Just Because you Love Being a Mom, Doesn't Mean Women Who Aren't Are Less

We live in a world of constant sharing, GIFs and memes. Recently, I've noticed a trend on my Facebook feed of moms sharing memes about how the only life worth living is one where a women is married and has children.

Though I love being a mom, there was a time when I wasn't one not that long ago and wasn't sure if I was going to be one. Seeing posts like this was heart breaking. Why were my contributions to society less valid due to the fact that it might not be possible to have children?

I have a variety of friends--women who haven't met someone they want to marry yet, women who are choosing not to parent, stepmoms, foster moms, and women who haven't been able to conceive but are desperate to be mothers.

To me, sharing a post that the only worthwhile role for a woman in the world is to be a mother is worse than my other pet peeve (mom shaming). Not everyone is choosing the same life path, and that's ok. And for a lot of us, it has a lot less to do with choice.

#thinkbeforeyoupost

 

Celebrate Mother's Day with Famous Moms from Art and Literature

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With Mother's Day quickly approaching (it's on Sunday if you still haven't done any planning!), I've been contemplating many things. Many of you know that I am a mother through adoption. I've shared on my social media (and you can read more and donate to a cause I'm supporting for Mother's Day through helpusadopt.org here).

I wanted to share something else meaningful on my blog this week. As many of you know, my mother is an artist (check out her work here!)  and not only do I work in a university, but I'm a writer, avid reader, and continuous student of literature.

Invaluable has shared an amazing collection of Mothers in Art and Literature on their website and it's nothing short of inspiring. Make sure to read their post, and learn a little bit more about some famous moms in the history of art and literature, and pass it on to the mothers you know!  The images and the quote compilations are stunning, so make sure to check them out below!

Some of my favorite authors like Maya Angelou and Sylvia Plath made the cut--I'd love to hear which of the images spoke the most to you!

 

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Vision Tracking for your kids...at your finger tips!

Busy mamas, rejoice! You can track your kids' eyesight from your own home!

Let's face it, whether we like it or not, kids are indoors more and with the popularity of tablets in the classroom, children today get a lot of screen time, both at home and in the classroom. Since good vision is crucial to academic success, testing your child's vision frequently is important, but obviously, frequent visits to the eye doctor aren't convenient with your hectic schedule and can be costly.

The EyeQue Insight is a device you use at your home, pair with an app, and check your child's vision (and you can check your own too!) Intended for children 6 and up, kids do a little activity (with a super fun cartoon!) to determine their vision capabilities. My kiddo loved the cartoon, but his still a little too little to do the swiping, so definitely this works best on older kids. However, I also tested my own vision and it was such a great tool. Though I've always had above 20/20 vision, as I've aged, my vision has been changing, so this is a great tool that I will use often to keep tabs on if I need to seek glasses or contacts.

The app downloads quickly and it's super easy to activate your device. This took me all of 5 minutes (which is awesome when you're time is a commodity!).

I can't recommend this product enough--not only will your kid think it's cool, but you will too. (I'm not going to lie, I think I said "I can't believe we're doing this in our kitchen" like five times).

For more info and to order your own EyeQue Insight, click here.

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The Life of a Super Commuter: Finding Your Passion is Possible, but May Not be Easy

I have (and continue to have) some pretty major career goals. It shocked people when I accepted a position nearly 3 hours from my house, but it was a party of the path I had set for myself.

If you don't know, I have a PhD in Global Leadership and Academic Administration. My passions are helping to support first-generation and low-income students and primarily to ensure that organizations are culturally competent to ensure that employees and students are equipped to deal with a global marketplace. When I was offered the opportunity to work part time and help with a new diversity initiative at a university, I jumped at the offer. When I tell people about the drive, they're shocked. Frankly, working on something this cool, that sparks my passion, makes up to 6 hours in the car a few times a week worth it.

Finding your passion and achieving your goals are entirely possible, but they may not look the way they think they will. That's ok and might be preferable. I kind of saw myself in some office position at a university with little to no interaction with curriculum, one where I wouldn't see the fruits of my labor--but that's not what's happening. I was worried that I wouldn't get to spend enough time with my kid, but nothing could be farther from the truth. For me, being flexible and taking on the role of a part time super commuter has allowed me to pursue my other passions, like writing, traveling, and spending at least one day a work week giving my little one my undivided attention.

So, what do I do to make the drive seem shorter?

