raising a mommy

raising a mommy

Sunday, October 16, 2016

i am a woman

I am a woman.

This is why I carefully consider where I leave my car in the parking lot. Driver's door next to a cart return is ideal. If that's not an option, I park where I'm least likely to have someone park next to me.

This is why I check my back seat before I get into my car. Even if it's parked in my driveway.

This is why I'm scared to run by myself in the early mornings before the sun comes up, even though it's often the only time my schedule allows.

This is why I run in the road if I am passing a home with a privacy fence or lots of bushes along the sidewalk. And why I run on the boulevard and hold my breath (figuratively, of course) whenever a car drives by.

Why I wear or carry two different GPS tracking devices when I run, and why my husband knows how to use them to find me.

Why I'm tempted to leave him with a picture of what I'm wearing every time I leave for a run, including a close up of the tread of my shoes. Just in case.

Why I won't go into the gym if there is only one other car in the parking lot.

Why I started teaching my children, both my son and my daughter, about consent when they were one and three years old.

Why, when I walk or run past the high stone retaining wall, I wonder at its legitimacy. Is there actually just dirt behind it? Or something else? Maybe I'll cross the street when I go past that house.

This is not paranoia. These are the thoughts of a woman living a time when rape culture runs rampant.

When sexual assault earns a slap on the wrist. Or sometimes a high five.

When young girls are taught that if a boy harasses them, it means they like them.

When young boys hear that it is okay, even normal, to show affection through physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

When a catcall from a passing car has become so normal that it earns an eye roll at most.

I am a woman. And I have had enough.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

dads don't babysit

I know there are a thousand posts out there like this, but there are still two thousand posts, commercials, and ads that paint a picture of fathers as incompetent buffoons who don't know that they shouldn't use the whole tube of diaper rash cream when they change a baby's diaper. That is, if they even know where the diapers are. (Yes, those are actual scenarios that I read in a blog post. No, I will not link to it because I refuse to help the author boost her numbers.) So I'm going to make it 1001 "dads are parents, too" posts, because that is ridiculous.

Pregnant comedian Ali Wong stated: I can already see how there's this crazy double standard in our society of how it takes so little to be considered a great dad. It also takes so little to be considered a [horrible] mom."

I changed a word to keep it PG, but I don't think she was out of line in using the word she did. 

To a mom: Let me probe into the depths of your personal life to discover that you are breastfeeding, you use cloth diapers, you don't work outside the home, and you wear your baby in a carrier rather than using a stroller. But you don't make your own baby food purees? Don't you love your child?!

To a dad: You put your daughter's hair in a ponytail all by yourself? We're having a parade in your honor!

And don't even get me started on the lack of changing tables in so many men's restrooms.

Maybe if society as a whole starts to expect more of fathers, like, you know, that they be equal parenting partners (like so many already are) then more fathers will feel valued enough to stick around. The idea that fathers are inadequate or even slightly substandard as parents is ridiculous, to say the least. It's just as crazy as insinuating that women aren't as capable of handling themselves in the workplace as men.

If this post speaks to you, please share it. If it doesn't quite hit the right chord, but you agree that fathers are parents too and deserve to be treated as such, then please find an article or blog that does speak to you and share it.

This is not a rare occurrence in our house. And I can't tell you how many times he has left the house with sparkly princess stickers plastered all over his shirt.

Friday, September 9, 2016

fmf: heal

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Kate Motaung's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
3. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: heal

Oh, Kate. It's like you are speaking to my soul.

This week as been one of healing. Last week, I did not like my path. Today, I'm still not crazy about parts of it. But I'm healing.

Aside from my amazing support system, here is the most important factor that is helping me heal: I've been able to help others.

I have a friend who's in a tough spot. She's going through some really hard stuff, and it's hard on her friends and family, too. While I haven't been as close to her lately, we will always be nearly birthday buddies, and I can still be there for her while she continues her long journey of healing. And something else, perhaps just as important: I am here for those who are close to her. Don't forget the father of the baby that was miscarried. Don't forget the friends and family of the one diagnosed with cancer. Don't forget the loved ones who just watched their daugher/son/brother/sister/friend just attempt to take her own life. They, too, need help to heal.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

let's get rid of the stigma

Betty has cancer. There is no reason she should have cancer. She eats well. She exercises regularly. She lives in a safe environment and is surrounded by people who love and support her. Betty is a good person.

