Category Archives: Mommy Files

The Mommy Files: Unsolicited Feedback Rocks!

Other Mothered actresses
Maggie Rogers (left) and Christine Walters in an “Other Mothered” segment

This morning, while I unpacked clean laundry from the laundry basket — only because it was time to fill it with dirty laundry again — my phone pinged to let me know I had an e-mail. In true Pavlovian fashion, I immediately checked it. It was not, as I expected, a Facebook comment, piling on more congratulations for a friend celebrating her anniversary (I really ought to stop following that conversation), or another reminder from Peapod that if I place one more grocery order before Halloween I’ll earn two free deliveries (I began having groceries delivered by Peapod when KFP was 2 and used to scream bloody murder in grocery stores, and I still occasionally use Peapod when I have a busy week). No, instead of any expected, ordinary e-mail, I got something completely awesome: a comment from writer/comedian Christine Walters, whose “Other Mothered” segments on Nick Mom I’d referenced in my recent post, “You’ve Been Other Mothered.”

She commented to say that she’s glad that I like her segments and to point out there’s a new “Other Mothered” video segment on the site, called “The Science Fair.” I just checked it out, and you should, too. This one has only one line (uttered by Christine) and is a classic comedy moment. When you’re done watching that, check out the rest of the “Other Mothered” segments, and you’ll see why I love them so much. I guarantee, if you’re a parent, you’ll find at least one of them you swear was taken from your personal experience.

Maybe for you, like Christine’s comment did for me, they’ll bring some smiles to your laundry day.

Mommy Files: Flying New Skies

Fun on the Slide
My son at the Aviation Play Center

I swore I wasn’t going to be that mother: the one with the screaming toddler who whined and cried during the entire flight. And yet there I was, with a shrieking nearly-3-year-old yelling, “I want to go home. I want Daddy!”

We’d prepared for this trip: We’d read books about flying on planes, and we’d talked for weeks beforehand about the stages of the trip. We’d even bought my son his own Spider-Man backpack, which he helped pack with toys and activities for the plane.

Everything went smoothly at first. My son was interested in everything we saw as we walked through the airport to get our boarding pass. My husband, who was dropping us off, saw us to the security checkpoint, and my little guy was cheerfully kissing him bye-bye when my husband observed, “He has a diaper.”

As we backtracked to the bathrooms, our son began to object. He insisted he wanted Daddy to change his diaper, but my husband didn’t feel comfortable doing it in the men’s room, since the little guy is now too big to change on the changing tables, and my husband wasn’t as comfortable changing him on the floor as I was.

So over his objections, I pulled my son into the women’s room, while he was shouting, “I want Daddy! I want Daddy to change me!” I worried I’d be confused for a kidnapper, so I talked gently to him the whole time, assuring him that Daddy was waiting outside but that I had to change his diaper first.

Then, my son freshly changed, we returned to the security checkpoint, said our “bye-byes” without tears, and proceeded through security. But my son cried again when I took off his light-up Spider-Man shoes, until a TSA agent dashed over and told us that children under 12 could keep their shoes on. If only I’d thought to check on that ahead of time.

If I had it to do over, I’d also think twice about what we did next. It seemed like a blessing: an Aviation Play Center where little ones could blow off steam before boarding their flights. There should have been a warning: May be addictive to toddlers. Within minutes, my outgoing boy had made friends with a slightly older boy, and they were following each other around the play area: alternately climbing the steps into the play control tower, sliding down, and then running across to the kid-sized plane — complete with passenger seats — to pretend to be co-pilots. The other boy wore Batman shoes, and I giggled at the instant bonding between two would-be superheroes.

He sure did seem to be having fun for a while. I’ve even got photographs to prove it, showing him sliding happily down the red plastic slide.

Fast-forward 15 or 20 minutes, and the scene was drastically different. First, his newfound friend left to board a plane with his family. Then, I told my son gently it was time to head towards ours. The whole time we were walking to the gate and the whole time we waited in line, he was caught up in the sort of crying he does whenever we leave someplace he associates with fun: whether it’s a swimming pool or a park or, in this case, an indoor playground. If I’d known that was coming, I would have skipped the playground and headed straight for the gates.

