motherhood

  • So Glad They Told Me Book Club

    Let me be honest for a second: I have a love/hate relationship with book clubs. I love the idea, because book clubs combine things I absolutely adore: BOOKS (obviously), talking about books, connecting with friends and even other women I may not know well, the way the conversation always turns deeper to delve into our own lives . . . but I also hate it sometimes. The time commitment, the obligation, the fact that I have to, you know, put on regular clothes and leave my comfy couch right about the time I want to be winding down for the night. Not to mention the fact that only half of us have read the book and we either can’t talk about how it ends or someone winds up spoiling it.

    So at The HerStories Project, we’re going to do something we’ve never tried before, and we really want you to join us! During the month of October, we’re going to have a virtual So Glad They Told Me book club. In my opinion, it’s the best part of book club without the hassle or irritation. And it’s a whole month long, so if your baby ends up throwing up one night, you haven’t missed out on the whole thing! It’s a win for busy moms for sure.

    herstories-projectvirtual-book-club

    Here’s how it will work:

    For an entire month, we’ll be discussing So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood, in a Facebook group that all our readers can join. It will be super low-key and casual (we won’t blow up your Facebook notifications with hourly, or even daily, updates!) and it will give everyone a chance to ask questions of the authors, interact with them, invite our friends and family members– even the ones who live so far away we could never have a real book club with them!–and talk about the book, and motherhood, in a supportive online environment.

    We’ll post discussion questions, members can introduce themselves and virtually “meet” the authors, other readers, and maybe even moms who are in the same stage of parenting they are.  We can share which essays we’ve been reading, which ones resonated with us, and ask questions about the book to the editors (Jessica and I!), the contributors, and other readers. We’ll probably do a bit of storytelling, venting, laughing, and supporting each other as well. These things tend to happen when women connect over books and stories, right?

    One great thing about having an essay collection for book club is that there is SO much less pressure. There isn’t one gripping “storyline” or dramatic conclusion that you can’t talk about if you’re in different places. There are 60 essays, starting with pregnancy and babyhood and winding toward the teen years and even later. You can read at your own pace, jump in when we’re discussing an essay you’ve read or are reading, and tune out if we’re talking about a piece you haven’t finished yet. You can participate at your own pace, catch up during your lunch break or during naptime, or sneak in a comment or question while watching Netflix on the couch with your partner after bedtime.

    So we’d love for you to invite your friends, moms, sisters, and members of your local book club or moms’ groups to join us for a month-long virtual book club and discussion group. We’re going to have SO much fun! Book clubs, and the inevitable discussions that arise from them, always make me reflect on the things that I am most passionate about: my identity as a mother, friendship, feminism, relationships, parenting, and how unique and yet similar all our stories are.

    Click here to request to join our Facebook Book Club group, and if you haven’t already purchased the book, you can order a paperback or grab a Kindle copy right here. (Once you read the book, we’d really appreciate it if you left a review on Amazon or Goodreads!)

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    We’re so excited to meet you, read with you, and talk about motherhood and So Glad They Told Me together! We’ll officially start in October, but we’ll open up the group now for introductions! See you soon!

    ~Stephanie & Jessica

     

  • So Glad They Told Me Publication Day is Here!

    It’s finally here!! We’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of this book ever since we chose our fantastic contributors nearly a year ago, and the day has finally arrived! So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood is now available for purchase as a paperback or e-book!

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    We are so proud of the 60 talented contributors who shared their stories about motherhood with us, and we think there is something for every parent in these pages, whether you’re newly pregnant, immersed in the first year, raising teens, or experiencing a brand new empty nest.

    This book was inspired by our #SoGladTheyToldMe social media movement and viral essay; here is more info from the back cover of the book:

    In the increasingly competitive culture of modern motherhood, parenting advice can often be judgmental, unrealistic, or smug. Or sometimes, there isn’t anyone there to offer advice or support. Mothers may feel isolated and lack a support network to provide honest advice, and others may face a barrage of unwarranted, unhelpful tips or warnings.

