Hair Color and Coffee, The reality of being an older mom on Instagram, and my utter confusion with it….

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Thursday -So I was scrolling through Instagram last night doing some research on what makes a successful blogger, or more specifically a mother/woman blogger. Most of the successful ones with a tremendous amount of followers, were young and beautiful. Their posts were bright, colorful and displayed in the most peaceful and luxurious light. Their hair flowed effortlessly, their makeup or lack of makeup was spot on, clothing pressed and up to date. They were posed in loving ways with their children in beautiful places, notably warm climates. I was drawn to them as well, clicking photo after photo, checking out their writing blogs, websites, Facebook pages, and/ or merchandise on Etsy. The formula was always the same, young plus beautiful attracted attention.

But what if your not young and your not beautiful (in the mainstream sense), what happens then?

I am 45. Just turned 45 in April actually. My birthday was a harsh reality to grasp because I do not feel 45. Many of my friends, acquaintances, and woman around me are much younger. Primarily because I have a daughter whose 9 and in the 3rd grade, and many of them began their families at a much younger age. At 27 when they were well into their careers, I was just beginning mine as a teacher. I had changed gears mid-twenties and headed back to school for certification. At the school I taught at, wedding showers and baby showers were a weekly event, the teachers were young. Although marriage and having children was the furthest from my mind. My motto had always been career first, family second. I wanted to be an older mom.

When I was 32 I got married. By 35 had my daughter. By 37 had to make the difficult decision to retire from my teaching position and stay home with her, as she needed me more. (it was also never part of my long term career plan)

I am now a middle aged stay at home mom, struggling to find my place in the working world. I live off coffee, find myself buying hair color weekly to cover up my ever growing grey roots. I work very hard to stay in shape. Instead of scheduling nail appointments or drinks with the girls, I am doing fun things like scheduling mammograms or chiropractic appointments. The fine lines around my eyes are no longer fine, and my recent google searches have consisted of things as cool-body sculpting, vitamin D deficiencies, and mom jeans (kidding about the mom jeans, I was just thinking back to the old SNL skit on mom jeans).

I’m not complaining by any means, I do not have a horrible life, but like all of us, I have my demons. Mine revolve around insecurities.

So as I try to successfully promote myself on Facebook, on Instagram, on WordPress, these insecurities tend to grow larger. I want to be true to myself, but does that have to involve posting photos of a life I do not have in order to get people interested in me? Should I take numerous selfies to get that one picture that doesn’t reflect my true age and filters out the child clutter in each room, or can I just be myself?

Even the Instagram mothers I enjoy to follow, use their filters and crop out the obvious. I use to enjoy following “That’s inappropriate blogger” Meredith Masony, but she has become so large that’s its tough to really know whats for real and whats for show anymore?

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So being the perfectionist I am. I tend to not publish my blog right away. I was on a venting session with this one yesterday and decided to sleep on it. I needed to give myself sometime to sit with what I wrote.

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Friday- This morning when I woke I was in deep reflection. Whether the cause be from a good nights sleep or a moody rainy day, I couldn’t tell you, but I had a slight change of heart in regards to my words the day prior.

So my question? What if social media does serve an altruistic type of purpose? I mean, what if cropping out the craziness and other clutter in your life to better emphasize or showcase your best, is what keeps us sane. Keeps us balanced. Keeps us happy. How does that saying go “ignorance is bliss?”

If we were not allowed to record and prominently display the positive and beautiful moments in our lives, would we become consumed within a world of crazed despair. If so, what if the only way of avoiding that despair involved filtering out what we don’t want to remember.

Then I started to think of my own work, and about the pauses I intentionally create on paper. The areas within my pieces that are uncluttered, open, and free from stimulation, free for personal interpretation. They allow the viewer time to breathe clear and cleanse their focus before moving on to the rest of the piece. This break, pause, release, interruption in time, allows for self-reflection, even if only for a moment.

So could I possibly view Instagram as a way to cleanse the clutter, or does it just add more disorder to our day?

I don’t really have an answer? I started writing this post with the intention of highlighting social media’s focus on the young and the beautiful and instead finished with the open ended question of whether or not any of it even mattered?….

I would love to hear your thoughts?

Letting Go, for your Health, Heart and Happiness

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“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”
“What we think, we become.“ -Buddha
 

My biggest hurdle in life has always been “letting go”. Letting go of the argument I had with my husband the night before, letting go of the stupid thing that spilled out of my mouth while talking to a friend, letting go of the perfect image I believe I have to attain in order to be attractive, letting go of being the perfect mom, letting go of where I should be in my career… Quite frankly, letting go can sometimes feel impossible.

