How My ‘Inner Child’ Is Helping Me Connect With My Teenage Son

It’s difficult being a parent. For me, with a newly minted teenage son, it’s doubly challenging because while I am generally a serious person, my son is not. He is playful, loves to sing, prefers YouTube to Hulu, and the stage to sitting behind a laptop writing — my preferred pastime. We both like to read, except very different genres. At the end of the day, my son is just a normal kid in many ways. He enjoys hanging out with friends, telling Alexa to fart, teasing his sisters, and losing brain cells watching YouTube influencers.

I am grateful he has another parent, my wife, who understands him better. She plays around with him more than I do. She laughs at his jokes — the ones I just don’t understand. They enjoy watching the same television shows (except for YouTube) like Star Wars and the Mandalorian. I am almost forty years old and far from being in touch with my inner child.

This is something I’ve struggled with my entire life, but especially since his birth fourteen years ago. Getting down on the floor and playing with him using my imagination didn’t come easy for me when he was little, and I’m fully convinced there is a part of my inner child which needs healing. My childhood was spent saddled with overwhelming adult responsibilities, and not much opportunity to be imaginative. When it came to playing with my toys it was all about my Cabbage Patch dolls and my Barbies, alone.

While my son’s teenage years are vastly different from my own, there is a carefree approach that he has to life, one that I am still searching for myself. 

Writer and motivational speaker Diana Raab has a few suggestions. In an article for Psychology Today, she says there are 10 ways to help  get in touch with your inner child:

– Keep an open mind.

– Spend time with children.

– Look at old photos to bring back memories of your childhood. 

– Spend time doing what you truly enjoy.

– Be playful.

– Engage in laughter.

– Write a letter to your inner child.

– Engage in creative play.

– Journal about special moments from your childhood.

– Engage in meditation and creative visualization.

Raab notes, “Being in touch with your inner child is a safe way to take a break from everything that’s going on in the world. The inner child thinks positively and believes in the possibilities in everything. If you put yourself in ‘child mode,’ you may find that you become more open to the magnificent opportunities that exist all around you.” 

In The Genius of Play, Child Development and Play Expert Kathleen Alfano suggests carving out time in your schedule specifically for play — even if it’s just to daydream and decompress. Smiling and laughing throughout the day can go a long way, in case you needed an excuse to look at funny memes and videos. And, she says, “Cultivate a happy, joyful, positive attitude, full of gratitude for even the smallest, everyday things.” 

In terms of being more playful with our kids, Alfano’s suggestion is: “Spend time with the children in your life, observing them as they play, listening to their conversation, and following their train of thought.” In my son’s case, that’s going to mean listening to his jokes and having a front-row seat to the musical theater that goes on while he’s doing his chore of washing dishes.

I focus on his ability to have and hold onto responsibilities, things that will make him (I hope) into a hardworking young man. He cannot live at home forever, so he needs the tools to make it — the real-life parts that will make him successful once he’s on his own. Yet I know there is a balance, a way in which I can teach him both. I can teach him how to cook a meal from start to finish and I can sit with him and watch his Saturday morning musical show without putting in earplugs. I can take a few weeks and read Harry Potter with him, or Concrete Rose, and have a discussion.

At the end of the day, I need to take a step back and out of the kitchen, or lift my head from my writing to hear his song from start to finish, including the accompaniment of his keyboard. When he breaks out into this John Legend cover every Sunday afternoon, I stand outside of his door listening closely. Maybe next time, I’ll open his door and act as his backup singer.

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My Husband And I Grope Each Other In Front Of Our Kids, And Here’s Why

My husband and I grope each other constantly. I don’t think a day goes by without at least one of us copping a feel. I say this proudly because after almost 20 years of being together, we are still hot for each other. And I don’t see any reason to hide this from our kids. 

Let’s be honest, keeping up with intimacy once you add kids to a marriage gets extremely challenging. You don’t have near the time or energy you used to have to focus on your spouse. And that can often mean that your sex life slowly dwindles down to nothing. So my husband and I will do just about anything to tend to the remaining embers of our childless sex life.

