We Made It Through…

In February 2011, something unimaginable happened in Southern California, it began to pour pellets of hail… what are the odds of that?!

But for my family, this was a day of victory, a day to celebrate something we weren’t sure would happen. We had made it through the first year… we made it through countless doctors appointments, open heart surgery, panic attacks, sleepless nights, sleepless days, anxiety, worry, despair… we made it though. We being Mom, Dad and our first born child. That first year left a lot of questions unanswered, uncertainty… yet we made it though.

We were told 17months prior to this day very grim odds… one might even go so far to say our odds of celebrating our baby’s first birthday were as unimaginable as a hail storm in Southern California?

by Life of Mom Co-Founder, Lucy Riles

The Real Demon on the Plane.

You don’t have to go far these days to find something that offends you on social media. Well today was no different…

Someone had posted a video of a man who filmed a child over the course of a 8 hour flight. The child was clearly having a difficult time but this man didn’t see it that way. The man documented every outburst and tantrum along with captions to his video where he continuously refers to the child as “a demon” calling his behavior “demonic”. Perhaps this man wanted people to feel bad for him. Perhaps this man thought people would think it’s funny to call a child names.

Watching this video, I did see “demonic behavior”… coming from the coward that shared this video, name calling a child. A “demon” who had no problem filming the face of the child yet hid behind his own camera.
Watching this video, I did in fact feel bad… I felt bad for the child’s mother, for the child himself who was clearly overwhelmed.

For those of you reading this who are not parents or new parents, here’s a helpful tip. If you come across a child having a meltdown in a confined or a space unfamilar to them, in most cases they are feeling incredibly overwhelmed and anxious… they may not feel safe in that particular enviornment. Now many of you know I am a mom of a child with special needs, often times having to be a fierce advocate and mama bear for her. Traveling with kids can be mentally and physically exhausting, especially if you are traveling with a young child and/or child with special needs. Now any person with an ounce of compassion would see that clearly this poor child was having a difficult time.
-planes are confining…
-and loud…
-they are surrounded by unfamilar (often scary) faces…
-and 8 hours is a really long time for any person, let alone a young child.

Recently I flew across country with my 3 children without my husband… afterwards it felt like I had ran a marathon. Through the years, I’ve encountered incredibly kind fellow passengers who took my chaotic kiddos under their wings (pun intended) but also my fair share of judgement. As the mom, traveling with littles is beyond exhausting.

A few weeks back I read a story about a group of women and mothers who surrounded a young child and mother at an airport terminal, the child was also having a very difficult time. One mom pulled out a toy, another women gave the mom a bottle of water and the child a snack. It warmed my heart knowing these strangers banded together to help a mother and child in need.

Today’s video gave me the opposite feeling.

And here is where I may cross the line a bit… but here’s what I would like to do to this “demon”… I would like to flip this man’s camera around on him when he’s weak and vulnerable. Perhaps he’s on the toilet, constipated… struggling, feeling overwhelmed and stuck. Then I would add text giving a minute by minute update of the man’s incapability to take a sh*t.

Okay, that may be graphic and harsh but what if a complete stranger filmed you at your most vulnerable and breaking point? What if they called you horrible names with captions for the sake of their social media audience?

Moral of the story folks, be the band of mothers and not the demon adult name calling a child behind the camera. Offer support, not judgement cause Lord knows moms don’t need any more judgement. I get it, kids are loud and move a lot on planes. But you are the adult that is supposed to understand that they are, in fact, just kids. If you don’t like flying with children inside of planes, I have a few easy solutions for you:
-don’t fly.
-or buy a private jet.

Buh Bye Now. Thank You. Buh Bye.

by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Co-Founder

Journaling Motherhood: From Grief to Gratitude

As Mitch Albom once wrote, “There’s a story behind everything… But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”
Naturally, my story of motherhood begins with my mom’s. My father and mother were married relatively young and only a few years into their union, Dad cheated. He soon left her and abandoned us; I never grew up with a father figure of any type. In my household, Mom epitomized strength, perseverance, and love. She was a stoic character who led by example and taught my brother and I the value of family, diligence, and honesty.