I dwell, I stew, I brood, I mull, I obsess, I linger and until recently, this has always been my way of dealing with the “letting go” struggle. Things finally began to change when I lost two important women in my life to cancer.

It’s one thing to choose to let go; it is an entirely different situation when you don’t have a choice. It truly forces you to reevaluate your priorities.

For better or for worse I started to look at and approach my life a bit differently; I noticed the first shift within my art making. 

I have the tendency to hold on, even within my work. It often stops me from experimenting. I fear that if I try something new, I will ruin what I already have (this can also be applied to life). I’m also afraid of making mistakes. This way of living keeps me safe, my art conservative, and the world around me comfortable. Unfortunately, it also does not allow for much growth.

Although recently I have been working on a series of mixed media collages, that have given me the freedom to play and explore. When I draw it’s usually about control, precision, and replication of an image; I feel disciplined, but when I work on a collage something changes. I think it’s the concept of impermanence that intrigues me. My mixed media work is created with various types of ripped paper which I layer over, under and between multiple applications of watercolor paint, gouache, and pencil. If I don’t like a certain part of my work, I can very easily cover it with another layer of paper and rework the section. In some form my art has become a metaphor for life. These layers represent my life experiences, struggles and strife’s. Sometimes we keep these parts of our life exposed, other times we cover them up, try to forget what they were about and rebuild upon them. I guess the important part is knowing which ones to cover up and let go of, and which ones to hold onto.

I have discovered that when I reach a point within my collage making that feels wrong, I listen really hard to my instincts, even if they are telling me to cover up and/or rework…because it is only when I take that jump and destroy/cover/conceal the negative, that I find the positive,

the weight lifted off my shoulders,

the expectations of perfection disappearing,

and my true self emerging,

allowing me to explore and experiment down a new path.  

The entire process is actually quite exciting for me. 

So, the second “letting go” struggle I have been trying to hurdle over is parenting. My daughter is now 9 1/2 and is desperately trying to find that happy medium between still being a child and becoming a pre-teen. There are days when I feel her behavior mimics that of a 5-year-old. She whines, she clings, she acts as if she is deprived of attention (which she definitely is not) She wants me to pour her a drink, get her a snack and run the shower for her. (all things she can do on her own) Then there are days she will lock herself up in her room, bark at me for privacy and fall apart if I don’t knock before entering. The same days that she will ask to cross the street to our neighbors and insist that she is old enough to handle being on her own. These are also the days I usually cringe with protective despair. 

Although, within the last couple of months I have realized that I don’t want my daughter to be like me; safe, conservative, disciplined and comfortable. I want her to push her limits, explore her surroundings and most important trust her own instincts, but in order for her to do that I have to be ok with “letting go”. Letting go of my own fears, letting go of my own assumptions, letting go of who I want her to be and instead allowing her to discover that for herself. 

My daughter often says to me,” Mom you want everything to be perfect, life is not perfect, I am not perfect, I don’t want to be perfect”. She’s right…

and I have struggled with this my entire life.  It has caused me to miss much over the years. Missed opportunities to create deeper friendships, have more meaningful experiences, build greater self-confidence, and discover what I am truly capable of. It is only now at 45 that I am realizing how to find my true happiness, by “letting go”.

Holding on to a distorted image of “who you think you should be“, is not only distressing but also unhealthy for those loved ones around you.

These ridiculous standards we have for ourselves infringe upon our relationship with life. Over the years I have stopped attending any event that required I put on a swimsuit. I often cancel plans with friends or do not make them at all for fear of leaving behind a dirty cluttered home (because god forbid my home dare not be perfectly clean and in order like a page out of Better Homes and Gardens). I drive myself crazy every spring keeping up with yard work to match my neighbors’ homes…. and on and on and on….

My point is, who am I doing this all for? Not for my family or friends, because they would prefer to spend that time with me, and not for myself, because I would rather be creating or writing or enjoying time with them. So, who then? Who will remember these aspects of my life when I am gone; a clean home, a beautiful yard, a perfect body, and do I even want to be remembered for these things anyway?