Yes, we hug each other for no reason, share lingering kisses in passing and cuddle up on the couch. But we also grab each other’s butts, purposely rub our bodies against each other, and cop a feel on various body parts. Although, the cop a feel part we usually do behind a counter, in the pantry or when we think the kids aren’t looking.  

We aren’t tonguing each other down and grinding in front of our kids. It’s almost always super casual and all in fun. It happens in the midst of mundane, everyday tasks like doing the dishes, folding laundry or making a meal. I mean, can you blame me for wanting to grope my husband when he is in the middle of washing dishes?!?!

We see groping each other as showing our love and affection in a quick, fun way. It’s like little snacks throughout the day to keep us looking forward to the meal to come behind closed doors. And no, we don’t have sex every night, so get your mind out of the gutter.

Now, based on a quick google search I did of married couples and groping, it seems I may be in the minority when it comes to liking my husband groping me and returning the favor. I will admit the word in and of itself is not the sexiest sounding word. And granted, groping is not the most romantic way to get in the mood. So, I get it if groping is not your cup of tea.

What works for my marriage may not work for your marriage. PDA might make you really uncomfortable. Or the idea of your spouse groping your behind might be a total turn off. But I can bet that every person in a relationship wants some form of physical affection from their partner. 

The way I see it, it’s a good thing that after 20 years, four kids, and lots of ups and downs, we can’t keep our hands off of each other. A little butt grabbing can go a long way in a marriage. It reminds me that my husband still thinks I am hot and still wants me. The day my husband stops is the day I start to worry that something is wrong.

We also bicker and fuss at each other in front of our kids over normal marriage things. They need to see that your partner can be your favorite person and still annoy the crap out of you. And you can fuss one minute and want to kiss each other the next. That is what real every day love is really like. 

I don’t want my kids to confuse the unrealistic grandiose romantic gestures they see in movies and TV with real life. That doesn’t mean there is zero romance going on. That just means that the majority of marriage is raising kids, working, keeping a house running, washing and folding clothes, cooking meals … and sometimes a grope here and there is how you let your spouse know you still see them and want them.

I want my kids to see the ups and downs of a healthy relationship. There aren’t many grand romantic gestures happening over here. Just everyday little moments that add up to a happy marriage. So I don’t hesitate to grab my husband’s ass even when my kids can see me doing it.

My kids rolling their eyes and yelling “ewwwww” brings me pure delight. I know they do it all in fun. And my husband and I never fail to point out how lucky they are to have parents that actually enjoy each other.

The way I see it, we are being the example of what we want for our kids. My husband and I are the barometer from which our kids will develop their future attitudes about sex and intimacy. I don’t want my kids to feel shame around physically expressing their attraction to their partner. I want my kids to see that there are multiple ways to be intimate in a relationship and it’s not always something that happens behind closed doors.

Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t tonguing each other down or feeling each other up. We do have boundaries. But I see nothing wrong with my kids seeing us getting handsy with each other just as I see nothing wrong with them seeing us have respectful disagreements. It’s so very important that they see all sides of our relationship.

Whether you agree with groping your spouse in front of your kids or not, I think we can agree that parents should be mindful of the relationship example they set for their children. Children deserve to be in a home where their parents exhibit love and affection towards each other. And every relationship will have its own version of what that looks like. So don’t judge me for groping my husband and I won’t judge you.

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My Authoritarian Upbringing Made Me Afraid To Discipline My Kids

“Look, I can’t always be the bad guy,” my husband expressed, exasperated as once again he had to raise his voice at our four-year-old son and haul him off to his bedroom to calm down. At the climax of a massive temper tantrum, our son had hurled random objects within his reach over something that seemed minute to us but was apparently rage-inducing for a preschooler. He had held his ground when asked to pick up said objects.

Mere minutes later, our little guy had reappeared in front of me, ruddy cheeks with a faint trace of tears in his eyes, and turned on the charm. “Mommy, I love you so much!” he said with an impish smile. I couldn’t help but respond with a hug with a big smile.

“See, he always runs to you after he gets in trouble,” grumbled my husband. “I need you to back me up.”

