Parenting Through the Storm: Interview and Giveaway

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 4.29.10 PMOver 8 years ago, I strolled with my newborn through the book aisles at Chapters. Blurry-eyed and over-caffeinated, I spied The Mother of All Parenting by Ann Douglas. After flipping through a few pages, I bought it and read it within a few days. The advice from parents and herself were invaluable to me as a new mom.

Ann’s latest book, Parenting Through the Storm: How to Handle the Highs, the Lows and Everything in Between is out this week. It covers things I wish I had known when my youngest was born. If you have ever wondered how to help your family and yourself through the confusing waters of labels, IEPs and more, get a copy today.

I had the opportunity to chat with Ann about the journey of why she is the best person to write this resource. Bonus, I had a chance to be interviewed for the book too. Talk about full circle!

Why did you feel this was the right time to write this book?

While I could see the need for a book like this one a decade ago, back when I really needed it, it wasn’t the right time for me to write the book. I needed to get some distance from the struggles that my four children were experiencing at the time in order to be able to do justice to the issues involved. It would have been too difficult to write this book at the same time that I was living out the experiences.

As it turned out, there was an advantage to writing the book now as opposed to writing it then. Waiting a decade to write the book has made it possible for me to write it from the vantage point of a family that has struggled, but that is thriving today. It feels good to be able to write this book from a place of hope and healing.

Is the book better read from cover to cover?

This is the kind of book that you can dive in and out of—a necessity, given its audience. If you’re a parent of a child who is struggling, you may want to zero in on the specific sections of the book that are most likely to be of greatest help to you right now—and then go back and fill in the gaps later on. Fortunately, I had a great editor, who helped me to organize the book in the most parent-friendly manner possible. She also ensured that the book has a detailed table of contents and a really comprehensive index—essential tools for stressed and exhausted parents.

What can parents experience when attending your workshops?

As you can see from my website, I will be speaking at a variety of different types of events – and to a variety of different types of groups – throughout 2015. In some cases, I’ll be delivering intimate workshops for a very small group of people. In other cases, I’ll be delivering a keynote address in a large theatre or auditorium. And I’ll also be delivering some workshops online. Regardless of the format or the audience, I hope to provide parents with practical strategies that will allow them to start making life better for themselves and their families, starting right now, while offering a couple of key messages of support and reassurance: “You’re doing the best that you can in a difficult situation” and “You are not alone.” Parents need to know that having a child who is struggling doesn’t make them a bad parent – just as being a child who is struggling doesn’t make their child a bad child.

What advice do you have for parents at the beginning of the storm?

Parents need to know that things can get better – a whole lot better, in fact. All four of my children have vastly exceeded my hopes and dreams for them, which feels pretty wonderful. Here’s a link to an article I wrote about how one of my children is now thriving in the world after struggling during his younger years.

And here’s another article about another one of my kids – how he is thriving as a young adult after having a really tough time when he was younger.

They also need to know that there is help available (although it isn’t always easy to access) and that seeking support from other people who truly understand is critical to weathering the storm.

What is next for you?

I am going to be spending a lot of time talking about this book. I am going to be speaking at a lot of mental health and educational conferences across the country during the months ahead. And I’ll be continuing to team up with non-profit mental health and educational organizations that are working to make the world a better place for families.

I’m also going to continue to be continuing to update the books in my The Mother of All book series. Third editions of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and The Mother of All Baby Books are due out this year, and I’ll be diving into the revisions for The Mother of All Toddler Books and The Mother of All Parenting Books after that.

And, last but not least, I’ll be working really hard at maintaining my own mental health and physical health. This requires a conscious effort on my part every single day, but it is so worth it.

Thank you Ann for taking the time to chat and putting together an amazing book for parents!

The book is available at major bookstores and online.

I am giving away a copy to one lucky reader. Leave a comment by February 5th, 5pm PST about what your biggest parenting challenge is these days for the chance to win. Winner will be chosen by random.org. Canadian only.

Angels Around Us: Thank you 1,000 Families.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 8.47.45 PMWe had the pleasure of appearing www.thenewfamily.com.

Thank you 1,000 Families for letting us share our story.

 

 

They are looking for your story. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.

Mom’s Money Sense: Thank you, Mom.

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I watch my seven-year-old daughter count out her money from her piggy bank. She has piles of coins and a few bills in front of her on the kitchen table. For months she has been saving for an Angus stuffed animal from the Disney Store. The black and white horse is the companion to Merida, the redheaded princess from the movie Brave.

 

That flick has been on constant loop ever since the disc was released for home viewing.  From birthdays, Christmas money and odd jobs around the house, she focused on saving up since she first saw him in the store.  It reminds me of when I was her age saving for the latest Barbie doll.