I want to be remembered for being a good person, a great mom, a loving wife, a dedicated friend, an artistic creator. I realize these changes will not happen overnight. After a lifetime of perfectionism, it will be a slow crawl to change my habits, my perspective, my approach to life, but I am willing to try for the benefit of myself and those I love around me.  =

Bullying in Elementary School, how would you handle it if it was your child?

girl in white long sleeve shirt and black skirt sitting on swing during day time

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I was a bit of a pushover in elementary school, and even though I had never experienced aggressive bullying, I was exposed to a lot of teasing. It was in a passive-aggressive manner, but for me whether it was positive or negative, it was still attention and that’s why I was attracted to it.

I didn’t stand out. I wasnt overly good-looking, or extremely intelligent, my sports ability was average and my creative ability was yet to be developed. I was shy and just wanted to be everyone’s friend. As I entered High School, alcohol and drugs became a game changer, and so did my best friend Emma (not her real name). When I was with Emma life was tolerable. I learned how to lie to my parents really well to get out of the house often. We drank, smoked, got high, and dabbled frequently in hallucinogens. My parents had no idea. My school grades were up, I played varsity sports, was looking to apply to college, and had found an interest in art. When I was out with Emma the world was my oyster. When I was intoxicated or high I had balls. I could talk to anyone, tell them anything, act like anyone and I loved it!

Years passed and both Emma and I were accepted into college. We followed different career paths and eventually grew apart, and with that my shyness returned.

In college there wasnt much time for partying. Well to be honest there was, but not in the uninhibited way like it was in High School. Mostly because I cared about my studies and didn’t want to flunk out. Although in art school, I did meet people who understood me more. My relationships however were still only surface deep and things had not really changed.

I was quiet in my classes, sat in the back of the room, often prayed that I was never called on. I was very insecure about my work and socially only spoke my mind when I was inebriated. I did however write. I wrote a lot. I wrote poetry, I wrote letters, I wrote in many, many journals. It was the only escape I had to be myself. Even my artwork was controlled, but my writing was uninhibited and private.

When I graduated from college I was in a wonderful relationship with a man. He was gentle and sweet and kind. We had met in school and were now living together. We hardly fought at all. I looked up to him, and put him on a pedestal, him and his friends, they were artsy and different and “cool”.

His friends liked me, but they were never really interested in me. Truly I think it’s because I hardly spoke, well at least spoke about what really mattered to me. I was always the quiet one at the party desperately trying to drink as much as I could, so that I could find the courage to speak to someone. I remember feeling extremely inadequate and insecure most of the time. At a few occasions I had even left and walked home because of my anxiety.

Eventually he moved on from me, and it was the best and hardest thing I had ever experienced in my young adult life. Soon after I found a single bedroom apartment, and for the first time lived by myself. That was when my life truly began.

Now…I could go on and tell you how I finally found my voice through teaching, or how I learned to stand up for myself, speak my mind and go after what I truly wanted. I could reminisce about how I met the man of my dreams, who respected and loved me for who I really was, how we got married, bought a home, had a beautiful daughter and are now 12 years into a happy marriage….but thats not what I intended when I began writing this. I will save that for another day.

I sat down this morning to write about bullying. My daughter has been experiencing it for the first time at school and it infuriates me. Unlike myself as a child, my daughter does stand out. She is very intelligent, witty and creative, she is also beautiful. But like myself, she doesn’t like conflict and often does not know how or when to stand up for herself. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, it pains her to see others get hurt, and she is often the mediator within her peers arguments.

Recently she has been having a difficult time at school. A group of girls have been targeting my daughter and one of her close friends at recess.  It’s actually been going on for a few weeks, but I assumed by now it would have blown over. Instead it has escalated. My daughter came home from school yesterday explaining to me how these girls had separated her and her best friend from each other.  She was asked to leave the group, while they reprimanded her friend for something she had done. My daughter watched from a distance as it spiraled into a screaming match, which eventually led to lots of crying on the part of her friend. Teachers were never involved and no one was squealed on.

   Since I have become a mother my voice is ALWAYS heard. Heard by my husband, heard by my friends and family, heard by my daughter and very often heard by her teachers. A nine-year old child needs an advocate. I don’t care what other parents believe, if they want to step back and let their kid figure it our for themselves at 9 years old, so be it, but I will be damned if anyone wants to tell me that its ok to expose my 9-year-old daughter to bullying at the cost of her becoming depressed, hating school, withdrawing from social activities or worse developing suicidal thoughts. I would rather be THAT PARENT, that pain-in-the-ass parent who is on top of everything in her child’s life in order to protect and preserve her childhood. Yes I am an OVER PROTECTIVE PARENT AND PROUD OF IT !

