Mother, Mother: What makes you a parent.

From Left to Write is an online book club where the members create a virtual discussion about the book and how it relates to their lives. I love the concept of this for a few reasons. It takes the school concept of a book report out of the equation completely and it gives readers who haven’t read the book a way to relate to the topics portrayed within the book.

This post is not a traditional review, but I am using my personal experiences and using a theme within the book as a writing prompt. The second book for September is Mother, Mother: A Novel by Koren Zailckas.

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The book is about a controlling mother, a missing sister, and a father who doesn’t seem to care. Told through the voices of the other children, Violet and William. I will say that Koren’s writing is very dark, I read her previous hit Smashed when it first came out, so I was used to this type of writing, but for those who aren’t it can be shocking.

What struck me about this book, was when Violet had a realization, just because you have a baby doesn’t make you a mother. This is a statement that a lot of people reserve for fathers/dads, very rarely do you hear it said about mothers. Most people think that women have this immediate turn from woman to mom as soon as they are pregnant or have a child.

While a lot of women do feel that way, not all women do. For men it is accepted among society, but if a woman feels a disconnect with her child it is unheard of.

Part of this, I think, is because there are many more pressures than there were 30 years ago. With the internet, you can read stories and see photos of people from all parts of the world and how they are interacting with their children. Oh, and Pinterest. Pinterest makes the perfectly wonderful parent feel like a completely inadequate parent. You didn’t throw your child a theme first birthday party, and hand make all the food, decorations, and clothes yourself!? How terrible of you!

This isn’t the stuff that makes you a parent. As long as your child is loved, cared for, fed, and warm, does the path on how we get there matter? Some of us thrive with the baby stage, and some of us thrive with the toddler stage. Some have amazing birthdays for their children, and some of us are okay with buying store decorations (that’s me) and calling it a day.

What do you think makes parents feel inadequate? What is something that you think makes a wonderful parent?


DISCLAIMER: A controlling mother, a missing daughter, and a family who is desperate for love. This post was inspired by the the psychological thriller Mother, Mother by Zoren Zailckas. Join From Left to Write on September 19 as we discuss Mother, Mother. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Pin It Party #2

Before we get to anything today, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your heartfelt comments, emails, texts, phone calls and messages on yesterday’s post. They mean so much to my family and I.

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Lindsay is once again hosting a PIN IT PARTY, I joined in on the fun for the second one and I can’t wait to join the second. A pin it party is where we write a post with five posts (of our own) that we’d love to see pinned on pinterest. Then link up on Lindsay’s blog and see some other posts!

Without further ado, here are my 5 posts:

Designer Whey Chocolate PB & Jelly Protein Smoothie

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I still think this is my favorite smoothie!

Sweet Potato Bread

The best picture I ever got, sorry! I guess I will just have to make it again.

The best picture I ever got, sorry! I guess I will just have to make it again.

 

Joy the Baker’s Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate

The perfect cup.

The perfect cup.

Flour’s Oatmeal Maple Scone

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I’ve never made the glaze, but it is still wonderful!

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not pretty, but very tasty.

Not pretty, but very tasty.

Did any of these recipes strike your fancy? I can’t wait to see what you all linked up!

On Love and Loss

This is a post I hoped I would never have to write, and yet here I am writing it. Some days I hope that I will wake up and it will be a bad dream, but I know that is not the truth. [FYI there will be some talk about women’s cycles here, if you think that is TMI, then you probably should stop reading]

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Nick and I have an agreement, when we are going out and there will be drinks I will take a pregnancy test, just in case. Well we were pleasantly surprised when I took one on August 10 and it came out positive. The more the news sat with me, the more excited I became. Of course there are always fears when you go from one child to two, but I was giddy.

We shared the news with our close family and friends, only a handful, and they were just as excited as we are.

I came up with wonderful ideas for this years Christmas card and how we would share the news with everyone who didn’t know yet. I started thinking of ways to organize the guest room/nursery, and how to reorganize the downstairs and B’s room.

Then just as quickly as the first trimester nausea came, it left. For a week I didn’t tell anyone, and then I finally told Nick. I came up with reasons, chasing a toddler is exhausting and I wouldn’t notice the nausea. I wasn’t teaching 8th graders that had a hard time with understanding personal hygiene. Every pregnancy is different. But I knew, I just knew something was off. I really think I just didn’t want to admit it. {I think this article really reinforced what I was thinking}

This past weekend, I participated in a Sprint Tri with a group from my gym. I was only doing the run portion, which turned into more of a walk. About a half mile in to the 3.5 miles, I started having a cramp on the front of my stomach. It was weird and freaked me out. I walked until the last .2 miles of the race. I felt like I let my relay team down, but I also had already started worrying about the cramp.

Saturday night, I felt fine. Sunday during the day I felt fine. Sunday evening I noticed some brown spotting in my underwear. Not enough to be concerned, pregnant woman can spot through their entire pregnancy and have a healthy baby.

