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More Than Mommy

Monday, Nov 5, 2012

When Politics Aren’t Just Political

You can’t choose your family, but I have friends with whom I wholeheartedly disagree in terms of politics. In the past, these differences haven’t been a big deal for me. I don’t love it, I don’t get it, but I can respect our varied points of view. Over the past few years, however, our political parties have been swinging to extremes. The differences in our political viewpoints has become increasingly profound.

To my friends who have said that we should just look past our political differences, I now have to say, “No.” Because it’s no longer about big government vs. small government, views on the military, or the rate of my taxes. As the extremes have come into play, it’s about civil liberties. It’s about extending the same rights and protections to all members of our society.

To many of my friends, this is a philosophical debate about other nameless, faceless people. Or if there is a person, they don’t quite count because they aren’t “like the others.” And, yes, this is something people say to me. But I don’t see it that way. When people make disparaging remarks at all related to gay marriage (from a strong stance against it to a modified “don’t ask, don’t tell” point of view), I hear it as an attack on my marriage which not so long ago would have been up for debate. When they rail against “the lazy people” in the welfare system, I take that as an attack on my own mother who, as single parent, struggled to make ends meet while working full-time as a teacher. I also understand that to mean that they would rather that I had gone hungry as a child rather than take the chance that I was somehow abusing the system. These are real people like me.

I know that the presidential election isn’t just about these humanitarian and civil rights issues, but I just can’t seem to think how anything else could be more important than our citizens and our civil liberties. That’s the foundation of this country. THAT is what is supposed to make America a wonderful place to live. And not just for those of us who were lucky enough to be born into the majority. If you choose to stay silent on these because your priorities fall elsewhere, you are doing harm. History has shown this over and over again. If enough Republicans refused to vote for a party that does not support the rights of all US citizens, the party would be forced to rethink its stance and we could go back to debating the things we should actually be voting about. But either way, if you are not willing to stand up for marginalized people, you are not willing to stand up for me. Civil rights are a slippery slope.

When the results of this election are available, I will support the winner in doing his (or if something miraculous were to happen, her) job until such a point where I could not morally or ethically do so. I don’t intend to complain, threaten, celebrate, or anything else. I respect that each American citizen has a right to decide for themselves, regardless of how it impacts anyone else. I understand that these are my values, and that I can’t expect anyone but myself to live by them. But the game has changed and I feel like I need to take a stand.

Please don’t ask me to put my politics aside for friendship. There are those who sacrificed for me, and right now, I’m paying it forward.




Thursday, Mar 10, 2011

Information Overload or Information Fulfillment?

I was at a dinner in Walt Disney World for a TravelingMom.com retreat. We were perched atop the Contemporary Resort outside of the California Grill restaurant and waiting for the fireworks to begin. The conversation turned to the topic of princess castles at the different Disney theme parks and I was trying to remember which theme park was matched with which princess. I knew that Cinderella’s castle was paired with Walt Disney World, while Sleeping Beauty’s castle resided at Disneyland, but I couldn’t remember the details of Paris Disneyland, Tokyo, or Hong Kong. My companions were making small talk with me and were more than happy to put the castle question out of their head, but I immediately pulled out my phone.

“I’m going to look it up,” I said.

They both gave me a look that suggested that they thought I might have been, well… a little off.

“I don’t like to wonder,” I clarified.

So I looked up the info. For the record, Sleeping Beauty’s castle resides in both Disneyland California and Hong Kong. Cinderella’s castle is in Disney World (Florida) and Toykyo Disneyland. Disneyland Paris has Sleeping Beauty’s castle as well, but it has a unique design of its own. Once my curiosity had been satisfied, I put my phone away and pulled out my camera to catch some amazing fireworks.

Later, when I thought about this situation, something became very clear. This isn’t simply my own version of Internet addiction; this is actually who I am as a person. When I saw the movie Amadeus in high school, I became obsessed with learning more about Mozart, his relationship with his movie-nemesis Salieri (almost entirely fictionalized, by the way) and his music. To this day, I am a huge fan of the music with “too many notes” and, in fact, Lady Bug listens to Mozart’s violin concertos every night. There was no Wikipedia to turn to, of course. Instead, I visited the library and found as many books as I could.

