thing I did was learn to put on make-up. Don’t get me wrong, during the day (most days of my life) I still love a bare face. I’m good without it. But when I go out, I want my face to look like it came to impress. I love make-up.

For me, applying a beautiful face of make-up is respecting the occasion and the people that I am spending time with, in the same way one would dress up to go out. I feel like putting no effort in reflects badly on me, like I don’t care about what I’m doing. But it’s not all about make-up. Beauty comes from within and sometimes beauty is pain. I mean, those fancy braids that look all carefree, they hurt going in. I’ve taught my girls this from the get.

READ ALSO: My Daughter Taught Me an Invaluable Lesson

The girls are ballerinas and perform on stage a lot, so at the ripe old ages of 11 and 13-years-old they already have more make-up experience than I did in high school. But, as anyone who has seen stage make-up, you know it’s not appropriate for daytime wear on young girls. It’s very heavy and dramatic because it’s purpose is to be seen under harsh, bright house lights. I’m trying to teach the girls that you can be creative, expressive and have fun with make-up without being overly dramatic and look-at-me-ish. I’m also trying to teach them that beauty isn’t just about what you look like, it’s who you are and how you behave; it emanates from within like a light.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens, tarte cosmeticsHere is what I’ve been teaching my tween and teenage girls about how to put on make-up:

 

1.Beauty is pain.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens

2. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated, maintain your suppleness and skin elasticity.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens, tarte cosmetics

3. Wear huge sunglasses to keep yourself from squinting in the sun and to protect your face from the damaging rays of the sun.

4. Clean your face daily. Never go to bed with a dirty face. I use St. Ives Apricot scrub.

5. Use witch hazel after you clean your face to make sure it’s clean.

6. Moisturize your face. Moisturize your neck. Moisturize your hands and make sure that your daytime moisturizer has SPF in it. Also, moisturizing lippys never hurt anybody. My favorite for the girls is Tarte lip quenchers.

7. Always wear sunscreen

8. Don’t pull at your skin. When applying moisturizer rub up and dab around the eyes.

9. Buy good cosmetics and less is more. This is what I have found to be true for me anyways. The more pigment, the less you have to use.

10.  Apply primer and your make-up will last longer.

11. Apply setting spray and you will look flawless all day.

13. Curl your eyelashes before you apply mascara, even if you aren’t applying mascara.

14. Do not pluck your eyebrows. All of us moms who lived through the 90’s can tell you from below our anorexic eyebrows that all of the castor oil in the world can’t bring them back to life. I miss my Brooke Shields caterpillars.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens, tarte cosmetics

15. Love who you are because let me tell you what…confidence is the most beautiful thing a girl can possess.

What’s your best beauty secret for tween and teenage girls? At what age were you allowed to wear make-up? How do you teach your daughters about how to put on make-up?

 

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disrupt aging, AARP, invisible woman, speak up for yourself

Disclosure: This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.

People say that as women grow older, they become invisible. Well, I think women have been fed this line of bull ish since they were little girls. I don’t believe that to be true. I believe the myth of the invisible woman is not only untrue, it is unacceptable. If anything, as I’ve gotten older, my voice has grown stronger and louder. I’ve shed the expectations of others like a heavy coat in August.

I used to worry about what other people thought. When I was a little girl, I was even shy. I measured my worth and success by other people’s standards and it was impossible. It was scary. You always fall short when you’re measuring yourself against someone else’s view of who you are supposed to be.

READ ALSO: How to Empower Your Little Girl to Speak Up for Yourself

When I was a little girl, my dad told me “If you have something worth saying, stand up and tell your truth. Never be afraid to speak up and stand up for what’s important to you!” I think he was hoping that mantra applied to everyone else, except him. But for me, it applied to everyone. And believe me, if I could stand up to my strict Mexican father, I can stand up to anyone. I’m not afraid of confrontation.

I noticed as I went off to college as a young woman, I threw myself into causes. I was a member of PETA, Green Peace and planned on joining the Peace Corps after graduation. I was involved in politics and feminist organizations. I was always about power to the people but back then, I kept my standing up to organized functions and college essays.

I wanted to make the world a better place, I just wasn’t sure that I wanted to sacrifice my place in it to do it. I was young and ambitious but I was naïve and wasn’t quite sure how my voice being heard in the world could reconcile with me finding a place and the life I wanted in that same world. I was like most people.

