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The Jaw Dropping Way This Pre-Schooler Stood Up to a Bully

September 14, 2014

As a mom, I am always correcting my son’s behavior in an effort to mold him into a well-mannered person. My kid is forever catching some fresh hell for committing run-of-the-mill kid crimes. It isn’t enough for me that he follows the rules. I want the boundaries I create to help him develop confidence and self-respect. Like any mom, I want my son to be a decent kid.

And so I am constantly saying things like this:

Say, ‘Yes, please’ or ‘No, thank you’ when someone offers you something.

Always say, ‘Excuse me’ before you interrupt.

Please use your words when you are upset!

Tattling is lazy problem solving, kiddo.

Any time I take my son to the grocery store I get a little nervous that he will throw a fit when I give a firm ‘No’ at demands for candy. At the dentist I get nervous that he will squirm out of the chair. At the library I fear that he will stomp or shout.

Four-year-olds are truly outrageous to behold.

While I am usually wondering if any of my momisms are making their way through the maze of my kids’ brain, sometimes – just sometimes – he will astonish me with behavior that reveals just how much is really sinking in. It becomes just so bluntly obvious to me that my kid is actually listening.

Take the other day at the park.

My son was going bonkers to get out some serious pent-up energy. My wild child spotted a dozen or so kids on the jungle gym and made a beeline for them. He chatted them up talking about superheroes and fast cars. He showed them that he could do flips. He said, “Lookatme! I can go THIS fast!”

My son charmed most of the kids except for one boy who was playing by himself. This kid’s dad was standing behind him and completely absorbed with texting. Not being one to ever give up on making new friends, my son tried to play with the shy boy.

But he got dad blocked.

This dad (who two seconds ago was super glued to his phone) was wearing a baseball hat sideways, nearly covering one eye. The seat of his pants were down to his knees, with his skivvy’s hanging out. He kept scowling at his phone. He was droping the B word and the F word and some other words that have zero business near small ears.

We’ll call him Mr. Thug Pants.

My son climbed over the monkey bars toward the lone boy and started to say hello when Mr. Thug Pants snarled, “Hey, get outta the way!”

My son wasn’t deterred. Apparently thinking that he was in this man’s way, my kid muttered a quick, “Oh! Excuse me!” and scooted to the left and tried to climb up next to the boy from a new angle.

But then Mr. Thug Pants yelled, “Get outta here, kid!”

I am standing less than ten feet away watching this whole thing unfold. I really don’t suffer fools – or jerks – easily. I can feel my mom hackles going up and I’m quickly summoning my inner Mama Bear. I am .02 seconds away from aggressively intervening on my child’s behalf.

But as I drew in a breath big enough to rain down some Mom Thunder something amazing happened.

My awesome child said this to Mr. Thug Pants:

Hey! You shouldn’t be mean! You should say excuse me! I don’t like how you are talking or looking at me! You should say you’re sorry when you hurt people’s feelings, Mister!

The man looked visibly stunned. He just got called out for his crappy manners by a four-year-old.

At first I wasn’t sure what, if anything, this man would do. We were at a park surrounded by children and bored looking parents, after all. And these other parents were all noticeably curious in the amazing display of self-defense unfurling before their eyes.

But Mr. Thug Pants did nothing. He muttered some nasty crap to himself and returned his attention to his phone.

Sadly, this misguided a-hole was overlooking his golden moment to teach his son a life lesson that my kid was so desperately trying to impart.

Namely this:

Treat others with kindness. And when you fail at that then have the decency to own up to it. Make amends. Try again.

I was enamored with pride at my child that afternoon. Not only did he demonstrate that he really is listening to all of my Momisms, but he defended himself against an intimidating bully.

An uncomfortable moment of my staring down Mr. Thug Pants passed before I redirected my son’s attention back to the gang of children hanging like monkeys on the bars of the jungle gym. My kid didn’t really need me to do or say anything. So I didn’t.

Well… except for this:

I put my hand on the back of his shoulder and I whispered, “Hey, kiddo… I’m really proud of you for standing up for yourself. Well done.”

And then we left.

Sarah Cottrell is a member of the SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) Club and proud herder of two youngsters. When she is not Mom-ing it up, Sarah is a freelance writer and editor. She is currently writing her first book, a satirical parenting manual. You can find her on her blog at Housewife Plus.

