School Shooting: A Letter To My Sons

School Shooting: A Letter To My Sons

I wrote this in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012. At the time, my boys were 6 and 8 years old -similar ages to the children who lost their lives on that terrible day. I know that many parents will be feeling this way now, after the tragedy in Texas. Our hearts break for the lives lost, and for the families and loved ones whose lives are forever altered.

To my dearest boys,

I was going to start this letter by telling you about the things that happened today, but it will be easy enough for you to find out if you are so inclined. Just Google today’s date – December 14, 2012 – and “Connecticut”. I am afraid that if I try to describe the events for you here, I will drown under the weight of my own sadness, and I won’t be able to tell you the stuff that you really need to know.

When you were newborn babies, I held you in my arms and promised you that I would give you the best life I possibly could. I would provide for you, support you in whatever you wanted to do and help you reach your full potential, whatever that might be. I would keep you safe and warm, and I would do everything I could to protect you from the uglier side of life.

But sometimes the uglier side of life kind of forces itself on us. People do things that are so unspeakably terrible that the effects penetrate to the deepest parts of our souls. It reminds us that sometimes we cannot protect the ones we love – sometimes we just have to do the best we can and then go on faith.

Today I feel like the luckiest mom in the world. When I got home from work today, you both came running at me, and I wrapped my arms around you and held you as close as I could. You hugged me back, kissed me on my cheek and told me you loved me. Right now, there are some parents who will never feel the warmth of their children’s hugs again.

We all spent some time romping around on my bed, telling jokes and wrestling with each other. I scolded you when you started jumping on the bed, all the while feeling immensely grateful that you are here for me to scold.

We went out to dinner, the four of us. We went to our usual restaurant, sat in our usual booth and ate the food we usually eat. We were all together – an intact, whole family. I thought of the families who have new gaps at their dinner tables and in their hearts.

As I sit here now, I am thinking about how tomorrow, I will finally get around to putting up the Christmas tree. I will be doing it with you boys, but instead of bossing you around about how to decorate the tree like I usually do, I am going to let you do it however you want.

You see, I get to decorate the Christmas tree with you. I will get to give you the Christmas presents I have bought you, unlike some families who have gifts hidden in their closets that will never be opened.

Right now as I write this, you are both in bed. You are supposed to be asleep, but one of you is trying to play with Lego quietly, and the other has a colouring book and crayons under the blankets with a flashlight. In a little while, I will go into each of your rooms and tell you to go to sleep.

While I am there, I will hug you tightly and tell you I love you.

With all my love, with all my heart, with everything I have.

Your Mom

Originally posted on Running For Autism on 14 December, 2012. Posted to World Moms Network by the author.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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My Roe v Wade Story

My Roe v Wade Story

Here we are again, still fighting for abortion rights.

Roe v Wade

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about this but I can’t keep silent. Women have been fighting for rights of every kind for as long as we’ve been alive. I, personally, have attended the Women’s March and protests against separating children from their families while Trump was in office. 

Currently, the protests are about the possibility of overturning Roe v Wade. This is the landmark case in which the US Supreme Court ruled, in January 1973, that a state law banning abortion was unconstitutional. And people are protesting about what it will mean for women everywhere if it is overturned.

What prompts me to write about this issue?

I went through an abortion that changed my life.

My Abortion Story

I was in my mid-twenties and I had been dating someone for a few months. It was during that relationship that I became pregnant and felt my world turn upside down. I was devastated because I knew I wasn’t ready emotionally or financially to take care of a child. When I told my boyfriend that I was pregnant, I didn’t know what he would say or do. I just knew that I couldn’t have this baby.

An acquaintance helped me find a doctor to perform the abortion but I had no idea how to pay for it. I was only working a part-time job at that time and didn’t make enough to afford the procedure. Thankfully, someone close to me lent me the money so I could have the abortion.

After I scheduled the procedure and told my boyfriend when it would be, I wasn’t sure how he would react. What I didn’t expect was that he would take himself out of the situation entirely and let me deal with it on my own. I had never felt so alone and abandoned.

Feeling Abandoned

I remember that morning of the procedure like a nightmare that I couldn’t shake off. Luckily, I had a friend from college come with me and be there for moral support. I also have to thank another friend, who worked as a taxi dispatcher. He made sure that we had a ride to and from the clinic. There were only three people who knew what I was going through that day and they were my rocks.

