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No Bullshit Motherhood

Divorce, Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, Relationships

Deconstructed: The Adventures of Co-Parenting And Running A Business With My Ex-Husband

December 8, 2016

By Ally Hamilton

You know the fairy-tale about the princess who marries the prince and has babies, and opens a yoga studio with him and gets divorced and has to figure out how to keep it all going? Yeah, me neither, although I’m living that story now.

When I tell people I’m in business with my ex and we have two young kids, they say something along the lines of, “Wow. How does THAT work?!” Most of the time it works really well. Of course I have my moments when I’m reminded of why we’re divorced, and I might even curse him with every expletive I can think of, but those moments are few and far between. I’m sure he has his moments, too.

The thing is, my life looks nothing like any five-year plan I ever would have devised, and nothing like the picture I had in my head of “how things should be”. Growing up, I went back and forth between my mom’s and my dad’s, three nights here, four nights there, switching that fourth night every other week. If you’ve never lived that way, it’s crazy-making. I was forever forgetting my keys and finding myself locked out, or leaving something essential at one place or the other. The rules were different in each household, as was the energy. When I was at my dad’s I missed my mom. When I was at my mom’s, I worried about my dad. When my step-parents joined the circus, it got even crazier. My mom and stepmom did not like each other, and did not hide that fact from me. My dad said disparaging things about my step-dad. You know who never said a bad word about anyone to me, or within my earshot? My step-dad, and I remember that to this day.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

The Loneliness of Modern Motherhood

December 2, 2016
loneliness

By Liz Vartanian

“Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself” ~ Rupi Kaur

Truth be told, I always wanted to be the stay at home wife. I imagined my days to be filled with learning and adventures of a different kind. Learning how to make pasta, perfect the art of fermented foods, dive deeper into yoga, and maybe have a baby or two. In my late 20’s/early 30’s, I thought it would be grand to build our garden to grow more of our own food, then learn the art of canning and make my own baby food. In my mind, I could do all of this and more.

Now, years later, I look at the dreams of a childless woman and wonder how I thought I would get to “do it all”. To have the clean home, cook all the most nutritious meals (and have my child eat them!), to keep an amazing garden, spend my days socializing with all my mama friends while our babes play, to have time for my yoga practice or any other cup filling practice I may desire. All these things have one thing in common though, they all require time. Clean houses, raising babies, gardening, cooking, yoga, socializing, or cup filling all require some time from the 24 hours we get each day. Each require daily payments of our time. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

Hair Ties

November 28, 2016

By Mare Biddle

“Don’t touch him,” the ER doctor barked at me. “You can’t touch him because you conduct current. We can’t tell exactly what his heart is doing.”

“My hair? Can he hold my hair?” I took out my hair tie and wrapped my three year-old son’s frightened little paw around a thick bunch.

My hair was long that year. I had worn it short most of my adult life. I don’t particularly like long hair: handfuls to wash, tangles to blowout, layers and layers to straighten. Repeat. I don’t recall making a decision to grow it long. I must have skipped a few appointments, and then soon enough it had passed my shoulders. The perfect length to braid, or pile up, or as it turned out, to hold.

“This kid’s not crashing on me. Let’s get this done, people.” The emergency room doctor ordered Adenosine and explained that it would re-set my son’s heart; take it from 266 beats per minute back down to a normal 100. He did not explain how that would happen. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, Owning It!

When Girls Make Noise

November 27, 2016
noise

By Kari O’Driscoll

“Do they make noise when you walk?” my 16-year old daughter stands next to me in the shoe store. She and her sister are my fashion experts. I never buy a pair of boots or a purse without consulting them first. I laugh out loud, not because it sounds like a ridiculous question, but because I completely identify with it. In that instant, an image of my two girls playing dress-up as toddlers fuzzes into my mind. Their arms filled with tulle and satin, they ferried outfits from the carpeted playroom to the hardwood floor of the kitchen, emptying the dress-up box trip by trip because that was where the plastic princess shoes made a really satisfying clop, clop, clop.