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The Time Our Housekeeper Walked In on a Fifty Shades of Grey Scene

September 13, 2014

I adore our housekeeper. She has been with our family for almost four years and the day she came into my life it changed for the better. Gone were the days of spending all weekend ironing and sorting clothes for five people and soiled towels cleaning up after five animals. She puts up with a lot with our high maintenance cats and lunatic dogs. She did leave for a few months when we got our puppy, but I don’t blame her. I would have left too had it been an option.

My housekeeper speaks no English, only Italian. Our communication is limited to three things:
1. Me pointing and speaking French with an Italian accent (FYI, it doesn’t work, apparently Italian is not French with a “ciao,” at the end).
2. Hugging her with gratitude.
3. Me gesturing wildly and pointing.

It is clear she doesn’t always understand me as my kids clothes frequently land in my drawers, and sometimes she irons and puts away the clothes I have given to her for her grandchildren. But these are not things I am going to complain about. The fact that she stays with us with our five animals and three kids is a miracle, and I’m putting frequent miscommunications aside.

She typically starts her Mondays running through the bedrooms and collecting all the sheets. I am not home when she starts, and for four years every Monday I walk in at 10am and she is well on her way to changing and washing our bedding. She is a saint, and I am blessed.

As this is how our Mondays have gone for four years, I was flummoxed last Monday when I walked in and her daughter was here to translate. She reserves her daughter coming to translate for emergencies, like broken appliances, or spilled bleach, or lost animals. When I saw her daughter I knew something was amiss. She looked at me and said “My mom thought you might want to go to your room to clean up before she does the bed.”

Crap. Literally. I assumed an animal had crapped on the bed because I could think of no other reason she would not have just gotten to it.

As I walked upstairs and saw the scene unfold in front of me I recalled that the night before; two of my kids had slept in my bed. It was the end of summer, I was still jet-lagged, falling asleep before eight each night. The scene was straight out of a porn flick and I looked at the jaw dropping sight, feeling like a sexual CSI.

I looked at the sheets, they were strewn about and covered with long streaks of blood. Those were easy enough to identify, my daughter had clearly picked at her mosquito scabs as we fell asleep. Then I noticed a gigantic adult-sized molar in the middle of my mattress. While scratching my head, my phone dinged with a text. It was the mother of the girl whose birthday party my son had attended the night before, “Just wanted to make sure Sam arrived home with the tooth he lost last night.” That explained the tooth. Now keep in mind, this wasn’t the cute front tooth of a six year old. This was one of those adolescent molars that fall out and look like gorilla teeth, making you glad your twelve year old no longer believes in the tooth fairy because these are so ugly that handling them to put under a pillow and retrieve is a no go. That was another mystery solved.

But what I could not for the life of me figure out, was why there was a set of handcuffs and key dangling from the bed post. Was my husband getting bored and leaving hints? It seems he would choose a night when two kids weren’t in bed with us to do such a thing.

All I knew was what my housekeeper saw upon entering my room: sheets thrown all over the bed wrapped in knots as only young kids can accomplish in their sleep, covered in streaks of blood with a large molar in the middle of this mess, and handcuffs dangling off the side of the bed.

I was mortified. My housekeeper’s daughter left and I didn’t know if trying to explain to my housekeeper in French-talian, that the bloody, sex scene was the result of kids would make the situation worse or better? My French isn’t that great, and there was no guarantee that I wouldn’t start telling her that I was having kinky, bloody, tooth-pulling sex, rather than denying it. Or even worse, I might implicate my kids in the sordid scene and that would certainly send her for the hills once and for all. Should I let it go? And what the what was going on with the handcuffs!

As I sat with my head in my hands, I got another text from my oldest son, “can’t find the handcuffs I won at the party, did you see take them or did my sister steal them. I think it was my sister I am going to yell at her.” I was so happy that my oldest had passed out with us adding a man tooth and handcuffs to the scene of the crime.

Should I call my friend who spent a semester in Italy and ask her to translate the story for our housekeeper? Of course my friend might not believe the truth, which was stranger than fiction, and then I would be informing more people about what seemed like some really Fifty Shades of kinky stuff.

I let it go. I threw out the tooth and put the handcuffs in my son’s room; hidden so the housekeeper wouldn’t think we were even crazier than she already did. I decided against the French-Italian telling of the mosquito bite, adolescent tooth loss and birthday party gag gifts.

