When Babies and Bachelorette Parties Collide, It Doesn’t End Well

Our first attempt at having real grown-up fun with a baby in tow, and it was going perfectly. Until that bus pulled up.

We should’ve left the moment that damn bus pulled up. It’s so easy to see that now.
When what I now know was a Jack and Jill bachelorette/bachelor party, dressed as pirates, exited the bus, walked out into broad daylight, and collectively sounded a drunken war cry (Whoo!), I should’ve sprang into action. I should’ve suggested we round up the group – four adults and three children under the age of five – and split.
But we were having so much fun. At the time, I remember thinking, “Maybe we can co-exist peacefully with the pirates.” Me, my wife, and our five-month-old daughter spent the day with our friends, Jesse and Christine, and their two kids, touring wineries in the Finger Lakes town of Seneca. We drank some great wine, ate some great food. I even pulled off wearing a fedora…or so I thought.
It was our first attempt at having real grown-up fun with a baby in tow, and it was going perfectly. Until that bus pulled up. We may have escaped unscathed if I didn’t have to pee.
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My daughter was sleeping soundly in the ErgoBaby360 when my bladder checked in: “Hey dude, you’ve been drinking casually for the past few hours, and if you don’t head to the bathroom right now, I’m going to ruin your jeans, and your day.”
One of the selling points of baby carriers is the freedom they offer. Users can securely transport their little ones from place to place with full access to their upper extremities to do things like empty the dishwasher, heat up a bottle, or aim their package at a lower-than-normal urinal in a Finger Lakes winery bathroom.
That’s what I was doing when a drunken pirate from the Jack and Jill party stumbled in and wobbled over to the urinal right next to me.
These days, most standing urinals in the men’s room have some type of partition between toilets to offer protection from poor-aiming pee-ers. Or maybe it’s for privacy. I’m not entirely sure why the partitions are there. All I know is this particular bathroom didn’t have any. An important detail.
See, when this inebriated pirate started peeing, he began swaying like Stevie Wonder, looking everywhere and not seeing anything. That is, not seeing anything until his gaze focused right on the ErgoBaby360, an accessory that he probably wouldn’t have noticed if a partition had been there.
“Holy shit, dude! You’ve got a baby!” the pirate exclaimed. When he attempted to talk and urinate at the same time, the swaying became more exaggerated. He appeared dangerously close to tipping over.
“Yep,” I responded, rushing to finish, zip up my fly, and make a hasty exit.
“That’s fucking amazing, dude! A baby! A goddamn baby! And you’re still doing it, man. You’re still out here partying. I give you so much credit, dude, so much credit.”
The pirate was beside himself with joy.
“Thanks, man,” I offered, trying to will myself to stop the pee early.
“I just got engaged myself, man,” the pirate confided. “I can’t wait to settle down, start my family, have a bunch of kids, you know what I’m saying?”
Before I had a chance to answer, the pirate did something irreversible. He reached over in my general direction with a sweeping and unsteady gesture to make direct contact.
Looking back on the encounter, I believe the pirate meant to slap me on the back – a good job gesture appropriate in limited situations, like a little league coach pulling his pitcher after a disastrous inning, but certainly not in a urinal-to-urinal conversation where “a goddamn baby” is involved.
Regardless of his intentions, the pirate missed badly. Instead of my back, he accidentally clipped my fedora and sent it to the floor at my feet.
Despite my protests, the pirate got down on his knees in front of me to retrieve the fedora, a task he struggled mightily with. He kept alternating between trying to pick it up without making any contact and turning up toward me to apologize profusely. This created a jerky type of bobbing motion.
At that precise moment, someone entered the men’s room to find a grown man on his knees, bobbing around spastically in front of another grown man – a grown man who happened to have a baby strapped to his chest via the wonders of the ErgoBaby 360.
When the pirate noticed we had a visitor, he said the one thing you should never say in these types of situations: “Wait, it’s not what it looks like.”
The pirate never got a chance to explain what was happening, because the man turned around and walked right out.
Years from now, I hope to return to the small town of Seneca and stumble upon a local retelling the story:
“On my life, Horace, this actually happened. Back in ’16, I walk into the men’s room, and I see fella in front of a urinal, like you do when you pee. This fella is carrying a baby in one of those Ergo baby carriers they used to make, but get this…. On his knees in front of the fella with the baby is another fella, and he’s doing god knows what. I tell ya, people will get it on anywhere these days, Horace.”
Even if that never happens, I learned a valuable lesson that day: You can never get away with wearing a fedora. Sooner or later, in one form or another, the decision comes back to bite you.

My Adopted Daughter's Story Confirms the World is Smaller Than You Think

What are the chances that two toddlers who lived in the same orphanage halfway across the world would find each other 13 years later?

What are the chances that two toddlers who lived in the same orphanage halfway across the world would find each other 13 years later at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? Pretty slim, but it happened. Chills run up my spine when I think of it.

