Family and Motherhood

BE THE CHANGE

Being a preschool teacher and having to entertain seventeen 4 to 5 year olds every day can be exhausting. However, in the beginning and the end of each day, I remind myself how much of a difference I am actually making in the lives of these children. YOU are their first impression of being in school and away from their parents for a full day. YOU are the one teaching them at a young age that learning can be fun. YOU are the one holding their hand from the first day of school and teaching them how to be independent little individuals. Since the beginning, I have received many hugs and thank you’s from parents telling me how much of an impact I have made on their kids in such a short amount of time.  In just a matter of my first 2 months of ever teaching, I have had a student bring me flower...

HER MOTHER, MY MOTHER, ME

Young men in relationships always have a moment with the men of the family when someone says, “Take a good look at her mother because that’s your future.”. And sure, that line’s used as a set-up for some hilarious sight-gag on every tv show known to mankind. But, when I think about my own life, that phrase is really quite a compliment. The women in my family, particularly my mother and her mother, are truly women of strength and admiration. So, to say that I’ve the opportunity to become them someday leaves me with only one response: My future and my future family are in good hands. Her Mother: Maria My grandmother, my mother’s mother, Maria, Nani (that’s what us grandkids called her). Maria Tenuta was born in Calabria, Italy on August 25th of 1939 ...

TUNE MY HEART TO SING THY GRACE

“Get your feet off the table, young lady.” It was the first time I’d ever been in trouble with my grandpa.  I was four years old, and independent.  After being asked more than once by my mother to take my feet off the dining room table (during dinner), Papaw was fed up with my lack of listening skills.  He raised his voice at me and I looked wide-eyed at him in shock.  As the tears started welling up in my eyes, I looked around the table to see everyone else’s faces displaying the same shock as mine.  Papaw does not yell. I heard his voice loud and clear.  You better believe I never put my feet anywhere near that table again. Since that day, I’ve listened carefully to Papaw’s voice. His morning voice — between slurps of coffee, he’d count money from the family restaurant in a whisper...

THE 10TH CHRISTMAS

THE 10TH CHRISTMAS I grasp at the pieces, needing more limbs than my human body gives me. A piece here, there, drifting slowly apart in both deliberate and chaotic fashion. My family a cracked and broken thing and my home a vestige barely visible to the distracted people within its walls. A father was there, but not mentally or emotionally present. A younger sister was there nested in the couch, the television her only constant companion. An older sister was away with her husband and his family. A mother was gone, a memory, a topic carefully avoided. I was there-home from college for Christmas. Trying to keep the cracked broken thing from disintegration, attempting to conjure the vestige into a comfortable refuge, false, but enough for now. Enough to pretend that the holidays were the joyf...

CHRISTMAS DAY, 2001

CHRISTMAS DAY, 2001 We rush Christmas present opening and a breakfast of cinnamon rolls. I gather my Game Boy Advance, Mario Kart, batteries and a blanket (you drive without your coat on,
and while I want to be just like you,
I get cold far more easily). Mom goes off to work, her nurse’s schedule rarely allowing her holidays off. Interstate 79 is ours, dad. No one else in the greater Erie area dares leave their families at 7 a.m., Christmas morning. We have the road, white cheddar popcorn, and a soundtrack of laughter, classic rock (mom wouldn’t approve) and Yoshi yelping as he redshells Bowser. In four hours, we will be with your side, with my once-a-year grandma, aunt and cousin. In those four hours, I watch you transform into who you truly are, and who thirteen-year-old me a...

BLENDED

Blended Not unlike most parents, my idea of what parenthood was going to be like was flawed at best. I had a strategy in mind (she scoffs), a grand plan in place (she laughs), of how I would parent my kids – whether they be birthed, adopted or married into my life, love rules all and all children shall be raised in the same manner (oh, the bleary view of this misguided woman, I look back and feel for her).  My naivety was driven with good intentions but misguided and mostly just wrong. A lesson I learned (not quickly enough) is that it’s near impossible to raise two individuals the same – my children ensure I get a refresher on this daily.  My step-daughter and son are the lights of my life, I love them equally with all that I have to give (which some days is less than others) but their si...

BE LIMITED!

Be Limitless! LIMITED! I am a huge fan of party planning – whether it’s for my own birthday, or now that I am a mom, my daughter’s birthday. I enjoy it! I have a fun time thinking of great party themes, fun games to play, decorations, and having awesome food. My goal in planning a party is that everyone has a good time, has good food and drink, and leaves feeling better for having attended. If I love it so much, why do I always feel so drained as the party time draws closer? And so glad it’s done afterwards? I would often vow to myself, “I’m never doing THAT much work again.” Something would always go awry – either not enough guests would show up, or I would end up not having enough time to do everything I wanted to do, or the food would be bad… The icing on the cake was during the prepara...

WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE?

What makes you smile? Recently I was asked why I wasn’t bitter to be a mother yet, at my age. I am a 35-year-old single woman who believes in eternal families and raising happy, honest children. Why am I not bitter? Because I hope for my little family, and I hope for my happily ever after, always. What good does it do me if I’m unhappy and dwelling on something that isn’t YET mine? Why focus on the things I cannot control, the things that will ultimately destroy my belief in good things to come? I focus on the family that I DO have right now. My niece and nephews that love me unconditionally, they are my world and my joy. Although I didn’t give birth to them, I am loved one hundred percent by those sacred tiny humans. I smile because they accept me for who I am, with crazy hair, silly face...

CHILDBIRTH: A CAUTIONARY TALE

Childbirth: A Cautionary Tale First of all, I do not share this to leave the impression I am particularly tough, because I am not. At least not any tougher than any other mom after she’s had her first baby. I also am not in the business of scaring new or soon to be moms, rest assured the odds of experiencing the following are extremely slim, practically nonexistent. Truthfully, I share this slightly selfishly for cathartic purposes but also to spread awareness of a debilitating condition and to let sufferers know, you are not alone. I had a dream pregnancy. If not for the big belly and the constant stranger comments about that big belly, I wouldn’t have even noticed that perfect babe cooking. And truthfully my labor was pretty easy breezy as well. I walked in half way dilated and rea...

10 PARTY FOOD TIPS: WHAT AND HOW TO FEED KIDS AT A PARTY

10 PARTY FOOD TIPS: WHAT AND HOW TO FEED KIDS AT A PARTY What do you feed excited kids at a party to keep them happy and satisfied? You want to give them something reasonably healthy but also keep things fun! 1. Keep it simple: Go for sandwiches with 2 or 3 choices. Pita, pasta salad or pizza are also good options. Make sure you have a vegetarian option and that you are aware of any allergies. 2. Easy Fruit and Veg: Crudités such as carrots, cucumber, peppers and celery are easy to pick at and can be served with dips like hummus. Go for fruit that doesn’t need to be cut up like berries or seedless grapes and fruit that doesn’t spoil when cut like melon and mango… 3. Shape it into something fun: Use biscuit cutters to shape your sandwiches. You can also use them on fruit (such as melon) and...

NOT THIS TIME

Not This Time The familiarity of this waiting room was always a comfort to me. Knowing which of the sunken and worn leather chairs lined up against the darkened windows hid my face best; that the office staff wouldn’t ask questions when they saw my puffy and tear stained face. A slight comfort before receiving the familiar news. After trying, hoping, and losing…back here again. I was looking forward to the idea of a gentler pregnancy the second time around, one where I would be able to spend less time at work and more time enjoying my family and what our future held. I had it all planned out, my kids to be close together in age, they’d be best friends plus, I’d be able to get the diaper stages out of the way. The idea that the choice might not be mine, that my plans had no influence, didn’...

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