Mom’s the Word

“You’re way too into being a mom,” my childless girlfriend said.

“No, I’m not! I really don’t like it sometimes,” I rebuked.

But as soon as the comment fell out of my mouth, I felt stupid for saying it. It may be true that I want to pull out my hair more than half the time, but Im not sure I need to justify my writing, talking, or sharing about motherhood to anyone.

The next time a different person said the same thing to me I simply replied, “No, I’m not.”

Then I continued to listen to him regale me about his childhood & favorite movies for the next two hours.

Neither “You’re way too into movies,”

or

“You’re way into yourself,” came out of my mouth, although perhaps it should have (in a well-meaning way 😬😂).

Yet, this is the message women receive: motherhood is so important we should stop what we’re doing in our own lives to enter it. And how we handle these roles could potentially create the next DaVinci or Dahmer. But, we can’t talk about it too much.

It’s not something we can complain about.

It’s not even something we can even really celebrate.

It’s just what we are supposed to do.

Right?

Wrong. Mum is no longer the word – we will not go quietly. We will complain about bedtime whenever we please. We will celebrate in our potty training and IEP wins. We will make parody videos about how awesome moms are until we are blue in the face.

Because yes, I’m way into being a Mom. But it’s never too much when my kids and future generations are in my hands.

Tomorrow is Another Day

Thirty-seven years ago today my mom gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Three years ago yesterday, I gave birth to my own son.

Every cell in my body wants to have a sit down with her, to trade birth and/or parenting stories. But, as my brother stole her life eleven years ago, I haven’t been able to. I never will.

Yesterday I baked a cake. It wasn’t beautiful. No one in the family could identify what it looked like: a guitar? A banjo? A magnifying glass? I didn’t mind though; all I kept thinking about was the cake my mom made 30 years before, the one she served my brother’s friends at his 7th birthday, that looked almost the same way. I wanted to talk to her about it, laugh at their coincidentally-matching, misshapen figures. Maybe argue over whose was worse. But I couldn’t, so I wrote about it instead. This was was my way of feeling closer to her: writing and baking

Yesterday, my son’s birthday, I spent the day wondering if I’d hear from my brother. Far too much of the day was wasted wondering if he’ll, in a final show of selfishness, steal his own life. Sometimes I hope he does, sometimes I pray he doesn’t. Either way, I am healing from a life of trauma and abuse. And my abuser, despite being behind bars, still has a strange, distant power over me.

Some days are easier than others. 💓

Confidence & Other Insecurities

“Do you like it?” I ask, spinning in a full circle to give her a good look.

“It’s beautiful… I wish I could wear something like that,” she replies. “But bright colors are for the confident.”

She ducks away as I digest her words.

Is it true, do I make bold choices because I’m confident?

Surely, no. I grew up with an abusive older brother who gave me daily reminders why I should second guess everything I do. My nose makes me cringe, and the way my stomach rolls when I sit makes most of my pants uncomfortable.

No, I couldn’t be confident. Could I?

******

“But what if they think I’m an idiot?” she worries aloud.

I cannot help but jump in: “Oh, come on, what do you care what people think? No one’s opinion of you has any say over how you feel about yourself, unless you let it.”

“I wish I was as confident as you,” she sighs in response.

There’s that word again.

She’s right: my words are that of a confident person’s. Am I really s-s-secure? No. It can’t be. I’m too short, and not nearly as successful as I’d hope to be by now.

*******

“What kind of kid were you in school?”

“Oh, I had my head in the books and I wore orange camoflauge pants on the regular. I couldn’t care less what people thought; I had more important things on my mind than other people’s opinions of me.”

Holy shit. I can’t be confident, can I?

That would mean I have to love myself as a whole, including all the flaws. Wholeheartedly accepting my moles, embracing the hyperactivity of my mind, loving my generally sweaty state.

Right?

Wrong.

Sort of.

The thing about confidence is that it’s insecure.

It is never quite fixed and has the potential to vacillate and change, just like its owner.

When I’m forced to look at things, I’d say I’m a pretty confident person. I know who I am and the importance of what I stand for; others views don’t sway me easily. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t misjudge or devalue myself at times. There are moments I question my abilities, or pause and give thought to my efficacy.

See, ‘confident people’ are insecure at times. And ‘insecure people’ can feel confident, too.

I’m willing to bet my life even people like Oprah and the Dalai Lama have had to stop the self-sabotaging talk at times.

