My Self-Care Grade As A Mom

I texted a friend before heading over to Julie’s book signing last night. I told her that Julie needed to use me as an example on how mothers are NOT focusing enough on our own self-care. I had a crazy day(and week). I was working, the fridge was empty, the house was a mess, the laundry sat in piles, I had not combed my hair or put on make-up and honestly haven’t had a cut or color since September, and I was sitting in the dance studio basement trying to get the bills paid so they were only a few days late.


But I told me friend that I was going to Julie’s reading come hell or high water. However the only way for me to attend was to drop some kids at dance, head home with another kid to quickly let the dog out to pee, and then go to the bookstore with my six year old and hope that it ended before I had to get back for dance pickup. And yes, I was the only one at the signing with a child. I laughed at myself and my situation and at how sometimes we just need to make somethings happen for us and our families. And last night – while in full motherhood and working mode – I needed to carve out 90 minutes for me. And I explained to my six year old that we were going to a thing for Mommy and she would need to bring a book and some coloring to keep busy(and not talk) so I could visit with my friend and celebrate Julie and her new book about Self-Care.


Because kids, sometimes its not about you. I mean 99.9% of the time it’s about you. But I’m taking that .1% and holding onto it tightly as I try to increase my time and focus on my own self-care as a mother, so I can be a better mother. Last night was just what I needed.


And I realized that I need to set a better example for my kids on how a mom needs to take time for herself too. It’s always a joke to some that all we want for Mother’s Day is a day off from mothering, but it’s a joke that rings true for many(and many times for me too).


But this year I’m not asking for that day off on Sunday, because I just had five days off last month. I did something that I recommended to everyone – I took a long weekend with one of my best friends and spent it celebrating my running the Boston Marathon. I ran a marathon and seriously I had never felt so refreshed and renewed and happy. And I know it was because I got away completely and was able to focus on me(and not feel selfish about it) and enjoy adult company and so much laughter for a few days. It lifted me up and made me ready to come back and know I would be a good mom again.


My kids were sad that they didn’t get to travel to Boston with me, but I hope they understand why I needed to go with friends, and they will use that as an example on their own motherhood journey someday.


And they know how important is to take care of ourselves..always. I model this to my tweens through my dedication to running and keeping fit. I never think of my daily run or workout as time away from my family – I see it as time for me to stay healthy and strong(both mentally and physically), and teach my kids that it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle now and throughout their lives. Remember to not just try to say the right things to your kids, but truly act and do how you want them to remember to live their lives. Actions are always louder than words.


It’s important to me to keep an open dialogue going with my tween and teen about everything. From self-care and motherhood to friendships and making good choices. I love what is leading as part of their Ask Listen Learn project to build a foundation of trust and continual conversation between parents and tweens. By encouraging a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t include underage drinking, Ask, Listen, Learn has the resources for parents to be informed and talk with their kids about why drinking underage can have long-term and short-term consequences on a developing brain and body.


Everyone says that parenting a toddler is hard – but these tween and now as we enter the teen years, are getting even tougher as their independence grows. NOW, and today and tomorrow and always is the time to model a healthy lifestyle and continue to talk with your kids about everything. And if you don’t know what to say or do – well you are lucky because there are so many resources like Ask Listen Learn for those of us who need a helping hand. You are not alone.


Please visit for more information and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


And remember that it’s okay to take time for yourself too. Happy Mother’s Day.


Disclaimer: I was compensated by for a post, but all words, actions, and love for my tweens are completely my own.




I just locked my children in a closet. Well one is at a birthday party, one is reading on the couch, and one I may have put in her room and shut the door behind her and told her to play with anything- really just anything- for 15 minutes so I could get something done. That last one is three years old and I love her to pieces but sometimes I just don’t want her touching me. Three year olds love to touch you, climb on you, poke your legs, head-butt your crotch, and use your body in any way that they can as their own built-in playground, beauty parlor and sometimes even a slip-and-slide when you are really just trying to shower alone.