A year or so later, I saw the musical Evita on stage. It was one of the first full stage productions I had seen and I was captivated by it. But one thing bothered me as the curtain closed. What happened to her body when it went missing for sixteen years after her death? I set out on a mission to find out, and have had a life-long fascination with this woman, her rise from actress to political leader and her juxtaposed image as slut and saint. I’m not going to tell you what happened to her body. If you’re anything like me, you’ll go find out on your own. It’s a lot easier with Internet access! By the way, if you like to read, definitely check out one of her biographies. Amazing story and you’ll also learn a bit of Argentinian history!

We’re constantly hearing stories about “information overload” and how we passively take in the facts and fiction that bombard us all day long through the Internet, TV, books, movies, radio, etc. But when asked, I can name ONE blog that I read on a regular basis (it belongs to a friend who posts what she does every day, so I check it to see how she’s doing!) and only a handful of websites that I visit deliberately. I am not a passive consumer of information, and yet I simply adore the Internet. Why? Because I want to know what I want to know when I want to know it. I don’t like questions to go unanswered.

So, if you’re at a party with me and we can’t remember an important date, or the name of the guy in the such-and-such commercial, I WILL be pulling out my phone to look it up. Don’t roll your eyes… you may actually learn something!




Saturday, Feb 19, 2011

Why I Blog (Hint: It Has Nothing to Do with Swag)

Last night I had the pleasure of attending Disney On Ice presents Disney-Pixar Toy Story 3 with my husband and kids. The tickets were comped and we enjoyed some VIP treatment in the form of dinner and a meet-and-greet with some of the characters. We watched the show with other bloggers/media from a private suite. As we walked down the memorabilia-lined hallway, I joked with my husband that he should remember moments like this when my paycheck isn’t as big as we would like. You can’t put a price tag on some experiences, right?

I posted a picture of my kids waiting for the show to start on Facebook and received a comment from a friend that surprised and upset me. I don’t usually blog about friends/extended family, but in this case, I felt like I needed to say something. I’m not going to repost her comment because it wouldn’t be in context, but it basically made me think about the way people perceive the work that I do. I thought I should set the record straight, just in case there are others who have similar feelings.

Before I get into the meat of things, I have to say that I do post my adventures on Facebook. I have a friend who I think just may have the coolest job in the world and I love to see what she’s up to and where she has been. I share my experiences because I think the people in my life will enjoy hearing about them. It’s not about bragging or status… it’s just a way to talk about the interesting things in life. I mean, I’m a writer. I like to write about stuff!

When I post on Facebook, I focus on experiences that I know other people will understand. Things that are easy to show in pictures and words. It tends to be the more material things because those are the things people easily relate to and find interesting. Here’s what I didn’t share about my evening:

I had the chance to see some of my absolute favorite women (and a few fave guys) AND I got to meet their families. I could have been anywhere, honestly, and would have been equally happy to just hang out with these ladies and shoot the breeze.

We gossiped, parented, and talked some serious business. These gals are SMART. Blogging has brought me together, for what I’m pretty sure is the first time in my life, with a group of entrepreneurial women. They think big thoughts, just like I do, and follow their dreams. They inspire me to push harder, not out of competition, but out of admiration. They aren’t content with status quo and they don’t tend to care how things have “always been done.” They simply set their minds in a direction and follow through.

I was with people who talk my language, respect my work, and share similar goals. When I say that Guy Kawasaki sent me a copy of his book and a personal email to go with it, they’re at least a little impressed (Big Guy says, “Who???”). When I complain about yet another company who is trying to get me to work for free, they’re sufficiently outraged. And when I’m down about an opportunity that has passed me by, they can empathize.

Events like this are the proverbial cherry on top. They aren’t WHY I write; they’re the result of my writing. This is my chosen career path and it didn’t come about out of a desire to follow some trend. I’m a freelance writer and blogger because I love to write (have been doing so for as long as I can remember), I love working for myself, and I love working independently. I enjoy what I’m doing so much that I look forward to my work days. I don’t know many people who can say that.

I have an incredible job that comes with some amazing perks, provides me with the flexibility I need to be around for my kids and is personally and professionally rewarding. I’ve also worked damn hard to get here. You don’t build up a reputation and contacts over night, and you don’t do it unless you’re willing to buckle down and get the work done. I know my family and friends see the perks and think it’s all glamorous freebies and fun. The truth is that it’s a lot of solitary time, late nights, frustration and compromise. I don’t take vacations without my laptop, I don’t do a lot of play dates, and I don’t take much time off.  But, really, who wants to hear that part? Wouldn’t you much rather know that Gilbert Gottfried is really short in person and speaks in a “normal” voice? Or that Charm City Cakes not only look good, but taste fabulous? I know I would!




Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011

Living the Life I Love

I confess that I don’t blog on More than Mommy as much as I would like to. I have a hard time deciding which content fits in my Quirky Fusion bucket and which fits in my More than Mommy bucket. As a result, it all ends up over in Quirky Fusion-land.

I’ve spent the past few days in NYC at Toy Fair. It was a dream of mine before I even began writing professionally, and I love seeing all of the new toys on the market. This year has been even more special because I also get to spend time with so many blogging, toy and tech friends. And it reminded me to be thankful for the job I have and all of the wonderful people in my life.

Moms are pretty lucky to begin with, because we have little people to love and who (hopefully!) love us in return. We have the chance to leave a mark on the world and help shape the future. But I am also lucky as a person to have found a career that I love and to be able to share that with others. It’s the best of both worlds.

I hope that all of you are feeling lucky in your own lives. And if not, please make a change! There are so many amazing things to experience in the world. It’s a shame to simply settle for what falls into your lap.




Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

Social Media Vacation, New Year, New(ish) Attitude

Last week, we headed out as a family to Disney World. It was a big trip for us as we usually vacation locally (with the White Mountains and Maine nearby, why not?) and I was a bit stressed about work. As a freelancer, I don’t really get vacation time, especially since I have some steady gigs that require me to continue to post content. I scrambled for weeks to try to get ready and never really caught up. It didn’t help that Bug came down with a stomach bug 36 hours before we were scheduled to leave and the night before my last kid-free day to work.

So we packed up a laptop and a netbook, cables, chargers, phones (mine with Internet access) and all manner of gadgety stuff. I knew I’d be working at least a bit on the trip, so I simply resigned myself to the fact and tried to plan out when that might happen. It turned out that I didn’t spend quite as much time on work as I expected, so that was a nice surprise. But the bigger surprise (for me) was how much I was able to unplug and not think twice about it. Yes, I did log onto both Twitter and Facebook (for much-needed comfort when I came down with the stomach bug mid-trip and was alone in the hotel room feeling miserable). And, yeah, I was still obsessively checking my email (you never know when you’ll get a nice surprise via email). But mostly, I didn’t engage. I looked at email and ignored anything that wasn’t either really interesting or really pressing. I peeked at Twitter, but didn’t really converse much. And I posted some photos on Facebook without getting sucked in.

The result? I came back refreshed. The ugliness of the previous week (ironically, at the hands of Disney Social Media) and the slowly building frustration I had been experiencing was gone and I was back to myself. It was  a beautiful reminder of just how fortunate I am, both in my personal life and in my professional one. Maybe more importantly, it was a chance to be thankful for the people who care about me and to knock those who don’t right out of my mind.

My normal approach to all things social media is to celebrate the good, grumble for a minute about the bad, and constantly refocus my sights on what I want most. I try not to take things too personally and I know there will always been another opportunity. And when I don’t get something I want, I either decide it’s not a great match for my goals, or refine my approach to better serve me the next time around. But there are times when the small disappointments start to add up and times when it is clear that nothing I could have done would have mattered. Obviously, that’s when I just need to take a step away.

I have so much appreciation for those people in my life who treat me (and others) with respect and care. I’m excited for 2011. I have some big things in mind, some changes, some new starts, and I’m hoping to be able to really give back to a community that has been a tremendous support for me. And I’m not going to sit around and wait for something magical to happen… I can create magic with the best of them!




Saturday, Dec 4, 2010

Rejected, Dejected and Old Baggage

My grandmother called me this morning. I knew I shouldn’t have answered the phone, but she’s been trying to reach me all week, so I felt like I should just find out what’s going on. But I’m in an awful mood today. Why I’m in such a bad mood is sort of lame, but my grandmother’s call was a good reminder of why things like this upset me as much as they do.