   So last night, I wrote an appropriate and very concerned email to her teacher. She promptly responded back to me this morning that she had communicated the issue to the other teachers, and would keep me in the loop as to how it would be handled. So for now… I wait.

I realize life is a learning process, a journey that has to be experienced for yourself.  I realize and acknowledge that my daughter will have hardship, that she will fall and fail, that she will have love and loss. I encourage her to have all of these experiences; for what doesn’t break her will only make her stronger, build her character, develop her resilience.

However does any of this personal hardship have to be experienced at 9? I had a difficult and very divided childhood (divorced parents) I know what this hardship can do to the spirit of a child, and I for one do not want the naivety and innocence of my daughter taken from her too early.

So, yes I will protect her, shield her and sometimes even shelter her from aspects of life I feel that she is not ready for.

Is this really so bad at the cost of providing her a wonderful childhood where she can truly be a child?

I hope not.

Why ADHD is not a curse and how I use it to my advantage

woman wearing black brassiere sinking on the body of water photography

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I am the oldest of four stubborn, headstrong, and very independent Italian females (including myself). We come from a long line of opinionated/bossy woman. Sometimes it works for us sometimes it doesn’t, but to make matters even more complex 3 out of 4 of us have clinically diagnosed ADHD. To say the least  we are all proud of who we are, but it definitely makes life more interesting.

Without my sisters, I wouldn’t be as sane as I am today. They have been my rock and my best friends throughout my life’s ups and downs. However, now that we are all adults and in separate households the rules have changed and we are unable to keep up with each other as closely as we did when we were kids….. and so staying focused and grounded can sometimes be a struggle.

I wrestle with this everyday. Most people are confused about ADHD and they think its only about having a lack of focus, when for most of us it’s the opposite, it’s the ability to focus on TOO many things that becomes the problem and the inability to differentiate what is most important.  My brain is constantly running on a hamster wheel from the moment I wake up, until my head hits the pillow at night, and even then I often have to take something to help me sleep, otherwise my brain will just keep on trucking.

You can imagine how this may cause some technical difficulties throughout my day.

For me it often happens with my work. I start off with an idea, I can see it, visualize it, its colors, textures, size, shape…..I get inspired and run to my desk to get the idea out. Everything usually starts off ok ….until it doesn’t. When I can’t get that image, that thought, that creation out of my head fast enough, I get frustrated, rush, and ruin what could have been a worthy piece.

When I had the thought of starting a blog a million ideas for it flooded my head….posting my artwork, linking my other sites, creating a drop down menu that showed videos of me at work, a list of my favorite artists and art supplies, linking music into my blog whether running all the time or links to my favorites….and on and on and on….. Rationally I realize I CAN do all of this, but it will take some time, though emotionally I am like an impatient child who wants it all to happen NOW !

Having ADHD affects everything you do, all day long. However, there are also positive aspects…

I work on a very strict schedule, I have a tight routine that keeps me on course. Do I divert from it at times..of course I do, but its flexible enough that I can easily pull myself back in when needed.

This schedule keeps me focused, and also allows for A LOT to get done within each day. I use my ADHD to my advantage and get a ridiculous amount of things accomplished while my daughter is at school. For most people my schedule would probably exhaust them, my husband is often dizzied by my rushing around the house on days he may be home (by the way, this schedule works best when I am home alone, so I am able to literally run around the house without disturbing anyone). My schedule may not work for everyone, but it works for ME, and allows for 5 hours of solid productivity doing whatever I choose for that day, before my daughter gets home from school.

I also find that most people with ADHD are very emotional and compassionate. I realized this when I was very young and was drawn to the arts and journal writing. I was also involved in ballet for 7 years (which I still love).

Finding focus everyday is a challenge, and one worth fighting for. I would/could never change having ADHD it has helped to guide me down the path I am currently on today….

Insecurity and how it can stop you from obtaining your goal

Im having writers block I’m having artists blocked, I’m just blocked in general.

I have been in a place of extreme insecurity lately. I started writing this blog as an outlet to express my frustrations and struggles of being a stay at home mom / artist. Even now I am second guessing everything that I write. Anyway, at the beginning writing my blog was fun, lighthearted and carefree. I wasn’t worried too much about what other people thought, I just wanted to get my thoughts onto ‘paper’. But, as I began to read other blogs, they just seemed so professional and polished and the subjects were about important things like cancer, abuse, politics, war etc….

