Motherhood

Unpacking The Bad Seed by Jory John

How have I approached unpacking some popular children’s books with my daughter? Check this post out for why this is important and some general critical thinking strategies.

Now, let’s get started with The Bad Seed by Jory John.

In this book, a darker-colored, more masculine presenting seed is criticized for being bad. Most of the good seeds in the book are lighter seeds. In the end, the bad seed starts trying to be good, but sometimes it’s still bad.

When Roya came home with this book, I explained to her why that book bothered me.

  1. First, the seed can be interpreted as a character like a person. If seeds are described as good or bad, that could send a message that a person is either categorically good or bad. (Children shouldn’t be described as bad or good, although their actions or behavior can.)
  2. Next, we talked about how what one person sees as “good,” another person might see as “bad.” I went really simplistic and used TV for my example. Roya would think watching TV all day is good, but I would think having a child watch TV all day is bad. Then we discussed why we would see the same situation differently. Ideally, analyzing good and bad relies on a willingness to learn about other individuals’ experiences, values, and lenses, and an openness to changing your mind. As Roya has started getting older, I’ve begun to connect all of this to historical and contemporary concepts of power and oppression in age-appropriate, brief ways. (This book made me immediately think of the school-to-prison pipeline and #BLM.)
  3. I expanded on my points to share that all seeds make bad decisions at times, not just some seeds. I came up with a few stories about things that the lighter seeds in the book could have done that also were bad choices. Most people make some choices that are bad, and some that are good, right?
  4. Then I talked about how some people can be scared by other individuals’ differences and view those individuals and their choices as bad.

While I was writing this post, Roya asked what I was doing.

Me: Writing about why I’m not a fan of The Bad Seed.

R: But, I love that book!

Me: I know. A lot of kids do. So, think about what the Bad Seed looks like.

R: It’s a dark seed. You’d rather the seed be a peanut or something.

Me: Yes! Now, why would I think having the seed be dark would be a problem?

R: Hmm…It’s like Carmela’s Full of Wishes. They’re books about Black kids that might make people not like Black kids.

Me: Yes, exactly! The Bad Seed might make people think that Black and brown kids are bad, when everyone makes bad decisions sometimes. And Carmela’s Full of Wishes might make people think that all Spanish-speaking families have the same life and jobs as Carmela’s family. If we read things, we might think they are true or true for everyone who looks like the characters in the books. And that could cause people to be treated differently or unfairly, which isn’t good.

I then talked about how this can lead to people making assumptions about BIPOC families and how sometimes BIPOC children, especially boys, are treated differently at schools. Want to read more about why this is important? Google the crib-to-prison or school-to-prison pipeline. Or, explore disciplinary rates by race, gender and ethnicity in your school district. (See number 11 in my post on Doing Diversity Well at Predominantly-White Schools for how to do this.)

I end this conversation with acknowledging that there are always books and shows we enjoy more than others, and that’s okay. But, it’s worth discussing what’s problematic about them, regardless of whether we like them.

What are your family’s thoughts on this book? How have you approached it? Have suggestions for future books for me to blog about? Comment below.

Unpacking Children’s Books

Last month, my feeds were filled with mentions of antiracist books, social justice movies, statements in solidarity, and diverse book and toy purchases for younger loved ones. Are any of these things inherently bad? Of course not! But, it gave me cause to pause. Tre Johnson’s Washington Post article, “When Black people are in pain, white people just join book clubs,” is a thought-provoking read. I find myself asking, “What’s next?” How do those of us who identify and pass as white listen, learn and contribute in a way that doesn’t center whiteness or frame diversity as “diversity for white people”?

In thinking about children’s books in particular, there are significant concerns about how Black writers are treated and paid by the publishing industry and the lack of diverse representation in the field as a whole. 86% of children’s books have white main characters. This is the case despite the fact that children’s books with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) main characters sell, as reported by Dashka Slater for Mother Jones.

