Blog Archives

Leadership Skills for Moms Part 2

April 25, 2013

walking in woods, walking under branches, kids hiking, kids in woods, brother and sister getting along, siblings on walk, leadership skills for moms, leadership tips, parenting tips for teens, In Leadership Skills for Moms part one, I applied the principles from Kouzes and Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge to motherhood. As Moms, we certainly hold many leadership roles, whether we acknowledge that label or not, we ARE leaders.

Where are your leadership strengths? How do you want to grow as a leader? What’s one thing you can do today to take a step to become the Mom Leader you envision?

Based on their research, Kouzes and Posner defined five practices of exemplary leadership:

1. Model the way
2. Inspire a shared vision
3. Challenge the process
4. Enable others to act
5. Encourage the heart.

In Leadership Skills for Moms part one, I discussed model the way, inspire a shared vision and challenge the process. Here, let’s talk about the last two principles, enabling others to act and encourage the heart.

Using These Leadership Skills for Moms

Enable Others to Act

How do you get a 3 year old to put on his shoes so you can get out the door? How do you get a 7 year old to pick up his Lego’s? Get a 12 year old to clean her bedroom? A 15 year old to do his homework independently?

Leadership Skills for Moms

April 21, 2013

girl jumping on trampoline, leadership skills for moms, launch trampoline park, leading the way, model the way, parents as leaders, teaching kids leadership, challenge the process, leadership challengeI’ve just enjoyed a weekend of leadership training (and got stuck in Columbus!) Since “Mom” is my main job title, I gave a lot of thought about how to apply these principles to motherhood.

So here it is: Leadership skills for Moms!

Moms are leaders in their family and to their kiddos; we can benefit from bringing a consciousness to how we behave as leaders and models for our children.

These concepts will apply to you in every aspect of your life – career, PTA, in relationships, coaching the soccer team – but let’s look at them from a Mom’s viewpoint.

This weekend’s workshop curriculum was based on Kouzes and Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge. Through their research, they defined five practices of exemplary leaders:

1. Model the way
2. Inspire a shared vision
3. Challenge the process
4. Enable others to act
5. Encourage the heart.

Today’s post will cover the first three, check back tomorrow for discussion on principles four and five.

Using These Leadership Skills for Moms

Model the way

Isn’t that the first sentence in the Mommy Job Description? We are our children’s first role models, the one they turn to to learn about themselves and their place in the world. They look at us to learn how facial expressions reveal emotions, to see if they should cry or not when they’ve fallen down and to search our eyes for approval.

We model the way all day long, every day, whether we’re kindly carrying a bag of groceries to a sick neighbor or yelling at another driver for cutting you off. Our kids may not always listen, but they sure do always HEAR!

Top Mommy Blogs

April 12, 2013

Top Mommy Blogs is a directory of Mommy Blogs that are ranked, categorized and rated. They boast over 4500 blogs in 30 different categories. I’m a member and that’s the huge number of blogs I’m competing with! :-)

I am currently ranked #15 in the Family Life category (#69 overall) and I’m working to break into the top 10 in my very populated category. I would appreciate your votes!

As a Mother’s Circle reader, I hope you’ll consider voting for me, your vote will count once in every 24 hour period, so if you’re really enthusiastic, click every now and then! Every click helps me! And clicks from different IP addresses are terrific if you happen to work and live using different IP addresses. (Now I’m really asking a lot of you!)

All you need to do is click on one of the Top Mommy Blog images
in my side bar or at the bottom of my blog posts and
once you land on the Top Mommy Blogs home page, you’ve voted!

Thank you!

This is one time when “vote early vote often” is actually legal! Click once in each 24 hours and it’ll count!

top mommy blogs, vote for me, mom bloggers, mothers circle blog, top mommy blog voting,

I know you’re a busy Mom and I thank you for taking a moment to vote for Mother’s Circle on Top Mommy Blogs! I’m so happy and grateful to have your support!

Happy Friday – Have a wonderful weekend!

xo
Leah

 

What Do Your Kids Want to Be When They Grow Up?