    This collection of essays from 60 mothers will empower and unite parents with real, honest advice from women who have been there. These writers share the advice or support they received—or wish they had—on everything from pregnancy to surviving the first year to parenting teens to empty nest syndrome. Inspired by the viral essay and #SoGladTheyToldMe social media movement, this book aims to change conversations about motherhood by presenting a broader, more realistic, and more balanced image of motherhood so that women will feel less inadequate, adversarial, and isolated. So Glad They Told Me is filled with compassionate, honest advice, and the poignant, painful, and sometimes hilarious truths you wish your best girlfriends had told you about motherhood.

    And to give you a taste of exactly the type of supportive, honest advice you’ll read in this book, here are some photos of our contributors sharing their messages in their own words.

    This collection will share advice on surviving the early years of parenting:

    14045971_1098388620223828_7054636289806110149_n

    And work-life balance:

    13932684_1098382153557808_86847994578706347_n

    It speaks to the importance of finding a tribe and being there for other moms:

    13924936_1098372256892131_8323372958167355961_n

    And being honest with one another:

    14040108_1098371016892255_335358026752135790_n

    With so many fantastic contributors and a foreword by the incredible Ann Imig, founder of Listen To Your Mother, Jessica and I are bursting with excitement to release this book. We would love your support today! You can order a paperback or e-book here. Here are a few things you can do to help us spread the word and make our release day a success:

    We are having a Twitter party on Thursday evening at 9 pm EST to celebrate the book, interact with the authors, and share our own motherhood stories. We’d LOVE for you to join us. Use the hashtag #SGTTM and join us! Details here:

    14138329_10157279048855648_1370323123_n (1)

    We are so thrilled to finally share this book that has been over a year-and-a-half in the making. You can learn more about the project here. We can’t wait for you to read our contributors’ stories– we are so glad they shared them with us, and we think you will be, too.

    ~Stephanie & Jessica

  • Publication Day for So Glad They Told Me!

    It’s finally here!! We’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of this book ever since we chose our fantastic contributors nearly a year ago, and the day has finally arrived! So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood is now available for purchase as a paperback or e-book!

    motherhood-web1

    We are so proud of the 60 talented contributors who shared their stories about motherhood with us, and we think there is something for every parent in these pages, whether you’re newly pregnant, immersed in the first year, raising teens, or experiencing a brand new empty nest.

    This book was inspired by our #SoGladTheyToldMe social media movement and viral essay; here is more info from the back cover of the book:

    In the increasingly competitive culture of modern motherhood, parenting advice can often be judgmental, unrealistic, or smug. Or sometimes, there isn’t anyone there to offer advice or support. Mothers may feel isolated and lack a support network to provide honest advice, and others may face a barrage of unwarranted, unhelpful tips or warnings.

    This collection of essays from 60 mothers will empower and unite parents with real, honest advice from women who have been there. These writers share the advice or support they received—or wish they had—on everything from pregnancy to surviving the first year to parenting teens to empty nest syndrome. Inspired by the viral essay and #SoGladTheyToldMe social media movement, this book aims to change conversations about motherhood by presenting a broader, more realistic, and more balanced image of motherhood so that women will feel less inadequate, adversarial, and isolated. So Glad They Told Me is filled with compassionate, honest advice, and the poignant, painful, and sometimes hilarious truths you wish your best girlfriends had told you about motherhood.

    And to give you a taste of exactly the type of supportive, honest advice you’ll read in this book, here are some photos of our contributors sharing their messages in their own words.

