Browsing Tag

children

Guest Posts, Miscarriage

Rediscovering Babar

June 12, 2016
miscarriage

By Michele Vaughn

I found the Babar book last week.

It was the book, written in the little bear’s native French, that I bought in a cute Parisian boutique in March 2009, just a few days after getting my first (and second, and third) positive pregnancy test.

And just a few days before I’d miscarry the baby Babar was meant for.

I bought the book before I knew any better than to be optimistic about pregnancy. Over that short week, as we strolled through the markets on Rue Cler and gazed at paintings in the Louvre, I thought ahead to due dates. I made mental lists of names and dreamed of cute baby books while saying no to glasses of Bordeaux and yes to pain au chocolat. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, parenting

What The Kids Should be Watching

May 20, 2016

By Kelly Sokol

I can’t wait to introduce my two daughters to MTV’s reality series Teen Mom. In each episode Amber, Caitlynn, Farrah, Leah, Maci and the other stars deliver a message I’ve been too chicken shit to tell: motherhood as defined in 21st century America is hard as hell. When they are reduced to tabloid headlines, the cast of Teen Mom look like tragic caricatures of motherhood too soon: bad hair extensions, plastic surgery, drugs, convictions, domestic abuse. However the full story line tells an honest, gritty version of motherhood truth that society (and every other television program) chooses to ignore. The women of Teen Mom were the only on-screen role models to which I could relate as a new mother.

I wish I could hate the series; as an educated feminist, perhaps I should. It’s easy to dismiss the show as exploitative and its cast members as too young and too poor to have agreed to have their lives documented. However these young women are brave, and maybe naïve, to invite cameras into their mothering, with all of the trolling commentary and armchair parenting of an audience that lives their lives behind closed doors, in privacy. I can’t stop watching. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, parenting

Akasha: When Your Kid Asks For More Space

May 17, 2016
parenting

By Lisa Kusel

“Do you mind? I’m trying to get ready for school,” Loy, my 13-year-old daughter, says as I walk into the bathroom.

Ignoring her, I flip open the medicine cabinet. “I just want to grab some coconut oil. My skin is so dry.”

As I stand next to her in our tiny bathroom, smearing my face into dewy shininess I can’t help but notice the scorn in her eyes in the mirror’s reflection. “What?” I ask.

“I can’t believe you just walked in like that. You’re totally invading my space.”

I put the jar back in the cabinet, mutter “sorry,” and slip out.

Instead of going back to my desk, I stand in the hallway, staring silently at the white bathroom door, picturing her carefully applying mascara to her fresh eyes. Dotting her laughingly few pimples with the expensive tube of concealer she insisted I buy.

Her space? Since when did my baby need her space? Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, motherhood, Relationships

The Kids Are Alright

April 6, 2016
children

By Jessica Starr

“Are you currently pregnant?”  The new patient questionnaire asked, immediately getting to the topic ruminating in my head over the past few weeks.

Without thinking I hastily scribbled, “Please God, I hope not.”

The second questions asked, “Have you ever been pregnant?”
“No,” I wrote “AND I NEVER WANT TO BE”.

The exam room door opened and the nurse dressed in out of season holiday scrubs called out “Jessica Starr?”

I chose Dr. Carrie Miles as my new OBGYN based on her one paragraph biography on the women’s clinic website.  She did not mention having children, however did enjoy spending time hiking with her two dogs and that was enough to put my reproductive health in her hands.

I sat nervously in the exam room, glancing at the pamphlets about all the possible STD’s I could have.  Dr. Miles walked in, casually wearing a white lab coat with her name stitched in red cursive writing, her pants dragging a touch too long. She had green eyes highlighted by blue eyeshadow, kept a straight serious face, and had obviously read my new patient paperwork. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, motherhood

In My House

September 22, 2015

By Stephanie Land

When we moved to Montana, Jamie stopped calling Mia for months. We had our own place in this old house next to downtown and we’d go for walks to the park and the river. Then he called to say he’d moved to Portland and had a new job which meant regular paychecks. He said a judge would make me move to Portland if I tried to get more child support. He said the money they garnished from his pay and sent to me kept him from living his life the way he wanted. It kept him from pursuing his dream of opening a bicycle shop. It kept him from cross country bike trips. He made over a thousand a week and I got seventy-five. He called and said he couldn’t afford her visit that summer. He couldn’t figure out how to pay for childcare and feed her and pay support and pay rent. He’d told her he’d buy a big girl bike and teach her how to ride on two wheels. The training wheels stayed on her bike at home. I couldn’t convince her to try.

