My Mom Club

This one is all about the moms, and for the moms. While the parenting club and dads are not left in the cold, today I can reflect on this, because as a mother, I rely a lot on My Mom Club.

Truthfully, I’ve been beat down lately, just like the best and worst of us. Trying to be a teacher to my children, a housewife, and a full time (and then some) work from home employee, has been impossible. This is not to leave my husband out of this equation, because he’s quite helpful (taking on at least his share), and in our household there should be at least two housewives and two housegrooms to keep up even slightly.

Regardless, I’ve been exhausted and feeling defeated almost everyday. I feel incapable of sharing tidbits of positivity and knowledge, because I’m not navigating any of it with any grace. While there are less tears than I had in September, there are still heavy moments at least once a day where I let my emotions take over (crying, anger, or frustration). Currently in fact, as I try to type, I’m hollering at my kids to not drink the shower water by licking it off the shower floor; a repeat offender for my frustration.

And I must say, without the group of ladies in my corner, for whom I’m referring to as My Mom Club, I think I may not survive. The best part is, when times get tough, our bonds get closer. And when times become the worst, they are the closest.

I don’t even have to see them face-to-face. On any given day I get a message from one of the members I’ve enrolled in My Mom Club. The given lady is typically reaching out to share a happy moment, to ask for advise, or to simply see how I’m doing. And, in every one of my days I reach out to at least one to see how they are, or ask for encouragement.

Of course, I’m also lucky to have wonderful neighbors I call friends, who may show up at the door with a gift or a thing of food for our family. Even a knock on the door asking to borrow my stapler leaves me feeling loved and remembered.

This week I received happy mail from a good friend, sharing with me her newest lines of Sassfirmation Cards. One of which was for mamas. What a smile I got reading each deck of cards, especially the set for moms, with one card reminding me to “stay calm, even in the middle of mother-f#%*^\! chaos” (insert hilarious, and mildly inappropriate language as appropriate).

It is such an honor, and a gift to be surrounded by so many friends (including my lovely sister and sister-in-laws, whom I cherish as much more than just a relative).

The main message today, is thank you! Thank you to all those lovely women who have accepted my invite into my proverbial Mom Club. But also, to all the other mamas out there struggling day in and out, remember about your own Mom Club. Your ladies are out there. They’ve got your back, and I’m sure you’ve got theirs. Give them a big virtual hug, and tell them you love them.

P.S. – If you are looking to send a little motivation and love in the mail, consider some parenting affirmations. You can check mine out on my products page. Or better yet, check put some Sassfirmations (beware of language – Kate is a firecracker with a fantastic twist on traditional).

For Sassfirmations:

This is the Life We Live

A thought to contemplate today, and perhaps tomorrow as well. We live our lives everyday, either happy or mad, at ease or stressed, hoping and dreaming. We admire others lives, and have hopes for change in our own.

Whatever it may be, we have the life we live. But how we view it is up to us.

We could be frustrated with how things have been going lately. And truthfully I would be a hypocrite if I told you that was wrong. Frustration is part of life. It’s part of living in the uncomfortable that comes with change and growth. But too much frustration, and living in the negativity that it can create, is unhealthy.

We need to find a way to turn those frowns of ours upside down. We need to get back to the power of positivity. We need to start saying “this is the life we live” with an uplifting tone in our voices.

We need to learn to appreciate the things life has given us no matter how unexpected or challenging they may be.

Yes, giving ourselves a lot of grace comes along with this. Allowing moments of sadness and tears is absolutely okay. Accepting the need for help is normal. Turning down invitations and reevaluating commitments may be essential.

But recognizing what good things come from the moments we weren’t expecting is necessary. So today, as I try to look at my computer to work, and have an 18 month old climbing onto the couch next to me and slapping my keyboard, I pause. I think, this life I live is full of opportunity and blessings. Yes, it is stressful, out of my control, and has me crying multiple times a day. But, it is amazing, and I am glad to be here, overwhelmed with all the blessings and challenges life is giving me.

And parents who are reading this today, how can you do the same? How can you re-frame your situation to look at the positive? Even if it is only for a moment…

I encourage you, love the life you live, and love yourself for doing the best you can.

P.S. – If you need extra reminders, I encourage you to check out my products page where you can find parenting affirmation cards. These are great reminders, opportunities, to choose positivity.

Falling off track for your good, and when to restart

I’ve fallen off track recently. If you follow me, you know I have a themed post every day. And some weeks I’ll miss a post, but I’ll get right back to it the next day. My daily micro-blog posts keep me going and inspired. And hopefully they keep my readers inspired as well.

But, I fell off track, starting Friday. I didn’t post Family Friday, and subsequently I didn’t write on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

It wasn’t that I lost interest or have given up. In fact, it was the opposite. Last week I struggled to find myself, in the business sense that is. I want so badly to be a successful writer, and create this Parenting Roller Coaster brand of mine. To build my following and inspire others the way I dream of. But this past week I was feeling defeated, as if this dream couldn’t happen.

So I paused for a long weekend. I paused not because I didn’t want this, but because I needed to reconnect with why I started this and continue everyday. What is that? My family of course. I spent more time with them, worked on projects for a comfortable living environment, played in the blow up pool, watched movies, and just plain played.

So what about you? Why do you do the things you do? Or why did you stop? Are you inspired to do something, or drawn to a goal but haven’t started yet? Or stopped because it was uncomfortable or felt impossible?