There is no one on this planet that has gone without inconsistencies or insecurities altogether.

What I’m getting at is, confidence is so much less about the labels we allow ourselves and so much more about the habits we adopt. It is not a measure of our worth, but the volume of our doubt.

So, when you hear that voice telling you aren’t good enough, stop and think:

• Where is it coming from?

• Why do you listen to it?

• What if it’s not telling the truth?

• How can you make its mantra more positive?

Because the only thing truly keeping you from feeling confident is your inner monologue.

To All the Friends I’ve Lost Along the Way

I have lost many friends over the years. A few were stolen by Death (may they rest in peace), but far more of them I have lost to life.

Some of those losses have been easy; a simple cease of communication was enough to loosen our bonds. Other endings have been sloppy & painful, leaving both parties scorned. Some are intentional, others unintentional. But the common thread among all of them is that they have been necessary.

See, I believe everyone comes into your life for a reason, but not everyone stays. Those exits happen for a reason, too. We cannot expect to be able to keep everyone. We are dynamic, as are what we need and what we want. Our relationships must ebb and flow, too.

So, to those friends who I have moved on from, or that have moved on from me, I wish you the best of luck in life. My absence does not mean I am wishing you ill will; on the contrary, I hope you are soaring. I hope whatever may have caused the gash between us to have healed when your wounds were less fresh. For, it’s true: we cannot find a place for everyone in our lives. But, we can always find a place to wish them well.

Why I’m Not Crying At School Drop-Off

“How do you feel?”

“Are you sad?”

“Nervous at all?”

Ive been asked the same question (or variations of it) umpteen times in relation to my kids starting school within the last several years.

And my answer, for some reason, is always met with surprise.

“I’m excited!” I reply.

The responses containing the least amount of skepticism generally sound like, “Oh, really?”

“Yep, really.”

My question is, am I supposed to be sad? Surely, it’s OK to be sad; I understand where my friends and loved ones are coming from. I guess I’m just missing something.

Personally, the idea of my children officially embarking on their educational career is thrilling to me. I am the child of generations of school teachers. I love to learn. My children love to learn, too, and I thrive on watching them grow. I see them especially flourish when they are not stuck to my side and reliant on my help. I see them transform when they rise to life’s challenges.

But most importantly, I am being gifted the chance to be present to watch their struggles and triumphs. I am here for their entrances to school. We have each other as we embark on this transition, and for that I am thankful and excited and blessed.

So, no, we aren’t nervous. There are smiles all around over here (but let’s chat again when it’s time for college 🤐).

Best of luck to everyone going through a similar transition 💓

What is Mom2Summit and Why Did I Go?

Over the last couple weeks my social media accounts may have made you ask “what the heck is #Mom2Summit and why does Amy care so much about it?”

And to be brutally frank, before this weekend, I’m not sure I could have answered that question with confidence. As a first-time attendee, I would have offered “it’s a convention designed for moms that blog. We attend classes that promote professional development, and amidst all of them, we also have parties and fun. Oh, and brands join us, too, so we can help spread the word of how great they are. Did I forget to mention I get to leave my familial duties for three days and I don’t have to make ONE DAMN MEAL that entire time?”

The lovely Lucy of Life of Mom & I arrive!

 

But, as soon as we arrived at the Langham Pasadena I knew it was so much more than that.

Before I get into how I knew, let me be real: as a native of LA, born, bred, and breeding only a mile or two from where I grew up, it’s hard to create a village. I am a relatively young mother for our area, which means my village has consisted of mostly childless friends. But motherhood, especially early motherhood, can be difficult and isolating. Even moreso when your circle doesn’t quite understand the stages of your struggle. Doubly so when you’ve no longer have your own mother for guidance or support.

However, when I arrived at Mom2, it became instantly apparent that it is much more than just a convention. It is that village I’ve been seeking.

The inclusiveness Mom 2.0 Summit promotes is what makes the difference. Upon entering the event space, you will be greeted with warm hellos,  whether you know people or not. And if you don’t, it won’t be long before you find your crew. See a Mom Blog celeb you adore? This is the place to introduce yourself.  I made friends in bathroom lines, in sessions, on the dance floor, and even within our hotel room. And it was in all of these places that I found a community filled with support, love, and understanding.

This may seem trivial, but in a world where success is so often viewed as finite, it is comforting to find a space filled with women that build each other up. It is clear that the people that attend Mom2Summit realize it is their arena to create lasting connections, and not just with the big brands that can further their mission.