  • I've become a podcast junkie! My regular favorites are: 2 Dope Queens, My Favorite Murder, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd, Unqualified, and Hollywood and Crime.
  • I catch up on phone calls. Honestly, we spend too much time texting and emailing these days that I try to dedicate some of my driving time to catching up with a person or two during the week. This is a great use of my time and a way to invest in relationships that are important to me.
  • I may sing along to Broadway Musical scores, inserting myself as a main character...If you must know, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Singing in the Rain are my current rotation.
  • I enjoy the peace and quiet! I'm a mom to a loud and energetic three year old. Sometimes, I quietly drive to work in the morning and enjoy the alone time with my own thoughts!

Are you a super commuter too? How do you spend your time?

 

Living Your Best Life: 3 Books to Help You!

I have always had lofty goals, a drive to succeed, and a tendency to over organize and stress over the small stuff. In the last few years, as I've gotten more on my plate, brought a child into the equation, and have stepped into new positions unlike others I've been in before, I've started to think more about happiness. A job to me used to mainly be a way to pay the bills, but I see now, that a job can be more than that--it can be a place to pursue your passions, be excited, and to make a difference. These three books have been my go to guides for letting the unimportant things go, ensuring that I'm excited about what I'm doing, and that overall, I'm happy!

The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship, and Become the Badass Babe You Were Meant to Be by Ann Shoket

This book is great, particularly for younger women trying to find their way in new careers, but speaks volumes to those of us who maybe aren't fulfilling all of our goals and passions. When I read this book, I didn't have my side hustle as defined as it is now and it encouraged me to look for more freelance writing work. Though I love working in cultural competency, I also really love to write. Writing relaxes me and I also love to interview and research. In the past year, I've written numerous articles for publications--and though busier, am happier and more fulfilled.

Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu

I'm not going to lie, I read this book in 24 hours because I needed this book. I definitely am a bit of a perfectionist and spend a lot of time meal planning, cooking, cleaning, organizing, planning events for people, and doing work that isn't my own to make other people's lives easier. For the first time ever, I went on a work trip and didn't make casseroles for my family for the week. I didn't leave an extensive to do list. And you know what? Everything was fine. I will often not delegate work because I think I can do it better--which isn't true at all; I just do it differently. I have to say, if you're a working mom, this will change your life.

Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Event the Difficult Ones) by Nataly Kogan

Again, with happiness on my mind, and trying to stave off my inner perfectionist, this book was a must read more me. This is a book that you can read in chunks and digest easily. (I mean, we are all busy, and it can be difficult to find the time to read, but schedule it in your "you time"!) Nataly's own life experience makes this even better. If she can live happier--so can we. But my FAVORITE part was the journal prompts. I've been trying to be more self-reflective this year and this gave me the boost to pick up a pen and get to writing.

On my quest to live my own best life, I'd love to hear from you what books have been helpful in your own self improvement!

Book Review: The Only Life I Could Save: A Memoir

Living in a community that is tormented by addiction, it's often to become callous about it. How often do we hear stories on the news and think, "That could never happen to me or my family."?

I'm sure that's what Katherine Ketcham thought in her years researching and writing about addiction. But it does happen to her when her son Ben begins to use drugs and what starts off as what some might call typical teenage experimentation becomes addiction.

This is a very well-written, easy to digest memoir. As a parent, I'm always interested in these stories. How do you know your kid is in trouble if they won't talk to you? What are the signs of addiction that you may NOT know? This book addresses those issues and gives the reader a look into the life of a family gripped with fear about the safety of their child and brother.

Books like this are critical now more than ever. The CDC notes an increase in drug overdoses and in 2016, the death rate due to overdose (primarily opioids) increased to 5 times what it was in 1999. I am shocked to read statistics like this and see these stories in the media, but the reality is, without education, we can't make it better.

Whether you think this book pertains to you or not, it likely is a story not all that dissimilar from someone that you know. I highly recommend you read it to learn more about the Ketcham family's deeply personal story.

Preorder your copy of The Only Life I Could Save here. It will be out on April 1st.

Three Years Ago, I Didn't Even Know I Was Going to be a Mom..

