motherhood

  • 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.

  • 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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  • A Friendship Forged in the Crucible

    LM March 2013We are more than delighted to be featuring Lindsey Mead as this week’s HerStories contributor.  Jessica first became a fan of Lindsey’s writing on the Huffington Post, and then started reading her blog, A Design So Vast, obsessively.  Her writing is emotional, inspiring, reflective, poetic, and fiercely intelligent.  Today she tells us about her connection to another mother formed during the most challenging moments of new motherhood.

     

    I recently had lunch with a friend who walked beside me through some of the most difficult months of my life.  We lost touch for several years, and now see each other only sporadically.  But even without frequent contact, we are close and always will be.

    Our bond is a formidable alloy forged in the crucible of bewilderment, fear, and wonder known as postpartum depression. We met shortly after our first children were born (5 weeks apart, and we improved that with 2nd children born only 4 weeks apart). We instantly recognized in each other both a spirit struggling in the dark woods of despair and a glimmer of our similar, joyful former selves. We knew that not only did we have a lot in common right this second, but we had had a lot in common in the past and would again in the future.

    And we were right. It was such a relief to have a friend like her, a friend who was so unabashedly fun, even in a time when we had both lost hold of anything resembling fun. She made me laugh, long and loud, every day. We experienced together for the first time the pleasures and trials of working part time, of growing babies and pureeing vegetables, of nursing bras and drool-soaked shirts. I remember sending her post-it notes with hand-drawn pictures and funny messages on them, and that we both found “If you aren’t living on the edge, you are taking up too much room” to be the height of hilarity.

    Underneath the fun, there was also deep connection and identification. I’ve never had a friend with whom I connected so quickly; it felt as as though she was the person I’d been looking for for so many years. We had so many points of connection, so rapidly, and the ease with which we fell into each others’ lives is something I still find notable.

    I wrote her a letter on her son’s first birthday and she gave me a photo album with pictures of us and our children when Grace turned one.   We learned, together, to be mothers, and we fought, more desperately than our playful and tipsy exteriors let on, to maintain some sense of ourselves as individuals as we made this most essential passage.

    We strolled for hours, we wore matching tank tops, we went to yoga, we sang along loudly to Bruce Springsteen at Fenway, we drove golf carts drunk in the dark, and we skinny-dipped in the ocean, clothing and inhibitions shed together on the beach. It was tangible, the gradual sense of lightness that came over each of us as we climbed out of the dark place and towards the light. Our journeys were independent but we made them side by side.

    We shared wine and diapers and clothing and birthdays and tears and emails and phone calls and pedicures and friends and stories and a celebratory lunch for our second pregnancies. I buckled her son into her mother’s car for his first night away from her, and brought her dinner and a bottle of wine the day she brought her second child, a daughter, home from the hospital.  The last person I saw before having my second child, a son, was her husband, when he brought over a folding bed that we borrowed for a night nurse.  I cried into her voicemail when I heard her second baby was a girl and cried reading her thoughtful message after my son’s nut allergy diagnosis.

    Our roots are deeply intertwined.  Whenever we’re together I can feel past and present – and future – overlapping like soft waves on a beach.

    The tide goes in, the tide goes out.

    One minute we are holding each other’s babies in a slew of side-by-side photographs and the next we’re watching those children barrel down a black diamond ski slope ahead of us.   Those children, now 10 years old, were each others’ first friends, and their lives beat like a pulse through all my memories of this unique friendship. Though they don’t know each other anymore, their bonds endure, even if only in my mind: it makes me irrationally happy that they were, unbeknownst to each other, Harry Potter and Hermione Granger the same Halloween.

    She holds in her hands so much of that first intense year of motherhood, when we were so tired we felt we had sand in our eyes, when we were so disoriented and shell-shocked we thought we would never stand upright again. And now that we are, we talk all the time about that time apart from real life.  We miss the wild magic of those days.

     

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    Lindsey Mead is a mother, writer, and financial services professional who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and son.  Her work has been published and anthologized in a variety of print and online sources.  She writes daily at A Design So Vast and can be found on Twitter (@lemead)

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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!

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    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.

  • Ping!: How Social Media Saved My Friendship

    We’re so delighted to include a friendship essay from Allison of Go Dansker Mom.  She writes about why friendships can actually flourish with the help of social media.  When new mothers have little time to sustain old and new friendships, social media can help us keep connections with those we care about.  Have you ever had a friendship thrive or reignite online?

