Human Awareness and Unpaid Kindness

By: Teresa B. Duffy

A note about today, as the inauguration of our 45th President is underway….I just witnessed the very thing that will keep America great over the next four years: human awareness and unpaid kindness.

While grocery shopping I passed another shopper who was twice my age. He has undoubtedly experienced more turmoil and celebrations than me or the other people he slowly strolled behind. He wore dignity like an expensive suit, but was kept warm by an old jacket and wore a weathered cap that said Vietnam Vet. He said to a store clerk that he lost his cane. And, it was evident he was trying to continue his outing without that support. Because of human awareness and unpaid kindness, he got his cane back. It was a struggle for him to put all his groceries into the cart, but he did so in his own time. He would have walked out without his extra clothe shopping bags, but human awareness jumped in and followed him out the door shouting “Sir, are these your bags?” And they were, and he was glad someone found something he didn’t know he was missing. He smiled and thanked the random shopper. Then, as he loaded his few bags into his car, in the rain, he turned to return his cart but got stuck in the middle of the slight incline in the parking lot. Then, because of human awareness and unpaid kindness another offer of simple help enable him to get out of the rain quicker while someone took two carts back to the store. He seemed upset that there was no quarter coming back to him, from his returned cart, so the person gave him a quarter from her pocket. He looked up and said, “Wow, that was more than I expected. You took my cart and gave me a free quarter.” So, let us be kind in our neighborhoods’ in our grocery stores and in our parks and in our school parking lots and in our town meetings and above all, around our dinner tables. Let us be more aware of who is in our path, while never expecting anything in return but offering dignity and seeing that all people are worth human awareness and unpaid keep kindness. This country is great because of the people in it. 

| photo credit 3dman_eu via Pixabay |


Jesus & Cursing

By: Teresa B. Duffy

Here’s what we teach about Jesus and cursing in our home: Jesus’ greatest love is for us. He wants so badly for everyone to be deeply in love with Him. The reciprocity within this is infinite. Once we surrender to loving God, then we get to love others the same way God love us. Stop: can you just image what our world would be like if we actually believed in such a pure and progressive love? We’d actually all get along, and that would be fucking amazing!

Which is my point about Jesus and cursing. In our home we don’t let words play a degrading role. Fuck, shit or asshole will never be connected to the value of a person, place or thing. Sometimes, when emphasis is required, we’ll use them as giant exclamation points. As a mom to a toddler I don’t use said verbal exclamation points around him because words should be spoken with knowledge of their meaning. I’m not about to explain to my child what the word fuck means. And for now, shit is replaced with poop (often).

I like language, but I value behavior more. The ability we have to communicate verbally, non-verbally and through different medias or mediums is seriously the shit. It’s because of language that I love Jesus. It’s because of written words that I get to experience God’s unconditional love. And it’s because of other people’s behavior; who love God with all their heart, mind and soul that I am able to experience God’s goodness in such a messed up world. It’s within this gap where behavior ranks higher than words.

I feel like if we just let go of some hangups people have around words and perceptions, and place more value on behavior we’d be a bit more progressive in our time here on earth. I find myself asking: is this word more or less important than how I treat my husband, my child, my sister, mother, father and my neighbor?  The answer makes a big difference for someone or something.

Everyday I’m asking God to help me fall more into a relationship with Him. It’s life-giving and gives me deep purpose. Also, getting to know God enables me to stay excited about this messy life. Mainly because His story is drenched with totally awkward situations that seem to workout in the end, which is weird because more than half of the people God chose as game-changers were the definition of imperfect and under qualified by “normal” standards. It makes me wonder if and when they said fuck this shit as they were trying to do big things for the glory of God?

Anyway, we are all here trying to figure out our mess while trying to be loved and give love. At the core of it all, “Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself,” that’s what it says in a book titled Luke in a chapter numbered 10 in a verse numbered 27 in a book called the Bible. I’m always asking God to help me love him more, so I can be more true to the second part. If I drop the F-bomb along the way in exclamation or acknowledgment toward the rawness of life, that’s okay.

| photo credit blickpixel via Pixabay |



Simple Mindshift

By: Teresa B. Duffy

Here’s How I Naturally Think

Shit! I have to clean three toilets and four sinks.

It’s a pain in the ass to sweep these floors.

There’s way too many leaves in my backyard, and we need to take time to do something with all of them.

I’ve lost another sock in the laundry, which is super annoying because I adore socks and there are no giant holes in my washer or dryer.