I can feel the walls closing in right now as March progresses slowly by with more snow and cold and lists that are too long to ever accomplish. Sometimes March is like a never-ending day that you wish you end, but if it were to end, it would not end well for you. I love Winter. I love the snow and cold, cozy boots and the warmth of sweaters, but by March I just want to open my windows for some fresh air.


I’m having trouble finding that air right now. I guess that’s why they have this school-year phenomenon called ‘Spring Break.’ It’s a break from school, work, the daily monotony, the three year old’s sticky hands, and from the long Winter days.


As this Break approaches I find myself feeling more caged as I watch the Facebook status updates with tropical vacations, palm trees and most importantly, margaritas – knowing that we are doing nothing for a break.


There’s so much worse to worry over – children starving, homeless families, war, illness and death, that a housewife in middle-class American could fret about not having a break is as sad worthy as a movie star only being nominated for an Oscar and not coming home with a trophy.


All this was compounded by a simple email from Esther’s teacher last night. A short email telling me that there aren’t enough tickets for the field trip on Monday, so now I cannot bring Astrid. If I cannot bring Astrid – well, that means that I cannot go. All I wanted was to do something fun with my eight year old. I wanted to sit next to her and hold her hand in front of her friends and enjoy a show of music, light and fun with her and my three year old.


Something fun. Something besides laundry and bleaching toilets. Something.


I must be on edge as I sent that teacher an inappropriately angry note over this silly little field trip.


I clung to hard to the ‘trip’ in that sentence and the relative importance I put on two silly hours.  How can that really compare to a lifetime of beautiful things that I have here with these three good, even without palm trees or concerts.


This Is Childhood – Nine

We are continuing our weekly This Is Childhood series today with NINE.

Today, Denise shows us how incredibly beautiful NINE is. And it truly is. So far, for us, nine has been one of the best years. A year of fierce independence that comes along with lots of snuggles still. Nine is fine.


So go visit Denise and see her beautiful daughter and truly know the nine is one incredible year.

I’m starting to get very sad that we only have one week left of this amazing series. Thank you all so much for reading, sharing, and loving our stories. xo


Each Tuesday please join us and visit another writer as they show you that age through the beauty of their voices in print.

..Please come back each week for our amazing stories as we count up for ‘This Is Childhood’

ONE – Aidan Donnelley Rowley

TWO – Kristen Levithan
THREE – Nina Badzin
FOUR – Galit Breen
FIVE – Allison Slater Tate
SIX – Bethany Meyer
SEVEN – Tracy Morrison(me)
EIGHT – Amanda Magee
NINE – Denise Ullem
TEN – Lindsey Mead

(comments closed here)


This Is Childhood – Two

The response to our ‘This is Childhood‘ series is humbling.  I guess because if you are a parent, the memories and years are so fresh – even if they happened 20 years ago..and if you aren’t at that stage yet…well reading about your future is spellbinding.


This week Kristen tells us about ‘Two‘ and she does it in such a beautiful, honest and heartfelt way that I can feel two even though I’ll truly never feel and know two again.


If you don’t know yet, two is quite magical.

So go visit Kristen for ‘Two’ (comments are closed here) and trust me, after reading it you will hug your fabulous two year old even harder. Because no matter what the saying says – the terrible twos are truly just a vicious rumor.



Operation Christmas Child

It’s the simple things that make me proud as a parent – when my oldest daughter automatically grabs her little sister’s hand to help her down the steps, when my middle daughter tells her big sister that she can have first choice for a fun treat one night, it’s my three year old wrapping her arms around her sisters and telling them how much she loves them, and it’s also the way all three of them hurt if another hurts, and then they can make each other laugh with a simple joke.

These are the easy things aren’t they. The simple kindness and compassion and giving in your own family. It’s how we navigate our daily lives together…through love, modeling good behaviors, and thinking outside of ourselves.

