Mom’s Night Out: Why You Should Commit to a Truly Worry-Free Evening

It can get pretty complicated to plan a regular moms’ night out. Everyone’s operating on different schedules. Budgets are different. Bedtime for one family might be dinner time for another. Some moms have meetings. Other moms are just plain too tired to make the effort.

That’s why a friend of mine invented Worry-Free Wine Wednesdays.

mommys wine night

photo by basykes

The rules are simple: The hostess provides the wine and usually something non-alcoholic just in case someone is pregnant or a non-drinker. That’s the only non-negotiable. Guests bring a dish or dessert to share… or not. Some moms definitely go all out with stuffed baked brie cheeses or five layer cakes or other time-consuming things, but there’s always plenty of simple things like cheese and crackers or hummus. Moms in a rush might just grab a few pints of ice cream. And super stressed out moms sometimes show up empty handed, and that’s okay, too.

That’s the whole point. There are no worries. Show up late? No problem. Need to vent about your problems? No problem. Unshowered? No problem. Sometimes a new mom will need to bring a baby along. No problem. Sometimes the hostess will need to change the date. Again, no problem.

Heck, Worry-Free Wine Wednesdays aren’t even always on Wednesdays!

Because the beauty of Worry-Free Wine Wednesdays isn’t in the regularity – we used to meet monthly but now that our little ones are older there are months-long gaps. It’s not about the snacks, though those are nice, too. As is the wine, which is sometimes actually sangria or margaritas or some alternate grownup beverage. It’s not about the chance to dress up (which some moms do) or the chance not to dress up at all for once.

Worry-Free Wine Wednesdays are about mom support. We laugh and sometimes we cry and occasionally we do complain about our co-parents and our kids who are all the same age and go through the same periods of totally gnarly behavior. I remember talking about how to transition a baby from your arms to a crib at one of the first wine nights. At the most recent one, we talked about the way they’re all trying new ways to hurt our feelings when they’re angry and how close kindergarten seems.

I can’t recommend these evenings highly enough. Really, I can’t. What mom couldn’t use some words of encouragement from moms going through the same things – and a glass or three of wine? Maybe your wine night’s rules will be different. Maybe you’ll plan a monthly Worry-Free Margarita Shooters Monday. Maybe the hostess will be the one to provide the food. Whatever.

If you have to meet moms first before you can start up a wine night, do it. If you have to rally your troops and you can’t start meeting for a few months, that’s okay, too. The important thing is that you’re getting together and opening up and making motherhood a little less isolating for everyone in your circle. And that the only worries you bring to the evening are the ones that your mom tribe can help you through.

christa terry - mom meet mom

Pregnancy – 5 Tips to Help You Transition into Motherhood

Pregnancy is a pretty surreal time for mothers. Not only are you trying to plan for ‘the best nursery decor’, but you’re starting to think about what life will be like with a new family member. It’s a pretty shaded road ahead – filled with adventures and many unknowns. The truth – no mom can prepare fully for what’s to come. Every pregnancy is different and every child is unique. What all moms can do, however, is begin to take steps towards emotionally transitioning into motherhood, regardless of whether this is your first pregnancy or not. Below are a few steps to consider as you prepare for the changes ahead.


1. Find New Friends Now
– Sounds pretty weird, right? In a survey conducted by Mom Central Consulting, four out of five moms reported that they didn’t have enough friends and 58% of mothers reported feelings of loneliness. Pretty tough odds, huh? Transitioning into motherhood is no doubt exciting, but leaves many women feeling a bit isolated. You may have some great friends to fall back on, but there is a good chance that 1. those friends are not right down the road and/or 2. they are at a different stage in their lives. They may be single, married without children, or even married with children but their children are much older. By no means am I suggesting you ditch your lifelong friends, but instead, expand your friend roster. Get out there and start building your local village of support with moms and expecting moms down the road to make your social transition easier when your bundle of joy comes along. Start with Mom Meet Mom – we make it pretty fun and effortless for you. Test out our new search filters, which allow you to search for moms or expecting moms based on a variety of unique criteria.

2. Define Your Independent self – This may sound strange at first, but here’s the deal- you can fight it all you want, but in a few months you will change. You will become a mother and things will start to get a little crazy. You’ll need to adjust. For however many years you’ve worked hard to define your personality. Things are about to get shaken up and it’s important that you enter this new phase of your life with your head high, priorities at the forefront, and confidence in check. Make a list of your values, favorite hobbies, best friends, romantic pleasures, and life goals. The road ahead will be crowded with mom and work commitments that can eat your personality up if you’re not careful. Hang this list somewhere visible and begin to attach commitments alongside each line item.  Example: 1. Every month, my husband and I will have at least one date night (must find a sitter to make this possible/bring baby if necessary) 2. Every Saturday morning, I will get out and go for a long run 3. Find two moms nearby who I will click with and schedule playdates with….. the list will go on.

