Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

As I am writing this, I am prepared for and awaiting Hurricane Irene to pass by this area of the East Coast. Although several of my friends who live near to the shoreline have already had to evacuate, I am thankful that I am able to stay in my own home. After last year's tornado, one dinky hurricane is not scaring me away.
Most important to me, at this moment, is that for the first time in, I don't know how many years, I am alone. Completely, utterly, you can hear a pin drop, alone. I am feeling devinely bliss.
My husband took my son to California to visit with my Brother-in-Law and his family. I felt that this was a perfect time to get our carpets professionally cleaned in our home. The dogs went to the kennel ("Doggie Camp," as my son calls it). Although I was left to shlep numerous items downstairs and orchestrate this whole undertaking, once the cleaners left, I took a nice hot shower and then a peaceful, completely uninterrupted nap. Sublime does not even begin to describe how I felt.
Family and dogs were all supposed to return home on Saturday. With the forecast of Hurricane Irene passing through our area over the weekend, my husband made the decision to fly back home with my son on Monday. Dogs will be coming home then too. Here I thought I would have two days to relax and unwind. Now it has turned into four! I am completely in Heaven! Even if we lose electricity, I will luxuriate in reading novels barely started or take well deserved naps. As a well designed credit card commercial tags, what I have now is priceless!
From this blessed experience, I must admit that as a Later Mom, I feel we all need significant downtime. This time alone has been truly an unexpected blessing because every one of my typical days is filled with enormous amounts of stress. Putting myself aside, though, shouldn't every Mom get alone time? Real alone time. Not catch up on e-mail time. Not do some extra laundry time. Real, honest-to-goodness do something relaxing time! 
I often cringe when magazines or professional organizers suggest to Moms that they "schedule" downtime for themselves. If I have to schedule it, then how can it truly be considered "downtime?" My personal example is that I have a standing manicure appointment at the same time, every two weeks. Manicures used to be luxurious for me. They bordered on indulgent. Now they have been relegated to a "task" that needs to be fulfilled whether I'm in the mood for a manicure or not. It has lost it's specialness.
Some say, "You should schedule a walk into your day," or "Go to a yoga class each week." Both would make me feel good, but eventually they will also become "commitments" that I will eventually resent. "Scheduling" in true relaxation time just doesn't do it for me. I need unexpected or minimally planned "me" time. I anticipated having two "alone" days this week. I now have four! What an amazing, precious gift!
Our recent Guest Blogger, Holly Sklar, made the same point. She described "Date Night" with her husband as almost another task on the "To Do" list. She stated that the thrill and excitement of it, especially after a full, busy week, felt like another chore. Even as couples, relaxation time together is no longer what it used to be. As she pointed out, as a Later Mom, parenting, having a full or part time job, and running a home, drain the life out of you. And as she admitted, she almost resents her children for it, even though she loves them passionately.
So where does this leave us? If we schedule in some pampering or relaxation time, we risk having it turn into a chore. If we don't schedule it in, we get drained, cranky, and worn down. There needs to be a happy medium.
I found, especially through this unexpected gift of alone time, that by asking for it may be the best solution. When you are feeling the need to escape, ask your mate to watch the kids while you hit the gym. If you are run down and need a massage, hire a babysitter or ask a friend to watch your kids. If the sight of books and toys strewn across the room make you want to scream and cry at the same time, ask to get a manicure while the family eats dinner. And while you are asking, request that the dishes and pans get cleaned as well so as not to "smudge" your pretty fingers. All of these unexpected gifts of time will be so much more meaningful and needed at the times when you need them most! They will feel like gifts instead of chores! You will be nurturing your own body, mind and soul.
Lastly, though, reciprocate. A Mom friend of mine who has a son the same age, had my son over for a six hour playdate! I was at a stress point where I needed alone time very desperately. In turn, I took her son for a six hour playdate this past weekend. I could tell that she was equally grateful to have gotten a large chunk of time for herself as well. 
It all boils down to what we need, when we need it, and to find a way to get that need fulfilled. Our lives are over planned as it is. So try to get your own unexpected time in. You might be surprised at how easy and effective it can be. If you are even luckier, a roadblock, like my Hurricane, will come along, allowing you to indulge in your alone time just a little bit longer! I'm certainly enjoying mine!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Days of Our Lives - by Elizabeth Allen

Do you watch soaps? Will you admit it? Perhaps you’re a GH (General Hospital) or OLTL (One Life to Live) devotee.

Me? It’s been DOOL since 1968 when Hope was just a baby, Alice Horton was still young and pretty and no one referred to Victor Kiriakis as Jennifer Aniston’s dad (not until one year later when she came along in 1969). Oh sure, there have been lapses—some lasting years—where I didn’t indulge my histrionic needs, but something always enticed me back to the world of affairs, hospital romances, mistaken identities, untimely albeit temporary deaths, switched babies, pregnancy after the first time, and the ever popular evil twin. I’ve laughed, cried, rooted for and bitched at the players over the years. I’ve gotten so involved with a plotline that I forced my baby to listen to my conjecture about how John and Marlena would get out of this mess and what had to happen next. To which my baby eagerly responded, “Hungee, mommy…”

I willingly acknowledge with the same humble conviction of a recovering alcoholic that when it comes to soaps, I am as emotionally available as they come. I know the acting is lousy; I know the writing is cheesy; I know the plotlines are beyond redundant; I know the overall focus is negative and I know they are designed to keep you coming back FOR-FREAKING-EVER like a slave to the nail salon for acrylic tips.