Then, I became a mother. I gave birth and in that moment, I went from caring what other people thought about how I stood up or raised my voice and singularly concerned myself with making the world a better place for my children. Nothing else was/is more important to me. There is no room for ego in motherhood.

Some may see that as a weakness but I drew strength from those little girls. When I thought I couldn’t stand back up and speak up for what was right, when it got hard and it was easier to just maintain the status quo, all I needed to do was look to these little girls with their big eyes fixed on my every move and the answer was simple. It was right there all the time, out of the mouth of my father…stand up. Tell your truth. Never be afraid to put it on the line for what’s important to you!

READ ALSO:  How to Raise Brave Women and Compassionate Humans

I became emboldened with a fierceness that I had never known before. I was compelled to speak up when others could not. That’s when I developed my Wonder woman stance. I was ready to make the entire world hear me if it meant a better world for my girls to grow up in. Maintaining the status quo is no longer an option.

My girls are now tweens and teens and as they grow more into young ladies and are less children, I see society slowly putting its foot on their necks and I will not allow it. I’ve found that the older they get, the more they understand and they want to stand with me against the injustices of the world. Their eyes are still fixed on me, watching my every move.

I’ve hit the place in my life where I demand to be heard. I am the furthest thing from invisible. I owe it to my daughters to not give a spit what anyone else thinks of me. I want my daughters to see me speaking up, standing up and fighting for what is right. I refuse to let them see me give up when things get tough. I will never let them see me go invisible to make other people comfortable and I hope I inspire them to use their voices and never become invisible.

I will no longer let society set the expectations of who I am supposed to be. And I will never let the world tell my girls who they can, what they can do or that they should be seen and not heard.

The older I get, the louder I plan to become. The world will see me because I will refuse to become unseen and unheard.

What is the one wisdom that you want to impart to your children?

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tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

It’s summertime and I’ve been spending a lot of time in close quarters with my tween and teenage girls. Not going to lie, being present all the time for girls this age is challenging ( they have a lot to say, all the time) but if you can just listen through the noise that surrounds all the very important things they are trying to tell you, you will find that these young ladies are pretty freaking amazing.

Not in a hokey, sugary sweet way but in a fierce, no none sense, stand up, speak up soul beauty that sees love and wonder in the world. Teenage girls intuitively seek the good and they are not taking the other bull ish. These girls are powerful and they have voices they are not afraid to use and I’d like to think we, the women who came before them; their mothers, sisters, grandmothers and aunts who busted their butts to be seen have empowered them to fight back. Maybe we couldn’t make the world exactly what they deserve but we’ve raised them to be fierce enough to survive it and continue the work to make the world better for their daughters.

tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

READ ALSOTips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship Part 1

Teenage girls are by far the most powerful force and resource our world has to offer. They are change makers and a force to be reckoned with. As parents, we have to ensure that they never lose that. I want to lift my girls up to always keep that fire burning inside of them. I never want them to be afraid to speak their truth. I want them to know that their words, thoughts, beliefs and ideas are important and worth being heard.

“If you have something worth saying, stand up and tell your truth. Never be afraid to speak up and stand up for what’s important to you!” My dad taught me this. ” Where there is a will, there is a way. You can be and do anything you want to if you are willing to work for it. No dream is too big.” My mom taught me this. These are words that carry me through my life. These are the gifts I want to give my girls and all the little girls and teenage girls and women of the world. “You are amazing and you are stronger than you know. You can do anything you want to. You are worth it. Don’t let anyone else steal your joy. The only person you need to make happy is you. You have to live with the woman in the mirror. Be your best version of you. Nobody’s opinion counts.”

tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

These are  my tips for raising teenage girls and not damaging your relationship Part 3

Teach them respect; of others and most importantly of themselves.

My dad was all about respect and I never fully understood his obsession with his need for us to be respectful. He wanted us to respect ourselves and respect others, especially our parents. Then, I realized that the respect you have for yourself sets the bar for how others treat you. If you don’t respect yourself enough to make good choices and be willing to walk away from people who don’t respect you, you will never be able to live your best life. You will be at the mercy of other people’s opinions of you. Treating others with respect is a reflection of who you are as a human being. I teach my girls to treat everyone with human decency but reverent respect has to be earned. Parents you also need to remember to respect your teenage girls. They need to feel like they have a say. They are no longer toddlers, they are an active part of the family and as such their thoughts and opinions do matter.