Then it started turning bright red. At this point it was 9 pm, B was in bed, and I was freaking out. I called my dad who was an OBGYN before he went into anesthesiology. He tried to sugar coat it, but pretty much told me red was bad. I called the OB’s office emergency line and they told me to sit tight. My first appointment for this pregnancy with my OB was the following morning at 9 am.

I tried not to google, but I couldn’t stop myself. Nothing was looking good. Nick and I decided to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

I went to my doctor appointment and told the nurse what was going on, she decided to have me go get an ultrasound done before I met with the doctor. This was my first vaginal ultrasound, and it was uncomfortable, but I watched the screen as the tech took pictures. I knew the moment the images popped up that the baby was too small for what was supposed to be 8 weeks. Then I watched her try to get a heartbeat, nothing. I couldn’t look anymore. I stared at the ceiling until she was finished, willing myself to not cry in front of a complete and total stranger. She told me the baby was measuring small and that as soon as the radiologist looked at the images and talked to my doctor then the doctor would call me.

The nurse told me they were unsure if the pregnancy was still viable. I needed to have blood work and schedule another ultrasound for the following week. After that was all set, I brought Nick and B home and went out.

I couldn’t stay in the house. I got coffee, I went grocery shopping. I walked around aimlessly at the store. I just needed to be alone, but with strangers, if that makes sense.

I was hoping I was wrong. I hadn’t had any cramps yet. The bleeding hadn’t gotten any worse. I was afraid to go to the bathroom, I was afraid to see what I wasn’t ready to admit.

Finally, I came home, and used the bathroom. I had started cramping, and there were clots, lots of them. I couldn’t move. I started crying. I knew I had lost the baby. {and I hate that word lost, like it reinforces that I did something wrong}

Nick called the doctor and we got the official news. Based on my blood work the pregnancy was not viable and I would have to let things run their course, and if they didn’t then I would need to schedule a d&c.

Nick was amazing, he called the majority of those who knew to tell them the bad news. He comforted me, he took care of B, he was the strength that I needed. I can’t even put into words, how much comfort he has brought to me in this time of need. He is/has been the most compassionate and caring person.

My heart and soul.

My heart and soul.

It’s hard for me to not blame myself, what could I have done differently so that this baby would survive? What if I stopped working out? What if I didn’t run on Saturday? What if I had a different diet? Maybe I shouldn’t have had any coffee…the what if’s and blame games are endless. A friend told me, as moms we fall in love with that pink second pink line. It’s not easier to have a miscarriage at 8 weeks just because it is an early miscarriage. Every time I go to the bathroom I am reminded of what is happening. Every time I have a cramp, I know that my body is taking the natural course, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m incredibly sad, but I am trying to be strong for B. He needs a mom who is present with him, and I need to not let this take me over. I am blessed with B, but we do want more children, and I know that some do not have the option to have even one child, I am not taking him for granted, but I am allowing myself to grieve over baby #2.

I am also saying the words that have scared me for as long as I can remember. I had a miscarriage.

{As you can imagine, I am not feeling the blogging/social media thing, it has helped me to put all my thoughts down, and tell those that I just didn’t have the heart to call and tell the story all over again. For now, I am taking a break, save for the already written posts and scheduled tweets. Thank you for understanding.}

Raising My Rainbow: The other side of bullying

I always loved the idea of a book club, the idea of getting together with some girlfriends over coffee or wine and desserts. Talking about a book, and generally having some adult conversation that flowed freely. I had a failed attempt at trying to lead the HLB Boston Book Club chapter, to be honest planning events that centered around books that I didn’t get to pick and not having a huge (aka only 1 or 2 people every time) turnout for any of the events I did plan was kind of disappointing, so I stopped doing it.

I read on Cait’s blog about the book club, From Left to Write. From Left to Write is an online book club where the members create a virtual discussion about the book and how it relates to their lives. I love the concept of this for a few reasons. It takes the school concept of a book report out of the equation completely and it gives readers who haven’t read the book a way to relate to the topics portrayed within the book.

This post is not a traditional review, but I am using my personal experiences and using a theme within the book as a writing prompt. One of the books that I was able to read was Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son
by Lori Duron. The book is about a family where one of the boys is gender-creative. It is a story about how her family navigates the challenges and privileges of raising a gender non-conforming son.

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After I read the book I thought about writing about how no matter what happens in his life, I will forever love him for WHO he is no matter who that person turns out to be, but I felt like that is the safe route for me.

I decided to pull from a part of my life that I do not talk about very often, teaching. Prior to the stay-at-home gig I was a teacher, I taught mostly 8th graders, but I fluctuated between 5th and 12th grade during my career. Something that I noticed between when I was in 8th grade and when I taught was how bullying has progressed.

When I was in middle and high school I got bullied a lot. I was short, I was taking growth hormone injections every day, and you know how it goes – when you are different you are a target. Initially, I fought back – literally, but it obviously didn’t stop the bullying. I found solace in developing a relationship with a high school guidance counselor and my vice principal. Their conversations and help saved me from years of torment, but they also helped me find my way as a teenager and proved to be sounding boards when I started making adult decisions about college.

