Sunday, July 29, 2018

Stepping into Motherhood Is Moving

Stepping into Motherhood is growing up and moving onto a more professional platform with Wordpress. I started here over six years ago in which I started as Time with A & N with probably like two dozen readers.

But years later as I'm starting to get my words on bigger publishing sites I felt I needed a more professional blog platform to support my growth as a writer. Though now I may get my words seen by thousands; I'm still not in the millions yet, it was my readers here that gave me the confidence to keep putting my words out there.

I hope you'll follow Stepping into Motherhood on the new website. Though I am throwing more of my time and words onto paying websites as a freelancer I will still write about life, family, and chaos when the mood strikes me.

I love hearing from readers and can always be reached at Take care, mommas, and I hope to see you on the new site.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sixth Blogiversary: Taking My Knocks and Getting Back Up

May is the month of my blogiversary of starting this blog here which originally started as Time with A & N. But then as we were getting ready to add to the A & N family which ended up being an L I changed the name to Stepping into Motherhood, which I think is much more fitting anyway because my focus more times than not anymore is about motherhood.  Now this summer I'm looking into updating the site by hopefully moving posts over to the wordpress platform rather than blogger and actually having a website name that either includes my name or Stepping into Motherhood. This move will hopefully make the site look more professional and content easier to share.

Though this little blog of mine remains pretty miniscule small, I love the little motherhood community here that it's become. I only have about 200-300 readers on average which is also reflective of my facebook following which is my go to platform to use for social media as I am not very good with being active on twitter and I cannot remember my Instagram login.

Like with many things in life my failures and successes here are all about perspective. I could look at it as this is all I've accomplished in six years of hacking away at this writing thing and focus on all the rejections from editors I've received. Or I can focus on the fact that the blog has slowly but steadily grown over the years, as well as my publishing portfolio. Sometimes our successes are in the fact that we just keep showing up even when we've constantly been knocked down. If there's anything I'd like to think I'm good at it's taking my knocks and getting back up. This writing thing, though a true passion of mine since I was ten years old, is not without its tough moments of doubt. People can be critical; editors can be harsh, and it's quite easy to get down on myself and doubt what I can accomplish.

The first time I had an essay published in 2012 I was so excited to be "published" I happily handed my writing over to websites and magazines for free. However, six years into this and I've reached a point finally where if you're not paying me you're not publishing my work. Unless it's some huge giant well known platform of course because of course I'm not going to turn them down over something like money.

Throughout the past six years I've managed to get over 50 essays published for around $1300. I've also almost sold 200 books. After Chicken Soup for Soul in which millions read their books I'm to be published later this month on my next biggest platform with That's Inappropriate who has almost 1.4 million readers. They just added a parents content platform to their website in hopes of being the next Scary Mommy and invited myself, along with over 200 other parent content writers, to submit monthly for their 30 or so publication spots per month. They've bought three of my essays/articles so far, and I of course plan to keep throwing my hat in the ring to get more of my work published with them.

There's pretty big competition out there so I've dealt with a lot of rejection. It's just part of the game. Most times I get that but it's definitely had its discouraging moments. Too many rejections and I often take a bit of a "break" for myself. I love to write and I don't want frustration with it to take away my love for it.  I totally get every single thing I write is not publication worthy, and also that everything I write is not everyone's cup of tea. I feel everything with strong emotion- whether it's my anger or my joy, my frustration or my happiness, and I know no matter what emotion I'm running with at the moment I'm possibly coming in too hot with it. But one of the frequent compliments I get is that I keep it real. Motherhood is this incredibly raw emotional journey where we're gushing in happiness at how incredibly sweet it is one moment to barely holding our shit together and going scary mommy crazy on someone in the next moment. It's all here in this space- the highs with the lows and the joys with the struggles.

I use this space as my sounding board where I'm sure I ramble on and say too much probably too often. But my rambling list of ideas and thoughts here is where everything first takes shape before some things are cleaned up and moved on to be published elsewhere. Some posts on here are just my therapy when I need to sort some shit out, and more times than not the women that read here are amazing at giving the feedback and insight I need to hear.

For those that have shown up at some point in these six years and decided to hang out despite my numerous typos and grammatical errors, crazy rants, self indulged pity parties, boastful moments of success and happiness,  thank you!  My writing life really does start here with you! Thanks for sticking around.

Want to help me as a writer?

Buy my book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas or download the ebook here.

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Share any posts from the blog here at any time that resonate with you.

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Want a copy of the two Chicken Soup for the Soul books I'm published in email me at glennbabies@gmail to get your copy for $8 plus shipping:
    Chicken Soup for the Soul Survival Guide for the Multitasking Mom
    Chicken Soup for the Soul Curvy and Confident

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Come Home

I've been away from home this coming summer for 13 years already! Though there are times I get incredibly homesick and there are certain things I really hate missing out on from not being closer to home, I also love the life I've carved out for myself . But there really is no other feeling quite like coming home.

I've traveled a lot of places, and the anticipation of an upcoming trip is really an addictive high that those with s traveler's soul understands.  Yet one of my most favorite places to always be headed is HOME. It's been a destination I've traveled more times than I can count these past thirteen years, yet the thrill of heading home never gets old. I anticipate it just as much now as I did when I first left years ago.

Though we only get to see and spend time with family a few weeks out of the year, we do our best to always make the most of that time. We love how, no matter which home of ours we're headed to, it's always like a week long party as everyone also tries to make the very most of that rare time we get together. Through all those snippets of time we've captured over the years we've created these lasting memories of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for our kids that despite the distance they get to grow up knowing as if the miles weren't so far away.

There are many things I hope our kids taking away from how we've chosen to raise them, but the choice to come home is one that I hope runs strong in the roots of who they are.  As much as I want to foster their independence and encourage them to chase their dreams, no matter how far that may take them from us, I hope if there's anything they've learned it's to always come home. I hope they find their wings and as much as we may not want to see them go, I hope that wherever their journeys may take them that one of their most favorite, frequent destinations to head is always home.