I hope that children’s books are unpacked with children. How do parents learn what and how to unpack concepts of race, gender identity, ableism, and class? We need to do our own work first. Read anti-racist resources. Complete an implicit bias test. Research to learn more. I’m thankful for those friends and students who were willing to teach me, but I had to do my own work, too. As a cisgender-heterosexual-white female, I’ve needed to unlearn biases and messages that I’ve received throughout my life.

A book or movie is more than just that. When we read or watch things, they become part of our moral imagination. We began to envision a world like we read or see. What we read or watch can reinforce or challenge our thoughts about ourselves and the world. (For example, there was a student who wrote their capstone on how the casting of a black male as US president in the television show, 24, helped prepare viewers for a black male president before the 2008 election.)

There’s also a downside to our moral imagination at times. How do we read stories by a variety of voices about a myriad of experiences and not assume that one person’s experience is representative of all experiences? How many stories that don’t play into problematic tropes and stereotypes get published? Again, I see this as unlearning biases and discussing what and why tropes are problematic. There’s also a need to recognize that one voice or character is just that — the voice for that one real or fictional individual — and not representative of all experiences of individuals who look or identify similarly.

How can we apply critical thinking skills to how we consume information? I approach children’s texts similarly to how I approach texts that I read or teach. Both what is and what is not included in a writing are important. And, parents and caregivers can also unpack the text as it does or does not apply and relate to their own lenses, values and experiences. If you notice in the questions below, it’s imperative to ask not just who and what, but the why.

Next, I think about how I can unpack all of this in an age-appropriate way with my seven-year-old daughter. I typically let her read books on her own, do a fast skim of what she’s reading at some point, and then discuss the text with her at a separate time.

I’ll find a time when we have five-ten minutes to talk that’s not too late and ask her to share her thoughts about the book. I’ll ask a few follow-up questions to discuss the why behind the characters’ decisions or feelings. Then I’ll share my thoughts about the book. If the text warrants multiple conversations or is a longer chapter book, we’ll talk more about it at later points.

Obviously, you know your child best. But, what books and entertainment you expose your child to and how you frame them are worth considering. If you’re reading a fairy tale, can you take a few minutes after to talk about how cisgender women don’t need saving or provide a few examples of people who found their happily ever after without being in a relationship? If you’re a white family and you’re reading a book with a main character of color, how can you discuss the book without centering whiteness or viewing the character as representative of all BIPOC individuals?

How have I approached unpacking popular children’s books? Click here for my thoughts on The Bad Seed by Jory John.

How have you approached these conversations? What resources have you found to be helpful? Any questions? Please comment below xoxo

Isn’t It Tough To Be A Single Mom?

I see you with your head tilting to the side and your eyes expressing pity. I hear you with your well-intentioned “I’m so sorry” comments…your “I can’t imagine how tough this is for you” rhetoric…your “Don’t you want to get married so she can have a Dad?” questions. If I know you well enough, I’ll reply honestly and thoroughly. If I don’t, I keep it brief and extricate myself from the conversation. Not because I’m uncomfortable, but because I’m unsure if you are comfortable.

Some people value a certain type of family structure more than others. Some (or many?) people place more validity and carry positive associations with a two-parent household over a one-parent household. I find myself wondering why.

In 2015, I remember a lunch when I was out with several girlfriends and one person I didn’t know that well. We spent the first hour talking about how little their husbands did around the house and with their young children. When the person I didn’t know that well learned about my situation, she was incredulous at my relationship choices. I replied:

I just spent the last hour listening to you all vent about your husbands and giving advice for how to make things a little better. I don’t judge you for staying in your relationships. You all were partners before you were parents. So, don’t judge me for leaving someone who wasn’t in a position to parent. I wasn’t married so I didn’t feel obligated to stay with someone who couldn’t handle the responsibilities.