“OK, OK,” I relented. “I’ll try to be firm.” I totally got that we needed to be on a more united front when it came to discipline. And spending 24-7 with each other due to our daycare closing for half a year due to the pandemic only made the issue more urgent. Truth is, it wasn’t so easy for me to find the balance between nurturing and setting limits.

You see, I was raised in an environment in which I was afraid to speak much of my childhood. My immigrant dad took Asian “tiger parenting” to an extreme, ruling over his family with an iron fist. It was drilled into me that absolute obedience was expected and that the expression of emotion, especially those negative, was forbidden and considered selfish.

When my son was born, I promised him that I would nurture him to the greatest extent of my abilities and ensure that he feels loved and valued every moment. I wanted him to enjoy a relatively carefree childhood, learn to assert himself, and grow to be a well-balanced adult equipped to succeed in any field. “I want his childhood to be the opposite of what I experienced,” I explained to my husband.

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I’ve found immense fulfillment in caring for our son and enjoy heaping affection and encouragement on him. Determined to give him free agency in everyday decisions, I often consult him on which playground we should visit, what we ought to eat for lunch, and what games we would play. I’m happy to play the “first matey” to his captain in our pretend pirate games and be the student to his “coach” when we play basketball. I’ve made every effort to build up his “self-esteem,” a mystical Western concept that had been out of reach for me through my own childhood.

“Self-esteem — how superficial and meaningless,” my dad had scoffed when I suggested that I sought to instill it in my son, not in the inflated sense of the word but a healthy level. For me, despite an Ivy League education and MBA, my wavering sense of self-esteem meant that I was unable to progress in approximately half of the jobs I took on, resulting in job hopping that lasted through my 30s. I finally landed my first senior leadership role after a very deliberate effort to convince myself of my abilities and project confidence.

But I could still barely bring myself to raise my voice or utter a harsh word to our son, even when he was at his brattiest. Seeing the look of shock and hurt on his face the few times I managed to harshly scold him shattered my heart and triggered me, bringing back memories of how deflated and voiceless I had once felt.

I became aware I was becoming an indulgent parent. But it seemed like today’s parenting conventions affirmed my parenting style. At preschool, the teachers always “redirected” the kids when they showed bad behavior and were not allowed to punish. I read how even time-outs were now considered traumatic for children.

For the most part, our son seemed reasonable relative to his age group and threw tantrums on an infrequent basis. But when he raged, he did so with a frightening force that resulted in him delivering shockingly hard blows with his little hands and fists. A few times when we made him calm down in his room, he hurled nearly a room’s worth of toys and even furniture at the door. After the maelstrom concluded, we opened the door to find the bedroom completely disheveled and our son on his bed glaring at us.

Admittedly, I was concerned. I doubted that teachers would cater to his emotions once he reached kindergarten the next year. I didn’t want him to epitomize the “only child syndrome.” More critically, I needed to prepare him for the real-world, one that is fraught with challenges, disappointments, and detractors, but also one that presents boundless opportunities.

I’m happy to report that in recent months, we’ve made progress as a family. Avoiding yelling whenever possible but not beating ourselves up when we find ourselves raising our voices, my husband and I try to stay calm and firm when we need to intervene. We are doing our best to explain to our son the ramifications of his behavior and give him the chance to reflect on and convey his emotions once he’s calmed.

It was actually our four-year-old who helped craft the approach. After one particularly bad tantrum that led to much emotion on all sides, I could tell he continued to feel out of sorts hours later. “Can you tell me what’s wrong?” I asked gently. “You seem sad.”

“It made me really sad when daddy yelled so loud,” he expressed earnestly. In this incident, I had responded in my typical way, fading into the background while leaving my husband to assert authority.

“What would you like us to do instead when you’re being really bad?” I enquired.

“Just tell me to breathe and calm down and tell me how I emptied your bucket,” he suggested earnestly, referring to the popular children’s book that describes how each person has a bucket of happy thoughts that can be spilled and refilled. I was impressed by his maturity in offering up such a recommendation, which confirmed to me that although young children are challenged in managing their emotions, they can also possess an ability to reason that we often underestimate.

