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Love, Process, and Letting Go: What I Learned as My Daughter Made Valentines

“It will take one hundred years!” I said a bit (okay, a lot) immaturely to my 5 year-old daughter mimicking her usual phrase. She wanted to trace, cut out, decorate, and write names on 19 homemade heart-shaped valentines for her nursery school classmates. Wanting to avoid the time, imagined tears of frustration (hers and mine!), and perceived stress, I proposed I at least cut them out. I pictured hearts made with nice smooth scissor edges. That proposal was shot down. I hung out cleaning the kitchen instead, until it was painfully obvious I was not needed at all. Sometime later that afternoon, I was proven totally wrong. Those 19 valentines were done. My heart felt so full seeing them on the table after watching her plug away undaunted by the task at hand. These pieces of paper, which I doubt     . . . read more

Parenting: Are You a Fixer or a Guide?

It seems to me that well-meaning parents lean towards one of two strategies (but often do both): being a fixer or being a guide. Neither is wrong. Like I said, these are what caring parents do. The trick is getting the right ratio of guiding to fixing, and knowing the limits of each. Guiding is teaching, explaining, validating, comforting, supporting, discussing, asking questions, and encouraging exploration. Fixing is about taking charge and changing a situation. These are very different strategies and both should be used intentionally. Guiding Guiding helps children learn lessons and skills that they can take with them their whole life. It is a process that takes time. It embraces life as a journey and kids need help along the way. Guiding is appropriate for situations where safety is not an issue. It’s for when a child is     . . . read more

Beyond Postpartum: The Surprising Benefits of Being a Mom

Writer and mother extraordinaire, Lynn Shattuck, recently wrote a great piece for her blog reflecting on her postpartum experience. It was hugely popular because it hit home for many women. It brought back some memories for me, too. It took me a few weeks to regroup emotionally from having a baby in the middle of a dark, cold winter. In the thick of it, I was more exhausted, anxious, and vulnerable than I had ever been. In my worst moments, I worried about everything from dropping the baby, to falling down the stairs, to forgetting her altogether. Who had entrusted the care of this helpless creature to me anyway? Didn’t they know that I occasionally tripped and misplaced things?! I was worn down like all new moms. In the hardest hours, sparks of worries kept me tired and wired in     . . . read more

Allowing Ourselves to Feel

Note from Hannah: I’m pleased to feature this guest post by Jennifer Barbour of anotherjennifer.com as part of the New Perspectives Series on mental health, wellness, and just being a human. Enjoy! I could feel my eyes start to sting as I fought back tears. Should I be crying? Is this professional? “Denise” read a letter from her then nine-year-old son, begging her to stop taking drugs so that they could be a family again. It was heart wrenching to hear. The three of us spent the day shooting a video for the treatment facility I worked for. I glanced at the filmmaker. He was concentrating on the shot. And while he was visibly affected by the content of the letter, he did not flinch. Earlier that day, Denise told me how she would bring her twin girls to the     . . . read more

Hopes for Myself as a Mother

It’s an odd place to get parenting advice, but the best story regarding mothering I ever heard was from Penn Jillette on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. Penn talked about how his mother’s philosophy was that she loved and cherished her children for who they were, from the moment of birth, and never for what they did. She delighted in their joys, but it was never about accomplishments. According to Penn, she was once offended by a producer who asked her if she were proud of her son for receiving a positive New York Times review. She was horrified at the suggestion and put him in his place by affirming it was not his accomplishments that made her proud, but who he was and had always been. That’s the kind of mom I want to be. Like Mrs. Jillette, I hope     . . . read more

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