I also would have bought a bottle of water in one of the airport shops before we got on the plane. I didn’t realize at the time that, while you can’t take liquids through security, they will gladly allow you to carry on a water bottle purchased in one of the stores after clearing security. So after my son’s tears had dried, and we were boarding the plane, he asked me for a drink of water. But I could only tell him we’d have to wait a little. Waiting is not in an 3-year-old’s vocabulary.

As we squeezed by the other person in our row, a kindly older woman, I explained the reason behind my son’s renewed tears. Without hesitation, she offered me the unopened bottle she herself had brought onto the plane. Grateful beyond words, I opened the bottle and poured it into my son’s sippy cup, only to hear him complain that the water was too cold. I told him that it would warm up soon and that he needed to be grateful, because somebody had given him her water. He seemed about to cry again but then took another sip and quieted instead.

For most of the first leg of our journey to Detroit, he was relatively content, until he tired of the toys, books and stickers I’d brought to entertain him. I made another mistake, promising him train videos, after learning we could get Internet on the flight. This was before I realized how time-consuming it would be to actually deliver on such a promise.

First, I had to ask our very accommodating seatmate to stand up so that I could grab my laptop from the overhead compartment. Then I had to start the computer and seek out the information I needed to sign on. I had just completed the credit card payment and was waiting for the computer to connect when the announcement came over the PA, telling us we had to power down all of our electronic devices. And while I don’t think the resulting disappointment is why my son threw up on the way back down, it certainly didn’t help that he was crying bitterly and gulping so much air.

I was immediately grateful for the fact that he had rejected all efforts that day to feed him, sticking entirely to water. Coming back up, it was practically the same, just a little warmer. As I clutched my crying boy to me, he and I were soon soaked. Only after we’d landed, and I could be sure he was done, I did a quick change on the seat, putting him into the emergency change of clothes tucked into my diaper bag. This meant, of course, we stopped at the first store selling T-shirts to buy something clean, just in case we needed another backup shirt (I’d brought two pairs of emergency pants in my carry-on, but only one emergency shirt). That is why, on this October afternoon so many months later, he is wearing that Navy blue Detroit T-shirt as we bump along sidewalks, heading home from the park.

The trip, or at least that first leg of it, was a real learning experience. I thought that, after having endured the “baby boot camp” of our first few weeks with a newborn, that after helping him learn to walk and pick up things, that after teaching him language so that he could express his desires, that things would suddenly get easier. This experience taught me you can never sit back, never relax, because there’s always going to be new challenges.

I also learned that, no matter how much time you spend looking up information on how to plan a trip with a toddler; no matter how many people you ask for advice; and no matter how many people offer unsolicited advice, you will always run into challenges you could not anticipate. You will always have to make decisions on the fly. And they will not always be wise decisions or well-thought-out. A lot of times, they will be emotional and wrong. And then, you’ll have to find a way to turn things around.

Ultimately, that is a mother’s job: to make the hard decisions, to suck up disappointment and embarrassment like a used sponge, to keep pushing forward, whether covered in your child’s stomach contents or simply trying to shush him in a crowded airport. And if, like me, you are writer raised by a family of storytellers, you have one consolation: at least you’ll have a story to tell.


Mommy Files: Confessions of a Work-at-Home Mom

After getting up late (my Kung Fu Panda let me sleep until 10:30 while he played and looked at books quietly), I spent the morning and early afternoon writing a query letter to Parents magazine. Then, with an air of triumph, I announced we were going for a walk. When KFP asked me where, I told him we were going to mail a letter and then play in the park. I figured we’d have plenty of time to kick a ball around before we needed to head back so I could make dinner.

But every parent knows: You don’t simply walk out the door, just grabbing your purse and keys like in the old days. That’s madness! No, getting out of the house is a complicated process involving filling water bottles; checking the status of KFP’s diaper; packing a small backpack with diaper-changing materials, a change of clothes, and a snack; putting on shoes and hat; checking the weather; and carrying the stroller down the stairs from the porch to the sidewalk (curse the 1920s and their non-ADA-compliant homes). This process takes at least 30 minutes, and that’s if it all goes smoothly.

On the move at last, after handing KFP his water and an apple slice, I felt good. I felt accomplished. Here I was, balancing my writing career and parenting: about to mail a query letter and then enjoy quality time with my boy. He kept up a steady stream of chatter all the way to the post office, remarking on everything we passed: “The stop sign is an octagon! The tree has a shadow!” Sometime in those last three blocks, however, he conked out.

