In this month’s HerTake question, Nina answers a letter from a woman who says her inconsiderate friends often cancel plans or change the plans last minute. Is this an expected part of being an understanding friend or does this letter writer have especially inconsiderate friends in her life?
The holidays are upon us, and we would love to offer our fantastic readers a great deal on book bundles! We think our most recent essay collection, So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood, is the perfect gift for the moms in your life—your sister, your best friend, maybe even yourself! With relatable, funny, poignant stories about motherhood from pregnancy through the empty nest, there is something in these pages for every mom.
So we want to make right now the best time for you to buy, and we’re offering a great deal! When you purchase a paperback copy of So Glad They Told Me, you can add on any of our first three books for just $5, and you’ll get free shipping!
Here’s a recap of our other books:
“This series of heartfelt essays, written by and for women, documents the common land mines that cause friendships to splinter and reaffirms the vital importance of these bonds.” – Irene Levine, PhD, author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend
“These pages beautifully capture the intensity and intimacy of female best-friendship, and, with the benefit of hindsight, lay bare the profound absence that so often follows a friendship’s mysterious end.” — Peyton Price, author of Suburban Haiku
“Every one of these stories is about the descent into the depths, the belief that these mothers feel alone and at fault, and then their recovery. Each story has power on its own, but the essay collection as a whole really drives home to me how many women suffer, how similar their suffering is, and how it’s a tragedy that they think they are the only ones going through this and it is theirs alone to bear.” — journalist Lisa Belkin
And here’s what you’ll find within the pages of So Glad They Told Me:
“The personal essays in SO GLAD THEY TOLD ME offer hope, humor, and truth about parenting at all phases—from pregnancy, infancy, toddlerhood, all the way up through empty nest parenting, including topics such as special needs diagnoses, pregnancy loss, surviving colic, parenting a transgender child, and balancing work and family. I’m so glad they told me, and you will be too.” — from the book’s Foreword, Ann Imig Founder, Listen to Your Mother
— Amy JoyceEditor, The Washington Post’s On Parenting
Learn more about the book and our amazing contributors here. You can add on any of our three first books to your order of So Glad— visit our sales page to order your books today! You can also buy So Glad They Told Me on Kindle right here. Take advantage of two books for just $20– order here!
Happy holiday shopping! We hope you’ll treat yourself to one of the books– you deserve it!
Stephanie & Jessica
**Our newest online writing course began this week, and there is still time to sign up! We have a few spots still available, and with a nice slow start this first week, you won’t have missed a thing! This self-paced course is four weeks long (with a holiday break) and is unlike any class we’ve offered before. Using Our Words to Change Our World is for anyone—professional writer, blogger, or not— who wants an opportunity to process our emotions after a difficult election, to understand better how to have an empathetic dialogue with those who may not agree with us, to practice self-care, and to learn from some incredible guest instructors about how to more effectively write opinion pieces. You can find out details and sign up here.
It’s been just over a year since we published Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience, an essay collection written by 35 women sharing their experiences with postpartum and post-adoption depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Since its publication last November, the Singapore Committee for UN Women endorsed the book, and it was one of Foreword Review’s IndieFab Book of the Year Finalists. We still believe the essays in this collection have a powerful message to share. Journalist Lisa Belkin wrote of the anthology:
“Every one of these stories is about the descent into the depths, the belief that these mothers feel alone and at fault, and then their recovery. Each story has power on its own, but the essay collection as a whole really drives home to me how many women suffer, how similar their suffering is, and how it’s a tragedy that they think they are the only ones going through this and it is theirs alone to bear.”
Our incredible contributors continue to be powerful advocates for spreading their messages to their community: you are not alone, ask for help, you can get through it.
Recently, in my home state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched an educational campaign to help women recognize the symptoms and get help. As part of Postpartum Support International, this organization shares resources for both mothers who are struggling as well as their family members and friends. It is a powerful campaign designed to spread awareness and make resources for seeking treatment more accessible to mothers.
This campaign reiterates the important message the contributors of Mothering Through the Darkness conveyed so powerfully:
For women with pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, each day can be a struggle. Having a new baby is hard but we can help make it easier for you. You are not alone. You are not to blame. You can get help. www.postpartum.net/colorado #youarenotalone #Colorado #newmom #mentalhealth #PRD
One of the campaign’s most important messages is how to support a loved one experiencing postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders. They remind us:
Pregnant and new mothers need empathy and support from loved ones. They may find it hard to be honest about their feelings and accept help in the beginning. Be patient and be available.
- Encourage her to get help from a professional.
- Help her find a support group and local resources.
- Spend time listening without needing to offer solutions and advice.
- Look after the baby or older children, or discuss other childcare options so she can have a break.
- Take a simple action like cooking and cleaning without taking over these activities or expecting anything in return.
- Encourage her to take care of herself by eating, resting, walking and limiting alcohol use.
If you are suffering, please remember that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and help is available to you. If you have a loved one who needs help, please reach out. You can find more information on the campaign, including resources for families, here.
For providers and others (bloggers, advocates) who want to spread awareness and provide resources, please use this fantastic toolkit. We encourage you to spread this message on social media, so please take advantage of the materials here!
And to the brave and gifted writers who shared their words with us in Mothering Through the Darkness, one year later, we are still so grateful for your words, so moved by your stories, and so honored to have worked with you on this deeply important project. Thank you so much.
~Stephanie & Jessica
**You can order a copy of Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience here.
**We recently announced our brand new online writing course, which will begin November 28th. Using Our Words to Change Our World is for anyone—professional writer, blogger, or not— who wants an opportunity to process our emotions after a difficult election, to understand better how to have an empathetic dialogue with those who may not agree with us, to practice self-care, and to learn from some incredible guest instructors about how to more effectively write opinion pieces. Please join us for a unique self-paced course unlike any we have ever offered– it will undoubtedly be a powerful experience within a supportive community. You can find out details and sign up here.