I don’t remember the procedure, but I remember the pain after it. With the help my friends gave me through their connection with a cab company and by staying with me until the procedure was done, I got back safely to my apartment to recover. I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained after that experience;  but I was so grateful I had the choice and access to have an abortion.

Grateful for Choices

As someone who went through an abortion, I believe that women should be the ones to choose. The right to determine whether a woman should or shouldn’t terminate a pregnancy should not be at the hands of a system that continues to devalue women and their rights. I would not have the family I have now if I didn’t have the right to choose what was best for me at that time.

My daughter is now the age I was when I had my abortion. I fear for her and for millions of women that will suffer if this law is overturned. The thought of returning to an era of to back-alley-abortions is abhorrent and senseless. As a Mom, I will continue to speak out against this injustice, because not doing so would undermine women’s freedom to decide what’s right for them and their bodies.

What can YOU do to make sure that every woman is able to “choose” what is right for her health and well-being? I hope that sharing my story will propel you to fight for what you believe in and give voice to the countless women and young girls who aren’t able to fight for their rights.

This is an original post to WorldMoms Network by our Senior Editor, Tes Silverman. The image used in this post is take from Creative Commons and has no attribution requirements.

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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Chatting With World Moms Network Founder

Chatting With World Moms Network Founder

This Sunday, May 8th, is Mother’s Day in the United States and I wanted to feature Jennifer Burden – CEO & Founder of World Moms Network.

I had no clue what World Moms Network was about until I met Elizabeth Atalay, then Managing Editor of World Moms Network, at the Moms+Social Good Summit in NYC.

I had been a blogger for three years and wanted to expand my connections, so when the opportunity arose to meet other bloggers, I decided to jump at the chance. Meeting Elizabeth and finding out about World Moms Network at that summit was life-changing, but it would still take me a few months and a few submissions before I was accepted to write for World Moms Network.

Over the years, I have been privileged to get to know World Moms from different parts of the world from reading their posts, and seeing how at the end of the day, we all want the same things for our families, regardless of where we live.

In addition to writing posts, I looked forward to our weekly editorial calls, especially during the pandemic. Yes, we would talk about post submissions and ways to attract more writers and readers, but not before we checked in on each other and talked about what was happening in our world.

It was during one of these calls about a year and a half ago that I spoke about my idea of creating a podcast to highlight women and the work they do for their community. Back then, I only had a handful of guests that were lined up, but it didn’t lessen the excitement that Jen and the other Editors expressed to me regarding my new endeavor. In fact, when I asked a few World Moms, including Jen, if they would be interested in being guests on my podcast, they were more than happy to be a part of it.

Since that day, I have been grateful to have so many incredible women be guests on my show and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the World Moms, especially Jen, for their constant support. It has been quite a journey from when I began as a blogger eight years ago and attended the Moms+Social Summit where I would learn about World Moms Network.

So for this upcoming Mother’s Day, I wanted to share with you my conversation with Jen because she continues to inspire me and other World Moms to be creative, fearless, innovative and connected to the people in our lives and the world around us.

To hear Jennifer’s episode, click on the link below:

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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Domestic Abuse: from Fear to Confidence

Domestic Abuse: from Fear to Confidence

When you leave an abusive relationship, you are driven by fear. At some point you know that if you stay, you’ll die, one way or another. And if you have kids, that they are at great risk too. You may not be able to say that it’s the right choice, because your thoughts are not clear, your mind is dealing with many contradictions; guilt and shame are your best friends for years.

You’ll find on your way back to life, many voices that will make you doubt your decisions to get out of a domestic abuse situation. It will be friends and professionnals. And it will be tough to listen to those people, who seem to know better than you what you went though and what you ought to do to start again. You will listen at first and you will feel less and less powerful, more and more under stress, pressure. All your energy seems gone to a land where you can’t catch it again.

Obviously, the person committing abbuse will do everything to win your back; your kids will be used for bartering —so easy! Many people think that it’s just about leaving domestic abuse, when in fact it’s so much more. It’s about finding yourself again, in a battle that looks like it will never ever end. And, also, it’s about keeping your kids safe and well.

Kids are the priority

Often people tell you—now that you’re out and ready to start a new life away from your abuser—that you have to take care of yourself. On paper, this looks great for sure, but in reality, if you have kids, you will want to protect them first. How can you think about yourself, when for years you have been nothing, and when you have been told you were good for nothing. First things first. Getting out of domestic abuse will cost you: 1. insomnia, 2. a great deal of money to find the best lawyer, 3. countless thoughts about whether you should give him/her another chance…again.

