When Facebook Calls You Skim Milk

You know how something stupid can get you thinking?

Last week one of my friends posted “Which TV mom are you?” The pictures were of Claire Huxtable, Roseanne and Peg Bundy.

I am Claire, minus the law degree I thought to myself. No nonsense, fair, funny. For sure.

And then I got Cindy Walsh from Beverly Hills 90210.


Cindy was skim milk—good for you but boring and forgettable. Minimal impact.

And stupid enough to let her sophomore daughter have a hotel room for prom.

Hello? I wrangled 200 teenagers a year for 18 years. I taught them Thoreau, for the love of God, and they liked it. People respected me, 16 year old people, and they don’t hardly respect anyone.

How on earth am I like Cindy Walsh?

Sweet goodness—have I turned into Cindy Walsh????

This could be a stay at home mom thing. Transitioning from working mom to stay at home mom is not for sissies.  I don’t want to turn this into a working vs. stay at home mom tirade because that horse has been Rode. To. Death.

(Rode. That’s right.)

I’m just saying that when a woman is kind of a big deal in her workplace, the eye of the hurricane, staying home can be like hitting a wall.

I am not complaining one bit. I am just saying that “big deal” and “hurricane” are not words I use to describe my time at home.

I used to be one bad ass teacher.

“I’m a bad ass stay at home mom!” is something no woman said ever.

Not that I want to go back, mind you. I never want to go back. And yes, I know the work I do now will resonate through the generations. Fruit of my womb. I get it. I’m thankful.

But this stupid quiz made me realize I miss being the eye of the hurricane, sometimes.

Vanessa, from Suburban Mama Goddess took the quiz and got Carol Brady. Vanessa is not Carol Brady. Maybe even more than I am not Cindy Walsh. She didn’t like it either. We had this chat:


I would love to believe that changing my drink would solve this problem, but that’s a slippery slope. Where do you go from Kettel One and Tonic? Absinthe?

I know what I have to do.

Make peace with the fact that my Claire days are over.

Find a way to balance Cindy and Gloria while avoiding rehab for an alcohol and plastic surgery addiction.

And stop taking the stupid Facebook quizzes.

PS: Dana took the quiz and got Claire. I didn’t talk to her for two days. You can cause your own mid-life mama crisis at www.playbuzz.com.

Slowing Wonder Woman Down


My younger self would have seen this statement as a challenge and asked with a saucy smile, “Are you sure about that?”

This older and wiser version of me knows better and actually grieves the years I spent trying to be too many things to too many people. My mantra used to be “I got this” with little thought to whether I needed to have it or not.

I have learned to say no, or say nothing, which is maybe even more powerful.

Now, Worn-out Wonder Women make me nervous. I feel like a recovering junkie: If I get too close to their whirlwind lives, they will suck me back into the vortex of Being All Things to All People. The affirmation that comes from keeping friends, colleagues, bosses, families and spouses happy can be intoxicating.

But to paraphrase Emerson, it gives no peace. Wonder Women are running from or towards something, for sure. In my own case, I was trying to find something that I already had. But I was moving too fast to know or appreciate or enjoy it. Now I try really hard to be still and present, but I can only do that if I have time.

And I can only have time if I tell others No.

No to commitments that only serve me or my ambition

No to people who do not know or care about my family.

No to people or things that do not bear fruit.

I only owe one yes in my life, and that’s to God.

Lysa TerKuerst of Proverbs 31 Ministries has a new book out called The Best Yes, which is all about curing “the disease to please” and escaping “the guilt of disappointing others” that comes from saying no. Today and tomorrow, if you order one copy, you can get a second for just $5, plus a free audio download.

Check it out at www.thebestyes.com and learn more about Lysa and Proverbs 31 Ministry at www.proverbs31.org.









August Is Breast Feeding Awareness Month ~ Guest Post by Jennifer

My name is Jennifer and I met Jen and Dana when we were all teachers. Now I am a homemaker for my amazing husband, two beautiful sons, and one slightly neurotic cocker spaniel.

