Stephanie Sprenger

  • Still Looking For My “People”

    A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our daughters to the neighborhood swimming pool. I ran into a colleague and casual friend who was there with her two boys. She was chatting with another mom of two boys, and the four kids were splashing together happily while their moms lounged on the edge of the pool. (Note to self- bring a buddy to the pool next time to enhance Mommy’s relaxation experience.)

    My friend introduced us, and explained that they had all gone to college together, and wound up moving to Colorado at the same time. “We’ve been here for 13 years,” she told me, “and we met their oldest son in the hospital the day after he was born. Our boys are more like cousins than friends.”

    I felt a pang of jealousy. These were her “people.” A few weeks ago, 3 Things For Mom ran a post that included this tip: “Find your people.” The full post articulates the importance of surrounding yourself with a tribe, and when I read it, I immediately felt grateful for all the fantastic girlfriends I had in my life.

    • My best friends from college who all live less than an hour away from me. 
    • My two closest friends without kids who keep me grounded and know me as more than Mommy.
    • My fellow mom friends who listen without judgment and make me feel less alone.
    • The friend who “gets me,” sharing my sensitivity trait and even matching my exact Myers-Briggs type!
    • My blogosphere friends, most of whom I have never met, but who relate to my ambitions and frustrations so well.
    Two of my college BFFs- we all have little girls of our own now.
    Two of my college BFFs- we all have little girls of our own now.

    But there is one thing that has always felt missing to me- my husband and I don’t have “that family.” You know- the other couple that you both like so much, whose kids are of a similar age. Maybe they live next door and you wander freely into one another’s backyard, understanding that the lack of shower and presence of pajamas is not a deterrent to sharing time. Maybe you’ve known each other since your wild college days, and you’ve navigated the transition into parenthood together. Maybe it’s your sister and her family, and a standing invitation for reciprocal baby-sitting.

    We don’t have those people in our lives- not yet. It’s not that we don’t have friends with kids that we have suffered through birthday parties, street fairs, and carnivals with. It’s not that we don’t have neighbors with kids- we actually love spending time with the other families on our street. But there’s something different about having that couple that you know without a doubt would come stay with your kids if you went into labor in the middle of the night, or who can join you for dinner without inspiring that “hostess” panic. Those people. 

    It seems like this type of relationship is very elusive- both the husbands and the wives have to like each other, or worst case, the husbands have to tolerate one another! It helps if the kids are close in age, so you can plan activities that everyone will enjoy. It seems like the kid:kid ratio should be close as well- the family with one child may not mesh well with the family who has two sets of twins. Then of course you factor in proximity, schedules, parenting styles- how can all these factors possibly add up to the perfect dual family friendship?

    I don’t want to appear ungrateful for the fantastic, loyal, empathetic friends that I have. Perhaps our inability to align ourselves with another family has more to do with conflicting schedules; I work part-time, and often my children are in school or childcare when my stay at home mom friends are available to socialize. Conversely, my friends who work full-time may not have the same flexibility that I do, and who has time to get together during the infamous Crappy Hour- that mad rush from 4:30-8:00 that involves frantic dinner preparation, a sit-down meal (or not!) and the bedtime countdown?

    One of my favorite HerStories essays, from Christine of A Fly On Our Chicken Coop Wall, shares the story of two families who had weekly community dinners. Reading that post filled me with longing; I have always envied people who had another family that they dined with, played with, and traveled with on a regular basis.

    My cousin lives in a neighborhood with several families whose children are of similar ages; she and her next door neighbor have traded off caring for one another’s children during pregnancy, illness, the post-baby months, or even Get-these-kids-out-of-here-right-now! moments. They often show up in one another’s kitchen, not necessarily having bothered to call or even knock, and frequently join each other for a communal backyard BBQ.

    I want that. My parents have a couple they have known since college; their names are Charles and Charlene, and my brother and I have always known them as Uncle Charlie and Aunt Charlie. They haven’t shared a city with my parents in over 35 years, and yet the lack of proximity did not diminish the importance of their role in our lives; we routinely traveled to visit them and their two boys, or hosted them at our house. “The Charlies” were a staple in my life, and a model of what an enriching adult friendship could look like with another family. I have often remarked that I am still looking for “Our Charlies.”