16 years ago, I made the momentous decision to travel to Moscow and adopt my then two-year-old baby girl, Laura. She’d lived in orphanage number five since she was six months old. Demckuit dom in Russian, or “baby home.” There are twenty-five “baby homes” in Moscow. In the one Laura was living in, number five, the lopsided seat of a rusty swing dragged to the ground in the back yard. Inside the building, torn, pink-flowered wallpaper decorated the narrow entranceway. Toys were scattered across the floor and a rocking horse stood motionless in the corner.

I remember my first visit to meet my daughter. I brought bags of Oreo cookies for all the toddlers. The caretakers gathered them in the kitchen and they sat down at a narrow wooden table. I passed my cookies to each one and watched, stunned, as they pried the cookie apart and licked the icing. They’d never eaten Oreos before yet instinctively did what every child does. While visiting, I took dozens of pictures of the orphanage, the kids, and the caretakers, making a history for my daughter since we knew nothing of her biological family.

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As a single mom with my family living out of state, I constructed a Pittsburgh family for my daughter. My two closest friends became her aunt and uncle. Family and religion were important values I wanted to instill in her, so when Laura turned six, we joined a local synagogue. She attended Sunday school and participated in youth groups for many years. At one of their events, when she was 12, she introduced me to a boy she had befriended. “He’s adopted, too,” she told me, “and I think he’s from Russia.”  I liked him, he was polite and thoughtful. They continued their friendship on Sundays and at youth group parties.

When Laura turned 15, she invited a boy to a school dance. I was secretly thrilled that he refused because I didn’t like this particular boy. He was a poor student and acted silly in school. I suggested she invite someone else and she chose her Sunday school buddy, David. He said he had to ask his mother first (I knew I liked him) and we planned a meeting for the kids and the moms at a local shopping mall.

It was a breezy, cool, Saturday afternoon when I first met David’s mother.

“Hello! So happy to meet you,” I said as I offered my hand. “I understand David is adopted from Russia.”

“That’s right.”

“May I ask what part of Russia?”

“He was born in Moscow,” she replied.

“Really? So was Laura. How old was he when you brought him home?”

“He was two,” David’s mom said.

“Really? So was Laura.”

“What baby home was he living in?”

“Oh, I think it was number 25,” she answered.

“Oh well, Laura’s home was number five.”

After more conversation about our adoption journey, we learned we had travelled to Moscow just one month apart. I’d adopted Laura in May and she’d been there in June. We said our goodbyes until early evening when we came back to pick up our children. David’s mom ran toward me, screaming, “You won’t believe this! I can’t believe it! I checked our records, David and Laura were in the same orphanage. They were infants together, and toddlers together, and now teenagers together.”

We were stunned. The kids were ecstatic, giggling and hugging each other. Was this just an amazing coincidence? Or was there some other unknown force that brought these two teens together, halfway across the world? This special knowledge of the early history they shared brought them closer and soon they became boyfriend and girlfriend.

Like most teenage romances, it didn’t last. What did last was an exquisite connection between two children who shared a unique beginning, a time in their lives they didn’t remember but would be a part of them forever.

Chasing Our Own Kind of Independence on the Fourth of July

Inside our house, we’re parenting a child with special needs who dreads the Fourth of July more than any other day on the calendar.

For me, the Fourth of July requires a series of pep talks, deep breathing exercises, and yoga poses that are supposed to open your chi or balance the yin and the yang or whatever. I’d feng shui the house if I thought it’d make a difference.
From an outsider’s perspective, this holiday speaks all my love languages: grilling, swimming, setting things on fire. But because I’m not living in a Coca Cola ad, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And inside our house, we’re parenting a child with special needs who dreads this day more than any other.
It’s too hot, too loud, too exhausting, too technicolor. He cries and covers his head like he’s expecting shrapnel every time a firework explodes. And it might as well be shrapnel, because it blows his life to bits.
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Our first Fourth was epic, in all the wrong ways. He was only a few months old and newly graduated from the NICU. For months, his soundtrack had included the instant beeps of the heartrate monitor and the vicious alarms when his oxygen dipped too low. One alarming siren song carried us back through the emergency room after we’d finally gotten him home.
By the time Independence Day hit, we were ready for some freedom. We wanted and needed a healthy dose of good old American normal. We wanted it all – the charred hotdogs, the pool, the sun, and John Mellencamp urging us to “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” against a backdrop of fireworks. What we got was a kid who desperately wanted to be away from any and all forms of stimulus.
He had a tracheotomy and was still learning to breathe. He struggled to drink what felt like thousands of gallons of milk I pumped and fought to bottle feed him. He just wanted to eat and sleep and be left alone. The day was too hot, 85 degrees by 8 a.m., and the grill didn’t work – a fun fact we didn’t figure out until half an hour past starving.
When darkness finally settled, I was at DEFCON 2 approaching 1 and needed a margarita and sleep more than any firework show, so we skipped the hour-drive into the country that would take us to the party scene.
In the years since, we’ve figured out a system of sorts…something to stem the barely contained chaos of the day. We bottle it up as best we can and dole it out in smaller doses, like leftover Halloween candy. We visit the pool at the crack of dawn when no one else is there so my son can achieve a bit of that Zen status that weightlessness brings.
It’s amazing what happens when he can be free of his wheelchair and move. Because he’s breathing easier, we don’t worry so much about smoke from the grill. Because we’re not sleep-deprived, we remember to buy gas for it and actually get to eat the hot dogs. We consider it part of his feeding therapy. We take siestas during the hottest part of the day, like any sane person should.
But we haven’t conquered the fireworks. The jarring noise is too much, shaking the center of him. It’s my unicorn, though, something I want him to learn to chase and embrace. So, we’re trying something new this year. Headphones. A pair of Baby Beats is all I’m asking for this Fourth of July. If noise is the enemy, lure it in and tame it.
He loves the lights, something we’ve verified by trailing every televised firework show from time zone to time zone on cable. Now we just need to make the live thing a little less…lively. I’ve engineered a Spotify playlist of all his favorite tunes and, come nightfall, we’ll be rocking out to the Wiggles.
It may not be Mellencamp, but if it carries him happily to the encore, we will have achieved another piece of the independence we’ve been chasing for him. And that’s the freedom I’ll be toasting with my margarita this year.