So, here’s the kind of lame part: the Disney Social Media Moms application process ended yesterday and left me feeling really hurt and sad. If you know me, you know I’m used to being overlooked for blogging things. My blog isn’t huge and no one cares that I have tens of thousands of readers weekly on About.com. They generally aren’t interested by how much I give back to the community or if I’m a nice person. I sort of accept it with as much humor and grace as I can, even when I feel left out. I have plenty of wonderful things in my life, so I try not to let the bad things bring me down. But this particular process was just really hard. There was conflicting information and I wasn’t sure I’d even be invited to apply (I wasn’t last year). And then if I did apply, would I get in? So when they said it would be first come, first serve, I knew they didn’t mean that quite so literally, but I thought it gave me a fighting chance. When I got my registration (as it was called) in, I felt pretty good. Registration was open for 2 hours and I got in about half way through. So receiving a rejection noticed that my application hadn’t been processed in time was a surprise, to say the least. Finding out that people who had registered after me had been accepted was even more surprising. And hurtful. I actually asked if I had done something to remove myself from consideration. Bottom line is that I’m not the only one this happened to. It happened to lots of us. But when I look at the list of people who are going, it still feels personal. These are people I attended with last year. People who have been invited over and over again to Disney events. And then some people who I’m not familiar with at all.

When my grandmother called this morning, I was thinking about this whole situation. I was trying to move past the hurt. I mean, I’m thrilled for the people who are going. I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t get in, but I hadn’t anticipated the process being setup to make me feel so bad about it. It’s Disney. Disney strives to make everything magical, even when they’re giving you bad news. Disney doesn’t set you up to have a bad experience and make you feel like you’re just not welcome.

My grandmother started out the conversation by saying that she had talked to my grandfather and his wife. I was immediately on edge, since it’s a sore spot with me that I’ve never even met this man. He has never once acknowledged to me that he knows I exist. She told me that she was extremely upset with him because he had sent his (60-something-year-old) son a birthday card with nothing in it. I interrupted to remind her that my own father (her other son) had never sent me a birthday card at all. “That’s not the point,” she told me with frustration. Apparently, the point is that he HAD sent money to my teenage-mom-twice-over half sister for her birthday. The same half sister that my biological father had doted over, even as he was ignoring my birthday.

And that’s when it hit me. I expect this. I expect to not be included. And I handle it with as much grace as I can muster because I’ve grown up not having any other choice. I mean, if the people who are supposed to love you most don’t care about you, you can’t really expect anyone else to, either. An ex-boyfriend once accused me of sabotaging our relationship. And, although it wasn’t quite so simple, he was right. I tend to hold back and wait for something bad to happen. I assume people in my life won’t stick around very long, and I assume that if there’s a special list, I’m not going to be on it. I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself. I make a lot of excuses and then I just accept that that’s the way things are.

But for some reason, this Disney thing hit me harder than usual. Probably because I have always loved Disney and the idea that Walt built a company around the philosophy of making people happy. He engineered his parks to evoke certain emotional responses… they look expansive when you walk in eager to start your day, but look smaller as you’re walking out, tired from a day of fun. And, until I started blogging, there were no special lists to enjoy the magic of Disney. That was available to every one. We’re taking our kids to Disney World next week, and I’m trying really hard to let this feeling go. Just when I think I’ve done a lot of emotional healing, things like this crop back up and remind me that my baggage is still there, waiting to crop up…

[Edited to add: It was definitely not first-come, first-served. They have said that "there were quite a few factors involved." But the criteria for me isn't important so much as a process that made me, and quite a few other people, feel really bad.]




Friday, Nov 19, 2010

Boston Parent Bloggers & Quirky Fusion

Ah, the challenges of branding. I tweet as MorethanMommy, so it’s obvious that people link over to me here at my “home base.” But I do most of my blogging on QuirkyFusion.com. Why? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I wanted to keep this space for me to muse about various things, while Quirky Fusion is my space to talk about parenting, products, and parent blogging. It turned out that I don’t have as much time to “muse” as I’d like, and when I do, I do it over there as well. I’ve mentioned it before, but I will be rebranding. I’m just not quite there yet. =}

Anyway, if you’ve stumbled here from some sort of Boston Parent Bloggers coverage, welcome. You can find more of my content over at QuirkyFusion, but you’re welcome to linger around here, too.

Now I’m off to find someone to redo my site for me. Who has the time?!




Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010

A Commitment to Love – The Stuff That Never Happened and the Stuff That Did

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“…It’s very obvious that my body has no freaking idea what it’s supposed to be doing, or otherwise it wouldn’t be trying to kick this baby out of me. ” [The Stuff That Never Happened, Maddie Dawson]

There are so many themes in The Stuff That Never Happened that struck a chord with me, but none more than the plight of the main character’s daughter, Sophie. Part way into her first pregnancy, she goes into a bathroom stall and sees blood everywhere. She panics, assuming that she’s losing the baby. And, although this does not happen to the main character, it is a catalyst for everything that follows.

