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Mother, mother's day,Johnsons and johnsons
This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Johnson’s® and Latina Bloggers Connect but all opinions about being a mother and memories are my own.

Being a mother is so much more than I ever thought it could be. My daughters are everything to me. That is not an exaggeration. I realize that sounds antiquated and I never knew I had it in me to be this kind of woman. I’ve always been independent and self-sufficient. There was a brief time I my late teens, early twenties where I was pretty dependent on boyfriends because when you are that age your entire life revolves around the people you call your friends and the boy you date. Then I grew up and got married.

We had a great time, the two of us. I married the perfect guy for me, as I like to say he was everything, I never knew I always wanted and since the first day we met, we’ve been together. He calls me his soul mate; I call it meant to be. I wasn’t even supposed to be there when we met. There were a million reasons we should’ve never met but we did and I thought that was the biggest love I could ever have and then I had my daughters.

Two things happened when I became a mom. I fell deeper in love with the Big Guy than I ever thought was possible. I mean who doesn’t love a man who loves a child? It’s like kryptonite to my uterus. The other thing that happened, I fell completely head over heels in love with the squishy little person we made together. There are not even words to explain how much I love my children. Then I realized that the price of loving someone so big and hard is that you are completely vulnerable.

Mother, mother's day,Johnsons and johnsons

Every coo had me mesmerized. Every finger clasp had my heart going pitter-patter. Those big blue eyes looked straight through my soul. They make me want to be a better person. I want to give them the best of everything; childhood, life and of me. I happily bend over backwards to make them as happy as their existence makes my heart. They truly complete me. I can’t even remember the person I was before they were born. I do know that she was not half the person I am tonight.

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This is the relationship we’ve had since they were born. The random neck hugs, middle of the night cuddles, kisses and tiny voices whispering, “I love you mommy to the moon and back”, that’s the good stuff. That’s the stuff that makes life beautiful, to me. But oh, disappointing them hurts like nothing I’ve ever felt. Letting them down feels like the ultimate failure.

My girls never went through the, “No!” phase in their toddler years. I thought I dodged a bullet. But no, it’s just coming a little later. My girls are starting to exert their own independence now. I take it as it comes because I understand, one’s a tween and the other is just at the age where she’s confident enough to tell me now without the worry of alienating me. She knows my love is unconditional but that doesn’t make it hurt any less when she refuses my request.

The mother/daughter relationship is ever changing and evolving.

They don’t need me as much as they used to, unfortunately, I still need them. I need them to love unconditionally and always. But they still need me for some things that might seem insignificant to them but mean everything to me. Shhh, don’t tell them or they’ll stop. You know kids.

My favorite part of the day when they were babies was bath and bedtime. I remember the Big Guy and I would give them baths and then massage them with Johnson’s lavender bedtime lotion. It always seemed to relax them and research shows that touch is critical to baby’s growth, development, communication and learning. These days they give themselves their own baths but they still come to me afterwards and ask me to put the lotion on them, brush and braid their hair. Every time I smell that bedtime lotion, I can see the babies they were and I can forgive them any transgression, even telling me, “No.”

This is a sponsored campaign in collaboration with JOHNSON’S® and Latina Bloggers Connect. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

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mom, coca cola, #inseparable,mother's day, mothers

This is part of a sponsored campaign with DiMe Media and Coca-Cola but all opinions expressed about my mother are my own.

In a Latino home, Papi may be el Rey but Mami is the glue that keeps the kingdom together. The women in the family are the caretakers; the nurturers and we all stick together. My daughters love their grandma and their aunts, almost as much as they love me and vice versa. There is a special bond between children and the women who nurture them, whether it is their biological mother or the mother figure that helps raise them. The bond is the same.

mom, coca cola, #inseparable,mother's day, mothers

The most important person to any child is his “Mama”. That relationship is inseparable. No matter how you look at it, the love shared between a mother and her child is amazing; an amplification of the miracle of motherhood. It is the embodiment of true and unconditional love.