In July, Jen and Dana invited me to guest post with the instructions to write about something that “fired me up”. I never anticipated breastfeeding to be the topic that pushed me into writing.

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and I realized that I needed to tell my story about my experiences. When I was pregnant with Jacob I assumed I would breastfeed. I mean, it’s free and healthy! How hard could it be? Oh the naiveté! I know some women who are so incredibly fortunate to have had easy experiences. I am not one of them.

My initiation as a breastfeeding mother was a rocky one. When Jacob was a newborn he refused to nurse. He would shut his mouth and go to sleep every single time I tried to nurse. So there I was with a hungry baby and my “talent”, which as a friend once put it, is producing a lot of breast milk. I will forever be thankful to a dear friend, who is a Lactation Consultant, for giving me peace of mind over using a bottle. Once we made this feeding decision, I heard a lot about how now he would never take to nursing and that I needed to keep trying. The comments were masked in concern and support but I felt like less of a woman/mother for feeding my baby with a bottle. I fought the guilt since it was still my milk; plus, this way my husband was able to feed and bond with Jacob too. Prior to this I didn’t even know that exclusive pumping was a thing but I did it. I remember crying as I learned to use the pump and asking God why Jacob wouldn’t latch. Thankfully, Jacob decided to nurse at three weeks old but it was still touch and go for some time after that. We got through some days “nursing session by nursing session” but we didn’t give up and I ended up nursing Jacob until he was 14 months old. (Take that, naysayers!) I know now that I had to learn to pump so that I could provide milk for Jacob while I was at school earning my MA. Plus, six months later a friend of mine had a very similar situation happen and I was able to minister to her in her time of need!

Jennifer and her first son, Jacob. Look at his chunky thighs!
Jacob and I. Look at his chunky thighs!

When I was pregnant with my second son, Andrew, I thought I was ready. I knew what nursing was like. I knew it might be difficult and that it would probably hurt. If all else failed, I knew my way around a pump. As it turns out, I was not prepared for the entirely new kind of hard that establishing, and maintaining, a breastfeeding relationship with Andrew would prove to be.

Last week, Andrew turned 1. But he was born one month early at 36 weeks gestation. His birth was very quick and he was small so he ended up with fluid in his lungs (Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn) and became a NICU baby for a week. Unfortunately, he could not eat those first three days because of his rapid breathing. As I did with Jacob, I pumped every three hours so I wouldn’t lose my supply. Within a week I had a stash of over 100 ounces. The NICU nurses were impressed. He went from tube feeding, to a bottle, before learning how to nurse. Remember my “talent”? My less than six-pound baby had to learn to nurse from breasts that were bigger than his head. Once again, it was not easy and it hurt. He was five days old before we had a successful nursing session. I still cry when I think about how relieved I was that day.

Jennifer nursing preemie Andrew.
Nursing preemie Andrew.

Nursing Andrew was easier than Jacob only because he was eager. The hard parts were the technical ones like correct latch and drinking enough. Because of my “talent” I also had to worry about foremilk/hind milk imbalance which is a product of the vicious cycle of having so much milk that he would be full and I would have to pump out the excess; I was desperate to avoid mastitis. I had to actively work to decrease my supply just enough so that he wasn’t choking at every feeding but not so much that my supply went away. I went back to see a Lactation Consultant for some peace of mind and the reassurance that we were doing things right.  Unfortunately, when Andrew was about two months old he rejected the bottle and would only nurse…I felt like I was on a leash tied to my baby. There were other factors at play but Andrew’s refusal of the bottle, and my subsequent inability to get a break, were big factors in the severity of my Post Partum Depression (PPD). There were a few months there where I just wanted to get out of the house and part of me resented nursing Andrew. Statistics will tell you that breastfeeding reduces the likelihood of mothers developing PPD but it was making things worse for me. Despite all this, I believe my PPD would have gotten worse, due to guilt, if I had stopped nursing Andrew at four months of age. This was when my PPD was at its strongest point, as four months is when PPD tends to peak.

