gardening, Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Uncategorized

raw and open

Eight years and a few months ago I told a friend that I couldn’t imagine being happier about life and more excited about my future. I felt amazing. I was in the first semester of Grad school, I had just moved into a new house, I had gone from being a couch potato to running races and practicing yoga regularly, I had a new job as the executive director of an organization that brought me joy, and I was in the beginning stages of a new relationship with the first man I ever loved. I felt like I was on top of the world.

Then, like a sledgehammer to the skull, we got the death sentence diagnosis for my dad. He was dying. That’s it. There was no hope given. They could help him live a couple more years, but cancer would kill him and it would kill him soon. My dad. The man who lived his life serving others and would literally talk about what he would be doing when he was 100. He enjoyed life so much that it was contagious to be around him. He had already had cancer twice before and would joke about it. “I don’t get sick, I just get cancer,” he would say with pride.

A church friend recently talked about a garden being the metaphor for our lives and God being the Master Gardener. I have taken this idea and used it to help myself work through this season of my life. As I have highs and lows with my literal garden, I see the parallels with my life. Before the diagnosis, my garden was lush and full of herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Heck, there were freaking butterflies and honeybees fluttering around. You get the picture?

My dad’s diagnosis was the first nasty weed. What followed was three years of watching my father struggle and hope and eventually die. My relationship of three years, the one that was supposed to last forever, died four months later. It was a relationship that might have lasted had it happened at a different time in my life, but sometimes grief has a way of killing things in its path. Three months after my relationship died, I  jumped into a summer fling with a man who I thought I knew and who I thought was an old friend, only to find out he was a complete stranger, was not at all who I thought he was, and I was left to face a pregnancy and eventually parenthood, alone. My lush happy garden slowly rotted and turned into a heaping compost as I blamed the Master Gardener and kicked him out.

Even moments before my daughter was born, I was sitting in the middle of my compost pile thinking the garden and life I once had would never happen again. I was admittedly, angry, hurt, defeated and hopeless. Then, the moment they put that baby girl on my chest and I saw those crystal blue eyes, a small but strong bud popped out of my heap of mush and began to bloom. Trying to keep this “bud” alive and blooming has required months of fighting a broken legal system, three years of pinching pennies and constantly worrying about money, learning how to ask and accept help, and inviting the “Master Gardener” back in.fullsizerender-3

A few days ago, in my actual garden, I spent the entire morning pulling up weeds, removing broken glass, ant hills, and dog poop, and pulling up dead tree trunks. It was the end of a weeks-long project that I was starting to think would take the rest of my life to complete. As I stood in the sun covered in sweat and dirt, I felt the most amazing satisfaction seeing the raw and open earth that I uncovered. It was ugly and beautiful at the same time. Aside from a single strand of purple Morning Glories, everything that had been there was now gone. I immediately started to cry. This garden was me.

My neighbors told me that this garden was once home to beautiful grass, vibrant rose bushes, and lush green trees. After years of trials and neglect, it became the weed covered trash-ridden lot that I purchased a few months ago. It was so bad that one of my neighbors suggested it was beyond repair and I should just fill it with concrete and call it a day. What it is teaching me, however, is that nothing and no one is past redemption. Like my garden, I reached a point in my life where I had to realize that in order for that one flower to grow and flourish, I would have to rip out all that was old, dig up the soil, remove the trash, and start again with new seeds. I would need expert advice and help with the hardest parts of the job. Most importantly, I had to stop focusing on what once was and what I thought it “should” look like. I have to accept what has happened, mourn any loss, and focus on each seed as new life grows and a whole new garden appears.

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Preggers

savor.

The following popped up in my Timehop today. It is from August 30, 2015. First of all, I cannot believe a year has gone by already. Bella starts her second year of school next week and I still remember the shock on her face when she took her first steps. I remember how she felt as a tiny infant snuggled up on my chest and sleeping on my belly. I still remember those first tiny kicks that I felt inside me. What a joy this journey has turned out to be. What a surprise it is to find out this little human chose me as her mother and I never realized just how much I needed her in my life. I only wish it would all slow down because I want to savor each of these moments for a little longer before they end up as yesterday.