March 27, 2013

STEM careers, kids strengths, when I grow up, I want to be, career choicesIn this week’s Mom Before Mom post, I wrote about what I wanted to be when I grew up it made me think about what my kids say now that they want to be. For some kids, they set their minds on something and never waiver. For other kids, the ideas change weekly, their interests broad and open.

Michael just today came home and announced, “Mom, do you want to hear what I want to do when I grow up?” I was stunned and thought, “Be a psychic?” He had no idea what I was writing about! This most recent idea, though, was more of an event plan than a career path, he wants to climb Mount Everest and glide off the top. (Ugh, see my Boys and Bruises post!)

What do your kids want to be when they grow up? How do we nurture the things that make them happy? How, as parents, can we encourage them to explore and guide them to discover their strengths?

It begins young with exposure to many different experiences. Going for a walk and taking the time to stop and touch some moss or poke a mushroom with a stick is a beginning. So are things like kicking the ball in the backyard, marching through the house with musical instruments or early forays into watercolor still-lifes and Play-Doh sculptures. These are valuable activities at all ages.

Offering varied opportunities isn’t generally the hard part, there are a million and one possibilities, activities, teams, clubs, events and chances to try things out. It’s harder to know how to limit what our kids join, as in all things parenting, it’s about finding that balance.

In the adolescent years, kids tend to begin to specialize in certain activities, they’ve narrowed down their sports and extracurricular time to more focused interests. Those activities may not be what they would pursue as a life path. Or could they be?

Young Women’s Birth Survey

March 18, 2013

If you’re a woman aged 18-26, click here to take the survey. Thank you!

mothers circle logo, birth survey, what do women fear about birth, college women and birth, birth questions, survey for young women, I have always trusted my body and trusted the process of birth even before I knew babies and mamas would be my profession. I’ve been in the birth world as a professional for over a decade, as a Mom for over fourteen years and it still saddens me to witness how much fear is tied up with birth.

As a doula* and childbirth educator, I work with families starting late in the second trimester, or later, more than midway through their pregnancy. I have found that the short time we work together is simply not long enough to reverse decades of fear a woman may carry. She may not even consciously realize her trepidation and angst, or its depth.

My motivation to conduct the Young Women’s Birth Survey sprouted at a conference with collegiate women in 2010. A group of young women asked what I do and after explaining what a doula is, I was shocked to hear the reactions of these young, healthy women who wanted to be mothers one day. They shared how afraid they were of pregnancy and birth. One young woman believed her body couldn’t hold a baby and another announced that she only wanted a C-section.

How to Decide Whether to Have Another Baby

February 27, 2013

baby number 3, another baby?, deciding on another baby, how to decide on another baby, questions to consider before new baby,How do you decide whether to have another baby? This is an intimately personal choice, everyone and every circumstance is different, of course, but the kinds of things that go into this decision are often quite similar.

Even though this is such a private choice, often outsiders offer unsolicited input. Nick and I always knew we wanted three children. We had a girl and two years later, a boy. Then when I was pregnant with our third baby, someone actually said to me, “Oh, why would you do that? You have the perfect family!” Um, seriously? You have your perfect family, I’ll have mine.

There is so much that goes into family planning decisions. It’s tough to sign up for another pregnancy when you look ahead at going through sleep deprivation, being tied down for nap schedules and managing babyhood, all while ALSO dealing with the needs of toddlers and school-aged kids.

Maybe you feel that things are going smoothly now, well, usually. Your kids are walking on their own, maybe they’re all even going to the bathroom by themselves. Nap times are extinct, diaper bags have been donated and you’re sleeping through the night (most of the time). So it’s hard to think about going back to square one just when you’ve really got a rhythm to your daily life.

My younger brother once said of growing families to Nick, “Everyday, you guys are moving closer to freedom and everyday we’re further away.”

If you’re struggling with this decision, you’re not alone in your conflicted feelings. I’d venture to say that most women and couples explore the idea to have another baby at some point. It’s a modern day battle between head and heart, between practicalities and emotions.