Since my baby refused to take a bottle, my freezer filled up with pumped milk. I knew I needed to donate it but I could not bring myself to give it away. It took me months to give away the first batch of milk and I totally cried over it. I was literally giving away part of myself and it was super hard to do. (You know the phrase “There’s no use crying over spilled milk”? Whoever came up with that nugget never had to pump their own milk.) I ended up donating over 300 ounces to our cousin’s baby with Down Syndrome who couldn’t latch. Each time I gave away my milk I cried but it also got a tiny bit easier. I knew it was needed elsewhere, my baby wasn’t got to drink it, and I sure wasn’t going to let my milk go to waste in my freezer!

The fruits of my talents!
The fruits of my talents!

My baby is 1 and I am doing better. I am at the point where I am cherishing every nursing session with Andrew because I know they are numbered. It’s interesting though how things change. When I was almost done nursing Jacob I was ready. I was looking forward to having my body back to myself. Maybe it’s because things started so poorly for us. I don’t know. I just know that I feel differently about weaning Andrew. Jen has a theory that we attach more strongly to our PPD/Anxiety babies. That could be it. One thing I do know is that I am proud to be a breastfeeding mom. It has been so much harder than I could have ever imagined but I am so glad I didn’t give up. It is such an amazing experience to watch my babies develop rolls upon rolls of baby chub because of ME. Rolls that I get to tickle and kiss to my heart’s content.

Andrew, our chunky monkey!
Andrew, our chunky monkey!

During this month of Breastfeeding Awareness I celebrate my personal journey in being a breastfeeding mother and I support all mothers in feeding their babies. Exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, donor milk feeding, formula feeding, supplemental feeding, and any other method of feeding, we are all doing the best we can for our babies and for ourselves. We should all be proud of that and we should be supporting each other. I know I would be telling a different story if it weren’t for the support of my amazing husband and the mamas in my village.


For Breastfeeding in the US

Loving Support (Riverside County, CA): www.lovingsupport.org

La Leche League: www.llli.org

For Breastfeeding in Canada

INFACT Canada: www.infactcanada.ca

La Leche League Canada: www.lllc.ca

For Pre and Postpartum Mental Health support worldwide:

Postpartum Support International: www.postpartum.net



She Shamed Herself, and Other Thoughts


Maybe, like me, you had no idea that the latest Bachelorette had sex with one of her suitor/contestants, and then sent him home.

Maybe, like me, you think the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise is one of many examples of troubling but ultimately unimportant immorality in society today, along with Justin Bieber, the Kardashians and Rush Limbaugh.

But then I saw this headline: Who is Responsible for the Slut-Shaming of the Bachelorette?”

Facebook has been rocking this week with posts and counter-posts promoting “I don’t need feminism because” and the satirical responses “I don’t need feminism because…” and “Confused Cats Against Feminism”.

We know this issue is a hot button, because when I wrote the piece about conservative feminists and arrogance, it struck a cord with some of our readers.

I was working from the place that feminism means that women are equal to men and should be treated as such under the law.

Not that women are better than men.

Not that women can take the place of men.

Not that men are an inferior, violent and dangerous species and women should bring back Amazon warriors to guard us all in some utopian, female-only bastion of moon cycles and extended breast feeding.

But that is how the conservative half of the culture views the political face of the feminist movement today. I looked at the anti-feminists statements, and agreed with the sentiment of many—that being a woman is not a disadvantage, that we should work for equality, not entitlement and supremacy, and that we are able to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions.

But these young women, with their signs?  They’re feminists. How come they don’t know that?

The movement has a problem these days: ready, fire, aim.

Like this Bachelorette slut-shaming thing.

Bachelorette Andi agreed to find a husband on TV, picking from a pool of men chosen for their good looks and/or professions, in only eight weeks. This after she volunteered to be one of the pool of women chosen for their good looks and/or capacity for drama on the last Bachelor. So we already know that she is not a paragon of integrity.