But I simply can’t help myself. What’s more? I don’t want to. This is my sinful pleasure; my addiction. DVR’s? They were invented for me.

I have engaged in debates—ad nauseum—with my husband about why I watch this soap daily and nothing I can say convinces him that it has any socially redeeming value. He says, “I just can’t understand why you want to watch so much negativity…why you watch something that makes you sad…”

“But it doesn’t!” I offer with a sincere competitive edge in my voice to make him understand. But then I stop. What’s the point of belaboring this? How can I possibly explain that I love to cry and not out of grief or pity? I will watch movies that while essentially sad or have sad elements, move me. Great love stories get me going. I cry when I am touched. I weep at devastating intensity. I tear up at well written happy endings. The following movies are on my top tear-jerker list and I will watch them more than once: Sophie’s Choice, Seven Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness (yeah, I like Will Smith), City of Angels, Somewhere in Time, Finding Neverland, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Beautiful Mind…and so on.

So what’s any of this have to do with motherhood later? I don’t know. Perhaps had I not had so much child-free time on my hands, I wouldn’t have gotten sucked into this melodramatic habit? Nah. That’s not it. Like I said earlier, I got hooked when I was ten years old.

What’s your excuse? What jerks your tears?

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where Do We Go When We Die? by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

So I am dealing with a death in the family and wondering how to discuss this with my five year old daughter. My great aunt died yesterday. She and her husband were like a second set of grandparents for my daughter. Since my husband’s parents are dead, my husband had adopted my aunt and uncle as surrogate parents, doing things for them and often taking my daughter with him on his visits to their home.

My aunt was a very feisty gal. When I asked her what it was like to be married to someone for over 60 years she replied “It’s a lot of cooked meals.” Start doing the math and the number of meals is mind boggling. She was funny and fun. My daughter enjoyed her company. Hanging out at her home with my uncle and their two dogs, my aunt would always pull out little toys or pens and paper for my daughter to enjoy.

I really treasured my aunt. I think because she was not my mom we didn’t have the same emotional charge over issues and so it was easy to just relax around her. Generationally, she easily could have been a parent to my husband as she was 87 years old (I think.) I am going to miss her and so will my husband and daughter.

As I consider the upcoming conversation about death, I am trying to think of the questions my daughter will ask me like “Where do we go when we die?” When one has an obvious religious paradigm that governs their lives, answering the heaven question is clearly based on that religion. As a former Catholic, I just can’t speak to the big issues of life with the answers I grew up hearing. Both my husband and I fall more into a Native American ethic, though neither of us happens to be apart of any tribe. As a way to address our anti-religion stance I have started going to the Universal Unitarian church in town. In my conversations with my husband about this, I reminded him that we both had religions that we rebelled against, the least we can do for our daughter is to give her a structure for religion. And if there is something we disagree with at church then as a family we can discuss it.

A few years ago when my daughter was three years old, our dog was run over and had to be put down. We buried our wonderful dog at the lower lake by our home. My daughter got to see our dog just before she died and to touch her in death before we put our dog in the ground. My daughter asked a lot of questions, but three years old is not almost six years old. And a dog is not a person. But there it is: death is death.

So tomorrow on the drive over to see my uncle we will be talking about life and death. Today it will be more discussions between my husband and myself so that we are clear—as clear as anyone can be when faced with a loss—about the esoteric question that we all have: where do we go when we die. Figuring out how to explain what we believe to our daughter is definitely more difficult without religion.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

GUEST BLOG POST: The Later Mom Paradox: Grateful To Have Kids, Holly Sklar

Because of the way I became a mom later in life – via IVF after several miscarriages – I count myself lucky to have kids at all. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a deeper longing than the one I had to be a parent. After each setback my husband and I experienced in our quest for kids, I became more determined to create a family, somehow or other. Had my IVF not been successful, I probably would have gone down the road to adoption. I would have been full of gratitude to have gotten one healthy child, but I wound up with twins, a boy and a girl. I often say I hit the jackpot. Despite the grief and pain along the way, the wait was worth it.

I might have had children earlier in life, but I didn’t start dating my husband until my thirty-fifth birthday. We moved in together about a year later, and by the time we got engaged, planned a wedding, actually got hitched, went on a honeymoon, and decided we were ready to try to start a family, I was just shy of 38. My only successful pregnancy began three years later, and I’d hit forty-one by the day I gave birth.

All this preamble to parenthood made me appreciate finally getting there in a different way than I might have if I’d done so earlier in life. So does having lost both of my parents before my children arrived. One of the unfortunate circumstances that sometimes comes with being a Later Mom is that sharing the kids with your own parents may not happen. A lot of my Later Mom friends have lost one parent; very few have lost both. My kids only have one set of grandparents – my in-laws. I’ve made sure to foster a close bond between my kids and the grandparents they do have. I’m grateful for my in-laws, and at the same time, wistful about what my kids are missing, as well as what my parents missed.

