A Word for Teachers…

With.

For.

It’s amazing how seven letters in two different combinations can convey meanings that are worlds apart. These two words can have a massive impact in our mindset in the current situation, especially when it comes to education.

For example, fill in the blank in this sentence with each word and see how it changes:

My child’s teacher works ____________ me to educate and prepare him/her for the future.

Wow, right?

To me, the difference between these two little words is a not- insignificant factor in the current debates about the 2020-21 school year. When things started to go sideways back in March, I wrote about how teachers were doing their absolute best to make things work on the fly. The vast majority of educators are still doing their best to prepare to deliver meaningful, impactful lessons by whatever means are available.

Summer work is not foreign to teachers; if you want to see someone laugh hysterically until tears stream down their face, tell a teacher it must be so nice to lay around and not do any work all summer. This year, most educators would most likely tell you they’ve worked harder and spent more time on school preparations than they have in any other summer of their professional lives.

If you’re going to use a four letter word when thinking about the start of the school year, let it be with.

Teachers are still lacking in all of the information and resources needed as the start of school in the US looms closer every day. School districts are getting conflicting guidance and being constantly threatened with penalties when they can’t achieve the impossible (there are only so many ways to arrange a classroom, and no one can magically poof thousands of extra square feet into existence). They just want every student in their charge to be successful and to do their jobs well.

They want everyone to be safe.

Teachers need to stay healthy, they need to feel safe to do their jobs effectively, and they need to feel like their families are as safe as possible in this bizarre and scary time.

Just like all of us.

A lot of the debates I see raging on Facebook parenting boards are a symptom of how our society has been viewing children and education for quite some time. I have a lot of thoughts about how the horrendous cost of childcare, and insanely insufficient parental leave results in some parents viewing school as a service that is bought and paid for. I also have very definite opinions on the fact that our society has become one where parents are dependent on school (especially elementary) to account for a significant portion, if not all, of their childcare due to lack of support. I’m not going to shout from that soapbox now, as I feel there’s so much to be said that can/has/will be said by others with much more expertise on the topic.

All parents are going to have to make really difficult choices in the coming weeks. Information will be considered, lists will be made, options will be weighed again- often in the middle of a sleepless night. We continue to find ourselves in the land of trying to settle on the best worst choice.

It is easier if we’re all in it together.

Will all of our decisions look the same?

Nope.

But. If we can just keep that one little word- with– in front of us as we go into the coming weeks, it might make the impossible a bit easier. Approaching this as partners, rather than expecting someone to do something for us will get us further.

Our schools and teachers are ready to work with us to figure out how we’re going to make this all happen. Even when governments aren’t working with them on basics such as funding to put new regulations in place. Seriously, think for a second about what happens when you tell your kid to take one pump of hand sanitizer. Now multiply it 20, then multiply that by 5 times a day. Even the economy size bottles aren’t going to last long, and it’s not cheap. That’s before factoring in bigger ticket items like plexiglass, extra personnel, transportation concerns,… the list just keeps going.

Let’s prepare to work with all school personnel to make whatever variation of school is going to start in the coming weeks work. It is going to be more stress in a time where stress has felt unrelenting.

Will it always be pretty? No. Are there going to be glitches and days where everyone wants to just wave the white flag? Almost certainly. Is the school year going to look like anyone’s first choice for the ideal way to educate children? Bahahahaha- of course not! It’s 2020, first choice hasn’t been part of our vocabulary for months now, silly rabbit.

If we work with our teachers, we will still get maintain our first priority- educating our children and preparing them for the future. We can minimize the impact of this insane time in their school career by approaching it as a partnership. By working with our schools and not expecting them to work for us, we stand a better chance of making this work the best way we can.

With. Just focus on with- four letters make all the difference in the mindset we approach this with.

If you need to scream some other four letter words in the closet, into your pillow, alone in the car while dealing with this, that’s okay. I’ll be there with you, a lot of educators will too- In fact, they could probably teach us some amazing new ones.

And please, wear a mask.