Home is where family is. It's where those that love you for you, despite whatever your failures and successes may be, are always waiting to welcome you with open arms.  Coming home is where you snag the precious gift of time. It's time to spend with those that won't always be there, time to see those that will grow up all too soon, time to  reflect on memories,  and a time to make new ones. Home is where a part of your heart will always live.

So, my children, we will give you your wings but remember your roots and no matter where the roads in life may take you I hope they always lead you back to coming home.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Spousal Wars

I never knew committing to spending a lifetime to share your life with someone would also mean preparing to duke it out over the same petty battles day after day. Almost thirteen years into this living together thing and we still continue to fight over the following things:

1. Laundry: We disagree on everything with the laundry from how to sort it to how to fold it. He says we sort clothes based on water temperature and I say we sort them based on color. I am also notorious for forgetting to clean out the lint thing in the dryer. So between my cooking skills and this if the house ever catches on fire it probably is my fault. It's not just that we disagree on how to fold one thing in the laundry. We disagree on how towels, pants, and t shirts all get folded. At this point I have consented to folding pants and t shirts his way, but I totally refold all his towels otherwise they wouldn't fit in my cabinet.

2. The heat in the house: He's constantly turning the heat up to 70 or higher and because I'm constantly moving and like to sleep cold I'm constantly turning it back down to like 65. Then he'll ask who touched the heat as if he doesn't know. Then I'll shrug my shoulders as if I have no idea how the heat got turned down or off. And almost thirteen years later this comical ridiculous battle of wills still continues between us and neither of us are willing to consent to a happy temperature in the middle.

3. Socks: So apparently I own no socks and they are all his. It seems like every pair I put on he claims are his. I know he buys himself socks frequently. I don't really remember the last time I bought myself socks but socks are socks, right? I'm sure I own socks. I think. Unless they're all the mismatched ones in the basket. It's even gotten to the point where if I'm sitting in my chair with my feet up, wearing "his" socks he'll walk by and snatch them off my feet and throw them across the room just to antagonize me. However, this has not convinced me to go buy my own package of socks so I share continue this ridiculous battle of the socks with him.

4. Bathroom: Really, it sounds like this is a spousal battle in every house. But in particularly in mine it never fails just as I'm getting ready to take my shower in the evenings is when he decides to do his business he's supposedly been holding off on doing all day. I swear a must in our next house is going to be one of those toilet closest things for the bathroom where the toilet is closed off from the rest of the bathroom. It's going to have double sinks too because he may complain about my long hair clogging up the shower drain but his razor sharp facial hair clogs up the sink and I swear he spends more time in that bathroom getting ready than I do. And he has no hair so I'm not quite sure what takes so long.

5. The Car Charger: I'm not really sure why in this day and age but our cars always seem to only have one car charger. Because he's usually the one to buy them he claims first dibs so I usually wait until he's not looking and then switch the charger to my phone. Whenever we're fighting over who gets to use it on our long road trips he'll stop and pick up another one. Except they never seem to last very long because supposedly I break them all. Because they always seem to quit working right after being left in my car or after my phone has used them does not mean necessarily that I broke them. He always tells me I'm going to buy the next one. But I know I can outlast him on the whole sharing thing so he always ends up buying the next one.

I'm sure the ridiculous battles between us that have continued for the past thirteen years is longer than these five but these childish spousal battles are some of our favorites. What do you and your spouse fight over constantly but find too much humor in driving each other a little crazy that you don't see the battle ending anytime soon?


Monday, April 2, 2018

Doing the Hard Things

When I was seventeen the other pitcher on our team took a ball to the face and was out the rest of the season right before we were headed to Regionals. Everyone it seemed was pleading with the coach, who happened to be my dad, to pick up another pitcher before the big tournament. Without her I was the only pitcher they had left. Now to give them the benefit of the doubt I had struggled that season and though my younger self had gone out there and pitched a whole tournament I kind of doubted myself whether I could do it or not at this time. But the old man believed in me when even I doubted myself. I threw eight games that week and took us up through the loser's bracket to medal third in the semi finals game. Though we were one game short of the championship I did what I didn't think I could do.

I remember when I was twenty-one and headed into my senior year of college and it felt like between working and schoolwork I was just drowning in work. I remember telling my ex boyfriend that I didn't think I could do it. My parents didn't pressure me into going to college as they didn't so surely they wouldn't really care if I didn't finish. But he said something to me that I still remember to this day when I think I can't do certain things. He told, "You will finish because you always do the hard things you or others don't think you can do." He was right. I was just being whiny and dramatic. I finished as the first female in my mom's family to earn a college degree. My sister, cousins, and even my aunt would follow not too far behind me but I did show that it could be done. 

When I was twenty-three I told my family and friends I was moving halfway across the country with my boyfriend of the past year. That line of haters and critics stretched clear around the next corner, and I was the first one in that line. It would never work. I wouldn't last a month away from home and my family. I was a stupid, naive kid that didn't know shit. Well, that naive kid that didn't know shit was fairly accurate because well wisdom at twenty- three isn't exactly the smartest time in any of our lives. If building a life with someone else with nothing but two empty bank accounts,  two broken down cars, a newly crippled dog, a microwave, and TV 1100 + miles from home didn't teach me a little perserverance and grit then there isn't much hope for me, but here we are almost thirteen years later. 

When I was thirty-three I had just suffered through my second miscarriage in an attempt for a third baby after barely gaining a sense of balance with career and motherhood of two after a year long PPD episode as it was. Well meaning people told me maybe it was best to not try for the third and to give up that dream. The loudest voice to just give up was my own voice but we all know how that story ended with baby boy Glenn.