 

Debit cards were far in the future during my childhood. My parents always provided my sister and I with everything. We never went without food or clothing or the latest VHS tape. My mom laid out the spending rules very early on. If I wanted something extra, like money to go shopping with my godmother for a special doll, I had to save up for it with my allowances, birthday and other money.

 

When I saved enough, I would put the money in my red heart change purse and go with my mom or godmother to the mall. I remember feeling so grown up taking the item off the shelf, walking up to the cashier, and placing the item on the counter so the clerk could ring it up on the till. It would then display the total after tax, and I would count out my money carefully. I needed to show how grown-up I was even at that young age.

 

I recall watching in wonderment as the cashier count back my change. I still got money back!! I took the bag from the clerk and walked out with my godmom feeling so proud. When I got back home I would show my mom all what I got, show her the receipts and count back the change to show her I knew where every last cent went. What really clicked for me is that she would thank me for showing her how responsible I was. Then, (I will never forget this) she would tell me to take the change and put it in my piggy bank. I still got to buy something and get money back!

 

That was one of the sticking lessons I learned from her. It is okay to spend once and awhile on something you really want. It is also smart to save too. You never know what may come up where you will need money. That is probably why I never got a credit card until I was in my mid-twenties. I only got it because I was tired of being asked for a second piece of identification.

 

I am bursting with pride that my oldest daughter is learning from a lesson I gained from my mom. By spending the hard-core dollars instills the money is spent visually and not by a swipe of a bankcard. I don’t have many lessons to share with my daughters about the grandmother they never knew. This is one that will help them for life. Thank you, Mom.

Motherless Moments is now on Facebook

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 1.00.57 PMJust when you think you are out, they pull you back in. Just before Christmas I was planning on pulling the plug on my website. Life has had my hands full. Then, I received two lovely emails from readers. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.

When I began writing in this space it filled a void for me. I searched to find other motherless moms who are both struggling and thriving in life. I devoured Hope Edelman’s books: Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers. Those two books are filled with stories of people like me.

 

I am kicking things up a notch for 2015. After much procrastination, I now have a page on Facebook. It is my hope that you might stop by and join the conversation of motherless daughters and mothers like you.

www.facebook.com/MotherlessMoments

 

 

One Word for #2015

IMG_1468The buzz around the web, and content ninjas, this past week is to pick a word rather than resolutions for the New Year. Words like: passion, inspire and dare are just a sample to live a best year.

I never participate. I try the non-goals by making goals every birthday. I have a dream bucket list. Some of those things have been crossed off. 2014 represented another health rollercoaster in my life and some people near and dear to me. So, for 2015 I decided to switch gears and find my word.

Relief

Relief to get the surgery done.

Relief to have the doctor say it went well.

Relief to have the doctor say that they got it all.

Relief to go home to my family.

Relief to continue watching my girls grow up.

Relief to open the laptop and tell my story.

Relief to not sweat the small stuff.

 

What is your word for 2015?

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With Gratitude 2014, Thank You.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 8.47.45 PMThis year has been full of challenges. Yet, I can’t stop feeling a sense of gratitude. Here is why:

Autism

Autism lives here. It entered our home over 3 years ago and hasn’t left. Thanks to the stringent government funding, I scrambled to utilize every last nickel my youngest daughter could get before she turned 6. Her funding started at $22,000 per year, until she turned 6. When she turned 6, 2 months ago, her funding went down to just $6,000. Because you know, autism is fixed by 6…. Now don’t get me wrong, her school team is fantastic! I am so grateful for all the amazing people that are making her Grade 1 experience the best possible. I am also grateful that her home team kept 3/4 of the original members. But, she needs more qualified help that we just don’t have the funds for.

Big Sis

After having a glorious year with both kids in the same school, we made the oldest a priority when the opportunity to change schools came up. The school she moved to is better fitted to her needs. She, like me, doesn’t learn by the textbook and thinks outside of the box. One of the biggest mom guilts is that I don’t balance my kids’ needs enough. I am so grateful that she has an opportunity to thrive in an atmosphere that doesn’t know that she has a sib with special needs.

Early Summer Break

As I wrote earlier in June, the kids were out early due to a teachers strike. After our personal experiences with awesome teachers, it was hard to explain to my kids why they were done with school 2 weeks early.

After the initial unwinding happened, we got into a groove during the heat. I didn’t take on many jobs for work. It just wasn’t realistic to try to work with the kids expecting to have mom time. I didn’t blame them. I knew what it was like to want your mom.

Health Wake Up Call, Again

While the girls started their summer vacation, my thyroid became infected. It was all I could do to take them to the backyard to play with friends.

One good thing with having a crappy family history is that I got in to see a specialist fast. Lumps were biopsied and blood work drawn. As of this writing, they are still benign and surgery will happen in the New Year.

I am grateful to be in Canada for health care and receive help in a timely fashion.

