Reinventing Ourselves

The Difference Between Dad Privilege and Mom Privilege

being nice to dadWelcome to June! That time of year when we celebrate fathers and all of the things that they do to help out in the raising of their children. Although actually, “help out” makes it sound like they are not required to do any child raising and are strictly volunteering on a benevolent basis. “Hey, you didn’t have to do that! But thanks!”

This idea, that fathers are over-praised for doing the most basic of tasks (taking kids to the store, reading a bedtime story, living in the same house as the rest of the family), has led some to dismissively call out “Dad Privilege,” claiming that fathers have it much easier and don’t have to put in half the work mothers do to be deemed a success.

Let me be very clear. What you are thinking of as “Dad Privilege” has another name in the dad community. We call it “Mom Privilege.” [Read More…]

How Our Family Makes Father’s Day a “Biggie” Deal

Christy Stansell FamilyI hope you don’t have one, but if you do, I’m guessing your court order looks something like mine: the child will spend Mother’s Day with Mom and Father’s Day with Dad, even if it is “supposed” to be the other parent’s weekend.  That was all good and fine…. until I got remarried… and now my husband – the “step-dad” – never gets to have Father’s Day with his step-daughter.  It’s heart-wrenching.

When my second husband and I were dating, my little girl told me, “When my dad goes to heaven, I want Biggie to be my daddy.”  We called him “Biggie” because, as God’s humor would have it, he and my daughter have the same name, just spelled differently. Little did she know then that it wouldn’t be long before she’d get her wish. I remarried soon after my daughter’s 6th birthday.  She delighted in being the flower girl for our wedding.

Now my forever-husband and my daughter are “like this” (picture fingers wound together tightly!) And, even though her birth father is still alive, my daughter calls her step-dad “Daddy” (much to her biological father’s chagrin.)  I’m not about to forbid my daughter from calling him whatever endearment she feels comfortable. Honestly, if her dad got remarried, and she wanted to call his wife “Mom” I’d let her, without complaint, because I’m confident in my role as her mother… but I digress. [Read More…]

Spreading Mom’s Ashes

Part I

Lydia_cemetery“Go eat dinner while it’s hot.” These were Mom’s last words thirty minutes before she died. Ever a mother until the end, she never wanted or intended to be a burden. Nor did Mom want us missing a meal, even if I was the one now preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My father, sister and I ate at the dining room table, not far from their first floor bedroom. I had set the table with the silver and china, just the way she had done for the past 60 years of their marriage. Gracious dining was the highest art form for my mother. There was no take-out in her world.

She must have known that death was imminent, but she kept it at a safe distance by refusing to go to the hospital and maintaining normalcy. Ironically, this took more effort for us, her two daughters. [Read More…]

Unconditional Love and Gratitude Make Mothering Oh, So Much Easier!

mother juggling2When I was a busy professional, juggling multiple responsibilities on top of keeping up with my friends, my boyfriends, my social gatherings and my travels, I remember thinking what a good multi-tasker I was, to somehow keep all of this in order.

Those are now the days I look back on with envy for having so much “me” time. The days where I could focus on balancing work with so many other enjoyable activities.  (You know what I am talking about here, right, Mothers?)

Yet, with this envy of my mostly unrestricted past, I would never substitute my life, now, as a single mother of five precious children (who I endearingly call, my “Tribe”).  First and foremost, I get to enjoy unconditional love on steroids here!  And so, with this impulse, I have so much more to share with the world than just my personal wants, needs and pleasures. [Read More…]

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.

[Read More…]

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.

[Read More…]

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…]

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