Favorite Home Cooked Meal

February 1, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, this is my third post in the series.
Last week’s post: What was your childhood bedroom like?

This week’s prompt:
What was your favorite home cooked meal as a child? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

salmon with asparagus, salmon dinner, kids eating fish, getting kids to eat vegetables, healthy snack ideas, healthy dinner ideas,My Mom cooked homemade meals every night. We ate at the table my Dad built. My parents, my sister, brother and I each had our own spot at the table, literally and figuratively.

We had our seats, but we also had our say. More than the food, I remember the discussions, the laughing, the problem solving, and the sharing that happened around that table. We devoured side dishes of daily check ins, gobbled up glimpses of business decisions when my Dad purposefully told stories from the office. We were fed lessons from the news along with our green beans and explored family values and decisions.

On the nights when my Dad was on a business trip, we would get visits from an imaginary Italian woman, Granny Fanny Nesserole. My Mom would slip into this persona and accent while we tumbled into fits of laughter.

My Mom made dinners special. It was usually our job to set the table, but some nights, she would set the table in an extra special way, with flowers, candles, pretty china and she would serve an appetizer before the main course. On Valentine’s Day, we would come to the table and each find a card and small package wrapped in green salad, wooden salad bowl, family dinner traditions, pass the salad, tomato salad, mom before mom, pinks and reds.

We always had a salad with dinner. My Dad would ask for the salad bowl when we were all done and he’d eat the rest right out of the serving bowl. Sure, we learned manners at the dinner table, but that was his thing and we thought it was normal. One night, I remember my Mom was serving liver (back in the 70’s when it used to be healthy) and my Dad, before taking a bite announced, “If that’s what I think it is, no one touch the salad!” A bit of family lore.

Writing Life

January 28, 2013

writing journals, diaries for kids, national novel writing month, record keeping families, traveling, Bermuda, France, cruises with families, Writing has always been something I’ve loved. I got my first diary when I was eight years old, a yellow book with white flowers on the cover, gilded pages and a golden lock.

Those early entries in my daisy-covered diary, written in second-grader printing, were simple recordings of my days, “I got up, I went to school. After school, Karen came over to play. We played outside. It was great!” My report-style writing evolved to reflecting on events, venting deep emotions, exploring relationships and pondering life. Recording daily details continued at a new level, and often my diaries became references for where we spent a certain Thanksgiving (settling some bets), what year we threw the 80’s party or when I dated “that guy.”

In re-reading old journals, it’s shocking to me how many things – big things – I’d forgotten, not just minutia but things like auditioning for the school play, I did that?

For my year 2000 project, I set out to transcribe all hundred-something hand-written books. While I didn’t make a big dent in that idea, as I worked, I marveled at how I could read and find myself feeling 12 or 17 again, I could instantly be back in a moment in my past. At other times, it was as if I was outside looking back in a motherly way at my younger self, I saw and experienced that memory in a whole new way, with a new perspective colored by experience.

What Was Your Childhood Bedroom Like?

January 26, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, this is my second post in the series. Last week was about how I got my name.
This week’s prompt is: What was your childhood bedroom like? Give a tour. How did it change as you matured?

[caption id="attachment_1549" align="alignleft" width="231"]sisters dressing up, kids playing house, girl dressing up as boy, sisters getting along, sisters laughing, siblings playing, pink suitcase, A favorite activity, Beth and I dressing up. I was 7, she was 5.[/caption]

I lived in one house, in one bedroom for my entire childhood. Until my later years of college, I even came home to that bedroom from school. (It was fair that I eventually got bumped, my brother had grown up with the booby-prize of a bedroom.)

Birth Hill Road in Newtown, Connecticut. A white colonial up on a hill and my bedroom was in the back corner, facing “the Big Rock” in the woods. My sister, Beth, and I shared that room when we were little, my Mom painted Raggedy Ann dolls over our beds in place of head boards. Each doll held a flower and faced the other.

Once, years after the Raggedy Anns were painted over, when we had redesigned the layout of the room and had our beds meeting in an “L” shape, our little brother was running from tip to tip of each bed and then tripped, perhaps on a sister’s foot if memory serves me, and launched into the corner of a windowsill. Hospital. Stitches. Angry Mother.

