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.
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 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.
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.
Today’s post comes to World Moms Network by Lura Elezi of Albania. Lura is an activist, mother, writer and thinker. The piece below first appeared on Lura’s personal blog, Lara, Lara! in April 2020. It is a reflection of a similar time in a different place when a young Lura Elezi was also fleeing from pending war. She dedicates this post to all women and girls facing similar challenges today.
As an Eastern European, I relate to the Ukrainian people in so many ways. But that is not as relevant as the most important fact that we are first and foremost human and we should lock all wars in history books, as they have no more place in the present world.
As I sit hoping every minute that this war will not become even one month old, I would also like to point out that on top of various donations, my home is open to any Ukrainians reaching for my city: Tirana, Albania.
— Lura Elezi, March 15, 2022
Fleeing from Danger
Like many fellow Albanians during the 1997 quasi-civil war* of Albania, after several adventurous attempts, my family and I managed to flee the country.
My sisters and I were clueless. My parents told us to pack some of our valuables because we were leaving the city for the village—we were less likely to be hit by a stray bullet there. On the way to the airport, their story changed.
I was a young girl going through puberty and all the unrest that comes with it. Having seen and collected stray bullets on our balcony, I decided to channel all my unease by worrying about our cat Lara. We had left her with our downstairs neighbors, whose daughters were our friends. What if they fled too? What about Lara?
To Lands Unknown
Four flights later we had reached my uncle’s home…in Beijing, China.
No more stray bullets indeed but we were not here as tourists either. The culture and language was strange and very different from ours. We would only leave the premises about once a week; we had no clue whether our apartment back home was still intact; and we could barely get in touch through landlines with our friends and family left behind. I remained worried about Lara.
My parents were glued to the news. They were probably suppressing deep depression, of which my sisters and I were oblivious.
I spent my time reading, playing Super Mario or out in the yard—an inner courtyard surrounded by high walls—when the weather allowed it. After one sweaty session of play, I ran inside straight to the bathtub only to see that…
The communists had arrived!
Or as some say, “auntie paid a visit.”
Or to be more clear—something society did not seem too fond of doing at the time—I got my first period.
I felt the panic creeping in, so I acted accordingly. My need to hide it from my older sister and my mother was intense. I started throwing away my underpants, concealing them well so no one would see them in the garbage.
I left Albania as a child but now—according to tales passed down through generations—I was a woman.
What did that even mean? One thing I was sure, I was not ready for it!
Things Got Worse
Two or three days went by, and panic got worse.
I felt like excitement about everything was coming to an end.
That maybe they wouldn’t let me play outside anymore.
That vaginal blood was something to be ashamed of and it was foreshadowing a world less amusing than the one I was in.
Now I would have to act like a grownup. And what grownup girls did, is whisper about your biology maybe in the kitchen corners. Leave all fun behind, as those are privileges reserved for men and children only.
Eventually I started running out of underwear to throw away and I was exhausted. So I told my sister first, and then my mother. They congratulated me—my mom even laughed at my worries—and they gave me hygienic pads to wear.
The next day I rode the bike in the courtyard and no one seemed to care that I had a pad glued to my underwear, and it was turning redder by the hour.
For years I pondered why I had so much dread surrounding this biological event.
I do not recall my family telling me fearful tales; but certainly everyone else had managed to taunt me as a little girl:
About the fateful day when my period would find me.
That girls cannot do what they please after a certain point.
That girls are the sacrifice to the society, so it moves forward.
The Tale of Rozafa
Just like unfortunate Rozafa, a local legend that still turns my stomach, but which many seemed to find so meaningful.
Rozafa was the new wife of a third brother and she had just given birth to their first child. The brothers were building a vital wall and after a few futile endeavors, the wall required a blood sacrifice to be able to stand. So the brothers put Rozafa in it alive, and left her eye, breast and hand outside the wall, so she could take care of the baby in the crib.
Hundreds of similar horrid legends, where women are so dispensable, are passed down around the world.
Fear of Growing Up
I did not want to turn into a woman. As I thought about how boys play: they have fun; grow up to be businessmen and politicians; are told legends where they are heroes; continue to play video games; can be bosses; get to sit with legs spread out all their lives
“boys will remain boys!”
While girls have to: cast their eyes mostly downwards; never sit with spread legs; stand a lot; AND the moment your nipples start growing and you get your period…then the kitchen becomes your new hangout area. With other women, some much older, and with very unpleasant stories.
And if later, as an adult, a girl pursues her ambitions, she is called a b!tch and she better thank god several times a week for finding a husband who wants to bear children with her.
