Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Did you know we have an amazing e-book on the website this week....the best insights, expert tips and stories of the new-and-improved in 2010.

Check it out here


Monday, May 24, 2010


Note that in February 2010 the website moved to a more dynamic format that enables us to add daily blogs to the website itself in each category of the Choice Mom journey -- with even more bells and whistles that includes audio clips, sponsor deals, event details and more.

Visit the Being section there at:


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Forgiveness, and parenting

I joined a new "sermon-based" group at my First Universalist Church recently. Set groups of 6-8 of us meet every other week to talk about the theme of that month's sermons.

In January the theme was forgiveness, and it's amazing how deeply that topic touches so many of us. How many of us have trouble forgiving ourselves. And how many of us -- even in our 40s, 60s, 80s -- are trying to forgive our parents.

It makes you realize the power of parenting to really screw people up. :-)

One thing I've learned so far, however, is that saying things out loud, to yourself, is a big step. And then saying it out loud to someone you are trying to forgive, if that person is still in your life (in this world or the next), is also important. Not so much for reconciling with them. But for reconciling with yourself.

Because forgiveness, I think, is so much about letting go and moving on for yourself.

As our minister put it: "Forgiveness is about letting go of the idea that you can change the past."

As a parent, I'm now trying to look at things that my kids will someday need to forgive ME for. Will it be for the way I talk to them when I'm angry? For being distracted a lot with work?

THESE are the relationship issues that are important. NOT, I am sure of it now that I'm getting to know their maturing selves, the fact that they grew up without a father in their lives.

Those big overarching issues we often grow up with in relation to our own parents is not so much what we felt was done TO us -- events and lifestyles -- but in the way we interacted over time. Was it respectful, or judgmental and critical? Was it nurturing, or narcissistic? Did we feel we were listened to, or ignored?

What do you think? What arrows did you keep to your chest for some time, perhaps about your own childhood, before learning how to pluck them out and move on?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday gift ideas from our kids

A busy Choice Mom, behind on shopping for the holidays, wondered what she might be able to get for her parents on behalf of her young daughter. She asked Choice Moms for advice. This insight from Christine, mother of two young daughters, I thought was especially helpful:

First off, let me say how much I can relate to your pain and frustration! Every time I pat myself on the back that I'm done with shopping, someone else pops up!

However, I suggest 2 things. 1) stop and breathe -- I think it's so easy to get caught up in the commercial part of making sure everyone has a gift that we forget to enjoy the moment of the holiday. Last year at this time I had a three week old and a preschooler in the house. I was limited and exhausted, and finally had to admit I couldn't do it all! It was a very liberating feeling, and allowed me to slow down and just enjoy the spirit. 2) You are always thinking about what's best for your daughter, so think about what you want her impressions of Christmas to be? A stressed mom? I'm trying to keep in mind this season (and it's hard sometimes!) that I really want to pass on the traditions of Christmas to my children, and not so much the present part.

Having said all that, what about taking one of your favorite pictures from this year and making a frame out of connected handprint-tracing cutouts? I don't know if your daughter is drawing stick people, but I always treasure my daughter's drawings of our family. What about a t-shirt or tote bag covered with her hand- and footprints? I always give my mom a yearly calendar filled with the girls' pictures as a new years present (my mother still has a dial up computer connection so sending her picture files is almost impossible!). It includes Christmas morning photos, so she doesn't mind the wait! My last suggestion is just to go to Target with your daughter and let her pick out what she thinks grandma and grandpa would like. You are totally off the hook then, because your daughter picked it out!

Holly added these ideas:
Don't discount the photo mug idea. We have a kiosk in a small mall here that does it in an hour or so. Maybe check there? How about a picture on an ornament with the year?

For Gramma, my daughter has made her a picture that we framed. She also collected some acorns (they do this every fall together) and I preserved them with an acrylic spray and we're giving them in a lovely bowl. Also, I do A LOT of my shopping on and found a local woman who made Gramma a set of earrings with an acorn theme and a bracelet to match - inexpensive, handmade and since she's local the expedited shipping wasn't terrible (I almost went to her house to get them at one point!). Here's the link to search for local merchants near you:

Something simple, IMO, is always best and makes the biggest hit. Books for them to read together? A plant in a Terracotta pot that is decorated by your daughter with paints with a plant she picked out at the local garden center? If photos are in abundance, I've made small "scrapbooks" with small wire bound sketchbooks, self-adhesive photo corners and little stickers and handwriting throughout remembering times together (cheaper than online and easier if you have the time).

What about you? What ideas have worked for you?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finding your support network

A single woman thinking about becoming a Choice Mom emailed to ask about all the situations that can come up when we need a support network -- and what if we don't have a good one? Her family and friends lived far away. She was tied to a community because of her job, where she was the boss and thus didn't feel she had the work colleagues to ask favors of. What would she do if she needed emergency childcare? Or if her sleep was so impaired that she couldn't function? Or if the stress of life left her unable to cope with a child's tantrums? Where would she find help? Would it all magically work out?