I read this and I want to remember it and I know a lot of people can relate:

August 30, 2015, 10pm

I’m listening to Lumineers, packing up The last of Bella’s baby clothes, and crying. Tomorrow is the first full day of the first full week of school for her. School. This life goes way too fast. A month less than three years ago,  I found out she was coming into this world. Three years. That’s it. It seems like it was last week. I have learned so much about life and about myself in that time; definitely more than I ever learned in all 20 years of school. I have learned what I am capable of(and that it’s more than I ever imagined) I’ve learned what is truly important in life, and why love and forgiveness are way more valuable than any hatred or anger or. I’ve learned that money and things mean nothing in this life. I have learned to stop planning and just live. I have learned that chocolate hand prints on my wall are just as awesome as my art collection and that there isn’t a bad day in the world that can’t be cured by a toddler smiling ear to ear, yelling “mommy,” and running into your arms at the end of the day. I’ve learned that loving and supportive friends and family are a rare and priceless thing to have. I’ve learned to really give: my heartFullSizeRender (2), my money, my time, and that giving is the secret to why any of us are here in the first place. I’ve learned that having a child is a gift and should never be taken for granted. I’ve learned to give thanks for that gift endlessly. I’ve learned that being there for Your child and giving her your time means more to her than any toy or material thing you can give her. I’ve learned that even a two-year-old can show compassion and love beyond measure. And finally, I’ve learned that happiness is a choice, and when you choose it you realize that your life is suddenly easier and better than you ever knew it could be. So, thank you to all of you who have been and are a part of our life. Bella and I give thanks everyday for the people and love we have in our lives. We consider ourselves very lucky. The last three years have been the best and most exciting years of my life and I cannot wait to see what our future has in store for us.

And it’s all still true!

 

 

 

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gardening, life lessons, Losing Dad


FullSizeRender (1).jpgA few weeks before my dad passed away, I caught him eating a raw potato. A RAW potato. I jokingly asked him if he’d like me to cook it for him. I will never forget his response, “No. I like it this way. It tastes like earth.”

I lived in six different houses in six different towns growing up. Each one of them had an ample amount of Earth. At each house, my parents were adamant about having a garden, fruit trees, and plenty of green. My mom covered the house with plants of various origin and my dad focused on vegetables and fruit trees in the yard. From birth, I have watched the magic that happens when a seed becomes a sprout and a sprout becomes a plant, a flower, a vegetable, or a tree. It has always amazed me and been all the proof I need that there is something greater than myself. I remember living in York County, Pennsylvania, where we had a huge vegetable garden, and hiding between two rows of peas with my best friend. We would lay in the dirt and giggle as we filled our bellies with fresh sweet peas. There is nothing like biting into a crisp pea pod on a hot summer day. It tastes like Earth.

One of the reasons I love the garden and gardening is because it is one of the few places I can still sense my dad’s presence. Just as I can feel him smiling every time I open up a new book, my dad also lingers in the sprouting of a new seed and in each shovel full of Earth as I turn it over to start something new. When I found a house in the city with a big back yard, all I could think about was the garden I would be able to have. It would be the perfect way to honor my dad and share a part of him with Bella.

I definitely have my work cut out for me. In the first year of Bella’s life, I celebrated keeping a human alive while I mourned each plant and vegetable as one by one, they died a slow and painful death. Now I have a toddler that I still have to keep alive(not an easy task) and a yard full of weeds and random treasures that must be dug up and sifted one shovel at a time before I can even think of sowing any seeds. The process is slow and has required quite a bit of texts to mom, consults with experienced urban gardeners, and googling. I’ve also discovered that, for the most part, my gardening will have to be in containers and raised beds; something totally new to me and not exactly what I had hoped for.

There is actual scientific proof that having contact  with the earth through standing in your bare feet, sitting, or lying down on the earth, known as earthing or grounding, actually improves your physiological and electrophysiological health. In fact, when stressed or depressed, direct contact with the earth has been shown to improve your symptoms. I suffer from anxiety and depression and have actually been told that regularly walking through grass or soil will eventually improve my symptoms and balance the cortisol levels in my body. It makes sense. I spent much of my childhood barefoot and covered in grass and mud. There were many times my parents didn’t know where the earth ended and I started. “Earthing” is in my blood, but I have not done much of it in the past few years. It is a therapy I am willing to try and willing to create space for in my backyard.