We can work through this together.

It is almost guaranteed that you will feel defeated and want to give up at different points in your journey. For runners there is a point right before the “runner’s high” where a runner feels like moving forward is impossible. It is only the runner that pushes past this point that will grow and improve, and experience the coveted “running high”. This is a great analogy to attach to any goal, big or small. We have to work through the hard parts to experience the successes we desire.

Pushing through these challenges, or rather, working through them, is important. And at this time one of the best things we can do is to reconnect with our WHY. Why are we here? Running this race?

If reconnecting with your why means taking a break, and being with that value that drove you here, then you absolutely should. But not too long of a break, because consistency in our actions can be a valuable asset to our successes. However, reconnecting can mean recharging and coming back even stronger.

This, of course, doesn’t have to be about parenting. This can be for parents working toward any goal. Even for non-parents, though I’m here writing this blog today primarily for the parenting crew.

The truth is, anything worth having and achieving takes discomfort and work. We just have to be ready to accept the hard parts. And we have to move in stride to make sure our actions still align with our goals and values.

So what are you going to reconnect with today? Why are you running on your current path? Does it still align with your goals?

You’ve got this! You can reach those goals!

When do we know it’s right to make a change?

When our youngest child was born I struggled to return to work. Having our third and final child brought me to a place of wanting to be home with our children. I want to be able to help them learn and grow, and be the person to care for and inspire them in these younger stages of life.

However strong the desire to stay home, I needed to return to work. Our finances do not allow for one of us to stay home, though I’d even find satisfaction in having my husband home with our children. Truthfully, our wonderful nanny gives me piece of mind as well, when we are not able to be home with our children, but I still have the desire to be the one at home with them. Thankfully I have a career I chose, and I get to do what I love, but still, the desire is there.

Lately, so many things have been driven by COVID-19. And this feeling of mine has also been influenced by the pandemic.

Now, instead of teaching in a classroom, I teach online, from home. For all of you now working from home, I see you, I get it, and I am sorry. In so many ways working from home has been a blessing because I get to be with my children all the time, and I get to see them so much more. But, I also see my children all the time, and working is so much harder!

Additionally, our oldest is not at school, but in school while at home. We finished the last three months of school this way last year, and will be entering the new year this way as well. This shift is almost enough to prompt us to switch to a home-school platform, though I wouldn’t honestly know where to begin.

I do not aspire to only be a stay-at-home mom. This is a wonderful thing, and I value every parent who has the strength and devotion to take on this thankless job. But those that know me know I am not good at focusing on one thing and being present. I work on presence everyday, but this is a weakness of mine.

So my dream of being with my children is perhaps a bit more complex than it should be. I dream of writing. I dream of writing books, getting published, and creating works that people want to read. That they choose to read. And I dream of doing this in my own time, while working around the schedule my children have created for our household. You know, the schedule often driven by morning routines, eating many meals, needing educational moments, having story time, taking naps, and going to the potty.

My dreams of writing and being home with my children have been pulling at me more and more lately. This idea of writing, and publishing, has given me a platform for my dreams of staying at home with my children. But yet, it is still just a dream. I am nowhere near making this dream happen, and it hurts my heart.

But my children will still be at home, trying to learn, as I try to teach others. My job is important, and I make an impact on other futures. I remind myself of this everyday. And I worked hard for this career, this career I am proud of. Perhaps that makes this war inside me even more tumultuous.

So as parents, when do we decide to make a drastic change? When can we choose our career, or our children? How do we decide what the best move is for achieving our parenting goals? And are we even capable of recognizing what will have the most positive impact for our children?

I know I am not the only parent who has felt a shift in thought and desire since COVID-19 hit. And, if we think this will change, it likely won’t. Even if this pandemic ended tomorrow, which it will not, we have already grown. This pandemic has given us a new perspective on our lives and our parenting. We should be thankful for this shift, for this motivation to want to do things differently.

Yes, it sounds odd that such a disheartening and harmful thing can give us new light and motivation. But then, sometimes the best things come from the darkest moments in our lives.

The inspiration is there. Now, we just need to figure out what the right thing is. We just need to determine what each of our families need, and what each of us as individuals need. How can we be better in ourselves and in our parenting? Does that look like slowing down and changing careers? Or starting something new and showing our children perseverance and grit? What if it is figuring out a way to set everything else aside to put our children at the forefront?

Whatever this looks like for you, I hope you can determine if now is the time to make a change. Believe in your why, and believe in your family. After all, these are perhaps the most important things.

The Ever Evolving Experience of Parenting

Today my sister sent me a message. I well thought out, sincerely written, message. A concern she had over something our oldest son told his cousin (her daughter) this weekend. This message was difficult for me to read for two reasons, but neither of which were her immediate concerns in sending it.

My sister, like me, is learning how to navigate all the challenges of parenthood. It is not an easy journey. Not anything like we imagined. At times it is far more difficult than we imagined, but it is always far more rewarding than we anticipated. So, in an attempt not to hurt my feelings, my sister waited several days to talk to me about the situation my son created.

Her message to me simply explained my son had made a statement about how we, he, was better than her daughter because we, he, had a newer truck and newer camp trailer than she had. He not only hurt my niece’s feelings, but also repeated the same thing to my sister at a completely different time, likely hurting her feelings as well.