When we moved into our new apartment last fall, I gave her the big bedroom. She hung pictures of her dad all over the walls. She’d done this in the past, hanging the one in the red frame in particular. The one where we’re both smiling in our hooded sweatshirts. He has his arm around me and I’m leaning in. Mia’s sitting in my lap, looking at us. I might be imagining it, but I can see the uncertainty on her four-month-old face. We’d just come from another useless counseling appointment where Jamie confessed he wasn’t attracted to me. He said it like that, out loud, in front of another person. He said he kept seeing this girl riding her bike around town. The girl was skinny and shorter and had a style of dress that he liked and he wanted to be with her. Not me. “The girl on the bike” would be his new phrase. As in “you’re not the girl on the bike.” As in “I want the girl on the bike.” I’d leave the picture where Mia hung it for a while before I moved it back to a slightly hidden somewhere by her bed. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, Pregnancy

Don’t Tell Me It’ll All Be Worth It

August 9, 2015

By Abigail Rasminsky

When I was 14 weeks pregnant, my husband and I flew halfway around the world to spend Christmas with his family in rural Nevada. We live in Europe, and by the time we sloughed off our coats and boots at his aunt and uncle’s doorstep—I cannot even begin to tell you how many flights later; I sobbed for most of the journey—I was a wreck. I managed to wave hello to the 10 or so people in attendance, and disappeared into the spare bedroom for most of the visit.

I’d had debilitating nausea since Week 7 and although I’d been told it would dissipate by the end of the first trimester, I woke up every morning pressed firmly against another wave of it. I couldn’t grasp that my decrepit state could, in six months, culminate in something joyful. Although the baby was planned and very much wanted, I seemed to be the only person in my life who wasn’t thrilled by the pregnancy.

On one of my infrequent visits out of the bedroom, my mother-in-law sat down across from me while I took slow bites of a peanut butter sandwich. She raised three boys largely on her own and is one of the very sweetest people on earth, but she seemed puzzled by my state. “It’s all worth it,” she said. My husband’s aunt, also a mother of three, who was bending over backwards to make me feel at home despite my fervently anti-social behavior, chimed in: “Yes! It’s totally, totally worth it.” This became their mantra for the week: It’s all worth it.

Now that I have a child—that child—an absolutely delightful almost-two-year-old whose very being structures and enlivens (and frustrates) my days, I, of course, know exactly what they were saying: This part, this short part, ends—and then the rest of your unimaginable, irrevocably changed life begins. Then you are a mother, hopefully forever. Then you will feel how completely your heart can be turned inside out. Then the pregnancy will be but a blip on a vast and textured landscape.

Pregnancy, however, is all too often treated simply as a gateway—something to get through on the road to the real event, the baby’s birth; not as a momentous, life-altering, and emotionally and physically treacherous event in and of itself. It is rarely something that women are allowed to experience and enact—to speak of—in all its nuanced complexity. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Relationships

Breaking Up With A Seven Year Old

July 21, 2015

By Sofia Rasmussen

Already as a child, I decided I would never be part of a divorced family again.

When I would be old enough, I’d marry the right man, have three dark-haired children with high cheekbones and never ever get divorced.

In my next family there would be no stepmother. There would only be a mother and a father. Everyone would love each other equally as much, and what had once been wrong, would be immediately righted.

But few things turn out the way we imagine them to be, and I met my boyfriend’s son on a spring day in 2009.

Tobias was 4 years old and worked diligently on a collection of insects he would confine in a red plastic bucket. There was something about this blond boy that I did not recognize from my own childhood; he was distant and withdrawn. But I did recognize the world of spiders, yellow buttercups, beetles, and grass on the bottom of a bucket as a time capsule of something we do not get back.

I did not want to be a stepmother. My own experience with having a stepmother was ambivalent. As a child, I often felt that I was on the verge of belonging and not – it was a matter of a few inches – and my stepmother was in control.

I needed to know she cared for me so I wouldn’t lose my footing, and, therefore, I was a chameleon; I could not figure out how to be honest with her.

When she painted a picture or bought some new clothes, she would show me and ask:

“Isn’t it beautiful?”