Before you post that meme…

This is something that has been rattling around in my head since April. I’ve written a bit about this before, and it’s not intended to call out anyone specifically.

Dear Friend,

Before you share that meme about weight gain in the pandemic,  I’m asking you to pause for a second.  Right now, if you open any social media account you are guaranteed to see at least one post, meme, or joke about gaining weight during quarantine.  There are jokes and memes about “gaining the Covid 19”, clothes not fitting, images altered to make the subject appear fatter than they are, and that’s just scratching the surface. At the core, under the seeming lightheartedness, they are all weight-shaming and more than a little fat-phobic.

On one level, I get it.

Weight may feel like the one thing we should or can control right now. I have to ask, though- is it really the most interesting thing that has happened to you or that you have thought about these last few months? Are scale numbers the most impactful numbers you’ve read?

Doubtful.

Before you hit post, I want you to consider a few things.

Your body holds your wonderful heart, which has ached with disappointments both small and large during this time. It holds your brain which has been swimming with more concerns and worries that would have seemed possible at the start of the year.  Figuring out home schooling and how to keep children entertained has probably consumed a not-insignificant amount of your time.  You’ve held children in your arms who are crushed, anxious, bored, frustrated, and just plain out of sorts.  Do those children care about the number you see on the scale when you’re comforting them or helping them stay busy?

No.

You are working through a time where the way many holidays are celebrated has changed drastically. Not to mention Mother’s Day, an emotional mine field for so many.  Normal rituals and activities that provide a comfort or a distraction from grief aren’t available.  If you have eaten more of your favorite foods than normal, does that make you a bad person, less worthy of love and respect?

Absolutely not.

Maybe you’re an essential worker.  You have worked harder and most likely cried more in the last several months than you ever have in your professional life.  It has been unrelenting. Amongst all of this, groceries still need to be bought, childcare issues need to be sorted, education figured out, and there are family members  you are especially  worried about. You are doing everything in your power to make sure your family isn’t put in harm’s way due to your exposure and hoping as hard as you can you stay healthy.   In short, you have been coping with an unimaginable load on top of worrying about all the things everyone else is worried about.  Is now the time to add feeling ashamed for not tracking every morsel that you put in your mouth?

I can’t believe I have to say this, HELL NO!

Perhaps you are married to essential worker, you probably haven’t seen much of your spouse since March.  You may not have seen them at all. You most likely are juggling all of your children’s needs and the bulk of the household chores on your own.  Maybe you are desperately trying to work as well in the midst of this chaos.  You are definitely constantly worried about your spouse, praying they stay healthy and that the rest of your family does as well. Should you be beating yourself up if you haven’t crushed several workouts this week- especially if working out is something that feels like added pressure on your to-do list, instead of a relief?

No, you shouldn’t

You might be among the countless people who are awake at night trying to figure out how to make finances work while being furloughed.  Or laid off.  You might be a small business owner wondering if you will be able to open your doors again.  You may be wondering if you will still have a place to live and food in the kitchen in the coming months.  Should you be made to feel like you are less than if the number on the scale is more than you are used to seeing?

No, you really shouldn’t.

Or maybe you are someone who is overweight.  You are dealing with all of the stresses everyone else is facing.  But, there is also one stressor not everyone will understand. You’re seeing time and time again, from all sides, that having a body that looks more like yours after lockdown is over is the absolute worst thing that could happen.

During a pandemic. 

When people are under horrible financial strain.  At a time when people are experiencing grief and psychological distress. 

While people are dying.

These memes and jokes imply that even with all of this awfulness going on, the most awful thing is still being or becoming fat.  You are being told your body is worse than all of the horrible things  going on right now, combined.  That is the message you are getting from every post, joke,  and meme about the horror that is pandemic weight gain.  Is it going to make you feel diminished, ashamed, and like your only worth is measured by the size of your body?

Almost definitely.