3. Begin to Figure Out Your Mom Values - For some strange reason, when we all become moms, especially for the first time, people come out of the woodwork with an abundance of tips/advice that can be, well, overwhelming. The truth – some advice is very important to hear out, while other things you would be better off figuring out on your own as good ol’ Mother Nature intended. The best way to prepare for this, is to do some research and start to define how you want to raise your child. Are you going to breastfeed? For how long? Are you going to feed your child organic foods, vaccinate him on schedule, let him cry it out in the crib? You may not have answers to these questions and the hundreds of others that will come up along the way, but it’s a good idea to find out what your baseline parenting style will be, so that when people do approach you with advice or feedback, you’re prepared to listen, or gracefully decline with self confidence as your driver. It’s also important to understand that you will change your mind about a lot of things and that’s OK. Realistically… every mom watches some of her “best laid plans” fall to the wayside at some point. Life is an adventure and flexibility can actually be quite rejuvenating.

4. If You’re Married, Start Dating – Your husband of course! The road ahead is pretty bumpy and exciting. You’re going to want a fun co-pilot to share the many adventures ahead. To prepare for the upcoming transition, dig deep into your relationship and identify the spark that brought you two together. Now more than ever it’s time to rekindle it. Sure, you will have your hormonal moments where you want to throw your husband out the window for absolutely no reason at all, but all the more reason to focus on quality alone time with each other. Turn off your cellphones, turn on your favorite background music and tune into one another. Make dinner together at home, order take out, or indulge by going out to a nice restaurant. This is also a great time to start having some conversations about how you will co-parent your child. It’s an opportunity to get to know and love dad, before he’s dad. As your due date approaches, it’s important to continue to invest in your marriage.

5. Learn to Cherish Moments – With a beautiful baby growing inside your belly, you are already beginning to experience life as a mother. And what we all discover really fast, is just how fast time passes. When I was pregnant with my first, someone told me ,”This is your chance as a woman to assist God in creating a miracle”. That comment changed my entire perspective. Life is too short to wish moments away and think too far ahead… “I can’t wait, only 4 more weeks until the baby is here!” Anticipation is healthy and wonderful, as long as you remember to stop and take in the moments. The more you do this throughout your pregnancy, the more you will do it when the baby is here.

Good luck fellow expecting moms. You’re gonna do awesome :)

 

Sometimes It Pays to Back Off (or Dads Do Things Differently)

why kids need dadsLike most moms, I’m guilty of occasionally swooping in to take over when the mister is minding the little ones. I think it’s something a lot of us do simply because, even if we’re working moms, we tend to spend more time with our kids – either by design or by circumstance. The logical conclusion being that we consequently have a better idea of what they want, need, think, and feel than dads or co-parents.

I won’t lie and deny that it’s probably true when it comes to medical appointments, class schedules, what they want for Christmas, and the names of their current best friends, but knowing that kind of stuff doesn’t necessarily make us more qualified in the moment to hand out snacks, pick school clothes, give a five minute warning, or issue time outs. Dads are not babysitters, hello. They can parent just as well as we can!

Here are five very good reasons to let dads (or co-parents) take the reigns:

1. It gives you a break. Some moms aren’t lucky enough to have involved co-parents. Take advantage of the fact that dad is keeping an eye on the kids and catch up on email, eat a snack in peace, or phone up that friend you’ve been meaning to call. Do not point an ear at the living room where the rest of the fam is playing Candyland or you’re not going to enjoy your break. If it sounds like chaos is erupting, trust dad to handle it.

2. Kids should know that time with dad is a special time – different than time with mom, but that’s okay. I’m not saying that a mom can’t be the ‘fun one,’ but let’s face it… we usually aren’t because we’re the ones who think about vitamins and the dishes and what pants with holes say about a person. Who’s more likely to take everyone out for pizza on a whim, really? You get the picture. So what if there’s nary a vegetable in sight at Saturday dinner when it’s dad’s turn to plan? So what if dad lets the kids wear Halloween costumes to Costo – in July?

3. Just like moms are always being told they’re failing their kids in some way by the media, dads are being told that they are little more than low functioning ape men incapable of fixing their kids’ breakfast or laundering the whites. Don’t contribute to the stereotype by jumping in whenever your co-parent tries to make an executive decision about mealtime, bathtime, or what socks go with what outfit.

4. Dads do things differently. It’s good for children and teens to see that there’s more than one way to solve a problem or keep boredom at bay. It might really drive you crazy to see how your co-parent handles craft time or hair washing or even certain social situations when you have shy kids, but zip that lip. Your way might be the more efficient way or the cleaner way but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most creative way or the most fun way.