It lasted four years for me, between the time I left to the time the divorce was validated. It was all about our child. As much as I wanted him to have a relationship with his dad, I wanted the law of my country to guarantee the best protection for him too. I knew my ex-husband would do anything to mess it up. And he did.

Under threat

Domestic abuse doesn’t stop one morning bacause you decide it’s over. It’s always there, not visible, but in the words said, unsaid, in the behaviour, in the way the abuser is changing roles, again and again and again. So you are not able to tell what’s true, what’s not. You’re confused and back under his power once more.

It’s tough when you want your life back but you feel dragged down every time you make a step forward.

Stand your ground

At some stage you will need to get past voices around you and find your own. It’s a step-by-step process, full of ups and downs. I remember feeling free one day and back to darkness the next. But as months went by, I could see more days with freedom and fewer without. When people used to tell me things, I let them talk. By the end of the divorce, I had been through enough to understand a bit more about my ex-husband. He only wanted me to be the bad guy of the story.

But in front of the judge he did not stand any chance. The evidence was against him. People did not know my story. But I knew it by heart. I knew what I lived was not about love but only possession. And that his goal now was not to lose face in front of his family and community. Nothing more.

Know what’s best

I got help. I worked a lot. I wrote many lines. I poured out on to paper all the things I could not get my head around. And there were many. For me, it’s not about will power at first, it’s about understanding what abuse is, how we got there, why and how we can get out of it. It’s an enlightening road, cause when you start walking in your real shoes, you start seeing the whole picture.

I think that we all know what’s best for us, whatever other people think. My son did not see his dad for six years. Today, he is seeing his dad once a month in a supervised center. Many are still telling me that he is his dad and he won’t do anything to harm him, or that maybe he could see him out of this place. For me it’s a NO WAY. I know what’s best for him and me.

At the end of the story, you know you are part of it too. And you start taking care of yourself! Maybe,for the first time in your life!

Do you have any preconceived ideas (we all have some at some stage) about domestic abuse? How is the Law protecting kids and parents in your country?

This is an original post to World Moms Network from our contributor in France, Marie V. The featured image used in this post is attributed to Safe Horizon.

Marie Kléber

Marie is from France and is living near Paris, after spending 6 years in Irlande. She is a single mum of one, sharing her time between work, family life and writing, her passion. She already wrote 6 books in her native langage. She loves reading, photography, meeting friends and sharing life experiences. She blogs about domestic abuse, parenting and poetry @https://mahshiandmarshmallow.wordpress.com

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From Disappointment to Apathy: a COVID outcome

From Disappointment to Apathy: a COVID outcome

Kids need to learn how to deal with disappointment

I’ve heard this said time and time again, especially when my teenagers were younger. Most of the time, it was meant as general advice towards today’s generation of spoiled children but the advice has been directed towards me as well. I admit, I’ve been the kind of mom who wants to make life easier for her kids than my own has been. Why wouldn’t I?

Life isn’t void of disappointment. Overcoming set-backs is an important skill kids need to acquire. By solving their problems and contriving compensations, we take away learning opportunities. Personally, I thank my engineering diploma for my drive to overcome adversity and ability to fend for myself. Still, I find it difficult to accept distress in my own kids’ lives if I have the ability to avert it.

Making up for Loss

In the first months of COVID-19, counterbalancing disappointment seemed to be the go-to for many parents. Your birthday party was cancelled (again) due to COVID? OK, we’ll have to postpone it but we’ll treat you with an elaborate in-house birthday brunch ànd an extra present!

It’s an almost instinctive way to guide our kids through difficult times: compensate distress with fun and focus on the positive .

COVID provided our kids with plenty of learning opportunities. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t even begin to counterbalance it all. For me, that wasn’t a bad thing. I was forced to give up control and we learned not to take luxuries for granted.

From Disappointment to Apathy

In the second year of COVID however, I witnessed my kids’ improved ability to cope with disappointment gradually begin to evolve towards a sense of resignation, indifference and even apathy. Anticipating disappointment has become their default. We didn’t experience any COVID losses. We have been grateful for our jobs, our home office, our garden retreat, our health. I’ve always been aware of our many privileges, and COVID strongly enhanced that awareness. We really didn’t have any grounds for complaining. Still, my kids’ atypical apathy saddened me, deeply.

Shrugging off Conflict

When the conflict in Ukraine escalated, however, they weren’t even upset. They shrugged in the same way they shrugged when I announced a family holiday to Germany. In their acquired mood of apprehension, a close-by war was more readily accepted than the prospect of having a hamburger in Hamburg – the latter, one of their long-time bucket list items nonetheless.