So now I’m sitting under the shade of a sycamore in our favorite little park, watching him sleep and wondering what to do. Waking him would violate my “Don’t wake a sleeping child unless absolutely necessary” rule. However, if I let him sleep, we’ll run out of time for fun, and the last time I did that, skipping the park and wheeling him home while he slept, he cried for a whole hour.

I guess if I let him sleep a little longer, I’ll still have time to cook and eat dinner before starting my night’s transcription work. It will be a little tight, and we may only have 10-15 minutes to kick the ball, but it’s the best I can do.

Compromises and flexibility are the only way to go when you’re a WAHM. Getting up a little earlier probably would have also helped, but there’s no need to go to extremes.

Mommy Files: My Son the Sponge

As anyone who knows me can attest, I’m a talker. According to my family, this is a long-time habit. In fact, I suspect I probably tried to talk while still in the womb, which accounts for the fact that I inhaled amniotic fluid and caused my mom more stress than necessary when I was born.

My habit has led to me raising a long line of loud pets. From the family cat, Ginger, who used to wait for me in my bedroom when I returned from school, crying, “Hiiiii!” to a very expressive doggie who made noises to fit every emotion, to my current cat, who is constantly mewing me his complaints and commentary, I’ve always talked to my pets, and my pets talk back. Why should I be surprised I have a chatty child?

Unlike my parade of pets, however, my boy is gaining language and communication skills daily. Ever since he was born, I’ve been pointing things out to him; explaining and defining the world around him. His vocabulary and understanding, at age 3, are impressive. However, he’s still working on enunciation, meaning that I often have to “translate” his remarks to other adults.

My husband, who cares for our son in the evenings so that I can do my transcription work, came into my office earlier this week and said, “Do you know he knows the word ‘jug’?”

“Yes,” I told him. “We were talking about the milk container while waiting in line at the grocery store, and I told him it’s called a jug. That jugs are containers with handles that carry liquid. Then we talked about what liquids are.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime soon he brings liquids into the conversation.

Last night, he apparently impressed my husband by looking at the opening of a space-based video game and declared it was on the moon. The landscape did, indeed, resemble a lunar landscape. I attributed this to the planet stickers we’ve been using as rewards whenever he does something we’re trying to encourage. I’ve been talking to him about the planets every time I reward him with one.

I’d heard that talking to your child about things that you see in your travels together can help him to build his vocabulary and understanding of the world. It’s a lot of fun finally reaching the time when he’s demonstrating that learning.

The Mommy Files: Busy Mommy, Not Busy Grandma

It’s been way too long since I posted anything here, and for that I truly apologize. I’ve been very busy working on a number of projects, including an ebook version of Dedicated Idiocy: A Personal History of the Penn State Monty Python Society, and putting together a rough rundown for my upcoming book, Now with Kung Fu Action Grip, a collection of poetry and writings about my son, age 2.

I’ll make more of an effort to post something here, even if it’s just about my everyday parenting challenges. This morning, for example, I was thrilled to run into one of my son’s little friends at the YMCA. She was waiting in a hallway with two older children (possibly siblings, though I don’t know for sure). As my Kung Fu Panda and his friend exchanged shy pleasantries (you’d never know the two of them had been holding hands while running through the park just last Thursday), the older girl asked me, “Is he your son or your grandson?”

If I had $1 for every time someone had asked me that, I could be building quite the college fund.

This time, I had to remind myself that she was only about 8. It’s entirely possible that she knows a lot of 40-year-old grandmothers. After all, if I’d had a kid at 20, and my child had done the same, I would indeed be a grandmother. It’s just not the sort of thing you want to hear — ever, really, but especially when you’re sweaty and walking around in exercise gear. Only five minutes previously, I’d been smiling silly after an invigorating Zumba class with a guest instructor who kept us all on our toes.

So I reminded myself not to take it personally, and I just smiled brightly. My son bid his friend bye-bye, and we walked away, still smiling. After a short while, I didn’t even have to force it anymore.

Mommy Files: Caught Being a Cat

Ever have one of those moments when you’re making loud cat sounds with your toddler and you turn around and see the cat, watching you quietly? Awkward.

I encourage silliness as a way for both of us to blow off steam, and I’m proud of my son’s wacky sense of humor. The cat, however, sees things differently. In fact, he’s not so sure what to make of the two of us, especially when we start dancing around the room, making silly noises. Almost against his better judgment, he finds us fascinating. You know that Monty Python sketch where they have to hire a company called Confuse-A-Cat Ltd. to get their bored cat out of a rut? No danger of that in this household.