Now here I am at thirty-six struggling personally and professionally. Some of it is due to the declining of my hearing and some of it is because honestly I get in my own damn way too much probably. A few years ago I think I thought I was reaching a point in life where I had nailed this adult life thing. I climbed my mountains. Now I could sit back, relax, and cruise through the rest of the ride that's life. I did the college and even  the grad school thing, I started a career with great benefits, I was doing this whole marriage and family of five thing, we even got out of the paycheck to paycheck living and had our finances on a better path than those poor kids that came out here. Getting here with all of that was A LOT of work, overcoming a lot of doubt, uncertainty, and setbacks. So why the hell does there have to be more shit to work through and figure out? Why is there not a cruise control in life. It's just like driving down the interstate. I get the cruise control all set and then before I know it something is in my way and I have to take it off.

I kind of think I've let the car stutter and die on the side of the road at this point. I've just been sitting here, looking this way and looking that way, trying to decide even what direction I should be heading in. Here's what I've realized of late of why I'm not getting the car back on the road headed in any definite direction. I'm sitting here, looking for the road ahead that is flat and smooth. It's not there. Every darn road in front of me, contains some kind of mountain that has to be climbed with no clear certainty of what's on the other side. I'm looking for a clear easy shot with a clear view of what's ahead on the horizon, and it's not there. It's not going to be there. No matter how long I sit here it's not going to just suddenly be there.

 Like too many times before I am my biggest obstacle in my own way. I don't want to consider the roads and the mountains ahead because I don't think I can do the hard things. At some point when we stare at the hard things- at the mountains and obstacles looming in the distance, uncertain of whether failure or success awaits us on the other side- we have to realize the loudest voice of criticism and doubt is all too often our own. We can do the hard things we don't think we can do. I can do the hard things I don't think I can do. No the road to those things is not smooth, flat, and easy. There are two things-one professional in regards to my career with my struggles with my hearing loss and one personal in regards to myself and relationships- that are going to require doing some hard things. But I've come to see the only thing standing in my own of doing the hard things is myself.

So when we don't think we can do the hard things we have to remind ourselves of all the hard things we have done, and then we have to get out of our own way because we can do the hard things.

                                                  Photo provided by Willow Grove Church

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Nothing Changes if You Don't Choose Something Different

I have wanted something different for myself career wise for some time now. What exactly is where I seem to change my mind with the change of the wind direction. In the past two to five years I have considered doing courses to become a childbirth educator and lactation consultant to work with new mothers, I have considered going into the restaurant business with my husband, I've considered getting a second Masters to become a school library media specialist to possibly work in even an elementary school, I've considered looking into revisiting my current masters to see what I need to do to get my official counseling certification, I even briefly considered a PhD in women and family studies as I always said if I was going to go back to school it might as well be for a PhD at this point, I've considered sticking with teaching but moving towards part time to the point of working 2-3 days a week on an A/B block schedule and working on my writing, and we have looked into doing a 1-2 year out of the country teaching assignment. By considering all of these I mean I have emailed and contacted people about programs and steps forward. For all of them. I have folders of notes and action plans for a good half of them too. As of last month I was halfway through the hiring process with an investment firm right here in the town where I live with the opportunity to be running my own office within five years. Though I kindly declined the offer to pursue the opportunity I was left with an open invitation to let them know if I changed my mind.

So what am I going to do? So many options so just choose one already, right? It's kind of like being 17 again though. But this time I have adult things on my mind- like money. How much income will I lose and how do we account for that? How much will it cost to get all new certifications and qualifications to do something different? What is the max potential income and if I can make what I make now how long until I reach that?

What about health insurance? I've carried ours for the past eight years as my husband's position is paid for out of Title I funds so how much will that cost us to pick it up elsewhere? Will it be anywhere as good as what we have? Will my husband possibly ever be able to carry the insurance and if so when?

What about my time? This is as huge of a consideration as money. Am I going to lose time at home with my family? Will this give me the opportunity to be home more with my family? Will this offer me flexibility with my time to be there for the endless things that come up with kids?

Purpose, satisfaction, and happiness- these things matter to me in what I do with my work time. I have always loved to work. I love the sense of accomplishment and purpose with working. I don't do it just to make money. I like to do something that's with people- helping and/or serving people.  Even when I was 16 working at the Dari B, I loved the opportunity to serve my beloved community their favorite treat 🙂 So how could this choice or that choice give me a sense of purpose and satisfaction? In what ways will it make me happier? In what ways will it make me less STRESSED? Is it going to be more stress at first because adjusting to change- even change you want- is usually a lot of hard, stressful work in the beginning? If so, how long until I'm settled and comfortable in my changed situation?

For years it's been let me pay more things off, let me build up more of a nest egg of back up funds, let me wait until my husband figures out what he's doing next, let me wait until the kids are a bit older, especially if it involves a lot of work time from me at first.

But I hate being in limbo. I hate waiting; though I've been waiting a long time for this. So last week I made a decision. I talked to our Human Resource office and switched the intent on my teaching contract for next year to part time! Now, before I get too overly excited about this, I can't do my desired straight part time where I work 2-3 days yet, but I can swing what's considered a .7 or .8 in which rather than working 7 hours every day I'd work more like 5.  My ideal hope with this is I could work something like 930-230 or 10-3 rather than my current 730-230. If I could get luck on my side and end up in a school a half hour closer to my house I could gain three hours a day back at home to hopefully balance this working mom life thing a little better. I'd be the one home with the kids in the morning, even getting them on the bus, and I'd still be back home like I am now by the time they got off the bus at 4. But rather than going to bed by 10 for my 545 alarm I could stay up until 1130 due to a 730 alarm. My hope then is to use my extra time to first pursue monetizing my writing more. There is this online writing course, strictly for writing content for motherhood websites and magazines, that I've been wanting to take so I plan to start there. I could very well fail at the writing for steady income thing, but at least I'd know I tried, and while I'm trying I have my new Thirty-One business to carry the income I hope to eventually replace with a steady writing income.