I’m not sure how old I was when Beth moved down the hall. Her new room was very cool. My Dad built cabinets and shelves out from the wall so her bed nestled into the wall. Book shelves and curtains made it a cozy nook.

My memories of when I had the room to myself are of tons of matching furniture, my parents had bought a double set for when I had my roommate. On my own, I loved organizing the shelves and my closet, I was neat and savored having my own space. I had forgotten until writing this, I had a bunny collection on one of those shelves, various ceramic bunnies in all sizes and poses, wonder where those are now.

As a teen, I got my own phone in my room for Christmas, it was just a house phone, connected to the one family phone number, but it was MY phone, in MY room with privacy! It had a really long cord and no cradle, it was 80’s hip and could be hung up on any of my many dresser surfaces.

I didn’t have much input into the decor or scheme really, which didn’t bother me, but I loved arranging the things I had and keeping my space organized. The colors were peachy and a green shaggy kind of rug, evidence of my 70’s childhood. The dressers had hutches attached to most of them and there were sweet little apricot flowers and a basket weave-type pattern in them. Not my style now, but I loved them then.

Over the years, it changed and my Dad even put in another window facing the woods in our back yard. He was always an awesome builder and woodworker but my Mom would attest (and complain) that he wasn’t big on prep or clean up work. He loved the demo part of the job and cut the hole for my new window without putting down a drop cloth. For months and months after that job was done we heard pieces of sheet rock going up the vacuum (remember, it was shag carpet, lot’s of room to hide plaster chunks!)

That room framed my ordinary everyday life: Late nights of homework, sleepovers with friends, talking with boys, posters on the back of my door. And that room framed the extraordinary life moments: Primping for dances, gowning for proms, talking with boys.

Years after I moved out, my bridesmaids and I stood in my old bedroom in front of an air conditioner in the no-longer-new-window, lifting our dresses to the cool breeze on that scorching July day. I was so thankful that Nick, my husband got to know the home and room I grew up in, but my kids never did.

When my parents sold the house and moved out not long before our first baby was born, the whole family was together and we walked room to room and everyone shared a memory for each room. Laughter, tears from laughter, tears from sadness, sadness from good-bye. Nearly three decades of family memories lived in those rooms, so many of them in my corner of the house.

How Did You Get Your Name?

January 17, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.

The idea is that our children only know us “Mom,” “Mommy,” or “Mama” but don’t know who we were before we had that name. Each week, Carla will provide a prompt which will result in a collection of stories from me to my children, giving them a glimpse into me, before I was their Mom.

Our first prompt: How did you get your name? Did you always love it? Have you ever wanted to change it?

leah name, cut out letters, ransom note style words, collages, magazine letters cut out, meaning of Leah, Hebrew Leah, crafty name,

I don’t think my parents had a reason for naming me Leah, except that they liked it and the second runner up, Jennifer, had just been used by my Mom’s friend. My middle name is Jane, after my mother, which is special to me now, though I’m not sure I appreciated that when I was younger.

Growing up I looked my name up in a baby name book for it’s meaning: the weary one. Seriously?! For someone who loves the meaning behind things, this was a bummer, and anyone who knows me will confirm that I tend to have a lot of energy. A-Lot-Of-Energy! (Over years of my overachieving ways, though, I have over-committed myself at times and have felt weary.)

I’m not sure I prefer the more modern meaning: delicate. I’m pretty bold, self confident and consider myself a strong, passionate woman. However, when I really consider the meaning, I think my heart is empathetic, open and honest, and so it can feel sensitive and fragile. I hate feeling misunderstood – I’d never make it in politics!

As a kid, I was the only Leah. There was another girl about six years younger than me, who spelled her name Lea, but until college, she was the only other person I’d ever met who had my name.

Generally, I liked being individual and having an uncommon name, but I craved something personalized. Other girls had signs on their bedroom doors announcing “Carrie’s Room” or had stickers, hair clips or jewelry labeled with their names. Nothing ever had Leah on it. Nothing.

