We’re all about recognizing fabulous writer mamas, so today, we have three new members of The List that I’d love to give a big old shout out to. First up, Jen at Mommy Needs Coffee – a fabulous humor writer whose blog I’ve been a fan of for quite some time! Welcome to The List Jen!
Next up, the fabulous Gwendolen Gross, novelist, adventure seeker and chef extraordinaire (you should have seen her make gnocchi at a recent culinary event for moms!) Gwen is the author of several novels including the bestseller The Other Mother and she’s also a contributor to New Jersey Moms Blog.
And last but not least is Cyndy Salzmann. Cyndy is a multi-published author on the subject of home organization and time management for moms. Cyndy is also a national speaker, newspaper columnist, former radio show host – and, of course, a mom. Cyndy says her writing and speaking style is warm and encouraging – offering practical advice to help moms simplify their lives and concentrate on more important things than searching for the car keys.
So let’s give it up for our three writer moms!!! They’re all that and a bag of lowfat Pringles. (that’s my Ricki Lake days kicking in). Do you want to be considered for a shout out? Then join The List and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Today we are featuring an incredible mum (yes, I say mum because she’s British) whose personal story literally left me with tears streaming down my face. Get ready to be inspired by our latest mom of reinvention. Role Mommy: What did you do before you became a mom? Debi: I worked full time as a customer relations manager for a tour operator based in London, UK. I was also a fairly selfish, materialistic person who after leaving home at 17, cared little for my family and would often go weeks without calling home.
I can recall after giving birth to my first child at age 28 I called my Mum and the first words I said were: “I’m sorry.” Role Mommy: When did you decide to reinvent your life? Debi: I didn’t actually make that decision….it was made for me. Role Mommy: How have your children influenced your career path? How many do you have? Debi: I am a mother of three children, Jessica 17, George 14 and my youngest Ollie who I sadly lost at age 7 to a brain tumor. It was Ollie who influenced and changed my life quite profoundly. His quiet courage and grace opened my eyes to many personal fears I had carried for years and to fully appreciate the beauty of this precious life that so many of us fail to see. We always imagine that tomorrow will come, we take for granted the simplicity of routine, that our loved ones will walk through the door, that the sun will always shine despite we don’t always see or feel its warmth….the blinkers of an expected life blinding us to what is valuable and most important; true happiness. Through the wise young eyes of my son I came to learn much about myself and the painful reality that for many years I was one such person who thought she was happy, yet had been living a life of harbored resentment and incompleteness. It was safer that way you see. Safe to hide in the shackles of conformity and expectancy from both my family and society.
In those harrowing, black days of grief I could feel myself swirling out of control and desperately wanted it to end.
It was not to be.
The following is a excerpt from my book “All Aboard!” on how that came about:
I am a mother of three. I am the person you pass in the street every day without looking. I am quite ordinary…..yet my story is anything BUT…..and if you knew me…you would gasp.
Just over a year ago I lay buried deep in the wretchedness of my sorrow…..the pain so unbearable it hurt my eyes, my teeth, my skin….I could barely breath….let alone talk or put one foot in front of the other. So damn hard to get OUT,….and I wanted OUT big time.
I wanted to die…..but my pain wouldn’t allow it. I didn’t have the energy, despite I wasn’t moving…..still as night…..yet screaming inside….the noise crushing my mind.
One night, in the midst of the blackness and oblivious to all around me, I was drifting further and further into my hell hole when a voice spoke inside my head.
I recognized the voice immediately….and the voice was not speaking. The voice was singing…
“Oh yes it’s great to be an engine as you speed along…puff puff puffing along…all day!…”
A happy, upbeat song…and one I knew only too well….where the hell was it coming from?
“I love you Mummy…always and forever…”
He smiles his big cheeky grin and continues singing…”Thomas The Tank Engine!! Toot! Toot!!….”
I laugh out loud at the insanity of the situation…’I’m going bloody mad!! I’m actually going mad!!’ I shouted to the darkness. I even waited for one of my family to come into my room and tell me to keep quiet…but no one came.
“la,…la la….la la la la la la…and don’t forget Percy!!”…Ollie giggles before continuing.
Ollie, seven years old and the youngest of my three children…who had died some 6 days earlier….was singing inside my head….and giggling…and talking. What the?!
This is stupid, I think to myself…and I try to rationalize what’s happening. This is just utterly ridiculous!
“I love you Mummy…always and forever….” And I see him smile his perfect smile as he says that.
“You have to tell them Mummy….”
“I love you Mummy…and you have to tell them….”
And Ollie goes back to his most favorite of the Thomas songs…..the same one which was playing as he lay dying in the arms of his Dad and myself…..