5. Your little ones need to know that you and dad work as a team. They can’t rely on you to pop in to countermand dad’s orders – and it’s not a good idea to teach them that they can come to you whenever they don’t like dad’s rules, anyway. Whether the co-parent in your life is more of a disciplinarian than you are or a little more easy going, let them parent. If you have serious reservations about choices they’re making – short of anything resembling abuse, of course – don’t make an issue of it in the moment. You can talk about it after the little ones are in bed.

christa terry - mom meet mom

My Failure to Raise a Bilingual Child

I’m bilingual. Sort of.

I can get by in German – like if you dropped me in Berlin I could feed myself and find my way around – and I’m slowly making my way through the first Harry Potter book auf Deutsch, but my communication in that language is full of fumbling and stumbling. The main reason I even consider myself remotely bilingual is that because I learned my German early on, I don’t translate. For me, speaking German, even when I’m doing it badly, is more like speaking English than it is like speaking in the limited Spanish I know. I don’t have German memorized – it’s just sort of there in my brain.

So once upon a time I had grand dreams of raising my children to be German speakers.

It turns out this is incredibly difficult to do when you’re not rearing them in an environment where German is spoken consistently. And because my own German is so schlecht and I don’t have a bi-lingual parenting partner, it was difficult to keep at it when P. was just a little thing and I was delighted by anything she said at all. We just kind of trended toward English.

raising bilingual kids

P.’s first time out of the country in northern Germany

Now that Bo is here, I have a second chance, but frankly, my German is still pretty poor and so I’m not really sure how to pass the language on to him without mucking it up.

Back when P. was a baby, I thought I’d have my family to lean on in this regard but considering they are not local I can’t say it would have done much good to have them speaking German at her six or eight times a year and that’s it. And I was surprised when they didn’t just speak German to P. anyway, without my having to ask.

But I’ve since reconciled myself to my little ones’ current ability to only speak one language. It used to drive me crazy that my mom and my grandparents weren’t speaking German to P. Until, that is, I realized that it was more important for my 80 year old grandfather to be able to communicate with her than it is for him to help me undo the barrage of English she’s heard since she was born. My mom would rather play pretend with P. than give her a language lesson. That’s okay – I can definitely see where they’re coming from.

Like I said, maybe I have a second chance with Bo. Right now, I speak as much German with him as I can during the day when P. is at childcare. I’m looking into what it will take to send both of them to the German school in Boston. And if nothing else, talking to a mostly uncomprehending baby boy is at least helping me remember more and more vocab every day.

Maybe I’ll still get them speaking German eventually. Just as soon as I find the time to work on my own grammar.

christa terry - mom meet mom

The Shame Game

By now we are all acquainted with the mommy wars in all their flavors. Working moms versus stay-at-home moms. Attachment parenting versus traditional parenting. Vaccinating versus non-vaccinating. You name it, and there are angry, vocal factions on either side of the argument, each claiming that their way is better than the other group’s, and implying (or saying outright) that the other way is harmful to children, and almost never admitting that the moms on both sides of the argument might actually be doing the best they can with the skills and knowledge they have available to them.

To be sure, those arguments can cause stress, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that divisiveness between mom factions prevents us from getting together to fight for things that would benefit all of us (like, oh, I don’t know, paid maternity leave). But this post isn’t about that. Instead, I’d like to talk about something that I think is even more insidious – the growing culture of competitiveness and shaming within parenting factions.

First, a little bit about me. I’m pretty firmly in the hippie parenting camp, with a few notable exceptions – I have read the Positive Discipline book, I practice baby wearing (we actually don’t even own a stroller, though I think that might have more to do with my dislike for pushing things – one too many run-ins with a grocery cart), we eat local, sustainably-raised, organic food, and my older kid attends a co-op preschool. Breastfeeding. Extended rear-facing with the car seat. You know, crunchy. And I feel pretty good about those parenting choices – works for me, works for my girls, the Mister doesn’t mind…good to go. And this works in the face of criticism from more traditional parents – I can think, “It’s cool, they don’t know my kids’ temperaments well enough to understand why cry-it-out didn’t work for us,” or, “I’m really lucky that breastfeeding was pretty easy for us.” No big deal.

It’s much harder to ignore the criticism that comes from other moms who fall in the same parenting sphere.

Here’s my confession: although I had good intentions and all the equipment to use cloth diapers for daughter #2, other than a few days, I’ve had her in disposables. Initially, this was because *somebody* inherited her daddy’s skinny legs, and every darn time I put her in a cloth diaper, she would have massive lateral blowouts through the leg holes. Then she got a little bigger, I tried again, and we had fewer blowouts, but I just couldn’t keep up with the laundry. Plus the baby fusses more in cloth than disposable. And, honestly, I’m just tired. So we are in disposable diapers full time.

And I feel kind of lousy about it, you know? Like I want to hang my head in shame around other crunchy, hippie parents, and judge myself as inadequate before they have a chance to shame me. The worst thing is that my friends probably wouldn’t bat an eyelash at my use of disposable diapers. Everyone makes their choices and does their best, really, and at least among friends, it’s okay if my best is different from someone else’s best.