Betty knows she has cancer. She fights it every day of her life. Some days are easier than others. She feels okay, so she gets dressed, puts on some jewelry and a little make up, and goes out. She feels like a normal person for a little while and the world can't tell that she has cancer.

Other days are harder and she can't get out of bed. Sometimes these spells go on for days or weeks at a time and Betty has trouble remembering that there is life outside of her cancer.

Betty doesn't like to talk about her cancer. She doesn't want pity and she doesn't want people to treat her differently because of it. She's so much more than her cancer, and that's how she wants people to think about her. Yes, it is part of her, but it's not everything.

Even though she doesn't want it be the only facet of her that people see, Betty knows that she needs to talk about cancer. The more awareness there is, the more support there is, and the more people will know how to react to and support those who are fighting.

Now go back through those last five paragraphs and reread them. Only this time, replace the word "cancer" with the word "depression". If your attitude toward Betty changes, something needs to be different. The negative stigma around depression and anxiety and other mental health issues is literally costing people their lives, and it's up to us to work together to change it.

Maybe that girl who posts melancholy facebook statues every day is just being dramatic. Or maybe she's contemplating the best way to end her life because she actually truly believes the world would be better off without her. She is someone's daughter and sister and best friend.

Or maybe the fake smiles have the world fooled and nobody outside her most intimate circle even know because she doesn't want to talk about it because she's scared of the judgement of strangers or those who are supposed to be her friends.

Friday, September 2, 2016

fmf: path

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Kate Motaung's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
3. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: Path

I love adventure. I love not knowing what is coming next. I love seeing something new on the horizon or ahead of me on the path and diving in to it with excitement and energy. Twists and turns in the path can be so exciting.

But sometimes they can be hard, too, and that's the path I'm on right now. I saw it stretching out before me, before my family. We would add a third, become a family of five. Obviously there are bumps along the path. You expect them, often with a sense of delightful anticipation. A little challenge will keep things interesting, right?

Right now, Chris Rice seems to sing about my path:
Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain.
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain
Then cry to Jesus.
Cry to Jesus.
Cry to Jesus and live.

Even though I have the most amazing support system and so many people who love and care about me and the most unbelievable husband who surprises me with a pound of my favorite coffee just to make me smile, it's still hard.

But thankfully, that's not the end of the song and that's not the end of our story. Because I know that someday, I'll be here again:
Oh and when the love spills over
And music fills the night,
And when you can't contain your joy inside,
Then dance for Jesus.
Dance for Jesus.
Dance for Jesus and live.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

sometimes it just sucks

I'm writing this not because I want your sympathy or pity. I don't need it. I'm writing this because somewhere out there is a young woman who needs to hear this message. Maybe she's someone on my friends list who reads every one of my sporadic posts. Maybe she's a friend of a friend of a friend who will be brought here some roundabout way. Maybe she's not even someone who will ever read this post, but someone else will read it and it will open conversation with her. I don't care how the connection is made. If this post inspires the connection and opens the conversation in any way, it is worth every second spent writing it and every tear that I will probably cry.

We lost a baby this week. I was supposed to be ten weeks and six days pregnant today, but we found out on Monday that the baby stopped growing at eight weeks and four days and no longer had a heart beat. It sucks. There is no other way to describe the experience. It just sucks.

But let me reiterate. I don't want your pity. Here's what you need to know.

I have found the most amazing support system. They came out of places knew they would and they came from places I never expected. Outside of family and a few close friends, not many people even knew about the baby. But our little circle has rallied around our family and made us feel the love in a way that is different than I've ever felt before. While the week has sucked, these people have gotten me through.

The most important people in my support system have been those living under my roof. My husband lost a baby this week, too. The other parent can be so often overlooked, and that is not fair. I had the opportunity to carry that baby inside of me. My husband will never get to hold his child. This paragraph is short, but so important. The other parent it hurting, too.

My four year old found out on a Friday that she was going to be a big sister again. She decided it was going to be a girl and her name would be Baby. She couldn't wait to hold her little sister, Baby. Then she had to learn the hard truth that no child of four should ever have to learn. And do you know what she did? When she said her prayers at night this last week, she talked to Baby in heaven and Great Grandpa who passed away earlier this summer. Do you know what else she did? She offered her pastor father and her mother pastoral care. She said, "Remember when you told me about Abraham and Sarah and how they thought they would never be able to have a baby? And then God gave them a baby!" She's four.

Even if I never get to hold another of my babies in my arms, I have been blessed beyond measure. These two, with their daddy, fill my heart until it feels ready to burst.