Unfortunately, eventually children grow up and move away. That’s what we work so hard for, to make them strong, independent adults who want to go out and explore the world. Of course, it hurts a little bit being left behind so we live for those special occasions when we know our children will call, like Mother’s Day. But what if the only thing that stood between us and our children or us and our own mother’s for that matter was distance? Would we let that stop us? What if we had no choice?

coca cola, mother's day, #inseparable

What better day to let mom know how truly special and inspirational she is than on Mother’s Day? I am lucky, my mom only lives a couple hours away but some people’s mothers live across the country or even in another country. I know a little bit about that too, my father lives in Mexico 8 months of the year. It’s hard when someone you love is so far away and even harder when it’s so expensive to call another country on a landline.

This Mother’s Day, Coca-Cola is partnering with DiMe Media to spread the amor for our madres this Día de Las Madres. Coca-Cola is providing a way for every child to call his mother, no matter where she is in the world.

mom, coca cola, #inseparable,mother's day, mothers

Remember those old Coca Cola commercials about having a Coke and a smile? Buying the world a coke and keeping it company? Coke cares about people and this year to make us happy; Coke is helping us keep our Moms happy on Mother’s day by calling her.

Coca Cola is making it possible for everyone to speak to their mama on Mother’s Day for free! FREE!! Coca Cola wants to make sure that you and your mother are #Inseparable

Here is how it works:

Once you watch the Mother’s Day video you will be prompted to input your DOB (Date of Birth), phone number and your mother’s phone number. A California number calls the user, they pick up and it begins calling their mom. The mom also will see a California number.

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Coca-Cola will help you connect with your Mami or that special ‘mom’ no matter where she is around the world this Mother’s Day.

The Surprise Call to your Mother or a special mom figure is applicable to residents of the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

I wrote this one for me, to move through the grief that I still feel on occasion. I call them my emotional time-bombs and they go off without discretion. I wrote this last week, before I started feeling this crazy happiness high that I’m on but after I had a good, hard and ugly cry.Or maybe I should say, while I was having the ugly cry. It was cathartic, as was writing this out but I won’t be listening to any Joni Mitchell anytime soon, just to be sure. I’d like to hold on to the happiness for a while longer.

It’s almost May 1st. You know how I can tell? It’s the lingering feeling of trepidation that I’ve been feeling. At first, I didn’t know what was causing it. Just the slightest tinge of sadness, floating around the edge of my existence; smoldering beneath the surface. I can feel it; the loss. It’s been three years, when does it stop feeling fresh?

Most days, I push it down. I try to forget to pretend that something’s not missing. I’ve stopped crying. And then other days, like today, I hear a song like Both Sides Now and my heart just breaks open into a million pieces and I bleed all over my keyboard. I can’t stop the flood of tears and I’m not even sure that I even want to. Life is sad sometimes.

Bad things happen to good people and it’s not fair. Not one bit. I’m an awesome mother. I would have been a great mother to my third baby. I would have loved him so fiercely. There wouldn’t have been a single day that he ever wondered or doubted it but we’ll never know, he and I.

This hole. It is not something that I will ever be able to fill at all. It will always be there and I’m not sure that I know how to feel about that. I look fine to everyone. They don’t know that I walk around feeling totally and utterly incomplete. Part of me is missing and it always will be. That’s the saddest part of all.

I think there are profound things in this world that can alter your life forever. I’m a survivor. There is not much that you can throw at me that I can’t move past. I refuse to be knocked down by life but this one thing, of all the shit I’ve gone through in my life, this thing, I’m having the hardest time moving past.

Grief is a tricky b*tch.

Every April, I walk around like an exposed nerve and it takes me a couple weeks to figure it out. I try to forget the hurt but I can’t. It will not be forgotten. It demands attention. This is how I commemorate what almost was. This is how I slowly fill the hole. I allow myself to acknowledge that it matters to me. I allow myself to be vulnerable to it. To give myself completely over to it. I allow myself to flood my keyboard from time to time and to cry so hard and so ugly that my face stings and hurts.

I miss all of the “what could have been”s. As I type this, I am painfully aware that my house should not be quiet and still. There should be a toddler running amuck, walking and talking and making my life fuller. I shouldn’t have this much time in my day. My lap should be filled and tiny giggles should be everywhere but there is only silence.

Every year at this time, I feel more alone than I should and the loss feels fresh. I recoil a bit but not enough to be noticed. This is my sorrow, my hurt to feel. I don’t want it to be a “thing”. We have so much going on at this time every year and I don’t want this to be the wet blanket on life. This moment is mine and mine alone. It makes me feel closer to the baby I lost, to feel the pain so I write it out.