The problem is that I don’t exclusively interact with my friends. I read blog posts, participate in online forums, read the occasional parenting book, see friends-of-friends’ posts on social media. And I see messages like, “nothing in the baby’s mouth except a breast for the first two months,” and, “you should never feel angry when you discipline your child,” and, “don’t heat food in plastic containers or you’ll give your grandchildren fertility problems.” And I start to feel like not only is the list of requirements for good parenting much longer than I thought, but I’ve also, apparently, screwed up about a million things already. Heck, I think both my girls had pacifiers within a week of birth. And here’s the thing: although I recognize that the standards are outrageous, I buy into them because I don’t want to just be an adequate mom, I want to be a great one.

Externally, the shame culture is pervasive, though not always explicit. Buying into any one parenting style seems to carry with it the burden of accepting that style’s ideals. The latter means that, if you aren’t going to uphold the ideals, you’d better be able to explain why, and be prepared to be judged harshly or even be excommunicated from other adherents even if you can justify your choices. That wouldn’t be a big deal, except that failure to live up to your group’s expectations can mean that you are isolated from their support in those areas where you do agree – so an extended breastfeeding mom who, for whatever reason, needs to wean her child before the kid self-weans might not be able to get advice that doesn’t start with, “well you *should* let your kid self-wean, but…” – and any time “should” appears, it starts to feel like shaming.

Internally, the shame culture plays against what is most parents’ biggest fear – the fear that we are not doing the best for our kids. And, honestly, I don’t know about everyone else, but I started developing my notion of the ideal parenting style before I had kids. That is, before I knew how tired I would be sometimes, before I had a real sense of the time I’d need to invest in things like just getting everybody fed and cleaned and rested, before I found out that my kids would not be good travelers. In many ways, I set myself up to fail, because my ideal was based on a notion of physical, emotional, and financial resources that just doesn’t square with reality. Heck, I probably could live up to my ideal if I got as much sleep now as I did before having children! But recognizing that ones’ ideals are perhaps too idealistic doesn’t stop you from worrying. There’s just too much information out there about how things can go wrong. Maybe you buy into attachment parenting because its ideals meet up with your own, then wonder whether you’re ruining your kid’s ability to respond well to stress because co-sleeping just doesn’t work for you. It’s hard not to feel like you’re harming your kids.

For me, it starts to feel like I just can’t win – if I live up to the ideals I set for myself, not only will I lose friends because, I don’t know, I have the audacity to vaccinate my children, or whatever issue is current, but I’ll also die of exhaustion or become some kind of lost mechanobot parent more concerned about doing “the right thing” than with doing what actually feels right, and what works for my family. If I don’t, I’ll feel like I’m failing my wonderful little girls. I don’t want those to be my only choices! Those choices stink!

So I’m trying to cut myself – and those around me – a little slack. Reigning in the ideals a little. Recognizing that disposable diapers mean that I have a little more energy to use playing with the girls, working on Mom Meet Mom, or learning something new. Remembering that missing the mark today doesn’t have to mean screwing up for life. And forgiving myself for the ways I have been changed by becoming a mother.


This topic was requested by the inestimable Heidi Koss ( http://www.heidikoss.com ), whose amazing therapy quite literally saved my life when I suffered antepartum depression during my most recent pregnancy. If you are pregnant or had a baby in the last couple of years and think you might be depressed, speak up! Heidi works in the Seattle area, but you can check out http://www.postpartum.net/ to find support near you.

Want to request a blog topic? Send an email to !

julia high - mom meet mom

Featured Mom: Janelle Brandon, Writer, Doula, and Unschooling Mom

This week’s Featured Mom might open some eyes! Janelle, who blogs at http://janellebrandon.com, is not only totally open about her life experiences but is also out there sharing her perspective directly to help moms (and others) who’d like to walk a similar path. As doula, she’s making the world a better place for expecting, birthing, and new moms. As an advocate of unschooling, she’s making the world a better place for her kids. And as an unapologetic truth-teller, we like to think she’s making the world a better place for moms who might be wondering “Am I alone in this?” Her message? No, you’re not! Here’s the Q&A we were lucky enough to do with this awesome mom:

We found you because you wrote a fantastic article about how finding a
best friend isn’t exactly easy when you’re a grownup – and a mom.
What’s your experience trying to find *mom friends* in particular been
like?

In a word: scary! I find myself shielding myself from potential mom
friends because of the time and emotional commitment it might require.
When I do encounter a live one, I find myself picking her apart for
potential problems and I’m constantly looking for signs of
incompatibility. Sad, right?

You wrote application criteria for an ‘Amy Poehler-like best friend’ -
is there anything you’d add to that list when accepting applications
for a best mom friend?

Not add but I’d like to highlight the honesty part. If my kid does
something to your kid you don’t like, tell me. If I hurt your feelings,
tell me. Et cetera. It’s just so time consuming to go back and fix
mountainous problems in relationships than it is to work on them in
the moment!