It prompted me to work on the next radio show, about building our support networks. I've dealt with it on, with the "building support" package. And we've had several shorter podcasts about it on Choice Chat. But I'm devoting a full hour on the topic on the "Choosing Single Motherhood" show, to go up December 14.

Here is some of the wonderful advice that came from a fellow Choice Mom on the subject, which deserves to be available both for listeners and for readers, from Lily:

"While it is something to think about, I wouldn't get too panicky about any of it. You may have to not assume that your support network for the baby will be the people who will be the social support network for you. You may have to hire people to do things that need doing -- I have always said 'I do with a checkbook what other people do with a spouse.'

The answer to most of your questions about "what to do if..." is "you just do it." You won't be getting full nights of sleep for a long time. When your toddler has a tantrum, you just deal with it. When you get sick, you just handle it. There will be times when you will think 'I just can't take too much more of this,' but you'll get past them. I have a few numbers of people I could call, and 99 percent of the time, I get through it just by thinking I COULD call them if I had to. I almost never do.

In terms of work, you will be missing more days than you are now -- that's just a given. The child will be unexpectedly ill, your daycare provider will call in sick or will be unexpectedly closed, and you will have to take time off. If you're senior, I assume you've been working there for a while. This is when it is going to be time for payback for all the years when you took the late nights, worked all the holidays, or whatever. I view it as a bank -- when I had the freedom to work late, pick up the rotten shift, whatever, I did it. I figured at some point in my life, I'd need to take advantage of needing to take time off, and then no one could say I was a shirker, because I'd have years of going the extra mile at my back. And now I do have to take more time off, and I don't think about it at all. I don't feel bad about it, and I don't view it as revenge for all those times in the past (I'm not trying to 'stick it' to my colleagues), but as something I've earned both administratively and in the goodwill bank.

You will most likely lose contact or have much less contact with your friends who don't have kids. That's just the way it is -- their childless lives will continue on the path of what it is now -- it's only natural. They may come and visit once in a while or call you (although they won't understand why you really can't chat right then), but you will become less close. It's just the way of things and normal in the social life cycle.

When I lived in the U.K., I found the culture a lot "smaller" -- even in London -- than it is in the US. What I mean by that is that even in the larger towns, you had a local area/unit that you could fairly easily know who was around you. You also were far more likely to have access to "an older lady who does" or "a young woman who babysits" or the shopkeeper's wife/daughter who was looking for some work on the side.

Where I live in the U.S., my area is pretty homogenous, so it's very consistently upper-middle class professionals, and the pool of people out there who fill some of the support structure roles simply aren't there. We hire companies to do the cleaning, no one knows of a babysitter that isn't family, and the nannies/au pairs are imported from other countries. If I were in the U.K. now, I'd probably spend some time before having the baby finding something locally you like to do. Find a local pub that you enjoy, join a church, join a society, etc. In those places you will probably find people who know people and will probably come across a more broad spectrum of society than you would in a similar situation in the US. I know many will think it's not true, but in the U.S., we're actually far more likely to have church congregations, neighborhoods, etc., where everyone is very much the same. I'm quite sure that were I still in the U.K., I'd have had a much easier time finding people to babysit or do other things that I might need done through local contacts than here.

Here's the big one, though. Only you know how independent you truly are. You mentioned your fear of not being able to cope when a toddler has a tantrum or when you're ill. How have you handled things in the past -- are you someone who tends to walk away from things, or are you someone who tends to just get through it? Are you someone for whom it would be nice to have someone around to assist, or are you someone for whom this kind of assistance is essential and necessary?

The person you are now and your coping styles will not really change. You are not going to be going to some other planet where you change your identity. You will just be you, but with a child. Don't plan for the person you're not -- plan for the person you are."

What about you? How have you coped with the stresses of single parenting? Of parenting? Of emergencies and sleep deprivation and tantrums? Of friends and family who aren't really there? Where have you found your support network? Has it all worked out magically?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A mother's first year in reflection

from Kristina

My son turns one tomorrow, and I couldn’t help and think about how life has changed in the past year. I thought I would share some of them with you.

Things I miss:


Ability to plan

Going to the gym

Things I don’t miss:

Lunch w/friends (I normally spend it at my son's daycare now)

Happy Hour

Going shopping or going to the movies

My new joys in life:

My son’s laugh

His reaction when I pick him up from daycare or surprise him w/ a visit during the day

Watching him learn new thing/experience things for the first time

That fact that he learned the word “Yah” but still doesn’t know the work “No”

My surprises:

Regardless of how much fun my single/childless friends are having, I would rather be with my son.

How much I can truly accomplish during his 20min nap.

Changing the diapers not that bad (knew my poor sense of smell would come in handy)

How much energy I can muster when sick/tired and my son needs/wants something.

My time/money ratio has changed incredibly; I am more willing to pay to have someone do something I can do just so I can spend the time with my son.