Receiving this message I instantly called my sister. She was concerned I would think she was attacking my parenting, which was not her intention. I immediately apologized (though still in shock), and let her know I would never see it that way. I encouraged her to tell me right away next time a situation arises where any of my children say something inappropriate and hurtful.

So why was this situation difficult for me?

First, I never want to come off as a parent who cannot receive feedback. And I never want to make anyone feel hesitant or uncomfortable in offering feedback. I know my children aren’t perfect. They are growing, developing humans that have faults, and will continue to have faults. And I know my husband and I are not perfect parents. After all, nobody is ever perfect, right?

I want my family and my friends to say something if my child is not kind. And I want them to say something to me if I am not kind. In our home, our most important thing is to be kind to everyone. We want to show kindness and love, because everyone is deserving and we are not better than anyone.

Second, I was presented with a new challenge in parenting. How would my husband and I get our point across that this behavior was not okay, and still manage our emotions when discussing this with our son?

I was partially relieved to find out my husband had already overheard our son making his statements to his aunt, and immediately set him in timeout and had a conversation with him. For our children, addressing the problem at the time it occurs, seems to be the best and most effective approach.

To be clear, we have a newer truck and a newer camp trailer, but we make payments every month, and therefor we are both working parents without an option to stay at home. Having nice things does not make us better, it simply ties us to our obligations even when we would prefer other options. My sister has always been savvy when it comes to money management, and has done a fantastic job at choosing a debt free lifestyle so they have more freedom. I envy her ability to make this happen, and I am proud of her for her well thought out decisions.

This afternoon I have had to make sure I do not get angry. Our son is only six, and has taken a strong interest in all transportation options, including cars, trains, planes, and camping trailers. He is aware of the differences in age, and somehow this has translated to value in his mind. I cannot be angry with him if I want him to understand he was not nice.

Talking with him I explained we are not better than anyone, emphasis on not better, and followed with how we are all the same and need to treat everyone equally. I was then straight forward and explained we have the cars we have because we make payments and that is why Mom and Dad have to work all the time. I finished with the important piece that he hurt his cousin’s feelings, and that is never okay.

I also have been managing my emotions in the sense of sadness. With our constant teaching of being kind, I feel sad we had a situation like this, intentional or not. Six-year-olds are learning so much, and it is inevitable that they will say something we perceive as unacceptable. And, likely, every time it will hurt, and tears will either fall or be fought back.

My message today: Parenting is tough! Things are always changing, and our children are always evolving. Evolve with them. Make sure you are kind and teach kindness. And be open to feedback from others, because it is hard for them to say something just like it is hard for you to hear it.

Perhaps it’s time we get pushed outside our comfort zones

The events in our country recently have created much unease across the nation. What happened to George Floyd was, without question, appalling, heartbreaking, and so blatantly cruel. The negativity toward our police officers is disheartening because the majority of them are truly here to serve and protect all of us. And the looting and destruction of property in cities across the country is terrifying and unsettling.

In our house we have found ourselves having uncomfortable conversations. My husband and I are white, and thus, have white children. Still, with similar backgrounds, my husband and I feel uncomfortable expressing our feelings to one another, even in the security of our own home. It is as if we shouldn’t have an opinion, or a voice, because of the color of skin we were born with. And we have no idea what to tell our children. This is disheartening. It disrupts our world.

But then I realized perhaps that is the point.

I remind my students all the time they must be uncomfortable to learn. “Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” I tell them. And in my career and goals in life I absolutely believe that’s true.

So why should I think this moment, right now, should be any different? Why am I so uncomfortable in the skin God gave me right now?

So, laying here before bed, I tell my husband, “Perhaps the point is to make us feel uncomfortable, because maybe that’s what it’ll take to really help us learn.” He agreed.

So what can we learn? We can learn to identify with the feeling of being singled out because of the color of our skin. This can help us learn that just because our skin identifies us as part of a demographic, doesn’t mean we are all the same, or are all what we are perceived to be by society. It can help us understand what it’s like to be judged by the color of our skin and not by who we are as a person.

My husband and I don’t judge based on skin tone, heritage, or background. We choose to get to know people and understand who each unique person is. But we do not know what it is like to be Black, or Asian, or Hispanic. This list doesn’t end here either. All we can identify with is being Caucasian, having English heritage and being born and raised in the United States. This is who we are, how we grew up, and all we know.

This week we only get a small glimpse into what it feels like to be judged by the color of our skin. Only a brief moment of feeling uncomfortable with how we look. For us, this will likely pass. But for many this is how they feel everyday of their lives. There are not just fleeting moments of discomfort. Not just temporary squirms and feeling of injustice. For many there’s no reprieve. No solace. Only anguish and pain, and a longing to be treated as equal, without the fear of being shot for simply wearing a hoodie on a cold night.

So perhaps it is time for us to be pushed out of our comfort zones. Maybe then we can learn. Maybe then we can try to understand.

My husband, also brought up a thought provoking observation. The news, while attempting to remain unbiased, was still not giving a voice to those peacefully protesting. Those on stage, that the news anchors praised for influencing peaceful demonstrations, were still not being heard. Those of us in the comfort of our own homes do not know what these speakers are saying. We cannot learn from them. Their voices continue to be lost.