So, wonderful friend, please think about what you’re saying before you hit post. You probably aren’t aware of how hurtful it is, or you are trying to be in on the joke instead of the butt of the joke. I know you, and I am certain would never tell me these things, and you would be horrified if I told you someone had said something derogatory about my size to me directly.  It isn’t you, it is part of our mindset.  It is a very telling sign of our culture and how much we value thinness over physical and mental health. It is a sad commentary on how we are trained to hate our bodies from a young age.

We can continue this by sharing those jokes, and passing on those memes.  Or we can choose not to post and make steps towards change.

Love,

Your friend who doesn’t think her body is the worst possible outcome

 

Featured

It’s Chaos…

“We’d have these huge philosophical arguments where I was like- I don’t believe in an intelligent creator, per se, but I think there might be a latticework of logic and meaning to the universe that maybe we’re too small to see. And she was like, Sweetie, it’s all random, it’s all chaos. It’s chaos. Be kind. It’s chaos. Be kind.” -Patton Oswalt, Annihilation

I was invited by the wonderful Smelly Socks and Garden Peas to write a post about what we will do the first weekend after the end of quarantine/ lockdown.  It has been a challenge, with all the togetherness of late it’s a miracle when I can construct a complete thought without interruption, let alone an entire blog post.

As I thought about what I might want to write about I turned over several ideas, perhaps returning to simple pleasures like parks and pubs, maybe those historical sites I have been dying to get to (once a Tudor history nerd, always a Tudor history nerd) or maybe something about the overnight trips we want to plan?

But.

The above quote from Patton Oswalt’s Annihilation special on Netflix keeps running through my head and blocking out all of those other thoughts of a post-lockdown existence.  Father of Gingers and I have been big fans of Patton Oswalt’s stand up for years.  His slightly curmudgeon-y and misanthropic, sharp, nerdy, occasionally quirky take on the world speaks to us and our sense of humor.

However, Annihilation was hard for both of us to get through.  It was the first special after the death of Oswalt’s wife, Michelle McNamara.  A not-insignificant portion of the set is him talking about losing his wife, and worse, telling their elementary school- age daughter that her mother is gone and how they both dealt with it and are dealing with it.  It is the only comedy set I’ve ever watched where I had to repeatedly try to swallow around a huge lump in my throat and needed several breaks to wipe my eyes.  Through it all, he comes back to McNamara’s philosophy on life, “It’s chaos, be kind.”   She was speaking in a more metaphysical sense, but it has very practical applications right now.

The current situation in the world is best described as Chaos with chaos sauce, chaos sprinkles, and an angst cherry on top.

There’s not much left for us to do, but be kind.

There is so much information bombarding us from every corner.  Everyone has a slightly different priority order, the vast majority of which carry absolutely no malicious intent towards others.  The majority of people are making decisions using the best information they can to make best decisions they can in a time of best worst choices.

It’s chaos

Some of us are going to have to make decisions based on medical information. They may be too much at risk and they have to stay inside until this storm is further past.

It’s chaos

Some feel the lockdown has gone on too long, some feel it’s ending too early.

It’s chaos

Finances may be the driving factor in some family’s decisions on how they’re going to proceed. Mental health is a not-insignificant factor in the balance as well.

It’s chaos

Everyone is on on edge- these are life and death choices, not just for the threat of COVID-19, but also in terms of mental health and financial stability. There isn’t a one size fits all answer.

Be Kind.

The bottom line is there is no way around this chaos, the only option is to just get through it. It doesn’t have to be pretty- but how much better will it be if we are kind?

This is a very long winded way to say I don’t know yet what my first choice is for when our first weekend out of lockdown comes. We will be taking a slow approach for several reasons that make it the best fit for our family. I do know I’ll try my hardest to be kind.

There’s a very real chance I totally misunderstood the assignment… but at least this is off my chest.

Remember- Teachers are dealing with the alligator closest to the boat right now.

*This was originally slated to run on another site and I was just notified it was dropped from their schedule today. When I wrote it on Monday, very few teachers had been able to reach out to their students, and as we all know the week has been rapidly changing.