Janelle Brandon - Mom Meet Mom

You’re a doula, which is awesome! For our readers who might not know
what that is, could you give a brief rundown of what a doula does and
why you’re so awesome?

I’m basically a birth best friend. I’ll help mom and her partner
devise their birth plan, point them to resources prenatally and
discuss any fears or problems that might block the mother from having
a good birth outcome. I’m also there continuously throughout labor and
delivery and in the early postpartum period helping the family
transition to this miraculous new phase of life with fewer bumps! It’s
fun to witness as families cross over the threshold into parenthood. I
get a major birth high and that’s why I keep going back for more! I’m
done having babies so sniffing brand new Earthlings is pretty
fantastic. So much hope in those little souls. I’m awesome because I’m
there helping at the birth. Sometimes to be awesome, you just have to
be present!

I’ve actually read your pregnancy and birth story – did those
experiences, which you discuss in frank detail, inspire you to become
a doula?

Absolutely. My husband and I never would have had the birth outcome we
had with both our children without our doula. It’s good to have a lot
of confidence and good vibes surrounding your birth and a good doula
provides that continuously.

Why should expecting moms look into birthing with a doula?

Because you can’t ever have a do-over with your child’s birth. It’s
best to plan for the best birth and a doula will help every step of
the way. Birth is messy, non-linear, emotional, and physical. And a
whole lot of love. Every woman deserves a shot at that. A doula is in
her corner safeguarding that outcome.

Speaking of frank detail, your blog is definitely no-holds-barred when
it comes to, well, everything. (Squatty potty? Whoa!) Why have you
decided to reveal what most people keep on the DL?

Yes, I like to verbalize what others have, I’m sure, experienced but
are embarrassed to talk about. I think that’s the only way to tear
down this unrealistic wall of motherhood that we all have built around
ourselves to a certain extent. I like to dig in and talk about the, I
guess literally, crappy side of motherhood among other subjects. I
think we can’t bond with each other’s common experiences until we let
down our guard, share our fears and go to that uncomfortable place. So
I lead women down that path of self-examination with my writing.

Janelle Brandon - Mom Meet MomYou’re unschooling, which is very cool but definitely an unusual choice. Tell us a little bit about unschooling and why it’s the right choice for your fam?

Unschooling just means that the parents act as facilitators instead of
having a traditional teacher/student relationship. We offer our
children a variety of experiences on a variety of subjects and when
they gravitate to an particular interest area, we focus more on that
than dividing all the learning subjects up equally. With that being
said, our first grader loves workbooks and so we make sure he has
worksheets on hand and we’re available to answer his questions when
they arise. He’s recently stated that he wants to be a chemist that
studies food so we make sure he has a chance to do inedible and edible
experiments in the kitchen.

We are a la carte parents and this has trickled into our approach to
education. Once we knew that each of our children have the capacity to
learn and didn’t have any developmental or learning disabilities, we
knew the world was their oyster. We do have certain areas that we have
to report to the school district and they’ll have to go through
standardized testing but we aren’t concerned about that as our kids
tend to be performing at or above the level of their peers thus far.

Unschooling gives us the opportunity to always be learning and loving
it. Learning takes place in the community, in the home, in our peer
groups and in inter-mixed age categories. Unschooling allows us to
break down those barriers and have an authentic experience alongside
our children. We feel very fortunate that this is an option
economically for our family. Unschooling echos our values. We know
it’s not right for everyone but it’s going great for us!

And finally, what’s your mom super power?

Being honest with my children. Sharing my faults and taking
responsibility for my behavior. Telling them when I feel scared, or
when I was once bullied. Being an open book for them let’s them know
their mother isn’t perfect and I don’t expect perfection from them
either. My superpower is being perfectly and proudly imperfect.

Want to be a part of our Featured Mom series? Email christa at mommeetmom.com to find out how!

Five Things I Learned from The Orange Line – and Every Other Mom Can, Too

Recently I read The Orange Line, co-authored by Jodi Ecker Detjen (who guest blogged for us here), Michelle A. Waters, and Kelly Watson, a book for women who work – very much geared toward moms who work. That would be moms like me, and if that also describes you I highly recommend you read it, no matter where you are in your professional or personal journey.

the orange line - working mom booksThe book addresses some of the self-limiting behavior that’s pretty unique to women and really screws up our best intentions to achieve a real, workable balance between what we do and want personally and what do and want professionally. Opting out is the answer for some, but sometimes it’s less of an answer than a last resort for working moms who just aren’t making it work.