So without truly knowing what the message is, I can only assume. I am just guessing, grasping at straws in an attempt to understand and relate. But my new discomfort is stirring up thought provoking topics, all in an attempt to think of how we can be a part of the solution. How we can inspire change in our future generations.

It should not matter what color someone’s skin is. It is unacceptable for us to judge someone based on their profession. There is much more good in this world than bad. Many amazing individuals waiting to be seen for their uniqueness. And part of that unique identity comes from the differences in cultures and views of our world. It is time we step outside our comfort zones. It’s time we all work toward the common goal of equality and social justice. It is time we listen to one another, and give strength and voice to those who need to be heard. It’s time to make the world a better place.

In such an uncertain time, one thing I know for certain is the love from teachers

This week has been bitter sweet. We get this unexpected and blessed time to spend with our children due to COVID-19. No matter how stressful, overwhelming, and ever changing this time may be, we all have taken moments to cherish the amazing beings that are our children.

When J entered his first year of school this past fall, we felt unsure of what the school year held. He’s our first of three to go to school. Our school district was new to us, and though research said it was a good district, we didn’t know for sure. He was slotted to attend an elementary school that was older, and in some ways appeared warn down and weathered. Could this indicate a school that might not be great? And what about his age? He had just turned five years old only two months before the school year started, and we were unsure if it was the right choice to send him.

During our special introductory day just before classes were to start, J had a one-on-one appointment scheduled with his kinder teacher. As parents this was also our opportunity to meet the teacher and ask her any questions we had. She immediately set our nerves at ease. Her welcome was warm, and she formed an instant connection with J. We established a relationship with her at that moment too, where we agreed to stay in touch and discuss and work through challenges if they arose.

And oh boy did challenges arise! J is a loving kid, but also comes with many opinions. His will to do things, or not do them, can be strong. But we felt blessed because we were in the trenches with an amazing kinder teacher who loved our child and was dedicated to his success.

Then, something so unexpected happened. Schools shut down for what we believed would be six weeks. Then the rest of the year. Our hearts sank. This was never part of our plan when introducing our oldest to his educational career. This was a plot line from a movie, or the manifestations of a bad dream. Could one virus really shut down everything? Would it shut down the path to our son’s future?

But J’s devoted teacher never had any intention of letting her kindergarteners fall through the cracks. She got to work immediately creating plan, after plan, after revised plan. She set up meetings, then adjusted as the school district caught up and asked for more structure, then less structure, then more structure.

And let me tell you, she did this all while taking care of her two young children at home! It’s dedication to be a teacher to other people’s children, and a whole new dedication level to suddenly be your children’s teacher as well. But, she never let this interrupt her determination to make this sudden rift feel anything but seamless.

Today she shared her heart with the parents of her kindergarten class. A wonderful, tear jerking, passionate letter of how she would have changed things if she’d known her last day with the kids was actually the last day. How she would have given big hugs, taken extra time, and given even more love. This coming from a teacher who always gave her all, no matter what. No matter her overwhelming fear of exposure to a deadly virus. No matter her concerns over families, students and jobs.

The amazing thing…the thing we should be so very thankful, grateful for this Teacher’s Week, is that our teacher isn’t the only one with such a big heart. There are many, many teachers out there taking a giant leap, and trusting in what innovations they can make, so their students can thrive in this very different time. They are all working tirelessly, coming up with creative solutions, and making themselves available for all the different needs of individual students. These heroes are fighting for our students by encouraging learning at any and all levels, while more importantly making sure they are taken care of at a psychological and emotional level. Because they recognize this time is hard on our children too, and they often don’t know how to express it as adults do. And, as teachers, they continue their battles for inequity and food insecurity, and many even ramp up their fight for change because all they can think of are the many children and their families who have so little.

So today, I thank our wonderful Mrs. W. And I thank all the other teachers out there who are embracing this shift in our world, because they are devoted to our learners of the world. What you do is amazing, and special, challenging, and hard. Thank you!

P.S. – I’m also sending all the love to our hard working nurses. Happy Nurse’s Week! From one nurse to the rest, you are also amazing! I love all you do. There’s a reason Nurse’s Week and Teacher’s Week fall at the same time. Because you are all amazing!

Why do I feel so out of place in the surroundings I love?

Today I drove for the first time in a week or so. I drove baby B to his 12 month well-child check. As he was scheduled to receive vaccinations, this visit was still considered essential amidst the Coronavirus lockdown. I thought it would feel good to get out of the house, to see people outside of our home. But with the dynamics of our community shifted from comfort to fear, this simply wasn’t the case.

I found myself even wondering if it was acceptable to have my window down. The sun was out. The temperature was in the low sixties. It was an ideal day for a drive, windows down, wind blowing through my hair. But it did not feel wonderful. It felt like I was breaking an unspoken rule.

Walking into the doctor’s office felt unsanitary and uneasy. Not necessarily for me. I am comfortable in healthcare settings, regardless of who is sick and what they may have. It comes with the territory of being a nurse. But truthfully it felt uncomfortable to those who work there. The front desk staff were cordial, but not social like normal. I felt like all eyes were on me as i tried to fill out forms and make sure my son didn’t touch anything. The medical assistant told my one year not to touch her arm…

The only moments that felt normal were when our family doctor examined B and spoke to me. I really appreciated being around someone who didn’t make me feel like I was walking on egg shells. But this bubble burst when it was again time to leave and get back to our car.