I have to think of three meals a day to feed my family that aren’t shitty, and that include protein, carbs, healthy grains and fats. Ugh! Let’s eat crackers and humus with a block of cheese. Yes, let’s.

Here’s How I Practice Thinking 

I have three bathrooms and one kitchen sink, and I am able to clean them when and how I want.

I get to sweep wood floors. I like wood floors. Also, I like my pets even though I sweep more because of their hair. Plus, my dog eats the food my toddler drops on the floor and that’s a huge help. It’s like my dog has a chore.

I love watching my little boy play in the leaves as my greyhound sprints around on his imaginary track. Leaves decompose. Good thing for that.

I have socks and shirts and pants to wear. My husband and kid have a decent selection of clothing and in a way it makes me smile to fold a man’s size M shirt than find a toddler size 24M needing folding. We have a washer and drier in our house to wash and dry clothes whenever we want.

I’m getting better at cooking and meal planning. As least I can enjoy a glass of wine as I cook dinner, in the comfort and space of our kitchen. I’m a creative person, so meals can be fun. Bring on the fun meal prep, and wine.

| photo credit MagicTree via Pixabay |

Support Change

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I can summarize the first year of being a parent in one word: change.

My body changed, my sleep schedule changed, how I dressed and ate and breathed and blinked changed. How I socialized and walked and viewed TV episodes all changed. At times I ate change for breakfast like it was a chocolate donut. So tasty and such a treat. Other times I fought change. The kind of fight two neighborhood cats would have: funny and scary, but mostly over-the-top annoying and no one other than me cared about the fight.

Change is a fact. It’s going to happen. It’s a symptom of being alive. Like aging, it’s going to happen.

We are living in a hyper-fitness, hyper-fix-it, hyper-cover-it-up or tuck-it-in, or nip-it, or lift-it, or transfer-it-somewhere-else society. Most of it is to get back to where we were, during a time when we felt our best or thought we looked our best. What if we ignore what we used to be, and chase after what we can become?

In the fairly common scenario that your body, mind, time schedule, and career, went through the change of welcoming a baby, then change is as close to you as your boobs. We know boobs need to be supported, although that usually feels uncomfortable and if you’re like me you want it to be appropriate to go out in public without support. Change needs support. It needs your support. Don’t let it hang for too long, otherwise that too will get uncomfortable.

Here are a few ways to support change:

  1. Admit it’s happening to you.
  2. Decide to identify what areas of your life have changed.
  3. Make a plan to harness those areas of change and drive them toward the new you.
  4. Find similar people who are doing the things you see yourself doing then ask them to support your goals. In short: be authentic with yourself and others.

The ability to change and age is the greatest gift we have, as humans. You have the gift to progress through life and to redefine yourself in each season of life. I’m not who I was in my 20’s, and my kid doesn’t know it, but he’s thankful for that fact. My boobs aren’t the same either, and that’s because they kept a kid alive for the first year of his life. Therefore, they need different support because they went through a lot of changes. I’m okay with that. Sometimes I have to ignore society’s ridiculous expectations, because it doesn’t support the change I am choosing to support in my life.

You, my friend, are worth the change that aging brings with it. Look into the mirror and smile at where you are choosing to go as you grow, because eventually you’ll be smiling at the new you.

| photo credit OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay |

Natural Birth Plan vs. Reality

By: Teresa B. Duffy

It took us two and a half years to start our family. Once we got over celebrating getting pregnant we signed up for a natural birthing course. It was helpful and empowering. The course underlined the fact that the human body is made to do amazing physical feats of greatness. Especially a woman’s body. #inawe

After the course we wrote up our natural birthing plan.

Okay, so below is our birth plan with updated insertions of “what actually happened”. If you’ve lived longer than five years, you’ll know that expectations and reality don’t always line up. And, with that, here we go….

Duffy Baby’s Birth Plan (Original plan. Reality’s playback.)

Our main priority is to have a safe and natural birth for Teresa and baby. Below is a brief overview of our desired natural birth plan for bringing baby into the world.

Naturally progress: to progress naturally through the stages of labor and delivery.

What actually happened: I was in labor for 46 hours, three of which were “active” labor. That means the midwife said, “push” a lot. My husband and I took a natural birthing course in which we studied the progression of labor into delivery. Textbook knowledge did not translate well for us. Odd, because we are both educated people: me with an M.A. and him with a B.F.A. But, birthing a child is not like a normal education…it’s like, birthing a human. There are no tests.