Not having my parents around has made me a somewhat different parent than I might have been otherwise. I feel an obligation to do the sorts of things with my kids that my parents did with my brother and me. Some of those are big things, like taking them to Muir Woods last Thanksgiving to instill an appreciation of nature and the grandeur of something bigger, older, and longer-lasting than ourselves. Some of them are smaller, like taking them out for Chinese food in downtown L.A. because my parents took my brother and I to Chinese restaurants every Sunday night on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Like my mom, I take the kids to museums and street fairs and cultural festivals; I take them to baseball games because that was something I shared with my dad. I savor this stuff, I notice it as it happens; on these excursions, I try hard to be in the moment, because I’m overly aware that the moments don’t last.

And even though my gratitude at getting to be a parent is great, I resent the loss of personal time I've experienced since becoming a parent. I had a life before I had kids. I was more wrapped up in my career, and tried to do some very ambitious things (e.g., I wrote, sold and had optioned several screenplays, but have no time for that now). I traveled more for pleasure. I would meet friends across town to hear live music, try a new restaurant, go on a hike or a bike ride. And I’d often do so on the spur of the moment. I tried cooking new recipes for myself and my husband on a regular basis; it was a fun and tasty hobby. My husband and I didn’t have to make official date nights; we just went out. We splurged on theater tickets or concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. We stayed out later. We hosted parties and barbecues at home for friends. We also gave each other space to read books, write creatively, just go out for a walk. We had a great sense of our potential: the world was before us. And when we needed quiet, we could find it at home. Down time, time alone – we had it more than we knew.

Now, well, you know the drill. We’re lucky to manage a couple of date nights a month, when we can get a sitter. We drop way more money on those dates because we’re paying for the sitter. It’s only quiet at home when the kids are asleep, and we’re too damn tired, between work and parenting, to do much creative even when there is quiet. We cook mostly what the kids will eat – they’re picky – instead of new, adventurous dishes. I rarely meet a friend for a hike, and it often takes a dozen emails between us to coordinate. Forget biking: my bike’s tires have been flat since the kids were born. Live music or theater requires a big commitment, and even if we make it, there’s no guarantee we won’t have to sell those Springsteen tickets because someone has inconveniently come down with stomach flu. I don’t know what down time is: there’s always something to do for the kids or around the house in the rare moments when I’m not working or sleeping. As for time alone -- what’s that?

Even though my kids don’t conspire to deprive me of all the things I miss about my pre-kids life, the fact is, their very existence means I don’t get to do many of those things – at least not while my kids are still small. I know I shouldn’t resent them. It’s contradictory: I just wrote here about why I’m so grateful for them, and how much I appreciate having them at all. But there it is. I am not just grateful mom, I’m also cranky, pissed off mom, because mom has to “do” for everyone else, and has little to no time to do anything for mom.

Maybe all moms, Later Moms or not, feel this strange combination of gratitude and resentment at times. But Later Moms sure know what we’re missing, having been childless longer. I know the solution is a little more me time. What parenting expert doesn’t recommend that? They all say you’ll be a better parent if you get some time to yourself. But they never say how you’re supposed to get it.

I’ll never regret having had kids. I adore them when they’re not being impossible, and I’m willing to put up with them when they are. They fact that they’re even here is nothing short of a biological miracle. My appreciation of them ultimately outweighs my resentment. But I also understand why, in last year’s movie DATE NIGHT, the Tina Fey character described her ideal fantasy as being alone in a quiet hotel room with a magazine and a Fresca. Right on.

Holly Sklar married at 37, got pregnant with twins at 40, and thus became a late-blooming mom. A movie studio story analyst , she attempts to work, nurture the kids and the marriage, and writes in the cracks in between. She is a member of the Los Angeles chapter of Motherhood Later and blogs at

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where I've Been... by Liimu

Sorry, everyone. Normally I try to get my post up by 6 am, but Hurricane Irene is heading for the coast and they are telling us we have to evacuate by 8 am tomorrow. I've had other things on my mind. I'm trying to stay in a positive frame of mind, but honestly I'm pretty sad and disappointed to have to leave when we are scheduled to be in this house until September 3. I think if it were just me, and I weren't responsible for the safety of four children (and two babysitters), I'd probably stay here through the stupid hurricane. And probably end up washed out to sea.

I'll have a more substantial blog post next week, I promise.

Till then, rain, rain, go AWAY!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cara's Fun Finds - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

We've been getting quite a few exciting products for kids here at! 
I'd like to share some of these with you!
Jungle Speed

There is a new game that has already taken Europe by storm! Jungle Speed is now available in America with more than two million games already sold. Developed by the company Asmodee, Jungle Speed is a fast, quick thinking game using lightening fast reflexes. The object of the game is for the opponents to be quick enough to get rid of their cards by grabbing a bright yellow totem in the middle.
I played Jungle Speed with my son, husband and Mother-in-Law. After a quick reading of the instructions to each player, we were off, flipping cards and racing to grab the coveted totem! My son had the most fun, partially because his reflexes were quickest! We all had fun, though, trying to flip our cards in creative ways, matching symbols and trying to grab that totem! Needless to say, my son won several rounds. We all had fun, though, trying to get the totem and rid our cards to win!
Jungle Speed is for ages 8+
Playing time: 15 minutes (although we far exceeded that!)
Includes a cloth bag, 80 cards, one totem and one rule book.
This game retails for $19.99 and is currently available at Toys "R" Us, Target, Walmart and other major and individual retailers across the country.
For a game play video, check out:

The Adventures of Bella & Harry
Let's Visit Venice!
By Lisa Manzione
The Adventures of Bella and Harry is a picture book series that takes the young reader through excursions of a dog named Bella, her little brother Harry and their family. Together they travel the world exploring new, exciting cities. These two lovable Chihuahuas travel the world while allowing readers to learn and appreciate different countries and understand each country's cultural diversity.
The "Bella and Harry" series is an informative, interactive and exciting way to introduce children to travel. As the pups visit other countries, they learn about the customs, history and exciting landmarks. The series explores locations both domestically as well as internationally.
In this second book of the series, Bella and Harry visit Venice, Italy. My son (age 8) read the book to me and giggled his way through the escapades! The part my son said he loved the most was when Harry ran off after a flock of pigeons! I presume because my son does the same, he could relate to the excitement and difficulty in catching a bird! 
The artwork in this book, illustrated by Kristine Lucco is gorgeous! The stunning illustrations certainly enhance the beauty of the story as Bella and Harry travel through Italy.
My son picked up on two interesting aspects about Italy through the illustrations; First, that Italy is shaped like a boot, as the story describes and a beautiful illustration portrays; Second, my son remembered that the cultural colors of Italy are green, white and red! I was impressed that he remembered both pieces of information!
This book covers a multitude of facts about Italy including the use of gondolas, visiting St. Mark's Square and learning what a Patron Saint is. The pups also learned about Rialto Bridge and "Carnivale de Venezia" with it's elaborate masks! The book ends with a short list of fun Italian phrases and useful words.
For more information about Bella and Harry and to see more fun, visit their website at:
This book is published by Trimark Press, Inc. 
Reading level would be ideal for ages 4+ with a more comprehensive understanding for ages 8+.
With more than eleven million KIDZ BOP CDs sold, one Platinum Record, and 9 Gold Records, KIDZ BOP is the number one music brand in the U.S.! Their latest CD, KIDZ BOP 20 is sure to be another hit!
KIDZ BOP 20 is celebrating it's 10th Anniversary with a new class of talented kids performing well known songs such as:
Born This Way
Never Say Never
Who Says
The Lazy Song
We played this CD at my son's recent birthday party. The guests went wild and broke out in hip-hop moves and sang the songs they knew! I was so excited that this CD added a fun and exciting dimension to my son's party that was completely unexpected!
Additionally, we went to the website, where we listened to birthday themed celebrity shout outs, watched video props and investigated fun activities as part of the "Official KIDZ BOP Birthday Bash Super Contest"! It was a very cool website!
KIDZBOP is available at KIDZBOP SHOP and iTunes
Appropriate for children ages 5 - 12

Thanks to the companies featured for providing product samples.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sticky Nest - by Elizabeth Allen

I see young mothers all around me doing everything from dropping off their 6 year-olds for the first day of kindergarten to quick hugs outside their 18 year-olds freshman college dorm. They do it fast too! Like ripping off a Band-Aid. They shed ne’er a tear before they’re on their way to lunch with the girls or meeting with the interior designer to overhaul junior’s room.

But watch an older mom take little Timmy to his first day of school. He’s chomping at the bit, pulling toward the Fisher-Price Tiny Tots Farm with all his weight and she’s weeping at an elevated level of histrionics like something out of Sophie’s Choice. And it doesn’t seem to get any easier from there. At least it hasn’t for me.

My daughter turned 16 this past July and I have a whole list of BFI’s—Brace For It.

Driving: without me or her father, alone, fast, listening to and/or singing along with music on her ipod, with a friend who’s distracting her by talking instead of keeping her eyes on the road thus discouraging my daughter from talking back to her, at night, in the rain, when the sun is at that blinding level, even when it’s not, when there are other cars on the road, and why she’s been gone for more than ten minutes.

Boyfriends: while I trust her judgment in whom she chooses to be with and while she is pretty sophisticated about boys in general, I just don’t think she’s really ready for what a 16 year old boy wants. No offense to my readers who are parents of teenage sons, but you know what I’m talking about. Regarding rules – we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. If we impose rigid guidelines, there will be rebellion to contend with and we run the risk of driving her away and then she’ll hop into that car ( SEE: first BFI) and elope with that boy in Georgia just to make a point. If we give her complete and unrestricted freedom, she’ll take it and I’ll still be nauseous until she gets home from her date. And then she’ll tell me nothing. Oy vay.

College: Sure. I hear what you’re saying. “She’s 16! That’s two years away!” But to me it feels like tomorrow. Intellectually, I understand the concept that our children are only ours for a short time and we must let them go, but my gut and my heart march to a different drummer. Between you and me (and I swear I will NOT pressure her to do this!) I want her to go to a local college, live at home, finish her homework and invite me in to watch a tearjerker DVD at least twice a week, help me cook family meals (why not? She’ll get to eat for free as long as she stays home) and go shopping with me once in a while. And then, once she graduates, maybe look for a position in her chosen field within a 50-mile-radius of me. Oh, and there’s no hurry to move out.

See this momma bird kicking her chick out of the nest?

THAT ain't me.

I know, I know. I’ve seen emotionally crippled young adults whose parents kept them utterly dependent and once on their own, they were completely helpless. I knew a boy in college who had never set foot in a grocery store. The first time he went food shopping for his apartment, he looked for packages of bologna on the bread aisle because it was logical that sandwich stuffs should be there. I’m not saying my clingy tendencies are healthy or even justified. Just the emotional ramblings and apprehensions of one gal who waited so long to have her dream baby and doesn’t want to wake up too soon.