Since my son was born, nearly three years ago, I’ve had a complicated relationship with our cat. At first, bringing home a newborn who was — let’s face it — smaller than the cat, I regarded him suspiciously. In those days, he seemed more of a threat than a companion. Confined to bed rest in the days after giving birth, I kept a water bottle next to the bed, in case the cat should overstep his bounds and try to snuggle with the sleeping baby.

Although I’ve been a cat lover since I remember, my feelings towards the cat took a long time to return to anything resembling normal. Only about a year ago, when my son was finally big enough and independent enough to be able to defend himself against a (admittedly rather smallish) cat, did I finally come to a realization that the cat was… cute! Yes, cute and fluffy and soft and dying for attention. He’d had just as difficult a time with “Baby Boot Camp” as I had. Perhaps harder, since cats are so sensitive.

These days, we have settled into a routine, of sorts. In the morning, my toddler wakes me up: “Mommy, it’s day.” Immediately, with a happy mew-purr, our kitty, Luke, is by my side, demanding morning pets. My son and I pet him together — my son a little clumsily but as gently as he can muster. Luke tolerates it, even seems to like it, and lately there’s even a playful kittenish spirit about him. He’s been very understanding about the fact that my son has claimed his first precious toy — a little blue plush cow — because he knows I always defend him when he bats around my son’s plush baseball.

The two boys — kitty and human — have their moments, of course. My son has been known to yell, “No, Luke!” because the cat had the audacity to rub his kitty face on my son’s book. And Luke, for his part, occasionally tests us both: padding nonchalantly over papers I’m sorting, or playing “tag” just out of reach of my son’s grasp.

Yet, I’d like to think that Luke is teaching us both some valuable lessons: my son is learning to respect and care for a living creature, and I am learning how to perplex and amuse a cat.


The Mommy Files: You’ve Been Other Mothered

You've Been Other Mothered

Late nights on Nickelodeon, the network runs a very funny series of shows collectively called Nick Mom, with humor by and for moms. One of the best parts of it is a recurring video bumper segment called “You’ve Been Other Mothered.” In these segments, moms are talking about their kids when one of them makes a not-too-subtle remark that implies the other mother is somehow deficient in parenting skills. In one of these segments, for example, one mother offers to help prepare home-cooked meals for the other, because “those kids shouldn’t have to eat take-out all the time.”

I was stewing most of the morning because of something I happened to read in Parents magazine. It was on the page containing the parenting advice column by “baby concierge” and reality TV star Rosie Pope, but to be fair, it was in a larger font and color and wasn’t a break-out quote, so it could just be a space filler inserted by the graphics department.

The offensive quote was: “btw… It’s not okay to wear headphones while you’re with your child!”

I’d been “other mothered.” By a magazine.

Now, you could tell me that it’s my own fault for reading such a magazine in the first place, which is crammed full of tips and “how to” articles. You’d be right: If I didn’t want to receive unsought parenting advice, I probably shouldn’t be reading a magazine whose entire purpose is to provide it.

So I had to ask myself: Why did this particular quote bother me so much? Was it the bright pink font? Was it the exclamation point? Was it the lightly sarcastic tone, which made it sound like a barbed comment on a YouTube video?

Yes, it was all of those things, but it was also because it struck a nerve. I’m a work-at-home/write-at-home mom, and my main income derives from transcribing cable news shows. I do my work at night, but on nights when my husband is delayed by either work issues or transportation glitches, I have no choice but to begin my work while my son is in the room. Of course, this means wearing headphones. It also means deflecting requests to read books or play games, and I have to tell my toddler “Mommy is working.”

I never feel good about this, but I think even Rosie Pope would agree that wearing headphones is preferable to blasting my son with anchors and commentators discussing the infamous Jodi Arias sex tape, or any other details of her particularly gruesome murder trial.

OK, I’ll admit it. My use of headphones goes further than that. I have been known to plug into my portable DVD player and watch “Downton Abbey” or tune into Hulu on the computer to catch the latest episode of “Dancing with the Stars.” My son and I tend to spend our mornings and early afternoons together, running errands and getting out of the house for me to exercise and him to play. But in the late afternoons we both have a little quiet time: he plays with his trains and — yes, I’ll admit — I watch a video and catch up on e-mail or work on some writing.