Family of Circles

January 14, 2013

family circle time, silver circle necklace, silver rings, cute things children say, grateful mommy, happifyI love the symbolism and images of circles, so when I found this necklace full of circles, (at a bargain price, which made me even happier) I scooped it up.

One day when I was savoring the feeling of fiddling with the loops around my neck, my daughter sat on my lap to join me in playing with the necklace of circles.

She was at an age when it was routine to label things to represent family members, to notice ascending and descending sizes and correlate them to each of us. So, my necklace was bound to become our family of circles.

As she fanned out the circles, she began, “This one is Daddy, this one is Ali, this one is Michael and this one is me,” she paused for just a second, there are only four silver rings but five in our family. Then she touched the tiny one and announced, “And this is you, Mommy!”silver rings, importance of moms, kids love their moms, ascending order, math game

Even though this was only a child’s musings, the usual assigning the family to objects, I had a moment of pause. A moment with a wisp of a sinking feeling that I was viewed as small in her eyes. But before I could register theses thoughts or give a name to my emotion, she continued.

“Mommy, you’re the little one because you hold us all together.”

 

 

 

 

Thank You Note to Moms

December 14, 2012

A Thank You Note to Moms

I was sitting and imagining what it would be like to receive a thank you from my kids.

We don’t become Moms for recognition or acknowledgement, we do it for the relationships we build with our children. We do it from a place of selfless, boundless love.

But we deserve to be thanked for our tireless, passionate, endless work as Moms. We don’t get sick days, personal days and we really don’t even get Mother’s Day off, do we?

So here is the thank you note every Mom should get. This is for you!

Never say you’re “just a mom” and know that your work is the most important there is!

mom and daughters, two girls, sisters, thanks Mom, appreciating Moms, Mother's Day, ideas for thanking Moms, raising children, disciplining kids, Dear Mom –

Thank you for all you do for me and our family.

Thank you for picking up my socks, my Legos, my bouncy balls, my crayons, shoes, towels and cars, my books, my crafts, my underwear, my DS games, teddy bears, magic markers, my pajamas, more Legos, my Play Doh, my Squinkies, my hair clips, my slippers and all the things we leave in a path behind us everywhere around the house.

I know you spend a lot of your day just picking up the things we left around between coming home from school and going to bed. I just wanted you to know I appreciate it!

Thanks for cooking for us, it must really take a lot of work to plan meals, to go to the grocery store, to read labels and pick the best foods to keep our bodies healthy. It must take a lot of time and energy to put the food into the cart, out of the cart to pay, into the cart, out of the cart to the car, out of the car, into the house, out of the bags and then into the pantry; all before you cook us dinner. Great job! (I’ll try not to say, “Eww” or “Yuck” anymore.)

What is a Mother’s Circle?

November 8, 2012

I’ve always loved symbolism, something simple holding a greater, deeper meaning, and the circle, specifically, strikes me. It has a feeling to me, it feels whole and balanced, it feels like an embrace, inclusive. A circle is never-ending and strongly feminine, while also united with the masculine. I chose the name Mother’s Circle when I […]

Skipping Halloween

October 29, 2012

Here on the east coast, we may actually be skipping Halloween, and it won’t really bother me. With this hurricane-noreaster-monster storm coming and lurking around, we may have a rain-out for Halloween night. The kids costumes are ready (well, almost) and have been selected and changed myriad times since last October 31st. So what happens […]

Birth Like an Elephant

October 15, 2012

Birth your baby like an elephant births. Female elephants in the wild encircle a birthing mother and protect her within this ring. As human mammals, historically in the U.S. and as a continuing practice in more traditional cultures, we, too, should surround ourselves with strong, nurturing women to hold our birthing space for us. Birth […]

Technology for Moms: Simplified or Sidetracked

October 1, 2012

I’m a Mom who loves her technology but only to a point. When I got my new iPhone 3GS years ago, it changed my life in a really positive way. I can use my time so much more efficiently and now smart technologies have become habitual and feel utterly necessary. As a busy Mom, how […]

Invisible Mom

September 6, 2012

Invisible Mom | MothersCircle.netYesterday was a day of Mom-frustration and I felt invisible. I wondered, did I actually speak those words or did I just think them? Because if I did say them out loud, they made no difference . The regular expectations we’ve had in our family for years didn’t matter, they went ignored. And really, how many times can I be expected to repeat something calmly before there’s action, or screaming? I felt completely invisible.