“Oh yes it’s great to be an engine as you speed along…puff puff puffing along…all day!!…”
I am a wreck. My pain is enormous…..yet somehow I summon everything I have to get out of bed…my body is slow, awkward…heavy. My eyes are swollen and sore…yet still the tidal wave of tears flow without mercy as my sobs rack in unison.
I am at the computer.
I type the words “All Aboard!”
I have begun.
What followed is now a complete book yet in fact is far more than that. It is a journey into my soul and into finding my true place in this world and ultimately, peace and joy which is where I am today. I share my experience with many as a public speaker and also in my role as a teacher and personal trainer where I am able to reach and inspire others on a daily basis and be inspired in the process. Everything happens for a reason and people meet and are connected for a purpose, even if we are not sure why. Role Mommy: What’s your favorite “Time Out” tip for moms (taking time for yourself) Debi: Time on your own to be YOU…the woman inside who whilst fully embraces the joys of motherhood is a woman in her own right so time for her to shine in her own light; unleash the dancer, the singer, the writer, the musician or simply wallow in your private joy of pampering or time alone with your thoughts via meditation or a stroll along the beach. As mothers we are always there for our children and ridiculously often feel that time out for ourselves is selfish….yet I have come to learn from my experience and of other Mums that to be a happy Mum means remembering the woman we were before our children came and continue to nurture that part of ourselves.
Role Mommy: What does your book offer moms? Debi: A gift…that unfolds with each page – From the Mums who have already offered me gracious comments after reading the book all were unanimous in how sharing the journey of my child afforded them great insight and humble blessings of their own children, their families, themselves and inspired of the belief that despite the often cruel world we are witness to via the media…love, really does conquer all and their hearts were touched forever.
Role Mommy: What do you hope for your own kids? Debi: It may seem simplistic yet all I hope is that their lives be filled with peace, joy and love. That they live a life they want, not what others expect. I do not expect my children to attend a college or become lawyers and doctors. That is their choice yet I feed them the information and provide love, support and encouragement of their growth in whatever direction life will lead them. Role Mommy: Who is your Role Mommy? Debi: That is a tough question because there are so many I admire and respect from afar and I learn and grow from them all, including my own Mum, my Step Mum, my Granny and my sister.
If you’d like to find out more about Debi and her book, check out her My Space page.
Thank goodness we did not hit any beaches this weekend. I did what I wanted to do – pedicure, shopping, saw Mamma Mia and finished Sophia Kinsella’s delicious new novel, Remember Me and bought a karaoke microphone (that my daughter hates because she doesn’t know any of the songs). Yes, selfishly, I did what I wanted to do on Saturday and Sunday. Imagine that? And I guess because I did indulge in a few guilty pleasures, somebody was watching and got me back good.
While my DH and son were at a birthday party, I took my daughter shopping at one of my favorite retailers…Tar-jay. Since I didn’t feel like going to supermarket, I loaded up on a few staple items for the kids and then we hit the girls’ bathing suit aisle. Within minutes the cart was loaded with discounted bathing suits and pajamas and when I turned around to pick up a few more things for my son, I wasn’t paying attention and inadvertently scraped my toe on a metal clothes rack. As I cringed in pain, my daughter realized that my toe was bleeding. But it wasn’t just a few droplets of blood – oh no, it was starting to gush – and I had no tissues or band aids in sight. As we raced over to the pharmacy section and I grabbed a box of bandages, the helpful man at the pharmacy counter actually gave me a few free band aids and even came out with a first aid kit to treat my foot (gotta love those Target employees – do you think you’d ever get that service at Home Depot? I think not).
Anyway, after my pedicure was ruined, I hobbled out of the store with all my purchases and was secretly looking forward to trying out the new karaoke microphone I bought for the kids (and myself). Little did I know that the songs on the damn thing stink and I can’t even keep up with the tunes and sound pretty lousy too – what a letdown. So much for an overly indulgent weekend – it always seems that whenever I try to do something for me, I pay the price. Guess I’ll lay off the shopping for a while…or at least until next weekend!
I’m having way too much fun with Viddler. Today I fill you in on a secret of mine – my hubby, friends and family know it, but you don’t. So take a look and if you have the same confession, then send me a video too at email@example.com!
Want to find out why our book is so damn funny? Then watch Beth read one of her favorite chapters “Me, Myself and My Minivan.” If you’ve got 12 minutes and 43 seconds to kill, then make this appointment viewing!
Meet Julie Tower-Pierce, a former lawyer, turned author, writer and mom blogger who completely changed her career track since having children.
Julie has just published Staying at Home, Staying in the Law: A Guide to Remaining Active in the Legal Profession While Pursuing Your Dreams (American Bar Association, July 25, 2008). www.stayinginthelaw.com. The book will be released next week and is a guide for lawyers who dream about staying home with their kids or doing something more with their life but are reluctant to “give up the law.”