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My brother began to exhibit signs of mental illness in his teen years. Mom did everything she could to get him help, but with a full-time job and two children to care for on her own, this task was nearly impossible. He began getting picked on at school and experienced further alienation. Mom fought on his behalf, but nothing was done by the school to assuage the bullying. Thus, my brother’s condition worsened over the years.

So did the consequent abuse Mom and I faced. He became an expert at funneling all his rage into an emotional warfare against Mom and I. She did a great deal to shield me from his abuse as she could, but Mom never stopped caring about him or trying to help.

Eventually I went to college, and even though I lived at home, I was able to distance myself from our familial tumult. Freer from my family’s enmeshment, I flourished, and my relationship with Mom grew stronger. I can clearly remember an intimate moment I shared with Mom when I was around twenty-one. I had climbed into bed with her after a fraternity party. I snuggled into her and told her how much I loved her. I told her that she had been the topic of our drunken conversation at a fraternity house; my sorority sister had randomly expressed how much Mom meant, even to her.

At that point, Mom started crying and sharing with me how much that meant to her. She allowed herself to be vulnerable for the first time in my life, and bared her soul to me. She expressed how hard her life as a single mother had been for her. She told me how excruciatingly difficult it was to believe in herself when she thought of herself as a failure. We talked all night. This would be one of my favorite memories of her ever; a few months later our ability to make anymore would be stolen.

On September 25th, 2007, three weeks after I graduated college, my brother murdered my mother. I came home to find her in a pool of blood, deceased for over an hour. My brother had escaped and then confessed everything to me over the phone. I should have known he had been telling the truth, but part of me was hoping this was just another one of his manipulative lies. Devastatingly, it was not. My life changed forever that night.
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After Mom’s death, I floated through life. I had no ties to anyone or anything, and I lost my value for everything. The person who had loved me more than life itself was absent, and thus I felt terribly unloved. In turn, I found it impossible to allow myself any type of love or happiness. As far as I knew, I deserved nothing of the sort.

Despite this, I met my husband-to-be a few months later. He accepted me and my flaws, even though I was figuratively scarred and beaten. Allowing myself to be loved was difficult, yet we still ended up on the fast track towards marriage.

I desired the stability of a healthy home life, and so a few years after our nuptials we planned a pregnancy, too. My entrance to motherhood, despite being somewhat joyful, was extremely tainted. I was jealous of all my girlfriends who had their mother to guide them through the process. I felt alone and broken.

Then I had my daughter and life changed forever yet again. With her birth I was initiated into this – mostly – magical world of Motherhood. A world filled with infinite boo-boo kisses and bear hugs, side-splitting laughter, the most painful of tears, the ability to finally be the big spoon (yay!), and a connection that transcends everything I’ve ever known up until now. Becoming a mother myself has allowed me to understand the unconditional love Mom felt for both Jesse and me.

I had never quite understood how my mother put up with all that my brother dished out for us, but I am quickly learning. My hatred and anger has melted and morphed into acceptance. This acceptance has allowed me to find a sense of peace and balance in my chaotic world. And with each passing day I find myself further from my painful past and closer to happiness and self-love.
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Thus, I am perpetually thankful for my husband, daughter, and son for indoctrinating me into Motherhood. It has shown me that beauty is not a social construct that is determined by my ability to drop the baby weight, but that it is absolutely everywhere. In the tinny laughter of my toddler, in my body that has worked miracles to create two human beings, even in the debilitating pain I have felt over the years. Motherhood is where I found perspective embedded in my children’s faces and hearts. Their perpetual love has enabled me to find light even on the darkest of days.
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A.B. Chesler is an author, content creator, blogger, and family woman from Los Angeles, California. Her most recent publications include five different contributions in six different Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as her first solo children’s book, A Man and His Books (available on Amazon and most other book-selling sites). Follow her on Twitter (@abcauthor), Facebook (www.facebook.com/abchesler), or Instagram (@abc_author) for updates, giveaways, and much more!

Me too. You too?

“Me too. You too? I had no clue.”