Don’t pinch me.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Whenever You’re Ready…—by Jamie Levine

Jayda has a friend who is a few months older than she is, and at the beginning of this summer, Jayda’s friend started swimming. Just like that. She’d taken lessons all last summer, and a few during the winter, and has always loved the water, but she couldn’t exactly swim. Then, this June, she dove right in—literally.

I was hoping this would be the summer that Jayda learned to swim, too. Like her friend, Jayda loves being in the water, and she’s had lessons before—but my kid hates to put her head under the water. When I signed Jayda up for summer camp, I assumed the two lessons a day she would be getting would give her the push she needed to give up her water wings and start floating on her own. But my plans for Jayda weren’t exactly her plans. All summer long, Jayda and I have enjoyed our time at the town pool, but Jayda hasn't swam on her own. Or maybe she hasn't wanted to swim on her own. As my friend said to me when I marveled at her daughter’s seemingly-sudden transformation into a fish, “she had to be ready…and she was finally ready,” and I guess Jayda hasn't been. Because pushing, praying, negotiating—none of that works if your kid simply doesn’t want to do something.

Deep-down, I’ve always known this is true; it’s the case with potty training and with learning how to ride a bike, as well as with taking other kinds of risks. This statement is also relevant to the behavior of adults. You can lecture a friend about how terrible her relationship is, and she may even agree with you, but if she’s not ready, she’ll never leave her mate. Or her dead-end job. Or go back to school. Or take any positive steps forward—if the time isn’t right for her. We all have our comfort zones, and they’re difficult to leave behind.

Lately, I’ve been marveling at my daughter’s independence; she insists on doing things like picking out her clothes every morning and putting together her own snacks, and my kid, who normally loves being close to my side, often announces that she's walking to the ladies room at the library alone (she doesn’t know that I tip-toe behind her and make sure she gets there safely), and adores it when I let her spend time at a friend’s house without me. But she’s still a four-year-old—and she still begs me to pick her up and hold onto her tightly several times a day. And, as Jayda's mother, I’m here to love her and encourage her by making her feel secure—not to force her into anything, or to turn her into someone whom she isn’t. Even if I think she can—or should—do something, like learn how to swim this summer.

A few days ago, Jayda and I were at a pool with my cousin—a shallow pool that likely made Jayda feel extra-secure—and just like that, Jayda put her head in the water and started moving her hands and kicking her feet. I was amazed. She was ready: My little girl was trying to swim. Her efforts didn’t last long—and she didn’t get far—but she did get started. And all it really takes for anyone to get where they need to go—into a better relationship, the start of a new passion, a rung ahead on the ladder—is to take the first step. My little girl is on her way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Dr. Pickhardt, before I begin my questions regarding your book and the wonderful premise and theory behind it, I’d like to pick your brain and offer you some common (mis)conceptions regarding young adults who return to their parent’s home after years of independent living.

Let’s see what this line of questioning provides the reader:

1) Perhaps one of the greatest family “secrets” is the adult child who comes to live back home, and the parents who provide “excuses” for his/her doing so. Can you better explain this co-dependent existence?

Keeping an adult child's return home a "secret" makes it sound like a source of shame/blame/criticism/guilt -- for the child, for the parents, for who? How sad, adding all that painful and unnecessary emotional baggage to a healthy and normal event! About 40% of young people in their twenties, having not yet found or having lost their independent footing, spend some time living back home for a while, if they are fortunate enough to have loving parents able to lend a helping hand. Nothing is "wrong." Something is "right." Family is a support system that hopefully is available to all members when times of need arise -- just like aging parents will increasingly turn to their grown children for support and care. Rather than be ashamed, be grateful.

2) The current economy is producing an environment where recent grads can’t often financially make it on their own. Do you feel that this societal conundrum is promulgating a mass exodus to ones’ original household?

Certainly hard economic times make it harder to find and keep employment, particularly employment of the well paying kind. Low pay, however, does not keep young people who are determined to live independently from finding a way to do so, without traditional comforts and on the cheap. Those young people who cannot tolerate this lifestyle drop, and who have parents who are willing, do return home to continue enjoying the standard of living to which they have become accustomed growing up.

3) Today’s young adults believe that just following in their parent’s footsteps will produce much “fruit,” but often without much of the “labor.” This ideological belief causes many of them to fail, and return back home. What do you think?

Young people who have become accustomed to part-time work during high school and college tend to have a pretty realistic view of "labor" it takes to create the "fruit" of self-support. Those without any hardworking history of self-support, however, may find working hard for not very much pay not to their liking, and so return home for a while to ponder the work it's going to take to live independently.

Q: What prompted you to write a book about children who return back home after years of independence?

A: From counseling families over the years, I've seen a lot of empty nests get temporarily refilled when young people get into crisis and come back home to recover before trying independence again. I wrote this book to help parents understand that when their teenager graduates from high school, he or she does not enter young adulthood, but begins the last and hardest stage of adolescence, trial independence (ages 18 - 23,) The book is intended to be a primer for parents to help them understand the challenges of this final adolescent stage, extend their care and empower their returning son of daughter during an awkward time, when neither was expecting this family reunion. Now there this more growing up to do and much meaningful (mentoring) parenting that can be done.