Five years later, I don’t regret my decision at all. I feel confident in how I parent and am thankful for my support system. I don’t see my home responsibilities as different or more difficult because I’m the only one. (As an only child, I think it’s actually easier since what I want and how I want things done are the way things are done.) Roya knows who is in charge and sees herself as having a large family of loved ones with me at the center. She knows that we are whole and complete as we are because that is how I’ve messaged my choices and our family.

I’ve found myself having to explain my thoughts a few times during this pandemic. There are lots of reasons why self-isolating with your family unit can be difficult. It shouldn’t be assumed that being a #100PercentParent makes it tougher, though. For some, it definitely is! But, for others like me, it isn’t.

So, here’s my friendly unsolicited advice… If you want to know how a single parent is doing or if and what they might need, ask them! Their answers might not be what you expect. Also think about why you view a certain family structure as better than another. Respect that your values work for you, but think about whether you are truly accepting of family units that don’t resemble your own. (You might even want to take Harvard University’s Implicit Bias test to explore your own unconscious biases even more.)

With respect to the larger societal issues, I think about what impacts families in different ways such as the gender pay gap, NCTE’s findings regarding the wage discrimination that many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals experience, and how factors such as race and ethnicity further exacerbate disparities. I also question why certain professions are valued financially more than others and who has access to healthcare, childcare, and family medical leave. And, I continue to unpack how the US criminal justice system and discriminatory policing and sentencing policies have impacted families and communities.

If you ask me what I need or ask Roya what she wants, none of our responses would have to do with changing our family unit. We are thankfully safe and well, and hope that you and your loved ones are, too. xoxo

Time To Soar, Dearest A

It was October 2014. 

Roya was up two-three times a night every night. I was in my first semester as a full-time faculty member and teaching three classes. The nanny that I had hired for the year decided to leave the DC area. I managed to piece together a schedule with four babysitters – all of whom were full-time college students.

It was clear that I needed more consistent childcare. I took a chance and reached out to Nanny A, a friend of a friend, to see if she had some hours to spare. She thankfully did, and she began to watch Roya a week later. What started as occasional grading help grew into more hours and days with each passing season.

It was October 2014. 

I parted ways with Roya’s biological father without any tears or drama. I had wanted to be a 100% parent of a little girl, and thanks to God and him, I was.

A little over three years later, I’m reflective as to what an eventful month that October was. Back then, I didn’t know then what I know now…that having Nanny A join our family would be far more impactful than having The Man leave our family.

The love Nanny A has shown both Roya and me is unparalleled. The willingness to be there for us in our highest of highs and our lowest of lows has been unyielding. Nanny A is so much more than a nanny. She is my friend, she is the closest thing to a co-parent that I’ve ever had, and she is our family. She didn’t have to assume all of these roles, but she did. And, for that, I’m truly grateful.

Earlier this year, Nanny A and I talked about her professional plans. She is a successful writer and event planner, and at some point in the future, she wanted to focus on those endeavors exclusively. I knew that she needed to spread her wings, and her responsibilities with us would make that difficult to do. Her end date was on the horizon, but thankfully, she extended her time with us through the summer and fall. In October 2017 (three years to the week after she started with us), I again asked her about her plans. Nanny A would be moving on at the end of the year. It was official.

I cried on and off for 48 hours. Correction, I sobbed. (Picture that messy crying where you can’t form a coherent sentence and your eyes are puffy when you wake up the next day.)

Nanny A’s last date is getting closer, and moving the calendar to December has brought me to tears yet again. There is so much that I will miss about her, but to highlight just a few things:

  • How I can text her at any hour of the day for advice, a laugh or just to say hi
  • How Roya can literally hug her for hours
  • All the special things that she and Roya share together from their favorite restaurants to taking the bus to reading certain stories
  • How she turns into Mama Bear when anyone tries to mess with Roya
  • Our dance parties in the hall
  • How many times we have laughed until we had tears in our eyes

I haven’t wanted to finish this post for a week because that makes this truly real. After next week, Nanny A will no longer be in our home on a regular basis. Last night, as R went to hug us both she said, “Family hug.” She knows now, and I will make sure she always knows that Nanny A is a part of our family.