“Children should be seen and not heard,” was a phrase often repeated in my childhood home, except it seemed as though the boys were somehow exempt. They were encouraged to rough-house and wrestle, yelp wildly through a game of Cowboys & Indians, holler affirmations and pump their fists in the air when they won a game of H-O-R-S-E. The girls were expected to sit quietly and color and if we made any sort of exuberant noise we were shushed post-haste.

By the time my mother and father divorced, I was well-versed in the expectations of silent servitude. My job was to anticipate what needed to be done and do it without protest or inquiry. I learned that chatterbox was decidedly NOT a compliment, that challenging house rules, even in a calm voice, would earn me a belt slash across the backside, and that my charm and value rose in direct proportion to how well I conformed and made peace between my siblings. I was a good middle child but also the oldest girl. When Dad left and Mom went back to work full time, I became the one doing the shushing, reminding my little sister Katy to raise her hand in class if she had a question, perfecting the laser eye that would still her lips at the dinner table, installing an inner monologue in her head designed to help her determine whether her input was important or necessary or if it was just noise. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

On Ignoring Your Peers in Seventh Grade

November 26, 2016
daughters

By Natha Perkins

When I drop my daughter off for school, she looks around and takes a deep breath before she opens the door, as if to fortify herself for what’s coming. She’s in 7th grade and I remember my own time served in the 7th grade was a small version of hell. Some days she comes home excited and full of stories, brimming with almost child like enthusiasm and other days she gets in the car with an air of defeat. “Mom, guess what someone said to me today?”  And I take a deep breath, my stomach knotting up bracing for what’s to come.

I remember this. The insecurity. The deep pain of feeling like I was doing it all wrong. Watching kids who knew what to do and say, kids who were cool. I wasn’t one of those kids, I was shy and quiet. I would get invited to some of the parties the popular kids threw but I would rarely go, because the anxiety was simply too much for me. If I went, who would I talk to? What if no one talked to me? What if a boy tried to talk to me? I see the same things with my daughter. She wants new friends but hesitates to go out and find them. When someone compliments her on social media, she’s thrilled, but would never use it as gateway into something more. She’s easily and deeply affected by the smallest comments the boys make to her at school. I watch her whip out her theoretic measuring stick and hold herself up against it, basing her worth on the things they say to her. I see her determining whether she’s falling short in the cool department. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, postpartum depression

Arousal: A PTSD Birth Story

November 19, 2016
birth

By Boukje Eerkens

The day my daughter was born was the most chilling day of my life.  I had enjoyed a blissful, naive pregnancy seduced by idealized home birth propaganda and its vision of candles and yoga music and water labor.  For nine months, I had found comfort in the Big Opinions of the natural birthers who dominated affluent middle class neighborhoods like mine, many of whom insisted that hospital medical doctors were biased to perform a C-section that would rob me of the beauty of this sacred act of giving birth.  My husband and I came to believe that minimal medical intervention was best for both me and the baby, and we wondered for a time if we should have the baby at home with a midwife.  Our beloved IVF doctor thankfully gave us pause: “You’ve come this far using medical intervention; why not give birth in the hospital where more help is available in case you need it?”  We compromised: I would labor at home as long as I could, and when the final hours of the baby’s birth approached, we would make our way to the big bad hospital we wished we could avoid.

