For the last few weeks, I have been feeling every one of my 50 years.

Motherhood, the job I know I am good at and the one I have always loved, has really been kicking my tail lately. It seems as if all three of my darlings are experiencing growing pains at the exact same time.

The fact that I am the primary parent, while my husband leaves the house for the office each day, means I am on the only one on the front lines dealing with every case of teen and tween angst that comes along. There is also the complexity of caring for my daughter, who has significant special needs.

I’m cooked. Burnt out. Exhausted and emotionally drained. I would get out the white flag of surrender, but I’m too tired to get it from the linen closet. I certainly don’t have the energy to wave it.

It’s times like these that I am oddly grateful that motherhood did not come easy to me. As I feel myself drawn into yet another argument about curfew times or whose fault it is that the living room is a disaster, I do my best to remember that there was a time when I would have given everything I owned to be in this position.

I had four miscarriages before our first child was born. Four.

The cushy life I had of only worrying about me, my job, my husband, and our cat felt so profoundly empty. I would do my best to enjoy all I had, but every time I saw a baby or a child with their mom, my heart would ache.

I would hear my friends complain about their kids, and it would take every ounce of me to stop myself from screaming, “You don’t know how lucky you are.”

There is something so empowering in remembering that I actively chose this life.

I might not have known or chosen that my daughter have more in common with a child of three or four then the girl of 14 that she is. But when I catch her in the bathroom, crumbling everyone’s deodorant and leaving a mess of biblical proportions, it does make it a little easier to laugh when she looks up at me and asks, “Mom do you still love me?”

I would rather not have to watch my 17-year-old son struggle with the same dyslexia that plagued me in school. But watching him makes strides some professionals thought he would never make does make the arguments over his choice of clothing or language a bit more manageable.

My soon-to-be 11-year-old youngest child is proving his talent of getting on my very last nerve as he grapples with the challenges of leaving grade school for the bigger world of middle school and all that will entail. But it’s hard not to be charmed when he says, “I look like a princess” in my new pink nightgown.

Yes, I have been feeling the pressures of raising three kids, trying to achieve some semblance of order in our house, and still make time to write. I have a very good case of the “stressed-out-mommy-blues.”

Thankfully, this experience, and an hour of having the house to myself, has taught me that it will pass.

There will be a day, sooner than I care to admit, when I will look back at these insane times as the good old days.

I know that. Today I just have to remind myself.

This post was originally featured on Kathy Radigans’s blog, My Dishwashers Possessed. Featured image via. 

If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you may remember that we’ve had our fair share of cyber bullying from “mean girls” and other forms of bullying.

The first time that I felt a need to step in was when M was in the 5th grade. This is when I learned a hard lesson of parenting: unless there’s significant harm being done, you’re better off being a coach on the sidelines than the quarterback trying to win the game.

7th grade brought the next significant round of bullying by mean girls and was the year I was in the principal’s office more times than I cared for. 8th grade was pretty quiet. But just when I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief, along came the 9th grade and high school. (What is it with the every 2 years pattern??)

High school has opened up a whole new can of challenges. My friend, Jon Lowder, warned me that going from middle to high is like going from a AAA farm league to the Major Leagues.

None of the stuff we’ve encountered is overtly bad – more of the PITA (pain in the ass) variety. Nasty tweets, snarky comments, bitchy texts – pretty textbook stuff. The only difference between what you and I had to deal with and what she and her friends have to deal with is that it’s done electronically as opposed to in person or with pen and paper.

So what is the actual definition of cyber-bullying? According to Google, it is “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” If you want to read the entire NC statute, click here.

All of the schools in our area preach about having zero tolerance policies when it comes to bullying and I’ve been pretty pleased with how they’ve handled situations if it got to that level. While the schools and parents may take a strong stand on cyber-bullying, unfortunately, our judicial system has a more difficult time prosecuting anyone should it get to that point.

IF they were to bring them through the system, they’d be tried as juveniles and most likely be given nothing more than a “slap-on-the-wrist.” We have a friend who did take another kid and their family to court for this kind of abuse. As a resolution, the other kid was ordered to write an apology letter. Pretty expensive apology letter, I’d say.

This past weekend, we had a situation pop up that made me call a friend of the family who is in law enforcement just to validate that what I was doing the right approach. He confirmed that I was, but as a parent, you can’t run to the school every time someone gets pissy and sends out a nasty tweet. So, what do you do?