Reclaiming the Lost Birthdays of My Daughter

My daughter was nine years old when my husband and I adopted her. We had a lot of birthdays to make up for.

My daughter was nine years old when my husband and I adopted her. She was abused and neglected during her first four years, and then bounced around foster care for the next five. She’d lived in 12 homes before ours. Amazingly, she was still willing to give trusting and loving us a shot.

It was – and still is – hard work for all three of us, but she’s attached. We’re a family. We love each other. We’re her parents and she’s our baby.

Turning 13 was a really rough transition for her because she realized she doesn’t seek the same level of independence as her peers. She still wants to be a little girl. She finally has a mommy and daddy who truly love her, take care of her, and keep her safe, and she isn’t ready for this chapter of her life to close. She missed out on too much.

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Birthdays are especially challenging for her. They remind her that she wasn’t always ours, and make her think of all of the hard times she had before us. She often tells us that she wishes we were her first parents, in addition to her last.

One morning the summer before she started middle school she began sobbing, saying that she wished she were only six, and an idea popped into my head. We missed out on her first nine birthdays. Her tenth birthday was the first one we were part of, and it was the first birthday party she’d ever had.

I decided to redo all of the others.

I had her first birthday party all set up when I picked her up from camp that afternoon. I decorated with free printables I found online. I gave her a birthday crown to wear. We sang “Happy Birthday” and ate mini-cupcakes. We talked about the milestones children usually hit at that age and what her first birthday would have been like if she had been with us then. We played “Ring Around the Rosie.” We even gave her gifts to unwrap (possessions she already owned: a playground ball and a book).

We continued the birthdays over the week, celebrating as a family at dinnertime. Each party had a theme, from Dora the Explorer to cowgirls to high tea.

As I prepared for each party, I wrote my daughter a letter describing how we would have celebrated with her if she’d been with us, and what I thought she would have been like. In each letter I included photos of children of that age who look a little like her as my daughter has very few photos of herself from before she joined our family.

Some of the celebrations were hard and filled with tears. During her fifth birthday redo party, she shared that she was sad because it was the first birthday she spent in foster care. She knew that must have been a really difficult one for her.

Her ninth birthday redo was especially heavy because she was in the midst of a traumatic situation that year. I tell her all the time that the only way to process the hard stuff is to deal with it. These birthday redo celebrations have helped her with that.

My daughter now has a file folder in her brain of good memories from these family parties, plus dozens of photos. I’m confident the positive memories will outweigh the negative ones over time.

Life is Hard Work and Other Reminders for a Graduate

As you walk down that aisle and into the next phase of life, there are important things to remember.

Here you are, walking down the aisle toward freedom. Congratulations and I wish you the very best in taking your next step into your adult life! May I offer you some advice? These things, you simply need to know.  

You now have the power to create the life you want

Yes, you do! No matter what has happened in your past, it does not need to dictate your future. You can make choices that will build any path you desire. Hold on to that truth and you can make your life anything you dream it to be. This is your beginning, your birth into being an adult, and you alone can make your life everything you want it to be.  

Life is unfair

You may already know this, but I promise you that you will continue to face many things in life that are unfair. This world is a broken place, and because we live in it, things go wrong- often. If you can accept this now, you will be better able to handle much of what comes your way. The reality is that you will have to endure difficult situations, some out of your control… be prepared to accept them as they come, and learn to navigate through these tumultuous turns with rational reasoning and inner strength. Find the support you need through people you trust, and find strength in knowing you are not alone.
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Be responsible for your actions!  