We are increasingly approaching discipline in a way that works for us — a way that I believe to be democratic and emotionally intelligent while also teaching, guiding, and setting healthy limits. My husband and I have just about made it to the point at which we are approaching discipline as a team.

The entire concept of discipline no longer induces a high level of anxiety within me. Perhaps I could even thank my authoritarian upbringing for driving me to be so cognizant of the various parenting styles and their implications. And my husband is pleased to be able to play the “hero” in our son’s words rather than the bad guy.

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Mom Shares Heartbreaking, Yet Relatable Picture Her Son Drew Of Her Working

Their exchange will feel familiar to too many of us

Mom and Flexable CEO Priya Amin is like most moms trying to work from home with kids at home. She shared a heartbreaking and relatable picture her son drew after an exchange one day, and it’s received a ton of attention because, it seems, we’re all very much feeling the same way.

Amin shared the picture and explanation on LinkedIn in December of a drawing her 6-year-old son, Kirin, made for her. It was a drawing of a parent at work and a child looking on. The child says, “Mommy are you done?” and the mother replies, “No,” without looking back. It’s what had actually happened between the two of them ten minutes before he gave his mom the photo.

Priya Amin

“At first, without looking at it, I was like ‘ohh that’s so cute!'” Amin tells Scary Mommy. “But when I actually looked at it, I realized he had gone back to his room and drawn out our interaction from before — and it broke my heart.”

The mom-of-two said she shared the image with colleagues who encouraged her to write a blog post. “I chose to share the blog originally via a LinkedIn post because I knew this was something universally felt by parents everywhere right now, and we’re all feeling like we’re shouldering this alone.”

The picture resonated with thousands, and it eventually went viral. Amin says she didn’t expect that sort of reaction when she shared it but understands it’s an exchange that happens dozens of times a day in one form or another as parents attempt to balance work and home full-time.

Priya Amin

“I started my company Flexable four years ago because I was personally struggling with the issue of childcare falling through for myself and now childcare support is even harder to find because of COVID,” she explains. “Parents everywhere are struggling to juggle home and work obligations and it’s causing massive burnout.”

Amin explains how she started Flexable and how it’s helping parents — especially during the pandemic.

Working with other companies and moms gives Amin a unique position to offer advice we all so desperately need right now.

“In terms of tips for other parents going through this right now, I’d say please be open and honest with your employer and lean on your team and your organization as much as you can to support you,” she recommends. “Right now, we can’t lean on friends and family, or our daycares and schools or other local support structures like we used to. The more we all reach out to our organizations with a cohesive rallying cry that, ‘this is too hard to try to figure out alone — I need your help and support,’ the more organizations will be willing to listen.”

Priya Amin

She’s right. The days of women pretending we have it all together (or pretending we don’t have a life outside of work at all) are over. We need help and the more this conversation happens, the more employers and colleagues can understand the severity of what is happening — especially to women — and what they can do to offload some of the burden and stress consuming us.

The post Mom Shares Heartbreaking, Yet Relatable Picture Her Son Drew Of Her Working appeared first on Scary Mommy.

‘Fourth And Final’ Feels Right For My Family, But I’m Still Very Sad

As a mother to four incredible, healthy children, you might assume that it would be easy for me to say that I am absolutely done with having children. Surely, a mother such as myself has no right to grieve the end of my childbearing years. I should gracefully bow out, and pass the torch to the 20-somethings with big dreams and thin wallets.

Holding my fourth baby, my precious little boy with a smile that lights up his whole face and a temper to match my own, I swear I can feel my heart constrict at the thought of his “lasts.” The last time he drifts to sleep while nursing in the dark, or the last time he will cling to my leg pleading silently with his beautiful hazel eyes to pick him up. However, it’s quite the opposite.

I am all too aware of how quickly the time passes.

With your first child, you eagerly anticipate the “firsts.” The first smile, the first laugh, or the first steps. You gently encourage growth, and beam with pride as your child blossoms before your eyes. For some, there may even be a little bit of relief in the independence their baby begins to insist on.

At this point, I would give anything for just one more day to snuggle that beautiful seven pound baby I first set my eyes on a short ten months ago.