I was acutely aware of all the businesses that were closed. I found myself amazed at the number of people going through the fast food drive thru, while also feeling concerned for the vulnerable window attendant. I relayed scenarios in which I would be pulled over to confirm I was out for essential purposes.

The worst part of the entire experience was feeling dirty. This wasn’t the first time I felt like this. Since the shift in society from Coronavirus took place I’ve felt this way in public. Like I’m not clean, because I may have come in contact with something. And honestly I’m not even concerned about myself, but instead what I could expose someone else with. What if I transfer the virus from one surface to another? What if I take it back home to my children? It’s funny, feeling unclean. Actually, it’s not funny at all. It’s uncomfortable and disheartening.

And the feeling of isolation in public, well that’s worse than feeling isolated at home. Nobody talks to each other. Eye contact isn’t acceptable anymore. There’s no socialization. I’m afraid to have a tickle in my throat from needing to simply take a sip of water. What if my allergies get the best of me in the wrong moment?

The sad thing is, I’m not the only person feeling this way. Many, many people do. We are driven by fear. If not our own fear, then the fear of others. We are so overly cautious and aware of our surroundings and what others say, think, and do.

During my drive home I found myself thinking of two important things. One, I wondered whether we could go back to society as it was before this virus. Would we smile at strangers and strike up a conversation of commonality? I do hope so, but it is unclear. Fear can really change people. And two, how very glad I am that our children are young and naive. That they aren’t going out in public and seeing this drastic shift. And that hopefully they will recover.

So, I leave this message simply with hope. The hope that our children only see the good in this. The hope that our society will connect again. The hope that our children will be the drive for this connection. And the hope that as parents, as adults, we can also see the good as our children do. After all, they need us to.

A gift of ‘equality’

I’ve recently been writing a lot of fiction. It’s my escape, because we all need a mental break or two right now. Okay, I need about fifty million breaks—which comes in the form of fictional words.

So, I’ve been signing up for competitions and trying my hand at different types of fictional works to improve my craft and expand my mind. Recently I was asked to write a short story, in one-thousand words or less, with three elements. The genre was political satire (something that’s so far from my wheelhouse, I had to phone some friends and do some internet searches to understand what exactly this genre entails). The location, a merry-go-round. And the object…a Christmas Ornament.

Well…challenge accepted. I submitted this story about two months ago now, and today I found I was given second place in my challenge group. Second place! For that, I celebrate. And now, I share.

I described this story as: A merry-go-round in the equality for women, highlighted by the portrayal of Women’s Fiction. A holiday ornament as a gift is the reminder of what’s wrong with women’s rights, and what may be her misconception.

I hope you enjoy. Here is the final fiction product:

A holiday ornament dangles from your fingertips, the tied ribbon draped over them to keep it from falling. It’s a reminder of your privilege today. A woman who is a writer—a weaver of words—a deliverer of important messages. And Women’s Fiction is the genre you categorize your stories as, because they are about women, for women, after all. 

Your boots land in the frosty mud below your feet, and they stick a little as you push against the ground and lift them back into the air. A mother’s weekend, fulfilling the entertainment of children through active play and spinning rides. While your children are unfazed by the crisp air, you aren’t. You should have worn your winter coat, the one designed by a prominent male designer. And you would have, had you anticipated swings and merry-go-rounds earlier on today when loading up the kid crew.

Despite the delighted shrieks and shouts around you, your eyes stay glued to the holiday ornament. A small package in the mail arrived, and you were eager to open it because it came from your female counterparts in the publishing world. The stop at the park a perfect way to entertain the children as you took the time to read the card and open the gift. The padded envelope now tucked under your thigh—your way of taking care not to litter—you transfix your gaze. It’s a dainty thing, made of thin metal and adorned in a shiny gold sheen. The logo of your writer’s association stands proud in the center. A trophy to indicate your small part in the accomplishments of women in writing. 

It’s a gift that you are given a voice through the written word. Women weren’t always allowed to write. Those who dared to try found pseudonyms, their chosen name a male’s. But today you get to write, and there’s even a genre created for you specifically.

A gift. Just like this ornament. The cool metal of the merry-go-round reminds you of your role. You may write, but you’re a mother, a full-time employed female, and the keeper of the household. Everything runs because you keep it going, including this merry-go-round your children were insistent on riding. Pushing sideways with your feet, you keep it spinning. Entertainment for your children, and a reminder of how things really are. 

Women’s Fiction. The corner women are pushed into so they can be free to write about the things they believe are important. Personal growth. Family life. Love from a woman’s perspective. Anything from a woman’s perspective. Women’s rights. 

A label, so men can avoid the propaganda you are putting out, asking for equality. And all under the ruse of a gift of being granted a genre that’s special. So special that a main character centered around a woman, written by a woman, could never possibly fall under general fiction. Save that for the men because they haven’t been given Men’s Fiction. 

So, you write. And you continue to deliver your message through words. And you continue on the merry-go-round of life—equality, a thing that’s portrayed but never given. 

“Mom, keep pushing,” your youngest child shrieks. Even your children know you can’t keep up. 

“Sorry, I was thinking,” you answer. 

“What are you thinking?” Your oldest asks.

“About this holiday ornament, the one my Women’s Fiction association sent. And about how I wouldn’t have gotten it if I wasn’t a woman.” You aren’t sure why you explain, but you hope maybe she can change the world in her lifetime. How, you don’t know, since the world pretends things are already equal.