From this moment on, YOU are accountable for who you are. Not your parents, your teachers, your peers or anyone you would so easily like to blame for your mistakes. No one is to blame but you, so don’t make excuses. Own it, because that is part of growing up. Make amends, adjustments, and decisions that allow you to correct your choices, and do it with conviction.  

You have the freedom to define who you are

No one else owns you, only you. You can choose to create your own identity and live it! Don’t allow others to define you, rather build your own voice and make decisions that support it. Other people will always have their opinions about you, but you have the ability to allow them to matter, or not. As you grow older and your life evolves, so will your definition. Treasure it like a cherished gem. Alter it when necessary and honor it always. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

There is no easy out

Seriously. If you find yourself stuck in a difficult situation, usually the only way out of it is through it. Be courageous and honest. Face the hard conversations and take responsible action. I promise it’s worth traveling that tough terrain. You will ultimately triumph with newfound strength and insight for meeting that challenge. You will also develop integrity, the ultimate trait you will have earned. The consequence of handling conflicts responsibly is having the peace in knowing you did the best you could.  

You will fail

A lot. Failure is a part of life. Period. You will regret many choices you make, and perhaps some may have lasting consequences. Always remember, you can learn from it. Every failure has something useful for you to gain. Give yourself grace, because you are human. Make sure you are able to make amends where needed, and move forward with the new insight and knowledge you gained from that experience.  

Find your passion

You may be wondering about your future dreams and goals, as most graduates do. If you already have your ideas and formed your plans, embrace them! Take those mighty steps toward them! If you don’t know just yet, please don’t worry!  You’re still so young; you have so much time to discover what you love. Also, passions sometimes change as you grow older and learn more about this world and who you are. Always allow yourself to birth new loves in your life. You never have to be stuck in one dream. Remember, you are in charge of your life and who you are- so make decisions as you go, according to your heart. You’ll be much happier if you honor it.

Respect this world and the people in it

You may not fully understand the complexities of this vast glorious earth, but as time goes on you will. Don’t take it for granted, it is as fragile as the blade of grass you pluck. If you don’t care for it, it will die. Period. Honor this globe, don’t take it for granted, and don’t destroy it with carelessness. As for the people living in this world, they are valuable and worthy of your utmost respect. No matter who they are, what they believe or where they live. Every human being matters. Don’t disregard anyone as less valuable than the next.  

Life is hard work

You must learn this lesson: In order to live a successful life, you must put forth the effort. Period. You want a good job? Train yourself, get an education, start at the bottom, like many do, to get there. You want good friends? Be a good friend. You want to be respected? Be respectful. Nobody owes you anything, you may think they do, but they don’t. You have to make the life you want. Don’t wait for it, thinking it will come to you and you are entitled to it. You have to earn it. Plain and simple. If, by chance, you are handed a great opportunity, embrace it and call yourself incredibly lucky.  

Don’t give up

You will be faced with conflicts and circumstances that can either raise you higher or kick you lower. It’s up to you to take the steps up. Life gets ugly, terrifying, cruel, and downright difficult… but hold on! The stuff you endure, will inevitably be the stuff that takes you to a new and fulfilling level of living. Life gets richer with adversity. No one is without hardship. Don’t let it take you down so low you can’t get back up. You will always find purpose in your pain, if you’re open to finding it. Each trial you go through brings forth a greater gratitude to savor. You’ll see…

Believe in yourself

You may not know the plan for your life just yet. You might feel anxious about your future. Perhaps you don’t have a clue what you want to do, or who you want to be, or where you want to go… that’s okay. You are still so young! You have so much time to figure it all out. Don’t feel like you have to have it all perfectly planned. Trust that in time, you will discover your dreams and find purpose in your life. If you do have a plan, and know exactly who you want to be, please remain open to the possibility of change. You may feel differently about your dreams, and that’s okay. One of the greatest gifts this life has to offer each and every one of us, is the freedom to reinvent our goals and begin again.

Each day will offer you more opportunities, if you look for them

Keep your eyes and heart open, and don’t ever give up on yourself. You are the only you there is. Cherish who you are, love yourself, right where you are at in your life, always. You will be with you for the rest of your life, so be your own best friend. As you begin this journey in creating a life for yourself, the greatest joy will come from within. Don’t look for it or depend on it from anyone or search for it anywhere else.
This moment? Is the first moment of the rest of your life. Every single moment that you are alive is a blessing. It’s hard at your age to truly get that, but you need to. Make it count.  
Make them all count…
For something.
This article was previously published on themomcafe.com

10 Non-Holiday Traditions That Can Truly Bond a Family

Establishing family traditions between immediate family members can help give children a sense of identity.

There is an endless list of traditions: religious traditions, new year’s traditions, birthday traditions, wedding traditions, Thanksgiving traditions, the list goes on and on. Traditions essentially serve to bring family members together by creating a family culture and strengthening family ties.

Establishing family traditions between immediate family members can help give children a sense of identity. In the book, “The Joy of Family Traditions,” Jennifer Thomson argues that these types of traditions lower stress. Moreover, children who participate in family traditions are less likely to turn to drug abuse.