    My parents with The Charlies at my wedding reception.
    My parents with The Charlies at my wedding reception.

    I wonder if I will ever be fortunate enough to have another family that I consider to be my tribe, my people. It is possible that I am romanticizing the idea, but I have the sense that for those who have found their “Charlies”, this type of friendship is life-changing.

    Have you found your people? Do you have another family that you spend time with regularly? How has it affected your life? 

  • World’s Best Mom?

    We are excited to feature a moving friendship essay today from Jamie Krug. Jamie writes candidly about her family’s unique story on her blog, Our Stroke of Luck, and is a regular contributor to Huffington Post. Has a close friend ever helped you to see yourself from a different perspective?

    Today, I had a long overdue conversation with my best friend in the world… Nothing remarkable was planned for this chat, and we really just spoke about what’s going on in our lives. She’s telling me about the unfortunate and coincidental timing of her gutted kitchen setup looking eerily similar to one of the “kill rooms” Dexter set up the night before during their completion of a marathon viewing of the previous season, and I’m talking/complaining/freaking out about what’s going on with Parker and Owen right now. Parker has Psoriatic Arthritis and Sensory Processing Disorder. Add to that having a brother with special needs and it’s a lot for a not-quite five year-old to take.

    Her three and a half year old brother Owen had a stroke in utero and has Cerebral Palsy. To put it so succinctly in one simple sentence seems almost laughable based on how complicated the circumstances around his birth turned out, and the equally unsure footing I’ve felt as a parent ever since. He has a long road ahead of him, and our entire family will be on that road with him. And I consider Rachel to be part of that family.

    And then she said it.

    Rachel told me that I was a wonderful mother and that she hoped I knew it. She told me that she looked up to me and my parenting. I was so taken aback that I almost simultaneously burst out laughing and began bawling. Instead, I do what I’ve been doing for the past eleven months or so – I tried to shrug it off. I’m not comfortable with people telling me I’m a good mother, or doing a good job, etc. There is an unease about it for me that I actually can put my finger on, but am choosing not to at this point.

    It was different when Rachel said it to me though. We are peers and equals, each with our own strengths and weaknesses of character, but I have looked up to Rachel since high school. She has (at least in my eyes) seamlessly achieved her goals along the path I wish I had taken. You know, the easy one – in a straight line. My path has meandered a bit – taken a right, or was that a left? A few u-turns thrown in, and a lot of parallel parking. I’ve clearly taken the metaphor too far, but I’m committed at this point so I need to run with it (or should I say drive the point home?)…

    She is my equal, yes – but she was always the glue that held me together. We used to joke around that if she decided to go into psychology, her “real-world” experience treating me should allow her to skip her internship altogether. We have been through a lot together. There are things that Rachel knows about me that Scott likely doesn’t. Yet another wonderful thing about the man that I married, is that Scott respects that and has no problem stepping aside when he knows that she is better “schooled” on that aspect of me or my life, past, etc. There are situations where her advice is more meaningful to me than his may be based solely on the fact that she has always been there and might know more about the history of a particular situation. I will say that again because it is important – she has always been there.

    IMG_4254-1Rachel will give it to me straight, too. She is definitely not a “smoke blower”. She looks out for me, but has no problem putting me in my place when she feels I’m wrong. I’d like to think I do the same for her. Honesty and friendship like that is a rare gift. So is someone breaking you of your life-long insecurity-based habit of apologizing to everyone for everything – she did it by telling me to f**k myself every single time I said “I’m sorry” to her for anything she deemed unnecessary of an apology. There were a lot of F-bombs dropped during our conversations for a while, but I finally got it.

    For this fantastic woman – my dearest friend – whom I love like a sister and respect beyond words, to tell me that there was something about me that she looked up to, well, it made me take notice. Maybe I am a good mother. Perhaps better than my doubts will allow me to accept. Maybe “just doing the best that I can” is enough.