When my husband and I are working through a crisis, we usually remind each other to focus on the alligators closest to the boat. That is- worry about and address the most immediate/ threatening problem first before trying to move on to the next. It has served us well over the years and I keep coming back to this maxim when I think about the teachers trying to navigate this current crisis.

Full disclosure- I am a teacher who is currently a SAHM and working to realize some writing aspirations. That is why I have time to write this, if I were teaching right now, I would be focused on more pressing needs. If I’m being honest, seeing some of the comments about school closures and how work will be provided to students makes me hesitant to ever return to the classroom. I’ve been greatly disheartened by how many complaints I’ve seen from parents feeling like their children aren’t getting digital assignments fast enough, that teachers are probably just taking this time as a vacation, and so on.

To that- I say please realize teachers are trying to get two families through this crisis, the one in their home and the family they spend at minimum every Monday through Friday with. I say at minimum because do the countless out of contract hours they spend with this second family and preparing to teach. When I was in the classroom, there were always students who kept me up nights as I worried about circumstances in their lives that were completely outside of my control. That was in the course of a normal school year- and this school year is no longer normal.

Honestly, if you are able to complain about not having digital resources yet for your child, the good news is your child is nowhere near being the alligator closest to your teachers boat. Teachers everywhere are trying to figure out a completely different style of teaching on the fly (especially those who teach the younger grades). While they’re doing this they’re also worried about some of their children being safe at home, having enough to eat, and if those students are going to even have a home while this crisis lasts.

Rest assured your child(ren)’s teacher(s) care about them, they have invested a lot of time into every student in their care. They want to see “their kids” succeed and are likely crushed that they will not be spending time with their classes in the coming weeks. Events like class plays, field trips, proms, and graduations are all cancelled or potentially cancelled. There are children who were just having concepts click, finally making gains in essential skills and now they are in a holding pattern. All of these examples represent countless work hours by both teachers and their students. Please know teachers everywhere are losing sleep worrying about children in their class and trying to figure out how to make sure their students get the best possible education in a completely unprecedented situation. Please give them time to deal with these alligators. They are dealing with all of these worries in addition to the ones we all currently share. I promise they will get to you. These are trying times and while you are worried about your children, understandably, just remember that the teacher you’re frustrated with is worrying about dozens.

Moments Dear and Not So

So, one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen on social media is this:

Profound, right?

Along with everyone else, I’m thinking about the last decade and the changes it brought. There’s a lot to be said about having a December birthday and having your personal milestones wrapped up with a big one celebrated by A LOT of people… and it’s been extensively covered by many others so I won’t rehash that here. I will say the weirdness seems to jump up a notch when you have a December birthday with a birth year ending in nine. It’s convenient because I always know what number needs to go in the ones column of my age -a hack I’m finding needing more useful as time marches on and I’m left occasionally unsure of the day of the week.

However, it also means that my personal decade meltdowns milestones coordinate with everyone’s and it can be a tad much at points. This one seems to have more gravitas than any of its predecessors. It think it’s because this is the first chunk of ten years where I’ve been (or at least pretended to be) and adulty adult the entire time. This was the decade of transatlantic moves (where I was one of the adults responsible for making it happen) and parenthood; it’s been terrifying, exhilarating, awe-striking, heart melting, and at times excruciatingly real.

Which brings me back to the quote above (If you’ve read my posts before you knew I’d get there eventually). Based on the above Broadway math, there are 600 not so dear moments in each year, so roughly 6,000 not so dear moments in a decade. That’s about 4 days and some change of not stellar moments. That’s not too bad for ten years, but in my more pessimistic moments reviewing the last decade, it seems unrealistically low.

For me, this decade has had some of the highest highs and lowest lows. I’ve had some amazing gains (please refer to- Ginger, Big and Little) and life experiences for which I am forever grateful. I’ve gained a better understanding of who I am and where I’m going. I can honestly say that when I’m reviewing the balance sheet of the decade, the dear moments make anything and everything else worth it.