He did. She didn’t. A story far from new.

Yet still a story few speak about… what happens if we do?

Those feelings creep back in, haunting… do they do the same for you?

I have a love now. He is great. He is kind. But he also has no clue…

How words, actions, power took a part of you.

Do you share? No, no I don’t want to.

Shame… the victim, once again, blames herself for something she did not do.

If I tell him, will he still love me or will he judge me? I wish I had a clue.

It has opened pandora’s box, this campaign called #metoo

But oddly, I don’t mind. For my hope is a breakthrough…

What if my daughters can grow up without feeling shame, silenced or forced to subdue?

What if my son can grow up without feeling shame, silenced or forced to subdue?

What if, just what if, this is a turning point to something new?

“Me too. You too?” But please not our kids.

No.

Rewriting history for the next ingenue.

by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Co-Founder

Wild Parenting: 100 Hikes and Two Little Girls

My name is Megan Fisher. Who am I? Well, my feet are filthy, I have dirt under every fingernail, and my hair has been styled by the wind. As a mother of two beautiful daughters, I have rocks, leaves, and petals in every pocket. You see, I get to be a kid again and see the world’s wonders through the eyes of my daughters.

I grin with amazement when my daughters and I are out exploring nature together. I feel so connected to the earth and to them at the same time. We sit in fields, climb up mountains, slide down hills, run into sunsets, build rock towers, and draw designs in the dirt. Our hikes allow us to share stories, to explore and to feel free. Feel free to just be. Be together. Be present.

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On New Years 2017, my daughters Lily (7) and Ruby (6) committed to doing the 52 hike challenge. Their spark came from wanting to inspire other kids to get out and explore the hills with them. I am thrilled to report as of October 5, 2017, they have surpassed that goal and completed 89 hikes. Now their goal is 100 by New Year’s Eve 2017.

We live in busy Los Angeles that, amazingly, has an abundant amount of beauty surrounding it. The hills in our neighborhood offer great access to trails nearby. Most of the girl’s hikes have been in Calabasas, Malibu, and Woodland Hills. We often have the trails to ourselves and are given the rare gift of peace and quiet. Other times we invite our friends to join. We have had 60 parents and kids join us for sunset hikes. It’s amazing to see kids stamina as they go and go and go with huge grins plastered their faces. They make up stories together, sing as loud as they can, challenge each other to climb higher, and help each other when they fall. This has become our special time, unplugged and connected to the people in our community.

We also find new hikes on our travels. This year, we went to the central coast of California, Death Valley, Utah, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Hampshire. One of my favorite memories was in Death Valley. The girls and their good friend Max found these glorious hills to climb all by themselves. It was so empowering for them because they did it alone and I could still keep an eye on them. They climbed so high and then ran down barren sandy hills that softened their falls.

That image will stay in my mind forever. In that moment, I didn’t feel fear, I felt proud. I was proud of their independence. I wondered if they felt like kings and queens on the mountaintop as they looked down over us from so high above.

I have felt how nature heals my family. Nature is our church and our medicine. It is full of surprises and gifts of ever-changing glorious sunsets and tall grasses to run through. Nature is our best friend.

Cheers to every other outdoor-loving family out there! And, to those who are hesitant to start exploring; I encourage you to give it a shot. Pull on some hiking boots, open the door and breathe it in. Nature will love you back. Promise.

by Megan Fisher

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Wild Parenting is a blog series put together by contributing parents who understand the value that the outdoors can bring to their children’s lives. Whose mission is to explore the world with a spirit of adventure, together.

Share your #wildparenting story with https://besawyer.com/, hello@besawyer.com

We put the FUN in dysfunction!

Being the youngest of 12 children, my mother had a saying that I find myself quoting often. She would say “we put the FUN in dysfunction!”

Coming from such a large family taught me pretty quick that there was no perfect family or right way to raise your children. In my big Irish Catholic family, we fight hard but we love harder. And at the end of the day, my parents raised us to be there for eachother during the hard times…and my siblings have not disappointed. The surge of love and support we all feel from one another is the greatest gift our parents gave us.