Other studies have come to similar findings:

According to one study, children in families with regular traditions have fewer behavioral issues than those in families where traditions are uncommon.

A second study found that families where traditions were common found it easier to cope when times were tough.

Lastly, a third study found that alcoholic parents were less likely to transmit their alcoholism to their children if the family maintained dinner time and holiday ritual practices.

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10 family traditions you should try out

1 | A “thankful day” ritual. There are many ways in which you can establish a gratitude tradition. One way is by selecting a specific time (for example, before meals) and having every family member say one thing s/he is grateful for. Another way to teach your kids to express gratitude and help you connect as a family is to establish a “thankful day” ritual. For example, you can make every Monday “Thankful Monday day” and ask everyone to write down what they’re thankful for, then hang it where everyone can see it for the entire week.

2 | Minimalism ritual. Most families acquire too much stuff over the course of a year. Starting a minimalist day – for example, the first day of each month or the first day of every year – on which each family member donates the stuff they no longer need is a great idea to reduce the clutter. Have a contest and see who can give away the most stuff.

3 | Morning ritual. Morning rituals that help family members connect are easy to start – a hug, a kiss, snuggling, a special handshake, specific words you always say. Don’t focus on length, the key is being consistent.

4 | Bedtime ritual. There are many bedtime rituals to choose from. One of my favorite rituals is from Jane Nelsen, the founder of positive discipline. As you’re tucking your children into bed, ask them about their “saddest” and their “happiest” moments during the day, then share the same information. Choose any other variation that is more appropriate for your family situation. When did you laugh? When were you sad? When were you shocked?

5 | International night. Establishing an “international night” (or an “international day”) tradition once a month is an awesome way to teach your children about other cultures and other people. It’s also a great way to make them participate as they need to find information about the country you’re celebrating: what do they eat, how do they dress, where is the country located, what’s the capital city, etc.

6 | One meal theme for each day of the week. I got this idea from the book, “Simplicity Parenting.” Basically, you choose one meal (pasta, rice, steak, pizza) and stick to it for each day of the week. According to the book’s authors, having a certain meal on a certain night each week makes meal planning easier and also provides children with roots – Monday is pasta night, Tuesday is rice night, Wednesday is pizza night, etc.

7 | Music ritual. A music ritual can teach your kids about music from around the world and can also provide you with an awesome opportunity to learn about musicians you didn’t know about. You can borrow music from groups and singers you don’t know about from your local library and discover them together as a family.

8 | A read-aloud tradition for the whole family. Reading together as a family (rather than reading separately to each of your kids) is a great way to bond.

9 | Family meeting ritual. Having family meetings (for example, at the start of the year) is an excellent way for families to connect. You can talk about what everyone expects in the new year, talk to your kids about the chores they’re expected to do in the new year, how much allowance they’ll have if they’re entitled to allowance, etc. It’s also an opportunity for families to practice the art of family negotiation. Print out the “family agreement” and having everyone sign to “make it formal.”

10 | Weekend breakfast traditions. Every Saturday or Sunday morning, do something different for breakfast – brunch, breakfast picnic, pancakes, etc.

Things to keep in mind when establishing family traditions for your family

  • Less is more. Don’t focus on quantity, focus on what you can comfortably achieve on a regular basis.
  • Strong family traditions are those in which everyone has a role.
  • Be consistent. If you think you’ll have a hard time keeping up with it, don’t start it. Or instead of making it a weekly tradition, make it a monthly tradition.
  • Make traditions fun. Remember that the family traditions we remember fondly are those during which we had fun.
  • Keep it simple. There are thousands of ideas that cost nothing.
  • It’s okay to let go if it’s not working.

What are some of your family traditions? Let us know in the comments section below.

Mother's Day Schedule: Time Stamped for Your Convenience

It’s Mother’s Day Eve and you’re brimming with excitement for your big day. The “put mom on a pedestal and compliment her until you’re blue” day.

It’s Mother’s Day Eve and you’re brimming with excitement for your big day. The “put mom on a pedestal and compliment her until you’re blue” day.

But wait, what do your husband and kids have planned for you on this momentous day?

Your mind drifts, your thoughts turn worrisome, and you panic. Did I drop enough hints? Are they going to fill my day with unnecessary activities? Like a  three-hour long brunch that involves lugging a diaper bag around?

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Oh Mama, calm down. Take a deep breath, for I have created a foolproof Mother’s Day schedule. Just print this bad boy out and slip it into your partner’s car.

9:00am – Quietly open the bedroom door and carefully place a box of assorted donuts and a vanilla latte on mom’s bedside table. Now slowly back away so you don’t wake the sleeping beauty. Please, don’t forget to shut the door as mommy will need peace and solitude whilst feasting upon her breakfast.

10:00am – Run a warm shower for the frosted and sugar-crusted woman. Enclosed in the shower should be new, organic, all-natural, fair-trade, healthy, save-the-earth types of toiletries. Let’s also be sure they smell of lavender and petunias.