I was only 6 or 7 weeks pregnant with Bug when I came home from work to find that I was bleeding heavily. I was devastated. Although I wasn’t very far along, I was excited to be pregnant and already beginning to anticipate the type of mother I would be. There was so much blood that I was certain that I had already miscarried. I called my husband and then my OB/GYN in tears. I was sure that the ultrasound they scheduled immediately was a routine measure to prove that I was no longer pregnant.

It was so early in the pregnancy that they weren’t sure they would see anything, even if there was something to see. But my Bug wanted to send me a message, and he did, via the tiniest flicker of a heartbeat on the monitor. We dubbed him “Flicker” and waited and hoped. The next few days and weeks are a blur to me now. I remember ultrasounds, more than a half dozen of them, and lots and lots of blood. Worse than the blood were the clots, which over and over again convinced me that the pregnancy had ended. I had a subchorionic hematoma (or sub-chorionic hemorrhage), which is a tear between the uterine wall and the placenta. The blood would pool, clot and then tear free again in what seemed like a never-ending cycle of blood and tears.

Sophie’s diagnosis was placenta previa, a condition which is dangerous to the mother as well as her unborn child. In that way, we were lucky. A subchorionic hematoma can be problematic for the pregnancy, but not usually for the mom. Still, I was anxious for my pregnancy and the little baby we hadn’t even met. During my several-week stint on bed rest, I made a commitment to my little guy. Although a large part of me wanted to hold back so I wouldn’t hurt as much if things went wrong, I decided that I was going to love this baby as much as I could for as long as I could. I wrote letters and sang songs. I read stories and made promises for trips to the zoo and Disney World. I left my job and focused all of my energy on having a healthy baby.

And then one day the bleeding stopped. Ultrasounds showed that the tear was gone (they more often than not resolve themselves) and I was no longer on bed rest. We found out we were having a boy and started all of the normal preparations to become parents. My mom and I, much like Sophie and her mother, had an almost ceremonial moment where we started to buy things for the baby. My heart started to heal.

Many mothers are surprised by how long it takes to bond with a newborn baby. It’s not always as easy as it seems on TV or in movies. But in my case, Bug and I had bonded months before with a promise of unconditional love. In fact, we were so closely tied together that I would wake up in the middle of the night and, as if he could hear me calling him, Bug would wake up just a few minutes later. It got so bad that I had to work to think about other things just so he wouldn’t wake up as well. LadyBug started with an at-risk pregnancy as well… more bleeding but with unexplained causes. But with a demanding toddler on my hands, I wasn’t able to devote all of my energy to her in the womb and our bonding process has been much slower.

I am sometimes jealous of mothers who have those picture-perfect pregnancies where they are glowing and happy. And I am a bit resentful of moms who take their healthy pregnancies for granted with risky behavior like skiing and horseback riding. On the other hand, Bug and I took a journey together that was difficult and uplifting all at once. I don’t think I’d trade that now for a simple, no-worry pregnancy. Even though he doesn’t remember, it was something special we shared, just between the two of us. Those are the things that make us who we are. It’s the stuff that did happen that counts the most.

This post was inspired by The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson, which I received complimentary as a part of From Left to Write Book Club. See how other bloggers were inspired by this book.




Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010

The Year Before 40 – Good Things

This is the year of good things. Why? Because I am declaring it to be. I’m where I want to be and I’m doing what I want to be doing. It’s amazing! In the past few months, I’ve really started to see my hard work pay off in way I couldn’t have imagined. It’s not just about money, which really doesn’t motivate me to push myself further. Instead, it’s paying off in relationships, experiences, joy, energy, etc. There is something about following your instincts and ending up exactly where you ought to be. Because of that, I’ve been so fortunate to find new writing gigs, contracts and relationships with people I find inspiring.

I am learning that my own peculiar brand of enthusiasm is worth something. And that I can work for myself, skip most of the politics and really live the best life for me.




Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Mom’s Nite Out

Thanks to everyone who joined me at the Pheasant Lane Mall for Mom’s Nite Out tonight. If you’re looking for Quirky Fusion (my parenting blog), it’s just quirkyfusion.com.