There is something so powerful about carrying a child. Having the capability to bring a new human being into the world is one of the most amazing experiences a person can have. I never anticipated feeling such an enormous, overwhelming sadness watching a pregnant woman walk through the grocery store.

I am grieving a process that has changed my entire life, and been its sole purpose for the last nine years.

My life went from thirsty Thursdays, to 2 a.m. nursing sessions. Instead of rushing to the gym after work, I rush home to pick up my babies and cook them dinner. Rather than spending hours scouring through my closet trying to find the perfect outfit for Friday night, I am racing to the store to pick up the newest Trolls for family movie night.

There are pivotal moments in our lives that change the direction entirely.

Massimiliano Finzi/Getty

Realizing I will never again wait those painfully long nine months to see if my baby has brown eyes or blue, to see if all of that indigestion truly does translate into a head full of beautiful brown hair — it’s hard, y’all.

You would think I could count my blessings and sigh a long breath of relief that I will never again have to fit into painfully tight t-shirts at 38 weeks, or sport those dreadful mesh panties. Instead, I feel washed up. Old.

Rather than being asked if my baby is getting enough milk, or how long I plan on nursing, I am chomping at the bit and forcing myself not to give advice to my baby brother who just had his first baby.

Funny enough, I was not one of those women who glided effortlessly through pregnancy. For the most part, I actually disliked being pregnant. When you factor in sciatica, horrifying hormone changes, and endless bouts of morning sickness, it’s pretty amazing I had more than one child to begin with.

When you first have children, they often tell you how quickly the time passes, and to enjoy every moment. You obligingly nod your head, and roll your bloodshot eyes. How can anyone enjoy two hours of sleep at a time?

How did the roles shift so entirely? When did I transition from a young, new mother, to the seasoned veteran with scars to prove it? Next year, three of my four children will be in elementary school. My oldest will be in third grade.

Instead of celebrating for a job well done, I sneak into the kitchen after putting the baby to sleep, and drown my sorrows in a bag of chocolate chip cookies. With only the sound of the bag rustling as I reach in for number twenty-five, I stare at the enormous pile of clothes that no longer fit my baby. Reminders of the tiny little human he will never be again.

There are so many women out there who struggle to carry or conceive a child. Surely, I have no right to grieve an empty womb after giving life to four human beings. Right?

Life is funny. It keeps moving, changing, whether we are ready for it or not. Our children are a little bit older every day. We go through the motions, and often miss the “lasts” entirely without even realizing it.

If I had any advice to give, it would be to stop. Stop worrying about your messy house, and piles of laundry. Stop obsessing over the milestones your child hasn’t yet mastered. Put down your phone, snuggle that baby, and talk to your first grader. We don’t realize how quickly our children change. Their interests shift from Barbies and baby dolls to makeup and jewelry, seemingly overnight.

Try to find quiet moments in the chaos. See your children for who they are in that moment. They may not be the same version the next time you stop long enough to see it.

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On Teaching In-Person During A Pandemic––While Being A New Mom

I am so. fucking. exhausted.

I know it’s not just me, and I knew being a mom would be hard, but being a mom during the coronavirus pandemic plus teaching high school full time is on an entirely new level. I’ve always been relatively decent at managing my stress and anxiety, but this year isn’t a normal year for anyone.

I had my first meltdown in August during the first week teachers went back to school. I noticed one night, just a few days after going back and sending my 4-month-old son to daycare, that he was a little snotty and congested. Other than that, he seemed perfectly fine. By the time he woke up and got moving around the snot was all gone. He had no trouble eating. He didn’t have a fever. Everything was normal. I told myself it was just the inevitable “new to daycare” bug. In any other situation, this wouldn’t even be worth worrying over, but nothing about 2020 is normal. I agonized over what to do, all while he babbled and breathed normally and was totally fine. I took his temperature and he didn’t have anything even close to a fever. So, I sent him to daycare and I went to work.

Then, my friend whose son is in my son’s class texted to let me know she wasn’t at work that day because everyone in her house was sick. She had a sore throat, her son had the sniffles, her daughter was congested, and her husband had a sore throat. She called the doctor, and the doctor recommended that they go get tested for strep and COVID.