Like many of our peers, my husband and I prescribed to the Bradley Method birthing approach which views labor and delivery as a natural process where women with quality preparation and supportive coaching can be taught to give birth without anesthesia.  One’s partner is expected to be the “coach”, and like a good coach, my husband studied the birth process dutifully, preparing a handy reference binder should we need it while still laboring at home.  Like me, my husband had never seen a live birth outside of Bradley preparatory videos depicting labor as a spectator sport, but we confidently proceeded as if a binder and the loving hand of my husband could replace a tried and true clinician.  I felt calm and hardy and ready for the waves of contractions understandably required to bring a human being into the world.  But what I had not considered despite being a clinical psychologist in my work life, was the psychological pain I could undergo on this fateful day. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

Downsizing

November 17, 2016
bins

By Megan Birch-McMichael

The blue Tupperware tub sat for months after the move, stored in an alcove under the stairs, sharing space with infant detritus that had been through two rounds of child. A swing, a crib mattress, a breast pump, waiting to see what their ultimate fate would be; a landfill, Goodwill, or in the fourth bedroom that was a combination guest room, office, catch-all room that swelled with our indecision.

A good friend revealed her third pregnancy to me on a playground as we watched our children skitter around, laughing and pushing and filling each other with joy. In a fit of re-organization and purging, I offered her the contents of the bin, pulling out the maternity underwear and nursing bras, and handing over the tops and bottoms that had held in my belly for the long summer months that I thought would never end. “These are just a loan,” she said, “I’ll bring them back when I’m done.” She brought them to the car in two overflowing shopping bags and for months, I forgot them. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, infertility, No Bullshit Motherhood

Dead Souls

November 13, 2016
embryo

By Alex Behr

A new year. January 2001. I went alone to the next IVF appointment in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, menstruating. Everything was mathematically planned out. I had been on the Pill for a month to regulate my ovaries, and now I’d stopped taking them. The doctor did an ultrasound in my bloody kootch. The nurse who took my blood to check for hormone levels said, “Hopefully it’s the last period you’ll have for a long time.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Though later, before I left, she said, “Everyone’s nervous the first time.” What did that mean? Was I doomed to failure? Yet she also said, “The lining of your uterus is thin. Everything looks good.”

The first set of injections would stimulate my follicles to produce more eggs than normal, and I would be monitored on an ultrasound, like any normal pregnant person, the follicles looking like the underside of a psychedelic mushroom, open to new life.

At home, though, Sam and I got in another fight. “If I get a shit job I’ll be too depressed,” Sam said. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, parenting

Attachment Parenting

November 10, 2016

*An amazing picture Jesse drew of his family, putting them in two pairs.

By Kendra Lubalin

Sadie is wrapped around my leg, her surprisingly strong thighs and arms tightly squeezing her body to mine, attached.  She says “I don’t know why I ever stopped nursing!  If I hadn’t I could still suck on your boobs every day!”  She is six years old, but her face is pressed to my calf so tightly, her yearning voice so authentically in pain, that I can’t laugh.

She wants to be so close that she doesn’t know how to get there.  It’s an impossible amount of closeness to achieve.  She wants my membranes to be permeable so she can swim inside me, she wants to pass though me like a ghost, but solid and warm – blood mixing with blood, breath with breath, heartbeat with heartbeat.  If she could crawl back inside the womb I’m still not sure she could satiate the desire she has to own me, to make me hers.  She whispers to me that she will put a window into my stomach, so she can live in there and still see her friends.

Straddling my lap she grabs my face in her hands and goes eye to eye, foreheads touching.

“You are mine.  Only mine.” Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, parenting

Dear Jacob: An Open Letter to My 15 Year Old Son

November 7, 2016
loved

By Adrienne Rich-Giuliano

Dear Jacob,

So many beautiful thoughts come to my mind that make me smile when I think of you.  It makes my heart want to bust open.  From singing “You Are My Sunshine” to you countless times as an infant, to how I say you taught me how to be a mom, to how you seem to be such an old soul, to how you always seem to want to be there for people that seem to need a hand, or an ear, or a friend.  I love you for all those things and more.

Earlier today, when your dad and I were talking to you about grades and school and stuff, you seemed to be particularly uncomfortable hearing the words “we love you.”  I don’t know if it is just an age thing, the topic of conversation, or that maybe you didn’t believe the words.