Since becoming a mom, Julie says she’s been in and out of legal practice and academia (teaching Cybercrime & Cyberlaw courses), and is now an at-home mom/writer of three young children. She says, “The transition out of the law is not always easy and the profession doesn’t offer much support. It’s my hope that my book will inspire lawyers to pursue their dreams, and that it will shake up the legal profession by demonstrating (through lawyer stories) that there are so many lawyers (especially moms) who need more flexibility than the profession currently offers.” We caught up with Julie and here’s what she had to say about being a Mom of Reinvention
Role Mommy: What did you do before you became a mom? Julie: I was a practicing attorney who spent my days absorbed and totally in love with the law. I also spent time running, mountain biking, and hiking, and on the weekends following my competitive cross-country skiier husband around to his races. Wow…that all seems like a lifetime ago now. Role Mommy: When did you decide to reinvent your life? Julie: After having two children and discovering that I spent so much time struggling with trying to balance my passion of life and the law (seemingly without any legal mentors to whom I could call upon for support), my reinvention moment came when my husband received a new job offer which required a major relocation. The opportunity gave me a chance to stay at home with my children and also pursue my interest in writing–and passion for the law, by writing about the law and my experiences with trying to balance two competing loves: my children and the law. I’ve recently written Staying at Home, Staying in the Law: A Guide to Remaining Active in the Legal Profession While Pursuing Your Dreams, which is due out July 25, 2008 by the American Bar Association. Role Mommy: How have your children influenced your career path? How many do you have? Julie: They are the reason I changed my career path and was totally onboard with the idea of relocating from my native state (where my entire family resides). Without my children, I don’t think I would have followed my dreams to pursue the nagging interest in writing, and I certainly wouldn’t have written a book on the subject matter of staying at home, staying in the law. I have three children ages 10 months to age five. Role Mommy: What’s your favorite “Time Out” tip for moms?
–Bring reading material with you in the car, like your favorite magazines or books…when the kids doze off, you’ll always have something to read…and probably something you’ve been dying to read for days.
–Find a favorite drive-thru and make a b-line for as soon as the kids fall asleep in the car…mine is Starbucks. I grab my favorite drink, park in the parking lot and make “catch up” phone calls to old friends or read my favorite newspaper. Role Mommy: What does your book offer moms? Julie: My book offers lawyer moms a totally unique resource, the first of its kind specifically for lawyers. It’s filled with specific ways lawyers can stay connected to the legal profession while pursuing their dreams, even stay-at-home parenting. It’s written to be the lawyer moms “best friend” during those moments of doubt, anxiety, fear, sadness, etc. about stepping out of the law to pursue another career path. Basically, it’s a survival guide that helps lawyers thinking about stepping out of the profession or looking to re-enter the law. Role Mommy: What do you hope for your own kids? Julie: I hope they won’t have to struggle with work/life balance issues. That whatever profession or career path they choose that they will find it offers them the flexibility they need or want to pursue or complement all of their dreams. I want them to follow their dreams. Role Mommy: Who is your Role Mommy? Julie: With respect to the law and parenthood, for a long time, I felt that I didn’t have a role mommy. That’s a key reason why I wrote my book, to fill in that hole of missing support for lawyer moms and dads. Through the process of writing the book, I’ve discovered that I have many, many role mommies…lawyers who have dreamed that there must be something more and have found the courage to blaze their own path, despite the professional “mommytrack” stigmas and risks attached to doing so.
To visit Julie’s website and blog, Click Here.
Want to be featured on this page? Then answer the questions below and send them back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mom of Reinvention questions…
What did you do before you became a mom?
When did you decide to reinvent your life?
How have your children influenced your career path? How many do you have?
What’s your favorite “Time Out” tip for moms (taking time for yourself, not sending your child into a corner)
What does your book offer moms?
What do you hope for your own kids?
Who is your Role Mommy?
A good friend of mine is about to give birth to her third child and as she prepares to take a four month maternity leave and is armed with a fabulous nanny to help out while she’s home, I started to think about what it would be like to take a four month break from work – without the giving birth to a baby part.
If someone magically granted me the wish of an extended vacation where I could take several months off with no demands on my time, I don’t know what I would do first. Well actually, I’d probably hit the nail salon first and get that mani pedi I’ve been putting off since Memorial Day weekend. From there, I’d start taking tennis lessons again and actually play every single week instead of once every six months when I sub in a 65 and older group that gets mad at me when I can’t return their slower than molasses moon balls. If I played more regularly, I’d actually be placed in a group my own age, imagine that?
If I had four months off, I’d take a creative writing class and attempt to write a novel, or maybe a Judy Blume-esque book for tweens. My vocabulary is way too common for the literary world (I crapped out on the SAT’s many decades ago), so maybe if I stuck with kiddy novels, I’d make a killing.