I panicked. I hadn’t trusted my gut that morning. I sent my son to daycare. And my friend did what I hadn’t done by keeping her family home. I called my husband, fighting tears, and we decided that I would pick my son up during lunch and we would try to get him an appointment with the pediatrician.

I broke down in the car leaving the school. We’re talking wracking sobs that had me shaking and gasping for air. Over the sniffles. And I am not a crier. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cried in the last 15 years. The rational part of my brain knew my son was fine, but I couldn’t stop the tears. And I was right, it wasn’t COVID. My friend and her family all tested negative, too.

I know it’s neurotic. I know it’s insane. But this is parenting during a pandemic. No sniffle or cough or tickle in your throat is safe anymore. You can’t assume anything is benign. Everything is a symptom of COVID, so you never know what’s nothing and what’s a potentially deadly virus. Compound that with the fact that my baby is in daycare and I teach 135 high school students each day, and there’s no avoiding these kinds of scares.

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I had my second meltdown just before Halloween. My son’s teacher tested positive. His class was quarantined for two weeks and the daycare shut down for one week. Unfortunately, my school district doesn’t care if someone in your household is quarantined due to close contact, as long as you aren’t the close contact you’re still expected to work. So, my husband had to navigate working from home and watching our son, while I randomly took sick days to help when my husband had meetings he couldn’t reschedule. We tested negative, thankfully. But it took almost a week to get the results of that test. There weren’t any wracking/gasping sobs during this meltdown; it was more prolonged. But there was a lot of crying over that week, and a lot of temperature checks and over-analyzing every little cough or sniffle.

It was so hard for my husband and me to decide to go ahead with daycare and go ahead with me teaching this year. I just got my master’s last year. I just re-upped my AP Lit certification. So much would be lost if I didn’t go back. We agreed that I would go over the top in taking precautions, and we trust my son’s daycare and the precautions they’re taking. Even still, I question my decision every single day. Because this is the reality of being a new parent – or any parent, really – right now. What most people would write off as new mom paranoia, I can’t afford to ignore. I had those meltdowns because motherhood is already so fucking hard, but with a pandemic that half of society chooses to ignore, or claims is a hoax, it’s damn near impossible. Navigating all the politics and the health concerns and the deteriorating familial relationships of the world right now is something most new mothers don’t have to deal with.

I’ve always been able to keep a relatively cool head. I don’t get upset. I don’t usually let stress affect me like this. But this year is different. My son is seven months old now, still in daycare, and I’m still teaching. His teachers all wear masks. My students and I all wear masks. I keep my family away from maskless contact with others. I’m doing everything I can to keep us safe. But every day I wonder if it will be enough.

It feels like I am all alone on an island of sanity while everyone around me is swimming with sharks they refuse to acknowledge. They know the sharks are there, but they just hope the sharks decide to eat someone else in the water instead of them. After all, the odds are truly in their favor, and they really like to swim.

I don’t care about the odds. I care about my son and keeping him healthy and safe. If that means tense relationships with family, fine. If that means breaking down into tears over a few sniffles, fine. If that means wearing scrubs and full PPE to teach my high school English students, fine.

What I can’t handle, is the island. I need support. I need understanding. I need all the coronavirus conspiracy theorists and hoax believers and “oh, but only x% of people die” people to have some fucking empathy for once in your life and put on the goddamn mask. I need you to stop acting like this doesn’t matter. Stop acting like it’s okay for life to just move on as normal while people are dying of something that is preventable. Just because it doesn’t affect you, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I am drowning in anxiety on this island by myself. I’m tired of shouting at you to watch out for sharks. I’m tired of your anger at me for refusing to swim.

I’m just. so. damn. TIRED.

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Letter From Santa – Free Printable Template

Send a Letter From Santa with Free Printable Santa Stationery. Kids will be thrilled to receive this letter from the REAL Santa! The best part is this is magical from the North Pole. It’s such a cute editable letter from Santa. Kids will love a Personalized Letter From Santa Imagine my surprise when I got […]

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I Don’t Want My Daughter To Be Like Me

I have horrible body image issues. It started in gym class when I was 12 — I was more developed than almost everyone in my class and became the butt of cruel jokes. One in particular put me into a downward spiral that I have never recovered from. My turn at kickball and a boy yelled, “Don’t make her run or she’ll get two black eyes.” Everyone laughed and my spirit died that day.

