Stepping Into Independence

Independence. Everyone has to go through it sometime or another. Now, it’s kiddo’s turn. And I’m petrified! Kiddo’s a pre-teen who will be 12 in a couple of months. He’s been asking for more independence – to walk to school alone, a cell phone and an alarm clock.

So far, I think I’ve done pretty well with the adjustment. Err, maybe not. We’ve been working on this since last May. Kiddo’s still not walking to school alone, though we’ve got it to 60% alone. At first, it meant dropping him off at the corner closest to the school and watching him cross. Then it was the corner before that (which was a straight shot to the school so I could still watch him). Slowly, we ended up around the corner.

The school sits at an intersection and from our house, it is a zig-zag pattern. And we live in the South Bronx. Don’t get me wrong – it has improved a great deal and there’s a bigger police presence than ever. But, I’m realistic. I know where I live.

With guidelines on how to walk on his own, plus using it as a way to modify his behavior positively (ie if he screws up, I walk him all the way to school; devastating to a pre-teen), I’ve been a big girl mature mom and let him go. Independence is a PITA, but it’s a part of growing up. Only I’m the one feeling the growing pains. Sigh. On to the alarm clock.

Parenting: Credit Where Credit is Due

Parenting is a very tough job. Parenting while in a relationship and feeling alone as a parent is even tougher. Everyone knows that, right? Nope. There are people out there who have no idea what it is like. There are some men out there who don’t acknowledge everything a mother does for her child. One man who used to be that way is Austin Blood.

In his post about the chaos of fatherhood, Austin had the courage to admit that he used to be one of those men (like my son’s father) who left parenting to the mom (more like ran away screaming) and continued on his merry way. Austin scored bigger points with me by acknowledging how amazing his ex-wife was (and is) as a mother. His words had a profound affect on me as I read his post during my lunch yesterday.

As I sit here writing while kiddo sleeps, my eyes tearing, I feel Austin’s appreciation. For roughly 10 years, I felt alone as a parent – running around doing everything to make sure kiddo had everything he needed. Sure, kiddo’s father pitched in sometimes, but I held the reins (had to or things wouldn’t get done). After 10 years of feeling like a single mom, I made myself one by breaking up with kiddo’s father.

For the last 3 years, kiddo’s father has been like Austin – having to figure things out on his own without “the blissful days of yore” of having me around to do everything. When he’s on kiddo time, my ex has to figure out pick-ups (we’re affected by the school bus strike here), meals, homework…EVERYTHING. And after 3 years, kiddo’s father isn’t willing to say how amazing I am as a mother to his son. I hear it from my family, friends and co-workers. But, not from kiddo’s father. In fact, I had to tell him a few weeks ago (via text because sometimes we just don’t talk ) that he should be thankful for the mother kiddo has because I’m a damned good mom! But, Austin said it for him.

Thank you Austin, for being man enough, adult enough to give us moms the thanks we deserve. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Raising a Book Critic: Advice to Writers

Happy first Tuesday in January readers!  Today’s bit of advice to writers comes from kiddo. Kiddo’s full of surprises this morning. One was his critique of a kid’s book. As I’m sitting at my home computer desk, trying to keep my eyes open (yes, I know it’s 8:30am), I’m reflecting on his critique without naming the book here out of respect for the writer.

Add raising a book critic to my resume. I’ve been encouraging kiddo to read more (indeed, my tweeps know all about that). And since he was up and dressed early this morning, I egged him on to read before school. Except, I chose a book that he didn’t like after 20 pages. I asked him what he thought was going on with the book. Here is his advice to writers.

Get to the point. With a great cover that had me interested in reading the book, I thought kiddo would go for it. I was wrong. He told me it was the 7th book in a series. Kiddo was bored with the recap of the previous books. He was waiting for the book to get interesting. He kept trying to read it and now he won’t look at it.

Keep it simple. Kiddo didn’t understand the point of the story because he was too busy being annoyed by the backstory. He didn’t like all the previous history. Yes, it might important for the writer’s vision for the book, but without writing for the readers, especially kids, it’s very hard to reel them into the story.

Improve your writing or else. The writing didn’t work for him. Kiddo said he wouldn’t finish the book. And he’s not. It doesn’t matter how much I sweet talk him, cajole him or threaten to Gangnam Style at his school – he’s not having it. And I’m pretty sure that if he saw another book by the author, he wouldn’t think twice about rejecting it.

Writing is a tough gig. Being critiqued is even harder. You spend so much of your time making it perfect only to have a pipsqueak (like kiddo) tell you it’s not good enough. And it will sting. But, it will also help you become a better writer. I’m not saying that bending over backwards is necessary, but knowing who your target reader is important when you’re writing for that reader. If you follow the steps above, you’ll have a dedicated reader sharing his favorite books with his pals. Have a great Tuesday!

 

 

 

9/11 – Reflections

It’s once again Tuesday, September 11. 11 years have gone by and I STILL have a clear picture of what happened that day.

A few weeks ago, I spent part of a Sunday afternoon with my pal Danielle and her beautiful family. They were coming in from Connecticut into the city and wanted me to join them. One of our stops was the 9/11 Memorial.