    This collection will share advice on surviving the early years of parenting:

    14045971_1098388620223828_7054636289806110149_n

    And work-life balance:

    13932684_1098382153557808_86847994578706347_n

    It speaks to the importance of finding a tribe and being there for other moms:

    13924936_1098372256892131_8323372958167355961_n

    And being honest with one another:

    14040108_1098371016892255_335358026752135790_n

    With so many fantastic contributors and a foreword by the incredible Ann Imig, founder of Listen To Your Mother, Jessica and I are bursting with excitement to release this book. We would love your support today! You can order a paperback or e-book here. Here are a few things you can do to help us spread the word and make our release day a success:

    We are having a Twitter party on Thursday evening at 9 pm EST to celebrate the book, interact with the authors, and share our own motherhood stories. We’d LOVE for you to join us. Use the hashtag #SGTTM and join us! Details here:

    14138329_10157279048855648_1370323123_n (1)

    We are so thrilled to finally share this book that has been over a year-and-a-half in the making. You can learn more about the project here. We can’t wait for you to read our contributors’ stories– we are so glad they shared them with us, and we think you will be, too.

    ~Stephanie & Jessica

  • Introducing Our Foreword Author, Ann Imig!

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    We are getting SO excited about the upcoming publication of So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood. Our 60 + contributors are diverse, dynamic, and incredibly talented, and we absolutely can’t wait for you to read their words. So naturally, we had to find a foreword author who fit the mission of this project and further represented the gift of storytelling and honesty our contributors share. And one person instantly sprang to mind: Ann Imig, founder of Listen To Your Mother. I was honored to produce the 2016 Boulder show and previously participated in the casts of LTYM Denver and LTYM Boulder, and I can’t say enough about the gift that Ann and Listen To Your Mother have given women, families, and communities. If you aren’t well-acquainted with Ann and her work yet, let me be the first to introduce you!

    annheadshotAnn Imig is founder Listen To Your Mother, LLC, the storytelling series in 41 cities and video-sharing company. She is also editor of LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER:What She Said Then,What We’re Saying Now (Putnam & Sons, 2015). Ann’s writing appears on CollegeHumor, McSweeney’s, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post. TV appearances include ABCnews.com NBC Nightly News and the webseries Battleground (Hulu.com) and The Louise Log. Ann won the 2016 Iris Awards “Game Changer of the Year,” she’s a former Babble Top 100 Mom Blog/Top 50 Twitter Mom, A BlogHer #VOTY, and SheKnows Top 5 Funniest Mom. 

     

    We are SO honored to have Ann as the foreword writer for this essay collection; she truly is a game changer, and has done so much to give a voice to motherhood, representing all that is beautiful, painful, hilarious, and poignant about having a mother and being a mother. We can’t wait for you to read her words, and the words of our other contributors as they share stories that span pregnancy, infancy, the school-age and teen years, all the way through empty nest parenting. Our book releases next month– August 23rd– so make sure you have subscribed to our email newsletter to stay up to date!

    ~Stephanie & Jessica

    Other HerStories Project News:

    Create, Connect, Reflect (1) **Our newest online writing course, Create, Connect, Reflect: A Summer & Back-to-School Writing Program for Parents and School-Age/Tween Kids, is now open! Join us as we teach our kids a joy of writing and help them polish their craft, connect with them creatively, and give ourselves the space to reflect and express ourselves!

    Sign up today!

     

    **You can still take advantage of our spring/summer bundle and enroll in the self-paced versions of Publish Your Personal Essay and The Balanced Writer. Details here!

    **Our Voices column will be accepting submissions for September starting August 1st! Email our assistant editor Allie with your submission at herstoriesvoices @ gmail.com. Our September theme is friendship, and you can read full guidelines here.

  • Announcing Our Newest Writing Class–Create, Connect, Reflect!

    We are so thrilled to share our brand new online writing course! And we are doing something different this time– for the first time, we are offering a writing course that parents can take WITH their kids!

    Create, Connect, Reflect (1)

    This class is a great opportunity to connect with your school-aged/tween child in a creative way, and it’s just in time to help your child brush up on some crucial writing skills in a FUN way before school starts. So many of us want to keep our kids’ skills fresh during the summer months to prevent that dreaded “summer slide” and be back-t0-school ready, but let’s be honest: the break from homework is the BEST, and we don’t want to waste our summer weeks having power struggles and doing boring busywork with our kids.