I have had every form of eating disorder you can imagine. Vomiting? Check. Restrictive eating? Yep. Excessive exercise? Uh-huh. Every diet pill or miracle drug? Absolutely. They have all given results, albeit temporary, but nothing has made it better. Nothing has taken away the pain that I have endured for nearly 30 years.

My eating and body issues have caused strain on every relationship I’ve ever had. No one could ever understand it or they didn’t want to deal with it. It’s not normal. Everyone has their own baggage, they don’t need to carry mine. My husband can’t fix me. Neither can my mother. Even counseling hasn’t given me a breakthrough. My body issues are still there every single day.

Things became extremely complicated when I gave birth to my daughter five years ago. She is my only girl, after three boys. I suddenly had a huge responsibility. I was taxed with raising a strong, independent, self-loving woman. Please don’t misunderstand, I was raised to be strong and independent and hard working. I am all of those things. I just have never mastered that confidence part. I’m wired to believe something else. That’s no one’s fault.

Still, I can’t let my daughter turn out like me. But how do I hide it? It consumes me. Every day I look in the mirror and hate what I see. My hair, my face, my body, the whole thing. But when I look at her, all I see is beauty.

She has the darkest, roundest, biggest brown eyes you’ve ever seen. Her cheeks are plump like apples and her lips are a perfect rosey pink. I keep her hair in a short bob with giant bows and people often remark at how darling she is. My heart could burst. And she is darling. She is perfect. She is confident. And with all that is in me, I want to make sure she stays that way.

So what do I do? How do I turn it off? That’s my biggest challenge. I have no idea. But I have to. I have to learn to keep it quiet. Particularly in front of her.

She’s my biggest challenge. I want her to respect her body and the changes that will happen one day. I want her to disregard the teasing and the mean kids in class. I want her to walk away with her head held high and know that she is unique and she is designed exactly as was intended. And hopefully, one day, through her confidence, she’ll teach me to do the same.

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I Want To Run Away And Be Left Alone For An Entire Weekend

I’ve had a slight headache for a few weeks now. It’s dull and sitting right between my eyes. My stash of Advil and peppermint oil aren’t doing a thing for it. Neither is the eight hours of sleep I get a night. (That’s not counting the hour I fall asleep on the sofa after dinner.)

Lately I feel a sense of dread when I wake up in the morning. It’s not sadness, exactly. It’s more like a feeling of wanting to eat cake while I look out the window. For hours. My mind and body are dying to check out, and as we all know, moms just don’t do that. I don’t think we could if we wanted to. We are wired to always have one roaming eye and one roaming ear making sure everything is staying in check.

A few days ago I got in my car to go to the grocery store after my kids went to their father’s house. I took the wrong way without even realizing it. I noticed I was on the highway about five minutes into my drive. I wanted to keep going.

All I wanted to do was to keep driving until I found a hotel. I wanted to check in, then check out by staring out the window, watching television, and eating whatever I wanted.

I didn’t want to see anyone.

I didn’t want to talk to anyone.

I didn’t want to smile.

I wanted to sit with my mouth in a straight line and just be with me, myself, and I.

I had no desire to do something crazy and different. I didn’t even think about a spa day or exploring a new town. 

The only thing that agreed with me was keeping to myself. In a place where no one could find me so I could marinate, rest, and decompress.

The only way I can do that is to completely get away — without any distractions.

Before I became a mother, I read a book about a woman who had a family and she ran away. While she did keep in touch with them and eventually returned, I hated that woman.

Who would want to leave their family? How selfish can she be?

I’ve learned several times over since having kids of my own, you cannot judge or criticize anyone until you have been them. And, well, you can’t be anyone else, so you might as well take judging others off the table. Our mental loads as women are heavy enough.

What I do know is that being a mother has been both the most rewarding and the most taxing job I will ever know. And wanting to go someplace where no one can have access to me, ask me for anything, or be affected by my mood for a spell is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay.