And I always said yes, always. As if the truth would peel off all my humanity like a third degree burn and reveal an ugly, black crater: I figured it would be easier to love a yes rather than a no.

My parents got divorced when I was almost 3 years old. Immediately after the divorce, I moved into a small apartment with my father. When I was 4 years old we moved again, this time with my stepmother and her two children.

Tobias was also 4 years old when I moved into the house he had shared with his mom and dad. Continue Reading…

Fatherhood, Guest Posts, parenting

A Note On My Recent Behavior

July 20, 2015
beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Joseph Medler

Parenthood first goes about revealing your innumerable flaws and shortcomings.

It does this in such a nonstop barrage of situations that reveal your inadequacy that you question not only your abilities, but the universe and its judgment to leave such a precious and wonderful gift in such incapable hands. But you fumble through and with repetition you learn that what feels massive is just a blip and when things that arise that could be massive are dealt with you start to trust that you in fact are the right person and the hospital didn’t make a mistake letting this baby come home with you.

You are broken down to your foundation and rebuilt brick by brick. It is a necessary and critical process as it allows you to discard the many silly things you treated with reverence before you knew and it leaves you with something approximating wisdom. When I held my first born for the first time I became aware of my own mortality. No one told me about this.

About sleepless nights and the many changes to lifestyle, sure, but this existential crisis was not something for which I was on the lookout. I thought about death passively and actively. It was a farmer’s toothpick getting chewed on, soft and tattered until it was soaked and malleable and worn through, splintering and finally turning to pulp to be discarded.

I am empowered by my inevitable death. What felt like a crisis, that I was not going to be able to foster him and his brother completely through a life, has turned into an awakening. It hurts to be sure that I won’t get to see how their stories end. I won’t be there to ensure as happy an ending possible and infact will rely on them to provide this for me. But between now and then it is my privilege and obligation to do everything I can to stack whatever odds I can in their favor. From this angle I’ve become a man that is determined to have as little difference between my public and private face as possible.

I do this for me, yes, but I also do it for them. My little guys need to see that they are able to be wholly themselves even when the world smirks at them. The world can seem a hellof a giant thing and when it takes note of you with scorn it can be scary. But you can’t be afraid.

You can’t allow the world to so color your opinion of yourself that you decide it’s best to hide behind whatever facades you decide upon which draw the least amount of attention. In fact, once you know fully who you are you can smirk right back at the world as you are equal to it. Primarily because ‘fuck it’. You are.

No matter what the world thinks of you it can’t change that unless you empower it. You, me and everyone we know are great. All of us. It may not play out on a stage large enough for the world to see and it may not ever make life easy, but it’s true. Our greatness is innate and the only way we can fail it is to not attempt to practice it and to share it. Do this and the world and its judgments will not only get quiet, they will disappear.

Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, healing, The Hard Stuff

The Defiant Heart

June 11, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Karen Palmer

There was a family that lived two doors away from us, just over the top of a hill in Silver Lake, in a house that looked like a Beatrix Potter illustration, with a thatched roof and multipaned windows and roses in the tiny front yard. The dad was a doctor, a handsome pediatrician, the wife a full-time mom, blond, tanned and athletic, a swimmer and a tennis player, with happy crinkles at the corners of her eyes; and they had two children, the older a six-year-old boy, the younger a baby girl who was two. My mother and father didn’t know the family well — the parents moved in different social circles and their kids were several years too young to be playmates for me — but my mom used to get up the occasional bridge game with the mom, along with Meryl, who was my friend Jennifer’s mother, and a few other ladies from our neighborhood.

The summer of 1967, the family went off to their annual vacation at Big Bear Lake, and the little girl drowned. The parents, each headed back to the cabin for lunch, took different paths along the edge of the lake. Each thought their daughter was with the other.

Everyone was so sorry about the little girl’s death — this was such a nice family — but as the shock wore off, I became aware of a creeping communal notion that the wrong child had died. No adult ever said so, and certainly not to me, but the feeling was palpable. The little girl was bubbly and sweet, full of personality. The boy was skittish, dorky, and therefore less appealing. At the funeral he was too lightly hugged and then too quickly let go. Later, when the bridge games resumed, I heard someone say, What a shame, now that one was going places, and the ladies all sighed. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, Marriage

Another Seven Years.

March 1, 2015

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By Megan Birch-McMichael.