Some say that children are born selfish and enter their toddler years with the mantra ‘me, me, me’ – but I don’t believe that. I believe all children are born naive and open and pure while just asking for simple things like love, nourishment and a way to make a difference.

That is what I teach my children – How can you give of yourself? Who needs something more than you do? Did you help someone today? Did you smile for someone today? Did you just give someone a hug because it looked like they needed one? Who did you encourage today?

Then it happens – they do it on their own. They help. They are not alone. They get it. And pretty soon you see your kids, your little kids, taking small and sometimes big initiatives to help others – their sisters, their friends, their parents, the neighbors. And pretty soon their community.

And now…the world.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming for a child – a child so small – to think about how big this world of ours is. I mean they would get lost just trying to navigate our neighborhood, so how could we ever explain the world.

But we do, in simple steps and simple words, to let our children know that while they are just a small part of the big big world, what they can do is absolutely huge in daily gestures of good-will and kindness. And we tell them about the girls in developing countries who are also nine years old and have so many of the same feelings and emotions that they do. They are just girls. Just beautiful girls all over the world.


When I told my daughters about Operation Christmas Chlld, I truly have never seen them so excited. They all planned to pack their own shoe-box for a girl around their ages. Yet by the time we left the store we found we had enough items to pack double that amount. I love the joy they have shopping and giving to others.

Operation Christmas Child is a non-profit organization that inspires people to pack shoe-box girls for chlldren in developing countries each year. Over 100 million children have been reached by this amazing program since 1993.

We need to teach our children about generosity and giving year round – locally and globally – and this is an amazing way that even the smallest of children can help. I ask you today to pack your own shoe-box for a child this season.

Here’s a video we made about packing our shoe-boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Won’t you join us? It’s easy! How to Build-A-Box

Use an empty shoe box (standard size, please) or a small plastic container.

Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Print out the appropriate boy/girl label and mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box.

Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child.

Please donate $7 or more for each shoe box you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs.

Place a rubber band around each closed shoe box and drop it off at the
collection center nearest you during our collection week, November 12-19, 2012.

For locations and hours of collection visit our Drop-Off Locations page where you can find the nearest place to take your shoe box by entering your ZIP Code or you can call 1-800-353-5949.

To learn more information you can also find Operation Christmas Child on Facebook and you can follow the tweets using hashtag #OCCgiveback

This holiday season build a box with your family to teach kindness, compassion, and generosity.

Operation Christmas Child and influencer marketing platform BlogFrog have teamed up with 200 bloggers like me to spread the word about this great cause.

BlogFrog will match the first 200 boxes that are built. Pledge your commitment below to build a box today on Facebook or Twitter!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Operation Christmas Child. The opinions and text are all mine.


Happy Valentine’s Day – What is Love?

Love is 3 children that a mother never thought she would have…
Love is the 3 children that made her a mother and the 4 children she never met.
Love is this mother not knowing such a love could exist.
Love is this mother being brave enough to experience it.
Love is so unconditional and pure for these children.
They love me in return just for being Mom and so imperfect.
I had no idea this could be true.
I had no idea how it would make me feel.  How complete. How lucky.
Love is every second I get to spend with my beautiful children.
Love is Good.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


First Snow…

I could never get used to the Winters when I lived in Southern California.  I always felt something was missing.  The anticipation was gone for the seasons to change, never having the warm feeling of bundling up in a new coat, how strange Santa looked next to that palm tree, that people would put cotton batting on their lawns to imitate snow, or being told a gazillion times that I could always drive to the snow if I wanted it.
I anticipate Winter with delight. I love the cold, the snow, the layers.