Time For Me

When school started by the end of September, I found myself in the home alone again. It had been ages since I walked into the house to a quiet noise. I found myself a little lost and started several things without finishing. I began to make lists to include time for me to do what the doctor said–stop and self care. I began to relish in enjoying a cup of coffee in one sitting while it was STILL hot!

The kids adjusted to their new school years, and the oldest settled into her new school very well. I began to breathe. I let go of my compulsion to read and stopped turning the page, and then began writing on the page instead.

I started to hit send, small steps that were ( and are) huge in my heart. I am grateful to be here to experience it all.

 How was your 2014?

Wishing you and yours all the best in 2015.

xo

Open Letter To The Public #BeKind

Santa Claus

Dear Customer,

I am standing behind you with my youngest child while you rant to the clerk on why isn’t the hottest toy in stock days before Christmas. The strain on the clerk’s face makes me want to jump in her defense. Yes, the crowds are crazy busy. Yes, Christmas is soon. Taking your stress out on the clerk is not cool. That clerk probably has been working all day with barely a bathroom break.

My sympathy for her and all clerks is personal. For fifteen years, I clerked in malls everywhere throughout the Christmas season. Many times there were so many customers that I couldn’t take my lunch or a coffee break to pee. It was how it had to be.

Hearing customers rage why we were out of an item days before Christmas made me boil. Christmas comes the same time every year. That is not new. The staffs in the stores are on the front lines. The supply and demand in retail is very tricky. That is up to the corporate headquarters and the buyers. It is not the clerks, whom make (in most cases) minimum wage.

I hug my daughter tight as he leaves in a huff. I take my turn at the counter and pass over my items to purchase. I give the girl a smile and tell her she is doing fine. I remark that she handled herself well with that customer. She thanks me. She tells me it is her first job and feels daunted.

As my purchases are bagged I smile at her and remind her soon, the holiday will be gone. She laughs a tired laugh and agrees. As I leave I grab a comment card and fill it out about the wonderful calmness I witnessed. I do not know if it will make a difference. I remember getting customer accolades after the fact. It motivated me to keep smiling.

So to all customers, please be kind. It isn’t about getting the latest cool toy last minute. It is about spending time with loved ones. There are many who do not get that opportunity.

Be kind. Happy Holidays.

Love,

Me

A 15 year Christmas Retail Survivor

Motherless Moms Surviving the Holidays

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This is the 30th Christmas I have spent without my mom will be here. For many years, I always felt like I was going through the motions of celebrating with the rest of the family. Opening gifts and singing Christmas carols were expected of me.  My heart was never into the day.

When I got married, Christmas was the one day off I had from my retail career. We would spend it staying at home, drinking specialty coffees and barbequing our festive dinner. We were tired of the non-stop driving and full houses where you made idle chit-chat with relatives that you only saw at Christmas. Many relatives made other plans or moved out-of-town. We were happy until we became parents.

Every Christmas since our older daughter was born, we have celebrated at home. My sister and her husband are our only guests.  I felt like they were missing out on the Christmas traditions that I knew as a kid.  Our Christmas is the opposite. It is filled with quiet houses and pajamas until noon. Playtime of movies on rotate as well as games echo the house all  day once the wrapping was cleaned up. I tell my girls stories about my mom and Christmas memories of my short childhood. I show pictures and point out the loved ones that have passed on.

Tears fill my heart when I am alone in a room longing for the void to be filled. I used to avoid the sorrow by pretending it wasn’t there. It was an elephant in the room. I know it is wrong now. Christmas or not I allow myself the permission to embrace the grief. It allows the pressure to be lifted. Somehow it lightens my mood. My shoulders don’t feel so heavy and I can begin to enjoy the moment that is today.

This is the world that my daughters know. It is my job to fill it with their legacy by making happy memories. When I feel sad about my mom I pick up a purse that was once hers. The smell of 1984 is gone but the strong nostalgia of when I used to see her with it remains in my heart and soul. As a result, my closet bursts with many,many purses that my daughters love playing dress up with as I did as a kid.

I begin to share my girls what reminds me of their grandmother. Sometimes we watch a movie that I used to watch with her. They each carry a part of her name.  The pain will always be there. I welcome the presence of her in my daily life. She is the grandmother to my girls. By talking about her helps me be a happier mother.  I keep her alive in the memories and the stories.

This Christmas will be the same relaxed holiday as ever. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones. May you make new traditions while enjoying the past ones.

Letters To My Dead Mother: The First Christmas

December 25th, 1984

Mommy,

It’s our first Christmas without you. There are little decorations up. Dad told me last week that you left a lot of bills so I could only pick one present. I had to help him pick a few things for my baby sister because she still believes in Santa Claus. I have not believed since last year so I really didn’t care. I just don’t care to celebrate anymore. On top of it all, we are at your parents’ house for Christmas because Dad had to work or he did not want us home. I don’t know what else to say so I will say Merry Christmas. I have to help set up for the big dinner tonight.

Love,

D