    Enter Create, Connect, Reflect. The purpose of this course is to help refine your child’s writing skills while also giving YOU some space as a writer (professional author, published freelancer, blogger, or brand-new writer with a notebook full of poetry or short stories, or the mother with a daily/weekly journaling practice) to reflect on your writing journey as well as your parenting experience.

    This self-paced course is great opportunity to connect with your child through writing, give yourself a create outlet and reflect on your writing, and provide your child with some fun and useful exercises to keep their writing skills sharp and polished as summer wraps up. The course is designed for kids approximately ages 8-13, but you can absolutely adapt the exercises for kids who are younger or older. My almost-ten-year-old will be participating as my “assistant,” and there will be some great opportunities for our young writers to connect and interact with each other as well!

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    The best part? There is NO schedule at all. Sign up today, later this week, next week, or mid-August. The class is completely self-paced, which means you don’t have to “show up” at any specific time. You can write in your pajamas and give your kids their assignments to do while you’re desperately trying to get some work done or just enjoy an uninterrupted dining room coffee date with your best friend. Make the class work for you!

    Here’s what you can expect:

    • Week One: Why Do You Write?
    • Week Two: Getting Ready to Write and Setting Yourself Up For Success
    • Week Three: Getting Writer’s Block, Feeling Discouraged, and Taking Care of Yourself
    • Week Four: Telling Your Story
    • Week Five: Telling Your Family’s Story
    • BONUS CONTENT: Focus On Your Craft and Polish Your Writing

    Each week’s lesson will have exercises for each of the three components of the course: an opportunity for you as a mother/writer to create, an assignment for your child to complete independently, and an exercise to be completed with your child. You can start ANY TIME and take the class at your own pace.

    This class is for you if: 

    • You love to write
    • You want to share your joy of writing with your child *without* power struggles
    • You want your child to keep his/her writing skills sharp before school starts *without* spending a fortune on summer school or writing camps
    • You’re looking for a way to connect with your child creatively
    • You want to make time to reflect on your own writing life
    • You’d like to improve your own writing craft with revision and editing strategies, tips for more dynamic personal essays, writing prompts, readings, reflection, and connection with other writers.

    The tween years can be a tough time for communication and connection, and this class offers some fun, engaging writing prompts for you to do with your child including collaborative storytelling and journaling. Sometimes it’s easier to express ourselves on paper, and you may be surprised at the connection that comes simply through WRITING with your child!

    You can get full details for the course and sign up here. Remember, the course is now open so you can enroll any time and be immediately added to the class! I am so excited to write with you and your child this summer!

  • HerStories Voices: Good Morning Chaos

    I must admit, when I first read this week’s essay, I experienced a bit of anxiety. The events of Jackie Pick’s morning routine gave my heart palpitations, and yet I was also comforted by the fact that I am not alone. I don’t know how many times I have asked myself if my children thrive on chaos. For the record, this momma does not – not that that matters to anyone in my family. I think many readers will commiserate with Jackie. – Allie

    HerStories Voices

    We have routines. Bags packed the night before. Clothes laid out. A healthy breakfast every morning. Daily chores—the same ones each day. Consistency. We’ve been getting up and getting ready for school for years, and yet I’m not sure why so many mornings feel like we’re one missing library book away from total systemic failure.

    The goal? Leave the house prepared and ready to face the day at 8:15. This gives us plenty of time to get to school by the first bell at 8:25 without them racing to their classrooms and starting the day feeling behind.

    As morning shift supervisor cum breakfast chef/hair stylist, one cup of hot coffee is all I want in the mornings. The children seem to sense the best part of my waking up and horn in on this, no matter what time of day I’m percolating.

    Will today be the day our routines work for us?

    5:45 I rise, put on a pot of coffee, and make a plan to get the house organized before the rest of the family wakes up.

    5:46 Rest of family wakes up.