If that did fail I think I'd use my time as all my kids got into school to go back to school myself- whether it'd be to become a school library media specialist, get my PhD in women and family studies, check into what to do to get my official counseling license,  or get my certification to become a childbirth educator and lactation consultant- my 36 year old self isn't exactly sure but maybe my 40 year old self will have a better idea of what she wants to do/be when she grows up. By then maybe my husband will decide he wants to teach out of the country or hire me as his business financial manager as he starts a restaurant.

Now in order for this to work the way I hope the trick is I now have to find a school that has the part time position I'm looking for. These positions are HARD to find, but when they are there I imagine they are also hard to fill. I have the next four months to find this ideal part time position that I'm looking for. I also plan on applying to a neighboring county in hopes of widening my search net. But then come the first of July, if I haven't found the part time position I'm looking for, I am reconsidering the investment firm's offer. Though it'll be a tough transition at first and demand a lot of my time because they do pay for me to study, train, and take their certification courses; within a year I cannot only be settled into it, be working a much more flexible schedule right here in town where my kids are and able to put them on the bus in the mornings, but making the same if not more money than I already do. There are pros and cons to both, and though I like the long range potential of working with the investment firm, my hope is to first have the opportunity to see what teaching part time is like for me as it is hard to imagine my life without it. It may have it's incredibly stressful, thankless days but there are also many things I would miss about it.

I am gone ten hours a day right now from the time I leave shortly after 6 until I get home around 4. With three little kids at home, no family around for help, and a husband in a leadership position that has the same hours as me, I need to be more available to my family. I need more balance in my work/family life. I can't attempt to get that if I don't change anything so I hope switching my contract to part time is just the first step in making a choice to take a chance to try something different in hopes that I can find the change I've been looking for.

Wish me luck as I am a horribly impatient person when it comes to uncertainty and the unknown in situations like this and often make quick decisions that come from impatience rather than desire.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

To the Students that Walked out Today

To the Students that Walked Out of Class,

I'm not writing you today as a teacher. I'm writing to you as the mother of young children. I'm putting the safety of their future in our schools and public places in your hands. Though I have maybe doubted your authority to take on such a arduous task as I watched you lead the way today and in the days ahead I trust you with the journey you are taking on because you reminded me today though there will be those in your generation that don't take this fight seriously more of you than not are more than ready to fight the road ahead.

This is where I do commend my fellow teachers. We have prepared you to lead and as my father use to say about raising children we do our best, hope we taught you the right things, and then we have to put our trust in you to pave the right road ahead. Know we are putting our trust in you to lead this fight.

Every generation has its bad apples. Don't let the critics of older generations fool you into thinking you are not worthy to lead this cause.There are more of you than not that work hard, push yourself to meet those constant increasing expectations of our society, that promote love and acceptance in the way you treat your fellow human. As teachers we have seen the worst of you but we have also seen the great promise you have to offer our future. The enemy will try to paint you all as lazy, uncaring, too addicted to your technology to understand the world around you. They will focus on the worst of you but you must show them the best of you over and over again as you carry on this fight.

I am not completely sure myself what all the right changes are that need to be made but I do know change is a must if we are going to see a better future for young babes like mine so I commend you on standing up and saying we are the generation that's going to say enough is enough.

It will not be an easy fight. You will be criticized, mocked, doubted, undermined but don't give up the fight - the safety of my children and your future children depend on you standing your ground in this very moment. Keep demanding change, keep demanding to be heard, keep pushing for a more tolerant, accepting society where despite our race, religion, sexuality, nationality you stand for all of humanity.

For every critic shouting at you to stand down there is an uprising following behind you, ready to fight this fight with you. You will lead the change that has been decades in the making.

To those of you that didn't walk out today, that's okay too. You deserve your say too. Pave the way in how to reconcile differences among people. Show those watching how to respect the opposing side; how to listen to what the other side has to say. You can lead the way towards change too in how things can't just be the right's way or the left's way but that there's a way somewhere in the middle that will work for the majority of us.

There is a better world for us. As a mother to three young children I have to believe that. I am putting my faith in that belief in your hands right now. To those that are my students, those that are my peers' students, and to the students across this nation, you are writing history right now. You can change the story of violence that has darkened our world so though today the fight may be gun control this is just the beginning in making us a better world. There is much to reconcile, undo, and change in the journey ahead, but if you can make the world a safer place for my children I am forever in your generation's debt.


A Mother of young children

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What Has Women Frustrated with Their Husbands?

This article by Scary Mommy stirred up quite the debate between my husband and I. He always goes to his best defense when articles or discussions about the balance between men and women is brought up- it's man bashing and he does help around the house so it's bullshit. As I told him for at least the second or third time we've had this similar debate, the argument is never about him helping around the house as he has met that expectation long ago.
But where the problem lies for why women are often angry or frustrated with their husbands  is because they feel undervalued, underappreciated, overlooked, and criticized for their flaws more than for the things they do right. As a working woman- in a field that is undervalued, underappreciated, and criticized- I suffocate at times from feeling like this. Though it was a frustrating conversation on both of our parts to have, I am glad I finally spoke up to tell him I see this as a real problem that shouldn't just be ignored as a bitchy woman moment.
If men want the bitchy woman thing to subside, they have to understand us better. Honestly, as I told him over the course of ten plus years of marriage I've come to realize men cannot read our minds. I don't know about you but I think sometimes I thought bitchy, passive aggressive behavior would communicate to him what was bothering or upsetting me. I can tell you it doesn't work. We have to speak up for ourselves and that is on us. I can tell you a productive argument where you really say the things that you keep bottled inside can lead to better results. Typically in our case not right away because we both always think we're right and can't in the moment admit we're wrong or could work on being better to the other person. But I have seen both of us work on changing our behaviors after these little arguments so I'm hopeful by voicing my frustration and hurt things can change for the better.
I've talked to enough women over the years to know that feeling undervalued, underappreciated, and over criticized is not something I am alone to experiencing. Scary Mommy's article about why women are so angry is not the first article ever written about trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with women because this is not a new problem between men and women. I think quite simply men have no idea what it's like to be in our shoes. Not that we know what it's like to be in theirs. But we feel like they have no idea what we do, and remind us of that when they ask that damn question one too many times of "What is it we do all day" or in my case all afternoon before he gets home. 