I’m no expert on the law, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Be Mindful

Keep a diligent eye everywhere, but for the most part, do it from the sidelines. Trust me. It is SO hard for me to read the texts and tweets that come across while biting my tongue and resisting the urge to rip off a few well phrased tweets.

2. Create a “Twatch” List

You don’t have to follow the kids in question (i.e. bullies) on Twitter, but you can create a private list and add them to it without following them. The next best option is to keep a list and just check in on them if you think there’s an issue. For the most part, their everyday tweets are just typical teen bantering that bores me to tears.

3. Give The School A Heads Up

It never hurts to alert the school if they’re getting harassing texts or any other kind of electronic communication.

4. Listen, Listen, Listen

My experience taught me that kids will withhold this kind of information until it reaches critical condition, so make sure you listen when they come to you. This is not the time to tell them, “just a minute”. This could be your one and only shot at them opening up. Don’t blow it. Listen to what they’re telling you even if it seems a bit over the top. I promise, if there’s smoke, there’s fire.

5. Screenshots Are Golden

If there IS an issue, make sure you educate your kid on the importance of taking screenshots and sending them to you. This will be helpful if you choose to send it to the school or addressing the issue with their parents.

6. Understand That There Are Always Two Sides

You may have to admit that your kid may be involved in the act. I have yet to go through one of these situations and think that my girls were 100% innocent. It takes two to tango friends.

7. Provide Your Kid(s) With Options

While it’s really, really hard to do, sometimes the best course of action is just to ignore the bully acts. Teach them not to engage, respond, or react. They may still do it, but if you repeat this often enough, they’ll get better at doing it – at least a little bit.

8. If All Else Fails, Do What You Have To Do

If it gets really bad, do what you have to do. Get the school, the parents, and the authorities involved. At the end of the day, it’s better to be overprotective than under.

The one thing that blows my mind about this group of kids is that they have some major cajones. They think nothing can stop them. I’ve seen texts where one kid proclaimed that “because his dad was rich, he’d make sure that M and her friends would never go to college”. I know you’re dying to know what my response to that was. Well, I pulled a Dr. Huxtable and told M, “he doesn’t have money. His DAD may have money, but this kid is like you…broke”.

I’ve never said this phase was easy, but my hope is that I can at least prepare you for what’s’ to come so that you’re ready to handle it as best as possible. Don’t worry – we’ll all survive!

This post was originally featured on Kristen Daukas’s blog, Four Hens and a Rooster. Featured image via. 

Sometimes it can feel like instead of having children, you have a bunch of bloodthirsty tributes competing in the Hunger Games.

Most of us as moms are a little too familiar with the dreaded (and annoying) sibling rivalry. We asked our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram friends how they deal with their kids’ competitive natures, and the responses are hilarious, honest, and insightful.

Very true!

This feels like the definition of what it means to be a sibling. 

Always our favorite go-to, obviously.

We’re not against it…

That’s what we’re SAYING! 

Classic brothers…always trying to one-up or match each other, even if it means injuries galore. 

Love this! 

Super helpful and insightful. Good to know our little brats are just being normal little brats. 

We can’t argue that one of the best parts about having siblings is the loyalty that goes with it….even if it often includes fighting like crazy. 

Ahhh, yes. The role of a mother! Such a glamorous, thankless life!

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If you are a parent, chances are you’ve spent more than a little time worrying about your children. It’s normal and it’s healthy to be concerned about the safety and well-being of our children. We are given a great responsibility when we are blessed with children and those of us who take our responsibility seriously are likely to have some concerns about keeping our kids safe.

The problem begins when we worry so much that we become anxious or we make decisions based solely on the emotion of fear. Fearful parenting clouds our judgment and leads us to parent in a way that may pass on our anxieties to our children. This type of parenting does not set up our children for success and it may actually cause them to lose their natural instincts for safety.

Did you know that all of us are born with innate safety instincts? It’s that “spidey-senses” feeling you get in a situation that lets you know that something is not quite right. I believe that mothers are gifted with a generous amount of this instinct and that enables them to properly care for their young. However, the media manipulates that instinct on a daily basis by presenting everything bad that has happened in the world. It leaves many parents feeling as if the world is a horribly unsafe place for children. This leads us to both limit our own children and judge other parents’ decisions harshly. It’s a recipe for a scared world that may not actually be as scary as we think.