I’ve never been the person who screams out in pain. I hold it in and I draw strength from it. That is how I survive it. I have to feel every single ache in order to get through it. Sometimes that does mean screaming and raging against the world in my own way, other times it means an almost catatonic silence. I’m not sure what it will mean this year. I only know that right now a song by Joni Mitchell playing in the background crept into my soul and brought me to my knees.

What is the expiration date on grief and how do I make this pain go away?

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walking dead, the walking dead, Carol, parenting, parenting tips

I love The Walking Dead, as many of you know. Last year when I was in Boston and shared a brief moment on the elevator with “Shane” from the Walking dead, I nearly fainted and I don’t do fan girl moments. Well, unless you count that time I made a complete fool of myself in front of the Pioneer Woman at BlogHer.

Anyways, last night, I was watching the Walking Dead Season finale and spoiler alert, Carol is badass! In fact, as I started thinking about it there are a lot of parenting lessons to be learned from Rick, Carol, Michon, Daryl and the crew.

First and foremost, kids are a liability in the zombie apocalypse. If they’re not killing you during birth, they are crying to attract zombies but then again, they also get your back. I mean how many times has Carl stabbed a walker in the head to save his dad? Now, that folks, is love in the time of the Walking Dead. My kids have never stabbed a zombie in the head to save my life, but when my back was out last month, they made me a PB& J and really, isn’t it the same thing?

But seriously, I have learned the most from Carol. I’m talking lessons that can actually make me be a better, more effective mom. Here are my Carol-isms or

Top parenting lessons that I’ve learned from the Walking Dead.

Make sure that children respect your personal space

Carol literally threatened to hurt a child if he didn’t stop trying to hang around her. I think she may have gone overboard but he knew that she was serious as a heart attack when he looked up and saw those dead eyes looking back at him. She made her boundaries crystal clear and that is something that I could use some help with.

Don’t make idle threats and always follow through

If you want children to learn to finish what they start and to respect your time and you as a person, you have to hold up your end of the bargain. Never make idle threats because you will undermine your own authority and never( ever,ever,ever) break a promise because then you lose the child’s trust.

Actions speak louder than words

Don’t talk it to death, just do it! When Carol thought 2 members of the new group were sick and could hurt her family, she thought they were a threat. She didn’t discuss it or take a vote. It wasn’t a democracy. She did what she thought was best and simply took them from their beds, killed them and then burned their bodies. I’m not saying to hurt your children but parenthood is not a democracy and sometimes the right choice is not the popular one.

walking dead, the walking dead, Carol, parenting, parenting tips

Let it Go

When Carol’s daughter turned, as much as she hated it, she had to let her go. Her daughter turned into a walker and she knew she had to let Rick shoot her in the head. She couldn’t change her back. She had to make the merciful, loving decision. She put her child first.

“That’s not my little girl. It’s some other…thing. My Sophia was alone in the woods. All this time, I thought. She didn’t cry herself to sleep. She didn’t go hungry. She didn’t try to find her way back. Sophia died a long time ago.”

Whispering is Way Scarier than Yelling

When the little boy, Sam, in Alexandria makes a pest of himself asking Carol to make him cookies. She never yells, though she is clearly annoyed, she simply whispers her threats to him and that was scarier than anything she could have yelled. I’ve realized if I whisper, calmly when disappointed or upset, my children are terrified.

walking dead, the walking dead, Carol, parenting, parenting tips

Always make them feel safe with you, even when you have your doubts

Remember season 4 of the Walking Dead when Carol took Lizzie out to the flower patch and shot her dead? What were her choices? The kid murdered her sister and liked to play with dead things. She was an apocalyptic sociopath. It was just a matter of time before that crazy little bish was killing all living people to make them her undead pets.

Look at the pretty flowers…it’s going to be all right….Bang, bang…. you’re dead.

At least Carol did the kind thing and didn’t scare her before she did it. (I told you kids were a liability.)

Prepare them for the “Real” World

There is no way Carol would ever let her kid play on a no winner or loser soccer team. Life is hard and you need to know that it will let you down. Things don’t always work out the way you planned it and sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to like eat dog or shoot the walker that used to be your neighbor. That’s why she taught the kids at the prison to use guns and knives to survive the zombie apocalypse. In the end, it’s every man, woman and child for themselves.