This feeling is burnout. I know that. I also know almost all of my fellow moms are in the same “I want to escape just for a little bit” boat.

It doesn’t mean we are angry or resentful. It doesn’t mean we are lazy or ungrateful or don’t know how to count our blessings. Our blessings are counted several times a day, believe you me.

It means we are the kind of exhausted that sleep can’t fix.

It means we are depleted and everything has started to feel like a chore. Like everyone is just taking from us, even if they aren’t, because we’ve given so much. Again and again and again.

I still feel the pull — that feeling of wanting to drive and not really care when I end up, so long as I don’t know anyone and have to talk to them.

I want to unload that mental load, even if it’s just for a weekend. I honestly believe that will be enough for me to come back as my reset self and feel as though I’ve been recharged.

I’ve never been at a place in my life where I felt emotionless, but here we are. It’s not because anyone has put me through the wringer or because my life is horrible. It’s not because I’m not thankful, because I am so thankful.

I’m just zapped of everything, and there’s no shame in saying it out loud or wanting to fix it.

So maybe the next time I get in the car, I will head for that hotel and stare at the television and fill myself with quiet, bad food, and the ability to doze off whenever I want.

Because something has got to give, and I fully believe the value in taking care of our shit before it kicks us in the ass and there’s no going back. 

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How My Wife And I Talk To Our Multiracial Kids About Race

What rests in a person’s heart means more to me than what their race is. When I make a person my friend, I do not look at their race before deciding whether they are worth my time or not, and this is what we are teaching our kids. It is a person’s value system, if they are honest and kind, which determines how they will treat me. As we look at a divisive country, broken friendships, and disconnected families because of this election, we are having conversations with our kids about not only what it means to be a good friend, but what it means to look at a person’s heart over their race.

I was ecstatic when Crayola released their skin tone crayons; I immediately went out and purchased a box to bring home to my five-year-old twins. They could finally color pictures of little girls and of our family that physically looked like us. Between the princess Disney movies they watched and the princess books they chose at the library, with preschool teachers who did not look like them and friends who spoke Spanish, they were curious as to why their own curly hair did not match the straight blonde hair of their best friends’ in their preschool class. It took them six months to inquire about why the white tone of their favorite preschool teacher was different than their own. We waited for them to come to us, and when they did, we simply said, “Everyone is born different, with different skin colors. Even within our own family, we all have different skin colors. They are not exactly the same, right?”

Crayola

Using their preschool teacher as an example to drive home our point, together we reflected on how she treated them. These reflections gave us solid examples of how she made them feel. There was a reason she was their favorite: She listened to them. She spent time with them. She let them explore their interests. She played with them. She cared for them. She possessed the same traits we wanted to impart on our kids, so it was easy to explain it to them in this way.

What every child knows is how people make them feel — and at the end of the day, this is what matters the most for them. Then there is the inevitable, the questions they ask will become more challenging to answer, especially about race. In an article for National Geographic, writer Heather Greenwood Davis notes, “Developing empathy, compassion, and a sense of justice at an early age helps kids grow into adults who want to help make the world a better place. For parents, that often means taking a deep breath and having those tough conversations about race and racism.”

 

Oleksandr Siedov/Getty

We were able to package these sometimes difficult conversations about race into conversations that gave rise to a bigger lesson for our kids. When we’re all trying to figure out how to define for our kids what is happening in our world, their world, we should start with what they know and where they are in their own development. Greenwood Davis suggests, “If you hear your child expressing an idea about a group of people that they don’t realize is prejudicial, engage them in an age-appropriate conversation about it. For younger children, you might center the conversation around why the words are hurtful and how they might make someone feel. And though most older kids have been socialized not to make blatantly racist comments, they can crop up.”

We must continue to communicate with our kids about what it means to look at a person’s values, and who they are on the inside. While skin color and race do matter, especially in our current social and political climate, as parents when we talk about progress — when we demand justice for those who have been looked down upon because of their race — we must still teach our kids to look at someone’s heart, and consider how their own actions are making people feel. And as adults, we can be reminded to do the same.

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