When my children were younger I suffered from what I now realize was an abnormal amount of anxiety concerning their care. It was very difficult for me to trust anyone besides my husband or our mothers with my children. My youngest child was six before we used a babysitter for the first time. Still, I was eventually able to turn things around so that I did not pass my anxieties on my children. Here are some of the things our family has put in place in order to practice fearless parenting.

1. Teach Safety, Not Fear

We teach our children what to do in case of emergency. We explain the difference between an emergency situation and a “kind of a big deal” situation. We explain the steps to take to remain safe in each type of situation. To give children information about how emergencies are more likely to occur and what to do if an emergency happens helps to lessen their anxiety, as well.

2. Stop Worrying About What Other Parents Think

In the past I have curtailed my children’s freedom in some situations based solely on what I imagined other parents might think. Stories like this one make us think that other parents are watching us all the time and are ready to label us a bad parent if our standards differ from theirs, even if there is no real threat.

If you are the kind of parent who is judging other parents on what you perceive to be unsafe parenting practices, now is the time stop. It seems to me that we can do more good by helping to watch out for children who are unsupervised for whatever reason than we can by reporting these parents to the police and disrupting a family’s life.

3. Think Critically and Back Up Your Worries With Proof

If you’re going to spend time wallowing in your anxiety, at least be able to provide proof that your anxieties are founded. Don’t just listen to the media’s account of stories. Research the facts. Figure out the statistics and you’ll probably see that the likelihood of most of the dangerous situations you fear is slim.

This practice starts before birth. If you are currently pregnant and wading information concerning childbirth practices, vaccinations, co-sleeping and many more, do your research. Your research should rely on more than what you read in the newspapers and catch on the evening news.

4. Monitoring is Fine, Hovering is Not

Be aware and be prepared. Then relax.

It’s really that simple. If have prepared yourself and your children by using the steps I’ve already listed, then there is no need to hover over them as they walk to a friend’s house, go to the park alone or stay home while you run to the store.

5. Provide Your Child With A Mobile Phone

The best solution for monitoring without hovering is to provide your child with a cell phone. It doesn’t have to be expensive — prepaid is great. If your eight year old is walking down the block to a friend’s house or your ten year old wants to go play at the neighborhood park, send them with a phone. You can check in with them, they can check in with you. It’s an important step toward empowerment and self-assurance and it will help to lessen your worries.

6. Practice the Buddy System

When we are traveling for soccer games with my oldest son, my 10 and 8 year olds like to go to the sports complex playgrounds while I watch the game. Our deal is that, if the playground is more than a quick run from me or my sight of them is limited, they must go together (and often, bring a cell phone). (The buddy system is for restroom breaks, as well.)

If one child were to sustain an injury, the other child could come get me. In the unlikely event that they are approached by a stranger, they can reinforce each other with the tools we’ve given them for dealing with strangers.

This post was originally featured on Allison Goines’ blog. Featured image via

The world is full of badass moms, both real and fictional, and Molly Weasley is totally one of them.

Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, Molly is totally relatable as a mother. She’s fiercely loyal, a little overbearing, and very protective. Sound familiar? Probably because we can all identify with Molly. Here are 10 of her best quotes that all of us protective moms can relate to (even if we don’t want to….whoops).

1. “Now, you two – this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling me you’ve…you’ve blown up a toilet…” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Ahhh, yes. The good ol’ reminding your children to not misbehave for fear of them doing something stupid. If only we could force our children to make the right decisions!

2. “You – will – never – touch – our – children – again!” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This one as absolutely relatable for the protective part of us all; if anyone stands in the way of the safety of our children, we turn into momma bears. Mrs. Weasley was totally no exception; don’t put her kids in danger!

3.  “He’s not a child!” said Sirius impatiently. “He’s not an adult either!” said Mrs. Weasley, the color rising in her cheeks. “He’s not James, Sirius!” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Whether we want to admit it or not, part of being a mother is secretly wishing your children would never grow up. Even though Harry wasn’t her biological son, she was absolutely a mother figure to him, which means she wanted to shield him from the real world. And can you blame her?! Harry was under a lot of stress for someone who was basically a tween saving the entire world. Which is a very horrifying thought. Can tweens never be put in  charge of saving the world?