Every time she comes now, I hold my head down a little because I know she must think I am competition for Linda Lovelace. To her I am single-handedly bringing sexy back. Which, when you know the truth behind the scene of the crime, is just so boring it’s sad.

Helen is a stay at home mom to three kids, three cats and two dogs. When she isn’t chasing one of said creatures through the woods she enjoys blogging at Bubble Gum Chic. She sees humor in the chaos of a life well lived. She also sees the therapeutic value of shoe shopping. You can also find her on Twitter.

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The Day the City Went Dark, and I Was Given Light

September 12, 2014

Kids – who needed them?

They drain your bank account. Destroy your dreams. Suck the life right out of you.

Every time I saw an overzealous mommy delirious over her mewling poop machine, I knew it HAD to be an act.

I was living in New York City – the epicenter of EVERYTHING. I milked that shiz like Bernie Madoff at a Ponzi scheme party.

I hobnobbed with pseudo celebrities. My love life was restricted to musicians or DJs, because life outside the velvet rope was not worth living.

Saturday nights – dress to wicked perfection and head out at midnight. Nothing fabulous starts in Manhattan before 12.

Sunday mornings, I put on my shoebox-sized sunglasses and walked out of a club into pink hued dawn. Stepped meticulously over crack vials and used condoms and went out for mimosas.

Taking care of ME was a full-time job. Plants died in my care.

I was a die-hard urbanite with the Holy Grail – a rent controlled apartment in the Village. I had a full-throttle addiction to Broadway plays, ethnic restaurants and designer shoes, supported by a bullshit corporate job.

If I combined them into The Sacrosanct Trifecta – went to see a play and ate Afghani food in a pair of Jimmy Choos – I spontaneously orgasmed.

My then boyfriend wanted rug rats. Sorry, love. Wrong uterus.

I brunched (yes, I used it as a goddamn verb) at the Odeon in Tribeca.

If a family came in, I’d move my table. I’m here for a cocktail and to maybe make a little eye contact with Robert DeNiro, and I don’t need to hear your rug rats squalling for more ketchup.

Just because you had to go fuck up YOUR life doesn’t mean I don’t get to enjoy my warm goat cheese salad.

“Excuse me, hostess? I’m pretty sure I smell shit in that kid’s diaper, or maybe it’s just my friend’s penne gorgonzola, but, either way, just move us.”

My boss was a psychopath. I had that job for years, trapped by a corporate syndrome known as the “golden handcuffs.”

It sounds like kinky sexplay, but sadly, is not. It’s getting paid a whole lot of money for a job you despise.

You’re a whore, and a dishonest one. At least the hookers staked outside the Lincoln Tunnel, their lipstick smeared from a hundred blow jobs, make no pretenses.

He was a vulgarly successful multimillionaire with a God complex and a nasty temper.

Do you know what it’s like to be paid six figures for a high-powered position and have Hitler’s brother throw a stapler at your head because his bagel had SEEDS on it?

When the corporate bourgeois aesthetic has you by the throat and you find yourself addicted to Jimmy Choo shoes, you do worse things than when you were addicted to smack.

A Crisp Fall Tuesday Morning.

8:50 am: I had just dodged a paperweight when my phone rang. My brother was saying something I didn’t understand.

What was he talking about? He was recovering from lung cancer; those pain meds and the pot he smoked incessantly took him on verbal joyrides.

Today, he was babbling about a plane.

“I have to go. Can I call you later?”

9:05 am: My boss emerges from the inner sanctum.

He always watched the news while he ate the breakfast that may or may not result in an inanimate object being hurled in my direction.

I was on hold with London. If I didn’t get these curricula vitae faxed over soon, I would surely have a desk accessory lobbed at me.

Across the Atlantic it was after 2. In another hour, Deutsche Bank kingpins would be leaving to do whatever it is the wealthy do in London at the end of a work day. Don an inherited worn wax Babor jacket and go on a fox hunt?

He yelled for all of us to get in his office, NOW. Several co-workers darted out of their offices and barreled into his. I hung up and followed.

The TV screen showed… what was that? Was that a plane jutting out the side of a building? Engulfed in beautiful brilliant red and yellow flames, blazing wildly?

Above and below these violently beautiful hues was the blackest smoke I’d ever seen.

The dark of things and people gone forever.

9:21 am: Port Authority closes all bridge and tunnels. My boyfriend was in New Jersey. No way to get to him. No way to get out of the city tonight.