And my husband says that television rots your brain. I’d say that these parenting tips could make me a better parent….now, or in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

What parenting survival tips have you learned from the Walking Dead?

 

Photos via Walking Dead

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public school, private school, bad parent, good parent, education

Hi, my name is Debi and I am a product of public school. Before you get your panties in a wad about the title, this is in response to a post on Slate called, If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person.

Let me start by saying (or admitting, as Slate would have you believe it’s a crime) that I send my children to private school. GASP! I don’t really believe you are a bad person for sending your kid to public school. I believe that as parents we all do the best we can for our kids. If trying our best makes us terrible then we’re all the worst kind of parents.

I didn’t go to private school and neither did my husband. We grew up blue collar. I am one of six kids who had a stay-at-home mom and a father who worked as a forklift driver in a factory. We survived on one blue-collar salary, Tang, public school and all the gluten. We survived. We overcame but I’m not sure any of us thrived in that situation.

Let me put this in further perspective, I was a gifted child in all honors classes and still I was not challenged. I was bored and by the time I was in high school, I was so unchallenged that I hated going to school because it felt like a waste of my time.

I wasn’t thriving because even the best at my public school wasn’t good enough.

When I had children, I knew that if I could afford it, I wanted to send them to private school. More specifically, I wanted to send them to Catholic school because I liked the idea of more challenging academics with constant spiritual nurturing incorporated into their daily routine. Yes, you can do that at home on your own but I like the idea of spirituality and faith being present daily and, perhaps more importantly, how it molds them and the children they spend their days with.

We are not independently wealthy. We are middle class parents who have made the decision that we want to give our children the best opportunity to grow and learn at a young age. In making this decision, we have accepted the fact that we may have to sacrifice other things. Things like extravagant vacations and a larger house. Don’t feel sorry for us, we still travel a couple times a year, our home is in a wonderful neighborhood in the suburbs and there is always plenty to eat. We made the decision to invest in their future but it’s not compromising our present in any way that is too much for us to bear.

The author of the article said that parents who put their children in private school are bad parents because we are doing a disservice to the other children of the world because after all, doesn’t every child deserve a great education? Yes, they do but it is not my place to save the world. It is my responsibility to do for my children. The only way the author’s scenario works is if you take private schools out of the equation entirely. Then, and only then, will all focus shift to bettering the public schools which I wholeheartedly agree needs to be done.

Those who follow her idea of putting our children into public schools with subpar curriculums now to make education better unintentionally make our children martyrs to the cause. I’m not willing to sacrifice my children’s education in hopes that I might be able to make the world a more level playing ground for future generations of hypothetical children. Meanwhile, failing the two I gave birth to. It is not my right to sacrifice their future. It is my duty to protect it.

By this author’s logic, I can argue that if you have the means and you don’t put your child in private school, then you don’t love your child at all. If I am a monster for caring for my children and doing my best to give them every opportunity to excel in this world then so be it because at the end of the day, my only responsibility is to my children.

Raising good humans who are functional, contributing and caring members of society is literally the most important thing a parent will ever do with their life. This is done by being present, be involved and giving them the guidance to achieve their hopes and dreams and that all starts with a good education. The system is failing the public schools, not me.

Are we bad people because we didn’t send our children to public school?

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science fair, how to survive the science fair, first science fair, STEM, parenting, kid science

Have you survived your first science fair as a parent yet?

This may sound like a helpful post but really, be forewarned, there is no actual help here to be had, only tears, yelling and frustration. No, this my fellow weary, exhausted parents is a piece of commiseration because all one can really hope for is to survive war the science fair.

I haven’t participated in a science fair since my own over 20 years ago, scratch that, I’ve been out of high school for almost 25 years so it’s been a.very.long.time.ago. Absurdly, I remembered it fondly as I did the spelling bee and all the academic special occasions that I seemed to flourish in during my youth. Well, either I’ve gotten dumber, the work has gotten harder or life is just so much easier when your parents are the ones worrying and you are the one just doing it. Ahhh, to be a kid again.

Anyways, this year is my oldest daughter’s first “mandatory” science fair and like all firsts it was a complete bumbled “learning process”. That’s mom code for a complete muck up. I’ve been urging her to sign up since she was in 2nd grade but she didn’t want to. Now, I understand why. It’s hard. Aside from trying to find a suitable, age appropriate experiment that appears that your child could have actually did it on their own, and the implementing of science and then design elements, it’s nearly a full-time job for me my kid!