Fetal Monitoring: to be ambulatory during labor, and prefers intermittent fetal monitoring with EFM or Doppler.

What actually happened: I waddled around my house, to the car, and down the hospital hallway saying, between contractions, “I feel connected to every woman in history who has ever birthed a baby!” I was so tired and walking hurt and showering was awful and sitting on an exercise ball was hell, so I was on the hospital bed for hours.

Cervix Measuring: the same medical personnel checks dilation, please limit the amount of measurement checks to ¼ of normal checks.

What actually happened: I think I had four different midwives and one OBGYN check my dilations. Someone should have been handing out Solo cups, because it was a party.

Medical Interventions: our wish is to avoid medicinal intervention including Pitocin, forceps, C-section, however if necessary for the safety of Teresa and baby, Tyler would like to be present.

What actually happened: About a day into labor a midwife said to us that we would not be able to naturally birth our baby, and to sign papers for a C-section. We decided to stick with our natural birth plan. Then about 30 something hours into labor I was given Pitocin. That was closely, but not close enough, followed by an epidural. Then at 46 hours, while I was all drugged up and had puked on myself two times, I signed a bunch of paperwork to approve a C-section. In hindsight, we should have done that way sooner, but both my husband and I are a bit stubborn.

Midwife: Tyler views the Midwife as a highly valuable part of the team to obtain the desired results mentioned above. Professional guidance in avoiding pushing too early (not fully dilated) to avoid a potential episiotomy, but if needed a pressure episiotomy is preferred.

What actually happened: I have no clue what Tyler and the midwives all talked about, but I think he did a lot of slow blinking, head knodding and definitely didn’t eat enough. He never left my side. Love him for that (and much more)!

Birth Team: Tyler and Teresa desire to be together at all times. They have trained together through the Bradley Method course and trained to anticipate the stages of labor and delivery.

What actually happened: We were together the entire time. It was awesome! He was up with me for two full days. Then, when our sweet baby boy was born Tyler fell fast asleep on the hospital cot for a good eight hours. It was nice to watch him sleep.

Attire & Food: Teresa desires to wear her own clothing and plans on drinking clear fluids and eating Cliff’s Shock Blocks or consuming Carbo Pro mixed with water as needed for sustenance.

What actually happened: Someone at some point dressed me in a hospital gown because I saw it in a picture of me lying on the hospital bed. I don’t remember consenting to wearing it, but in hindsight who the eff cares about what I’m wearing? I tried eating a lemon ice pop and I tried eating a some other stuff I don’t remember. I do vividly remember puking all of it up.

Delivery Position: Teresa would like to respond to her body’s needs and move into different positions. Recommendations from the Midwife are welcomed.

What actually happened: At one point there was a giant exercise ball between my legs and I don’t know why but I went with it. I remember feeling like a whale trying to do a downward dog at another point in labor. Nothing worked. I had no clue what I was supposed to be responding to.

Bonding & Cutting the Cord: Delay cutting until blood stops pumping; Tyler would like to cut the cord. Teresa would like immediate skin-to-skin contact with baby and start to immediately breastfeed.

What actually happened: At 4:59pm on April 12th I heard a sound that pierced my heart and changed my world forever. My baby cried after two days of trying to make his way into the world. It was bliss. I had tubes stuck in my nose, my body was numb from the chest down, and I was wearing a blue shower cap. I held my healthy baby boy as soon as I could and began to nurse him. I was alive and he was too. That was all that mattered. Also, I think my husband got to cut the cord.

Baby’s first bath: Tyler would like to assist the nurse in giving our baby its first bath.

What actually happened: As I mentioned earlier, Tyler fell fast asleep after his two-day-no-sleep streak. And, I didn’t know this, but they don’t bathe babies until a few hours after they are born. Someone with the skills of a babywhisperer bathed my sweet boy and then handed him back to me for endless cuddle time.

Original Closing: Again, we will be flexible on any of the above preferences should a complication arise. Thank you for your support.

More Realistic Closing: We were flexible, which actually is a really great approach to parenting in general.

| photo credit PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay |

Trust Yourself

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I’m a member of a few moms groups. Love them!  We talk about stuff that makes us better moms. Like, what to do when your toddler sticks his hands down his pants in public, or how to get nail polish off your walls, or when and how to sneak vegetables into your toddler’s meals, or recommendations on a good counselor for depression/anxiety, which I call “adjusting to the new normal”.   These are things that are helpful. Then, there is the stuff that isn’t so helpful.