After almost a decade together, our shared language is both oral and visual. A wink means, did you see what our kid did? A sigh, what’s wrong now? A gentle nudge with a big toe on a calf in the middle of the night, please stop snoring already. Our words have meanings that only we understand, our promises to love each other through sickness and in health made with knowing smiles at the altar after having lived through a premarital spring, summer and fall of ailments that would precede another four seasons of tests and uncertainty.

Starting as a pre-med in college, though I wouldn’t see it through, I learned a language of medicine and science, names for various bodily systems and afflictions, words to describe how one is feeling. The language of love, our words that we speak to one another, has the staccato rhythm of a heartbeat, an electrical impulse sent to the tiny metal disk that rests underneath the surface of his skin, shocking his essential pump into a steady beat when it threatens to stop completely. The disk that was implanted two years ago when just after his 32st birthday, and right before my 31st, the fear of widowhood rose with bile in the back of my throat as I listened to the voice on the other end of the phone.

“Pick me up now.”

Thump.

“My heart stopped.”

Thump.

“I have to see the doctor immediately.”

Thump.

“I love you.”

Thump, thump.

The first time he collapsed, in our fourth year together, he 29 and I 28, we were at a diner with my mother and my brother two days after Thanksgiving. I did not yet have a ring on my finger symbolizing our marriage yet to come (that would come two weeks later on the National Mall in the freezing cold moonlight), and when he laid his head on my brother’s shoulder as we sat at the breakfast table, we laughed it off for a moment.

Continue Reading…

Abuse, Dear Life., Guest Posts, healing

Dear Life: Why Can’t I Let Myself Be Happy?

January 28, 2015

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Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.

Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to submit a letter or email dearlife@jenniferpastiloff.com.) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by author Lisa Kaplin.

Send us your questions because there loads of crazy authors waiting to answer ‘em. Just kidding, they aren’t crazy.

Well okay, maybe a little. Aren’t we all? xo, Jen Pastiloff, Crazy Beauty Hunter.

ps, I will see you in London in a couple weeks! My Feb 14th workshop there is sold out but there is room in Atlanta, NYC, Philly, NJ, Chicago. All info on workshops here.

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Dear Life,

So…. Wtf is going on in my life? That is my question. Let me break it down, pleasantly 🙂

1. I left my husband of a 13 year marriage, (new him since I was 11) 5 years ago because I fell in love

2. My husband was abusive and cheated and I knew I deserved more

3. The man I fell in love with- is amazing with faults

4. After finally getting divorced (because he fought it) I then couldn’t let go

5. I was not a good human. I was selfish and aborted twins because I was afraid I would hurt my ex husband and afraid I wasn’t strong enough to take care of them alone. I accepted in my fucked up brain that no one could truly love me for eternity and help me. How the hell was I going to raise the two I already had. But all bullshit aside I knew I wasn’t capable of doing it. But I still hate myself and wish I could take it back.

6. I have lived with the guilt for too long

7. I birthed an amazing crazy human boy two years later that changed my life for ever

8. I still do not forgive myself for my abortion of the twins

9. I have made so many life changes. I have begun to live my life the way I want. Healthier. More peace. More quiet. More everything

10. Why am I still searching? Why am I still afraid? Why can’t I let go of my past and love and live in this moment?!?!

Sooooo… Wtf Is wrong with me? Why can’t I let myself be happy??? Why am I always afraid of really living and enjoying and seriously just being?
Sincerely,

Searching

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, motherhood, parenting

You’ve Got it All Backwards.

January 27, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Sarah Kurliand.

The other day I was driving to the Franklin Institute with my 3 ½ year old son, X. Our windows were down to let in the crisp, fresh air per his request. As I slowed to stop at the corner, I noticed an older man standing there. We locked eyes for a moment and I smiled, as I do to everyone. And he went on, “Heyyyy guuuurl. How you doin? You lookin’ mighty beautiful today” , and I went on my way. In total, it lasted about 5 seconds.

I looked in my rear view mirror at my beautiful son, as I waited for the questions to come flooding in. I racked my brain thinking of interesting ways to spin this so he could understand it. I could see his wheels turning… 

X: Ma, who was that man? Why he say ‘Hey gurl’ like that? You know him?

Me: I don’t know who that man was X.

X: Then why he call you beautiful?           

Me: I guess he just wanted to tell me what he thought.