Stef Woods, city girl blogs

There are no words to do justice to what Nanny A has meant to us nor what she will accomplish. But, the words of the scholar Rumi come to mind:

You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dream. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You were not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.

I anxiously await all the tales of how you will soar, Dearest A. And, until you return to visit, know you are loved and missed every day in big and small ways.

Stopping And Recognizing

“And yet we know that You have already come, to a forgotten corner of the world, to a people on the verge of losing hope, to a woman no one thought could bear a child, and the world has never been the same.”

At church this morning, I read this portion of the Prayer of Confession with the rest of the congregation. I looked down at Roya drawing in the pew, when I realized something:

On a far more individualized scale, I was the woman no one thought could bear a child. And, since Roya arrived in 2013, my world has never been the same. My life as a 100% parent is vastly different from when I only answered to myself and set up whatever schedule I wanted.

I don’t doubt that any of this is God’s plan. But, I wouldn’t describe the past three-and-a-half years as easy. Rather, they’ve been a blend of eventful and mundane, incomprehensibly joyful and incomprehensibly exhausting. (Come to think of it, that might be how I would define parenting!)

Parenting also has been an exercise in patience for me. (For those of you who didn’t know me pre-Roya, patience wasn’t my strongest virtue.) And, I’m also learning to accept how little I have control over, while still managing to successfully juggle several balls in the air at once.

At church today, Reverend Laura’s sermon focused on stopping and recognizing God when He is with us. Well, thanks to Roya, I was fully present today!

Prior to the start of Sunday School, Reverend Laura brings all the children – and the parents of the younger kids — up to the front of the Sanctuary. Roya was sitting in my lap, but then moved to sit next to one of the older children. Two minutes later, while Reverend Laura was talking about angels, Roya proceeded to move to the floor and spin around and around in front of her.

My first thought was to jump up and grab Roya as quickly as I could and head out of the Sanctuary, but then I looked around. The older kids were giggling, the people in the choir were smiling, and the reverend was calm and unfazed. (In fact, Reverend Laura incorporated a complementary mention of Roya’s acrobatic skills into her sermon!)

No one seemed to mind that a silly toddler was being a silly toddler. It reminded me of a scene from Parenthood, the movie, without anyone claiming that Roya was ruining anything.

As Reverend Laura continued to talk about angels, Roya then began to move her body on the wood floor of the Sanctuary, as though she was making a snow angel.

I began to laugh (as quietly as I could, of course). Before I knew it, I was laughing so hard — while simultaneously trying to stifle my volume — that tears filled my eyes.

When the children’s sermon was finished, I thanked the reverend, retrieved Roya with a smile on my face and took her upstairs to Sunday School.

After church, several people, including the reverend, commented how wonderful it is that Roya feels so comfortable there. I’m thankful for all those in our church family who have welcomed her with open arms and smiles, rather than eye rolls and shushing.

And, yes, God, I get it. Angels are really just messengers. And, today, thanks to Reverend Laura and my little no-snow snow angel, You made it very clear what message I was meant to get.

6th Blog Anniversary

In 6th grade, my English teacher tasked the students in my class with writing their own autobiographies. I couldn’t think of a title for mine and asked my mom for help. She didn’t need more than a second to respond:

Doing It Stef’s Way.

Yes, I marched to the beat of my own drum even as a child. When I started this blog six years ago with a post about whether or not I could date a much younger man, I didn’t know where this online path would lead.

I rarely blog anymore, and yet, I don’t see shutting this site down anytime soon. These are my words…my journey…my successes…and my mistakes. I’m proud of the good and the bad experiences in my life since they led me to where I am today.