11:00am – This would be a good time for the gifts and bouquet display. No roses or carnations please. I’m talking about bouquets of peonies, ranunculus, and beautiful ferns.  As far as gifts, anything from Anthropologie should do. At this time, the children should be dressed in fit-for-the-queen outfits.

3:00pm – A leisurely afternoon lunch on the patio of a kid-free restaurant with fellow mom friends would be appreciated. We plan to eat too much food and finally get to know each other.

7:00pm – Dad puts the rug-rats to bed while mom mindlessly scrolls on her phone, reads a book, or enjoys a glass of wine.

8:00pm – Let the snacking on fancy tapas and binge-watching “This Is Us” begin. A foot rub during this time would be acceptable.

10:00pm – Lights out. Mom mourns, “Is the day over already?”

Okay, so this is a bit excessive, overdone, and written to elicit laughter. These are the things we mamas say to each other, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we did a mommy-only lunch on Mother’s Day?”

Here’s the reality, as long as we wake up to our loving family, we will be happy. What Mother’s Day is really about is the joy of being a mother, the excitement of watching your kids grow, and laughter.

This Mother’s Day, I want to hug my children. I want cheesy handmade gifts. I want to call my own mother. Oh, and that box of donuts would be okay too.

I hope all of you hardworking, deserving, and relentless mamas out there have a lovely Mother’s Day. I’m glad to be in the same club as all of you!

A Shout Out to Moms From a Grown Up Son

Whenever I tell my mom that I love her, I feel like it comes across as routine, as if it is just the end of the sentence or a way to say goodbye.

Whenever I tell my mom that I love her, I feel like it comes across as routine, as if it is just the end of the sentence or a way to say goodbye.
And I hate that. I hate it because I so often let days go by where I don’t stop and really tell her how much she means to me. Mother’s Day is one day a year that reminds us all to do just that – to express our deep gratefulness for our moms for loving and serving us in an endless amount of ways.
Maybe your mom woke you up early every day to make your lunch or made an effort to come to your sports or musical performances. Or maybe you remember the times she made you chicken noodle soup and gave you sprite while you laid in bed, sick.
One very special memory I have involves my mom not necessarily doing anything. I was in middle school and had just made first chair in a competitive concert band. I was just old enough to realize that I was actually more excited to tell my mom than I was about the accomplishment itself because I knew she’d be proud of me.
That was one of the first times I realized the depth and extent of my love for her.
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Whatever it is that makes you thankful for your mom, think of those things this Mother’s Day – and tell her! I’ve put together a list of six things that came to my mind, which might prompt a few of your own:

Moms believe in us

Our moms speak greatness into us. Even when we can’t see it ourselves, our moms see great things. And because of that, we rise to the occasion.
Moms are like those very best teachers who never let us get away with “less than.” What they’ve always done out of instinct and love, research now backs up – like this study, which shows how a teacher’s high expectations of a student can actually improve the student’s I.Q.

Moms teach us how to work hard

I still remember spending hot summers pulling weeds in a garden that seemed to span three football fields. Our mom made us vacuum and clean our rooms. She made us do our homework and apologize to others when we did something wrong.
And we’re so thankful they made us do those things. They taught us not only how to work hard, but the value of working hard. I know I’m much more successful today than I ever would have been if my mom hadn’t taught me these lessons.

Moms want the best for us

Our moms sometimes get a bad rap for intervening too much – like when they show up to your job interview. But do you know why our moms do these things? They aren’t trying to humiliate us, and it isn’t because they don’t trust us.
They want the very best for us. They want us to have the best jobs, the best relationships, and get into the very best schools. Our moms’ relentless pursuit of our own wellbeing is pretty remarkable.

Moms sacrifice their comfort for ours

My mom took a week off from her job to help me and my wife with our newborn. I can’t imagine taking PTO only to work my tail off and return to work even more tired.
They would even sacrifice their own lives for us, like the mom who recently and heroically strapped her infant into a car seat and dropped her out of their second story window in order to save her from the fire that she herself couldn’t escape.

Moms are proud of us

No matter what level of greatness or mediocrity we achieve, our moms are always genuinely proud of us. They see whatever it is that we do as a step above what everyone else sees – and we love it. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Moms discipline us

Our moms grounded us and forbade us and disciplined us in the ways they best saw fit. In doing so, they taught us how to discipline ourselves, and for that, we are forever grateful. We can more readily say “no” to ourselves today because we had more than a decade of learning to say no thanks to our moms’ disciplinary efforts.
Mom, I’m so grateful for your unending love and support. I’ll love you for always.
Happy Mother’s Day.

You’re Still Somebody’s Kid: 5 Ways Parents Can Celebrate Their Mothers on Mother’s Day

We’re parents now. We’re grownups. We’ve got the bills, the jobs, the tired eyes that didn’t come from partying. But we’re still kids, too.

