“After years of sending her autistic son Zack to leading therapists and hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of dollars, Whitney Ellenby woke up, angry. The system was failing Zack and in the process tearing her world apart. “I realized I’d been fed false hope. Zack’s progress was negligible. He wasn’t any closer to integrating with his peers and leading a normal life.” She felt duped by the inflated numbers providers offered, and discouraged about Zack’s future. It was a dark time, but Ellenby’s epiphany helped reorient her notion of what success and happiness looked like for Zack. It proved life-changing.”
Today, a bird slowly died in front of my children. The impact against our sliding glass doors was deafening. Housebound by a winter storm, the kids and I quickly abandoned our hot chocolate in our rush to discover that a bright crimson cardinal had struck the glass. It now lay helpless in the snow.
Be honest and don’t construct a cover-up. What’s been seen can’t be unseen: I watched, helpless to intervene or make my kids unsee this tragedy. The suffering we were witnessing elicited, “Mom, let’s help it!” “Should we bring it inside and nurse it?” “What do we do?” “Poor bird.” Our 12-year-old’s large eyes were brimming with tears. Her younger brother couldn’t look away. I wanted as badly as my kids to watch this bird miraculously fly away. But the cardinal grew still and we, silent, mourning the loss of an innocent bird.
Show sensitivity and respect for their particular attachments: Unlike adults, children fall in love fearlessly, without baggage. Maybe it’s toys as much or more than the people surrounding them they cherish. In the case of my children, it was their stuffed animals—each complete with name and personality.
As enjoyable as it was for me to witness the creative powers at work in my children’s play, I knew that the depth of attachment would create a storm of trouble if any of these animal kingdom favorites were lost. After all, these were real as flesh and blood friends in my children’s world. On many occasions, we did come close to losing a stuffed friend. At the grocery, in the airplane, on the sidewalk, silently fallen out of the stroller.
In every instance, the look of shock and pain in the affected child’s eyes was a small step into the brutal world, where fierce affection is often accompanied by sorrow, a pain equal to the love.
Read in full at Houston Family Magazine.
Sometimes when great plans fall apart, something just as beautiful emerges.
It’s an honor to publish again with Grown & Flown on the topic of teens and spring break~
“Our senior daughter asked to fly out-of-state for a spring break trip to visit her best friend in Indianapolis where we used to live. “With college coming, I need to say my good-byes,” she said. She planned on attending college overseas and the significance of leaving friendships behind was real. We appreciated her intentional care for the good people in her life and this particular friendship was rare. After giving it some thought, we gave our permission for her to take this trip.
Yet, I smarted with this abrupt departure from family tradition. As a tight-knit family, we’d never vacationed separately and I tingled with a bittersweet mixture of emotions. It was her last spring break before college and she wanted to do something without us. Much as I understood her desire to see her dear friend, it was enlightening that she was willing to forego a family vacation and the host of memories and inside-jokes that would invariably be added to family lore. This was a signal among others that she was readying herself to leave. At her age, I knew her desire was a healthy one, this eagerness to chart her own course.”
Read in full here. Thank you for your comments!
It’s #ReadAcrossAmericaDay and appropriately, my essay “My Daughter-Who-Doesn’t-LIke-To-Read” is up on Red Tricycle today. #books #reading #relationships #writing #motherhood #daughter
“Thumbing through an old journal, my eyes landed on a paragraph written after my daughter, then 13, emphatically announced that she did not like to read.
I felt the same raw emotion as when I first wrote the entry, though years had passed. From my earliest moments as a new mother, I’d longed for my daughter to experience the same enjoyment from reading and falling into a good book that I’d felt in my youth. I pictured us walking in tandem in our mutual appreciation for stories, unpacking plots and characters for each other as we bonded in conversation. Like opening up a secret tunnel, reading would be my path into her life just as it would be her path to healthy adulthood.
But somehow, for all my best efforts, I apparently wasn’t raising a daughter who loved to read. Yet what she had said on that day long ago in fact didn’t match her actions. Perhaps, in her floundering place somewhere between child and young adult, she had issued that statement as a challenge.
Wanna fight, mom?
Whatever the case, I was deeply grateful she felt safe enough to speak her mind.”
Read in full here. http://redtri.com/my-daughter-who-doesn-t-like-to-read/
I love how this turned out! My essay is newly released in Dallas Parent (and other editions of Suburban Parent), Feb 2017, pg 16. What an honor to work with Mary Ellen Caldwell and Suburban Parent Magazines.
I’m honored to have my essay in About Families, page 14.
“One hand reaching to another, this is how we make it, moms. The circle of Older Moms hand-in-hand with young moms.”
I’m honored to have my essay published by Oregon Family Magazine!
“As social media mavens, we want to be remembered. Often apt personal anecdotes are the best way to connect with our followers or Facebook friends and drive a post’s popularity. But when it comes to sharing about our significant other and children, the line of decency can often feel blurry.
The question is weighty, worth the internal wrestling.
The What, When and Why: My personal habits on sharing family-related content start with timing. I allow time to pass before I post about an experience that directly involves either my husband or children. Looking back on an experience affords many advantages.
Waiting to share publicly helps me to more completely understand and process what happened in the first place. When I have a family-related post idea, I’ll write a rough draft, revisiting it as my thoughts mature and clarify. Mulling is a very good thing; at the very least it keeps me honest about my culpability in a personal family anecdote I’m considering sharing. For starters, what is my motivation for sharing?”
Read in full on Oregon Family Magazine.
Honored to publish Use Your Words! Encouraging Expressiveness In Children with ParentMap.
“A scuffle erupted in the adjoining room between the two cousins. The din was unmistakable and the next moment, the sweaty girls bedecked in matching pink and purple Disney princess nightgowns burst into the room to tell the adults what was happening.
My toddler wanted to be the explainer: “Maddy was pulling my hair. I was pulling Maddy’s dress. I was so frustrated!” Chuckles erupted that this disheveled Cinderella had enunciated a word so much bigger than herself and with such conviction. Though her tantrum didn’t make me happy, her ability to choose her words did.
I found her word choice reassuring because as a 30-something mom, I was concerned about how to nudge my verbal firstborn toward accurate, expressive language. She was quick, parroting every word dropped around her, enabling her tendency to sass back.”
Read in full here.
In the beginning, it was lucky chance I ran into you, Older Mom. I didn’t pick you on purpose, I’m embarrassed to admit. I was expecting our first baby less than a year into expat life in Germany. You were the only friend I could find, an older Irish woman with two preschool-aged sons. Pregnant and in a foreign land, I obviously needed a mom-friend and you were it. Hand on ballooning belly, I complained I wasn’t ready.
“No one is throwing me baby showers!”
“What’s that?” You listened incredulously and then wagged your finger at the local drugstore a few doors down from where we were having ice-cream with your kids. “Everything you need is a quick stop. It’s not complicated.” By everything you meant diapers, what else was there to need? End of discussion.
I sucked in my breath and had a private palm-to-forehead moment.
Even taking into account different cultural practices, your reaction coming from one a few clicks ahead of me resonated deeply. I trusted you because you had already done this new mom thing plus one. I’m glad I stumbled across you Older Mom because since then, I’ve intentionally sought you out. As a younger mom, I felt you had my back.
Read in full: Houston Family Magazine (pages 26-27).
In the beginning, it was lucky chance I ran into you, Older Mom. I didn’t pick you on purpose, I’m embarrassed to admit. I was expecting our first baby less than a year into expat life in Germany. You were the only friend I could find, an older Irish woman with two preschool-aged sons. Pregnant and in a foreign land, I obviously needed a mom-friend and you were it.