Soon, we’ll be sending him to preschool, and I’ll get a few hours each week of guilt-free “Mommy time”: to write or shop or watch whatever videos I want — with sound! But until then, we have our quiet time routine, and I personally think we’re doing fine (even if my defensiveness shows that secretly, I feel a little guilty about it).

The lesson here applies not just to magazines and columnists but also to all of us mothers. Before making a blanket statement like, “You should never feed your kids frozen dinners” or “You should never give a kid your phone to play games” we should all take a step back, take a deep breath and remember how hurtful blanket statements can be.

Have you been “other mothered”? Tell me all about it in the comments!

ETA: Rereading this many months later, I realize that I probably should have included a punch line instead of getting so serious at the end. I can only blame my headphones, which must have been distracting me from being a good writer.

Mommy Files: Reading to Himself

My little guy loves books, and it’s not unusual for him to request that I read him one immediately upon waking. This morning, however, while I was getting ready he quietly sat down and “read” a book to himself.

Now, in the past, I often heard him repeating fragments of the actual text for his books, which he’s memorized from hearing them so often. Other times, he makes a running commentary, identifying objects, colors and shapes in the pictures.

Today, it was a little different. “Reading” the book “Wiggle” by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin, he told his own story from the point-of-the-view of the main character, a tan dog. “I can be a circle like you,” the dog said to a ball as he rolled up like one. “I’m jumping on the bed!” the dog exclaimed on a page that showed him doing that.

Then came my favorite moment. As the dog approached a crescent moon, whose facial expression was somewhat startled, the dog said, “Hi! I’m going to eat you! You’re yummy.”

Maybe someone has told him that the moon is made of green cheese.

Wiggle cover

Seeking Equal Rights for Boys

A few weeks ago I shared a link with some friends, a blog about gender assumptions, particularly when it came to boys. This stirred up a lot of discussion on my Facebook page, and it inspired me to write an open letter to children about how to respond to naysayers when it comes to challenging gender roles. The letter has been getting an extraordinarily positive response.

Before I wrote that piece, though, I approached the subject from a different way, a more personal one. I’d like to share that first draft here now.

Several boys had already arrived wearing costumes when we entered the Superhero Party held at the local YMCA. At first, I felt a little self-conscious about the fact that our Kung Fu Panda wasn’t wearing a costume, but he wasn’t the only one. As more and more boys arrived, a few of them were wearing their favorite T-shirts, whether they sported robots or dinosaurs or cars or something else entirely. But while there were both costumed and non-costumed little superheroes participating in this party, there were no girls. Nor do I imagine any boys showed up for the Princess Party held later.

As a little girl, I would’ve rather been a superhero then a princess. My mom, who kept my hair short because she said it was easier to take care of; my mom, who dressed me in pants and let me get messy and tear holes in the knees, would’ve taken me to the Superhero Party, just as my sister, who is raising a fiercely independent one-year-old girl, would do the same. It’s an easy choice, really, since parents know it’s important to raise daughters who believe in themselves, who are independent and strong. It’s a much easier decision that it might be for many parents whose sons want to join the Princess Party.

I think it’s about time that we think about how to promote equal rights for boys.

I’ve given the subject a lot of thought ever since coming across an article about a mom wrestling with gender stereotypes as they affected her son. When I shared that article on Facebook, I got a range of responses: from both male and female friends who were thrilled to see that I was coming down on the side of accepting boys, regardless of how traditionally masculine they are, and responses from other people who seemed to lay the problem at the feet of television, saying that the mother in the blog post in question should just “stop watching television and parent her child.”

If only it were so easy. If only we could protect our children from all of society’s influences simply by hitting the off button. Sadly, society’s ideas about boys and girls are not confined to television.

Since the doctors surprised me with prenatal tests confirming I would be having a boy instead of the dark-haired girl I’d imagined, I have spent countless hours pondering the right way to raise a caring, well-rounded boy. So far, I think we’re doing a good job: while KFP does possess those quintessential “boy” traits of being active and adventurous, he is also thoughtful, reflective and sensitive, traits not typically considered “boyish.”

For example, right now my son and I are in the car with our mewing cat, Luke, taking him to the vet to be weighed, since he was underweight at his annual exam a month and a half ago. As we were putting our coats on, the cat was in his carrier, mewing loudly. KFP asked me, “He’s crying?”