There is much that we as women do behind the scenes that is all too often is overlooked and taken for granted.  To point this out to him I ran through the things I take care of for our family that he's oblivious to that he never has to think about managing in his day because I do it- running our family budget to include the $$ for all our travels,  actually making sure all the bills are paid for the month, the round up of lunches and bags and daycare materials for each day, making sure kids' field trip and yearbook forms and everything else is signed and paid for on time,  managing the family calendar to know who has to be where when, running kids to meetings after school and back before he even gets home from work, scheduling everyone's appointments and even knowing when they need to be scheduled, corresponding with other parents for playdates and pick ups or RSVPing for that party or this wedding, planning the kids' birthday parties, renewing insurance policies and utilities, signing the kids up for all their sports and activities and school registrations, getting outside with the kids after school and working on their latest balling skill, laying in bed with them at the end of every night trying tirelessly to get them finally settled some nights, managing the running grocery list of all the things we run out of throughout the week. I imagine most moms mental to do list is similar to mine.   This never ending mental to do list that they never even have to think about is the hamster wheel of never ending chaos that runs through our minds every DAMN day. It's so MENTALLY exhausting so yes, we are stressed trying to remember to take care of it all so that shortens our patience but then to even question what it is we do with our time or that we don't do enough - oh buddy, you are so asking to unleash a storm of fiery rage upon yourself.

My suggestion to husbands to understand your wife's frustration a bit: don't  act like if the house is a mess we must not be doing anything productive with our day; don't complain or make her feel like she's a bad wife or mother because at the end of the day she gets out her computer, book, knitting, or whatever it is she likes to do to finally unwind. Don't make her feel like a bad mom because she needs a break from the kid that's been whining at her feet for hours while you were at work or out with the guys or that she hands over the kid to you at bedtime because spending an hour on that fight is the last straw on her patience. Realize the way we see it is that it always seems like it's okay to let mom take care of the kids while dad does his thing but guilt is imposed on us for doing what men do guilt free because the expectation is still that mom takes the lead with the kids.
Please realize the contradicting expectations we face. My husband and I were arguing about our failed parenting when it comes to putting our kids to bed. He was criticizing me for not doing a better job of putting the kids to bed, but then turned around and told me it was my choice to not give myself an hour of down time at the end of the day like he gets after we all go to bed because my day starts a good hour before his.  In order to meet his expectations of being a better bedtime enforcer on my own I have to give up my hour of down time at the end of the day and that statement right there said it all to me in the contradicting expectations of what moms face.  Men/husbands don't face that- they aren't up against the same criticism and unrealistic expectations that we as women and mothers are and that is why we get angry and bitter and frustrated at husbands.
So, husbands, you should never question whether she is productive enough with her time by asking her what she's done all day. If she does choose to take an hour, an afternoon or evening, and even a whole DAMN day to herself and do whatever the hell she wants you do NOT question it, you do not complain, you do NOT make her feel guilty. There's a reason why there are silly memes about what's on a woman's mind verse what's on a man's. You can't even imagine the mental load she carries so to avoid the wrath of women take note of the things she does and just recognize them rather than what she didn't do that day that you expected of her. Mention the things she does well with your kids and in what ways she's a good mom, recognize what she does to take care of the family, see what she does that no one else does or that she does that you can't do. It's not about laundry, dishes, cleaning the toilet or who is making what money to pay for what. It's about seeing the things we do that go unnoticed.  It's about not making us feel invincible and undervalued. It's about accepting she's not perfect, it's about understanding that she makes mistakes but not using those to value her worth, it's not expecting her to always be some overly happy 1950s wife but understanding that she carries a lot on her plate and some days it tires and overwhelms her but she'll be up and right back at it all tomorrow.

                                                  Photo provided by IStock by Getty Images 




Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Your Memory Box of Childhood

"One day all these great memories will be forgotten," she said, her little voice cutting in between the laughter.

"What?" I asked. Forgotten? These childhood moments of laughter and joy that we filled their childhood memory box with she was going to forget?!?

"Yeah, we won't remember this exact moment of having a dance party in the living room with you on a school night or exactly what had us all laughing in the car last night," she said.

I stared at her, my momma's heart wanting to argue and deny the truth to her claim. How did she know so much at six? Did they teach such deep wisdom in kindergarten these days? To an extent I suppose she was right. They probably wouldn't remember exact moments like these that occurred on random school nights in the living room or what exactly happened that had us all laughing in some random moments we were all piled in the car on the way to Girl Scouts one night.

But my wise beyond your years girl, all these random moments will fill your childhood memory box. Just you wait and see. You may not remember this exact moment but you will recall a childhood where your parents would occasionally dance around the living room or kitchen with you at the end of the day. You'll recall a childhood where your parents would pile you and your brother and sister in the car and take you from one activity to the next or from "one adventure" to the next whether it was going out for a winter hike in the woods or across country on another vacation, putting in your head at just five years old that when you were big and working that you were going to take your kids "adventuring like us". You'll recall a childhood where your parents went out and played ball in the yard with you after school or took you for a long run or walk with them. You'll recall a childhood where from as far as you can remember you'd bake with your mom and learn to cook from your dad. You'll recall a childhood that despite the chores you complain of doing every day after school or that you had to make your own lunch for school from the time you were in kindergarten that was full of love and family and yes more wonderful memories than you can count or individually remember. Your childhood memory box will be overflowing, my dear girl. You won't necessarily remember every moment that made your little girl heart feel so happy and loved, but you will remember you were happy and loved throughout.