A recent comment from a reader noted how much my life and blog have changed since my earlier posts. Yes, it’s true that I no longer write about my sex life and the guys who wronged me. But, if I had never dated the guys I did, I would have never met The Man and Roya wouldn’t be here. And, if I had never had such an eventful dating life, my professional path might have been very different, too.

When I started blogging, I wrote only for me. One year later, I had received enough sexual health and relationship questions from readers that I decided to join the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists as a supporting member. I began to blend more advice posts with my own dating tales and write about sexual health for two websites.

Several students at American University were regularly reading my blog, and I was invited to speak at the Social Learning Summit in 2011. That led to my idea to teach a class on Sexuality and Social Media on that campus. In 2014, after three years as an adjunct professor, American University offered me a full-time contract as an instructor.

In many ways, my life is so different than it was six years ago. 3am texts from whomever I was seeing at the time have been replaced by 3am feedings. My club attire and fancy dresses are in a closet, collecting dust. Date nights now happen at cocktail parties organized by the parents in Roya’s playgroup.

Even though my daily routine has changed profoundly, I’m still the same. I continue to march to the beat of my own drum. My blog tagline is “Educate, Advocate, Titillate.” As a professor, I focus on the first two words in that phrase. I still talk a lot about feminism, branding, sexuality, relationships, health, and double standards in the work force. My discussions just occur in the classroom, rather than on this site.

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Back when I blogged regularly, I didn’t write about my dating life in real time. I enjoyed crafting a story with the benefit of hindsight and doing things differently. As a teacher, I’m thankfully allowed the creativity to develop classes that find academic merit in popular culture. In three years, I’ve created the curriculum for seven courses from scratch. I proud of what I’ve accomplished and know how fortunate I am to love my job!

Shortly after I began blogging, I shared with my readers that I wanted to adopt a little girl. A few comments were highly critical of of that decision, stating that I wasn’t capable of being a mom and that I wouldn’t be able to prioritize motherhood in the midst of such an active social life. I didn’t know that my journey would lead me to have a biological daughter, rather than adopt. But, I knew then that I was ready to be a mom and how much my life would change. I was fully prepared to hang up my stilettos, and I have. I don’t have much of a social life or time to write for pleasure anymore, but that’s not atypical for moms of young toddlers.

Even as a mom, though, I’m still the same me. Roya is the most important and amazing thing in my life, but I know that she’s not perfect. I set boundaries, and I say, “No!” when I need to. I don’t coddle her when she isn’t hurt or sick. I don’t throw fancy parties for her or care if another child does something earlier or better than she does. And, I don’t feel guilty when I say that motherhood is both the best job and the most exhausting job there is.

When I started this blog six years ago, I didn’t know where the journey would lead me. I sit here today in front of my laptop with happy tears in my eyes. Because of my blog, I’m blessed to be where I am today — at American and with Roya. For those who have supported me along the way, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It warms my heart to know that the doors to my home in the blogosphere are always open. xoxo

Isn’t Motherhood Amazing?

Since I’ve had Roya, moms or moms-to-be often ask me the following question:

Isn’t it amazing?

I always respond in the same way:

She’s amazing. It – motherhood – is exhausting.

Motherhood is the toughest job there is. It is 24/7. There are no holidays, vacation days, sick days or snow days.

I teach about feminism in several of my classes, and yet, I find it difficult to inspire when it comes to gender roles within a heterosexual family unit. We continue to live in a culture that assumes that the mom will handle an overwhelming majority of all matters related to children.

When The Man asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I responded:

I want to be the dad for a day.

What did I mean by that?

I don’t want to handle night care for a toddler who is going through yet another sleep regression.

I don’t want to purchase any milk or diapers.

I don’t want to coordinate Roya’s schedule or childcare.

I don’t want to conduct research online about preschool, vaccines or anything developmentally appropriate.

I don’t want to have my ability to work or shower contingent on childcare.

