Compassion and Empathy in Children

Eliza Grace was born on March 15, 2006, at 26 weeks, 4 days, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and measuring just 11.5 inches long. She is the light of my soul and this is a story of our life in the big city.

Compassion and empathy may not win your kid an Olympic medal or a seat on the NYSE, but it sure does make for easy parenting.

I don’t know if compassion and empathy are genetic qualities or things that are learned.  But I am glad that Eliza has these qualities in abundance.  I posted on Facebook about Eliza’s recent thoughts about her mason jar.  As a reward for Eliza eating, she gets quarters.  Yes I know this is probably not the best feeding “protocol” but it works, so too bad for those in the feeding therapy community who disapprove.  Any port in a storm is my theory.

Eliza … Continue reading

Single Moms By Choice Don’t Need To Do It Alone

Heard on All Things Considered

 

Pam Rector (left) with her daughter Grace became a single mother by choice when she was ready to have a child. Liv Aannestad is expecting her first child in March through the same process, and like all expecting parents she has some questions.

Liv Aannestad has known she wanted kids as long as she can remember.

“I always assumed it would happen the normal, typical way: I’d meet somebody, maybe either in high school or college, and maybe have a few babies,” she says.

As years went by, and she still hadn’t met the right person, Liv started thinking about doing it on her own — maybe adopting or fostering — but the timing never seemed right.

Now, she thinks it is. Liv, who is 36 and single, recently became pregnant through in vitro fertilization. Like all expecting parents, she has a lot of … Continue reading

A Letter To My Younger Self

I recently read a blog post by someone who has kids and was lamenting her pre-kid single life freedoms. The post was a letter to her young self about how she should enjoy being free, staying out late with friends, traveling and not worry about meeting someone to share her life with—or about whether she has kids; that her life would be just great without them. I love how people who are married with kids always joke about what a pain it is to be married, and tell single people how lucky we are to not have to “deal with” a partner and how hard it is to be tied down to kids.

So I decided to write my own letter to my younger single self:

Dear naive self who thinks she’ll just meet Mr. Right at that perfect age (no need to worry!) and who believes her uterus will … Continue reading

Lucky Number Two

My twin daughters, Eve and Lily, are 14 months old. I spent the first 12 months of their lives in a state of euphoria. Don’t get get me wrong – I’m a Single Mother of Twins – it was hard, but I felt and continue to feel that for every “part” hard it was at least three parts amazing and awe-inspiring. Toddlerhood has been tougher. I remain in awe and in love, but I also find myself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and scared that I suddenly won’t be able to handle the next challenge.

As I look deep inside myself at this past year and forward to the years to come, what I feel more than anything is… lucky. Pure, found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, LUCKY.

I did not ask for twins. Ok, more to the point, I did not want twins. I knew there … Continue reading

The Power of Yes

If you’re a parent, chances are you’re very familiar with the word “no.” You probably hear it from your kid(s) on a regular basis, and you likely hear it coming out of your own mouth quite frequently as well. Unfortunately, in modern parenting, “no” is hard to avoid. There are little no’s — like when I ask my 8-year-old what he wants for dinner and he says “can I have a cookie?” — and then there are big no’s, like when your toddler reaches for a sharp knife or a hot stove; and most of us have times when it’s hard to tell the difference.”No” is a word that, like many other words, loses potency with too much repetition. Anyone with kids can tell you that after a while they almost seem to stop hearing “no” unless it’s said with special emphasis or in special ways.

I’ve found that at

Continue reading

The ‘We’ Of Single Motherhood

A few weeks before my 42nd birthday, sitting alone on my houseboat on a foggy morning in Sausalito, I watched a red cross appear on a home pregnancy test and was flooded with a rush of joy, relief, anticipation and fear. I had no husband or boyfriend to tell the news, so I first called my mom who with strange intuition said, “I knew that’s why you were calling!” I then began my usual phone circuit of girlfriends, my inner circle of women to whom I have always reached out for moral support. Whether it’s a career crisis or to commiserate on a bad date, each of them in their own way has always offered a dose of reality or a joke to lighten the fact that my date drank red wine with a straw because he didn’t want to stain his teeth or showed me a Facebook slideshow of Continue reading

Busy Single Mother: Black Leather and Oxygen

I spent much of this past weekend in the black leather rocker that was my nearly constant companion before I had kids. I used to spend hours in that chair, rocking and reading, losing myself for days in a Toni Morrison novel or the latest issue of Best American Short Stories or maybe 20 minutes with Alice Munro’s latest fiction in the New Yorker. But that chair and I haven’t spent much time together since my second maternity leave, since Eva’s eight short weeks of exclusive mommy bonding time expired and I returned to work and a routine that rarely affords me time to sit down, let alone read. But last week when a friend created a cash mob for our local independent bookstore, I ventured out without my children and bought two Toni Morrison novels (I’m that far behind) and the 2012 Best American Short Stories and Cheryl … Continue reading

Pulling Away

I think it’s happening and I’m not ready!!

I’m sensing that Tate is pulling away from me. He’s growing up. He’s finding out that he can have his own opinion. He’s realizing that he can have things in common with his friends that I’m not privy to.

And I don’t like it.  Not one bit.

Over the past two months we’ve had several power struggles. I ask or tell him to do something and he doesn’t respond or do what I’ve asked the first time. That might sound strange, but Tate has been a child who would almost always do what I asked or said the first time. If I said “Come here” he would come here.  If I said “Please walk on the sidewalk” he’d do so with no questions. Now I’m getting, “Why?” “Do I have to?” “Why can’t I do X instead?”  I find myself repeating the

Continue reading

Made My Decision

I think my mom’s illness, and especially her difficult recovery from surgery, has crystallized things for me. In two ways.

The first: I’m so grateful not to be enduring her illness alone. Maybe that’s a terrible reason, but I’m very grateful to have siblings who share (more than their fair share nowadays) the burden. Not just the work, but the worry.

The second, and better reason: I realized, thinking about her mortality, that when I imagine looking back at my life from an older age, having a child is the very best thing I’ve ever done. Nothing else comes close. C. brings me unspeakable joy.

How can I not want to experience this one more time?

Another blogger wrote about her decision not to have a second child, and I completely respect her choice, and her reasons behind it. Namely that she can’t be a good parent to her first … Continue reading

Girls Can Drive Dumptrucks and Boys Can Dance

“I wish our family had two moms,” Sam says, and I am caught by surprise. I am loading the dishes into the dishwasher while Sam puts the head on his new Lego alien minifigure and Eva pulls at my pants leg begging for her bedtime cup of milk.

“Why is that?” I ask. Our family has one parent. One mom. And it’s never going to have two moms.

“Because moms are great, and if there were two moms one could play with me while the other mom puts Eva to bed.”

I’ve recently been talking to Sam about how all families are different. We have books that talk about big families and small families, families that adopt, families with two moms or two dads, families with just one parent. We have books that explain IVF and how a child can come in to the world without a dad.

“That would … Continue reading

“To me, being an SMC means taking the courageous step to fulfill your dreams. The support, empowerment, and honest advice I received from other SMCs gave me the courage to take this step, and when I look into my baby's eyes, I know it's the best decision I've ever made.”

– Nikita Parsons