    I know I’m not the only mother out there to wonder if she’s doing a good job. The difference here is that I genuinely feel (and I think I’m correct about this on some level) that the success and health of my children is riding on it in a different way than the average parent. The pressure I feel is enormous. To be honest, some days I’m not sure if I’m going to crack or explode! Am I bringing Owen to the right therapists? Am I doing enough with him at home? Is there someone else out there that I should/could be having him treated by? Is Parker getting the right amount of therapy? Do I need to change her preschool to one that will be more accommodating to her needs? What can I be doing at home to help her? What am I doing at home that is potentially exacerbating this and how do I know the difference?

    IMG_5074When Parker was little, before Owen came along, I remember wringing my hands over whether or not to change pediatricians… The differences likely being subtle between the practices I was considering, I’m looking back now at that naive woman who thought she had a really difficult decision and chuckling sadly. Now, making a decision to change practitioners for Owen could mean the difference between him walking or not – and if so, with or without a limp. If I choose the wrong therapist, I am taking the risk that he will not have full use of his hands, or speak properly, or eat solid foods before he’s five. I try as hard as I can not to think about the immense implications of the decisions I make on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, but the truth is still there – these seemingly small decisions have gigantic consequences down the road.

    I do not want to put aside my partner in this – Scott. He is incredible and is definitely in on all of the major decisions, and about a million more of the minor ones than he likely needs to be. He is my anchor, but I steer the ship. I am their mother. I am home all day long with them, making all of the microscopic decisions, that individually might not make a difference, but as a conglomerate likely will.

    I am doing the best I can, and maybe – just maybe – it’s more than just good enough. Maybe, it’s just plain good. Somehow, though I’ve been hearing it for months now from other people, hearing it from Rachel makes me a little bit closer to believing that it might be true. If she was just saying it to make me feel better, well, she can go f**k herself.

     

    photo-8Jamie Krug is a stay-at-home-mom with a full-time job as the CMO (Chief Medical Officer) of her family. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post where she is a regular contributor. She is mother to an inquisitive daughter named Parker and the mischievous-grinned Owen.Her blog, http://www.OurStrokeOfLuck.net, tells the story of her family’s day-to-day struggles and triumphs in the wake of the devastating and still largely misunderstood rare diagnosis her son received at birth.She prides (embarrasses?) herself by stating out loud what other mothers may feel but wouldn’t dare say…You can follow Jamie on Twitter @OurStrokeOfLuck or on her Facebook Page for Our Stroke Of Luck.

  • Big Girl Friendships

    Vicky

    We love today’s essay from Vicky Willenberg of The Pursuit of Normal. Vicky’s writing style is so unique and relatable, and  her thoughts on how friendships change through the years really resonated with us. How have your friendships evolved since childhood? Did you have a “grown-up” friend who helped you navigate new motherhood?

    I was 8 years old the first time I made the walk from the bus stop to my house in tears because I was being made fun of by my “best friend” and the crew that picked her side in our latest argument.  It was less than 2 weeks later when it was my turn to be on the “winning side” as she made the same walk of shame.

    I was 15 when my high school friend returned from studying abroad for the summer and didn’t call me as soon as she unpacked.  She didn’t call for over a week, as a matter of fact.

    I was 20 when my college friend hooked up with a guy I met earlier in the night and then proceeded to tell me she did it knowing I’d forgive her because that’s just how I am.

    I was 22 when a misunderstanding led to 15 years of no communication with someone who was one of my closest friends and had a starring role in my best memories of college.

    In between all these painful memories are years and years of laughter and fun times. I had wonderful friends and great experiences. But these friendships all felt so fragile- like they would break under the slightest weight of judgment or mistakes. I couldn’t help but wonder if it would always be like this.

    I was 23 when I met my first grown up best friend.  It changed the way I defined friendship forever. What’s the difference between little girl friendships and big girl friendships?  The difference is everything.  When I reflect on the little girl relationships of my past, they hang on hooks of laughter, sleepovers, silly arguments, crushes and broken hearts, and ever-changing cliques.  They are no less valuable than the friendships of a big girl and they served their purpose in defining who I am. However, we were children, so our friendships were founded on childish things and in turn, they lacked depth.