    5:47 Older children ask if they can help make their breakfasts.

    5:48 We mop up eggs that were accidentally dropped on the floor. I ask the kids to let me finish breakfast prep.

    5:50 Breakfast is served.

    5:51 Breakfast is over.

    5:52 The children disappear into corners of the house unknown, their whereabouts only hinted at by the occasional shrieks, giggles, and kerfuffles. My coffee is left untouched by timely requests for assistance with toothpaste, shoes, clothing, sibling disputes, forgotten homework, last minute projects involving dried pasta, friendship issues, questions about death, and dog walking.

    7:45 AM. I start the countdown.

    “Thirty minutes! You need to be in the car in thirty minutes! Are you dressed and ready to go?”

    “Yes!” they reply. I grab my coffee cup, reheat it, and head to my bedroom to throw on some clothes. I pause at the boys’ bedroom, which looks like a FEMA training site.

    “Kids! Do your chores!”

    They don’t respond, so I seek them out. One son has taken up refuge under a blanket to read. Another is in the basement with his sister, cracking open a paint set that, I note with horror, is not water soluble.

    “Boys and girl, please do your chores. And also,” I say to the one who has Jackson Pollocked his clothing, “Please change. We leave in 28 minutes.”

    “Okay.” There is no push back, but they move in slow motion. I urge them to put some pep in their step with a motivational tool I like to call, “The Raised Eyebrow.”

    8:00. Chores are completed due in no small part to my hovering over them like a gargoyle with morning breath.

    “We are leaving in fifteen minutes! Make sure you brush your teeth!” My youngest runs up to me and asks if I will braid her hair. I gaze as my coffee longingly as I divide her soft, wild curls into three sections.

    8:07 One son decides this is the perfect time to practice piano. His desire to improve his accuracy is evidenced by his playing those wrong notes repeatedly and loudly. I praise his persistence and turn away so he can’t see my nervous twitch.

    8:09 The other son informs me he can’t find a permission slip I need to sign, his hat, his shoes, or his “good” socks. We treasure hunt. It is not exactly a mother-son bonding opportunity.

    8:14 I call the kids for a final inspection. What had been, moments before, three dressed children, are now three piles of laundry with bare feet and questionable hairstyles. Faces have regrown fragments of last night’s barbecue sauce, and teeth are decidedly Hulk-ish: green and angry.

    “What are you doing? That’s not what you were wearing before.”

    “We changed.”

    “I see that. Where are the clothes you were wearing?” I don’t know why I bother to ask, I know exactly where these perfectly clean clothes are: in a heap on the floor three inches from the laundry basket.

    “You didn’t brush your teeth,” I say.

    “We did!”

    “With toothpaste?”

    They run to the bathroom.

    8:18 The three kids run back to the front hall where I am desperately pulling a floor-length parka on over my pajamas. They all tumble together in a giant whirlwind of feet and arms. I stop and hold each one, wiping tears and kissing boo-boos. We all take a deep breath. “It’s going to be a great day!” I say more to convince myself than to convince them. They are placated with their choice of Band-Aids.

    8:20 Our shedding dog rubs up against all the children to say goodbye, taking them from “rumpled-shabby” to “fuzzy.” The kids want to change clothes again; I offer them a lint brush that I keep handy for just such emergencies. They begin trying to lint brush each other, to their great amusement.

    “You have ten seconds to get in the car, or I’m going to school without you.” I grab a floppy hat and my husband’s Ray Bans to disguise my unkempt hair and tired eyes. I wonder what to do if those ten seconds pass. Will I have to drive to school and do a weird victory lap around the parking lot?

    I rattle the coffee mug that’s been in the cup holder since yesterday. There is a solid lump of coffee ice that is too far down in the mug for me to lick.

    The front door slams again as three children run out of the house, grinning and excited and without coats. I send them back inside.

    8:21 They come out with coats on, but without backpacks. Back they go.