I started to feel silly for even starting my blog to begin with, I mean who wanted to read about a 45 year old stay at home mom, who was a retired art teacher struggling to find her way back to being an artist. So far, my sisters, a cousin, a close friend, and an aunt. But you know what….It’s okay.

I was given some good advice today from that one good friend who is following me, if I’m not enjoying it, then why am I even bothering to do it.

Ok so I don’t write about life altering events, or how I was able to crawl back from the brink of death with no money in my pocket and a grain of rice, but I do write about everyday things that as a mom or anyone on a journey to find themselves would understand.

I don’t live in poverty, I am educated and come from a good family. I have a supportive and loving husband and a beautiful and intelligent daughter….but I also have ADHD, I also have generalized anxiety, I also have major issues with confidence. My parents divorced when I was five, I have had 3 woman whom I’ve loved dearly and were major influences in my life, die of cancer. I cry and mourn and feel despair for my past, my present and my future. I put on a happy face, push through tough situations, and remain strong when life throws a bone. I’m a great friend and relative, but sometimes not always a good friend and/or relative. I make mistakes, I have regrets, I have lost and loved.

My point and I am rambling a bit….insecurity sucks plain and simple. It’s the one factor that stops me from achieving what I really want. That voice in my head loves to whisper ‘your not good enough, your not smart enough, why would anyone care’.

Little by little with very small steps I am realizing that no one is going to do it for me, there is no magic solution. My life will be created and molded into what I want because of me and me only, and if I want to sit around the house and mope all day, feel sorry for myself and complain, well then that’s the life I have created for myself and I have to be ok to live with it.

Yes I am still rambling just a little.

I believe in signs, I believe we were all destined for a path, but if we are not open to the world around us, trying to guide us, we will miss that opportunity. I try to listen everyday , I try, (emphasis on the try), to keep my eyes and ears open to the truth of my life’s calling, but sometimes it’s hard when you are searching for that truth through mounds of laundry, scoops of cat litter, crockpots of meatballs and the constant barrage of social media (referring to my previous post on social media)

We all have good and bad days. What’s essential is to stay focused on the good ones no matter how many or few there may be. This is advice that is often hard to follow, but I have to remind myself of it everyday.

A Protective Parent and Proud of It

mother and daughter on grass

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Before I had my daughter, before I was even pregnant, I swore I was going to be a laid-back modern Mom. I was going to follow one of those hip trends that preached how “children are adults too.” I wasn’t going to interfere and instead encourage her to make mistakes. I would acknowledge that she needed to fall and cry and feel pain, and be ok with it. I would give her the freedom to explore as she wished. I was going to go back to work, use the “let them cry it out method”. She wouldn’t sleep in our bed, or have stifling rules as she was growing up. I wouldn’t yell or scream or ever feel frustration with her, because she would help to set her own limits. Then I gave birth and it all changed.

Maybe it was because she was my one and only, because I knew that it was not possible to have another child, or maybe it was because I was heading into my late 30’s and had lost my free-spirited side. Regardless of what changed my course of action, I had officially become an “Overprotective Parent”.

From the moment we laid eyes on one another neither of us could turn away. My daughter became my entire world. In the beginning I worked part-time, but as she began to hit important milestones, I realized I couldn’t bear to be apart from her, and so I retired from my teaching position to stay home with her full-time. We were inseparable.

artistic blossom bright clouds

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When your child is small no one really questions your constant hovering, especially if it’s your first. But, as they begin to grow and you notice the independence of other children around your own expanding, your hovering suddenly becomes more apparent and the questioning of your own parenting skills sets in.

Yes, I was the mom at the playground who was always by her daughter’s side. If she was heading down the slide, I was at the bottom to catch her, if she attempted to cross the monkey bars, I was underneath to break her fall, if she made a new friend I was within and ears shot to make sure she was not being pushed around.  My eyes never left her, even while chatting with a friend or in an enclosed space, I kept tabs on her regardless of the situation.

Yes, I was (and still am) the mom who didn’t let her child eat sand, dirt, or newly fallen snow. I am the mom with the wipes in her back pocket, with the bag full of snacks, water, sunblock, bug spray and a change of clothes just in case, and I’m proud of it.

My daughter is now 9 and still doesn’t play outside unless my eyes can easily track her. Even when she plays across the street at our neighbor’s house, if I am not either outside doing yard work or in the kitchen by a window and able to see her, she stays inside instead. She has yet to have a sleepover other than with her grandparents, and even that didn’t start until a few years ago. She is not allowed to drive with anyone, unless I know them well and she is using a booster seat. I attend all of the school field trips, all of the school events, and chaperone all her playdates….it may sound suffocating but it’s my reassuring way of knowing that she is safe.