“That was nice of them.” And she returns to the giggling conversation of her siblings.

Yes, so nice of them. Now you wonder, maybe you are considering this all wrong. Maybe the fact that Women’s Fiction exists is a good thing. Women have come so far. Women have platforms men don’t, because of the work and time it took to push for equality. Women have come a long way. 

And your husband is your biggest supporter. Your cheerleader in accomplishing your dreams. He treats you as an equal. Perhaps things aren’t as bad as you currently believe.

You look away from the ornament now. This is ridiculous. You are happy to write Women’s Fiction. Ignore those thoughts that say you aren’t good enough to write whatever the hell you’d like. That you wouldn’t be allowed if you tried. 

As the world spins in your vision, pushing sideways to keep this merry-go-round turning, you take in the perspective around you. Children playing, boys and girls together, as equals. The trees have shed their leaves, winter taking hold. Spring, summer, fall, winter. Again, and again. It never changes.

Your eyes travel to the perimeters of the playground. Women sitting, standing, chatting, or reading. Yes, your audience is here with you at the park. Women watching their children play. Tending to their family. Taking any spare moments for personal growth through conversation and stories. You imagine what they do on their weekdays. Work. Cook. Clean. Those are what you guess—soul sisters in the making. Comrades in your life.

Let it go. The words dance in your mind, shifting your thoughts from negative to positive. You love your life. You love to write. Your family believes in you, and you believe in them. Things are good, spinning here on this merry-go-round of life.

This cold metal platform keeps spinning now. Your feet push instinctively. Routines. Safe choices. Expectations fulfilled.

Thank you for taking time to read my little political satire. As always, I appreciate you.


When there’s passion outside parenting

Okay, it’s true, my world is not always the sunshine and rainbows of parenting.

Yeah, okay, the parenting part isn’t sunshine and rainbows either. Not often anyway. But we already knew that, right?

I’ve mentioned before that writing is an integral part of me. This blog helped me grow and develop my craft until I was ready to conquer writing at the novel level. And thanks to over a year of Covid restrictions, I’ve found fiction to be a valuable escape.

I’ve also found writing about parenting has gotten harder and harder, because I’m so close to it that I’m constantly overwhelmed by imposter syndrome. Surely someone will show up at any moment and tell me I’m not qualified after all.

I yell entirely too much, frustrated by the unrelenting closeness to children who choose to live a life of fit throwing, ignoring instructions, being bored, and fighting with one another.

And my saving grace is knowing I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed by parenting these days. We all need a break, an escape. Please find your escape, if you haven’t already. You need it, and your kids need you to take a break. I promise, it’ll make things better, even if only momentarily.

If you are curious about my fictional escape, well it mostly comes in the form of currently unpublished novels. But I’ve been dabbling in short stories as well. I’m including a link to one of them below.

Be warned: It is a sad story about post apocalyptic times. And the main character has memories of the loss of a child. But if you like dark, haunting short stories, this you may enjoy. I also appreciate hearts on top of views.

Thank you my friends!

Target – a retreat for the moms…

Target. The place moms have decided is the retreat we crave.

What is it though? Is it the one-stop-shop? Or the affordability? Maybe it’s the adorable collections they offer and the great marketing that makes us want it all.

Worse, maybe it’s because as moms we’ve let go of the things that seem unreachable. We’ve succumbed to the choice that a day at Target is great. Perfect for an escape from the routine and constant bombardment of children’s requests.

Perhaps it’s the quiet in the car between home and store. The excuse to get out on our own, and grab a coffee at the stand inside for while we shop. Is it the chance to listen to something other than Baby Shark? Undoubtedly, it’s at least that.

It’s hard to know why we flock to this store as a way to give us the relaxed, lowered blood pressure, state we crave so much. But, it works, and we keep coming back for more.

Regardless, tonight I’m thankful for Target in its entirety, this night before Easter. I gathered stuffing for plastic eggs, snacks, special Easter basket gifts, and wine. So much wine. Where else can we do all this?

P.S. – Target, you should know I call Costco the $300 store. But now, I grant you this title as well. Or rather, the $300++ store.

Good Riddance, or Thank You, 2020?

The general consensus has been to rid our lives of this awful year. This year that has brought so many of us to a point of exhaustion, frustration, and many, many tears.

Shall we recap? No, I don’t think so. You don’t need me to remind you of pandemics, lives lost, imprisonment in our homes, political and social injustice and frustration, financial burdens, and all else that has been packed into this year. I think we can all agree we have been effected in at least one way this year by global and national events.

Honestly, I’m not here, writing, to dig up all the mishaps we hope to leave behind in the new year. Not at all, in fact.

Today, I want to say thank you to everything 2020 has given me, and hopefully inspire you to see the good this year has given you as well.

Let’s start with one of the momentous things this year was meant to bring for me and my fellow nurses. The year 2020 was the year of the nurse! Many of us are exhausted, warn and burnt out more than we could have ever imagined possible. This year has been the hardest on nurses in living history (emphasis on living because I cannot imagine what generations past went through during events such as the Spanish flu).

So, it may seem like this year royally sucked for nurses. But, do you know what else has happened? The role of the nurse is more known. The general public now understands what a nurse goes through on any and every given shift. The public came together and showed respect for the medical field, and honored all that cared for patients. If that isn’t the best possible outcome for the year of the nurse, I don’t know what is.