Bullying is a whole new ballgame today with things like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc… As an adult, sometimes getting mean comments on my blog can affect me in ways I didn’t expect and I am almost 30 years old. Hearing about how pre-teens use the internet as a way to bully someone broke my heart, because there was absolutely nothing that we as teachers could do, at least not until the student told us about the bullying. At some of my jobs when a student approached a teacher about something that happened online there were repercussions for the bully.

One line stood out to me in the book: “The school [has] an obligation to take immediate and effective action to eliminate the hostile environment.” While I 100% agree with this statement, there are other components that need to also be in place. Parents need to talk to their children, completely invest in the conversation (that means put away the phone and turn off the tv) and find out what is going on in your kids lives. Opening the lines of communication from day 1 hopefully means that when your kids get older they will talk to you about the tougher stuff.

The second component is a bit harder and something that, unfortunately, is not really in your control, but finding a teacher or staff member that your child can trust and can talk to you is key. Whether it is their 6th grade science teacher or their guidance counselor, it is an important part of trying to help a student who is getting bullied and if there has to be teacher or classroom switches, that person can hopefully help make that transition smooth.

The third component is the actual student, he or she needs to be able to physically tell someone what happened. I had a student print out another students Facebook page, that student had written multiple statuses that were harassing another student. The school did take action and as far as I know that harassment stopped. However, it takes guts for a student to take action with online bullying. My hope is that all students know that someone will help them.

If you want more information, Lori and her husband Matt were on the Today show on Tuesday, and you can watch the interview here!

Bullying is a very heavy topic, so my question for you is not a tale about bullying, but how have you been able to overcome bullying or what is the support system you have?

This post was inspired by the memoir Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron as she shares her journey raising a gender creative son. Join From Left to Write on September 5 as we discuss Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son.
As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Full Disclosure: The links for the book are affiliate links.

Little Miss Sunshine Award!

Recently, Caroline from the Trendy Trainer nominated me for a sunshine award. This award is given to those who inspire and bring ‘sunshine’ into their lives. I am grateful that she though of me, I love Caroline’s posts, check her out if you’ve never read her bog before. It also doesn’t hurt that she is a fellow Boston blogger.

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Rules:

1. Include award logo in a post or on your blog.
2. Link to the person who nominated you.
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
4. Nominate 10 bloggers to receive the award.

Here are the questions that Caroline posted for me.

1. What’s your favorite city in the world?

Hands down, Boston. If I had to pick one outside of my own, it would be San Francisco for the West Coast and Washington, DC for the East Coast.

2. Apples or oranges?

Apples all the way! I love the fall, and I love baking with apples. Can’t wait to go apple picking this year, probably very soon.

3. Bacon or sausage?

Sausage. I usually only eat these with a special breakfast, although I will say that I prefer the patties. With my new discovery of baked bacon that might be a front-runner.

4. Are you an early riser or a late to bed (er)?

A little bit of both. 90% of the time I go to bed early, but since I do have the flexibility to take a nap during the day, if I have something going on, I don’t mind going to bed late.

5. If you could only do ONE exercise for the rest of your life would it be mind/body
(yoga, Pilates) or cardio/strength based (spin, crossfit, etc.)?

I would definitely pick cardio/strength based. I have barely done any yoga or pilates ever so that was kind of easy.

6. Last movie you saw in theaters?

The newest Star Trek, I actually really liked it. Nerd alert.

7. Favorite part of your body you like to train?

Arms & Back. I’ve never felt strong in those areas and now that I do, I love training them.

8. Worst date you’ve ever been on?

Probably in early high school, I went on a date with a guy to the movies, he fell asleep, didn’t talk to me after and started dating one of my friends a few days later.

9. Would you rather attend a fancy cocktail party or backyard BBQ?

A fancy cocktail party. I spend a lot of my time in gym clothes and at the park or home and it is nice to get all dolled up every once in a while.

10. I’ll finish on an adventurous note. Bungee jump, skydive or swim with the Great Whites?

Probably, skydive. I would take a boat to go see great whites…I am kind of a baby.

Here are my sunshine picks!
1. Caitlin at Cait Plus Ate
2. Elizabeth at On Tap for Today
3. Linz at Itz Linz
4. Becki at Fighting for Wellness
5. Leslie at And Her Little Dog Too
6. Kaitlin at For Love of Carrots
7. Maria at Pappa Don’t Preach
8. Amanda at Sistas of Strength
9. Betsy at The Everyday Warrior
10. Kat at Sneakers and Fingerpaints

11. (because I am a rebel) Jane at Live Every Week Like It’s Shark Week!

My 10 Questions!

1. Favorite breakfast food?
2. Biggest guilty pleasure (tabloid magazines? reality tv?)
3. If you could only have 4 meals for the rest of your life what would they be?
4. If you could only have 3 beverages for the rest of your life what would they be?
5. Favorite musician or band?
6. Favorite running distance?
7. If you had an unexpected night free, what would you do?
8. Are you more city or country?
9. Best date you’ve been on?
10. The craziest thing you’ve ever done. I am hoping for some great stories!

For everyone else, pick one of the 10 Questions I asked and answer below!