I want to go to the bathroom without Roya attached to my leg the whole time.

I don’t want to have the pediatrician’s number memorized.

I don’t want to be the disciplinarian and enforcer of rules and schedules.

I want to have someone thank me for spending one-on-one time with Roya.

I want to live in a society that values a mom’s work outside of the home as much as a man’s work outside of the home.  (This infuriates me even more so when the woman in a given couple earns more than the man. And, if I can add a dream to this thought, I’d love to live in a country where women’s work inside the home is valued similarly to men’s work outside of the home!)

I wish that mothers felt able to openly vent about the difficulties of motherhood without feeling as though they’re bad mothers, guilty or ungrateful. (I’m the first to acknowledge how blessed I am to have Roya. I’m thankful for our health and having The Man in our lives. I just don’t feel as though complaining about how exhausted or overworked I am is mutually exclusive from any of that!)

So, I never got my birthday wish. That wasn’t in the cards for me. I’m the mom. This is my journey.

But, lucky for me, Roya is amazing!

roya, stef woods, moshe zusman

How do these gender roles impact you?

#ExhaustedMommy

Once Roya turned nine weeks old, her second growth spurt and second round of vaccines were behind her. She settled into a nice mode at bedtime, and we stopped our occasional night care. Each evening, Roya would go down at around 9:00pm. I would feed her a bottle at midnight before going to sleep, and then she would be up again between 4-5:00am to eat. During the night feedings, Roya wouldn’t cry or stay up for long. All she wanted was a bottle, burp and change, and then she would go back to sleep. She woke up in the morning at around 8:00am. That lasted consistently for the month of August.

Several friends had commented over the summer that motherhood was a natural fit for me.

“You’re the same old Stef Woods…just now with a baby!” Roya’s godmother said.

That’s how I felt, yet all that unfortunately changed in September. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we ended up displaced from our apartment.

Thankfully, a neighbor was kind enough to let us stay in her unit. Every night, The Man, my dog, Roya and I slept together in a 12” x 16” room together. That remained the case for almost four months.

(And, yes, I recognize my privilege as I write that. I realize there are many families who can only wish for a room of their own.)

On average, Roya would wake three times a night while we were in the other apartment. I would cough, and she would wake up. Flake would roll over as dogs do, and she would wake up. The Man would snore, and she would wake up.  I’m a light sleeper, and at least during this arrangement, so was Roya!

When we gleefully returned to our own home in December, Roya received her first flu shot the following day. For seven out of the next eight days, low-grade fevers ensued. She felt better over Christmas, but then she contracted her first cold. The cold improved, but then early January-early February found her with two back-to-back viruses.

The combination of flu shot, cold and two viruses meant that neither Roya nor I were sleeping that well. The colds and viruses caused Roya to cough so much that she would wake herself up from throwing up. And, she was often too uncomfortable to drink much during the day so she would feed more at night. Again, there weren’t many nights in which she was up for long, but she definitely was up a lot!

Knock on wood, Roya has been feeling better over the past month. But, now her two bottom teeth are coming in! (As any parent knows, it’s always something with these little nuggets!)

I can count on one hand the number of nights that I’ve slept well in the past six months, and that was because of night care.  I’ve been up an average of three times a night with Roya for six months. I’m so sleep deprived that I’ve almost fallen asleep at the wheel on more than one occasion. I feel like an exhausted shell of my former self, and my doctors are understandably concerned about my health.

All of the usual things that help babies to sleep longer (weighing a certain amount, regular nap times, introducing solids, taking baby Advil for a fever, giving more formula in the evening hours, etc.) haven’t made a difference in Roya’s nighttime sleep.

In November, Roya’s godmother aptly said, “I’ve never seen you like this.” I’ve known for her for 13 years, and I agree!

I’m an exhausted shell of my former self. I have the most amazing daughter, and I’m incomprehensibly tired.