Now, let’s zone in on our busy lives for a moment. How many of us have struggled for years to find time to read a book, to pursue a hobby, to spend time with our children and just be present in life? I’d be remise to say I felt overwhelmed by the constant go, go, go of our family and society.

This year, I was gifted the opportunity, along with everyone else in our nation, to dismiss the constant need to go and do things, and to be content with being at home. Of course, for those of us who are lucky, there’s still work. But we’ve been given permission to sit still for a while, and to learn to enjoy the presence of family while not trying to keep up with The Jones’s. What an honorable gift this is!

Much of our political and social environment has been in upheaval. It has put stress and strain on us as a society and as individuals. And, as a nation we have learned how to express ourselves as individuals. We have learned to speak our minds. We have learned that our voice does matter. And that we can instill change.

For me, I’ve also learned a lot about myself when faced with so much discomfort. I’ve made this point before, and I will again: we grow most when we are uncomfortable, as comfort is the enemy of growth. I’ve lived this every day this year, and many others have as well. I’ve pushed boundaries and explored possibilities. I’ve learned where I hold value in my career and in my life. I’ve found new heights in my passion, which, if you haven’t caught on, is writing. I’ve discovered my voice, and when I should use it. And I’ve found how much I want to have coveted family time with my husband and children.

This world may be a mess, but I believe within the pile of rubble we can find treasure. For me, I say thank you 2020 for helping me find who I am in the midst of disaster, hardship, and uncertainty.

And, to 2021; I do hope you can lead all of us further down our paths of enlightenment. Help us recover and build now that we’ve broken away all the unnecessary things that encumbered us. Help us to heal our losses, which for many of us, includes the loss of loved ones. And please, help us find a state of more health, less illness and death, and more freedom.

Happy New Year everyone!

Got the Holiday Blues?

Tonight I am sitting here with my children as they watch a Christmas movie. Personally, I am so excited to have the enjoyment of the holidays in our house amidst another stay-at-home order in place. But, I also sit here, struggling to write something upbeat and from the heart.

Writing for my blog has been hard because I have felt more struggle and less positivity in my parenting arena lately. I have been writing. I’ve been writing a lot, actually. But not in the realm of non-fiction. My attention has been captured by novel fiction writing. But writing about parenting hasn’t been easy lately because I have been at a loss for how to handle the needs of our children, thus, lacking the ability to share our successes.

Truth is, I’ve been struggling a lot. It is hard working full time while helping our oldest learn from home. I have been quite thankful for daycare for the two younger kiddos, but the cost of it adds to our daily stresses. And our oldest, J, has been having a difficult time with learning and focusing, leaving us with a lot of school work and not a lot of time. There are many days we do his school work well into the evenings, my husband trading off tasks with me so I can work while watching the younger two.

The children have become restless as well. Spending much of this year stuck at home, they are struggling to find excitement in each passing day. And with the shorter days, this is even more difficult. We are running out of ways to keep them entertained, and our children are acting up with no way to control their frustrations.

We thought a good way to combat this would be a vacation for our holidays. However, this dream could only remain a dream, because traveling is off the books, and unsafe. Yet, bombarding them with presents that consist of more toys won’t suffice either.

While this is only a summary of events in our home, and far more complex than just a few paragraphs can encompass, it is our reality. And it’s the reality of many families. Trying to keep children engaged, on their best behavior, and healthy, is a big challenge. School from home and work from home is yet another big challenge. And none of us really know how to navigate this new world we are living in, nor do we know how much will remain the same when we can better treat COVID.

This is a challenge. Our new world is hard. Perhaps harder than it was before. But it isn’t worse, it’s just different, and learning how to navigate the change is our hurdle for this year.

I would like to wish you all the best as we become emerged in the depths of this holiday season. Remember you are not alone, even if at times it may feel like it. We are all trying to figure this out, and we can all relate to one another in one way or another. If you are feeling the blues from the last few months and in this holiday season, this is okay. Just know we will all make it through, together.

Thankful Thursday

Have you noticed a trend in social media posts lately, encouraging you to be thankful on Thursdays? This trend has arrived at the right time. We have had many things impact all our lives this year. None of us can deny it has been a challenge. And for some, it may have been the most challenging year yet.

The stresses of this year have been nothing less than consuming. You may have found your life turned upside down, and needing to make drastic changes to accommodate the new normal.

So why be thankful amidst so much turmoil? Because, we have many things we should be thankful for. So many things that might go unrecognized if we don’t pause and realize what we appreciate.

Even the simplest of things should be called out, pulled to the forefront of our thoughts, and put front and center. We are not meant to squander our thoughts by relishing in the negative. We can do so much more when we focus on the positive.

Parents, we have this slippery slope each week. We get pulled into our to do lists. We need to work to support our families. We are schooling from home, pre-schooling even. We are trying to manage the load of household responsibilities with the need to care for our children and work, all at the same time. We drop the ball, and things are left undone. Our frustrations boil over because we feel so far from perfect. So far from perfect, it feels like failure.

By the time Thursday rolls around, we feel defeated, at the least. The weekend is near, and we are glad, but so much is left to still get done before Friday evening. How will we manage? Why is this so hard? Is it going to feel like this every week, compounding from one to the next?

This is hard!

But, thankfully, there is Thankful Thursday. And, we could all use a little bit of thanks.

