Why I Am a Proud Warrior Mom

I find it difficult to articulate at times how amazing my online tribe of friends is.  I have met only a handful of these amazing women in real life.  This community sustained me at my lowest point of my entire life.  Each of them in turn has given guidance, inspiration, encouragement, and hope.  Hope is akin to a life-preserver for a warrior mom.  Anxiety threatened to drown me.  I felt like I choked on the electric current of anxiety always revving my body at one hundred miles an hour.  I felt like a hamster on wheel, just chasing my tail.

One of my greatest honors as a blogger is being a member of the Warrior Mom Leadership team.  I am part of the editorial team on Postpartum Progress.  I believe in this cause with all my heart.  I know that hearing other’s stories changed my life, and I know that my story has impacted others.

I am asking my friends, my family, and my readers to support me as I participate in the Climb Out of Darkness to benefit Postpartum Progress.  The climb is Held on or near the longest day of the year, women around the world climb, hike or walk to signify climbing out of the darkness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and into the light.    My local warrior mom friends are climbing near my house in an amazing location that  I hiked on Mother’s Day with a fellow warrior mom.  I will be at a family wedding the weekend of the climb, so I will be climbing with my husband and daughters at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  Please donate to my fundraiser for Postpartum Progress.  I am part of the 1 in 7.  One in seven pregnant and new moms will have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder.  The mission of Postpartum Progress is to give new families a stronger start by increasing awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and providing tools that connect moms to treatment.  As little as $10 will keep the Postpartum Progress website running for one day; this website is the most widely read blog on postpartum mood disorders.  Katherine’s tireless advocacy for struggling mamas is apparent through all of her posts, her tweet,s and her presence.  The first time I met her – the woman whose website saved my life, I cried tears of relief, gratitude, and joy.  The hug from a fellow Warrior Mom is like none other.  It is that life affirming hug of “me too”, and “you will be okay”.  Please donate to this amazing cause so that all of our daughters, nieces, cousins, friends, and grandchildren are aware of the symptoms of postpartum mood disorders. Mamas and their families all over the world deserve more.

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Fitness Fridays: Missing Motivation

So friends, I have a confession.  I started the 21 day fix program, and I did not complete it. Somewhere along the way allergies got the best of me.  I stayed up too late, and I lost all my momentum.  I backslid into my old habits – too much coffee.  My running shoes have been giving me the side-eye since soccer ended last week.  In the past I would have beaten myself up mercilessly, and I would have sworn off exercise.  I would have started eating junk food again.

I realized that my biggest cheerleaders are watching me.  Munch told me that Mommy’s favorite thing to do was exercise.  I am inspiring my little girls through my example.  So I recommit myself.  My biggest obstacle now is time management.  I suck at it.  I am working on how to better manage my time to guarantee that stress relief of a consistent workout.

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My Writing Process

My sweet warrior mama friend Kristin of Little Mama Jama asked me to share about my writing process.

1. What am I working on?  I am working on two pieces to submit to two other blogs Stigmama and a series called Stigma Fighters running on Old School New School Mom.  I am also in the process of writing up reviews of two books I have read.  I also have several ideas in my head to begin submitting to other sites.  If Listen To Your Mother and my partner in crime, Alexandra, have taught me anything, it is that opportunities come to those who put in the work.  How can your work be noticed if you do not take a chance and submit it?

2.  How does my work differ from others in my genre? I am still fiercely devoted to my online community of Warrior Moms who are currently struggling with postpartum mood disorders.  I write about my parenting, my involvement with Listen To Your Mother, my continuing journey of health (physical and emotional), theatre, and humor.  I blog about my life, my hobbies, and my journey as a mama who works outside the house full-time.

3.  Why do I write what I write? I wrote as part of my recovery from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  Writing is cathartic and healing for me.  I found an amazing community of women who are warrior moms just like me.  It is refreshing to be with another mama who simply says “I get it.  Me too.” That validation is what we are all looking for.  I am a writer.  I used to shy away from that title because I felt I had not earned that title yet.

4. How does my writing process work?  I come up with ideas and snippets of lines.  I put them into drafts or notes on my phone.  I am still working on a organizational system for my writing thoughts and suggestions.  I also use my time in the shower or on a run to find shape and structure to my thoughts.  Some of my posts are edited many times, and others I just sit down and bleed out onto the screen.  I’m like Kristin in that respect.  Some of my most personal posts have been ones that I have written in one sitting.

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Mother’s Day: my amazing mom

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for many women: women who are struggling with infertility, women who have lost a child, women who have lost their own mother, and women struggling with postpartum mood disorders.  Please join me over at Postpartum Progress Mother’s Day Rally where I share words of encouragement along with 23 amazing writers who will write letters to struggling mamas.