Feeding Fears

It’s the stuff that new moms let get to them. How should my kid react to large groups of people or should my kid be spending more time with board books and less time with music or is it the other way around? Should I spend more time imagining with my kid because I work full-time? Who’s scared of the [fill in the blank], and what will you do if your kid has it/does it/misses it?

A Fire Pit of Shoulds and What Ifs

As a mom you’ve been given a huge responsibility without any prior experience. Most working professionals wouldn’t make it past the first ninety days if they were given your role without any training, and that’s what parenting is: a crash course with the real tiny person. Nobody else was given your role, and they don’t have your kid, you do. That’s the way it’s meant to be, and that’s why “ifs and shoulds” need to go up in flames.

The questions of doubt typically starts with the words “What if?” and/or “Should I?”. These words need to leave our thoughts because I think they are corrupting our freedom as parents. All the moms can stand around the crackling fire on a crisp fall evening, while their kids are home with a babysitter who isn’t charging for that night.  Everyone will have a glass of wine, beer or bourbon while watching those ifs, shoulds, and doubts go up in a blaze.

Then, just for the heck of it, moms will look across the flames and speak words of encourage to each other.  They’ll say things like, “You’re doing the best you can and that’s what your kid needs!”, and “I’m not giving you permission to compare your parenting style to my parenting style…want another glass of Merlot?”, and “I promise not to give advice unless you ask for it, and it can’t begin with ‘should I be…'”.

Go With Your Intuition

Let your intuition guide you. Read a few things here and there, but don’t take them as fact. Except that stuff about not feeding honey to your kid before one year. That’s a fact. But most of the other things about parenting are about your best attempt. “Try” without fearing, without should-ing, and without what-if-ing.

Be In Community

It is so important to be in a community of moms to learn with and shoot the shit about all the shit you clean up. But, please moms, I beg of you to trust yourself. Your little person, whom you have an emotion for that words can’t describe, is learning to trust. When you trust yourself your kid will trust you, and that is the beginning of something grand.

Cheers to Trusting

I’ve been a mom for almost two years, which feels at times like twenty years or ninety days depending on the day or my caffeine intake. At the exact moment I held my little boy I felt something I still can’t put it into words, but that feeling is what makes me connected to my son and the perfect mom for his personhood. And, for that, I choose to trust myself.

Go ahead, choose to trust yourself and embrace the journey of trying. Cheers to that!

| photo credit LuciaGrosse via Pixabay |


Moms Are Visionaries

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I was starting my fourth load of laundry on the Monday after Christmas holiday. There was no food in my house. Correction— my pantry looked like the crackers and chip aisle at my grocery store got together and had a carbohydrate baby. Unknown to me, we ended up with all the loot (chips, chocolate, pound cake, crackers, gold fish, more chips) leftover from our family’s holiday vacation. Also, my refrigerator looked like a science project and earlier that morning I had tossed everything.

On my agenda for the first week of the new year: laundry, grocery shopping, pick up the dog from the boarder, more laundry and put away all the presents, unpack luggage, clean up after the cat. Drink wine while making dinner (that’s my favorite).

Can we all give a big shout-out to glamorous! G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

Kidding. I never have been a girl that likes glamour anyway. Lucky for me!

So, with my head in the dryer searching for the other 18-24 month sized sock I had this thought: Moms must be visionaries.

A visionary is someone with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.

When was the last time you had an original idea or made time to think beyond the next thing on your list?

Original thoughts about where you are going will only help you lead your kids. And kids need leaders. They need you to dream big and show them the trail to explore on. Okay, since I just teased a woods metaphor, let’s go there for a moment…

Bullets on your “To Do List” are just trees in a really beautiful forest. Don’t get lost in the trees. Find a trail, or even better, blaze a trail with your kids as your helpers. Tell them your visions and dreams and invite them onto that path. Eventually they will learn from you how to make their own trails through the woods, navigating through the trees—exploring.

My little boy will only be wearing a size 18-24 month old sock for a few weeks longer. I’ll only be eating chips and crackers until spring. Dinner will always (usually) need to be served, but thank God for wine and my own kitchen—my point is this:

Being a mom is equal parts daily-stuff and vision casting. Don’t get stuck in the next bullet point on your list. It’s our privilege to continually look ahead and lead, while balancing the daily. This is the gifting of a mother. And, for the love of sanity, let go of glamour and hold onto original.

| photo credit Prawny via Pixabay |