Q: Children have always returned back to the nest having: recently graduated, lost a job, divorced, moved away, etc. Do you see this trend as increasing? If so, why?

A: To what degree this trend is increasing, I don't know, although census figures I seen reported do suggest more young people in their twenties are living (at least for a while) in the parental home. Why this is so may partly have to do with the rapidly changing society in which we live making it harder for young people today to find a stable independent footing than in earlier, simpler times.

Q: Parents of children who “fail” often feel personally responsible for their children’s failures. Through their own denial, these parents agree to take their children back home. Does the healing need to take place between the children and their parents, or within the parents, themselves?

A: Why treat return as a "failure?" All the boomerang means is that a first attempt at independence didn't result in catching hold, so the return is a chance to learn from the attempt, recover resolution, and get ready to try independence again. The only "failure" here is the failure of grown child and parents to gather positive energy instead of wasting it on pointless, and harmful, self-recrimination.

Q: What suggestions can you offer parents whose children are: broke, alone, jobless, homeless, purposeless other than to live back home?

A: When parents agree to accept a child's return to live at home, it has to be a conditional, working stay. There needs to be an agreed upon duration of return, agreed upon household terms, and agreed upon objectives to be accomplished. If a son or daughter is in no state to make or keep these commitments, then it may be best to provide some short term temporary financial support for separate lodging, perhaps arrange for some psychological help, continuing to provide committed parental love and faith, all in the hope that these may help the young person find a way to regain their independent footing.

Q: What positivity can be gained by taking a child back into one’s home?

A: A huge amount can be gained by a boomerang home. Most important, parents and older child can learn to live on mutual terms that set the stage for a constructive adult relationship in the years ahead. In addition, parents can learn to respect the right and responsibility of their child to make independent decisions, while the child comes to value the wisdom of life experience that parents have to offer. And in the best scenarios, both enjoy this unexpected extended time living together that they are not likely to ever have again.

Q: What tips can you offer parents and their children regarding this often tense living arrangement?

A: A lot of tension can be avoided when adequate setting of household terms and clarifying of expectations are done at the outset of the stay. If, however, the tension results from unresolved conflicts and unhealed hurt feelings, then this is the time to get some family counseling to work these issues through.

Q: Do you believe that it’s a parent’s “job” to take their young adult/children back into the home if it’s financially feasible?

A: I believe that having children is not a commitment that ends when they leave home, but is life long, and that works two ways: first the old caretake their young, then the young caretake their old.

Q: What do you say to (out of work, unemployed, financially troubled) parents who encourage their child to return back home, for the family’s greater financial gain?

A: Far better to ask your grown child for financial support directly than to indirectly engineer his or her living back with you so you can live off them.

Carl Pickhardt, PhD, and author, Boomerang Kids, is a psychologist in a private conseling practice. He received his BA and MD from Harvard, and his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the American and Texas psychological associations. Dr. Pickhardt is married with four grown children and one grandchild.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

We Can Have It All...Not by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

It is so fascinating to read books or watch films that I enjoyed before I became a mother. I still remember the pre-motherhood thinking I had before I had my daughter. The judgements of how I would do “it” better, e.g. I would not have bratty kids...ha. (Who doesn’t have bratty kids some days, right. I am talking to real moms here, so I know, that you know, what development stages I’m remembering...and of course what I have to look forward to as well.)

The other thing I remember distinctly about my pre-motherhood life is the naive notion that I could have it all. That I would seamlessly and effortless blend motherhood, marriage and career. Wow, what a big load of... Yeah, right. Now this is the thought that brings me back to the film that I watched last night. Mona LIsa Smile, a 2004 vehicle for Julia Roberts and four other actress who have gone on to have great careers: Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ginnifer Goodwin. This film was made before Roberts became a mother and also before one other actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal become a mom. I wonder what Roberts and Gyllenhaal would have to say about this film now that they are moms.

The logline from IMBd for the film is: A free-thinking art professor teaches conservative 50's Wellesley girls to question their traditional societal roles.” But, the film is so much more. Really it’s a statement about what women should want; that somehow motherhood and marriage is not enough. That women aren’t living up to their potential if they are striving for motherhood and marriage. Can I say that I loved this movie when I saw it for the first time at the theater, which was before I was dating my husband and I had pretty much given up thinking I would ever have a baby. At the time, I was thinking of adopting an older child. I was teaching high school full time and I had a cute little house down the road from my mother in rural Arizona. All that to say, this film really resonated with me, hell I was the target audience. And it wrecked me.

Fast forward to reconnecting with friends on Facebook and considering the lives of many of my closest college friends, many of whom are or were stay-at-home mothers and most of whom have college degrees (BAs and MAs). How to reconcile the feminist movement and the choice that women are still making to have motherhood as their top priority even when their minds are highly educated; even when there are career paths to be taken or that have been pursued. When one considers the later mother, this issue of letting motherhood takeover one’s life becomes even more interesting. Even though having a career is very important for many women, having a career may not be enough.

I believe biology is a driving force for women and men as well. The tick tock of the baby clock gets louder and louder the older women get and though I have friends who are unmarried and without children, I know that a number of them would have liked a different path. Biology is real and somehow feminism has dismissed this.