This is a book about how to “create a robust, whole life that integrates work, family, and self.” It’s full of more than just stories – it’s also full of strategies and solutions. Here are five concepts that stood out as I read:

We’re All Susceptible to the ‘Feminine Filter’

Obviously this book is geared toward an audience who wants to or has to work, but I feel like one of the most important takeaways was that women – and especially moms – are hoodwinked into looking at life through a Feminine Filter. Most of us feel an immense amount of pressure to succeed at:

  • Looking good
  • Being nice
  • Doing it all

And that’s on top of everything else we have to do, like teaching our kids manners and meeting deadlines. The filter can manifest in all sorts of ways… like saying yes to everything, and I mean everything, we’re asked to do as moms and professionals and friends and people. Especially when the task at hand seems, as defined by popular culture, more suited to women. One anecdote that really resonated with me was:

As Olive, a 48-year-old IT Director, noted when she was asked by a roomful of male colleagues to order lunch for a meeting, “The uterus is not a food-finding device.”

Working moms, have you ever noticed it’s almost always a woman who’s tidying up the break room, clearing papers off the reception chairs, ordering lunch or cutting the birthday cake? We’re so nice we never ask for that promotion, instead we just hope it will come our way once someone notices how we’re doing it all. At home, we think that no one can do it as good as we can it doesn’t even make sense to ask for help. And the whole time, we’re either killing ourselves to be beautiful or getting depressed because society is telling us we’re not beautiful enough.

Women (and Moms) Don’t Have to Be the Default

Yes, pay disparities between women and men mean that it makes more sense for women to prioritize family life over work. And there’s the fact that it’s us ladies who have the babies. But I think a lot of moms – before they are ever moms – just assume they’re going to drop out of the work force or scale back or have to sacrifice a great career for something less cool but more flexible without ever really thinking about why. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing inherently wrong with those choices when they are actually choices and not just doing what’s expected of us. And then there’s the housework. Stats say that even as women are earning more, they’re still doing the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare. I know it’s true in my house. It doesn’t have to be that way, though!

Treating Yourself Like a Priority is OK

Career moms are constantly depicted as being in a tug of war between work and family, but isn’t someone missing in that equation? Like, um, the mom? One message I found particularly uplifting was that changing how I think about “balance” can have a big impact not only on my happiness, but also my satisfaction when it comes to home AND work.

Choice is great, but why is the conversation always about making the tough choices… and not the women making the choices. Treat yourself like a priority and you’ll find yourself delegating some of those tasks you were doing by default, saying no more often, and thinking strategically about your life. The book isn’t advocating being selfish in a mean way – just saying that including yourself in the equation instead of being a martyr at home and in the office is a good thing. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in, either.

Guilt Is Holding You Back

It doesn’t matter what you want to accomplish as a mom, guilt is probably holding you back because it’s not letting you go whole hog. If it’s building a career, the thought of spending some time every day away from your kids can be soul crushing. If it’s becoming a SAHM mom, the thought of eventually having to re-enter the workforce way behind peers may be terrifying. If it’s starting your own business so you don’t have to make either of those choices, well, that can feel selfish and then you’re guilty about that. Reframing works great here, too.

Instead of saying, “I can’t be a surgeon because the hours are too demanding for someone who wants kids,” you can say, “I’m going to study to be a surgeon and while I’m at school I’m going to investigate all sorts of ways to practice a surgical career on my terms.”

It’s Not Impossible to Have It All if You Embrace Imperfection

Sometimes life is messy. Sometimes living a good life means doing the best with what you’ve got. And sometimes it’s great even when it veers off in an unexpected direction. We can’t do it all – that’s a recipe for burnout in every sphere. But we also can’t undermine our own efforts by doing less than we know we’re capable of because we’re too afraid to do anything that might not be 100% perfect. Or burn out chasing perfection.

So get messy and forge your own path. It’s not going to be perfect, but it’ll be yours and you’ll be calling the shots. Maybe your house is messier than you might like… because you’re spending your time doing other more important things. Maybe you have to do some extra self-promotion to convince your boss that you can be an asset AND leave the office every day at five on the dot.

For me, the best part of the book can be summed up in this excerpt:

Living The Orange Line is about being strategic about life. It’s not about winning; it’s about living a whole life… But to do that, you have to train. Just like when you train for a marathon, you have to build up your skill set.

The Orange Line isn’t another glum look at why women are not succeeding or how it’s impossible to have it all. And thank goodness for that, because I am just about sick to death of those. Unlike way too many other books for moms and women, it’s a book full of tips (e.g, how to build a support system and embrace imperfection), tricks (e.g., creation your own one-of-a-kind way of working and mothering), and strategies for living a better life when you want to explore all your options as a person, mom, spouse, and professional – and kick ass in the process.

How I Ended Up Nursing in Public Unapologetically

public nursing - breastfeeding support

My preemie P. took a long time to get the hang of nursing. Like, a really long time. Months of pumping to keep my milk supply up and to produce the supplemental bottles she downed after every breastfeeding session. It was frustrating and it was exhausting since my tiny baby stayed on an ‘every three hours’ schedule for a long time. Doctor’s orders.