On the other hand, it has also been the decade where the fact of loss has made itself more prominently known both in my life and in those close to me. I’ve also lost intangibles as my views on issues and others have shifted. The most impactful probably being my evolving body image and food. This is a welcome reminder that not all loss comes without gain.

I think a side effect of parenthood is you become more acutely aware of the passage of time through the bittersweet dichotomy of having to say goodbye to cherished stages while marveling at the ever-changing small human in front of you.

So, I’ve fully contradicted myself numerous times in a relatively short amount of writing and I’m now going to attempt to tie it all together. Stand back, this could get messy.

In times of loss, I’ve looked to the words of others to help me make sense of what has happened. Colin Murray Parkes, a British psychiatrist, has made a great impact.

The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love:it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.

-Dr. Colin Murray Parkes

(Incidentally, I’m not alone in this, Queen Elizabeth II has paraphrased this sentiment and the quote is often misattributed to her. All in all, not too shabby company to be in. )

Back to the task at hand, where I attempt to reconcile a hilarious Tumblr post with profound advice from an expert on loss. I’ve come to the conclusion that the not so dear moment math is probably correct. This is because the not so dear are probably best reserved for my woodland creature crises and other moments that are now hilarious. My moments of loss don’t count not so dear, because they are the product of having loved and been loved deeply and well. Those are truly moments so dear and worth every tear and heartache.

The times I’ve tripped and fallen in public, those I could happily lose, along with a fair amount of middle school…

Now I’ve sort of wrapped up a decade for me… I’ve been trying to do this for weeks now and can’t quite wrap it up the way I want to. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last decade, I’ve learned where I draw boundaries, I’ve learned I’m stronger than I ever imagined. I’ve paid the price for loving and being loved and I’ll continue to pay it without complaint because I know how lucky I am to be here at forty and to have so much to look forward to. I’m grateful that I know myself so much better than I did ten years ago. I’m not just saying that because I finally found a shirt that describes me to a tee (see what I did there??)

Happy New Year everyone!

Pain Spanx…

img_7693So, I guess we should start with the title of this post.  Pain Spanx is not the name of a metal band comprised of thirty and forty-something moms.  Although, how epic would that be? I feel like I could be on to something here, I’ll have to file that away for later…

Back to the explanation, I’ve been working on getting back into an exercise groove.  It’s absolutely never been my favorite thing, but I know it’s something I need to do.  Last week I took Little Ginger our regular Stroller Strides classes.  Stroller Strides for the uninitiated is an exercise class you do with your baby or toddler and the stroller.  They get to sit in the stroller and be entertained, you get to work out and be entertaining, everyone wins.  It’s a good fit for me as I don’t really find exercise relaxing and it’s not something I’m super jazzed about spending my limited time to myself on.  It also has the added benefit of socialization for Little Ginger.

The classes are also a lesson in humility, we often sing to the kids as we work through various exercises.  It is impossible to take yourself seriously as you’re working through a series of exercises that are challenging your already limited coordination AND sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” at the same time.  I’m currently working on a theory that requiring everyone to do something like that would help us work through a lot of societies ills – a few burpees while singing “B-I-N-G-O” will level any playing field pretty quickly.  Maybe Congress should give it a whirl, if nothing else the entertainment value would be totally worth it.

I decided this month I’d add the moms-only class that focuses on High Intensity Interval Training (which is exactly as much fun as it sounds like) to my routine as I am a realist.  If I pay to exercise, chances are I’m going to be better about attending.  So, I upgraded my Stroller Strides membership to include the Body Back class.  I had several reasons for being very hesitant, not the least being the name -I wasn’t exactly sure where my body had gone and why I needed to go get it back?

Nevertheless, last week was my first week of doing both classes and as expected; I. AM. SO. FREAKING. SORE! I feel like I have put on Spanx made of pure pain (upside- great post title).  Once again -totally expected.  I know I’m going to be crazy sore for a bit, but as in the past, if I keep at it, in time, it will get better.  Although, it does seem to take a longer and longer time each time I get back into this… (I see you standing over there, forty.)