And then there's my living baby who is almost two but is once again my baby. He has no idea what is going on. He just knows that mommy hasn't been able to run and play with him as much this week. But instead of pulling on my arms and trying to get me to stand up he stops what he's doing at random intervals throughout the day, he runs over to me, and he says "Hug!" throwing his little arms around me and patting my back.

There are so many others: Great Auntie Ellen who came down from the cities to spend the day with the kiddos when we needed her. My mom who stayed with us this weekend and scrubbed my nasty toilets and washed about a week's worth of dishes and made our meals. Friends from church who came over and sat or kept their distance but prayed, friends from high school who shared their stories of heartbreak and reassurance and love, friends from later in life who have never been through this and those who hopefully never will but gave hugs and support and prayers. Every different kind of support has been appreciated more than I can say.

Friends, if you are struggling, please don't do it alone. I am begging you: reach out. You will not have to reach far to find love and support. If you struggle with infertility, chronic or even one time miscarriage, postpartum depression, loneliness, or even if you just don't feel like yourself occasionally but don't think it's worth bothering someone over, please, please, reach out. I will listen. I have friends who have been through all of the above who would be more than happy to listen. Or sit with you in silence. Or go for a walk around the block and talk about anything else. If you have been through any or all of the above and you are willing to listen, please speak up. You are important and you are valued and you are worth it. You deserve support. You deserve a shoulder to cry on if that's what you want. You are worthy of the beautiful bouquet of sympathy flowers. You deserve to have someone come over and bring you a meal or clean your bathroom or wash the loads of dishes you haven't been able to motivate yourself to wash because you still feel first trimester exhausted even though the baby inside of you is no longer growing. You are worthy, and even if you don't regularly reach out or rely on others, you need it now. No one should have to go through this alone. This is what you need to know.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

i don't even know anymore

Today's blessing:

Friends, I don't even know what to say. There is so much hatred in the world right now and it is scary.

Here is a fact: there are bad ones in every group of people. There are bad white people. There are bad black people. There are bad cops, Native Americans, Muslims, Christians, and even pastors and day care providers. No group is immune, and the "bad" are often vocal and visible.

But there is hope. Because the majority are good. To the "good ones" in the group: speak up. Speak love louder than the hate of the vocal few.

I'll say it again.

Speak love louder than the hate of the vocal few.

The violence and hatred must stop now before more innocent lives are lost.

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
-Elie Wiesel

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

cross training

Today's blessing:
Being healthy

I've never really struggled with my health. I've had a few injuries in my day (tendonitis, stress fractures, the usual) but nothing that has seriously derailed me from taking care of myself. I even like eating healthy food. No, really! Salads are delicious, and fruit is some of my favorite! (Chocolate chip cookies don't make me mad, either.) And exercise? I like to call it sweat therapy. If I go too long without working out, I am not pleasant to be around. My husband has learned to hand me my running shoes and ban me from the house for at least 20 minutes.

I know I'm not alone in this.

But for the times when you just can't run...what then? Sometimes you'll be hurt. Maybe your partner is out of town for a few days and you can't leave the kids. Or maybe it's just one of those crazy weeks when life gets in the way of your best intentions and you cannot make it to the gym no matter how badly you want to.

I have been blessed with two tiny personal trainers who are extremely helpful on these days. They have endurance that can rival a marathoner (ie me), and some days a trip to the park is just what everyone needs!

What do you see here?

While I love my adult time at the real gym, some days this is the next best thing. This is when I get creative and make up a Strong Mummy-inspired workout! Incline push ups and tricep dips on the platforms? Step ups? Lunges? That one where you try to jump on the box except the kids won't choke back laughter and give you judgy looks if you miss and bang your shins like the punks at the gym might?

And seriously, were the monkey bars that challenging when I was eight? I do not remember the playground being a workout! Then the cardio of dashing from one side of the platform to the other to keep your adventurous toddler from stepping off the edge. That may be why my injury is taking so long to heal.

My kids are definitely raising a mommy who can get creative with her workouts.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Today's blessing:

My Grandpa passed away this morning. It sucks. Obviously. But it's okay, and here's why.

This man lived for 84 years. He was one of the hardest workers I've ever met - I guess that's what happens when you're a North Dakota farmer. I can list off all the cliches:
And so many more.

Here's the thing about my Grandpa. He lived for 84 years. Not just "he was alive for 84 years" but he lived it all. Until Tuesday morning when he had the stroke, he lived. None of this "80 years of quality living followed by 4 years of decline" for this man. He lived.