Going on a holiday while another European country was at war, felt like betrayal. Cancelling the trip would mean betrayal on another level, to my kids. So it all happened. Russia invaded Ukraine. We enjoyed our Hamburg hamburger. Geographically, we had travelled closer to the war. Mentally, we couldn’t have been farther away.

It felt uncomfortably surreal. It was exactly what they had needed.

Shedding Indifference

On the way home, we were able to discuss both world politics and the history of Bremen and its legendary town musicians. The kids’ even ventured to propose ideas for our next trip – Vienna or Venice? As we were getting closer to our home town, they quietly talked about how the Ukrainian refugeesl, who had partly been travelling the same way we did, might fee. Some of them would even be staying in our town but had no prospects of returning home soon. When my teens started to plan what they could do to make the refugees feel welcome and cared for, I felt proud. But most of all, I was relieved.

They finally were shedding their indifference; learning to let go of apathy.

Do you recognize this increased sense of indifference in your children or yourself? How is your family coping with the surreal sequence of world events?

This is an original post to World Moms Network from our contributor in Belgium, Katinka. The featured image used in this post is attributed to Khashayar Kouchpeydeh from the site Unsplash.

Katinka

If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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Screen Time And Pandemics: We Need Flexibility

Screen Time And Pandemics: We Need Flexibility

Today is the last day of “ski break” on my side of the world. Our school has an annual week-long recess on Washington’s Birthday, and the students like to call it “ski break”. This ski break was especially long for us: due to a COVID-19 outbreak at my 4-year-old’s day care center, we had to start ski break a few days earlier. But we couldn’t go ski, because my little one had “close contacts” with a child who tested positive for COVID-19, and we were told to quarantine at home.

On the first day of this long ski break, I found myself facing a dilemma. It was the beginning of the lunar new year, the busiest time of the year for those who work for a Chinese or Taiwanese company. I work for a Taiwanese magazine as its U.S. correspondent. Facing the extra long ski break with absolutely no activities, I was overwhelmed. The kids had nowhere to go; I had to “go” to work. What should I do?

My little ones didn’t have a ski break camp to go to like they did in previous years. I told them we’d have a “Mama Ski Camp” at home. Since I actually had to work everyday, the Mama Ski Camp turned into a Mickey Mouse Ski Camp, and my two kids watched Mickey Mouse Club House on Disney Channel every day throughout the ski break. I became anxious about screen time: I didn’t want my children to watch too much TV or play too many video games, but what could I do?

Towards the end of the ski break, I made an announcement that the rule of no TV on weekdays would be restored once school resumed. On the last two days of the ski break, we’d be playing a game called “weekend without screen time.” My third grader quickly adjusted, but my preschooler seemed to have a hard time. He kept shouting: “I want Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!”

I worried that I’d ruined my youngest son. But when I consulted my pediatrician, he said we need a more flexible screen-time guideline during these extraordinary times. The American Academy of Pediatrics website has an online tool that provides customized family media plans based on the age(s) of the child(ren). I checked it out, and found we were still doing a good job in some aspects: phones and tablets were never brought into the bedroom or onto the dining table. My 4-year-old doesn’t use apps without permission, and my 8-year-old doesn’t communicate with strangers online.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the focus should not be on the length of time children use devices, but on whether parents can choose media that is appropriate, and co-view or co-play with the children. In our house, my husband and I always carefully choose programs for children to watch, but it’s hard for us to accompany them when watching (guilty!).

I have to confess that it’s been almost two years since the outbreak of the pandemic, and my sense of guilt has gradually turned into a numbness. When I review the current official screen time guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I feel that they are based on the “normal times”, and that we need to rethink screen time in the time of a pandemic.

I thought I was an expert on screen time. I write an education column that focuses on screen time. I’ve authored a book on digital citizenship which is scheduled to be published this June. Then the pandemic happened and everything I believed was out of the window.

A little more flexibility in screen time guidelines does not mean giving up parenting. I think that during this extraordinary period, we should be more concerned about our children’s emotions and less obsessed with how much TV they watch each day. When implementing screen time rules, we should focus on balancing online and offline life, rather than counting how many video games they play each day.

With a little more flexibility, this long ski break became a lot easier.

Do you have screen time rules in your family? Have those rules changed during the pandemic?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by To-Wen Tseng. Photo credit to the author.

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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