This piece-of-earth project is not only for me. I want Bella to have the opportunity to ground herself daily. I want her to know what a tomato seed and flower look like. I want her to remember happily hiding in the rows of peas while she bites downFullSizeRender.jpg on a piece of earth. I truly believe an essential part of good parenting is figuring out a way for your child to connect to the earth somehow. Most people my age grew up “earthing” daily and we didn’t even know that what we were doing was actually beneficial to our health and well-being. Today, however, many of us have to work to make that happen for our kids. We are fighting against computers, and smartphones, video games, and bigger flatter TVs with more to entertain our kids every day. We need more hikes, walks in the park or on the beach, and weekend camping trips. And, if we have the space, or even just a pot of soil in the kitchen, we can fight that pesky technology with a nothing but a seed, some soil, and a little water and sunshine.

So, despite the fact that we may not see our first sprout until sometime next year, I’m looking forward to the hours of digging and weeding that Bella and I have before us this fall. I’ll be doing it with my dad’s old garden tools while I think of all his corny jokes and remember how excited he was the first time his fig tree produced fruit. Hopefully, by this time next year, I will be telling you about our very first potato and how Bella and I sat in our garden and ate it raw while we talked about Grandpa Wilcox and how truly delicious the earth tastes.

 

“For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon, and stars of light;  
Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”

 

 

It Tastes Like Earth

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Losing Dad

bella blooms.

I’m not going to make it a habit of blogging more than once a week, but since I am determined to do this and do it right, I think I should provide a little background to the blog as reference. I started by moving my old blogs over to this site so I have everything in one place. While writing has always been my passion, I started the blogging five years ago when I found out my dad had only a few weeks left to live. It helped to talk about it even though it often exposed some pretty intimate emotions publicly. As someone who has suffered on and off with anxiety and depression, I have a strong belief that being public about emotions is healthy and much better than bottling things up until we break. Or worse, faking happiness and perfection.

The blogging continued to be helpful through my pregnancy and my favorite part of that process was my inbox full of stories from other parents.  I felt like I joined some new club and it was wonderful to find out that no one in the club was perfect and the stories people shared were mostly about times they had royally screwed up. Personally, I feel like those are the kinds of stories we should share more publicly. My social media feed is full of posts about how great and perfect everyone’s life is, but hearing the weird and unpleasant stories, especially when we can laugh about them, is richer and a little more fun.

It is what makes us human.

I’ve been on a hiatus from blogging for a variety of reasons, but I am excited to get back to it. I live alone with a 3-year old, an old grumpy dog, and a cat who was born without balance or grace. As if that isn’t enough, I am a parent and a person who constantly makes mistakes, but is able to laugh at myself daily and walk away believing I am still an ok person despite my numerous flaws. My goal for this blog is to share a little about solo parenting(both toddlers and fur babies) and a little about my attempt at bringing the country girl inside me into my very Philly back yard.

Six months ago, I bought my first house. It is what I consider the best of both worlds. It is still less than five miles from the heart of Center City and no more than a 10 minute drive. Yet, it is still far enough out of Center City that we rarely have to deal with tourists or politicians disrupting our daily lives. The house is an old Philly row home that is original on the outside and completely flipped on the inside. It feels like a brand new house, but unlike many of the new condos popping up around the city, it was built in a time when things were built to last. It has survived over one hundred years of hurricanes, blizzards, floods, and heat waves. I was looking for a classic and although I originally wanted everything on the inside to be the original work as well, I must admit I am starting to like the facelift the house had before I bought it. I’ve never lived in a house where no one else has used the appliances or bathroom, or even walked on these floors. It makes it feel even more like it’s really mine. The biggest thing that sold this house for me, however,  was what was outside: a huge fenced in backyard that is rarely found in this area. I have a raised lawn that is 30’ x 10’ surrounded by a substantial patio all shaded by a massive Magnolia Tree. It is not the acreage this Central PA girl would prefer, but it is just enough to give me a place surrounded in green.