“Yes, he doesn’t like to go to the vet.”

“Is the sad?” he asked, a note of sympathy in his small voice.

“He’s a little scared, honey,” I told him. “He doesn’t know what to expect.”

Reaching out a chubby hand to pat the top of the carrier, he said, “Poor kitty.”

What makes me sad is the almost certain knowledge that someday, someone over whom I have no control will tell him that it’s not okay for boys to express their feelings, and that empathy is overrated.

Growing up in 2013 may be a little different than it was for me, growing up in the 1970s. Girls have more options than ever when it comes to sports, after-school activities and more. But there’s still a long ways to go. While on paper it’s readily understood that some girls want to be princesses and some girls want to slay the dragon, if you’ve ever gone shopping for children’s clothing, you know how difficult it is to find gender-neutral clothes.

While it’s acceptable and even encouraged for girls to emulate such supposedly “masculine” traits as resilience, persistence, strength, adventurousness, and bravery, boys are not encouraged to display such “feminine” traits as sensitivity, creativity, artistic sensibility, quietness, and nurturing. And in a world where it’s increasingly more likely that a father will play an active role in raising his child, boys are still discouraged from play-acting those roles with dolls.

This is why I found it so encouraging when an episode of “Sesame Street” showed one of the monsters, Telly, playing with a doll. And while initially he tried to hide his toy from another male character, he got some good advice from Gordon who, wearing a bright-pink button-down shirt, told him that it was okay for boys to play with dolls and practice being a daddy, just as it was okay for men to wear a pink shirt. So much for television being the propagator of gender stereotypes.

I’ve talked on the playground with a several parents of boys who have similar concerns. We’ve swapped notes about the difficulty, for example, of finding boys’ clothes that contain anything other than the typical primary colors. At least three of us have boys who love purple, but unless you’re a fan of the Baltimore Ravens, it’s nigh impossible to find that color on clothes that aren’t frilly and obviously made for girls. Fortunately, KFP’s other favorite color, green, is much easier to find.

Already I’ve dealt with numerous gender-based assumptions that made me contemplate what lies ahead for my boy. Our son has naturally-curly honey-blonde hair, and from the beginning, we have loved his luxurious locks. We get his hair cut about every six weeks, and at its longest, it’s barely even covered his ears. Yet, I have heard multiple comments from people in his 2-1/2 short years, either asking if he’s a girl, or even going so far as to strongly suggest that I get his hair cut shorter, in a “boy’s” cut.

We, as parents, have the first opportunity to change the thinking. Regardless of what other messages they may hear, from friends, strangers or the media, we can let them know that we support them. Whether they are football players or dancers, adventurers or artists, whether they love blue or pink, we can let them know that we accept them for whoever they are, and most importantly, that we love them.

Princess party with 'no boys' sign

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Mommy Files: Changing Priorities

On my personal blog this week, I wrote an essay introducing myself through my toddler, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda: Meet My Little Panda. In it, I talk about how many aspects of myself I see in my 2-1/2-year-old boy, as his personality becomes clear.

Pondering these connections also made me think about how much of my life revolves around him these days. In pre-KFP days, whether a day was good or not was defined by: how much I accomplished, how I felt, and how well things went. These days, no matter how much I achieve, my day rises or falls based on: how content he is, how well he eats, and whether he takes a nap! Before I became a mother, I underestimated how much my priorities would change. I find myself continually apologizing to friends for losing touch, because most days, it’s enough to take care of my son’s needs; keep up with household tasks like cleaning, laundry and cooking; and maybe get a little writing in.

This week on “The Simpsons,” Maggie goes through a period of self-assessment because she realizes that her mother was just as much of a high achiever in school. Yet, Maggie is determined not to turn out like her mother, and therefore, she swears that she’ll avoid such distractions as falling in love, which could lead to marriage, a family, and being a stay-at-home mom. I remember when I used to feel that way, myself, believing that my self-worth could only come from achieving something in my chosen career of writing/journalism.

If you had told that version of me — from roughly 20 years ago — about my life today, I wonder what she’d think. But my 22-year-old self could never have understood how rewarding it is to watch my son grow and develop. He is an amazing little person, and I feel like one of the best achievements of my life was bringing him into the world.

Yes, I still have career goals, but now I’m trying to find a balance between those goals and taking care of the guy in the T-Rex shirt sitting next to me.