Childhood is what shapes our hope, our perception of the world, our own visions for family and happiness. Your childhood memory box, dear girl, will be full because though you may not remember exact moments like yesterday or today you're getting one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child- a childhood worth remembering.

Don't grow up too fast, my girl.


Friday, February 16, 2018

From the FRONT Lines

I had to stand in front of my students the past two days and go over with them how in the situation of an active shooter we had three doors and fourteen windows to secure as quickly as possible. The scared look on their faces as I gravely reminded them of the very real threat we face today in our schools is one I won't easily forget. As a student mentioned, "It's scary how NOT far fetched the reality of this happening has become."

That reality is what has me sad, worried, and downright angry. This should NOT be the state of America! This is NOT the kind of America I want my kids to grow up in! This is NOT what I got into teaching for! This is absolutely unacceptable. I'm upset about this as an educator and as a parent, and we need some real solutions, not ridiculous political bickering where we all talk in circles until the moment passes and then we drop it again until the next shooting occurs.

This is a serious epidemic for our children. They ARE NOT SAFE. They are not safe when they go with the friends to the movies. They are not safe when they go hang out with their friends at the mall. They are not safe even when they go to school every day. These mass shootings are occurring in places where our children are NO LONGER SAFE. Yet I will continue to send my children out into these unsafe places. You will continue to send your children out. We will continue to send our children out into UNSAFE environments!  I'd like to think I'm being dramatic or that my emotions are just on overdrive and ruling any rational thought I may have. But maybe we haven't let our emotions move us towards change enough. Maybe it's that suffocating sadness, anger, and fear that will drive us to change.

I began my journey into education almost twenty years ago, a year and a half after Columbine. Never did I imagine a time where people would be having real conversations about arming teachers. I can't believe I just said that because people really believe that is the solution here- to arm teachers. I grew up with guns, I know how to shoot and handle a gun, and we are gun owners, but if I wanted to carry a gun to work every day I would have went into the military or police academy. You want teachers who have never had the mental or physical training to be the front line of defense in our streets or in our wars to now be our front line of defense in the biggest war on our children! Really, does that sound like the greatest change to make?

Why don't we put our military veterans to work as guards around our schools. Government wants to talk big about caring about veterans and our children- put them to work in front of our schools and we work towards solving two problems. Yes, that is definitely going to cost money but supposedly these are two of the most important things to our government. Though I like the idea of putting veterans to work and giving them the opportunity to be find themselves a purpose and sense of belonging in a school community we have to have greater solutions than fighting gun violence with more guns.

Yes, I could too make a case for our gun laws being evaluated with how easy it so to obtain a gun and do we really need a military gun on the market, but we have a cultural problem here too that needs to be addressed, people. We have created a cultural mentality that going into a busy area and shooting up innocence people is an acceptable way to handle personal frustration and setbacks. That broken mentality doesn't change with changed gun laws. We have to change the mindset. We have to change the people. We have to change ourselves and we have to be the change.

Education policy has stripped us of school discipline and accountability of students in so many ways, yet we think the answer is to arm teachers to now shoot their possible students. We can barely discipline them but we should now be expected to shoot them? The changes over the years of  trying not to suspend because it looks bad for data numbers, the policies of not taking their phones and forcing them to disconnect for a few hours, or the we can't penalize them for late assignments, and honestly the list of all the policy changes that have taken discipline and accountability of education away, I hate to say, has a role in what we're seeing.

Not only are students not given discipline or expected accountability anymore but parents need to be held accountable for the behaviors and actions of their children. It is scary the number of physical altercations I could recite from the family and friends I know that work in public education. Parents don't feel any more sense to discipline or hold their kids accountable than the kids themselves because as a society we don't hold anyone accountable anymore. Though I'm not in the criminal justice system I've heard scary policy changes of not even holding criminals as accountable as we once did. Why not do whatever the hell you want to do if the consequences are so little?

I've preached for a long time that required parenting classes should be a must for parents of troubled youth. Do you know how many parents over the past fourteen years  I've talked to that don't know what to do about their troubled youth? Some parents didn't have the greatest parent models themselves, or they just lack the resources or support they need to figure out this parenting thing so give them the help that some of them so desperately want. Invest some money in teaching parents how to parent! Invest some consequences in holding parents accountable for raising respectful citizens.

While we're investing money in education and change that might make a difference how about some classes that teach kids things like empathy, coping skills,  civil discourse, peer mediation? Or programs in schools that actively combat bullying and raise awareness and resources for mental health?

Changed education policy of the past two decades I believe too is just widening the gap between the haves and the have nots. We are either dismissing the troubled and struggling students by not enforcing discipline or accountability and making loop holes for them to "get through" so it looks good on our school numbers. Or we are drowning the achievers and go getters in unrealistic expectations and pressure to perform on the athletic fields and in the classrooms at a level beyond decades ago because again it looks good for school numbers. They're pressured with the idea that to have a good life more, more, and more is needed of them. Both of these extremes I believe are contributing to the mental health crisis of today. Again, all government or education policy is concerned about are their damn numbers and not our kids. The kids are just their pawns, and now they have become their victims.