So, the down933F7610-DD2A-4D86-B54F-AD3BF5C9190Cside to this yard is that, like the house, it was abandoned for 6 years. Squatters filled it with garbage and with each rain, more “treasures” surface. To date, I have found diapers, a beheaded statue of Mary, shattered wine glasses and China, Christmas ornaments, broken toys, the rusted contents of a tool box, nails, cigarettes, cobblestones, pieces of a railroad, casino chips, bricks, and other random trash. Now you are probably wondering why I would want a house with a yard in this condition. The fact is that when I came to see the house, I looked outside and saw the incredible potential for the space. As I sift through it one shovel at a time(using my dad’s gardening tools), I find interesting pieces of the past and the good earth that still lives below the surface. My goal with this space is to fill it with clover and surround it with a container garden and some raised beds. This project will take a long time and since I am not an experienced gardener and barely have any idea what I am doing, I expect things to get interesting and most likely frustrating.
I see the yard as a physical representation of my life. I think that’s why I love it so much. I have also gone through some rough years and have some garbage to clear out of my life as I begin growing something new. So, as I figure out how to keep a kid, two pets, and some plants alive and growing, I’ll fill you in on the fun parts. 

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Run Momma Run

Love thyself.

When I was pregnant, I took extra special care of my body. I quit smoking, quit drinking, cut way back on caffeine, walked regularly, drank tons of water, ate mostly organic, covered my skin in coconut and almond oil daily to avoid getting stretch marks, slept as much as possible, and listened to a lot of empowering and happy music. After Bella was born, I nursed for 22 months. I got back into running, ate even more organic and stayed away from processed foods. I only occasionally drank and when I did, it was minimal. I slept when I could and tried to keep a positive attitude despite some challenges that came with getting used to taking care of another human being. I lost all of my pregnancy weight plus some and felt amazing.

Today I visited a friend’s pool at a high end apartment complex. The majority of people at the pool, even moms, looked incredible, fit, and happy. I looked down at my body and saw a year and a half of weight gain from eating crap, drinking way too much, and not even attempting to run again. I looked at my hairy legs and my messy hair and realized I hadn’t even showered in two days. It was clear my skin hasn’t seen a drop of lotion in a long time, let alone be covered from head to toe in oil. I also can’t remember the last time I did yoga or just sat quietly to read a book or listen to Bach’s Cello Suite.

Why is it that so many mothers do this to ourselves? We take amazing care of ourselves while pregnant and nursing because we want to ensure a healthy baby. Then, as the child begins coloring our walls and peeing on our rugs, many of us begin to give up to some degree. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard fellow moms joke about how long it has been since they have been on a date, taken a shower, gone out with their spouses, or eaten something other than goldfish and macaroni. This morning my beautiful 3-year old daughter reminded me that the massive treadmill in our living room is there for me to use. She is clearly aware of the fact that I haven’t been on it in a while and thinks that it’s probably time. It suddenly occurred to me that this precious baby still needs me to take care of myself in order for me to take the best care of her as well. Just because sh13920434_10153856682582005_6364152617981029699_oe’s not in my body anymore doesn’t mean that body no longer needs some attention.

I often use the excuse that I just don’t have the time. I work full time and am a solo parent. Like just about every other parent, I am busy. However, in the last two years, I somehow found the time to watch the entire series of about 20 shows, drink at least 100 boxes of wine, and eat enough cheese to fill the Packers’ stadium. I clearly have the time. So, today I came home, did a massive clean of my house, showered, shaved my legs and pits, sat down with a cup of tea, turned on Bach, and began typing. One of the things I also used to do was write. I wrote all the time and it was fun and therapeutic. I have not been in a good emotional place in the last couple of years and if I was being completely honest, I would admit that they have been the hardest and darkest years to date. Writing is my art form. It is how I have always best expressed myself and how I have worked through the good and bad in life. Since I stopped writing, I felt less connected and less like myself.
So, here I am writing again. As I work towards getting back to healthy and figuring out how to find my abs between boxed wine and a block of cheese, I’m going to dust off the book I never finished and share my new adventure here with anyone who is interested. My goal for now is to drink less, run more, meditate and practice yoga, eat more things that don’t come in boxes, cans, or bags, and write, write, write. 

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life lessons, politics

elders.

I had the day off today. I had to travel to Jersey to get my phone fixed, so I decided to visit my beautiful 99-year-old Mom-Mom. She loves seeing Bella and lit up when we walked in the room. I spent the visit listening to her tell me about her parents walking her and her brothers all the way to Philly’s Fairmount Park in the 1920’s in a small wagon. She can’t remember what she ate this morning, but she remembers the sun hitting her face as she sat in that wagon on her way back from a day of fun. She remembered being grumpy because it was past her nap time and remembered her parents being patient with her. I showed her pictures of Bella and her cousins at the beach and we talked about how big all the kids are getting. How Bella’s hair is darker, but Ava’s is definitely thicker. We talked about how Shepherd’s Pie gets tastier with every day as it absorbs more flavor.