I’m not going to lie to you. I helped. A LOT! Our girl saw an episode of Myth Busters wherein the hosts mixed Mentos and Diet Coke and she decided that she wanted to do the same. We’re big fans of Myth Busters and she’s apparently a big fan of making things go boom. This worries me a bit. Anyways, we decided to do our own Mentos Explosion experiment and it was AWESOME.

I figured it would be easy. Mentos and Coke, very cost effective. Only I hadn’t wagered into the cost, a geyser tube, 6 bottles of Diet Coke, as many packs of Mentos, science fair board, border trim, printed photos, aggravation with graphs and hot glue gun burns. And I never anticipated the human error tears (hers) when the Coke fell sideways or the Mentos didn’t drop. Oh we paid. We all paid and I’m not just referring to the $40 at the damn art store.

You know the saying it takes a village to raise a child? Well, it’s not bullshit because it takes an entire family to do one science fair project. One to hold the GoPro and take video, one to shoot photos on the DSLR, one to set the experiment up and the child doing the science project to actually perform the experiment.

You think the science fair is going to be your 3rd grader filling balloons with vinegar fumes or conducting electricity via potatoes. You , ma’am would be wrong! You think you are an innocent bystander but I’m here to tell you that the science fair is an equal opportunity destroyer and you will be collateral damage.

So next time, don’t wonder why your 2nd grader didn’t volunteer to enter the science fair, just stay quiet and be glad that you have two years left to enjoy your sanity and that beautiful burn free body you have now because in a couple years, it’s be all burnt eyebrows, singed arm hair and tears. Lots and lots of tears and nobody needs to see their parents cry that much!

What’s your “fondest” science fair project memory?

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Doc G, Deborah Gilboa, Get the Behavior You Want...Without Being the Parent You Hate, parenting advice, book review

Do you know how to get the behavior you want from your children without being the parent you hate? Do you have someone that you call when you want a second opinion on your parenting decisions? I think we all have someone or someones that we call when we feel like we need confirmation that we made the right choice. It’s okay. We all have these moments. Moments when we flounder and blow up or just feel like we are doing it all-wrong. The fact that we even care probably means that we are doing it mostly right.

I have a lot of friends who I get my parenting “second opinions “ from; sisters, friends, doctors, teachers, parenting books and even the Internet. I’m lucky because I happen to have a great tribe of moms in real life and also online, one of my favorites is Doc G, Deborah Gilboa (or as I refer to her in my head, Doctor Gilboa Medicine Woman).

Whatever you call her she is not only a doctor, she is the mom of 4 boys and has not only specialized in kids but has hands on experience. Not only is she a member of motherhood, she just might be one of the Presidents of her local association of motherhood. Somehow, she manages all of this and still makes her advice feel like a personal house call.

Doc G, Deborah Gilboa, Get the Behavior You Want...Without Being the Parent You Hate, parenting advice, book review

 

I know because I have Doc G on speed dial and if you’ve ever talked to her when you are at your parenting wits end, she stays calm, focused and gives you practical, helpful parenting advice instead of simply commiserating with you. Don’t get me wrong, I love when my friends tell me I’m not alone and that their kids can be assholes too but I really appreciate the helpful takeaways that I get from my conversations with the Medicine Woman.

Do you know who Doc G is? If not, no worries. Even if she’s not on your speed dial, you can still benefit from her expertise and advice because she wrote a book, Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate!

She had me at “Get the Behavior You Want”. Wouldn’t parenting be magical if we could all just get the behavior we wanted without having our heads spin around like Linda Blair in the exorcist and shouting at the top of our lungs, so much so that you worry that the Sheriff next door might come over and arrest you for being verbally abusive? I’m just kidding he has kids. He knows how it is. I wonder if I could pay him to arrest the kids when they misbehave? Now, that’s an idea.

But if you can’t pay the local Sheriff to arrest your ornery children, or maybe you just don’t want to, you should totally pick up Deborah’s book. Last night, I was scanning it for so much needed assistance       in the how the heck to get my daughters to stop bickering department, so I got out my book, and found “Sibling Management” and scanned for our age group (Yes, because she not only makes the advice easily digestible for the busy mom she makes it easy to locate!) Right there on page 131, ages 8-10 was “bickering” and right beneath it were a few helpful tips to end bickering.

