Reinventing Ourselves

The School of Transracial Motherhood

Being on the cusp of turning 44 and trying to learn a new language has made me question my sanity. Being in school, again, I remember wishing I could do better, realizing I never understood what I thought I did and ultimately being disappointed in myself. My desire to do well was constantly chased with the overwhelming possibility I never would.

For me, school was a place to be social, learn my love of singing and fight with my anxiety for the first two weeks of every school year.

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The Mother’s Day Predicament for Stepmothers

Stepping Through Girl-with-No-Entry-SignModern-day Mother’s Day celebrations are an opportunity to pay tribute to our mothers and thank them for all their love and support. For stepfamilies, this day of appreciation of mothers and mother-figures can raise a whole lot of something – not all of it always good!

For many reasons, it can be difficult for children, even those with the most amicable of co-parents, to celebrate both their parents and stepparents on Mother’s/Father’s Day. Mother’s Day can highlight the most intractable problems between moms and stepmoms and leave children feeling like they are fighting the ‘Battle Royale’ of internal battles out in public for their whole world to see.

As a stepmother, being ignored by your stepchildren on Mother’s Day – well, it sucks. More so, if you have been in the picture for a long time and you do a lot of parent-like things for your stepchild. Putting yourself in your stepchild’s shoes and looking at the situation from their perspective might help take the sting out of being overlooked or ignored on Mother’s Day. While considering things from the child’s point of view, you might also find that their response towards you on Mother’s Day actually has little to do with you as a person or as a stepmom, but more about their own feelings and struggles. [Read More…]

Daily Pearls of Wisdom

Lydia and Caroline 2011

I can hear my cell phone blowing up. First a text, then endless ringing until it goes to voicemail. Trying to work on my novel and tune out distractions, I kick myself for neglecting the first rule of writing: turn off all devices.

Then, the landline starts to ring and it doesn’t take caller ID to know it’s my daughter with the tragedy du jour. I pick up, knowing that she’ll keep trying until she has to resort to calling her father. God forbid. He’ll dispense real advice. Taboo in the parenting manual.

That’s my 26-year-old daughter, calling in for her daily dose of moral support or to simply “kvetch.” When her life is going well, it’s a joy to pick up, but when it’s not… well, that’s when I need to be on my A-game. [Read More…]

Hormones, My Son, and Me

Jo-Ann Rogan and oldest sonThere are a ton of hormones swirling around in my house.  Suddenly what was once my tiny sweet smelling baby is now a 11-year-old young man with very decidedly offensive odors.  The changes are coming slowly.

He is still devoid of a manly voice and beard and although the changes are subtle, they are happening. I notice he is quicker to anger than he was a year ago.

He craves more independence and I find myself constantly pulling on the reigns of the boundaries I have created at home.

One of the biggest fights we struggle with is about him wanting to be out with friends after dark.  Although we live in a lovely neighborhood, we live in the city, and being a former wild child I know that nothing positive happens hanging out after dark as a preteen. [Read More…]

Five Tips to Reconnect and Grow the Roots Deep (With Your Adult Children)

Peggy and daughter

As our children grow up, it can sometimes feel as if they’re growing away from us.  We know they need to spread their wings, find themselves, and cut the apron strings, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling a little sting the first time we realize they don’t want to be seen with us at the mall.

The separation process continues as they develop their own interests and pursuits, many times going in very different directions from the well-intentioned road map we carefully created for them.

The teen years blow in, bringing the discomfort of change we’re not ready for:  a sudden disinterest in family vacations, less time with family and more time with friends, and a dislike for shared activities that were enjoyable just yesterday.

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New Beginnings in the Workforce (A Tale of the Modern Midlife Woman/Mother)

Melanie unmarriedEver since I was a little girl I wanted to be an actress.  I did plays in my youth with high school, community theatre and even in college.  Then, in the early 90s, I moved to Chicago and got an MFA in acting.

In 2000 I started the new millennium in Los Angeles with the hopes of using my degree to succeed as an actor.  I had some good auditions, did a bit of theatre, but suffice it to say, making a living as an actor in Los Angeles was not my path.  I often say the best part about my LA acting career was meeting me husband.  We met at an audition in 2000, got cast in the play together, our showmance became a romance, and we’ve been married a little over 11 years now. [Read More…]

Spare Some Change? (An Ode to Midlife Mothering)

springSpring Ahead

There is something magical about hearing that first bird tweeting somewhere off in the distance when the snow is still on the ground and you can still see your breath as soon as you walk outside.   I think however it is the annual changing of the clocks that sets our bodies into motion, no matter how long we have sat stagnant, and hibernating.

So while most of us take the change of seasons in stride, what is it about change in general that makes many of us go into either a paralyzed or manic state, dependent upon our primitive reaction to trauma? [Read More…]

Have the Winter Blues? 8 Tips for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Winter 4 (pines)Winter weather is often cold, dark and dreary – with little chance of a break for months. The transition back from the holiday season with its increased activity and social engagement – parties, gift giving, family time, vacations – can be an emotional letdown, bringing on the January blues. For 10% of Americans, this is exacerbated by “SAD,” Seasonal Affective Disorder, triggered by the brain’s response to the reduction in sunlight.

“Sandwiched Boomers” may feel an even greater strain, with extra pressures of caring for growing children and aging parents. If you think you might have SAD, consult your physician for an evaluation. A diagnosis can be made when your mood, energy level and motivation are all down during the winter months. You may be sleeping and eating more than usual, craving carbohydrates – this can lead to weight gain, which is depressing in itself. [Read More…]

Mindful Return: Returning to Work After Becoming a Mom

mindfulreturnMindful Mama Lori Mihalich Levin is the mother of 2 children and a regulatory lawyer in Washington, DC.  She is also guiding dozens of women as they navigate their way out of and back to work when their lives are transformed by motherhood.  We sat down recently to talk about the origins of her 4-week online course Mindful Return.

After her own maternity leave, Lori noticed how other new moms at work rarely spoke about the changes in their lives, the intensity of their feelings towards their children, and how they coped.  On one hand, her colleagues were undergoing a major transformation, but there was little outward acknowledgement at work that anything was happening.  On the other, fearful of criticism or loss of professional status, the returning mothers dodged necessary conversations about pumping at work, child care hours, or poor sleep. [Read More…]

10 Tips for Coping With January Blues

Feeling down in the dumps now that the holidays are over? If you’re hoping for something uplifting on these dreary days and cold nights, you’re not alone. T.S. Eliot, in The Waste Land, said, “April is the cruelest month.”

But studies have found that for the majority of Americans, January is the most depressing month of the year. [Read More…]

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