My grandmother has been alive since 1917. She is Baptist. She is conservative. She is more blue collar than anyone I know. She dropped out of high school to work and take care of her family. She has worked long hard factory hours. When my Pop-pop went to war, she went to get her license so someone in the household could drive and keep the family business running. She knows hard work. She knows sacrifice. She knows family values and what it means to care for loved ones. Her grandparents were immigrants. They came here looking for a better life and doing so was not always easy. She was raised in a small row home in North Philly with 3 siblings. She lived a simple life and learned how to be happy without much “stuff.” She has lived through wars, the depression, the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, and knows poverty and knows how to make a potato stretch through a couple meals! She IS AMERICA. She is the dream. I am here because of her.

I love her, but I thought it best to avoid talking politics. Then she said, “I don’t even know what is on this TV right now, but I know the convention is on this channel at 4 and I don’t want to miss it.” I decided to take the dive and talk politics even if it was hard. I told her how I supported Bernie and had really hoped he would win the primaries, and that now I am trying to learn what I can about Hillary and will probably vote for her. She looked at me and said, “Bernie is good, but he is too old for this job. The president needs to be young and strong. If I vote, I will vote for Hillary. The only other option is Trump and that would be a catastrophe for our entire country.” My jaw dropped. This was not what I expected at all! She then said, “Look at all his bankruptcies. That is the easy way out. You can’t take the easy way out when you are president. It’s not an option.”Mom-mom 2016

I get upset when people say democrats are lazy, uneducated, and living off the government. I work hard. I raise my daughter alone with no assistance from the government or her father for that matter. I have a Master’s Degree and I am a homeowner. I come from a strong family who immigrated to this country a few generations ago. We love each other, we work hard, and we support each other like families should. We have fought in wars to protect our freedom and to fight against injustice. We pay our bills and we pay our taxes. I am a Christian. I love this country. I love this country so much that I want others to feel safe, loved, taken care of, and I want every one of my fellow Americans to have the same opportunities that I have had and have now. I know that when everyone feels safe and everyone has opportunity, we will grow as a society.  I care about this planet and I see it as a gift from God. I see that we have abused it and I know we can change that. I know we as a country are doing many good things, but I also know we have potential to be much more.

I listen to my grandmother. I listen to her tell stories of the last 99 years living in this country and in this world. She has personally seen and experienced what most of us have only read in history books. I do not take her life lightly. I do not take her opinions lightly. She doesn’t see the doom and gloom that Trump speaks. She sees, as she has always seen, a bright and hopeful future. Like me, she looks at the actual platforms the democrats stand for and sees that they support the working class and the majority of America. I don’t agree with everything the democrats stand for, but I don’t agree with anything that Trump stands for. I pray we all read the facts and do our research and talk to our elders before we walk into the voting booth in November. I pray we make a choice that is best for all of us.

 

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Uncategorized

Parenthood: 10 Things

I am closing in on almost two years of being a parent. When I found out I was pregnant, I came out of the bathroom, hugged my friend (now Bella’s Godfather) in a state of complete disbelief and went right back into the bathroom and laughed. Hard. For about half an hour. I suddenly understood the Old Testament story of Sarah laughing when she found out she was finally pregnant. It is not, as some would think, something to cry about. A surprise child can only mean good things are coming. For me, I was at an interesting time in my life. In less than a year, I lost my father to cancer after a 3-year battle and the almost 4-year relationship with the man I thought I would marry had ended. I was running daily, doing yoga, drinking too much, and for the first time in my life, thought it might be fun to have a casual summer fling. I thought all of these things would help me deal with the pain I was feeling and get me back into life somehow. Grief has a funny way of turning your life upside down, especially when cancer is involved. Anne Lamott says when you lose someone to cancer, it’s a like an atomic bomb goes off in your family. Your entire life explodes and you do everything you can just to feel again. You find yourself standing there in the rubble with no idea where to start to rebuild your life. At the time, even destructive behavior somehow feels like maybe it will help.