 

  1. No bickering around other family members. Take it somewhere private.
  2. No tattling about bickering. If it gets out of hand, demand a change or step away.
  3. If you tried to handle it these ways and need help, ask an adult.

If I didn’t already love her, I would now. No bickering around family members. This rule is so simple yet so vital. I don’t want to hear their bickering.

No tattling about bickering, may favorite rule of all. It’s like the first rule of fight club is there is no fight club. I can’t wait to share these guidelines with my girls when they get home from school today. I’ll keep you posted as to how it turns out.

Doc G, Deborah Gilboa, Get the Behavior You Want...Without Being the Parent You Hate, parenting advice, book review

I love Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate because it was easy to get through and reference when you need it. It’s poignant information from a expert who could be one of your closest girl friends. I know this because she is one of mine. If you are looking for a easy to read and actually helpful parenting book, this is the one you should be reading. Also, for more great parenting advice, check out Ask Doctor G’s Youtube channel.

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Back-to-school, first day of school, kids growing up, letting go

Back-to-school school is upon us.

Yesterday morning, I took my girls back-to-school. I know that I should be rejoicing. I thought I might be. This summer has been very busy and trying but instead, I was sad. Sad that another summer is gone and there are so few left before they go off to college. When they are babies and toddlers, each day feels like 72 hours but these years now pass more quickly than I prefer.

The girls are growing up so fast. They are no longer the two little mop top toddlers who I chased with a brush while putting pigtails into their hair. They no longer mismatch their clothes or put shoes on wrong feet. No they are up before me every morning, dressed and waiting for me to curl or straighten their hair while they change earrings and strategically place rainbow loom bracelets up their arms. Suddenly, there are lockers and acceptable and unacceptable types of belts and socks.

They both got back-to-school haircuts and all I can think is where did my children go? I am so proud of the young ladies they are becoming but pump the brakes. I’m still the mom of single digit children, for one more year anyways. I can’t believe I’ve been a mom for almost a decade already. I really am trying to be “cool” and give them space to spread their budding wings but they are still my baby birds and when I see panic, pain or fear it’s my instinct to swoop in and make it all better.

The girls are now 9 and 7, so we don’t have to worry about the dreaded first day of preschool and kindergarten. Those days nearly broke my mommy heart in half. Again this morning, moms were dropping like flies in the kindergarten corridor; collapsing into pools of snot and tears just outside of the doorways. I kept a stiff upper lip and pushed their limp bodies aside as I took my girls to the more “dignified” end of the hallway to second grade. Not really, by second grade we’ve just learned to wear huge sunglasses and wait until we are safely back in the car before we have our breakdown.

Back-to-school, first day of school, kids growing up, letting go

My 4th grader, while she still wants me to walk her to class, under the guise of being her Clorox wipe and paper towel pack mule, gives me a hug and dismisses me in front of everyone. She has always been the stiff upper lip kid, since preschool. She’ll get watery eyes and a bit of a lip quiver and then she will give me that hug, you know the one that needs to last both of us the entire day, and then she will send me off. Even if she wants to run off after me crying for me to take her home, she will not make waves. She will make do. She gets that from me. It’s awesome, except for when I wish she’d just let go and not stiff upper lip it. I want her to know that she doesn’t always have to be the stoic one and that’s what I am here for; her safe place to land, to carry her when she is too weary to walk and to always, always hold her hand.

 

My 2nd grader however, well, she is a rage against the night, do not go gently, make waves, cry and freak out type. She knows how to make a mama feel needed but she is also my high maintenance, squeaky wheel. This morning, she tried a bit of stiff upper lip on for size. I don’t think it suited her because just before I walked her into her class, she said, “ Mama, my stomach hurts.” This is her go to ailment whenever she is afraid or nervous. While I was unloading her supplies (pack mule) I asked the teacher where to put the supplies. When he answered that the kids were supposed to read the board and follow the directions, I saw the panic and freak strike the heart of my youngest baby bird. She reads but she’s not a “great” reader yet and there were a lot of unrecognizable words on that board so I explained the instructions to her and helped her to put her little heart at ease. I could see that she wanted to cry but instead she unsurely said, “Okay, mommy.”