Let them know that you don’t give a damn what everyone else is doing.

I tell my girls daily, “I don’t care about other people’s kids.” I do. But my point is, if Claire wants to vape and send sexts to the entire 7th-grade male population, that does not make it ok or acceptable.  I’ve taught my girls since they were babies not to compare themselves to others so I hope it works out in the end. I know everyone feels peer pressure but I’m hoping that I’ve raised the girls with enough self-respect and confidence that the need to like themselves trumps the need for others to approve of who they are.

Family time.

This is so important. Teenage girls need family time. Don’t be fooled by the devil may care, self-absorbed persona they’ve taken on recently, they still need that touchstone of family. They need to be able to let down the façade of coolness that all teenage girls put up to fit in. They need time to be goofy and funny and imperfect with the people who will love them no matter what. These moments playing games, traveling, telling jokes, being silly, doing face masks or just watching movies or going for walks are where the memories are made. This is the downtime they need in their life to survive the stresses of being teenage girls.  It’s hard. Remember?

Limit screen time.

Not because you are mean and you hate devices but because time is precious and it’s moving a million miles a minute at this phase, give them space and respect their ideas but make sure they know how to interact socially with people face-to-face before you send them out into the world. So many children have their faces stuck in a device from toddlerhood, it’s just a symptom of the world we live in today but I refuse to let the girls be so digitally engaged that they are not physically engaged with the world around them. I want my girls to talk to people, look them in the eye and be present in those moments. You can’t do that when you are distracted by your phone, iPad, social media or the online world. I want them to live and act in the real world because those experiences with people, even the bad ones, are worth living.

Don’t be afraid.

Teenage girls can sense fear. Just kidding, they’re not bears.  But I do have to say, I am really loving this phase of raising teenage girls. Like I said it’s just begun but I feel that we are growing closer. I am the welcoming wagon for womanhood and I feel like I’m a pretty damn good party thrower. Just remember beneath all those gangly body parts, confused skin, hormones, and eye rolling is buried that newborn baby they laid on your chest all those years ago and they need you, even if it seems like on some days they don’t want you. Don’t be afraid just love the shit out of them, all day and every day. At the end of the day, you are doing the right thing.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship Part 2

Well, these are the last of my Tips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship for now, what are yours?

 

 

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Ivory, focus on the important things, mother and daughter

Some days, I miss the quiet chaos that we existed in when the girls were little.  I know it sounds crazy because I’ve waited so long for my girls to be “old enough” to be self-sufficient. The day they could get their own water or fix their own bed. I felt like I waited for those milestones forever.

It was like that first year of motherhood, waiting for your precious little one to be able to learn to roll over, crawl, pull themselves up and eventually walk and talk. That year felt like a lifetime. Why do we rush that first year? We actively encourage and cheer them on. Don’t we realize we are only rushing our own letting go? Independence will come soon enough on its own.

Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with P&G but all opinions are my own.

I’m as guilty as anyone. I was thrilled when Bella turned 13 because suddenly, I realized that I could leave her home alone while I went to the grocery store. Then, I got to the grocery store all pumped up on the fact that I could get in and out without anyone slowing me down or asking me for everything they fancied.

However, I realized almost immediately that I was alone and, as grueling as our trips to the store may sometimes feel, those moments together are when the good talks happen. Memories happen in the aisles of the grocery store, at the mall and even on those car rides to ballet class every day. They keep us connected so laughter and those deep, long conversations can happen organically. So what if the price is buying some overpriced flavored water or froyo once in a while?

The decision was a made a few years ago to try to remember to slow down; to take the moment and drink in the present. I simply remind myself that they won’t be little forever and before I want to let go, they will be off to college. If I remember that, I won’t rush the experience away.

They are girls are bigger now, closer to young ladies than babies but some things don’t change, like bath time and bedtime. There’s still lots of bedtime cuddles and stories (more often now the daily school gossip rather than books) and my absolute favorite part of the night, the hair brushing and braiding.

The girls know how to brush and fix their own hair but every night after bath time, they come to my me and ask, “Mommy, will you braid my hair?” I used to get a little tired of it night after night because I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just do it themselves. I’ve since realized it’s an excuse to chat and it’s a comforting ritual that we’ve done since they were toddlers. How could I ever say no?