For the longest time I was concerned that she was going to grow up completely insecure and totally dependent upon me. That I would end up with a child who never wanted to sleep alone, make a friend, or head to college without me. Even though my daughter may look for my approval a bit more than needed, think twice before taking a risk and still needs me to put her to bed at night, she has become an extremely well-adjusted child.

My daughter is funny and full of energy. She is ridiculously creative, has a wild imagination and loves to draw and write like her mommy. She is a leader in her group of peers, a grade level above in reading, plays violin, takes swim, has close friends and is part of an academic challenge group at school. She is respectful, sweet and kind to others. She loves to help, loves to play and just loves to love in general. We think she’s perfect!

My point…I am not here to condemn anyone’s parenting style. To each his own. I am the last person to judge. My point is, regardless of your methods, if you raise them with love, compassion, and forgiveness; if you show them that you care, listen to them, give them respect, comfort and let them know that you will always be by their side; they will be ok. Actually, they will be better than ok., they will turn out just perfect!

adult adventure baby child

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Table for one- my fear of raising an only child

I spent a year trying to get pregnant naturally and a second year enduring the stresses of IVF. After many failed attempts and a strong possibility of considering adoption, I became pregnant with my daughter. It was a rough pregnancy right out of the gate. I spent my first trimester bleeding and fearing everyday that I would loose her. I spent my second trimester enduring more doctors appointments than I thought possible; as not only did I conceive through IVF, but I was also considered a high risk mother because of my age, and had a genetic disorder that put me at risk for blood clots and an early miscarriage. My third trimester was just as painful. I gained 50 pounds, had a twisted rib that caused excruciating pain in my lower back, and experienced RSL every night that kept me up into the wee hours.

My labor was not any easier. I wanted a natural childbirth, I was sure I could handle it. Although, after many hours of excruciating pain I had hit a plateau with my dilation, putting my daughter at risk. I was so stressed that my body was not relaxed anymore to do what it needed, and so the doctors highly suggested I get an epidural. From there it was business as usual and many hours later I gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Taylor Rose.

Like most new moms I was so consumed, that my worries of not being able to get pregnant again, never crossed my mind. In fact it was quite the opposite. My doctors urged me to go on birth control soon after, warning me that the chances of getting pregnant after birth were very high, even for an IVF case like myself.

However I never did listen to them, and years passed without the use of birth control, but a second child never came.

For various health concerns I choose not to endure IVF again. Taylor got older and so did my anxiety for a sibling. I had always pictured myself as a mother of 2, and so when Taylor was 5 I fulfilled that void by adopting a 2 year old street dog with heart worm. For a short period of time we forgot about my inability to conceive. All of my worries went into medically treating our new puppy, in hopes of getting him well again.

A few more years passed. I had reached and surpassed 40. The aging process was creeping up on me and we decided to throw caution to the wind and try one more time. Nothing.

I’m not sure what hurt more, knowing that my body had failed me time and time again, or the fact that I couldn’t provide for my daughter the one thing that only I could give her…a sibling.

My daughter is now 9 and still all consuming, but getting pregnant is no longer something I yearn for. Taylor has settled easily into being an only child and has not only stopped asking for a sibling but prefers it. She has come to realize the advantages of being the only one. She doesn’t have to share her belongings or fight for the television, and her time with mom and dad is hers and hers alone. We are able to provide more things for her than we would have with two. Yet in the back of my head I have the worst fears for her.

I grew up the oldest of four, and even though the oldest tends to take on the brunt of the responsibilities, I always had my sisters to fall back on. They were my best friends growing up and still are. We share our triumphs and set backs, joys and despair, I know that no matter what, I am never alone. My daughter will not have this, and that weighs on me heavily.

I worry that she won’t have a shoulder to cry on when she endures her first heartbreak or someone to watch her back if she’s being picked on. I worry that she won’t have someone to talk to when she has problems, or joys to celebrate. I worry that when my husband and I are old and sick the weight of our care will sit on her shoulders alone. I worry about whether she will have close friends to fill this void or if she chooses to bear children, will she have to endure the same stresses as myself . I worry, I worry, I worry.

These thoughts are not with me constantly, but as she gets older, as we her parents get older, I dwell on them more and more and they scare me. My only salvation is that as of right now she turns to me for almost everything. I am her mom and for now also her best friend.