Well, I am stuck now. I have my soapbox out and I am firmly planted there, but where I am really headed with this post? I could go on and on and on about the state of motherhood, but do I really want to here or now? I think what I am really wanting say is that if mothers really want to blend motherhood, marriage and career then some real changes need to happen since we are living in a society that is rather unfriendly to mothers. Wow, isn’t the brain an amazing thing because I am back to the book I recently read entitled The Price of Motherhood, why the most important job in the world is still the least valued by Ann Crittenden.

Mona Lisa Smile while in one way empowers young women to want more, it also negates the notion of how important motherhood is in and of itself—we are making human capital that makes GDP go. Crittenden’s book really changed how I viewed my interior conflict about wanting to be a mother and wanting a high-powered career. Something’s got to give and for me it has turned out to be my career as I consistently make choices that put family life first.

As a filmmaker, I am reminded again how powerful the medium is and I want to somehow address the issues I raise in this post in my film work. The conflict I am feeling also seems to have a choke-hold on the current script I am working on entitled Adagio, which explores a wife and mother's pursuit to bring her work as a composer and conductor to fruition. I am stuck. What I wanted to say years ago before I was a mother is not what I want to say now that I have become a mom. The question is: what do I want to say about motherhood and career and the career of being a mother? I am still trying to figure this out. It’s probably why I can’t write at the moment. It’s a puzzle that I want to solve in my mind before I commit the story to script. Maybe I can’t solve it and my script will show that. It’s so interesting to be a writer, because here again, I seem to be writing this post for me.

No pithy wrap up, just the sound of Tom and Jerry in the background as I type away here at my computer...

Disclaimer: I am not making a value statement with this post for stay-at-home moms or working moms. I happen to be a working mom, who has worked full-time and part-time and not at all during these past six years of my daughter’s life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nature vs. Nuture by Robin Gorman Newman

My husband invited Seth and I to spend two nights with him in East Hampton on a business trip, and we just returned last night.

Originally I wasn't sure if we'd stay one or two nights, but we had such a great first day, that we decided to stay.

Marc worked at his client, and I drove his car around.  It was Seth and I by day, and we had a blast.  We visited South Hampton, Sag Harbor and Amagansett.  Shopped til you drop, and also hit the streets of East Hampton.  We managed to squeeze in a swim, and had some nice meals out.

Seth has been my shopping buddy since he was little.

I used to take him to the supermarket where he'd help put the bottles and cans into the return machine, and we'd make our way up 'n down the aisles, where he picked out food he'd like to eat, and I pointed out things like coconuts, which was another comical blog post I wrote. I treated it as an educational/bonding experience.

My real  shopping treat is rummaging the racks of TJ Maxx. It's the thrill of the hunt...and bargain prices.  Seth often came with me.  We had a pact....we shop for mommy, then we shop for Seth.  I never promised I'd buy him a toy.  Sometimes I did...other times not...didn't want him to expect that each time we entered a store, he'd come out with a goody.  And, he came to understand.

He is generally patient and even offers his opinion if I'm contemplating make a purchase I'm not sure of.  He he has good taste.

It's led me to think about nature vs. nurture.

When I've shared with mom friends about the way Seth and I shop together, some are amazed.  They say they could never do that with their sons.  But, I wonder if part of it is training..the experience you share with them and how you make it fun.  Or, do they just assume their child wouldn't rise to the occasion, without giving it a go?

Is it possible someone is just an innate shopper?  And, what about other activities that we might think they'd won't like or they haven't been groomed for?

It's easy to reach a conclusion in advance, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Seth is always eager to join me on a shopping trip, as long as I make sure there are interesting things for him to look at and that I don't overdue any time in the fitting room.

I'm grateful for his company and am glad that this is one activity we can share since there are so many boy toys, games, etc. that aren't the easiest for me to embrace.  For that, he has his father, friends, or does some solo play.  But, I do want to continue to cultivate a close relationship with him as the years go by, and while shopping isn't all that we do together, it is something that works for both of us...even if just window shopping.  Part of the fun is the exploration and the mommy/son time.

Are there things you do with your child that you raised them to enjoy?

Are there activities you wish they'd embrace?

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Weight Loss and The Law of Attraction (oh, and Money and Abundance, too) Liimu

Both because my blogging day is nearly half over and because I recently downloaded and listened to Esther and Jerry Hicks "Think and Get Slim," I am inspired to share a blog I posted to my own site, Recreating Liimu, not long ago.

While I am still waiting for the scale to show the numbers I want to see, I remain as confident as ever. I recently ran 5 miles outside ofr the first time, and just a couple days ago ran 2 miles in 20 minutes! That's my first time running my old 10 minute pace I was happy to be running before I got pregnant. I am SO happy with that because I know I will be ready for the half-marathon in November.

I have really made some significant progress since I had little Max. My body has definitely toned up and I have lost 15 pounds since the beginning of June, more than 30 pounds overall. I still have 40 pounds to go, but I know the Universe is going to suck that off of me with the quickness. One reason I know this to be true is that I have experience with affirmation prayers of abundance working WELL and now all I have to do is come up with an equally powerful prayer around my weight loss.

The abundance is prayer is amazing. Since I have been saying it consistently, I have been seeing contracts that were already for a good amount of money get DOUBLED by the client, have seen checks come in weeks early that were for thousands more than I expected them to be, have seen small projects pop up out of nowhere for work I've already completed. It's amazing - like magic.