I love the way my kids run downstairs when they see the first snow of the season – and how morning cartoons and breakfast are forgotten as they rush to get their 20 pounds of gear on to go play in it.  How they trample the new, beautiful fresh snow in minutes – making snow bears, igloos, tunnels and snowballs.
I love when they come in – faces pink, eyes happy and beg for a huge cup of cocoa with marshmallows.  I watch them as they wrap their hands around the warm cups and drink in the happiness.
I love bundling up the baby for her first time in the snow – how it takes 20 minutes and she is crying before she even gets outside.  How her little legs cannot walk in the stiff boots or over the new snowy terrain.  How she cannot use her hands in the over-sized mittens, and the snow is cold on her face.
And she stands there and cries in frustration and thinks her sisters must be crazy to like this stuff.
But I tell her by next year, she will love it so much, she won’t want to come in when I call.


Growing Up…

Sometimes I would swing for hours in our backyard.  Melodies of Close to You, On Top of the World, and Angie Baby would fall from my lips as I would swing higher, farther, faster.   I remember trying so hard to touch the clouds with my feet, trying to even perhaps make it all the way around.  This was my place alone. Dreaming. I didn’t need parents here.
As years passed, my time on the swings turned into time in my room. Sitting in a mound of pillows, reading stacks of books, writing notes to friends, dreaming.


I look at my young girls and see how much they still need me.  I hear the choruses of “mom mom mom mom mom mom mom …” all day.  I like to be needed.
But I also like to teach them how to do things.  And lately, I find that Eloise says my name less and less.  She walks into the kitchen and makes her own snacks, she wiggles away when I try to kiss and hug her.  She walked several paces ahead of me on the way to the bus stop and then she finally just said “mom, please don’t come out with me – you can watch from the window.  And don’t meet me there after school either.”  She makes sure Esther is thorough in the shower and she now insists on picking out her own clothing.

She does her homework without debate and now I find her playing with the baby or reading a book in her spare time.  I also found her journal where she has started writing down her most deepest, secret thoughts.

I love watching my daughters grow up.  To become the individual and independent young women they deserve to be.
I see my role as a mother changing.  I smile when I see this.  How you go from 24/7 basic care giver to ..not.  I need to be adaptable – to know that Eloise needs different things from Esther.  I need to take her cues and adjust.  I need to not have my feelings hurt.

Sometimes, when the girls are at school and the baby is sleeping I find myself in the backyard on the swings, I stretch my legs to the sky and I dream big for my daughters.  I sing You and Me Against the World and We’ve Only Just Begun and I smile and cry and know that I have so much growing up to do to make sure I give these girls what they need. Just when they need it.

Jenny Matlock


Looking Up…

I spend most of my days going from task to task…job to job.  I am a waitress, a short order cook, a laundress, a nurse, a maid, a gardener and a bus boy.

And in the moments in between, I am a mother.
I am a reader, an organizer, a game player, a carpool driver, a play-date organizer, a tickler and a snuggler.

All this, while being a mother.
But mainly, all day, someone is always looking up to me.  Wanting me to pick them up literally or figuratively.  These little people need me.

And every time I look down, one of them is there and my heart melts.  The magnitude of my importance shows in their eyes.

It is humbling every time.
My knees bend.  My arms stretch-out.

And as I hold them, being a mother is the only thing they need right then. In that moment. Always.

Linking up with Darcy today..
Sweet Shot Day


Just a Perfect Day…

When I get to see both my dad’s the day before Father’s Day.

And I get a picture of the oldest member of the family with the youngest. And she let’s him hold her. And she – nor he – doesn’t cry.
Not that you are old, Jack.  But as you reminded me today – you were born well before television and people probably had more sex then.  Especially in the winter. In Minnesota.
I still look at Jack and my dad and see them as they were when I was a child and they were in their 30’s.  They look the same in my eyes. And maybe I look 10 to them.

When I am reminded they are not – I take pause.
And cherish every.single.moment I see them.  Every.single.moment they hug their grand kids. And every.single.moment they smile.
Because it is just a perfectly ordinary  and happy day when I get to spend it with them.
Happy Father’s Day.