    At 23, the friendship I developed was built upon the things of grown ups: faith, marriage, relationships and career. I was no longer working through how to define myself nor experimenting with philosophies.  It was time to take who I was and turn it loose on the world. This was a scary time for me.  I was picking a career, not a job.  I was getting married, not deciding whether or not to give someone my phone number. The risks were bigger and the cost of failure was greater. This was the time in my life that I needed the best people on my side. Those who would cheer for me when I succeeded, encourage me when I was losing faith and catch me when I fell.

    Just a year or two ahead of me in most things, my grown up best friend had the wisdom of someone with experience and the understanding of someone who had only recently been through it.  She helped me through newlywed fights and decorating first homes, “we hired someone else” and “why doesn’t he just know what I need”. And we had loads of fun- yoga, Spin, kickboxing, pedicures, weekend BBQ’s and introducing the husbands. The two of us became the 4 of us which quickly became a lot of us as we shared friends and brought in new people. All grown ups with grown up lives and grown up friendships.

    I was 29 when I had my first child.  I was not the first of my grown up friends to have a baby, nor was I the last.  But it was MY first child and I was overwhelmed.  Nothing prepared me for all the parts of my life that would change.  I knew sleep would become a distant memory as would my waistline. I expected the strain on my marriage as roles and expectations were defined, redefined and then redefined again.  I was prepared to mourn the loss of my career while embracing the choice to stay home.  What I did not expect, what I was not prepared for, was feeling the heavy burden of responsibility that came along with becoming a mother.  For me, it was crushing.  Every decision, no matter how trivial, felt monumental and I felt like I had to “get it right.”  Whether it was sleep training or nursing, playgroups or discipline- it all felt so incredibly big, so incredibly impossible.

    However, I was not alone in this.  The burden wasn’t solely mine.  I had a wonderful husband who, although often confused about why I was so upset, encouraged and comforted me.  I had a mother who supported and educated me. But most important, I had a grown up best friend- my person. And my best friend knew me- truly knew me.  This was the friend with whom my fears and frustrations could be laid bare.  This was the friendship that kept my head above water with encouraging words and a frustrated “calm down” when necessary.  This friendship was the safe place within which I could release frustrated tears and whisper my greatest fears- I didn’t love being a mom and I think there might be something wrong with me.  This was the voice on the other end of the phone that told me I was normal, everyone felt like me, I wasn’t a bad mom and it was ok if I needed help. This friendship was authentic and reliable. It was my safe harbor in the storms of life.

    The little girl friendships of my youth were not built on unfiltered honesty, unwavering loyalty and fierce protection. In fact, many of those friendships never survived the challenges of the grown up world.  It was the big girl friendship developed in the grown up world of marriage and solidified through the universal battles of motherhood that was my strength when life felt too big and too much to handle.

     

    Vicky Willenberg is a wife, mother and wannabe writer who lives in Southern California. You can find her chronicling her adventures in raising two kids while still growing up herself on her blog The Pursuit of Normal and on Facebook.

     

  • Friendship, Immigration, and New Motherhood

     

    November 2012 044LR

    We are thrilled to be featuring a  HerStories friendship essay today from Katia of IAMTHEMILK. Both of us are big fans of Katia’s writing; Stephanie considers her to be a true “kindred spirit” in the blog world, and is grateful to have made a real connection with her. Katia writes beautifully and honestly about motherhood. Enjoy her essay about finding friendship after immigrating to a new country. 

     

    My mom recently read an article about good and bad money karma. She called me from overseas, all excited because life was making so much more sense all of a sudden. There’s one thing I know for sure, without relying on any articles. I’ve got a kickass friendship karma. Yes, my friendship karma can kick another friendship karma’s ass. Is that where I say that the irony’s not lost on me? Because I’ve been waiting to use that.

    Six years ago I’ve moved from Israel to Canada. Despite growing up in a family of immigrants there were still certain aspects of my own immigration that I wasn’t completely prepared for when I relocated. Granted, I knew it was going to be lonely at first, but I didn’t know what shape exactly this loneliness was going to assume. My husband and I had each other and two couples of friends who had moved here prior to us, but during those first days it felt, more than anything else, very much like being stranded on a deserted island. Realizations started pouring in: the phone wasn’t going to ring nearly as often. I wasn’t going to run into anyone I knew on the street or on the subway. In fact, being amongst the masses on public transit was when I felt my loneliest, looking at hundreds of faces, knowing without any doubt that I wasn’t going to recognize any of them. And that’s when friendship Karma stepped in.