Years ago I read a poem called I’m Invisible and boy did it resonate with me, I printed it and have it saved in a book I keep of special quotes and notes. Our job as Moms, by nature, cannot be appreciated or valued by our children. Not until they have children of their own, that’s when we may get some recognition for having done well. We don’t become Moms, though, for recognition or acknowledgement, we do it for the relationships we build with our children. We do it from a place of selfless, boundless love.

I love the expression that with young children, the days are long but the years are short, it’s just so true. However, within those long days, within a Mother’s love, there lies annoyance, aggravation and sheer head-pounding frustration. It’s the reality of raising children.

Organizing Kid’s Art

August 23, 2012

mermaid painting, mermaid art, drawing mermaids, kids art tips, art books, photo books for artwork, ariel painting, how to organize kids artAs the new school year approaches, how will you manage your kid’s art projects and the heaps of paintings, drawings and craft creations? Whether you have a preschooler’s colorful stick figures or a teen’s 3-D science presentation, here’s a solution that I love!

Many years ago, before I was in the digital mode for photography, and pre-smart phones, I read about an idea that stuck with me: take pictures of your children’s art work and then assemble a book of the pictures. I’ve only done this for the last three school years, but with everything electronic now, it’s a task that’s quite easy, with a little organization. (So why haven’t I started last school year’s book yet?)

When I do start it (writing this is motivating me to get to it) I use and really like Shutterfly. (You can click the link on the sidebar to go directly to Shutterfly). I am comfortable with their tools and products, they offer frequent discounts on photo books and their customer service has been exceptionally responsive when I’ve had any questions. There are other options out there (iPhoto, Tiny Prints, Snapfish, Mixbook, Lulu) for you to peruse. checked globe

When a kiddo comes home with a Groundhog Day hat, I put it on their head and take a picture, then throw away the hat. When the paints come out and the creativity flows into stacks of masterpieces, I snap a shot of each one, and toss them.

Boys and Bruises

August 2, 2012

Boys and Bruises, climbing a palm tree | MothersCircle.netI remember a time when Michael was little and always had a bruise, or two, or three somewhere on his shins, his forehead, his knees. Some of them had hurt, others just seemed to appear. His bruises were badges of his explorations and were part of the process of him learning about his body in space.

A social worker friend once told me that a sign of abuse is a person having bruises in all stages of healing, but that described my non-abused, well-loved little boy and he had made the bruises all on his own. He was 100% rough and tumble boy from his earliest days.

He bumped into tables when he learned to walk and got bruised. He tipped back in a chair at dinner as a toddler and got bruised. He balanced himself to go up the slide backwards and he learned. Experimenting with body mechanics and spacial relations is all part of growing up, and for many boys, it seems they do it with more energy, more gusto and more brute force than girls (though girls get their fair share of bruises, too!).

I Live You

July 16, 2012
[caption id="attachment_340" align="alignleft" width="250"]Family love I Live You![/caption]

We’re a family who uses the words, “I love you” very generously. We’re affectionate, we kiss, we hug, we snuggle and we say, write, text, email “I love you” all the time. For the last few months, either from my fingers or my autocorrect, whenever I try to type “I love you” somehow, it’s coming out “I live you.” I thought about that, and actually, that’s true, too!

At first it was a joke, my daughter and husband would text me back, “I live you, too,” but now they know that “I love you and I live you!” I realized that there are so many ways we live the ones we love.

We live them in their daily habits, in their nuances of behavior, the way they tilt their head, puzzle their eyebrows or jiggle in laughter. We know our loved ones intimately and we barely recognize how much we know their familiar responses, their subtle mannerisms, and how we feel their presence, or absence, in a space.