What it all meant was that for the first quarter of her life we carried bottles everywhere. Nursing in public was no big deal because I rarely nursed in public. Between P.’s weak latch and my awkward attempts to position her and her tendency to fall asleep, it wasn’t worth the trouble. Sometimes it didn’t seem like it was worth the trouble when we were at home, alone.

So on one unseasonably warm spring day when I was sitting outside at a café with a friend and P. got to fussing, naturally I had a bottle handy. Feeding her should have been no big deal.

Except P. wouldn’t take her bottle after repeated tries on my part to get her eating. On the off chance the nipple was blocked, I unscrewed the ring. The milk had curdled in the sun. No wonder she wasn’t taking it.

My choices were taking the long walk home while she cried with hunger, finding a spot nearby (and equally public) to feed her, or nursing her right then and there. I chose the third option because I couldn’t think of anywhere in town where there wouldn’t be someone walking by.

And anyway, I had a blanket in the stroller that would make – I thought – a perfect nursing cover. Except that P. wouldn’t latch on with it over her head. She kept yanking it off. I also quickly realized that even with a makeshift nursing cover over my shoulder, the people inside the café could see straight into P.’s blanket fort.

So I slipped the blanket off of me and off of P. and she ate right there in public. As offensive as that might already be to some, she managed to make it even worse by repeatedly popping off my breast to look around. I was probably giving all of Main Street the free peak of a lifetime.

I couldn’t have cared less.

Here I was, nursing my baby like any other mom while drinking a cappuccino at a sidewalk café. And she was doing it, getting her fill. Taking breaks, sure, with her weak latch and all but suddenly we were working together and getting it done. I don’t know what was showing and what wasn’t.

24 hours earlier I had made the decision to call it quits. Breast feeding wasn’t working, not even with all the breast feeding support in the world. I would pump and P. could have the occasional formula bottle and we’d just need to make it to a year. I was tired and spent and ready to wash my hands of the whole idea that we’d ever get it. I guess P. and the universe had other plans.

From then on I was so ecstatic to just be able to feed my baby that I wasn’t going to hide behind bottles just because someone might think nursing is icky. I wanted to kick the bottles to the curb forever, anyway. And then when my second came along and wouldn’t take a bottle, I wasn’t going to hide away in my house for the next six months – or, ugh, feed him in the bathroom. Gross.

Which isn’t to say that I “whip them out” or am in your face or am even given people the same kind of gratis show I did that day on Main Street. If you see some nip, it means you were really searching for it.

And that strikes me as a lot less acceptable than publicly feeding a baby.

christa terry - mom meet mom

From One Hopeful Allergy Mom: A New Peanut Allergy Patch in the Works?

Parents of Teenage Girl Speak Out About Death

A few weeks ago I read about the death of a young teenage girl. She was at summer camp and ate a rice crispy treat that apparently contained peanut allergens. Her father, a doctor, was with her at the time and despite his persistent attempts to save his daughter – administering three epi-pens - this young woman lost her battle and passed away far too young.

As a mother of a toddler with severe food allergies that include peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs, stories like this weigh heavily on my heart. I instantly begin empathizing with all of the parents out there who have buried their children because of an honest accident. I then naturally walk over to my son and hug him closely.

Food allergies are difficult, to say the least. Not only do you have to worry about what your child has taken from your cabinets, but you are also burdened with the threat of what other children grab out from their cabinets.  It’s scary, yet much more common today. My sister who is a teacher informed me that last year, 56 out of 60 classrooms in her school hosted children with nut allergies. Although I never want any mother or child to live a life of fear, deep down inside, this growing number brings me hope. The reality – the more prevalent the issue, the more money and research that will go into finding a cure.

And it seems that there may actually be a cure around the corner. Recently I received an email from PeanutAllergy.com. Some emails come through my inbox with recipes, others with horrible stories like the one above, and some reporting on studies. This email was exciting: “Will There Be a Peanut Allergy Patch? A worldwide study is being conducted which could lead to a patch for peanut allergy sufferers. The patch would help people become desensitized to peanuts.”

There is in fact a global peanut allergy study that involves the testing of a new patch. And though it may take a few years to reach conclusions, the allergy community is very hopeful. The purpose of a peanut allergy patch would be to desensitize the patient over time, with an ultimate aim to eventually make people who have a peanut allergy tolerant of peanuts, even if they take off the patch.

This is not the only study that is underway. There have been and continue to be similar studies that involve a process of desensitizing patients by administering small doses of the allergen orally over time. These studies are proving hopeful for many patients, though not for others. A few participants have experienced reactions ranging from minor to anaphylaxis.

Although it’s too early to tell whether the patch will be ‘the cure’, this allery mom is hopeful. My son is still very young, so I pray each day that he will outgrow his allergies. I have to say, it feels pretty good to also be able to pray that we will find a cure soon, should he not.