    My friends and family back home took on the role of a support group, some of them serving as my long distance cheerleaders, others as life coaches, therapists, stylists, and occasionally even as my book club.

    And then something truly remarkable happened. I’ve met not one but five instant friends. I don’t want to talk about birds, stones and killing in a post about friendship, but you catch the drift. Friendship Karma really outdid herself on that one. An invitation extended to me and five other women through an online meetup group by a stranger to her house outside the city (with a two hour commute), did not end up on Unsolved Mysteries, ending instead in one of the most rewarding experiences I could have wished for. Knowing that I came to a new country and built such strong relationships from scratch was one of my proudest achievements. Stepping way outside of my comfort zone and joining a meetup group in the first place was empowering. Realizing I have Friendship Karma on my side was gratifying.

    My newborn friendships created a home for me in a strange country. The sea of unfamiliar faces became a harmless background, a non issue, a screensaver.

    And two years later there was a newborn who brought about unimaginable joy and fulfillment, and a maternity leave that brought about a newborn loneliness. My parent friends were scattered in the far ends of the city, my non-parent ones were incredibly supportive but often busy with work and school and all of a sudden I was that new comer girl missing her mommy again.

    You can get a dog and read as many parenting books as you’ll find and you still won’t be prepared for the totality of this experience, the overnight not life change but change of a life, your new 24/7 job that comes with no training. But once again Karma had my back. Through Gymboree, where I was taking my baby son for Mommy and Me classes, and through another online meetup group, New and Expecting Moms – Toronto, I had instant advisors: amateur lactation consultants, self taught early childhood educators, non certified nutritionists, behavioural psychologists all of them right there, within an arm’s reach, available for an email exchange regarding what to do when your 8-month-old freaks himself out not being able to sit back down, or for a coffee and vent session about sleep deprivation, not to mention the same support group back home providing long distance help because babies sleep deprive everywhere.

    Being a new mother can be a lonely experience. Being a new mother without your family in a new country or city can be even lonelier. Maybe your friendship karma isn’t great, but it doesn’t mean you can’t call on the friendship fairy or pray to the friendship Goddess. Either way they won’t help those who won’t help themselves. If you are lonely, step outside of your comfort zone; take it from me, sign up for an online meetup group and as many forums as you can. You may not meet your soul mate, but you’ll find support. Moms are good like that. And if that doesn’t help, email me, I’ve been there.

     

    Katia is a mother of two boys, 4 Year Old and 9 Month Old. She writes about them and occasionally about her husband, 36 Year Old. Currently on mat leave, she’s fulfilling a lifelong dream to write and make people laugh. And sometimes cry, which was not her dream nor intention. She was published on: Scary Mommy, AOL Parentdish UK, Mamapedia and Life Well Blogged. The serious stuff Katia writes about includes immigration, fertility, miscarriage. Visit her blog at IAMTHEMILK.

     

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  • How Personality Type Affects Your Mothering Style

    Motherhood can be overwhelming and discouraging in many ways. We can be so consumed by our “mistakes” that we often lose sight of the things we are doing right with our children. As parents, I think it can be difficult to take a close look at our personal strengths and weaknesses; we are bombarded with choices from everything to our parenting philosophy (attachment, free-range, etc) to our schooling decisions (Montessori, public schools, homeschooling) to how we feed our baby (breastfeeding wars, anyone?). Sometimes we forget about the things we innately bring to the table as parents: our temperaments and our personalities.

    I have found it to be both fascinating and helpful to identify some of my most prominent traits, both positive and negative, and apply them to how I function as a parent. For example, I would describe myself in general as sensitive, passionate, affectionate, emotional,  communicative, and introspective.

    On the positive side of the spectrum, these qualities make me a nurturing, affectionate, joyful, self-aware parent who is quite effective at emotional processing and imparting knowledge.

    On the flip side, I am also moody, overreactive, overly sensitive, and selfish at times. This manifests by me losing my temper when I am frustrated, and becoming overstimulated by the chaos that occurs naturally with young children.