What Makes A Good Mom?

July 13, 2012
[caption id="attachment_321" align="alignleft" width="250"]Good Moms, a good mom, what makes a good mom, am I a good mom?, how can I be a good mom? My Mom and me – Good Moms![/caption]

What makes a good mom? Do we project our own definitions onto other mothers? Do we have standards so high we set ourselves up as failures? Isn’t it really true that we are all good Moms, barring situations of neglect and abuse.

You’re a good Mom. We all mother in our own unique way, and we’re all fallible. We are Moms who mess up at times, we raise our voices (okay, yell, scream and shout), forget to return the permission slip on time (if you haven’t yet, just wait), or worse, forget to put money under the tooth fairy pillow (that one required very creative story telling).

I think back on my happy childhood and don’t recall my Mom being ever-present at our schools, did she ever chaperone a field trip? I still felt completely cared for and content. One winter, my brother called as I watched my young children play in the snow on our deck, I muttered something about feeling bad for being inside and not out with them, my brother commented, “Leah, when did Mom ever come out to play in the snow with us?” He was right! I didn’t feel slighted one bit by that, plus she was waiting inside with hot chocolate, she showed us that she loved us in little and grand ways all the time without constantly guiding our activity or playing with us.

My Mom and I were recently talking about my grandmother and how by today’s standards of a good Mom being on every sideline, volunteering in every corner of the school, attending every in-school event, that her Mom wouldn’t have been considered a “good Mom.” Yet she was an incredible Mother and Grandmother and we always felt loved and cherished. She was full of wisdom and epitomized unconditional love, did it matter that she had no presence at her daughter’s school?

[caption id="attachment_323" align="alignleft" width="250"]mother and daughter, generations of moms, grandmother and great grandmother, good moms, My Mom and her Mom[/caption]

I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t get involved in our children’s schools and extracurricular activities, but I am a big believer in balance and in guilt-free parenting, so if you’re not mothering in that way, it’s okay and you’re a good Mom, too!

Confident Parenting

July 10, 2012

Sure, there are times we parents find ourselves rattled, off our game or plain old stumped, but it’s at those times, we need to seek resources and find our mojo to return to confident parenting. Parenthood begins in pregnancy and evolves as our kids grow. The main goal in parenting boils down to raising future […]

Math Kisses

May 29, 2012

bedtime math

A babysitter when I was about eight years old first introduced me to the song.
It’s a silly little ditty:

“Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
Good Night, Leah,
It’s time to go to bed,
Boop Boop!”

and she accented the “boops” with her hips as she left my doorway.

 

When Ali was little, I sang it to her and soon it was a regular part of our bedtime routine. Over the years (Ali is now 13) and through three children, the song has grown, changed and evolved. Each child has added his or her own individual enhancements. A second verse bloomed, “I love [insert kids’ name here], I love [kid sings Mommy/Daddy as parent sings kid’s name], I love [you get the idea], it’s time to go to bed, boop boop.” Michael now says “wee-ooo” instead of “boop boop,” we sing the names of everyone in the family (and our bird, Piper) and new phrases have crept in (“I love Ali, so much, I love Michael, so much…”)

As the song has lengthened, perhaps initially to delay the actual bedtime, it has remained a special part of ending the day. I don’t know how or when, but years ago, Anna (our youngest who just turned eight) began giving two kisses in between each phrase and instead of the boop boops. One night I realized she was counting the kisses on her fingers, we would end up with 16 kisses and run out of fingers, and then we always had to kiss four more times to get to an even 20.

I suggested she count by twos using one finger for each pair of kisses, so Anna started learning and practicing counting by twos. We added a challenge and I’d give her one kiss before singing and she’d need to count by twos on the odd numbers.

Mother’s Day in the ER

May 23, 2012

It certainly wasn’t how we’d planned to spend a preciously sunny Mother’s Day, but it was a day that tested me to live what I believe, a day that reminded me that I already know the value of gratitude.