I was also at a point in my life when I wasn’t sure I could have kids. After all, let’s be honest, even in 2012, 34 was considered a little late to be starting in on the first child. If a woman reaches her mid 30s and has not had children, the possibility and hope for children begins to fade and she starts focusing on other things that will make her happy and fill up her life. It’s dumb, but it happens. Believe me. Furthermore, I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids. Being an aunt is WAY easier (and cheaper) and you still get some of the same rewards. I definitely didn’t know if I had any idea what it took to be a parent, let alone a good one.

But, there she was, this squiggly little bean on a sonogram with that huge heart just beating away. That’s the moment for a lot of us when we just say, “ok, let’s do this!” So I did.

And, so far, I have loved every minute. My daughter is my joy. She has brought nothing but love and light into my life and she teaches me something new everyday. So, with my third Mother’s Day only a few days behind me, I decided to share a few things I have learned so far. Last time I did something like this, people added to my list and I loved the additions, so please feel free to share. Life is a constant education and the happiness and comedy that comes from lessons in parenthood is worth sharing.

  1. Time goes so quickly. Spend every moment you can with your child. You will never get these moments back.
  2. Always coordinate spaghetti night with bath night. Trust me. This goes for Guacamole night also.
  3. Don’t buy a new sofa or furniture when you are pregnant. Despite all your efforts to protect it, your toddler WILL figure out how to destroy it. Enjoy the pen and crayon marks and the juice stains. It gives your furniture a distinctive character. It’s practically a piece of art. When your child is a little older, you can treat yourself to a whole new set of furniture.
  4. Let your child make a mess. Let them and see the beauty in it. In less than two minutes, Bella managed to cover herself, the cat, and the entire kitchen and dining room with cornstarch. I didn’t even know we had cornstarch. It was such a huge mess that I couldn’t do anything but laugh and take photos! Then I spent the entire morning cleaning it up. Which, of course, caused Bella to laugh. Things you think may annoy you or make you mad just don’t when your child is involved. In fact, there was almost a little pride inside me that day!
  5. You can do this! Even when you’re at your wits end and it seems like everything is going wrong, you will find that somehow, everything works out exactly like it’s supposed to. Money or time might be tight. Your child may be having an endless tantrum. Or maybe you feel like you will never get to the bottom of the pile of dishes or laundry. I am a marathon runner. There is a point in marathons when you hit a wall. For me, it is mile 22. You just feel like you cannot do it. It happened for me again when I was 26+ hours into labor. I wanted to give up. This WILL happen in parenthood. Then your child grabs your face with both hands, squeezes your cheeks, and gives you a big kiss and “I uv you Mama!” All the sudden, your second wind comes and you finish the race, push out that baby, or put away that last dish or pile of laundry. Children have a funny way of being the oxygen we need right before we’ve taken our last breath.
  6. Be flexible. When I found out I was pregnant, I learned that I had to throw my plans out the window. I stopped worrying about what life was “supposed” to look like. Life amazes me everyday and by going with the flow and accepting the gifts life gives you, you will find that the world is a brilliant and incredible place.
  7. Turn off the TV. Go to the park. Color. Play with blocks. Dance. Your kid will love it and you are in a unique place in life where you get to act like a kid right along with them and no one will judge you for it. Embrace that and soak it in while you can.
  8. Tell your kids you love them. Tell them often. Tell them several times a day. If they get in trouble at school or at home, tell them you love them anyway. Hug often. There are enough assholes in the world. Don’t create another one. When children know they are loved and accepted, they will love and accept others. As parents, we have the power to create a generation of loving compassionate people and it doesn’t cost us a thing to do so!
  9. Don’t compare your child to other children. She (or he) is going to walk when she walks, talk when she talks, and learn at her own pace. Capture each “first” and enjoy it! Stop worrying about whether she is at the right development stage. I wanted Bella to walk so badly and talk so soon. Now I can’t keep her still or quiet! I miss the earlier stages and wish I had soaked them in a little more instead of worrying what came next. Now I’ve made it a rule to just learn and enjoy each day as it comes. You’ll be surprised at all the little cool things they do each day when you’re not thinking about what will happen tomorrow.
  10. Listen to your child. Listen. Listen. Listen. Bella sings to me and talks to me constantly. I barely know what she is saying to me most of the time, but I put down my phone, turn off the TV, and give her my full attention. I’ve worked with teens now for almost 15 years as either a counselor or a teacher. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that they just want someone who will really listen to them. Be that someone for your child. It is never too early or too late to start.
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