The reality of this is downright scary. There are so many problems to fix, but we waste our time pointing fingers so let's stop pointing fingers and make some real change. While we wait on government and policy to fight over who is to blame I get up every morning to go off to one school, while my husband goes to another, and  my two daughters go to a different one. Across the country I have countless friends that walk out that door too to also head to their schools; I have two cousins, a sister, and an aunt that all head off to school every morning. My friends' kids and my nieces and nephews head off to school every morning. There are countless schools across this nation where someone I know and care about goes each day. The reality that one day, that breaking news story of another school shooting , is going to be their school is getting closer and closer the longer we do nothing. When someone is military or police or you marry into the military or police life, you know it comes with the expectation that you or the person you love may not make it home. This is now all of our realities. I get that no one is promised another day or even another moment. Something can happen to any of us at any time, but here in America we now have to worry about death by the violence of bullets in our own classrooms. This is NOW our reality. This is now our children's reality!

Our government has failed us. Absolutely failed us and put our children in the line of fire in front of a hail of bullets. So to wait on our government to protect us at this point seems a loss cause. We can't wait. We need to be talking to our the leaders in our schools. What security protocols needs to be updated in the building? Figure out a way to raise those funds asap. What programs are in place for mental health? What programs are in place for parents of troubled students? How are students being held accountable and taught to get overcome failure and setbacks? WE DO THEM NO FAVORS BY NOT LETTING THEM FAIL. Start talking and start working together in our communities. The change starts with us.

To make change is going to take some money, it's going to take voices, it 's going to take ACTION.
But what do I know? I'm just a teacher, a teacher on the front lines of a war against our children.

It's time to step up, America, and do the right thing for our kids' futures.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Gender Equality Between the Sexes???

When it comes to gender equality or the existence of inequality still in today's society there are many arguments about whether there is still inequality and in what ways that inequality still exists. It's 2018; women have had the right to vote for almost a hundred years, the laws of today say we're equal so where's the inequality some like to ask??

My students and I actually had an interesting conversation about this when we read Sojourner Truth's Ain't I a Woman.  A student pointed out that the argument about the issues of equality isn't about our laws. Our laws state equality, but our social expectations and behaviors is where inequality is still alive and well. We also talked about how with Emma Watson's Equality is Your Issue Too that feminism is not just about women but about these misleading social expectations and behaviors we as a society project onto both men and women. I've heard the arguments against the existence of gender inequality in today's society but here me out for a moment on the ways inequality still exist when it comes to our 21st century social norms, expectations, and behaviors. I'm not even going to touch on political issues; these are every day ways any of us- men and women- could still experience gender inequality.

 I only have my own experiences to speak from here and though neither my father nor my husband have ever made me feel oppressed because I'm a woman, there are interesting things I've taken note of lately about inequality when it comes to our behaviors and expectations. Maybe there are some here you’ve seen firsthand for yourself. Again, this isn't just about women but also how men face it themselves and if you have not read Emma Watson's Equality is Your Issue Too check it out or watch the video.

1.The unspoken social expectation that men pay and are the ones making the financial decisions:

Both when dealing with the sales people for the estimate on our bathroom remodel this summer and in shopping for a car for me, I found it quite annoying that the salesman tended to direct his questions and information to my husband over me, even after my husband said I was the one making the final financial decisions in both situations. It’s not like either was rude, but I think it’s just one of those social habits the same way handing the dinner tab over to the man rather than the woman is. As a woman who manages our family’s finances the unspoken expectation that men are in control of the finances drives me crazy. It’s not fair to men either to have the expectation that they should be the one paying for dinner or anything and everything for that matter. Maybe on a first date it’s a gentlemanly thing to do, but I’ve also seen girls that bum drinks off guys in a bar because of this ridiculous notion that men should financially pay for women. So the financial expectation that it’s a man's responsibility and women are incapable of handling  finances or financial decisions is a social norm we still need to work on.  


2. The idea of one gender or the other being incapable because that’s just the way “men” or “women” are:

 The thing that has killed me lately with this is that some of the recent things told me have come from other older generational women such as the expectation that I should take care of scheduling something for him “because he’s a man”.  Ummm, no he’s very capable of taking care of himself and it’s rather insulting to him probably to suggest that he’s not capable. Or that I can’t do something because “I’m a woman and my husband won’t let me.” I’m a grown woman and my husband actually respects me to make my own decisions and would be the last person to tell me what I can and cannot do just because I’m a woman. Men are not incapable of taking care of tasks that have in past generations  befallen on women, and women are not incapable of doing things on their own that they once had to have a male escort to do. Both are quite independent.


3. Telling a woman she can't do something with her children that her husband could do because she's a woman and it's not safe:

It is unfortunately unfair that there is even some level of truth to this. As a parent of daughters I often wonder how often we will use this concern for their safety against the threat of men from preventing our daughters from doing something, yet we'll allow our son to do it. This is where as a society we must do a better job of raising our sons and in teaching our daughters how to be safe and cautious of their surroundings and situations in order to be capable of handling themselves in an unfavorable situation they may find themselves in.

4. Expectations of household chores:

Chaunie Brusie wrote this great piece for Babble  on how even as mothers with sons and daughters we tend to ask and expect our daughters to help out more around the house than our sons. Now in both her and my defense our sons followed after two older sisters so maybe if our sons were the first born we wouldn't have to more subconsciously make sure we're expecting the same out of our boys around the house that we are of our girls.As a woman that works out of the home as much as my husband I expect and he does contribute around the house as much as I do so therefore our sons should be held to the same expectations around the house as his sisters. There is no "the house is the woman's responsibility" around here. Now when there are large yard projects there are times he tackles the outside while I tackle inside but we're both helping and going with the projects we'd each prefer to tackle. When I am home in the summer and he's working I do try to get most of our housework done during the day while he's gone so both of us can have more restful evenings and weekends. We both cook, we both clean up, we both work on laundry, though he tends to tackle the outdoor work and I tend to do more of the actual house cleaning we've both pitched in on those when needed.  When I surveyed a group of moms online it was refreshing to see that for the most part it was similar experience in their modern day lives too with their husbands. The days of husband coming home after work and watching TV all night are over, but so are the days of mom being home all afternoon watching her soaps. When it comes to social expectations and norms I actually feel like from my childhood to my experiences now this is one of the things that has made the greatest gains. Equality when it comes to husband and wife and the running of the household will look different for every family but the important thing is that it's an agreed balance in whatever designation of who's responsible for what looks like for each family.