Now I am a mom of 3 young children. My oldest is medically fragile and has special needs. The days can be incredibly challenging. Simple things like school and birthday parties can bring out epic breakdowns… What my husband and I envisioned our future is nothing like what it is today. The ordinary family just was not in the cards for our little crew. And you know what? That’s okay. Because my little family is extraordinary. They have taught me so much and made me a better person. My family introduced me to a love so profoundly deep… we celebrate life’s little victories and accomplishments. I am thankful and blessed everyday to be their mom.

So is my family dysfunctional? Yep.

Do we have FUN in our dysfunctional family? Absolutely!

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Co-Founder

The Day I Won at Motherhood.

Last year, while attending a parents only Back-to-School night, I took a picture of my daughter’s drawing hanging up in the classroom. When I got home, I sat her down and asked why her self-portrait was crying. She said sadly “because my drawing isn’t as good as everyone else’s portraits”

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… Yes her drawing in fact did not look anything like the drawings of all of her peers. You see they were instructed to draw their portrait a certain way and were given a step by step tutorial of what it should look like.
I was crushed. It’s hard enough to see your child sad, but then to see them draw themselves sad is too much for any mom to take. It was in that moment, I began to tell her about really famous artists and all the different ways they create art. I pulled up paintings by a little known man named Pablo Picasso. Her somber face succumbed to smiles as we looked through google images of Picasso’s work…

I asked her “What do these paintings remind you of?”
Almost giggling with excitement she answered “My self-portrait!”

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And for just one moment, I felt like I won at Motherhood.

Weeks later, I had a conference with this teacher in which I brought up my daughter’s portrait. Her response “well maybe if she listened more during the lesson, her portrait would look like everyone else’s.” What?! Again, I was crushed… mainly because this teacher was fully aware of my child’s special needs and learning disabilities… this wasn’t math, this was ART!!! A place for special minds to create and express themselves, “there is no wrong way to create art!” I replied. I should know, I was raised by an incredible Artist… my mother. I went on to explain to this teacher that in that moment she missed an opportunity. It could have been a teaching moment, to celebrate each child’s unique, creative form of expression. What a perfect history lesson it could have been on Pablo Picasso:)

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That week, we changed her teacher.

Disclaimer: I would like to note, this post is in no way bagging on teachers or even this particular teacher… I’m sure she is gifted in other ways, teaching children with special needs may not be one of them. And I have the absolute highest level of respect and admiration for teachers and all they do. In the same school, I have seen my child with special needs thrive due to some of the most amazing teachers. I write this more for us parents and teachers to keep an eye out for those “Picasso” teaching moments. You have the power to literally turn a child’s tear of disappointment into giggles of excitement.

I will end with a quote that goes something like “don’t ask a child to live in your world… visit their world instead.”

by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Co-Founder

The Day My Kids Called Me Out In Front of My Mother-In-Law!

All events in this story are 100% accurate and based on a true story…
Earlier this week, my mother-in-law came up to take care of my kids so that my husband and I could attend a conference. Since my husband does a lot of hosting and emceeing events, he had ordered some new tailored suits that also happened to arrived this week. My mother-in-law, who happens to be a mix between Mother Teresa/Carol Brady/Martha Stewart, offered to iron his newly tailored suit and shirts. Well seeing that I do all my ironing in the dryer with a damp hand towel, my husband jumped at the offer… poor guy has lived in wrinkled clothes for the past decade.
So picture this… kids playing in the playroom while my MIL is ironing in the living room. And since my 5yr old has an internal snack alarm clock that goes off every 15mins, he walks into the living room and stops in his tracks… the shock, the awe, the uncertainty takes over as he meekly asks…
Son: Mimi, what IS that?
MIL: It’s an ironing board.
Son: And what is THAT?
MIL: It’s an iron.
Son: What does it do?
MIL: politely laughs it off and continues ironing.
 
