Monday, January 30, 2017

Imperfect Lunches are my Bag

Recently, you might have seen this image show up on your Facebook newsfeed:

It's a photo I took of my 4 year-old daughter's lunch. Even funnier is that I didn't find her meat-and-cheese pairing too unusual until my husband started laughing when he saw it. Yes, it did look ridiculous, I thought, and I snapped the photo to share with my fabulously fun readers.

The image took off, and I thought, Yay! Moms are laughing because they GET IT. We all have days/weeks where we 'forget' the veggies, can't find time to fold laundry, and eat frozen pizza like it's our job. Real Life is refreshing. And FUNNY.

What surprised me more were the nasty comments when Today Parents shared my little humor post on their massive Facebook page. It's a prime example of the "Mom Shaming" trend you may have heard about.

I kid you not: Women-- people who I think of as MY people-- said my kids would be "fat" (I detest  the word "fat," and I could go on, but that alone is fodder for another post...); one lady said I'm basically "poisoning them," another noted that I should add "grapes to complete the choking hazard trifecta," and yet another gem of wisdom: "it wouldn't have been hard for her to throw some fruit and veggies on that plate." Really? You mean, we're supposed to consume actual fruits and vegetables?!

Whoa now, people! Deep breaths, deep breaths.

I would ask these commenters, how about taking a step back, and fine, if the picture doesn't make you laugh, just keep on scrolling? Why on earth pause what you are doing to criticize another mother who clearly shared the image to help other parents laugh at themselves and admit our imperfections?

I am not perfect, and I'm pretty sure the commenters aren't either. However, I'm not going to bully. I won't name names.

I think this experience is also a good example of the illusion of Internet anonymity. All too often, we think online comments don't affect real people-- that's there's not a real mom behind the screen doing the best she can (and laughing about it when she falls short).

In the end, I stopped reading the comments. The experience was like a paper cut-- annoying but not enough to make me quit and cower. If anything, it added another layer to my skin (it gets thick fast as a writer). You'll be happy to know my husband and I had a good chuckle over it.

Here's the link to the post the Today Show shared.

Happy reading!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

National Geographic Rocks [pun intended]

As a longtime blogger, I feel SO FORTUNATE to be a National Geographic Kids Ambassador, which means I get to sample their products and introduce them to my kids and to my readers.

I recently gave each of my kids one of their new hardcover "Heroes" and "Heroines" books. They are awesome.

I really appreciate that National Geographic pays attention to gender. They always provide ample female role models for our daughters! 

Another product top-notch product they came out with recently is the incredible virtual reality Viewmaster.

This gadget attaches to your cell phone. You download a few apps to make it work, and BOOM! it feels like you are wandering around with dinosaurs or exploring a jungle. I thought it would be very expensive, but the starter pack is under $25. You purchase additional experiences for under $10. Totally worth it for the nature lovers in your life! I think I like it just as much as my kids.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Making Room for Yourself

Motherhood is pretty all-encompassing, isn't it? I don't think a few minutes goes by when I don't think about my kids. I've become used to this notion by now, with a 6 year old and a 4 year old under my roof.

One thing that took me a while was to remember that having a family doesn't need to replace our other goals, and I don't just mean our careers. When I had my son, I quit my teaching job to stay home with him. I didn't have any help available, so it made sense that I would be the one to care for him. We had our ups and downs that first year.

Then I had my daughter, and again, my life was flooded with childcare-- feeding, diapering, napping-- you know, everything.

Image is not me, but it's pretty great! 

But within that insanely tiring and overwhelming period, I did manage to carve out a tiny bit of time to do one thing for myself: blog. You're reading the fruits of that labor right now. I started Frantic Mama when my son was one, and it slowly transformed my life.

Even though only about 3 people (my mom and husband included) read it at first, writing still felt wonderful, and I soon found myself connecting with others about the trials and tribulations of motherhood. It has since led to publishing and a part-time freelance career.

Then, when my daughter was two, I carved out a little more time to pursue another passion-- riding. Why not? I realized. Life it short, after all, and I wasn't getting any younger. There was pretty much no reason I couldn't carve out 2 hours a weekend for myself (though, sure, we moms are very good at coming up with a list of 20 things we "must" do). You have to make the time. It was up to me.

Though I felt guilty for a while, I stuck with my Saturday riding sessions, and doing so has opened up other doors for me (writing about horses, in particular-- a perfect career fit for me) as well as meeting new people, gaining new skills and experiences, and exercising in an awesome environment. I no longer have to look back and wish I had done it-- because I do it.

[Side note: try not to let money get in your way. It's easy to say, "well, I don't have the money to do it." Yes, some hobbies are expensive, but others aren't: my blog is free, going to a museum is free, reading at the library is free, joining a running club is free, drawing and painting are (almost) free. One of my favorite activities, volunteering at a therapy riding program, is also free.]

I wrote about my experience on here, and I would love it if you gave it a read.

Perhaps my story will even inspire some of you to try something new and to make time for yourself (other than torturing yourself on a treadmill or wandering Target for an hour-- those are not the passions I'm encouraging, ladies! Think bigger!).

There is more out there. I hope to keep finding it, and I hope you do too.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Welcome to 2017

2017 has been off to a rough start in our house, truthfully. I have been sick more often than not since before Thanksgiving. Stomach bugs, the flu, head colds-- I've had it all. This year, my immune system appears to be attracting rather than repelling germs.

It's hard to do much of anything 'extra' when you feel sick, isn't it? Hence the lack of recent blog posts. Even the most mundane chores feel exhausting when you're sick-- laundry becomes more daunting, cooking more boring, and cleaning nearly unfathomable.

But enough about that. It's the beginning of a new year, and for me, that usually means setting a few goals for the year ahead.

I hope to find homes for new essays in a couple of new publications, maybe new magazines or websites I haven't submitted to before. I also want to find another niche area to write about. I'm thinking education and learning disabilities would be a good fit, considering that's my license area and another one of my passions.

In 2016, I started tutoring students with disabilities again, and I hope to continue in 2017. It has been fantastic to work with students again and feel like I'm making a positive difference in someone's life, even in a small way.

On a personal level, well, I'm not sure what my goals are... Several times over the years, I've vowed to have "more fun" in the year ahead, which might sound ridiculous (one may argue that "planning for fun" defeats the point), but I think it's a good goal to have. Life can be hard and sad, and making time to have fun helps us enjoy our time here a little more. So that's that-- I guess I'll make FUN my personal goal again this year. Why not?

How about you? Do you make resolutions or focus on goals this time of year? I'd love to hear what your plans are for the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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