    I thrive when it comes to hugging, snuggling, and rocking my children. I am quick to kiss boo-boos, sing songs to my children, read with them, and share the wonder of experiencing life together. It is easy for me to connect emotionally with my daughters.

    100_1578However, I often struggle with the more physical aspects of parenting: wiping bottoms, learning over to put a squirming child in her carseat, chasing an uncooperative child: the constant bending, bending, bending overwhelms me. I am also uncomfortable with imaginative play.

    While reflecting on these observations is interesting, it didn’t really get me anywhere. Then I hit the jackpot. I found the book: MotherStyles: Using personality types to learn to parent from your strengths, by Janet P. Penley. This book employs a philosophy based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory to help mothers understand how their personality type shapes their unique styles as parents. Penley writes,

    “According to many psychologists, we are happiest and feel most fulfilled when we are using our strengths. Understanding your personality type can help you identify your natural strengths as well as your personal path to success in mothering and in life.”

    Many of us are familiar with the Myers-Briggs assessment tool: There are 4 key areas that are determined, resulting in sixteen different categories:

    • Extraversion or Introversion (E/I)– where do you focus your attention and get your energy?
    • Sensing or Intuition (S/N)– what information do you attend to most?
    • Thinking or Feeling (T/F) – how do you make judgments/decisions?
    • Judging or Perceiving (J/P) ­– how do you like your outer world structured?

     If you haven’t ever taken the Myers-Briggs assessment, I highly recommend it. It is a fascinating process, and although there are many different factors that contribute to person’s overall nature, understanding our personality types can inspire a great deal of self-awareness. Visit the Myers-Briggs website for more information.  There are several quizzes online, including this one that describes how personality style affects your mothering style. The MotherStyles website has a very short quiz to assess your style, and provides some great insights.

    I happen to be an ENFJ, which makes me extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. Here is what MotherStyles has to say about my particular type as it pertains to mothering: ENFJ is the “Heart to Heart Mother.” Penley explains,” Expressive and warm, the ENFJ mother is adept at talking about personal concerns, both her children’s and her own.” Well, that pretty much hits the nail on the head!

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    She goes on to specify that these mothers are skilled at initiating heart-to-heart conversations with their children, providing an open forum for articulating feelings, and nurturing through affirmation, praise and encouragement.  It was both comforting and validating to hear my positive qualities summarized so concisely, but is was equally helpful to read the struggles that mothers of this type encounter.

    ENFJ moms often feel guilt when choosing between people and getting things done. They have difficulty backing off, and sometimes worry about being overbearing. ENFJ mothers may struggle with objectivity due to their own sensitivities to their children’s pain. Because she is emotionally expressive, she may fly off the handle. Suffice it to say, this assessment definitely resonated with me!

    I found it extremely helpful that in addition to discussing the strengths and struggles of each type, Penley offers some tips in the chapter of each specific type. For example, she comments that humor can be helpful to balance the natural intensity of the ENFJ mom. She also noted that this personality type benefits from daily peace and quiet to re-energize. Take that, mommy guilt!

    I also found it interesting to read about the personality types that are in direct contrast to mine. For example the ISTP type is known as the “Give ‘em Their Space” Mother, excelling at respecting a child’s privacy but struggling with providing emotional support. Definitely not my style. The ESTP mom is described by Penley as “active and spontaneous, the ESTP mother can turn ordinary life into a fun-filled adventure.” Hmm. Not so much.

    Other types are summarized as “The Giving” Mother- ISFP– who is a people pleaser above all else; The “Totally There” Mother- ESFP– who likes to give her children an immediate response; The “Happy Together” Mother- ESFJ– who thrives on the whole family being happy together; The “Responsibility” Mother- ISFJ– who has a serious love affair with her to- do list.

    Do you recognize yourself in any of these types? Keep in mind, there are 16 unique types, and many of us may recognize ourselves in several of them. Taking the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, or even the short quiz provided in the book,  is a fantastic way to get a feel for where you may fall on the spectrum.

    So what is the value of learning more about our personality types and mothering styles? When Janet Penely experienced her “aha” moment that began her journey to creating this book, she describes,

    “I had to reclaim myself in my mothering. It was time to stop turning outward for answers and start tuning in to who I was as a person. Right or wrong, I had to muster the courage to raise my children in my own very personal and human way.”