 

It was time to leave. I could feel her willing me to stay. I could feel my heart being tugged back in her direction. I hugged her and she reciprocated tightly. I assured her that she would be fine and that it was going to be an awesome first day; all while willing those damn watery eyes of my own to stay behind the sunglasses and not reveal themselves to my girl. She gave me a big kiss and whispered, “Mommy, I’m scared!” I looked her in the eye and told her that there was nothing to be afraid of and that I was only a phone call away and more importantly, that I loved her. That seemed to put her at ease and then I left, as she stared a hole into the back of my head; turning back to catch one last unsure smile.  Then I walked out of the room.

 

2 minutes later, I walked back to the doorway to see if she was okay. She was sharpening pencils when she caught a glimpse of me. She ran to me and gave me a kiss and told me she loved me. This time much more enthusiastically. I told her, “See, if you need me, I’m only a phone call away!” And she smiled and dismissed me.

 

I left my second grader in her new class and before I even left the school building, my heart was heavy with all the feelings; the missing, the growing up and the letting go. I freaking hate the letting go.

 

Apparently, back-to-school never gets easier but does the letting go?

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mom, driver, minivan, #Swaggerwagon, crazy

Do you refer to your car as a swagger wagon? Wait! Have you heard that the latest technology in minivans makes it so that I can yell at my kids in the car without having to scream over the Kids Bop #71 millionth edition CD and the two of them out octaving one another to the tune of, “NO, YOU’RE THE worst sister ever!” What?

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post about the swagger wagon; I just think that this is really cool and I want these features STAT.

Apparently, Toyota knows that parenting is hard work and it is not for the weak. Quite frankly, we can use a few more tools in our parenting toolbox especially in times of parenting desperation like road trips or 10 minutes drives to school or around the block. The 2015 Toyota Sienna has not one but TWO features that I cannot believe were not already invented. When you have kids you need all the blind spot detection, three rows of seating, airbags, entertainment system, auto warning this and that and braking in times of danger. You need all the safety bells and whistles, don’t let your husband convince you otherwise. He’s not the poor bastard driving around town in a vehicle covered in Goldfish dust with sippy cups and overpriced hard plastic, educational toys being hurled at HIS head trying to look cool with the Wiggles blasting on the radio.

Damn it people, we’ve got babies on board! I did not house those little people so some damn drunk driver can run a red light and t-bone us and I certainly didn’t sign a waiver allowing my sanity to be taken away on loooooonnnnnnggggggg road trips to places like Disney World nor did I read the fine print that said that I may or may not have to dislocate my shoulder to hand toys and sippy cups hurled and then cried for immediately while driving back to toddlers who think its funny. P.S. It was not funny! Why did no one warn me about teenagers texting on the road? I want all the blue tooths. Every time I go on the road, it feels like I’m in a game of frogger as I try to avoid all the texters, drunkards and stay in the line and not miss my exit all while little people are shouting at me and licking one another and choking on cheerios. It’s like extreme driving. I need a xanax just thinking about it.

Anyways, what are the two features I am referring to? Wait for it….
“Driver Easy Speak.” It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent’s voice through speakers in the back seats. Translation: You no longer have to actually scream at your children, you can whisper (that’s more scary any ways) into a built in megaphone. Take that, little people and the best part is this is not two-way. It’s just me, talking at them…all day long! So, instead of yelling, “If you lick your brother’s face one more time…I’ll drop you off at the orphanage!!” YOU can now simply whisper from the comfort of your front seat, “I see dead people!”

It also has what they are calling an optional “pull-down “conversation” mirror” I call it eyes in the back of your head and wait…wasn’t that already invented? I mean, isn’t that what your rearview mirror is for? Well, except for when you are backing up and the camera comes on and the kids could literally be back there setting shit on fire because you can not see a damn thing. Anyways, I like the idea of eyes in the back of my head and I convinced my little ones that I did in fact have this condition a long time ago. My 7-year-old still checks the back of my head from time to time. I think instead of a mirror, I’d prefer a camera…right there in my rear view left side that watched the backseats. You know, security footage to be used in a court of law.

I was so excited that for half a second, I actually considered swapping out my Enclave for the Toyota Sienna 2015 and then I remembered that I am allergic to minivans so, sadly no #Swaggerwagon for me but I do love these features and the new commercials. This one is my favorite.