What I AM trying to change this time I put on the pain Spanx is how I look at exercise as it relates to my body image.  In the past I’ve viewed the pain Spanx as a just punishment for being in possession of a body that will (as I’ve come to realize and sort of accept) never ever ever look like  what we as a society seem to see as an ideal body.  Even when I’ve been able to run three consecutive under ten minute miles I’ve never been anything approaching skinny or even trim.  So, I’ve viewed the soreness as only fair.  I obviously just didn’t work hard enough on diet or exercise so I should pay the price in discomfort physically as well as mentally.  Now, I’m trying to focus on the fact that while I will probably never feel comfortable wearing a bikini and that that’s just a life experience I’ll miss out on, this body has done some pretty amazing things.

This is the body that has carried me all around the world.  It carries my brain- with all the thoughts and knowledge I have- with it, it takes my eyes to see amazing  sights, it has taken my heart to dizzying heights and crushing lows.  It has soldiered on through joint pain that was not the result of my weight- despite what the doctors were determined to believe. This body has rallied after every surgery for torn cartilage and every bone broken in my ongoing fight with gravity. This is the body that grew my babies and then nourished them.  This is the body that rallied after losing a pregnancy and soldiered on long before my brain and heart caught up.  This is a body that has done absolutely everything I have asked of it and more. Except to be skinny.  Oh, and the splits, but I think I am going to have to let that one go.

So, here we are at me trying to change my attitude to diet and exercise.  A friend has being pointing me in the direction of  Health at Every Size (HAES) and Intuitive Eating information that is well-researched and solid advice. I’m debating ditching the scale, because no matter how hard I try not to- I find myself drifting that way every day for a quantifiable measure of my progress.  I want to stop viewing exercise as something I do to me  as punishment but instead- as something I do for me; to help me be stronger, healthier, and keep some of my stabby tendencies in check. (Right now is a perfect example- spellcheck is determined that neither stabby or stabbier are words.  I’m embracing the total fatigue endorphins brought on by exercise and letting it go – for now. This isn’t over spellcheck.) I want to focus on eating healthy food that I enjoy and listening to signals from my body rather than constantly berating and second-guessing myself.  This is baggage I really don’t want to take into my next decade.  I want to leave it behind with the the self-consciousness I’ve felt, the memories of times doctors have immediately pointed to my size before even reading the chart, the times I’ve been told I’d be so pretty if I’d only lose the weight, and the belief that I’m somehow less than because my body is more than.

img_7689This picture is an excellent starting point for my attitude adjustment. This is a live action shot of one of the classes responsible for the pain Spanx. The instructors take pictures in each class and post them in the group Facebook page. My first instinct on this was to ask them to please for the love of all that’s holy not take and/or post my picture. I was not a fan, to say the least. I’m still not overwhelmed with joy by these pictures, but I am trying to walk the walk and change how I look at things. Instead of seeing a picture that is most certainly NOT my best angle (and I chose the most flattering option of the workout pictures) and seriously questioning the pattern on those pants- I’m trying to focus on the fact that picture is proof I’m getting stronger. It’s a reminder I did something healthy for my body and took some time for me. So, for the time being, I’m going to go with the flow and work on not cringing when I’m tagged. Yay. Growth.

As I’ve been thinking about my goals to meet by forty, the thought kept circling, JAWS-like, in the back of my mind that I should really have a weight goal in the mix. Instead, I’m going to focus on making sure this body, my body, that has done a great job getting me this far, is as healthy as possible as I head into the next decade. Continuing to be realistic, I realize this isn’t something that I can poof into existence.  In all honesty- it would be so much easier to set some arbitrary number goal for pounds to be lost and minutes to be exercised and sulk for a bit if I don’t hit those numbers.  But- it won’t be easier to haul all that baggage around for the rest of my life.  I’m sure there will be more to come about if I decide to ditch the scale, and how I approach the diet aspect this.

Right now, I’m off to approach some Advil and a hot bath with Espsom Salts.