We’re parents now. We’re grownups. We’ve got the bills, the jobs, the tired eyes that didn’t come from partying. But we’re still kids, too.
Are you checking out your middle-aged body in the mirror right now and shaking your head? Stop…and call your mom. She’ll set you straight. One lecture from her on how you really need to wash those shirts inside out and you’ll be rolling your eyes like a teenager. Because to them we still are.
When your mom looks at you, she sees a chubby baby, a broken arm, a fifth-grade science project, two years of braces, a senior prom, and a college dorm room all in one. She sees sleepless nights with a colicky newborn and practicing bunny ears on Keds and crying over first loves and all the mess of you that your first 18 years of life brought home to the dinner table.
So, for Mother’s Day this year, how about you play the part and give your mom something new to remember?
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Go old school

Remember when hand and foot prints covered in glitter and a misspelled “I love you” was all it took to turn a gift into a memento. You know she still has a few in the attic, the ones that took up residence on the fridge and survived the big moves and avoided the mice and mold.
While I’m not recommending you dip your toes in washable paint, I do believe there’s something to the sentiment. Perhaps, this year, skip the card with the artful etching of an iris on the cover and cursive poem inside. Wander a little farther down the grocery store aisle. Grab a blank one and fill it in with musings of your own.
Use the words your mother taught you and tell her how what a mark and measure she’s been in your life. Make the words yours, and it matters more. It’s your metaphorical footprint.

Go practical

If the note of gratitude travels a little too far into the touch-feely realm for you, get her something she needs but would never buy herself. We’re talking the really posh robe or the meal delivery service that seems too newfangled to initiate but will save hours of time and grocery shopping.
The best gift I ever gave my mother was a tree. Yep. The woman loves her yard and she needed a shade tree, so I loaded a beauty in the back of my beat-up Jetta and we planted and christened it together. Her name was Layla, after the song. Gifts like these fill a necessity but up the ante. They show that you’ve put some thought into the life she lives when you’re not around.

Go out

The next time you’re fixing what feels like (and might be) the thousandth meal for your kids while they complain about the red or green or yellow vegetable touching the rest of their food, think about how many meals your mother made you – how many roasted chickens, or briskets, or lasagnas you watched her sweat over in the kitchen.
Then call and make some reservations. She deserves to sip a mimosa at brunch or slice a steak she didn’t marinate or pick a pasta that didn’t come from a box. Not sure if it’s the right way to say thank you for all those years and all those dinners? Think how much you’d like to sit down right now and eat a meal that does not require you to do the dishes.

Go home

Whether she lives yards away or oceans, every mother wants some face time. If it’s within the realm of feasibility, see if you can cross the threshold that welcomed you home every day after school and every summer in college and between every job or relationship. It gives them a chance to play mom again, via hostess.
She’ll put fresh sheets on your bed, assuming she hasn’t turned it into a pottery studio or sunroom. She’ll stock the pantry with your old favorites and get to do the job she misses most – motherhood – for just a little while. She might just serve as free babysitter, too, if you play your cards right.

Go remember

Not all of us still have mothers we can hug on this day. Some have already had to say goodbye. And for those, Mother’s Day is perhaps even more important as a day to pay homage to the one who walked before and ahead for so long. Today is a day to remember.
Write a letter and put down on paper the words you wish you could say in person. Take flowers to a place of remembrance, a place your mother loved where you hold a memory worth honoring. Eat her favorite meal. Watch her favorite old movies. Take a walk and roll your shoulders back and breathe deeply the air that once knew her presence. Then go hug your kids and let them remind you of the role you are now filling for them, thanks to her.
Despite the fact that the world has told you you’re a grownup and a parent and you’d better act like one, your mom still sees the little kid in you. So however you celebrate Mother’s Day in your family unit, don’t forget to share the love with the one who made you…you.
Give Mom that nod of acknowledgment, that gift of time, yourself, your attention, your mind, for just a little bit. Because she sure gave it to you.

The Renaissance of Pagan Parenting

Soulful, decentralized, non-hierarchical, intersectional, and green – paganism’s infinite incarnations appeal to the earnest and the edgy alike.

By the time we have kids of our own, most of us have reflected on how much, if at all, we want to pass on the worldview in which we were raised. Agnostics sometimes gravitate toward religious formality or vice versa. Others don’t want to reproduce the dogmas of their youth, yet long to maintain the spiritual hygiene church provided.
Now many of these in-betweeners are deciding to walk a middle path, raising their children within a pagan framework. While even a decade ago this may have sounded laughable or scandalous, the Internet has done much to clarify stigmas and smear campaigns about so-called heathens. Closeted “witches” and other practitioners of indigenous faiths have found each other on social media, building community.
What’s the appeal? Why do these folks believe a pagan upbringing best benefits their kids?