Here’s the deal, it doesn’t have to be an entire day of gratefulness. But, we could all use a little change in the way we think. So, I encourage you to practice being thankful this Thursday, and every Thursday from here on out.

All you need to do is find something to be thankful for. Write it down. Share it on social. Tell your children.

Today I am thankful for…

It is amazing what a little statement can do to shift your entire outlook and remind you that no matter how bad things get, there is always good to accompany it.

Today, I am thankful for the inspiration from my children, and the ability to share my thoughts on this blog. Today I am thankful for all my readers. And today, I am thankful for the opportunity to be thankful.

So tell me, what are you thankful for?

The breaking moments

You know that moment when you are pushed so far you are about to fall off the ledge? And maybe you even do? You lose all sense of control, frustrated beyond belief, and can’t get back to a rational place to stay firmly grounded.

Your child, learning from home, chooses fit throwing over giving even the slightest bit of try. Your youngest joining in at just the right time, seeing you are about to lose it, throws every toy in sight down the stairwell, watching it all crash to the beautiful wood floors below.

The house is a disaster, and you are unable to keep anything neat and tidy, no matter how hard you try. Dishes pile up. Art projects gone awry scatter the dining room table, and floor. Laundry piles keep getting higher. All organization has left, leaving your home a disheveled mess.

Trying to figure out why you can’t gain control over your emotions, you realize you haven’t eaten. Again. And it’s almost dinner. But then, sometimes it’s hard to believe because you’ve served meal after meal, and cleaned up the remnants of kid-made snacks all day long.

And, speaking of things undone, you still have plenty of work you are supposed to get done, but, like everything else, you haven’t had the time you need to devote yourself.

Yes, this is when it all falls down. If you are lucky, you are still fighting back the tears. But likely, at least a tear or two has already fallen.

Then, you step out of your room, prepared for your inevitable explosion, to find an adorable scene. Stuffed animals lined neatly on the couch. And when you ask, you are told they represent Mama, Daddy, and the rest of the family.

And just like that, you are pulled back, rescued from the fall. Momentarily teetering on your tip toes, and reminded why you allow this dangerous dance in your everyday life.

Yes, this is hard. All of it. But, it is oh so worth it!

In the thick of it

Okay, how many parents feel like you are in the thick of it? Like never before. Yes, you no doubt know the feeling, and you can say first hand this stuff, the stuff we are working through, is some of the hardest!

We knew technology was ever evolving. We’ve talked about how our children would know technology beyond what we could fathom. We thought we would keep it at bay, fearing technology would keep them from productive things in life, and cause negative health impacts. Yet, here we are, running learning from a computer screen, at home.

Our six year old who is now attempting to navigate the first grade, with us dragging him every step of the way, kicking and screaming (and it’s unclear whether the child or the parent is the loudest, most resistant). He is learning to type, take photos, use a touch mouse, and get from one app to another, all with minimal reading and writing skills. He’s a wiz! He can show me how to do something that takes me much longer to figure out, and I know technology.

And yet, he’s still writing by hand, journaling, drawing pictures, working through math problems, and participating. He’s still developing all the skills we thought technology would remove from him. And, best yet, he knows when it’s time to walk away from all the tech and get out and play. A fine balance is happening here.

Now, I’m not one to say this all doesn’t come at a major cost of time, struggle and effort. This child of ours has zero ability to sit still for even five seconds (unless he’s ill). He cannot focus, and must be fighting through a thousand thoughts a second in his mind. I can only imagine what he struggles with internally.

And us? The parents? Well, we are both working full time and attempting to also raise a young toddler and a preschooler. Balance seems to not be our forte. We cannot keep up with anything and constantly feel like we are failing at everything.

For me, working from home adds a completely different level of stress and necessity. I am not sure how I’m managing any of it, and while I find pride in accomplishing even a single task, I turn around and cry because I feel like I am not giving anything my everything. And for someone who feels like things need to be successful and complete, this is not an easy pill to swallow.

None of our children are getting their particular emotional needs met, because we have too many balls in our court at any given time. Our oldest, while getting a bunch of attention from us directing his learning, falls short on feeling complete from the one on one fun time. Because, by the time we are done with his learning, we are scrambling to give the other two any semblance of devoted attention we can. But they feel left out because of the learning shift as well. So now we have a home full of children who are acting out because their emotional cups aren’t filled.

And speaking of emotional cups…My husband and I are so drained. So exhausted. So stressed. So…burnt…out… We aren’t filling our cups or our relationship’s cup. It’s just one exhausting day compounding on the next.

So where’s the light in this storm? Well…let me share. It’s in finding the funny, cute moments. It’s in reminding ourselves to be kind even when we feel like we cannot. It’s in seeing little successes. It’s in making it through another day and realizing we are one more step toward a weekend. It’s in the beautiful moments when our children do miraculous things (like potty training).

It’s in remembering that despite having limited adventures, we get to spend more time as a family than ever before.

Even if that means doing ten million things all at once, diverting our attentions in multiple directions, and trying to pull off a juggling act even the best of performers cannot fathom.

This is real life. This is what it’s like to be in the thick of it.

It is messy, hard, busy, exhausting, unappreciative, ungrateful, overwhelming, tear jerking, beautiful, rewarding, and strengthening.

It is perfectly impossible. And that is exactly where we want to be.