    She also mentions the fact that mothers are bombarded with information from well-meaning experts, instructing us with the supposed “right” way to parent. She asserts that moms need less advice and more support to find their own way, incorporating their own strengths and values. The Myers-Briggs assessment refers to our type “preferences” and “nonpreferences”, and Penley explains,

    “Consistently overusing our nonpreferences makes mothering difficult and draining.”

    One of my favorite sections of this book is the discussion on family dynamics; Penley breaks down how your type may interact with your spouse’s type, as well has how your type combines with those of your children. She discusses that mothers may connect more easily with one child, and clash with another, due to personality type differences. She also breaks down differences in preference between parents, and focuses in depth on how specific personality types interact within a marriage. I especially enjoyed the “My Husband Is My Opposite Type!” section.

    I found this book to be engaging, (I couldn’t put it down!) intriguing, (being a person who enjoys analyzing myself and others) and practical (filled with helpful tips and insights to apply to family life). Penley shares that her hope for readers is that they will learn to trust their strengths, gain confidence, be more accepting of their struggles, understand differences and minimize conflict with a spouse or child who has a different type, and strengthen family relationships. You can buy the book on Amazon here or visit the MotherStyles website for more information.

     

    So….what type are you?

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  • The Goats: A “Herd” Story of Friendship

    Our essay today comes from Kelly of My Soulful Home.  Have you ever belonged to a group of friends who encouraged you to try new things and take on new adventures that you would never do on your own?

    Freedom is the word I keep coming back to when thinking of my very special group of friends, the Goats.  The freedom to be adventurous; freedom to be exactly who we are; and freedom to laugh until it hurts.  We give each other those freedoms and so much more.

    DSC02430
    Mount Whitney

    The Goats are a group of moms, some of whom did not even know each other when we got together four years ago to climb Mount Whitney.  The climb was incidental to the experience, but by way of background Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.  None, except one, had ever climbed a mountain before September 17th 2009, but that is not the story.

    The story is the deep bond that was formed.  We started out as seven women and came down that steep mountain 17 hours later as a “herd”.  We have never looked back.

    The invitation to climb a mountain from a woman I knew only casually came out of nowhere.  As did the name “the Goats”.  It is not as if we were looking for a name.  While it all seemed random, the group, the climb, the name now I know it was destiny at work.

    DSC02454There is simply no way that this group just came together by happenstance.  This sounds kooky, but I believe we were destined to be brought together.  Nothing else in my mind can explain the indefinable, yet discernable dynamic that is evident even to other people.  Many have asked to join the group (ie herd), but you just can’t join.  It is not like that.

    In between mothering, marriage, car pools, volunteering and all the other domestic duties, the Goats have managed to not only climb Mt. Whitney, but also scale Half Dome, traverse the Grand Canyon (in one day because we had to be back for soccer), complete a triathlon and many lesser adventures in between.

    The in between is often the best part, as there is always a birthday to celebrate, white elephant gift exchange to laugh through, a show case house to tour and really any excuse to get together.

    With families, responsibilities, bills, laundry and all that, having the opportunity to leave our comfort zone by ourselves is rare.  As a ‘herd’ we do things we would never even think of doing.  The group energy is powerful, and we really feel we can do anything together.

    IMG_0507At a stage when life becomes predictable, friendships take a backseat and laughing so hard it hurts doesn’t happen all that often, I have found adventure, acceptance and side splitting silliness. The Goats have enhanced my life in so many ways.  I know they each have my back on the trail and off, and I have theirs.

     

     

    me-150x150Donning rose colored glasses while sipping from a glass 1/2 full of lemonade, Kelly navigates marriage, motherhood and the world at large.   Formerly an attorney, she is presently an Esty entrepreneur and new blogger always noodling on creative pursuits.  Kelly is a hunter & gatherer of all things vintage, rusty, charming & imperfectly divine.  Her home is her ‘castle’, and she relishes the time spent in it and working on it.  Never without a project in  mind, she seeks to create a home reflective of her heart, mind & soul & that of her family. Her website is My Soulful Home.