And then I’d take up singing again – I’d find a local theater troupe, audition and land a sizable role in a musical comedy.
In between rehearsals, I’d sign up for a cooking and art class at the local JCC. Not cooking and art together – cooking on one day, art another. Or maybe I’d take a wine tasting class – wait – that sounds way more enticing than making flambe any day of the week.
On my off days, I’d either strap on my roller blades or hop on my bicycle and listen to my favorite 80’s tunes on my iPhone which hasn’t been re-charged in 3 months since I bought my BlackBerry Curve.
I would take a 4 month moratorium from my computer, my emails, my cell phone and would live life like I used to – going through my day without being distracted by messages, requests and minutia.
I would plan a fabulous family vacation to the Mediterranean where we’d take a cruise to Greece, Italy, France and Spain.
I would hang out with friends and family I love and forget about the people who drive me nuts.
I would read at least a dozen books and host fun parties with the authors at my home.
I would finally relax.
And that my friends in the blogosphere, would be a snapshot of my dream life. I guess I should stop thinking about maternity leave and start planning my retirement instead!
If you are a shopaholic like me, then here’s a sweepstakes that can’t be missed!
Visitors to www.SOAPnet.com can enter the “Win the Look: 20 Bags in 20 Days” Sweepstakes for a chance to take home their very own super chic designer bag. The new home of celebrity, style and TV drama, SOAPnet.com is giving away 20 of the hottest designer bags now through August 10, 2008.
According to the folks at SOAPnet.com, they’ve recently expanded their focus to include coverage of entertainment, stars, pop culture, beauty and fashion news in an informed, engaging editorial style. Additionally, the site is the a go-to place for all daytime and primetime drama news.
I have to admit now that Soap Net features my favorite ABC soaps in the evenings, I may just get hooked again. Love seeing those old time soap stars that I used to watch in high school and college. Funny how the world of soaps never change. I kind of like it that way!
We’ve been adding a fabulous roster of writers to The List and this past week, T. Suzanne Eller signed on to become part of our esteemed group of Role Mommies. Suzanne is an author, faith based writer, cancer survivor and mom who writes about the importance of living in the moment and pursuing your passion at every stage of your life. After being diagnosed with cancer, Suzanne was confronted with her own mortality and faced her fears head on with the help of family, friends and faith. Today, Suzanne has proven that it is possible to come out on the other side and wind up a stronger and more passionate person along the way. Click here to read one of her incredible essays.
Another weekend in the Hamptons has passed us by and this time, we had a run-in we’d rather forget. You see, as we prepared to purchase our ritualistic skinny vanilla latte and a grande cafe, my hubby was startled when a policeman unexpectedly rapped on his window after he had dropped my daughter and I off in front of Starbucks.
As my son slept soundly in the backseat, the officer proceeded to tell my DH that he was getting a ticket because he was blocking a handicapped parking space. WTF? He was merely dropping me and my daughter curbside so that we didn’t get clipped by another car in the lot and was planning to park when this policeman decided to issue him a parking ticket instead of telling him to park his car in one of 50 available spots in the lot. Frankly, I was completely puzzled by this officer who obviously has too much time on his hands. He must have either decided to settle a bet with a fellow cop who dared him to snag a driver at Starbucks, or maybe he was paid off by someone at Dunkin Donuts. Either way, this was by far the most expensive latte I’ve ever purchased in my life. And frankly, we’re going to think twice before we satisfy a caffeine craving before we begin our trek back to Westchester.
What I can’t seem to understand is in our current economy, with gas prices soaring, and summer resort towns feeling the hit at hotels, B&B’s and restaurants, the local police have no care whatsoever on whether tourists ever return. If they did actually think twice before they handed over a $200 ticket, they’d realize that harassing a tourist or a regular patron of the local Starbucks will indirectly have an impact on local business. You see, we’re probably not going back to that Starbucks ever again and we pretty much go there every week throughout the entire summer. And I’m sure we’re not the first people to have been snagged by a lazy cop who didn’t feel like staking out a highway where people could be whizzing by at 80 miles an hour. No, you never know if some reckless driver is wreaking havoc in the Starbucks parking lot.
I know we shouldn’t have blocked a handicapped zone, but we didn’t park and we had no intention of remaining in that location. While we normally pay our tickets without incident, this time around, my husband is going to head to court and fight this ridiculous charge. While he may not win, he can at least lodge a complaint against a cop who obviously was in a bad mood because he didn’t yet have his caffeine fix. Incidentally, after he issued the ticket, the cop parked his car next to ours and proceeded to buy a grande cappucino. Only in the Hamptons kids. Only in the Hamptons.