At least this is how it is for many.
Across much of the planet.
Two-and-a-half months later, we returned to Albania from our exile and waited patiently for the country to restore. I learned to buy pads myself and the sales clerk would wrap them with newspapers.
Lara the Cat lived 15 wonderful years with us.
* A few years into a young democracy that followed one of the harshest dictatorships the planet has known, in January 1997—after being deceived by fraudulent pyramid schemes that took loans from individuals and returned it at 150-300% interest rate—Albanians rioted. Eventually, all these schemes collapsed, and common people, who lost a great deal, broke in the ammunition warehouses across the country and a civil war almost took off. A few months later, things were calmer but it took Albania about a decade to recover from the financial losses —totaling about $1.2 billion.
The image used in this post is the author in 1997. It is used with her permission.
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This is the second installment in our multi-post series about real people of Ukraine as observed by our contriutor, Loren Braunohler. Loren is a former US diplomat who, until recently, was posted with her family in Kyiv, Ukraine.You can read the first installment here.
Ksenia and Alex
These are my friends Ksenia and Alex. They are real people of Ukraine. We met in a café near my youngest child’s preschool. It was Ksenia’s birthday that day and they were getting ready to travel to Greece to celebrate. We shared an immediate bond over our love of travel and reminisced about our adventures. They were warm and kind and you could tell that their love for one another was deep and strong.
We continued to stay in touch. Ksenia told me about all of the best kept secret spots in Kyiv and we were making plans to have an outdoor BBQ together when the weather warmed up, so that they could meet the kids and get to know my family better.
Ksenia is a dancer, Alex boxes. Together they have a beautiful life.
Before the Invasion
Ksenia and I keep in touch on social media nearly every day. She was buying beautiful spring flowers the day before the invasion took place. She and Alex were cool and composed in the face of an imminent attack; their bravery and heroism in line with what Ukrainians are showing across the country.
Since the Invasion
Earlier this week, Ksenia told me that she is sheltering with Alex’s grandmother in eastern Ukraine. Alex is fighting in a volunteer battalion. I cannot begin to imagine what their goodbye must have looked or felt like.
I’ve asked how we, as individuals, best can help. She said:
“there are a lot of people ready to stand in defense of our country, but not enough armor, helmets, walkie-talkies, knee pads, and other equipment.”
Ksenia doesn’t want to leave Ukraine because she wants to stay close to Alex and she wants to help obtain as much equipment for the volunteer battalions as she can. She says,
“We do feel support from all over the world and people all over, I’m simply unable to express how grateful we are, I can’t write without tears in my eyes.”
Stay strong and safe Ksenia and Alex. The world is on your side. We’ll have that BBQ one day.
Girl Scouts Troop 41501
These are Kyiv Junior Girl Scouts Troop 41501. They also are real people of Ukraine. My daughter had been begging me to lead a Girl Scouts Troop for years. I finally acquiesced. What a blessing it was for me. These strong, brave girls taught me so much; arguably more than I taught them.
We learned how to build fires, roast S’mores, take hikes and to navigate using compasses. We studied endangered animals, made hedgehog houses, learned about energy sources and how to be more energy efficient in our everyday lives. We made furniture from recycled material, knotted fleece tie blankets and created Christmas cards for orphanages during the holidays. We did all of this and so much more. There was so much curiousity, creativity, and laughter. We still had so many projects left to do and places to explore together. These were my daughter’s friends. These were my girls.
Two of these bright, vivacious young ladies, Katya and Lisa, are sheltering in Ukraine. Both have managed to leave Kyiv and are safe; for now. One mom says:
“Katya is really missing life before the war and meetings with her Girl Scouts Troop.”
Lisa spent a few nights in a bomb shelter and then made her way to western Ukraine, where it is safer; for now. Her father is helping to evacuate Ukrainians from the east and Kyiv to locations further west.
Please think of these girls and their families today and send them strength and courage.
#StandWithUkraine #usagso #girlscoutstrong
This is not an original post for World Moms Network from our contributor, who was formerly in Ukraine, Loren Braunohler. These posts originally appeared on Loren’s Facebook feed but are modified and reprinted here with the author’s permission. The images used in this post are attributed to the author.
Loren Braunohler is a former U.S. diplomat turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. She is a world traveler who avoids the cold (don't ask why she is currently in Poland). Former assignments have included Mozambique, Venezuela, Australia, Sudan, Thailand and Washington, D.C. She enjoys running, although she probably enjoys sleeping even more. Loren blogs about her family's international adventures and parenting at www.toddlejoy.com.