It’s ecological

Global warming, privatized water, deforestation: The urgency of environmental crises can weigh heavily on parents looking down the long road. Paganism (which comes from the Latin word pagus, meaning “country district”) is all about learning and developing reverence for patterns of nature so we can fit into them harmoniously. It’s basically a spiritual, non-anthropocentric approach to good citizenship.
Pagan parents raise their kids to know their local habitat intimately, seeing it not just as a collection of resources, but as a home for interdependent life forms. With this attitude, pagan kids internalize respect for nature by recognizing it as an extension of their own body. For them, environmental stewardship is not just a scientific obligation, but a sacred quest.
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It’s educational

Pagan traditions are as varied as the landscape. What they share is an attention to where we are in space in time. To practice a pagan faith is to learn about relationships among the planets, the moon, the stars, and all they dictate – climate, seasons, weather, and the habits of wildlife.
As any parent knows, these are the very subjects that captivate children’s attention naturally. What young kid doesn’t love to learn the sounds animals make, to splash in muddy puddles, help light the dinner candles, sniff a blooming flower, or point out the rising moon? By weaving spiritual guidance into facts about the Universe, paganism works with the instinctual curiosity of children. It marries together ethics and elements, so the developing mind has a cohesive and rational basis for how the world works – and what contributes to its dysfunction.
The educational benefits of pagan parenting extend beyond the early years. Gloria of Lyndon Station, Wisconsin, uses her faith as a basis to homeschool her teenage son. “Throughout the years, we’ve found that all subjects – math, language, science, etc. – are found within the environment.” By studying ancient mythology, they discover much about history, philosophy, architecture, anthropology, and linguistics, all while feeling empowered to pursue “free range, self-directed learning” in an infinite classroom.
Nicole, mother of two in Enterprise, Alabama, recommends Little Pagan Acorns to get the learning started.

It’s universal

With kids growing up in a melting pot, pagan parents love the portability of their values. “We celebrate real holidays, where actual seasonal events are occurring so we have a reason for what we do,” says Ruby, mother of two in Arden, North Carolina. Even across the globe, those main events remain unchanged, though they may be celebrated differently.
Parents note that as the world becomes increasingly globalized, religious tension shows no signs of dying off. Immigration, travel, refugeeism, and worldwide media stir together disparate faiths whose tenants – though similar at their base – often fail to translate. While no practice is immune to corruption, pagan ideology has a built-in guard against extremism: It’s based on what we all have in common.

It’s tolerant

While paganism is anchored in the Universal, it takes its many shapes from a wealth of microcosms. It’s understood that people from afar will have traditions that may seem strange because the actual place they come from is relatively foreign. Each area of the Earth (pagus) is seen to have a unique spirit and personality, and therefore, cultural difference is expected.
Within that general spirit (which we call “culture”), pagans recognize a pantheon of gods – male, female, and nonbinary focal points of human experience – that affect the world, not through absolute rule, but with their interactions, alliances, and the management of their flaws. Polytheism disrupts the notion that there is one true reality, one right way of thinking, one God for whom anyone can speak with authority. Rather than instilling shame or fear of punishment, pagan parents prepare their kids to make considerate choices by teaching them about archetypes and consequences as illustrated by the comedy and tragedy of myths.
Best of all, there’s nothing sacrilegious about honoring another’s traditions along with your own. Kids don’t have to choose between loyalty to their heritage and respect for someone else’s. “I feel that paganism has made me a better parent because I’m much more open-minded and accepting of other’s paths,” says Cedar, mother of three in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It’s fun

There’s a reason Christian holidays borrow so much from their spiritual predecessors. Pagans know how to party! From month-long festivals to daily dances, Earth-based faiths around the world are famous for worshipping the way kids actually want to. Imagination is not mocked, the body is not stilled, and humor is not regarded beneath seriousness. These “childish” qualities are valued as natural and essential lubricants to the emotional labor of living and dying well.
But where there is light there is always dark, and parents also appreciate the matter-of-fact inclusion of death, mystery, and struggle that pagan faiths acknowledge. By keeping the big picture close, kids grow up inclined to resiliency rather than self-pity or denial.

It’s ancestral

Before the world was colonized into empires, people of all ethnicities ritualized their awe of our life-giving planet. Modern parents are reviving these long lost cosmologies, not just to build a strong nuclear family, but to rekindle ancestral heritage that has been overwritten and replaced by entertainment, ambition, and consumerism.
Sharing in song, dance, and ceremony helps privileged generations stay in touch with the gratitude and alertness of their far-off kin. Families research their genealogy together and discover what it meant to be from a specific place, rather than generalizing the history of a continent or a shade of skin. The desire to appropriate other cultures wanes as one’s actual culture is reclaimed.
In short, paganism is primed for a Millennial revival. Soulful, decentralized, non-hierarchical, intersectional, and green – its infinite incarnations appeal to the earnest and the edgy alike. Perhaps most importantly, paganism leaves lots of room for kids to grow into (or out) of it, according to their own pace and taste.
“To me, children are always their own people, never possessions,” says Susan, mom to three in Meridian, Mississippi. “It’s my job as their mother to help them find their own path in life, whatever it may be.”