He was one of the good ones.

He is leaving the world a better place than he found it, and isn't that really all a person can ask for?

I love you Grandpa, and I'm going to miss you. But we'll be okay.

Precious snuggle time with his oldest great-grandchild.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

what can i do

Today's blessing:
Passionate people who are ready for change

I am raising my kids in a world where rape earns you three months in prison and mass shootings happen nearly every day.

That is scary stuff, my friends.

But what can I do?

I can safely say that I am not part of the problem. Not only have I never assaulted anyone, but I am doing my best to teach my kids about consent. No means no, we don't keep secrets, and you never have to give someone a hug or a kiss if you don't want to, even Mommy or Daddy. I share the occasional article or meme or graph that amuses or informs on facebook. I have a "Blessed Ramadan" sign in my yard and am looking forward to participating in an Iftar dinner in a few weeks. I have marched in a Pride parade. I have met plenty of people whose race, religion, political affiliation, and sexual orientation are different than mine, and if I didn't like them, it wasn't because of their race, religion, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. It was because they were a jerk.

Go me, right?

I'm not a part of the problem, and I take comfort in that.

But that is no longer enough.

We need to be an active part of the solution, and we need to do it now.

This is where I stumble. I am actually asking: what can I do?

Give blood? I already have an appointment on Thursday. But there must be more than that.

Give money? There's not a lot to spare, but we will make something work if a monetary donation would make a difference.

Give time? I don't have much of that to spare either, but I am truly open to suggestions, and I know others are, too.

If you have suggestions, please reach out. I would love them to be shared publicly so others with the same question can use the resources, as well, but if you are more comfortable sending me a private message, please do.

The hate needs to stop now.

If you are in Minnesota and want to know more about attending an Iftar dinner yourself, click here.

If you want to give blood, contact your local Red Cross. Trinity in St Peter is having a blood drive on Thursday and there are still openings. Click here to sign up or here to find a blood drive or donation center in your area.

If you want to read my thoughts on when it is okay for you to pass judgement on other people, click here.

The hate needs to stop. Now.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

fmf: share

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Kate Motaung's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
3. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: share


Everyone has something to share. A story, a song, a joke, unsolicited advice...

While some people will pour their hearts out to you after so little as a "Hi, I'm blah blah. Nice to meet you!" ("Oh, hi, blah blah, I'm yak yak and I like spaghetti and flip flops and the snow but not too much snow and rabbits and hey look something shiny!") others take some time to warm up.

From one of those who takes time to warm up: please be patient.

Many people get the wrong impression. We're not snobs. We're not unintelligent (usually). We're not even necessarily shy. Sometimes we're the funniest (or even the snarkiest) people you will ever meet, you just have to give us a chance to warm up.

Wine helps.


Bah! That was hard! I am so "out of shape" for writing! Either way, thanks for your patience and words of encouragement that I know are coming because the fmf community is just the best!

Here's a quote that I came across recently. It's not really relevant to this post, but it's awesome and needs to be shared:
If you want to be a friend of all people, generate love and compassion. If you want to be a spiritual guide for all people, generate love and compassion. If you want to help everyone, generate love and compassion.
-Kunu Tenzin Gyelsten

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

fmf: forget

When you want to write, but the words won't come, what do you do?

When you don't actually have the time because you should be washing dishes/hanging up laundry/going to bed but you miss writing so much that you are willing to forgo sleep for another 20 minutes and the baby will wake up by then, anyway, so what's the point of going to bed, what do you do?

When you need to wait for the granola to cool so you can package it up and you just don't want to do the rest of the dishes (there are fewer than there were this morning, so that's a win, right?) what do you do?

You turn to five minute friday. You forget about the housework and the babies (but not really) and the bed calling your name (though again, not really) and you write for five minutes. Because you never have to feel bad about allowing yourself five minutes!

Then you remember.

You remember how much you loved the sound of the keys clicking while you type and the shape of the paragraphs when you try to be all artsy and authory and make them all segmented and stuff. You remember how much you loved the community of your fmfparty goers, even though you've never actually met them.

You remember the least favorite professor you had in college who told you that you had a gift for writing and you should think about pursuing it as a career. (In my last semester. Thanks a lot.)

You remember the joy of being recognized in a local story writing contest in the third grade and deciding that this is what you wanted to do with your life. What happened to that?

Is writing one of those things that you lose over time if you don't exercise it? Do you get out of shape? This rambling mess of a post makes me think yes. But I'd rather share this than nothing at all.