I would love to hear from fellow allergy moms out there. How do you feel about the ongoing studies? Would you enroll your child in a food allergy study?

meg gerritson - Mom Meet Mom

Featured Single Mom Sensation, Kerri Zane

All you single moms put your hands up for this week’s featured mom, Kerri Zane.  For those of you who may not know Kerri, she is an Emmy award-winning twenty year executive TV producer, healthy living expert, single mom advisor, spokesperson, speaker, and Amazon best selling author. This single momma of two beautiful daughters lives in Long Beach California and can be spotted all over the country appearing on morning talk shows and keynoting major events. We were able to snag her for this exclusive interview.

Let’s get personal right off the bat. You were married two times. Tell us a bit about these marriages and help us understand why they didn’t work out.

Wow! You don’t pull any punches. Though I dated my first husband for 5 years we were married for a short time. My second husband I met and married within 6 months and we stayed together for 12 years. So, no rhyme or reason there. I would have to say that I believe I chose similar men, neither really a good fit for our personality types.

You have two beautiful daughters. How have you lead them through these experiences?

I am blessed with two amazing daughters who never went through the “terribles” at two or in their teens. I believe it is the unquestionable knowing that I love them unconditionally and that they can trust me implicitly for anything and everything that makes our bond so strong. I also think that on some level they like parenting me as much as I parent them. In many respects we treat each other as equals. They appreciate the confidence I have in them that they will make the right choices.

  

You’ve created quite a brand for yourself as a single mom powerhouse. What led you to choose this path and how has it been for you?

Experiencing divorce is a trauma. For me I felt very alone, afraid and unsure of myself on so many levels. I wanted to create a space and a place for other single moms going through the same experience to feel comforted by the fact that what they are going through is not uncommon and there is a support for them should they choose to reach out.

Based on your Amazon reviews it looks like your book has been a serious guiding tool for single moms everywhere. Heck, I loved your book and I’m a married mom! Why don’t you give our audience a brief overview of It Takes All 5 and your 5 Finger Philosophy.

My book, “It Takes All 5: A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding the REAL One” is divided into three sections each containing 5 important concepts to master.  When put into practice they can help single moms heal their inside and outside.

The 5 finger philosophy is a guide to help women finally find not just ‘the one’ but ‘the REAL one’ for a happily even after “REAL”ationship.

Having worked with so many single moms, what would you say the number 1 challenge is for single moms across the board?

The most challenging issue for single moms is pulling herself back together, feeling whole and ready to re-enter the world of mating and dating with confidence.

We have many single mom users on Mom Meet Mom. Do you have any specific advice for these women as it relates to getting out there and getting social with other moms?

Don’t be afraid to reach out and build your village. There are no unimportant or silly questions and connecting with other moms is a wonderful way to make likeminded (and quite possibly lifelong) friends. It’s also important to understand their is no shame in asking for help. You don’t get extra gold stars for doing it all yourself, so don’t get all stressed about it. Share the load with other moms.

What has dating been like since your divorce?

I have a saying, “Dating is a journey, not a means to an end.” Single moms have had our kids and our white gown moment. Now it’s time to chill. There is no rush to get to the altar.  So rather than testing every guy you meet to see if he qualifies as “the real one,” enjoy the experience of learning something from every person you  meet. Even if its just that you don’t want to date someone like him again.

As a busy mompreneur, how do you set aside time for yourself and what do you do with that time?

I make a point of doing a 60 minute workout every single morning. Not only is it good for my body, but it is my form of meditation. It clears my head.

What’s your mom super power?

That’s funny, I never thought of having super powers. But I have to say I am a heck of a multi-tasker!

Aside from being an inspirational success for single moms everywhere, you are an educated lady. Talk to us a bit about your education and how it’s guided you to where you are now.

I received a BA in Sociology from UCLA and an MA in Spiritual Psychology from USM. My education has been invaluable in assisting single moms as they navigate undoubtedly one of THE most challenging times in their lives.

I noticed that you also have become a certified personal trainer and weight management consultant. How does health fit into your busy life?

For a while I thought I’d become a personal trainer, but the book and single mom advising took off. It’s an adjunct to my skills and I’m happy to share all I  know about nutrition and fitness with my clients.

You are running a pretty awesome webinar series. What will single moms out there gain from signing up?

Yes. I am so excited about my upcoming From STUCK to Success: How to Divorce The Drama & Become A Single Mom Super Star Project.  This webinar platform allows me to share with lots of moms, what I normally do for clients one on one. It’s geared for moms who might be Contemplating divorce, in the midst of a divorce, or still reeling from a divorce. Those feeling stigmatized by society for suddenly being single again or worried about how their kids are handling the divorce, or trying to figure out how to talk to them about dating after divorce

For anyone interested in learning more I encourage them to Join me for the FREE Call Wednesday, September 11 5pm Pacific | 8pm Eastern

Here’s the Opt-in link

http://bit.ly/17p8oZG