9:31 am: President Bush does nothing to reassure us. I want to hear that this is an accident; that an alcoholic air traffic controller got blackout boozed up when he walked in on his wife fucking the pool boy.

He tells us there is an “apparent” terrorist attack on New York City.

Apparent? That means nothing; that’s like the “apparent” phone number I give men in clubs.

Breathe, Samara. Apparent, apparent…

9:37 am: Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crash the plane into the western facade of the Pentagon in Washington DC.

It’s definitely terrorists. There is no more uncertainty.

9:59 am: The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

What are we supposed to do? Do we stay? Do we leave?

The rumors fly and claw at us like the crows in the “The Birds:”

The terrorists are targeting New York City.

The Empire State Building.
Times Square.
Port Authority.

Midtown Manhattan.

WHERE WE ARE.

The company’s human resource director voice comes through the speakers, giving us instructions on how to evacuate safely.

Too late for that. Full scale bedlam has broken loose. We’re all going to die, and we know it.

We just don’t want to die here, where we loathe each other so much.

Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.

For some unknown reason, the elevators have been turned off. The staircase is jammed.

I can’t breathe. Too many people. Pushing. I fall. A man helps me up. We both fall. People step over us, on us. We use the wall and each other for support to get up.

He’s my life line. It’s so crowded, I lose sight of his face. He’s just a detached arm. A hand, clasping mine.

I try to help the people who are down. But if I stop to help them, I get knocked over by frantic people behind me. It’s every man for himself.

I can’t breathe. I’m going to suffocate and die in this staircase.

I’m going to die in the staircase of a building of a job I hated.

I hear screaming.

It’s my own.

I see light – is that the street? I push, push, PUSH. We’re bottlenecking at the edge.

We’re crowning like the desperate head of an infant pushing out of a mother’s vagina. One… last… PUSH

I’m OUT.

All around me – chaos. The subway stations are shut down. The streets are pandemonium.

I begin the long walk home, on shaky legs, to my apartment downtown. I pass people walking who are walking uptown.

They are bloody. Torn. Disoriented. Covered in strange white dust. Covered in black soot.

I realize… these are the survivors.

The streets are thick with frightened people.

At 11 am, Mayor Giuliani had evacuated Lower Manhattan. Including residents, workers and tourists, it was over a million people.

The air in my neighborhood is black and filthy, like the inside of a chimney.

Soot flecks fall from the sky, landing on my clothes and hair. From the front of my building, I have a clear view of the wreckage.

And I know, in that moment, I’m going to die.

We’re all going to die, the people of New York City.

We’re all going to die today.

I can’t call anyone. No cell service. No land lines. No communication with the rest of the world.

I want to talk to my mom. I want her to know how much I love her.

I don’t particularly believe in God, but that moment – I decide to believe.

I don’t want to die. I’m only 32.

I still have shoes to buy.

All these broken people trudging past me, covered in the wreckage, dazed and destroyed, are TERRIFYING me

And then – I do the oddest thing.

I fall to my knees. Right on the filthy, unyielding, abrasive, soot covered pavement.

I was never religious before, but this moment feels like church to me.

“Dear God,

Please, please, don’t let me die. I know I haven’t always lived my life correctly. But if you let me live, I’ll be a better person. I’ll use hemp products. I’ll boycott Arizona. I’ll rescue a dog. I’ll drive a hybrid.”

I thought a moment.

“I know I might have pissed you off with those abortions. I wasn’t supposed to have that baby in college, was I? With all the drugs I was doing, I would have given birth to a frog baby.

But the others – I’m sorry.

Since you made me so freakishly fertile that I got pregnant even on birth control, did you want me to have a baby? I promise, I won’t interfere with your plans again. Just let me live.“

—-

I lived.

I got pregnant 16 months later. I kept my bargain with God.

Me and Him – we’re good.

In 2003, I gave birth to my son.

I had been given clarity, on September 11, 2001.

My son is the constant reminder of the good graces of God.

And I am grateful, not for the tragedy that day, that singular moment in history when searing images and heartbreaking stories changed the world forever, but for the moment of clarity it afforded me. Which changed my world forever.