Ivory, focus on the important things, mother and daughter

They come to me smelling fresh and clean, and we all exhale. Letting out the tensions and taking in all the relaxation. That clean and fresh smell of them brings me right back to bath time when they were babies and it reminds me to slow down; to live the moments and enjoy the journey. That smell reminds me to focus on the important things right there in my arms; my babies and remember that nothing else is more important.

We recently started using Ivory body wash and we love it. I’m not new to Ivory products. They’ve been around for over a century. Ivory products are made pure and give me peace of mind. Starting with the purest bar of soap 138 years ago, Ivory continues to uphold the standard of using only pure & purposeful ingredients in its products.

Ivory, focus on the important things, mother and daughter

I remember my Grandma Daisy kept Ivory in her house when I was a little girl and would visit her. If my grandma and my mom trusted Ivory for their families, I feel like I can too. Also, I love that it’s safe, pure and gentle enough for my entire family, no matter what age.

 

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teenage girls, teens, raising girls, meghan trainor, mom, raising teens

Teenage girls get a bad rap. They are painted as moody, bitchy, argumentative creatures who are just plain mean, even cruel at times and above all else, they hate their mothers. I’m not sure that’s a true representation. I know being a teenage girl is difficult on a good day.

Now, I’ve never personally hated my mom. There was a brief moment in history when I thought I knew better than her and I was inclined to telling her so. I believe it the ages of 15-17. I talked back so much, it’s a wonder that I have any teeth left in my head. I was very willful and headstrong, as children becoming adults often are. I was one step above throwing tantrums.

My mom was a saint, aside for the occasional moments when she just couldn’t stand it anymore and would, without saying a word, push her bony knuckles into my thigh. Don’t feel sorry for me, I deserved much worse and now, I know what restraint it took to not say a damaging word to me.

I always wanted to skip that part of motherhood and to be honest, I was terrified of it. It was the part when my mom and I put some space between us, or rather I did. I took every word and look as a transgression from her. She really could do no right. Now I see, how hard she was trying. After all, when I was 17, she was a mother of 4 teenagers, a 10-year-old and a newborn. I don’t know how she managed and right now, I applaud her for not killing us all.

READ ALSO: My Daughter Loves Me; the In-Between Years

People warned me of what I had to look forward to when my own girls entered the teen years. I had nightmares of my sweet, loving daughters turning into gum smacking, eye rolling, ish talking monsters but mostly I feared the wedge it would drive in our relationship. Honestly, it’s been hovering like a rain cloud for their entire childhood. I think it’s part of why I’ve tried so hard to build an open, honest relationship with my girls. It’s what I always wanted with my own mom.

Don’t get me wrong, my mom and I were close. She’s one of my favorite people but I think we could have been closer had we clung to each other during the rough patch rather than have pushed one another away. Heated emotions allowed us to walk away. At the time, I think we both felt it was to cause less damage but in retrospect, it allowed for complacency. I realized some relationships are worth staying and fighting; the one with your mom is one of those.

Here I am many years later, entering the teen years again. This time I’m the mom. I’ve put in 13 years preparing both of us for this moment. It’s been work and consistency every single day. It’s meant having hard discussions, being completely open and not being perfect. It’s meant tears and hard choices but always my heart was looking to the long game. Every moment has been a teachable moment. There is no room for complacency in my motherhood.

I never know if I’m doing it right. Most of the time, it feels like I am doing it absolutely wrong. But then every so often, my daughters do something that validates everything I’ve been doing. It’s never big sweeping gestures. I don’t want those. Anyone can do those, it’s like going to church on Christmas. It comes in quiet moments in the form of unexpected words or actions that I’m not even sure are meant for me to see. It’s in the kind of human beings they are becoming but sometimes it’s more obvious but still just as powerful and meaningful and I find myself crying because I am moved.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship

Why am I talking about this? Well, a couple weeks ago I was visiting my parents alone. No Big Guy and no girls. I actually got to be just a daughter for the first time in many years and it was glorious, but that’s a post for another time. Anyways, back to my story.