I was reading a book in the hammock, feeling the warmth on my skin, listening to the kids take their first splashes in the pool (we finally figured out that opening it early makes a difference to a short Rhode Island pool season). My husband was tinkering around as he kept an eye on the kids; to give them access to the towel hooks, he moved the grill three inches to the left.

Those three inches cost us eight hours in the emergency room. A heavy, cast iron grilling pan slipped off the side shelf and landed squarely on my husband’s right big toe. Though he hopped around swearing beneath his breath and blood dripped everywhere he hopped, we didn’t think it would be so dramatic. At the advice of our nurse and doctor neighbors, we went to the hospital for a look and a tetanus shot.

The kids rallied, threw on cover ups, grabbed iPods (thank goodness) and off we headed, with my husband’s toe still bleeding all oImagever. Huddled in the small room together, we learned that the damage was actually quite severe and it was good that we’d gone in, his toe was broken, he nail bed was smashed, he needed stitches and he was still bleeding.

The whole day, he kept apologizing and we kept laughing as people wished me a happy Mother’s Day, but really, it could’ve been so much worse. We were together. My three sweet kiddos, my dream-man-husband, hunkered down in waiting rooms, triage rooms and small ER rooms. We were together. Even though at times I was reading my book, the kids were entertaining themselves with technology, and my husband rested and watched some TV, we also shared little snuggles, kisses, told stories and colored. There were no words of bickering, there was not a single complaint, we were harmoniously, peacefully together and I just felt thankful.

Choose Trust Not Fear

June 29, 2010

kids art, rainbow art, trusting birth, college women and labor, childbirth and labor, color wheelI just spent four days at a convention with women of all ages and I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with groups of college women. What struck me about my conversations with these young women was their unanimous and overarching fear of pregnancy and childbirth. I wanted to implore them to trust not fear birth.

It saddens me that the sole message these women have received is one of anxiousness, fright and actual terror. In many ways it is no surprise given the culture of childbirth in the U.S. today, the media portrayals and the widely held belief that giving birth is dangerous and miserable.

These future mothers did not have a sense of joy or a confidence in themselves or their bodies to grow and nurture a baby let alone to deliver it! One young woman confessed that she does not think her body can hold a baby while another announced she wanted nothing but a Cesarean. Where is the other side of this story?

Into the Mother’s Circle

May 21, 2010

mismatched socks, into the mother's circle, teen girls in socks, colorful socks, striped socks, four seasons, compass rose, meaning of a ring,May is International Doula Month and the month we celebrate Mothers!

I feel so grateful to do the work that I do; it is a blessing and an honor to support mothers and families, to welcome women into the Mother’s Circle.

The name Mother’s Circle has many meanings to me – it’s an embrace, safe arms around a family. It is holding a space for moms and babies. It is joining a community of women across generations and cultures and connecting mothers throughout history, around the Earth. Mother’s Circle evokes an image to me of nurturing, compassionate envelopment and hands joining together – hands holding to buttress one another, to validate one another, to nourish one another in silent, expansive unity.

Being a mother is so complex and contradictory – it is the deepest love, profound joy and intense frustration – it is special relationships and connection to another human being like no other. It is overwhelming, emotional, physical, tiring, energizing, exhausting and invigorating. It encourages us to explore our bond with this other person and our individuality from him/her; it leads us to reflect on our own mother, our own upbringing, our values, dreams, and goals for our families and ourselves. Motherhood implores us to see ourselves anew, to be strong within ourselves beyond what we may have believed possible.

Mother, Mama, Mommy, Mom … we have a place of honor, prestige, great influence and great responsibility inLeah DeCesare, doula, Mother's Circle, Rhode Island doula a child’s life. Becoming a mother is becoming a master balancer – balancing giving of yourself and giving to yourself. Spending time alone, nurturing your spirit and body, living in the knowledge that caring for you is caring for your child(ren). The title of Mother, Mama, Mommy does not replace the woman you are; let the role enhance you, add to you, give to you instead of detracting or diminishing.

Trust yourself. Honor yourself. Bask in the glory of the Mother’s Circle.

p-_j53ayb9sRH9s