Samara is the no-holds-barred, three time Freshly Pressed blogger at A Buick in the Land of Lexus, where she shares everything from stories of motherhood and surviving suburbia to edgy tales of her life in New York City. She mixes honesty with humor in high definition, first-person story telling. In addition, Samara is also a founding member of two other blogs: The SisterWives, a woman’s blog collective, and Stories That Must Not Die. She lives in New Jersey with her son Little Dude, the coolest, most soulful 11-year-old kid on the planet. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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The Do's and Don'ts of Your Friend's Divorce

September 11, 2014

Do you have a friend or family member going through The Big D? No, not decomposing (although…), what I’m talking about is Divorce.

If you do, then here is a list of things to say, or not to say, to your friend in the months (years) ahead.

1. Never say: It will get better/in the long run this is better for you/eventually it will be okay.
None of these words mean anything to someone going through a break up of a marriage. Your friend is concerned about the here and now. The “short run” not the long run. Right now, it sucks. Right now, there is immeasurable pain. Telling your friend that eventually they will feel normal again is little to no consolation.

2. Always say: It will get better/in the long run this is better for you/eventually it will be okay.
As a friend, especially one that hasn’t gone through a divorce, there isn’t much else for you to say and you really just want to make your friend feel better. They will need reminding that life goes on and they will get over this. Even if they stare daggers at you any time you remind them of this. Keep saying it, it’s ok.

3. Don’t say: I’m so jealous of the time you have alone!
Think about the reason your friend is without her kids. She now shares custody with someone she thought she was going to parent with, under the same roof, for the rest of their lives. Your friend has time alone now but she misses her kids the minute they leave and can’t wait to get them back. Her life for those few days are lonely and far too quiet. Which means she has far too much time alone with her thoughts. You might be jealous of her time alone because you can’t imagine how it feels to take a dump in peace, but remember how jealous she is of your still intact family.

4. Go ahead and tell your friend you are jealous of her time alone.
Your friend, also being a mom, will totally understand your need for alone time and the almost impossible reality of making it happen. She will actually enjoy some of that alone time eventually. Going to the pool without dragging along 3 bags and 3 chairs and 2 sweaty kids does kind of kick ass. Just know that her enjoying that alone time comes with a heavy burden too.

5. Don’t say: Your kids will be fine.
How do you know that? Can you guarantee her that her kids won’t have severe emotional and attachment issues when they are older? Can you promise that they won’t have trouble trusting someone in a relationship after they see what can happen to their mom and dad? No one can promise this. It’s little comfort to someone that spends most of her time worrying about her kids even on a “good” day. Just let her know that you will be there if or when her kids blame everything that happened on her.

6. Do say: Your kids will be fine.
By saying this you are reminding your friend that you trust her parenting abilities. You know that she is as a good a mom as she can be and that is all her kids will need to survive and to thrive.

7. Don’t pretend like it’s not happening.
It’s happening. And it’s not normal, your friend doesn’t care what the statistics are, it’s not normal. Pretending it’s not happening doesn’t mean your friend isn’t thinking about it. Almost all the time. Not saying anything about it just makes your friend think you don’t care.

8. Do pretend like it’s not happening.
It’s ok, your friend is sick of talking about it too. And she knows that there is more to life than what is going on right now. She is probably fine talking about anything but the divorce for a little while.

9. Don’t ask: “How are you doing?”
It’s too vague of a question, and you both know how your friend is doing. Shitty. Be more detailed with your question. Ask how the kids have been handling it. Ask what the latest is with mediation or court dates. Ask what she needs prayer for. Being specific shows you care.

10. Do ask: “How are you doing?”
If you are at a loss for words, or don’t want to seem like you are prying, asking “How are you?” is fine. It shows you are thinking of your friend and want to know what her emotional state is without getting too personal. Just don’t be surprised if she answers you honestly with more emotion and information than you expected. Don’t worry if she starts crying, you might have caught her right after she heard “their song” in the doctors office waiting room, and the grocery store, and the bank…(seriously, how can a barely good song released 18 years ago get SO much play?!?!). So don’t ask that question unless you are prepared for more than “fine!” in response.

11. Don’t defend him.
Even if you are right to defend him in certain situations this will almost always result in violence. You’ve been warned.

12. Do defend him.
No… just don’t. Your friend might have said she doesn’t want you stuck in the middle of two friendships but it’s not true. Pick a side. She might have said that didn’t matter to her in the beginning but fuck it, it does. Pick one. All divorced couples lose friends in the process, if you plan on being one of those lost friends tell your friend right away so she can move on.

13. Do check up on your friend.
Your friend will probably not unload all her emotions on you the minute she has them. Or she will want to but will feel bad texting you at random times to tell you how sad she is. So check in on her when you think of her. She might need the life line that your check in will bring.