    8:22 The children fly into the car, tossing their backpacks in the front seat to avoid getting the snow and ice on the car floor on their bags. I squeeze my shoulders together to try to steer without hitting a sharp notebook corner. Once I put the key in the ignition, there is a wall of sound that hits me. It’s not the radio; it’s my children, talking all at once, sharing all the details about their day yesterday. Details I tried in vain to pry out of them at dinner last night, to avail. Last night, everything was “fine.” Today, there are stories, sensory details, hopes, dreams, and subplots. Three at once.

    8:24 We make it to the drop-off lane. I pull around and about ten seconds before we get to the teacher whose job it is to open the car doors and get trampled by kids who are jumping out of the car, I ask the kids to gather their bags, unbuckle, and prepare to exit the vehicle. The door is opened with a smile. “GO GO GO!” I urge. I’m half cheerleader, half pit-crew.

    While my children tumble out of the car, they say a hurried “I love you!” without turning around. I choose to believe those sentiments are for me, even if they seem lobbed at the front door of the school. I’m ready to go home to finally enjoy my coffee and decompress when there is a tap on my window.

    One of the teachers wants to talk with me about something. She smilingly motions for me to pull over and step out of the car. There’s no way for me to convincingly act like I didn’t see or hear her, nor can I hide myself in the picnic basket in the back of the car.

    I sigh, pull over, and step out. The teacher hands me the permission slip form we’d searched for this morning. She goes over the form with me, line by excruciating line, all while I’m scanning the parking lot to see who is seeing me in an outfit that makes me look like Minnie Pearl’s Arctic chauffeur. Out of the corner of my eye I catch the sunlight dancing off the zipper on one mom’s bathrobe as she drives off, avoiding eye contact. I thank the teacher and race back into my car. From behind the slightly-tinted glass I truly look around the drop-off for the first time. Parents in pajamas. Parents dressed for work. Moms in athleisure wear. One dad in what I’m pretty sure is a nacho hat. A mom in a prom dress and mukluks. Someone else in jeans rolled just the right way. The children, though, are put together. They seem groomed, fed, rested, and for the most part, excited. They are ready to learn.

    That’s the goal, after all. We’ve all achieved it, by hook, crook, or pre-dawn wake up. With assistance, without assistance, with routines or without. The kids are here at school. One mom walks by my car, her daughter’s hand in her right hand, a novelty-sized mug of coffee in her left. I salute her and go on my way.

    This is the routine. And now that we’ve waged whatever battles we may have waged (with the kids, with ourselves, with a Pop-Tart wedged in the toaster), it is time to regroup and move on to the next task of the day. I feel a sense of solidarity and self-forgiveness.

    8:35 Back home, the house is a disaster, and I’m pretty sure my dog is trying to shame me. I put the coffee cup in the microwave again. I watch the timer count down and think complete and uninterrupted thoughts for the first time this morning. Do the kids thrive on chaos, perhaps? Is that the key? Is this just…normal to them?

    The microwave chirps merrily as my coffee is heated. I take the mug and curl my hands around its warmth. Maybe with small adjustments, our mornings can be peaceful and…

    The phone rings. My kids forgot their lunches.

    I grab my floppy hat and go. Maybe I’ll get to sneak a kiss in when I hand off the lunch bags to my kids in the office.

    Not that I’ve brushed my teeth yet.

    ************************************************

     

    Jackie Pick Photo 1 (2)Jackie Pick is a former teacher and current writer in Chicago. Her work has been featured on various parenting sites including Mamalode and Scary Mommy, as well as the literary art magazine Selfish. She is a contributing writer to the HerStories Project Anthology: So Glad They Told Me (Summer, 2016) and to Multiples Illuminated (Spring, 2016). She is the co-creator and co-writer of the upcoming short film Bacon Wrapped Dates and occasionally performs sketch and musical comedy in Chicago. You can follow Jackie on twitter (@jackiepick) and Facebook, where she mostly just apologizes for not updating her blog (jackiepickauthor.com).