While I was at my parents’ house not being in charge and having all of my whims indulged, my phone dinged. I was mid-conversation with my mom. Ironically, it was my daughter. Wasn’t sure that I wanted to open the message because, honestly, I was in such a good mood and I just knew it was going to be the girls pulling me into an argument they were having or them trying to convince me to overrule a decision their father had made. I never do that by the way because marriage=solid front.

Anyways, against my better judgment, I opened the message from my teenage girl.

Did I mention this was during the last couple weeks of school so hell was breaking loose? The girls bickering had gotten out of control. It moved beyond simple arguing and tattling to a full contact sport and it was exhausting to watch and to mediate. This is one of those moments when I completely feel like I am failing at parenting. But, I can’t ignore my children. I opened the email and this is what I found.

Not going to lie. It made me cry. It made me puff out my chest. It made me feel all the feels and I immediately ran over to my own mom and showed her what an amazing granddaughter she has. She raised me, so she gets credit too. And I think we both felt all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that even if our relationship may have been strained for a few years, it made me the mom I am today. A teenager who randomly sends her mom this song for no reason at all, well, I’d say I’m doing something wrong…at least on that day.

Love your teenagers the way you loved your toddlers; same kid, different body. You keep putting that love out there, even when everyone wants to walk away and it’s easier, you keep momming that kid. You might not know it by looking at them when they’re ignoring you and rolling their eyes but they see you. They hear you. They love you and they know you love them unconditionally. P.S. It might kill me when they leave for college.

What has your teenage girl or teen boy done that’s surprised you?

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love letter, 11th birthday, love letter to my daughter

This is my love letter to my 11-year-old daughter. It’s hard to believe that the last time I brought a child into the world was 11 years ago today. I didn’t know then that would be the last time. I thought I had more time.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was bigger this time than the first time. I could barely see my toes. But we were so excited to take our little family of 3 to 4. I was nervous. I couldn’t sleep the night before the induction because I knew, just like the first time, this baby was going to change everything.

I won’t lie, we had quite the eventful labor and delivery. I knew it wasn’t going to be like the first birth when about 3 hours into the induction, we realized that our video camera wasn’t working. All of this preparation and the camera didn’t work. The Big Guy called his brother who lived a couple hours away and my brother-in-law, who was in doing his residency at the time, somehow cleared his entire day and drove us his camera to use. I will never forget that.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Daughter on her 7th Birthday

I’ll also never forget that he drove all that way, gave us the camera, wished us luck and drove right back to where he came from. He had no interest in accidentally being present when delivery rolled around. I remember it was funny to me because…he’s a doctor. But I will never forget the huge gesture he did without hesitation he brought us a camera to record our daughter’s birth. He was like a very humble superhero.

I remember laying there in my hospital bed while the Big Guy walked his brother out, about 7 hours into the induction and a broken waters later, looking at my cell phone and seeing a picture of my firstborn and second-guessing the entire thing. What was I thinking? How could I ever love another child as much as I did my first daughter? Was that even possible? I cried. No, I sobbed because all I could think, with my second baby stuck inside me and my first baby at home completely confused at 2-years-old as to where I’d gone off to with my big belly, was that one or both of them were going to feel like they got less love than the other. The thought of it broke my heart.

love letter, 11th birthday, love letter to my daughter

Eventually, after hours of trying different positions, a nurse had to lay on top of me to help push my Gabs out. I was in labor for what seemed like forever; scared to fail both of my children, certain I was not going to be able to do it and afraid that, unlike the Grinch, my heart wouldn’t grow two sizes. But it did.

From the moment I saw all that black curly hair in the mirror as I was pushing our Gabs into the world, I knew it was going to be alright. Apparently, I am a Grinch at heart. They laid her on my chest, after removing the cord from her neck and her purple body, and I was reminded in that moment how lucky I was to be a mother and what a privilege it was to bring her into this world.

love letter, 11th birthday, love letter to my daughter

I was reminded again how thin the veil between life and death truly is and I gave myself over to an overwhelming, all-encompassing, everything is going to be alright kind of love, much like I did the first time. In these moments, I’ve been proven that miracles exist and in these miracles, in my baby’s eyes, I see God in his purest form.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Tween

Of course, the next day my firstborn daughter came to meet Gabs at the hospital and was so confused and overwhelmed by everything that I checked myself out of the hospital AMA before 24 hours because even though I was basking in the glow of my newborn baby, I knew my 2-year-old still needed me too. This heart doubling in size thing was still new to me and I had to figure out how to live in my new reality of 4. But it was good and Gabs completed us.

love letter, 11th birthday, love letter to my daughter

This is my love letter to my daughter on her 11th birthday

Gabs,

You are like sunshine on the water. Beautiful, special and breathtaking but a moving target. Just when I think I have you figured out, you grow and move and everything shifts and I have to work to learn to understand you again, from another vantage point.