14. Don’t check up on your friend.
Nope. Always touch base with her and remind her that you are her friend in good times and bad.

And the final rule is…. there obviously are no rules at all. Just be there and do your best to be her friend, and your friend will too. It might take more than normal strength to be a friend to someone going through a divorce, at least for a little while. But trust me, she will need you to be around. If you can’t be a friend to her, bow out now… but please don’t.

Sarah Kennedy-Sexton is newly single and a mom of two boys. She can’t decide if she should keep her married name or go back to her awesome maiden name, so for now she is going to have a hyphenated last name like someone important. She lives outside of Philadelphia and repeatedly tries, and mostly fails, at all things domestic. Also, she likes to write. Probably should have led with that. Follow her blog at Raising Danger.

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To the Mother of Daughters, From the Mother of Sons

September 10, 2014

To the Mothers of Daughters, From the Mother of Sons,

As mothers we have similar goals, regardless of gender. We want our children to have happy, healthy relationships – both physically and emotionally. We want them to go out into the world prepared to make educated choices and calculated risks- with a healthy dose of caution thrown in. We want them to look at the world around them and see a place that has both good and evil, while understanding it is the choices they make that makes the difference.

We want them to know more love than fear.

To that end, you’re working hard to raise women who know the true meaning of beauty, who are bright and confident – in spite of living in a culture who daily contradicts those messages. Meanwhile, I am fighting to raise young men that know the power of their words and their bodies, have pride while still having compassion and understand that being a “man” has a thousand different definitions.

In recent months, however, I feel as though you and I have become unknowing opponents in the fight to raise our children. As society laments the loss of “the village” that once worked together to raise its children, it is disheartening to find we are standing face-to-face rather than side-by-side.

Recent tragedies have distorted the image of our sons and daughters. Vicious acts of physical violence by famous athletes, and vile images of disturbed college students with mental illnesses litter the media. These are sending the message that my sons are perpetrators, and your daughters, their potential victims. As the mother of sons this is both heartbreaking and infuriating. I don’t want your daughters to fear my sons. I don’t want young women to be afraid to be alone with them, doubt their intentions or distrust their words. This is unfair to both of them.

As the mother of sons I have taught, and will continue to teach my boys, that no one has the right to touch anyone without permission. In our house “no” means “no.” Those who say it, mean it – it’s not a joke. Those who hear it, respect it – it’s not optional. I will instill in them the understanding that just because they HAVE the right to do something, doesn’t mean it IS right to do it. Their actions cause REactions and they need to consider that with every choice they make. My sons will grow up knowing through my words and my behavior that women, your daughters, are more than their skin and body. Through my marriage they will learn that spouses treat each other with love and respect- even when they’re angry or disagree. They will know to open doors, pull out chairs and help carry the groceries, not because a woman can’t, but because it is OK to show her that you care and think she’s special. My sons will not be perfect, I’ll teach them that as well. But I will do everything in my power to make sure they are loving, kind and of strong character, not someone to be feared.

As the mothers of daughters, I need you to help your girls know these things about my sons. Please teach them that not all men are physically abuse, laugh at crude jokes, or disrespect women. Remind your daughters that my sons can find them beautiful while still valuing who they are. Tell your daughter that my son will listen when she says no. Also tell her he means it when he say no as well. Help your daughters grow up knowing through your words and actions that they are more than skin and body. Talk to them about the difference between having rights, and doing what is right. Show them that all actions have REactions and to make decisions wisely. Instill in your daughters the belief that they are special and deserving of someone who wants to open their door, pull out their chairs and carry their groceries. Share with your daughters that all men should not be feared or judged by the behavior of others. Teach them that even though my sons aren’t perfect, they are capable of great love and immense respect.

As mothers we have to stand together and fight against a world that wants to tell our children to fear one another. We must educate and empower our children so they can go out into the world confident, and capable, and able to explore happy, healthy relationships.

That’s just my normal.

Vicky Willenberg is a published blogger, wife, mother, and obsessive volunteer at her sons’ school. She works as a Social Media and Communications Manager while juggling the class bake sale, folding laundry from two weeks ago, and searching for the dog who escaped from the yard yet again. You can find her chronicling her adventures raising two boys on her blog, The Pursuit of Normal, Facebook, and on the rare occasion she can edit herself down to 140 characters or less on Twitter.

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