5. That the care of the children are primarily the woman’s responsibility:

Trust me I get it that mom tends to be the default parent. How often do kids walk right past dad next to the fridge to ask mom for milk in the next room? But men are just as capable and in many cases do as much care taking of their children as mom. My husband deals with the getting them ready and out the door every morning by himself, he knows how to change diapers quite well, he’s gotten up with them in the night, he’s taken them on his own to doctor’s appointment. And to act like “wow, you came to the store with the kids by yourself without your wife” is a compliment is actually insulting, insinuating that they are not capable of being the primary caretaker of their children when in fact they can be. This is where I feel men get hit with the negative side of flawed gender expectations in our society.

6. Women's battle with perfection to meet impossible expectations:

It’s interesting to me that women tend to battle with meeting perfection and have a higher case of mental disorders and attempted suicides than men.  I tend to believe because there is this social message out there that we’re not good enough. We’re not skinny or pretty enough because we don’t measure up to some absurd image of perfection that is posted all over magazines and the internet.  As women if the house or kids aren't taken care of a certain way then the blame falls at our feet because the expectation is those things are our responsibilities over the man's, but if he falls short it's "well, at least you tried or that's more than what some do" and he is excused. There is this impossible expectation that women need to do it all today with career and home, but not nearly as much social pressure for a man to meet these higher expectations of performance (not saying there's not the expectation in our own individual homes but it's not there socially for men to the same regard as it is to women). If a woman stays home she's criticized in one regard, yet if she works she's criticized in another. Yes, we could definitely make the connection that the same negative image is projected onto men that stay home because again to think it's acceptable for a woman to stay home with the kids and not the man, is feeding into those gender stereotypes that feed the reality of the inequality we still face.

7. Excusing boys behavior because "they re boys":

 As a mother to a son and a son who is my youngest child at that, I have to really self consciously train myself not to set this trap for him. I can’t excuse his inability to follow directions, for being too rough, for lacking a sense of responsibility and contribution to things around the house because “he’s the boy”.  We can't have the expectation that girls need to be quiet and obey, but excuse our boys from this "because they're boys". It's not right to either gender.

As a mother of a son and daughters, I am suddenly taking stock of how these social habits creep their way into my parenting because they do. If I don't self consciously check myself I continue to feed these unfair social norms to my daughters and son. Making change with these habits and expectations starts with how we treat our sons and daughters and husbands and wives in our own homes.  With not even touching on the political issues of equal pay or reproductive rights and women's health, these are gender issues that are still in need of correcting and change in our modern day 21st century society so when people say they're feminist or for gender equality there is still definitely progress to be made.

                                                           Photo provided by Guardian


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

No More

The first month of the new year is almost over and I haven't written once. I've thought of things to write and then I've decided instead to work on our photo albums or binge watch Netflix.  There's a part of me that's missed writing and a part that's enjoyed the break. There's a part of me that feels unproductive and lazy with all my Netflix watching of the past month, but a part of me that enjoys the peace of escaping into entertainment rather than tackling my list from morning to bedtime.

As I watch my daughter so bent on doing so much- sports, clubs, being a part of every showcase event at school- I'm torn between praising her ambition and warning her of the consumption of chasing more.

Yes, I have a list of accomplishments and all that I do and all that I am that I could easily and too often love to recite, but this is also why I think girls and women like me are consumed with anxiety and stress and overwhelmed. We are entrapped by the idea of more- we feel we always need to be more, reach for more, do more, give more, accomplish more. More, more, more, and more and here I am kind of tired of more.

Maybe the stress and the anxiety will stop if I quit focusing on more. And that includes the more that everyone else thinks I need to give. Because sadly in some situations- life, work, family, friends- no matter how much we give it always seems like there's someone wanting more from us.

So maybe to some I'm seen as quitting or being lazy or maybe finally smarter, but I think 2018 needs to be the year of less for me. Maybe when you look at it as do less, be less, accomplish less it does sound pretty unambitious, but I'd rather look at it as why do I need this idea of more. Why is everything here and now not enough? Do I really need more, do I really need to be more, do I really need to constantly be reaching for more because isn't right here, right now with who I am and what I've done enough. Isn't it good enough?

I'm 36 years old and I like to think I've lived a fairly accomplished life up to this point. I don't say that to be boastful; I say it because no matter what's on each of our lists of who we are and what we've done we all owe it to ourselves to say "you know what I'm pretty proud of who I am, what I've done up to this point in my life, and  if this is all there ever was this is enough. I am enough."

Just standing in the middle of where we are, wherever that may be for each of us is more than enough. I think I just want to stand here in the land of more than enough for 2018. That doesn't mean I'm going to watch Netflix all day every day. But I'm consciously choosing not to make any specific goals of more: more pounds to lose, more writing to get published, more trips to any particular place(s), more home improvements or cleaning projects (though I really do want to change the girls room), more extracurricular and involvement at work. I'm just going to do what I feel like doing when I feel like it and no push for more or even anymore if I don't want to.   If I feel like going for a run I'll go, if I want to pursue more publications I will, I'm definitely going to still go travel to more places I haven't been but maybe even making the time we spend traveling less rather more.  But whatever I do choose to do however I choose to do it  though I'll do because I want to in the moment; not because it's more I have to tackle off some ambition list or because something or someone convinces me I must pursue more. So my 2018 resolution isn't for more of anything but less of it all because here and now with what I got and where I am is more than enough.

                 Why is there a need for more when this is the view of my life from the inside looking out.