You were born an old soul. In many ways, you are more mature than your big sister but in many ways, you are still just a little kid. The way you play, laugh and the pattern of your freckles spread out across your cheeks, as your glassy blue eyes smile out at me from beneath a cascade of honey-kissed summer hair, always disheveled, reminds me that you are still a little girl in many ways.

Yet at other times, the words you speak, the soulfulness in your eyes, the crack in your voice when something makes you sad reminds me that soon you will be a woman. You are straddling between the two worlds right now; one foot firmly planted in childhood while the other is stepping into womanhood.

I feel you pulling away, little by little, like the pull of the tide on the waves. I feel myself letting go, gently, like the wisps of a dandelion being blown into the summer sun full of hope and wishes. This is the hard part.

All I want to do is hold on tighter. Reign you in and pull you back close to me but I can’t. I have to let you go so that you know that I trust you. I have to give you freedom so that you can grow and find your way back to me.

Just know that I will always love you, no matter what you do or where you go. I will always be there to pick you up when you need me to. I will not judge you. I will not abandon you. I will not belittle and berate you. I will respect you. You can talk to me about anything and I will listen.

When I look at you, I will probably always, at first glance, see that newborn baby girl with the black, curly hair and the chubby little cheeks. I’ll remember the way you smelled of Johnson’s and Johnson’s baby soap and your baby breath of green apples. But know that I see you, the young woman that you are trying to become. I see the butterfly but I’ll never forget the chrysalis you once were.

Love you forever to the moon and back,

Mommy

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Mother's Day, Mother's Day gift, girl mom

Moms will tell you they want nothing for Mother’s Day. Some will tell you that you are enough. Your cute little faces and your sticky little hands. She means it, for about an hour Mother’s Day morning while you are serving her breakfast in bed and handing her sweet homemade gifts. They really are the best Mother’s Day gifts of all; tiny handprints and papier Mache flowers made with love and baby spit add to it a sweetly scribbled I love you by your little one and you are mommy mush.

But that’s not what she really wants. What every mother wants for Mother’s Day is the day off. No cleaning. No dishes. No laundry. No cooking. No obligations.

Quite frankly, the best Mother’s Day gift is the day off from mom duty.

Don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s us. Just kidding, it’ you.

Being a mom is amazing. I love being a mom 364 days a year. Ok, maybe it’s more like 355 days a year but I need days off people. Even the janitor gets 2 days off a week.

But most moms are too afraid to say it out loud because they don’t want to offend anyone, least of all aforementioned children and the man who helped make this dream of motherhood come true. But if I’m being completely honest, and I am speaking on behalf of 99.9% of the moms (I know because I took an unofficial poll of moms drinking wine and dropping truth bombs) we all want the day off.

I want to sleep in until I wake up. Then by all means, please bring me a hot breakfast in bed with milky hot coffee. Spoiler alert, mommy does not like cold food. I never have, baby. To be honest, cold food is kind of disgusting. I’d rather not eat at all. I’ve been faking it for years.

I don’t want to do anything. I want no obligations. I want to move freely in the world with no one tethered to my side. I want to play the music I want to hear at the degree of loudness I want to listen to it and I want to dance without you looking at me like I’m a weirdo.

I want to watch whatever R rated movie or mind-numbing television I want to watch with no regard for what you want to do. I want to take a long, hot bath with no one knocking on the door or hearing bickering children. I want more out of life than an unlocked, half-open bathroom door where I take a semi-private timed race piss. I want privacy.

I want time to be able to fix my hair, put on my makeup, iron my clothes and get ready without having to be somewhere. I don’t want to get ready while you rush me because I need to taxi you someplace I never wanted to go in the first place. And no, your obnoxious friend who never shuts up and is entirely too loud cannot come over today. No child that hasn’t sprung from my vagina cannot be in my house on Mother’s Day. Go bother your own mom.