But more than that, the way she behaved deserves censure from women everywhere. This is not about her sexual freedom. And this is not about the double standard. Yes, its’ true that men are treated differently for the same behavior, but I for one appreciate the good ol’ boys from the simple standpoint that it makes the a-holes easier to identify. I’m sure men would say the same about some sub-culture of women.

This is about Bachelorette Andi buying the true anti-feminism, that her worth only goes as far as her looks and her willingness to put out will take her.

Should the male anchors at FoxNews be popping off about her, as if they have no moral skeletons in their closets?

Of course not, but humility is not a strong point over at Fox. Those guys are good ol’ boys, so we know what we think about them.

What should be happening is that instead of defending her behavior by accusing others of “slut-shaming”, feminists everywhere should be hanging their heads in despair.

The goal used to be freedom to raise daughters strong in their heads, hearts and bodies, who dream big and do big things wherever their sphere of influence might be.

Now the movement seems to defend a woman’s right to a complete lack of sexual or moral boundaries, but ridicules women who believe in marriage, motherhood, religion and country. We defend Bachelorette Andi’s right to demean and devalue herself, instead of worrying how it is that she grew up with all the advantages of over 100 years of feminism and STILL DIDN’T GET THE MEMO.

My grandmother went to college in the ’30s, when 26 states still had laws prohibiting the employment of married women. She joined the Navy as an RN and served in the Pacific during WWII. Then she spent the next 50 years providing the economic stability in her family that sent my mom to college in the 60s.

Is this why she did all that? So women today could sleep around?

Today’s feminism is messing with my grandmother’s legacy.

And that’s not cool.






One Hour ~ Jen

I struggle to read the stories. Not the ones where the mom made it, got help, survived. I can handle those, like the many you can find here. It’s the ones where she wasn’t helped, and someone didn’t make it, that I can’t handle. It hits too close to home.

This week it was three beautiful little girls, ages 2, 16 months and two months.

I didn’t read the story, but my mom brought it up. She has learned like the rest of us to be so very angry at these stories.

“Her husband was right across the street.”

“I know mom, but she was probably listening to the voices in her head.”

Pause. Loooong pause. Then, “Did you hear voices?”

They weren’t really voices. They were more like thoughts. What if? And one of those was What if I can’t take it anymore? I knew one thing: I wasn’t leaving my kids behind.

Yeah, it’s horrifying. And someday I will have to explain it to my kids. But I keep saying it because you need to know. From the outside I looked and sounded normal. It was my inside that was all messed up and there was a part of me that knew it and was scared and so worked very hard to keep it all bottled inside. The only one who saw a hint of it all was Shea.

And he didn’t know what to do. We thought the baby blues was something that happened in the first two weeks, not something that dogged me for years after my first two pregnancies and then exploded after Annie.

So here’s my contribution to Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s not a story, even though the stories are so important. There is strength in numbers.

But I have a suggestion. A call to action. And it’s easy.

At our local hospital, there are all kinds of classes to prepare families for the birth of a new baby. Sibling classes and daddy diaper classes and nursing classes and labor classes.

I think we need one more. One hour. One person, preferably the spouse or partner. If not, the adult who will be closest to mom after delivery.  All the information they need to recognize and intervene in case of a maternal mental health issue.

What to look for (depression, anxiety, withdrawal, inability to sleep). Who to call (first, the OB/GYN; then, Postpartum Support International). What to say (This is not your fault. You will be ok. We are going to get help).  A magnet with PSI’s 800 number to stick on the fridge.

So simple. We can grass roots it, one hospital at a time. We’d need just a few women willing to talk once a month on a rotating basis. I would do it in a hot second. For free. Because if we empower one spouse to help one mom beat back the voice in her head saying What if?, then we win.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety after the birth of a baby, even months and months after the birth of a baby, you can visit www.postpartum.net or call 1-800-944-4773 for help. They will help you. I promise because I know. They helped me.


PSI Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month Blog Hop