My own mother is a force of nature.  I am in awe of her strength, her generosity and her resilience.  My mom gave birth to me when she was only twenty-five years old.  She went on to give birth to another baby girl a scant twenty-one months after I was born.  Two years after my sister was born, my mom gave birth to my baby brother, Christopher.  He survived for a few days due to complications from pulmonary atresia, a congenital heart defect.  The following year my maternal grandma, Libby, died.  I wonder how my mom mothered her two little girls without that touchstone of her own mother.  I can scarcely comprehend the magnitude of that loss.

Mom,

I wish I could go back in time and give that young mom who had been through so much loss within one year a huge hug.  We would sit in the dining room and drink coffee without interruption.  Doesn’t that sound glorious?  I would tell you that you are so much stronger and braver than you know.  I would tell you that your daughters grow up to be mothers themselves, and they look to you as their example.  Your daughters are so grateful for the help and support that you provide.  You let them mother their own daughters and follow their lead in parenting and disciplining your grandchildren. I would tell you how loved you are and how one of your granddaughters (Skeeter) looks like her uncle Christopher.  I would tell you that you personify grace through your actions.  I would tell you that your daughters depend on you for advice.  They know how much you consider all sides of a situation before you dispense your advice.  Above all, they never doubt the depth and magnitude of your love.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Love,

Jen

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Fitness Fridays: Why I Exercise

I made the commitment last year to focus on my physical health.  A lot of my self-care is exercise.  I have two young daughters who look up to me.  With a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, and type II diabetes, exercise and eating healthy is part of my lifestyle.  I have my daughters feel my arm muscles.  We talk about how exercise keeps us healthy.  I talk openly about weight lifting.  I tell my girls that lifting weights makes me stronger.  I no longer have sciatica after nearly six years of struggling with it while pregnant and postpartum.  That freedom from pain was due to building strength back up in my core.

I am in the final months of my diabetes prevention class.  We are on the maintenance plan now which is fantastic.  When I look back to where I was, the difference is staggering.  I love coaching soccer, and i find that I am barely winded after our warm ups.  I could run all day long.  I can exercise and lead the exercises without getting winded.  The difference in my overall cardio endurance, my strength, and my flexibility is 180 degrees different.  I love knowing that I am not only a role model for my own daughters but for the little girls that I coach.  Making a difference in the lives of others is what I am passionate about.  I want daughters and mothers to be healthy in all aspects of their lives – mental, physical and spiritual.

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Munch the Public Speaker

As the school year comes to a close, I cannot believe how mature Munch seems.  She has learned so much this year that I can barely believe it.  Munch is an accelerated reader now who finds her nose in a book a lot just like her mama.  She is challenged by spelling like most of her classmates, but English grammar is ridiculously hard.  I appreciate more and more the structure and the lack of exemptions from rules that Spanish grammar provides.

Munch got to say the morning prayer at her school for Earth Day.  She invited me to drop her off that day so I could listen to her say the prayer.  Dropping Munch off at school is a luxury for this working mama.  I rarely have the opportunity to do this.  I was honored that she asked for me.  As I watched her read the announcement in the microphone, I noticed her poise, her grace and her confidence.  My sweet Munch, I hope you never lose the amazing sense of self that you have.  I love you, and I am so proud of you!

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Magic in Small Moments

I heard an amazing leader speak about the choices we make each day.  We have a choice on how we respond to what happens to us.  That message really spoke to me, and it has settled into my soul.  The morning rush is exactly that.  I am the drill sergeant, begging, pleading, cajoling and finally yelling at my girls to just get dressed, eat breakfast, and brush their teeth.

The other morning, I had an early morning conference call at 7:30 a.m.  My plan was to get Munch dropped off at school and Skeeter dropped off at daycare just before the call started.  The best laid plans never manage to work out that way.  I got on the call a few minutes late after dropping Munch off.  I reminded Skeeter that I had to talk to my friends, Miss S. and Mr. E.  We refer to my colleagues as friends since my girls do not quite understand that not everyone you work with is not automatically your friend.

I began the call as all three of us on this particular project started giving each other status updates.  During the middle of Mr. E’s updates, Skeeter began to sing.  She sang several camp songs – Sticky Bubble Gum, You Are My Sunshine and If All the Little Raindrops. I chose to focus on the beauty and purity of her spirit rather than getting upset over her interruption of my conference call.  She is only three.  She knows that music soothes the savage beast that is her mother before her daily caffeine fix.  In return, it melted the hearts of my colleagues to hear a sweet little voice singing in the background.  Thank you my sweet Skeeter for reminding me of how you were only be little for such a short time.  I cherish our car rides and your beautiful singing.

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