Something needs to change for all of our sakes.

To be continued…

My Health Since Giving Birth

Back in October, I called my internist to ask if he thought I could safely carry to term. (He's cared for me for more than 13 years, and I value his expert opinion.) Dr. P. guessed that my health would improve during pregnancy, but dip after I gave birth. The only question was just what that dip would entail.

Since having Roya, concerned friends and readers have inquired about my health. Quite a few have commented that I'm glowing from the joys of motherhood.

I can’t deny that I do beam when I hold Roya in my arms, and I hope that feeling never stops.

stef woods, city girl, city girl blogs

Our second day together

But, if you saw me at 3am…or 5am…or 7am, I doubt you’d say I look glowing. I look like any exhausted parent of a newborn.

On the health front, there has been a dip, but it thankfully hasn’t been a dive. (That's the best I can hope for given the fact that three of my conditions are genetic.)

So…what's been going on?

  • Within two weeks of giving birth, my migraines returned to their previous pace of twice a week, every week. Luckily, though, I can take my old reliable migraine medicine when they hit.
  • Over the past seven weeks, I’ve had more low-grade fevers and swollen glands than I’ve had in years. (That combination of symptoms typically occurs when my body gets run down.) Yesterday morning, the fever topped 101, and the added chills and body aches made it tough to hold Roya without feeling dizzy. I count my blessings for wonderful babysitters that are willing to drop everything and help us out when we need them!
  • There's evidence of degeneration in six out of seven vertebrae in my neck. Holding Roya for hours on end isn't helping my neck pain and mobility. I'll be back in physical therapy soon to try to strengthen my neck and upper back.
  • I met with my radiation oncologist back in April. During a clinical breast exam, she didn't feel anything abnormal. I'll go for a breast MRI in a few months to confirm that all is still well.
  • The only thing that has improved since I gave birth is that I’m no longer vomiting incessantly. That means that I haven’t gotten dehydrated or needed to return to the ER since April. I’ll take it!

At the end of the day, though, Roya is (knock on wood) healthy, and my medical conditions are manageable. I’ll continue to do what's in my control to stay as strong as I can, but my health taking a dip is far less important to me than her being here!

“Priorities,” I think to myself, smiling and typing with Roya asleep by my side.

The Big 4-0

I’m 40. The big 4-0.

 

Some view this milestone as one to be dreaded and feel the need to justify that 40 isn't that old.

“Forty is the new thirty,” they say to reassure themselves.

Others bemoan reaching this year.

"This is middle age! It's all downhill from here!" they exclaim.

When I hear those comments, I always respond the same way:

"Every birthday is one to celebrate!"

Losing my mom at a relatively young age and beating ascending paralysis, a botched neurosurgery and cancer have that effect on a person. I don't take the fact that life is a gift for granted!

Ten years ago, I was practicing immigration for a large law firm. Now, I couldn't imagine stepping away from teaching to return to the law. At 30, I had recently started dating Lawyer Boy and was still spending time with Baseball Boy. Now, I have neither the time nor the inclination for relationship drama or ambiguity. In 2003, I used my AOL email account on occasion. In the current age of social media, my active participation on several sites has surprisingly enriched my life. Ten years ago, I wasn't sure that I wanted to be a mom. Now, with motherhood seven weeks away, I can't wait! I'm thankful for where life has taken me, even the difficult parts, but I'm even more thankful for what lies ahead.

My wishes on this day are few, but significant:

  • I hope that I continue to enjoy my life to the fullest.
  • I hope that I learn from my mistakes more often than not and grow as a person. 
  • And, most importantly, I hope to be here and healthy so I can be the best mom, partner, teacher, advocate and friend that I can be.

Philosopher WB Pitkin claims, “Life begins at forty.” I'm counting on it!

As always, thanks for following my journey. When I think of my many blessings, the people that I have met online and offline through this blog are among them. xoxo