P.S. Does anyone else hear Missy Elliot’s “Get UR Freak on” every time they see the word “Swaggerwagon” I’m serious? No? Maybe that says more about me than it does about you? I did learn to drive in an extended van with a bed in the back.

What’s the number one feature you look for in your mom Swagger wagon?

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immigration, mexican, children, sanctuary, drug cartel, Mexico, Nazi, Europe

Immigration laws are very important to me. I am a Mexican-American Latina, first generation born in the United States. If my dad had not left all of his family and everything he knew behind, my story could be different. Immigration laws could mean life or death for me. I could have been one of the children at the border begging for sanctuary. I could have been one of the mothers begging for mercy for my child’s life, willing to give them up and do anything to save their life.

You see Central America is nothing like North America. The only thing they share in common is the “America”. Living in the United States compared to living in a third world country is the difference between living in a mansion in the country and living on the streets in the middle of a war zone. If you have never been to Central  America, or been and never actually ventured outside of your touristy/ trendy hotel paradise, you have no idea of what the rest of the country looks like. It is very different than what you are seeing. Those kids at the airport or on the street who jump on your taxi trying to sell you chicles or wash your windshield, they are not doing this for some extra cash…this is survival. This is how they eat. It may be mildly annoying to you to be asked but it is humiliating to them to beg for your scraps but they do it to avoid doing something worse like being drug mules.

Recently, a group of 22 migrants, mostly women and children from Honduras and Guatemala, were taken into custody after crossing the Rio Grande near McAllen on June 18. The gangs that control much of the area’s human smuggling often tell women and children that they will be permitted to stay upon turning themselves in.

The United States is preparing to send 45,000 children back to Central American countries controlled by drug cartels that routinely torture, rape and kill children who refuse to work for them. So routinely, so often are children menaced that their families sent them away, alone, across thousands of miles on just the slimmest of hopes that they might be safe. U.S. law doesn’t allow them sanctuary.

These children have walked through some of the most hostile, hot, barren, dangerous country in the world with no one to care for them. Poor families scraped together all their money by doing God knows what and paid thousands of dollars because they are terrified of what might happen to their children if they stay in their home country and then entrusted those children to criminals ( Coyotes) praying they might arrive in America and be safe.

I have been to Mexico, not Cabos San Lucas, Alcapulco or Puerto Vallarta, but nearer to Mexico City; the state of Michoacan in Western Mexico. Never heard of it? Well, it is the front line for the drug cartel in Mexico, its overlords are the Knight’s Templar drug cartel. I won’t get into too many specifics because it’s dangerous to speak of these things but I will say this, I know what these children are running from. I’ve heard the stories. I know why these parents are sacrificing themselves and separation from the most precious thing in their life; they are doing it out of pure selfless love for their children. They are risking life and limb to get their children to the United States because the alternative is death. They are risking all of this under some false pretense that the people of the U.S. are compassionate and kind. They are mistaken. Our borders are more important than their children.

This is not the first time that the United States has closed its borders to refugees in need. In 1939, a German trans-Atlantic liner carrying 938 Jewish refugees was refused entrance into our country and forced to return to a soon to be Nazi overrun Europe. We didn’t care then and we don’t care now. Our lack of compassion may have lead directly to death for some of those passengers.

And now President Obama is promising the American people to send these children back to Central America. We live in an America that demands he do so because our right to close our borders and keep the “dirty, job stealing Mexicans” out is more important to us than granting sanctuary to small children whose lives will surely be in peril if they return. The people demanding that the borders be shut are probably some of the same people who are buying the drugs that are putting these children’s lives at risk.

We’ve heard their stories now. Stories of children who are publicly stripped naked and gang raped by drug syndicates to scare their parents. Stories of children maimed in order to convince their father to sell his property or join their cartel. Stories of children murdered to prove a point. By sending these children back, we are sending the message that we think these children are as disposable as the cartel thinks they are. I implore you, as human beings, to consider that this is about more than our borders. It is about children whose lives are at risk and I don’t mean by first world standards. These children have nothing and by turning them away, be assured we are sending them to be slaughtered like animals in the street.

So you tell me, is it safe to send these children back? Doesn’t sanctuary for children at risk of being murdered trump closing our borders and immigration reform?

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