Ever since it opened, I had not thought about going there. In fact, I wondered if it would become yet another tourist trap like all of the other places in NYC. And so, I avoided it. I didn’t need to see it (so I thought) because I was here that day. I walked home on 9/11. I thought my mother died on 9/11. And I wept on 9/11 when I finally arrived home that night and watched video of that horrible day.

Yet, when my pal invited me, I went. Having support really does make a difference.  Here I am reflecting. Danielle (Elwood) took this picture of me looking out over the pool. It was so quiet and peaceful. As if nothing had truly happened.

But, it did. We then went to the gift shop, which also had items of that tragic day.  And that’s when I fell apart. I saw a powder covered fireman’s helmet and burst into tears. I instantly remembered my mom’s powdered sneakers (which were black originally) and thought about that Tuesday, 11 years ago.

I thought that I was okay, but I realized that for me 9/11 will NEVER be okay. It’ll be a part of me always.

9/11 Memorial in NYC

Reflecting over the reflecting pool. (Danielle Elwood)

In loving memory of all those who lost their lives that day, those first responders who’ve lost their lives since then and for the rest of us left behind. “We will never forget” 9/11/01

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Glam Me: Long Island Edition

Mommy’s Links is back with the fourth installment of Glam Me this time in Long Island and the last one of 2012. With a variety of vendors and sponsors,  Mommy’s Links provides YOU with the pampering and fun you deserve.

This time around Mommy’s Links makes it easy and affordable to get your glam on while sticking to your budget. Check out the details below and get your Glam Me ticket today! See you there!

Saturday, September 22, 2012
6pm-10pm

Long Island Children’s Museum
11 Davis Avenue, Garden City, NY 11530

Directions

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My #BlogHer12

This year’s BlogHer was my first ever. I had only been to one smaller blogging conference before, so I was really looking forward to seeing what BlogHer was all about.

It literally blew my mind. I’ve lived in the city that never sleeps my whole life, but the Hilton Hotel was like NYC on New Year’s Day at midnight. Madness surrounded me with attendees, sponsors and helpers all around. It took me awhile to blend in with the crush of people.

But, when I did, I had a blast. I went to breakfast and then a session. The rest of my day (I only went on Saturday) was spent running around the hotel meeting with various sponsors. I also connected with many of my twitter pals in real life and realized why I loved them so much. So, thank you BlogHer for such a great experience. Until next year!
Special shout out to my twitter pals who rocked and made me feel so welcome. You know who you are. 🙂

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Why I should win a free year in Freelance Writer’s Den?

Note: This contest is now over. Thanks for all of your support!

Because I’m a damn good writer who needs lots of support, that’s why. I’ve been writing for a years and have a few print and online clips under my belt. But my ultimate goal (has been for the last five years) is to break into magazines. I’ve been struggling with this goal while having achieved others along the way – grad school, becoming a licensed bilingual therapist and being a blogger in my own right. But, breaking into a nice glossy, shiny magazine is the one writing goal that hasn’t happened yet. My hope is that a year in the Freelance Writer’s Den will get me there. So what’s my problem?

My struggle isn’t having the money in my budget to join the den. It isn’t putting words together that make an impact. My struggle is simply that I need more cheerleaders and accountability partners to keep reminding me that I need to get out of my own head and get my head in the game. I can write, but I’m afraid of succeeding.

I go through this with anything new I try. I get anxious, then need support (sometimes a lot of it) then get comfortable and confident. It’s my pattern of behavior. I’m confident as a mom, therapist and blogger. I want to be just as confident as a freelance writer – seeing my name in print magazines that I can show to my dad and my son who are my two biggest cheerleaders.

So please, if you think I deserve a free year in Freelance Writer’s Den, share my post via Twitter, Facebook, Linked In (anywhere else you can think of is great, too thanks!). Then check out this contest courtesy of Carol Tice & Linda Formichelli. Thanks friends.

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Featured on MamaDramaNY

Well, don’t I feel special? I sure do after being featured on MamaDramaNY. Yesterday, MamaDramaNY had ME (can’t believe it – thanks for the honor) as a featured network member. I was so excited when I received  the invitation, so please check me out! 🙂
Thanks MamaDramaNY.

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New Job: First Month Report

Well, it has been a whole month since I started my new job. I’m a child & family therapist with a small non-profit in my hometown.
It has been quite a learning curve since I was out of the workforce for four months. Yes, only four months. It was the first time since age 19 that I’d not worked at all. I went back to work when kiddo was six weeks old. (Another post on that some other time.)
So after four months of being home, bummed out because I felt so rejected (even spent 2 weeks so depressed my social work bff was so worried about me) and feeling like I wanted to quit the field entirely – a job came my way.
And I’ve been working it.
The hours feel long, but I’m slowly adjusting to it. I’m getting used to having a work routine (though I think it’ll take longer because I’ve not worked this schedule before) and because I’m putting pressure on myself. I know this will get easier with time (have to repeat this to myself everyday; several times a day in fact).
In the meantime, early bedtimes and lots of coffee will keep me going. Lol Wonder what next month will bring?
PS – thanks to all of my pals online and off that supported and carried me through this challenging time. Couldn’t have done it without you! Love you! 🙂