I have a friend who is skilled in the Law of Attraction and she swears that since she figured out how to apply the Law of Attraction principles to her weight loss, she now has the figure of a Victoria's Secret model. She says what she does is to put on the best music she can think of (for me, that's currently "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5), gets all into an uber happy state of mind and then and ONLY then, she envisions herself at her perfect weight.

I know for a fact that I have been disallowing my ideal body to manifest by making the mistake of thinking and talking about weight loss from a negative mindset. Only starting today, I have started getting really excited about the fact that I KNOW the Law of Attraction works, so it absolutely has to work in this area if I am diligent about keeping my thoughts and words positive.

I know how it feels to be in really good shape. I know how it feels to be eating healthy and exercising, to look in the mirror and like what I see. I know that's right around the corner. I'm just going to focus on how good it's going to feel when I get there. I have seen it work with regard to manifesting abundance. Now it's time to see it in action with regard to achieving my ideal body. Oh, and case you're wondering, it looks like THIS:

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Misunderstood Child - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

"Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy..."
- Wordsworth
Every August, before school begins for the new year, my son is retested for his myriad learning disabilities. We chose August because as parents, we want to know how our son is doing immediately prior to school beginning. By doing this, we can discuss with the school what services my son would possibly need. For the past two years, the professionals have recommended intensive services and interventions for my son. 
This year, my son scored the lowest he ever had before on each of the different assessments. Each professional was outraged that, despite their strong indication for intensive services, my son has been given the smallest amount of services possible. My husband and I had requested meetings with the principal and administrators, whom all blatantly disregarded our requests. Now my son is in jeopardy of failing out of third grade without having even stepped into his new classroom.
We will once again ask to meet with the administrators of my son's school to see whether they will comply with the lengthy list of accommodations my son will need. By law, the school has 30 days to begin to act on our request. If nothing is being done, we were given the name of a lawyer who works with cases such as ours, in our school district, to advocate what is needed for our son. We understand that this lawyer is a "wolf." I think that a "wolf" lawyer is a perfect match for our school district.
Ever since I started to prepare appointments to be made for my son, I have been reading a book called, "The Unromantic Child," written as a memoir by Priscilla Gilman about her disabled son. Even with it's unusual title, this book had been calling me. I kept seeing advertisements for it. The author did interviews about it. For some reason, I just couldn't get this book out of my mind. I ended up buying it.
I won't reveal the details of the book, other than to say that if you are the parent of a Special Needs child, you should read this book. I haven't finished it yet, however I feel that this book resonates my life with my son. It also validates many of the feelings that a parent of a Special Needs child goes through, especially a Mother. Ms. Gilman writes, "Life is a wild roller-coaster right now and I am hanging on for dear life. To think that after all the work and time I invested into finding ways to help my son, the fact that it may not work out is extremely dispiriting and scary." She goes on to say, "How very much I love him, how much I want him to be happy, how agonizing it is to think of him suffering and unable to express himself because of his language issues. There is nothing I wouldn't do for him but I'm not sure what to do, and that is the most frustrating thing of all."
I know exactly how she feels. I wake up every single day wondering how I can better manage my son. Can I do anything more than I am doing to see my son exceed. My son happens to also be very bright. Every professional that has tested him has uttered those very words. What must it feel like to be aware of the fact that certain things you learn come so easily for you, it almost seems like osmosis? On the other hand, because you are so aware, you just can't comprehend why simple things, such as reading and writing seem so "natural" to those around you, yet you just can't do it, no matter how hard you try? I am in constant wonder as to what that must seem like. It would be one thing if my child had deficiencies across the board. But to know that he identifies his deficiencies and they don't make sense to him, breaks my heart even more. What must it appear like having a discussion about how the earth moves in two different ways, yet be unable to even be able to spell "planet." I simply just cannot imagine.
I remain steadfast in my optimism. As Ms. Gilman relates, "In the last month, I've realized in a way I never had before that this is and will be my life - this day-to-day work on and for my son. He will improve and develop and there will be many rewarding moments. But he has a lifelong disability and he will always need loads of effort on his behalf, both in every single interaction with him and with his teachers and therapists. It can be extremely exhausting and overwhelming...But the blessings of being his mother far outweigh the worry and stress and fatigue. Truly he has made me infinitely stronger, more patient, and compassionate person. I can do this. But I will need all the support and love I can get behind me." I am eternally thankful for all the support that I have garnered over the years, as well.
I am interested and eager to see what this school will be doing for my son this year. I am especially relieved that I will be able to call on "Mr. Wolf" lawyer if needed. Based on past experience with this school, I intend to be having conversations with "Mr. Wolf" within the next month or so. This is a huge relief. The "fight" in me is always there, but I end up entirely worn at the end of it. It's the same with my divorce lawyer. I get upset about issues, call my lawyer, she takes care of them. I go on my merry way. I want the same from "Mr. Wolf." Let him write letters, make calls and fight the school administrators. It will be one less constant anxiety to live with. I can already feel the tension release in my body.
As for my son. He is persistent and unrelenting. If he wants something badly enough, he will find a way to make it happen. Like opening a "child proof," empty medication container today. He constantly amazes me. I anticipate he always will.
"A temper known to those, who, after long
And weary expectation, have been blest
With sudden happiness beyond all hope."
- Wordsworth, "Nutting"

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