I want you to know that I do love you, an indescribable amount.  While I want you to learn a lot of things in school….that is what I want you to know and believe most of all.  Moreover, what I feel is even more important for you, is that you like and love and take care of yourself, first and foremost.  It took me a long time to understand what this meant, because I didn’t even really ever hear of this concept until I was older. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, Tough Conversations

Conversations On Baseball, Zombies, and Death

November 5, 2016

TW: This essay discusses suicide.

By Meg Weber

My daughter was six years old the first time she asked me for details about Melissa’s death. She knew Melissa had been my best friend, that she had died, and that I missed her. I had staunchly avoided any other details.

One morning, just over a year ago, Kai finally voiced her questions. “Why did she die? Did she get sick? Did she want her bones to be a skeleton?” Although we’d talked about scattering Melissa’s ashes, I had purposefully skipped over describing how bodies become ashes.

I hadn’t explained how Melissa died, mainly because walking in the forest on a clear blue sky day is something I want Kai to be excited about, not scared of. I want her to love trees, not fear them. But the day she finally asked her litany of questions, I told her the truth. Melissa had been hiking in a forest and a big part of a tree broke off and fell on her. “Momo, did her blood come out? Momo, why didn’t she just run really fast to get away from the tree? That’s what I would have done.” Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, parenting

Past Imperfect

November 1, 2016
year

By Patti Jurinski

Every year it’s the same. I walk into the school conference room carrying a binder and a single question. Teachers and administrators group in a defensive formation, a single chair waiting across the table. Like a criminal facing the parole board, I take my designated seat, eyes on the neat white stapled pages arranged like place settings.

A quick glance at the ring of faces — tight smiles, dropped eyes — and I have my answer. In spite of everything, nothing has changed. Hope flutters out the window with the spring breeze.

I blink back tears. Crying in an IEP meeting was expected in Kindergarten, the tissue box at the ready. They tolerated it in elementary school, disapproved of it in Junior High. My son’s a freshman now, and the faces at the table are blank. There’s a quarter moon mark where my nail digs deep into my finger, the pain a necessary reminder to focus. The faces start speaking, and the words are familiar but like a pair of dress shoes, never quite comfortable.

Your son is too loud, distractible, annoying to the other students.

The buzzing starts in the back of my head. The build-up to a scream. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

An Open Letter to My Formula-Fed Baby

October 30, 2016
formula

By Shannon Frost Greenstein

Dear Offspring,

I must apologize. I must do more than apologize. I must grovel on my knees for your forgiveness, kowtow to your sleeping form, throw myself upon my samurai sword in disgrace. I have failed you. I have failed as a mother, but more than that, I have failed as your provider and protector. Your existence is now irrevocably screwed up, all because I’m feeding you formula.

Offspring, please understand. I tried. I tried SO bloody hard. I wanted to breastfeed you more than anything in the world, and I will never get back the block of my life that I devoted trying to feed you from my body. Don’t get me wrong…I would happily sacrifice it a million times over if there was even the remotest chance I could rear you the way nature intended. But it was just a physical impossibility, and now, you’re playing through life with an unimaginable handicap, all because I’m feeding you formula.

Just so you know how sorry I really am, let me detail how your life is flat-out ruined, all because I’m feeding you formula. Continue Reading…

Child Birth, Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

After Birth

October 28, 2016
birth

By Marissa Korbel

I remember it as a cold morning, but I don’t trust my memory; my early 30’s are rife with cold, gray fog that is less fact, or metaphor than sense. I was bundled up in multiple sweaters, picking my feet through street debris, while standing, aware of my clean hair, in the San Francisco Free Clinic line.

Months of crying and sleeping the afternoons away had brought me here. I was 31 years old, and 3 years out of law school. I was an overworked, underpaid adjunct professor of paralegal studies and criminal justice at a local college. My job didn’t offer health insurance. I could barely afford my therapist’s “low end” sliding scale. I had decided to try taking psych meds to feel better. Continue Reading…