I said it. It was not easy but I needed to let emotions go and tell the truth. I didn’t know it but I had hit parental burnout. It did not come out of nowhere but I had kept the situation at a distance for some time. I did not want to show my weaknesses. I did not want people to see this side of me.
For months and months I kept repeating to myself that I could manage, that some other women had more than one kid, some had more issues, illness, parents to deal with and they could make it work at the end of the day. Therefore, I could too.
The breaking point
Then, one day, I found myself locked in the bathroom, crying. Tears were heavy and on the other side of the door was my kid but I could not come out; I could not find the strength to make a step towards him; I could not get past my anger and pain—like I had many times in the past—and give him a hug.
I was not myself anymore. In addition, after every crisis, I hated myself. I was afraid of my violence, of the words, of what my own body and mind were able to do towards the most precious person of my life. I even asked myself at some stage if I really loved my son and if it would not be better to let him go live with other people. Home wasn’t safe. Family life felt like hell.
I was so ashamed I could not tell other mums or even family or friends. How can one say “I don’t like being with my child?” I was thinking that if I tell, Social Services would take my child away from me; or worse, give him to his dad. I could not imagine this.
I kept smiling outside, and the worst is that people told me I was a good mum. They didn’t know how awful these words made me feel, even guiltier than I felt already!
I kept crying indoors. I thought about my son, the one who helped me get away from an abusive marriage. And, here I was, making a mess of his life.
I cried for a long time this day and when I got out, I made myself only one promise: ask for help.
Asking for help
A week later, I was spilling my guts in front of a psychologist. I told her all the things I could not tell myself. I said out loud that I was scared to go home, that I was scared to cause harm to my son, that I could not go on like this, exhausted, feeling empty and mentally absent. I told her I was just surviving, doing the things that needed to be done.
Week after week I let go, I told her the chaos, my violent outbursts that I could not control, the fear in my son’s eyes when I was shouting and knocking on the walls, my wish, many times, to kill myself as it was becoming too hard and harmful for both of us. I was losing confidence as a mother, as a woman, as an individual. My life was slipping out of control.
This is called parental burnout. It refers to a prolonged situation of emotional imbalance, where the burdens of stress overcome personal resources to deal with life as it is. It can be compared to post-partum depression but it’s mostly linked to one’s parenting role and tasks.
Asking for help saved my family. I started writing at the same time, sharing my story with others, as guilt and shame were slowly fading. It’s not something I like to remember but I know that personal experiences can be of help. When facing such hardships in one’s life, loneliness is a killer.
We should all be strong together, being able to listen, without judgement, but with an attitude that will help women to open up before it’s too late. Parental burnout is a real and scary reality for many parents, especially single moms.
Have you heard about parental burnout before? Have you been there or do you know someone living such an experience?
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
Yes, you read that right: “Something WORTH doing is worth doing BADLY.” When I first read that sentence in an email from one of my mentors, I thought that he had made a typo. Surely anything worth doing is worth doing WELL I thought. In his email, he went on to explain that people like us (perfectionists) tend to put off doing something—or don’t attempt it at all—due to our fear of not doing it WELL enough.
That really hit home for me. I have a very large number of examples from my own life of when I have done just that. The one I am sharing with you is something that has been stuck in my craw for most of my life.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to write a book. Since then, I have spent more money than I care to admit on writing courses and programs like Scrivener. I have started (and abandoned) numerous manuscripts. I let my personal blog die from neglect. I have made friends with a lot of people who have had books published (some of whom are probably reading this with some compassion…. at least I hope it’s compassion!). I read and watch everything I can about how to become a published author. I am doing everything… except actually writing! I am doing everything EXCEPT the only thing that truly matters, if I genuinely want to achieve my goal.
It’s Ok if it’s Not Perfect
I wanted to share this to encourage you NOT to be like me. DO the thing that you want to do because, odds are, people will admire your courage for trying, and NOBODY will judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.
This advice is as much for me as it is for you. A couple of years ago I attempted NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) which takes place annually in November. Of course I sabotaged myself and didn’t finish. Last time I told everyone that I was writing a nove, because I thought that it would keep me from chickening out but it didn’t. I don’t know if this is the year that I finally will get it done. What I do know is that nothing and nobody (apart from my own inner critic) is stopping me from doing it.
What is the one thing that you have always wanted to do but haven’t done out of fear of failure? What do you think would have to change in order for you to go for it?
This is an original post to World Moms Network from our contributor in Spain (formerly from South Africa), Mama Simona. The image used in this post is credited to Rebecca and used with permission from Creative Commons by Flickr.
Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues.
Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!