**You can purchase our most recent essay collection, So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood, right here. Like Mothering Through The Darkness, it aims to make motherhood less isolating and to shed light on those less-than-perfect moments and real life parenting challenges.
In this month’s HerTake question, Nina discusses hearing third-hand what a friend said about you.
Happy November. Our theme this month is gratitude, which is one of my favorite topics to write about. This week’s essay may require some Kleenex. I was incredibly touched by Sarah’s story of music, healing, and gratitude. I believe in the power of music to heal. I hope you enjoy – Allie
My children recently attended a music class at the library. It was a wild, over-crowded affair, but it made the kids smile. They enthusiastically shook tambourines, swirled scarves in the air, and stomped their feet as they sang songs about birds, the sunshine, and a ladybug.
As I watched my strong and healthy children dance and laugh their way through class with the other pre-school aged children, I couldn’t help but compare the experience to a music therapy session I observed many years before.
At the time, I was twenty-four, and my fourteen-year-old sister was recovering at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center after suffering from a brain hemorrhage. After brain surgery, days in a coma, and then weeks in the ICU at another hospital, she entered the rehabilitation program at Hershey to re-learn how to speak, eat, walk, and basically every other function that comes naturally to an average teenaged girl.
As her mental and physical functions were gradually restored, and she was more able to interact with the world around her, she began to participate in some unique therapy sessions, such as music therapy.
On the first day of music therapy, the therapist placed a tambourine in her hand, but it immediately fell to the ground with a chorus of clangs. She simply did not have enough strength to even grasp the instrument.
For the remainder of class, she slumped in her wheelchair as I helped her hold the tambourine. As the therapist led the class in a song with lyrics containing the phrase, “happy and delighted,” I wondered if my sister would ever feel those emotions again.
For several weeks, she lacked the awareness to even react to the music; however, as motor and cognitive skills returned and she could again do things like brush her teeth, music therapy became even more engaging and beneficial to her. Eventually, my sister could grasp the tambourine or bang the drum with success, and as her speech became clearer, she even sang along to the music.
During my sister’s last therapy session, we sat next to her roommate, an eleven-year-old girl with leukemia. She had been discharged and then re-admitted during the five weeks we had spent at Hershey. She looked even paler and weaker than before, and she no longer smiled.
Another girl was new to the group. She had been in a car accident with her family, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down. She had little hope of recovering movement.
The music therapist tried to engage all of the girls by playing the guitar and asking them to share something that made them happy. Neither of the other girls said they were happy about anything. Eventually, one was finally encouraged to say, “Mashed potatoes.”
My heart felt heavier and heavier as the session progressed. These girls could not think of one thing that provoked joy. Would they ever find anything to be happy about?
When it was my sister’s turn, she looked at me and said, “I get to go home.” I should have only been thrilled to hear this, but I couldn’t help but think of how unfair it was that those two girls might never get to say the same.
The therapist then tried to urge the group to play various instruments. My sister selected bongos and began playing enthusiastically. The girl with leukemia initially refused to participate but then resigned herself to limply clapping her hands. The paralyzed girl tried to blow on a party horn, but she was too weak to hold it between her lips.
As the noise in the room escalated, my sister, still in a wheelchair, stopped beating the bongos, reached over, and held the instrument to the girl’s mouth. The two briefly made eye contact, but the music was the only communication between them.
This scene replays in my mind when I hear the sound of bongos, see a party horn, or watch my own able children dance their way through a music class. I often wonder what ever happened to those two girls. I want to believe that they are somewhere enjoying music and able to quickly list many things in which they find happiness. However, I know that not everyone heals. Not every patient gets to leave the hospital. Not every child gets the chance to sing and dance her way through life.
I am so thankful that my sister got to continue her dance through life. After leaving the hospital, her love of music only grew. Her body and brain slowly healed during months of outpatient programs. She eventually returned to her own high school to graduate with her class.
She now lives in Music City and attends concerts regularly. Just last year she smiled through her wedding ceremony as her husband played guitar and serenaded her with a song he wrote.
My sister doesn’t remember much of her rehabilitation at Hershey, but I like to think that she still, somewhere deep in her subconscious, hears chords of the songs she sang in therapy all of those years ago.
Maybe when she faces struggles in life, she can hear the reverberation of a tambourine, shaken wildly, but joyfully. Maybe the phrase “happy and delighted” runs through her mind when she sees something beautiful. Maybe those healing notes of music that helped stitch together the wiring in her brain and helped her recognize the world around her again, maybe those notes play on for her.
They play on for me.
I hear them when I press play on the car stereo, so my son can listen to his favorite song “just one more time.” I feel them when I abandon dirty dishes in the sink to go help fasten my daughter’s Cinderella costume, so we can dance at a pretend ball.
The echo of songs from long ago remind me that life is short and unpredictable, so I encourage my children to always sing strongly, play loudly, and dance wildly because others cannot. I hope this is a lesson that hums through their veins not just during music class but throughout their entire lives.
Sarah is a current stay-at-home mom. After years of teaching high school English, she is enjoying focusing on her two children while learning to slow down and look at the world through their eyes. She has learned more about dinosaurs and princesses in the past few years than she ever thought possible. Sarah writes about parenting on her blog, One Mile Smile, and has recently been published in the following sites: Mothers Always Write, Parent.Co, and Her View From Home. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.
**The holidays are upon us! So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood makes a great gift!