Myself, on the other hand, dies a slow death of embarrassment as my kid has just completely called me out in front of my mother-in-law. And as if that wasn’t enough, my littlest Brutus walks in seconds after her brother and while not yet able to fully talk, managed to signal and point at these foreign objects too that has invaded our living room. She then proceeds to yell and point at it, trying to make it go away… just go ahead and add more salt to the wound kid. Okay, we get it, MOMMY DOESN’T IRON so my children have no idea what an iron and ironing board are.

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iron: a ductile, malleable, silver-white metallic element, scarcely known in a pure condition, but much used in its crude or impure carbon-containing forms for making tools, implements, machinery, etc.

 

Now my MIL already knows I can’t cook for the life of me, and now my own little bambinos have betrayed me, exposing yet another domestic task I have failed her in. Yet another service her beloved prince has been deprived from by marrying me. Lucky for me, my MIL does not put any attention on my domestic shortcomings. As I stated earlier, she is part Mother Teresa.

So I may not be a domestic goddess… far from it! Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at accepting my deficiency in household chores and focus on the many gifts I bring to this home. Such as my stellar performances singing along to broadway musicals in the kitchen. Or the birthday parties I plan based on each child’s theme preference. Or my fantastical skillz at hosting Wine O’clock Wednesday Trivia, being able to drink wine WHILE talking for an hour straight!
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Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Co-Founder
 
 
 

I’m Sorry… I’m Not Sorry for Leaving My Kids Behind.

Before kids, you could find my husband and I jumping out of planes (okay only did this once), road tripping across country or frequenting any karaoke bar any night of our choosing. Alas, those days of freedom are long gone. As parents to 3 young children, it feels more like my husband and are in a neverending game of hot potato…
Husband: “You take the kids, I have to shower.”
Me: “Now it’s your turn, I need to run to target.”
Husband: “Can you give the kids a bath, I need a break.”
Me: “Okay then you read them a story and put them to bed.”
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7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Parenthood can be exhausting to put it lightly, and often times your marriage goes on the back burner. I’m guilty of it. You’re guilty of it.
And I’m here to give you a solution to this problem… leave your kids behind! Okay, this sounds a bit dramatic (i.e. the title of this article) but this technique is highly affective for our marriage. For some, it’s weekly date nights, for others it’s scheduling their sexy time. For my parents, who had 12 kids, it was meeting up at a local motel and locking their kids out of their bedroom on the one night a week my dad had off.
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For us, it’s trips without our kids! To be able to take off the “mom hat” and just be present with my man is so important. We are both transported to a simpler time with no restriction on time, schedule or snack demands. Not everyone has a back-up to watch their kids, so it takes creativity, swapping kids-free weekends with another mom friend or family member could work. For us, we are very lucky to have my incredible mother and father-in-law to watch over our kiddos.
Not gonna lie, the first few times we left our kids, I was filled with anxiety and guilt but now I realize THEY are the ones who benefit the most from mommy and daddy getting away together. Because we are able to connect more as couple, we both are way better parents to our kids. It’s not enough to just love my kids unconditionally… building a strong, intimate bond with my man makes for a more loving enviornment for our children too.
by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Co-Founder

The Birth of the Bestie Moon!

Congratulations! You are about to become a new Mommy to an adorable mini version of yourself. But hold on to your stirrups mama, you have one more thing to do before baby arrives… and that is a “Bestie Moon!” It’s a “Baby Moon” minus the Daddy plus the Bestie!
You see, once upon a time, (about 3 weeks ago) my Bestie was desperate for a relaxing trip before baby #3 arrived. She had it all worked out for her mom and sister to watch her little ones for a few nights… the only problem was her husband couldn’t take off work. As great Dads do, he was saving his time off for when the baby arrives.
What, oh what is a Mom-to-be to do!?!?
So one day, Mommy-to-be was venting to her Bestie (aka me!) about how badly she needed to go someplace warm, somewhere she could sleep in and not feel the stress of everyday motherhood. It was in that moment that the birth of the “Bestie Moon” was delivered into my brain. I had a trip already planned to Austin, TX so I thought “Hey Bestie! You should come to Austin with me!” And she did…
…and Mommy-to-be and her Bestie lived happily ever after!
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The End.
by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Co-Founder