I don’t want to have to break up any sibling fights. Suffer the wrath of any rolling eyeballs or be subjected to listening to endless hours of you. On this one sacred day, can it please be about me? For the love of God, can I eat strawberry ice cream? You are probably wondering what the hell I mean by this.

It has come to my attention recently that my favorite ice cream is fresh strawberry ice cream. However, fresh strawberry ice cream will never be found in my house. Want to know why? Because my children don’t like strawberry ice cream and apparently, I live my life around their happiness and forget about my own. Well, not today suckers! I am eating strawberry ice cream while drinking vodka and watching a Fifty Shades of Gray marathon. Just kidding, no fucking way am I wasting my day off watching a movie whose book reads like it was written by an illiterate teenager.

Mostly, I want to have choices to do what I want to do, free of the influence of what everyone else around me wants to do. I think all moms deserve a day off to spend however they want to without guilt or retribution. If she wants to spend it with you, she’ll call you. You don’t have to call her.

I won’t lie, I am pretty lucky. The Big Guy figured me out around my 3rd Mother’s Day. He came in and said, don’t lift a finger. I’ll take care of everything. Take the day off. And that’s when I decided he’s never getting rid of me. We are lobsters. I’m never taking my claws off him. This man gets me.

So if you think taking mom to brunch and making her hang out with the kids all day is what mother’s day is all about, you have missed the memo. We get it. We’re moms. We do it every single day. If you want to make things special. Take the kids to the park or the movies and give mom time to relax and think, maybe catch up on her favorite binge-watching a show or take that long hot bath with her 80’s music blaring. Give her time to miss you and appreciate the kids. Hell, go crazy take them away for the weekend. Come back on Sunday for the celebration.

If you want to throw some flowers, chocolate, and diamonds at us, we don’t mind. Those are the cherries on top of motherhood. But what we really want is the day off to do what we want. Think of it this way dads, on Father’s day, you probably don’t spend the day at home being held, hostage. Most dad’s get the day to go golfing or bowling or whatever it is that men like to do without kids. Why is that? Because sometimes you just want to feel like a human and not just someone’s parent. Well, we moms…we feel the same way.

Don’t get me wrong, we love those little people we created (probably more than you, if we’re being honest. After all, we’ve been known to horde teeth and umbilical cords. Some of us have even sucked snot out of babies noses and masticated their food. (not me of course. I’d never do that to food. Besides babies don’t eat cucumbers 😉 ) The thing is all good things in moderation.

We will happily accept your gifts and your notes but know, what we really want is peace and permission to be ourselves; a day to exhale. I guess what I’m really trying to say is just give mom a lot of love and a little space this Mother’s Day.

But in all seriousness, be kind to all the moms you know; yours, the mother of your children, your friends who are pregnant and even those desperately struggling to become pregnant and especially those moms who have lost babies and those who have lost their moms. And really, be kind to your mom every day, once a year is not nearly enough to show ample affection for the woman who gave you life.

What’s the best Mother’s Day gift you ever received and what’s at the top of your list?

P.S. I Love you, mom.

! Happy Mother’s Day!

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miscarriage, loss, pregnancy, I forgot, fertility, motherlode, babble.com, babble, amy klein

I Forgot

It was a crazy busy day last Tuesday.

I was flying across the country.

Headed to a conference for this blog.

Excited to see old friends.

Trepidatious for a reason I couldn’t quite place.

I Forgot.

6 years ago on that day.

All I could do was cry.

I lost my baby.

There was no heartbeat.

I turned primal and feral.

But today, I forgot.

READ ALSO: Unexpected  Pregnancy at 40, what would you do?

Every day, I think of that day.

Every moment, I know something is missing.

There is no closure but I have made peace with the pain.

It took 6 years to not wince at the thought of it.

But today, I was busy with minutia and there was no marking of time.

I Forgot.

The lady next to me on the plane had a beautiful little boy.

He climbed into my lap and held my face.

I was moved.

His little arms and legs, that smile.

I’ve missed it.

READ ALSO: Missing that New Baby Smell

But on the plane, I Forgot.

I arrived and met my friends.

I was weary and distracted,

Discombobulated and put out.

Disconnected and distant.

I was there but I wasn’t.

That’s when I realized that maybe I hadn’t remembered to cry

but my heart did not forget and it never will.

Have you ever forgotten an important day in your life and if you have, how did you deal with that?