People are at the heart of the convention. Its mission is to enrich the professional and personal lives of its participants, that much remains clear.

Of course the programming is helpful, to say the least. The keynotes were uplifting and inspiring. I now feel like an IG pro thanks to last year’s Iris Award winner of Instagram of the Year, (and this year’s Best Photographer), Lashawn Wiltz. I’m ready to pitch producers segments for television shows courtesy of Orly Shani and Home and Family. I am even prepared to pitch a TEDx Talk topic because of Lori Granito’s informative how-to session.

Also, yes, the events are over-the-top fabulous. I mean, how many times can you say you jumped into a ball pit supplied by Stitch Fix, got a makeover courtesy of Dove, took headshots courtesy of Best Buy, or schmoozed with Taye Diggs?


But, like I said, at the heart of this remains to be the Mom2Community. A community I am beyond proud to have joined this weekend, and will continue to attempt to enrich year after year. See ya in Austin next, Mamas! 💓💓

When Death Means Something Different

I know it often seems a weird place to talk death, on the Internet. And perhaps it’s true that just as misery loves company, grief needs love.

This death, however, is a bit different than most. When my father died just over two years ago, the world lost a brilliant soul. He was handsome, charismatic, musically gifted, funny, and warm. At one time he was even a successful ethical law professor. Yet, he was also tortured. He lost three wives and a son tragically, sired two children he did not father, and lived with layer upon layer of consequent guilt and grief.

Dad avoided his biggest issues by drowning his emotions in alcohol. Thus, his addiction made him unreliable and disloyal. He lost jobs and relationships, burned bridges.

And then one day, his addiction killed him. He finally lost his psychological and physical battle against alcohol when he was 66. But the way I see it, he began losing his battle 50 years ago, when he started drinking.

In my last conversation with my father, I told him I was writing a memoir. He replied that he understood, that he had seen his fair share of torture, too. That he had learned being an open book with me helped alleviate some of the pain. I was lighter after talking to him about it. Then, he died a week and a half later, and I believe he is now lighter than he has ever been before.

So, as I broach the subject of death this time, it is with a different lens than I often do. This is nothing like the grief I have felt in the past. This time death has offered the loved one lost an ultimate peace he never experienced in life. This allows me liberty to put my heartache behind me instead of focusing on what I’m missing. And while I am being candid, time has also allowed me space to celebrate Dad’s successes, instead of being reminded of his shortcomings.

Dad is at peace & I am at peace knowing this. This death means something much different; it offers me a space to give love when I couldn’t offer it in life. ❤️

So, You’re Coming to LA?

Only days 29 days ‘til Mom Summit, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve been packing/unpacking/planning outfits mentally for months. But, as a lifelong LA resident I have a lot less to prep than to obsess over. In fact, I was even a bridesmaid at the Langham Pasadena a few years ago, & I can’t stop dreaming of all the beautiful on-site photo ops.

A taste of the beautiful Langham wedding I was in

 

So, I thought I’d gather some of my knowledge of the area/resort/conferences, and answer some general questions for my more distant sisters in motherhood.

 

Should you stay at the hotel?

Um, yes! The grounds are stunning and diverse, and just about any shot you can think of, The Langham Pasadena can provide. The conference will likely have tons happening on-site, and as the Langham sits slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of Pasadena, it will be easiest to remain on the gorgeous campus. Plus, there’s a killer pool area, a gorgeous bar, high tea, Japanese gardens, and so much more.

However, if you cannot stay at The Langham, there are plenty of other nearby options. Yelp is always my safest bet to finding a great hotel.

What can you do on-site if you want some time away from the conference, or maybe even a little after-hour fun? 

If you’re looking for a some quick time away and a little recharge, the Club Room is a hotel guest’s dream come true. It offers refreshments throughout the day, internet access, magazines and newspapers, and more. If you don’t feel like risking a nap in your room, this is your best bet.
Now, I know how much fun and empowerment a conference can offer, but if you’re needing a respite (or will even be arriving early or leaving a day or two late), Afternoon Tea is an absolute must. The menu is divine and as Langham hotels honor tea traditions at all of their locations, it’s kind of a must-not-miss sorta thing.