    Here’s Allison:

    I don’t keep friends well. 

    I am a stubborn, loyal Scorpio who hates loss and distance but I’m also not the type of person who keeps a close-knit group of friends for life. (I never was in a sorority for a reason.). 

    I am not sure why I have this flaw.  Maybe it is because I was a military brat through elementary school; maybe it is because I went to three different high schools and three different colleges; maybe it is because I really, truly love meeting new people and get excited to hear new stories; maybe it is my sense of adventure that causes me to move on too fast; maybe it is because I hate feeling like a friend is clinging to me or too needy. (I’ll just let you down, I am sure.).  Whatever the reason (to be discovered only by means of a psychologist’s couch, I am sure), I never wore half of a BFF heart necklace.

    I get caught up in this fact sometimes, and it brings out the ugly in me: jealousy, a little depression, and a lot of self-doubt.  Why don’t I have a group of five friends I sit around a coffee shop with all the time, or a gang of four friends I always meet at a small bar in NYC?

    Yet inevitably when I start to get this way I immediately get a “PING” and a GChat message from the one person who can rescue me from the dark thoughts: Kathy.

    Kathy and I met in elementary school.  In middle school, my parents had me follow my brother and moved me to a local Catholic school to finish out 7th and 8th grade.  In 9th grade I moved back in to the public high school system and I remember reconnecting with Kathy.  We shared the same wild and crazy English teacher.

    When I moved to a different state in 10th grade, Kathy and I kept in touch.  We WROTE LETTERS.  Gasp.  We wrote long letters, sent pictures, sent cards… I have a terrible memory and honestly don’t remember much — that’s why I blog now, it helps me remember — so honestly couldn’t say if Kathy and I were soul sisters when we lived a few miles apart.  But I do know that over the course of a pen pal relationship I confided in her things I didn’t tell others.  Something about the distance of paper, knowing that the words could not provoke an immediate reaction I might not want to see, made me feel safe.  And Lord knows, in the teenage times everyone needs a place to feel safe.

    Over the years she grew to know more about me than any one.  When the digital age made it even easier to connect (remember AOL IM?) we realized that we had even more in common: celebrity snark, online shopping, and career aspirations.

    Then we both had kids.  We had babies relatively close in age to each other.  Before pregnancy both of us confided in each other our fears, hopes, concerns, and worries.  Would pregnancy change us?  What about losing control of our bodies?  The Fashion – Lord, the fashion!  Were our husbands ready for this? 

    But we both jumped, holding each other’s hands in a virtual way.

    Then at the next fork in the road we went in drastically different directions: I decided to stay at home, she decided to stay at work.  I have seen this be divisive in many friendships, creating considerable coolness between once close friends.  After all, working moms and stay at home moms have different concerns, issues, and problems facing them.  Not one is more difficult than the other, they are just so, well, different.

    kd photob&wYet Kathy and I have made it.  Sure, we tend to talk past each other a little at times – me frazzled and just wanting to take a shower, her frustrated that she doesn’t get more support trying to do it all – but we are there for each other all the way.

    I wish I could share our tips with all the mothers out there: how to keep a friendship alive through the very different choices of motherhood.  But I don’t know why we work.  I think it has to do with our deep history.  I think it has to do with our personalities. (We have an ongoing joke that I am like her husband and she is like mine so we clearly know how to handle each other).  I also think it has to do with the fact that we have never been the sort of friends that get together all the time, vacation together, or talk on the phone.  Our friendship grew out of written forms of communication and those forms keep it alive today.  Accordingly, the fact that neither of us has time to talk on the phone at night changes nothing at all.  It isn’t a missed ritual because it was never an expectation to begin with.

    Some day Kathy and I are going to girls’ trip; we always have fun when we are together.  Her humorous sarcasm, honesty, and ability to put down a good margarita make me love her company all the time.  But we know how to maintain our friendship until all the pregnancies, baby birthing, breast feeding, and toddler-demands are finished.  Then it’s Chicago Or Bust.  I do know that until then I will always be hooked in to my social media platforms, waiting for that daily “PING.”

    Allison Carter 11-2012edit

    Allison is a freelance writer who maintains numerous website but talks most freely at Go Dansker Mom (godanskermom.com).  She is a SAHM living the good life amongst all boys and loves to share the laughter, struggles, and love.

     

     

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