4. “Beds empty! No note! Car gone — could have crashed — out of my mind with worry — did you care? — never, as long as I’ve lived — you wait until your father gets home, we never had trouble like this from Bill or Charlie or Percy —” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Molly Weasley

 

 

 

 

OH HOW WE RELATE TO THIS ONE. Listen, it’s just real talk. When our kids put themselves in danger because of something stupid they did, we can’t help but snap at them! It’s only because we have nearly pulled our hair out with anxiety and worry. That’s the thing about being a parent – it’s mostly just stressing that your kids are doing something terrible that could hurt them.

Molly totally gets it and isn’t afraid to put her children in their place. After all, she has 7 of them!

5. “[Harry’s]’s not your son,” said Sirius quietly. “He’s as good as,” said Mrs. Weasley fiercely. “Who else has he got?” “He’s got me!” “Yes,” said Mrs. Weasley, her lip curling, “the thing is, it’s been rather difficult for you to look after him while you’ve been locked up in Azkaban, hasn’t it?” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Oof. This one hits right in the gut. Molly Weasley is taking a low blow at Sirius Black, but again, it’s only because she has so much love for not only her own children, but for Harry as well. We can totally relate to putting our foot in our mouth for the sake of wanting to protect our kids. Sometimes as moms it’s hard to think before we speak since we’re speaking out of love/emotion.

6. “RONALD WEASLEY! HOW DARE YOU STEAL THAT CAR! I AM ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED! YOUR FATHER’S NOW FACING AN INQUIRY AT WORK AND IT’S ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT! IF YOU PUT ANOTHER TOE OUT OF LINE WE’LL BRING YOU STRAIGHT HOME!” Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Ahhhhh yes, the classic embarrassing your kids in public in front of their friends. This sounds familiar. *pulls collar* Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Molly Weasley

Seriously, how many times can Mrs. Weasley yell at Ron?! Again, it comes from a place of love. Molly is so protective and so worried about her children getting into danger. Sure, it’s a little overwhelming, but it comes from a good place. Much how when we reprimand our kids in front of their friends (they obviously deserve it), we’re just doing it because we care.

7.  Molly: “I just think they’ve hurried into this engagement, that’s all!”

Ron: “They’ve known each other a year.”

Molly: “Well, that’s not very long! I know why it’s happened, of course. It’s all this uncertainty with You-Know-Who coming back, people think they might be dead tomorrow, so they’re rushing all sorts of decisions they’d normally take time over. It was the same last time he was powerful, people eloping left, right, and centre…” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Can’t…stop…cringing. BECAUSE THIS IS VERY, VERY RELATABLE. Even if your kids aren’t married yet, this sentiment is very familiar. Will anyone be good enough for your son/daughter to wed? It’s going to be really hard to feel like anyone is worthy of your kids, and sometimes it just feels easy to make a bunch of excuses up as to why marriage is a bad idea. Molly, we totally feel you.

It should be noted, however, that Molly eventually changed her tune when she realized Fleur Delacour truly loved her son, Bill. Which is pretty great – because in the end, we just want our kids to be happy. Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Molly Weasley

8. “No! That’s enough! He’s just a boy, you say much more and you might as well induct him into the Order straight away.” Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film). 

Molly shielding Harry from knowing too much about what is actually going on in the wizarding world is exactly how us protective mothers feel today. While obviously we want to raise intelligent human beings, part of us longs to keep our kids in a safe bubble! THE WORLD IS JUST TOO MUCH, RIGHT?

9. “Ron: They were starving him, Mum! There were bars on his window!

Molly Weasley: Well, you’d best hope I don’t put bars on your window, Ronald Weasley!” Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film). 

Honestly, yes. Molly, we totally feel you on this one. When our kids act irresponsibly, we totally want to ground them. Or put bars on their window – same thing.

10. “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH.” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Molly WeasleyYES! Finally, the best quote from Molly Weasley that perfectly encapsulates everything protective mothers feel. Molly, during the final battle of Hogwarts, rushes forward to save her daughter from the evil Bellatrix Lestrange. She is on full mom beast mode and it is SO. AWESOME. Ain’t nobody messing with Mrs. Weasley’s kin.

Molly obviously isn’t a perfect mother, but none of us are. That’s what makes her so great.

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