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raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

If you read last week’s part 1 of tips for raising teenage girls and you’ve returned, welcome back. You are certainly among friends. Raising teen girls is difficult regardless of how the kid behaves. She can be the most complacent, compliant, sweet teenage girl of all teenage girls and you will still need to know these tips because there is a hormonal storm brewing inside that child and it is our responsibility as parents, to try and make the transition as easy as possible.

Not like we can have any kind of control of what they are thinking or how they are feeling or how any of it is going to land on them. Just remember puberty is like a bomb going off inside of a girl. She has no idea how to deal with all of these emotions, her body and the sexual way she might be feeling towards boys (or girls). It’s all okay. We don’t have to fix it. We just have to be there to listen and understand.

READ ALSO: Faster than a Speeding Bullet.

I know you are going to have days where you feel at your wits end. I’ve got a tween and a teenage girl, so this happens to me quite a bit these days. I’ve learned to try and not take it personally. The truth is it hurts. There is nothing wrong with taking a minute to react. Sometimes you just have to step back, take a breath and think about what you are about to do because blowing up at a teenage girl is about as helpful as carrying a paper umbrella in a monsoon.It’s actually ridiculous and someone might get hurt.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

Here are my Next 5 Tips for Raising Teenage Girls

The time for catching your teenager when they fall is over. It’s time to help them up when they stumble because they have to learn some lessons on their own.

Obviously, no one wants to watch their child get hurt. When they were learning to walk, I sheltered them; catching them before they fell. But as parents to teenage girls, you have to let go a little. This is when they learn to make good choices on their own. This is when we have to have a little faith in all the parenting we have done up until now. We have to teach them to live in this world without us, so we have to learn to trust them to make those good choices.

READ ALSO: Parent the Kids You Have

Alone time with your teenager.

Bella hit 13 and it suddenly became abundantly clear to me that our time together under the same roof, seeing her sweet sleepy face stumble into my kitchen every morning and kissing me good morning are coming quickly to an end. I have 5 years and it is not enough so make time to have alone time with your teenage girls. They may not seem like they need or want it but they do, more than ever. These alone times are when they feel free to ask you questions and talk freely. Do something they like. It doesn’t even matter what it is. It’s not about what you do or where you go, it’s about the time together. Always remember that.

Privacy for your teenager.

They are no longer children. My tween and teenage girls are starting to look a lot more like young ladies and a lot less like children but they still need parental guidance. At the same time, they need and deserve privacy to think and be alone with their thoughts. This is a delicate balance of letting go and holding on. Check-in. I know my girls need space sometimes, so do I. They are trying to figure out all of this too. Their bodies are changing. Their minds are focusing on different things. It’s like being reborn and your own skin doesn’t feel like it fits anymore and everyone you know is going through the same thing. You love it but you kind of hate it but mostly, you need space to figure it all out without someone over your shoulder at every moment. But remember to let them know you are still there, whenever they need you.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

Love your teenager for who they are, not who you want them to be. They are a person, they have free thought and you have to give them the independence to explore who they are becoming.

Just love them no matter what even when you don’t completely understand or you think they are overreacting to something you know will pass. You know because you’ve already lived through it. Remember, when you are a teenage girl and going through these things for the first time, you don’t have the benefit of experience or wisdom. It is huge. Also, the teen years are for figuring out what you like and believe independent of your parents and those around you, so give them that space and don’t discourage them because they aren’t just like you were or are. Just remember how much you love them and remind them that you will keep on loving them, no matter what. Love them unconditionally. No matter how big they get, they are still your child and will always need your love and support.

READ ALSO: What to do when You Catch a Child Lying

Listen to your teenager.

Teenage girls like to talk a lot. A lot of it is not relevant to your life. I can tell you my girls love to share with me all the business of everyone they know or will ever know and everything that is going on in their world. 95% of it is not that pertinent to my life but what is very important to my life is them and keeping those lines of communication open. Sometimes you have to listen to a lot of stories about Kayley’s sister’s best friend’s boyfriend to hear one nugget of who your own teenage daughter is crushing on and how she is feeling and what is going on with that. You need to be there for that and they need to know you are listening so put on your best “interested” face and listen because it’s worth it when they talk to you about the important things.

Hope you’ll come back next week when I’ll share the last of my 5 tips for raising teenage girls (so far).

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