A few silent moments went by. I have learned through my few short years of motherhood that this is his processing time and to just be quiet because more was on its way. And then like clockwork.

X: It’s very weird Ma, his words sounded like nice words but he was not a nice man.

And there it was. The biggest truth bomb anyone had ever laid on me. Without even seeing this man, my three and a half year old little baby could tell simply by the tone in his voice that even though yes, he may have used kind words, he was not indeed, well meaning.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…

death, Grief, Guest Posts, healing

The Hole.

January 25, 2015

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By Mandy Hitchcock.

The four of us sit at the breakfast table in the sunroom. We’re still in our pajamas. The morning sun pours in, and I blink rapidly at the sunbursts in my eyes. It’s a hot and humid late August day, but inside we are cool.

Our three-year-old sits between Ed and me, too big for a booster seat anymore but too small still to reach the table from a regular chair, so he is on his knees, carefully unrolling one of the freshly baked but entirely canned orange cinnamon rolls his dad has prepared us for breakfast. He finishes unrolling it, and now that it’s a long boring strip, he decides that it’s no good and hands it back to his dad. I take it, roll it tightly again, and offer it back to him. “Is that better?” I say. “Yeah!” he says gleefully, grabbing it and finally taking a bite.

On my other side, our newly minted one-year-old daughter perches in her high chair, working her newly minted pincer grasp to pick up the tiny pieces of cinnamon roll I have torn up for her to eat. We were so much stricter with sugar two kids ago, but I’m as unreasonable as ever about choking hazards. She’s clearly frustrated with the small pieces, shoveling them by the handful and squawking at me for something more substantial. Or maybe she wants milk. It’s still tough to tell at this stage.

It’s these moments—these moments when life feels so very close to being absolutely perfect, almost maddeningly close—that I am stunned, again, by how absolutely imperfect, how irrevocably and horribly wrong it all is.

It’s in these most ordinary-extraordinary moments, these moments that seem to happen every day and yet almost never, when she is most absent. As we four sat, savoring our rare vacation treat of canned orange cinnamon rolls, she was so missing. So missing that I couldn’t help but imagine her there, even almost see her, on the other side of the table next to her dad, squinting at the sun in her eyes. Gangly and knobby-kneed now, with not the slightest hint of the chubby cheeks that graced her sweet face when last I saw her. Those exquisite knees pulled up tight and tucked under her nightgown. Hair maybe long enough at last for a braid but still so wispy that the braid can barely contain it. A five-year-old kid. “Five-and-a-half, Mom!” I can almost hear a small but indignant voice say. “Mommy” would surely have given way to “Mom” by now.

She’s right there, and like the sunbursts in my eyes, I can see her only until I try actually to look at her, and then she glides away.

It’s been four years, four months, and seventeen days since my daughter Hudson died from a sudden and incredibly aggressive bacterial meningitis infection. She was seventeen months old. One day, she was an otherwise healthy toddler with what appeared to be an ordinary toddler virus. The next day, she was fatally ill. Three days after that, she was gone.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Pregnancy, Women

A Week Late

January 23, 2015

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By Martina Clark.

I’m a week late. Not on my rent, for my period. I’m never late. Ten years ago – or five, heck, even one or two – I would have panicked and immediately gone to pee on a stick. But now, just months shy of my 50th birthday, I’m totally confused. Am I pregnant? (We use protection but nothing is 100% sure.) Am I starting menopause? (Did I mention that I’m almost 50?) Or am I just a week late and it is what it is and I should shut up and have another piece of chocolate?

The only thing I know for certain is that this has never happened before – at least not in the twenty years since I stopped using the pill – and I’m not quite sure how to proceed. My sisters – seven and eight years older, respectively – both experienced pre-menopausal symptoms starting in their early 40s and after hearing their stories I feel like I’ve been waiting every month for a summons from hell.

“Ma’am, please step away from the happy times and come with us. I’m afraid you have been sentenced to a decade of evil mood swings, drenching night sweats and flame inducing hot flashes. Any resistance will just cause you more misery and unsightly sweat stains. Welcome to the prison that is menopause.”

And, although I hadn’t really experienced anything to be concerned about, I do remember discussing this with my doctor a year or two back when I asked what kind of signs to expect with pre-menopause. She laughed.

“Martina, at this point, if you have signs, they’re not pre anything. They’re just menopause.”

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…