Mom Cred

*This post addresses pregnancy and infant loss

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about milestones lately. Some days  I look in the mirror and I’m shocked that I am the mother of two little kids… Am I really adulty enough for this? This lead me to thinking about building your “mom cred” -the experience you get that qualifies you for the job.

Early on you earn Mom cred with copious amounts of bodily fluid. During pregnancy, you might be among the legions who learn to vomit while driving the car. Your older child may provide running commentary on your bouts of morning all day sickness. “Good job Mommy! You flowed up in the potty this time!”

Then the baby arrives and the bodily fluid game gets intense. Epic spit ups and blowouts become the stuff of knowing laughter and family lore. You learn to laugh about the international plane flight you made where your baby blows out all of his outfits and you put him in the last one two hours before landing and start eyeing other things you’ve brought in case you need to punt with another MacGyvered (Spellcheck is insistent this isn’t a word. We’ve agreed to disagree) outfit while sitting in jeans that were collateral damage of not one, not two, not three, but four diaper blowouts. Not that I speak from experience or anything

After a few experiences, you feel a little more confident in your mom cred. You’ve been there, you’ve seen things. There are at least a few instances where you feel that you can provide advice. (Sorry to all that have to hear my spiel on how many diapers you need on a plane- I know suggesting an entire box isn’t helpful)

Then the little poo machines get bigger and there are more things that build your mom cred. You may have to frantically poll Facebook (for a friend, of course) about what will get marker out of the good wood table after a three year old is a bit over-vigorous with his markers and you were a bit distracted. Once again, the crisis passes, you feel a little more settled in this Mom thing, you can offer more practical advice. In case anyone is wondering about the marker/wood table thing- the answer is Murphy’s Wood soap, coconut oil, and frantic scrubbing while beseeching the gods of household tips.

I could go on (and On and on)with more examples of Mom cred earned. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Mom cred also sadly gets earned through heartache. I’m sorry for the abrupt shift in tone, but my mind kept coming back to the fact that today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Erma Bombeck, a writer I admire and aspire to be like, wrote a beautiful article for Mother’s Day years ago honoring mothers who have lost children. The quote that has stayed with me for years is,

“This may seem like a strange Mother’s Day column on a day when joy and life abound for the millions of mothers throughout the country. But it’s also a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back.”

In that vein, I feel like the mothers who often have the most mom cred are the ones who have carry their children in their hearts because they can’t be in their arms. Parenthood always demands a level of strength that is often surprising to find you have when it is needed. I think parents who experience loss have a strength that goes unnoticed, and worse, undiscussed. It is a horrifically sad, heartbreaking topic that is easier to avoid, however it is a reality that one in four pregnancies don’t end the way we hope they will. Some people will beat the odds and just say “I can’t even imagine,” sympathize and are supportive. Then there are those of us who are that one in four. Today is a day that honors all of those unimaginable moments, but for so many parents parenting children who aren’t here there are difficult days sprinkled throughout the year.

As I said, I’m sorry an initially lighthearted post about funny bodily fluid stories and finding the humor in the tougher moments of daily life with small humans took such a hard turn. But, one in four are earning the hardest mom cred of all- the one that no one wants. It’s not what becomes a family story later that’s shared with laughter and smiles. However, these stories still need to be told and these losses need to be remembered. To all of you reading this today who are one in four, I am thinking about you and remembering the sweet little lives you honor and keep safe in your heart. I’ll be thinking about you throughout the year, especially on those days that are harder.

There’s really no good way to wrap this one up. Motherhood is hard, I’m not denying it, and it’s not a competition. The day-to-day is tough with tiny people, but I always try to remember some things are harder. Today, however, serves as a reminder of what I have and how important that is. I’ll choose my words with more care on the days I’m earning my mom cred through various misadventures. I’ll take a moment to be sad for when the odds weren’t in my favor and send love to others who are in the same boat.

Thank you for reading this- and I promise we’ll return to the randomness that is my countdown to forty next time.