📷: Langham Hotels, Afternoon Tea

 

For all of you convention lovers (like me), you know some of the magic happens after-hours, and the Langham Tap Room is the perfect setting for those connections and conversations you were hoping for. Its architecture is inspired by the hotel’s Prohibition-era roots, and it’s open late. Like, super late for us Moms (as late as 1 and 2 AM). And believe me, we will close it down. At least once. Because they have some delicious handcrafted cocktails and elevated pub food. *insert tummy grumble here*

What other local places are great for photo ops?

The Huntington Library and Rose Gardens are a great option, as they host lots of  greenery and natural beauty. Stroll through stunning grounds, partake in amazing art collections, and simply enjoy some of Pasadena’s finest. You won’t regret it.

Huntington gardens in bloom

Old Town Pasadena is another favorite of mine – here you’ll get everything and anything you want: food, fashion, and fresh air. Whether it’s day or night, there’s always something to do or see. Walk Colorado Blvd and truly get a feel for Pasadena life.

If you’re looking for some extracurricular fun that speaks to your soul, I would suggest checking out The Norton Simon Museum. It is an art museum with an unrivaled collection (including work from Renoir, Picasso, and more) and a beautiful sculpture garden, too.

If the kids are with you, and you’re searching for more hands-on fun, a great idea is Kid Space Museum. It’s $14 per person for an interactive experience. Especially during LA’s heat waves, the water-focused activities are always fun. For more info and reviews on Kid Space, check out Yelp.

Now for the important stuff – where should you eat?

Squeeee! A foodie friend! Now you’re talking my language. And the best thing about Pasadena is that it’s a foodie haven, catering to a million and one cravings.  Here are a few different lists of places to go, depending on what you want to eat:

Pasadena’s Top Rated Restaurants 

Pasadena’s Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Pasadena’s Best Vegan Restaurants
Pasadena’s Best Bars

… and more!

Ok, so what should you pack?

Now we are really getting to the good stuff!

This is my very first Mom 2.0 Summit, but I literally grew up on the convention circuit, so here are a list of My Convention Must-Haves:

  1. Business cards – you are going to be networking with a lot of exceptional people during Mom Summit, and there’s no way you’ll remember them all. So, being able to swap business cards is essential. Here’s mine (if I had a dollar for every person who said “What a great color!” or “I love that you included a photo!” Id have a lot of dollars).

    My cards from Moo.com
  2. A portable charger for your phone. Between calendar keeping, photo taking, posting, and more, you’re going to run through your battery pretty fast. Bring ALL the chargers and replacement batteries you may have.
  3. Comfy shoes – you will be on your feet a lot (even in the convention after-hours), so pack thinking comfort (whatever that looks like to you).
  4. Clothing that expresses who you are – it’s SO easy to fall into the “omg, what am I gonna wear?” trap, but my suggestion at any networking gathering is to stay true to yourself. It’s important you show attendees what *you’re* about, so your connections are authentic. With that said, if you really need some guidance,  Mom 2.0 Summit made this amazing Pinterest board for clothing inspo (as well as this one). If you just can’t do it on your own, Stitch Fix has partnered with Mom 2.0 Summit (squeeee!), and you can enlist your own stylist. Isn’t the Internet Age amazing?
  5. A small bag that is neither cumbersome, nor too tiny to hold anything. A mini backpack is even smart (considering the 90’s are back and all), like this one by Calvin Klein.
  6. Warm clothing/a sweater or two – I know this sounds crazy, but trust me on this one. Yes, LA is going to be HOT (by May it’s generally in the 100’s), but between the airports and hotels you’ll be occupying, you’re gonna be in the cold a lot more than you may expect. Come prepared (for everything, apparently).
  7. Enthusiasm!!! – we are all Mamas in this crazy Internet Age together, and we are so lucky to have found a village in Mom 2.0 Summit. Just remember, your vibe attracts your tribe. The more open you are to making lasting connections, the stronger your links will be. Don’t be afraid to show us who you are. Chances are you will fall in mutual MomRom with someone who totally appreciates your brand of Momming. Just gotta show us! 

If you have any questions, feel free to comment away. And please, don’t hesitate to say “Hi!” in a few weeks! 💓

Chicken Soup for the Soul Friend Friday Podcast Interview

A huge thank you to Amy Newmark of Chicken Soup for the Soul for asking me to be her guest on today’s Friend Friday podcast show! She interviewed me about my various CSS stories, and we had the chance to chat about writers’ groups, as well as our random run-in on my birthday. It’s always a pleasure to be a part of this extraordinary organization. 💓