  Photo Courtesy of  Signature Studio.     Every birthday makes me nostalgic and sad. There's a lot of "remember when she was tiny" going on in my house. Mostly, I'm still just amazed.  Yesterday was my daughter's third birthday. Today marks the three year anniversary of when we met and when I became a mother.  Three years ago today, I didn't know I was going to be a mom. My husband and I had gone through years of research and after two failed adoptions, I began to assume that I wasn't meant to be a parent. And that would have been ok.  When I say "failed adoption" people react poorly because they don't get it. But, we have to remember that adoption is tricky. For me to become a mother, someone else had to lose their child. It's not easy. I realized early on when we began meeting with birth families that lots of these people were competent parents who had been convinced otherwise and some of them have since made great parents.  I have been talking about adoption a lot more lately and have enjoyed sharing my family's story to help educate others about the unique nuances of being a transracial family and to ensure that other people understand adoption and its intricacies.  Three years ago, I was binge watching something on Netflix. It was snowing like crazy. My husband had traveled 45 minutes away to do some work. Then, I got a call. When I saw the director of the adoption agency on my phone, I was confused. We had just spoken the week before and had discussed that I wasn't sure what our next steps were.  She said a birthmother liked us, completed paperwork, and we had a daughter to come and get.  Some people have nine months to get used to the fact that they're going to be parents. I had nine seconds.  Birthdays mean a lot to each of us for different reasons. As parents, we often get sad that our kids are growing up. I'm just grateful that my daughter's mother chose us to help her grow up into the amazing, curious, smart, and energetic kid she's becoming.

Photo Courtesy of Signature Studio.

Every birthday makes me nostalgic and sad. There's a lot of "remember when she was tiny" going on in my house. Mostly, I'm still just amazed.

Yesterday was my daughter's third birthday. Today marks the three year anniversary of when we met and when I became a mother.

Three years ago today, I didn't know I was going to be a mom. My husband and I had gone through years of research and after two failed adoptions, I began to assume that I wasn't meant to be a parent. And that would have been ok.

When I say "failed adoption" people react poorly because they don't get it. But, we have to remember that adoption is tricky. For me to become a mother, someone else had to lose their child. It's not easy. I realized early on when we began meeting with birth families that lots of these people were competent parents who had been convinced otherwise and some of them have since made great parents.

I have been talking about adoption a lot more lately and have enjoyed sharing my family's story to help educate others about the unique nuances of being a transracial family and to ensure that other people understand adoption and its intricacies.

Three years ago, I was binge watching something on Netflix. It was snowing like crazy. My husband had traveled 45 minutes away to do some work. Then, I got a call. When I saw the director of the adoption agency on my phone, I was confused. We had just spoken the week before and had discussed that I wasn't sure what our next steps were.

She said a birthmother liked us, completed paperwork, and we had a daughter to come and get.

Some people have nine months to get used to the fact that they're going to be parents. I had nine seconds.

Birthdays mean a lot to each of us for different reasons. As parents, we often get sad that our kids are growing up. I'm just grateful that my daughter's mother chose us to help her grow up into the amazing, curious, smart, and energetic kid she's becoming.

Learning From A Community: It Takes a Village to Raise Adoptive Parents

When my husband and I went into the adoption process, we did so with rose colored glasses. I clung to stories that people shared about waiting just weeks after completing their home study before becoming parents. But, after two failed adoptions, learning first hand the reality that some people were equipped to be amazing parents but lacked finances causing them to consider placing a child with another person when it wasn’t in their heart, and learning more about the cracks in our child protective care system, I soon learned that this wasn’t as easy as the adoption fairy tales we were holding tight to. When I became a mom, it would be because someone else was going to have to place her child with us. In what might be the happiest moment of my life, someone else was going to possibly face her darkest.

And I would still have more to learn in order to parent the beautiful baby girl that I brought home three years ago.

Learning from Strangers

My daughter is black and my husband and I are white. The most powerful advice I ever got was from a stranger in the grocery store who came up to talk to me about my daughter. She was an older African American woman who cooed and congratulated me on my new baby. “Black babies grow up to be black men and women,” she said. “You have to prepare her for that.” Though this seems like this is something that should just make sense to all of us, it doesn’t click that one day our children will be on their own and will have different experiences than others of their same race. But, by immersing our children in their own culture through literature, theater, music, museums, travel, etc., we can equip them to better navigate the world when they leave our homes. 

Taking Advice from Others

The first time a woman stopped and told me that I wasn’t twisting my daughter’s hair properly, I was embarrassed and I told her as much. She told me not to be, that I should be proud for trying, but since that moment, I’ve reached out to friends who have the same hair type as my daughter or kids or their own with styling questions, and help. If I hadn’t have listened to advice from a stranger in the store, and didn’t listen to friends moving forward, I might have missed out on what has become a bonding activity for my daughter and I: choosing new styles for her hair!

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Being a mom is hard no matter how you became a parent. We are all doing the best we can. When I found out something I was doing was wrong, I was always way too hard on myself.  I just had to realize that I was learning and by being open to suggestions and learning from others, I would be ok and so would my kid.

Parenting is a hard road to navigate, but with the help of others, we can all do our best to raise happy and healthy kiddos!