The Beautiful Mothers of One Unified.

I used to write about moms- a lot. As a matter of fact, I made my living from sharing the (mostly) funny side of parenting for a very long time.

It seems like all the moms that I talked to or wrote about all those years had one thing in common; they were tired. Lack of sleep is a very ‘mommy’ thing. From cranky babies to carting teens around in mom’s taxi, they all seemed to be craving some more rest and relaxation. The number one most asked for Mother’s Day gift among all the moms I had met? Rest.

Sure there were a few women who wanted a nice piece of jewelry to one-up the other moms on the block, or a bouquet of pretty flowers to adorn the mantel. But flowers die, and who really cares what those other moms think anyway? But sleep, a few extra hours of shut-eye, or an afternoon where no one needs you to find a sock that’s gone missing or a project that was misplaced, that is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I’ll take that over a bottle of Chanel #5 any day. That and the handmade cards and school made art projects, or a cup of tea made by my oldest that I am likely to be gifted with this weekend.

Alas, every mom is an indiviual. One mom’s cup of tea is another moms shot of vodka. One mom may be hoping for a day of peace and serenity at the spa, while another might be planning a new tattoo as a reward for the “other” 364 days of mothering. (Hint: both are me!)
Just as every one of our kids is unique and special, remember that you moms may come in all different shapes and sizes too. Moms of one… moms of many… biological moms… step-moms… adoptive moms… moms to multiples… moms to kids with special needs… all of you are true heroes every day.

One thing that has always struck me as a mother is the power of the love I have for my children, and the knowing that, although they love you too- you may be their rock, their island, their world, it won’t be until they one day become parents themselves that they may begin to truly understand the power of a mother’s love.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and if there is one thing that I have come to find after all of these years, is that the most incredibly powerful and universal unifier there is, is motherhood! So, rock on amazing moms! Celebrate the uniqueness, the awesomeness, the power of you!

 

 

We Asked, They Answered. Straightforward Answers to Simple Questions From Kids Ages 5-10.

Let’s face it, kids are funny. They say funny things. They make funny sounds. Okay, they do things that at times makes you wonder what the hell you were thinking having children, but most of the time you look back on those things later and find that they too were pretty funny.
For almost 7 years I wrote in an entirely satirical and sarcastic style. I wrote mostly about babies, and kids, and the parenting of those two groups. I wrote about the midnight feedings and the lost brain cells; about the late night glasses of wine chugged down hidden behind the laundry room door while everyone was finally, FINALLY sleeping. Wait. Did I write about that or just think it out loud?

kidstalkEither way, co-producing all of the content here at One Unified with Noelle has been a big departure from what I typically do, from what I thought I knew. Co-authoring pieces of sometimes such a serious nature has been a whole new world for me personally. It’s interesting and it’s exciting. This week though, getting back to talking to kids, talking about kids, and poking fun a bit at the whole parent/child dynamic, has been so much fun for me. It was like a return trip to my comfort zone. I hope those of you who never read any of my previous writing and may not be familiar with my style, weren’t too offended by anything I may have discussed with the kids, or written in our posts.
(This is the part where I’d usually say, just kidding! I actually don’t care a bit if you were offended! But, I’m embracing the more serious, professional side of me these days)

In any case, it’s been a lot of fun this week. The teenage girls, well, let’s just say I’ve had pelvic exams that went more smoothly, and the father and son, I think my ears are still tired. Although 45 minutes after the conclusion of the interview I was still learning why Hulk would beat 99% of other superheros in a street fight. So, there’s that. Please enjoy this final installment of kid’s perspectives and come back and see our kid-themed double Spotlight of the week this Sunday!
– Michelle

We grabbed some kids and asked them the same simple questions. Here’s who they are and how they answered.
A- an 8-year-old boy
B- a 6-year-old boy
C- a 10-year-old girl
D- a 5-year-old girl

Do you know who the President of the United States is?kidstalk2
A: Barack Obama
B: Barack Obama
C: Barack Obama
D: I learned it in Kindergarten but I forget.
I’m almost certain I did not know at 5 or 6 who the President was!

Do you know who the Vice President is?
A: Not really
B: No
C: I can’t remember his name.
D: Ummmm no.
I still am not sure who the Vice President is! 😉

What state do you live in?
A: New Jersey
B: New Jersey
C: New Jersey
D: New Jersey
They’re so proud. For now…

Do you know who the Governor is in that state?
A: Chris Christie
B: That guy on t.v. I forget his name.
C: No but my D.A.R.E. paper was signed by him. I forget.
D: Hmmmm.. not really.
Sure, these questions were answered a few days ago when the state still had a Governor.

How old is your Mom?
A: 44
B: 40
C: 43 I think
D: 25. No 30.

Do you think that’s old?
A: No
B: A little old. Not as old as my Grandma though, she’s like 68!
C: Middle-aged
D: A little.

Where is someplace that you have been on a trip?
A: Vermont
B: New York
C: Tennessee
D: The shore. We go every week.

How far do you think it is from your house to that place?
A: 10,000 miles
B: Like 5 hours by car or 3 hours by boat.
C: Like 6 hours or something. I forget.
D: A long time in the car and my brother bothers me the whole time in our car.
Apparently one of them is sailing to the great island of New York State!

What do you think you might want to be when you grow up?
A: A person who does special forces, like military special forces.
B: A guy who says the weather on t.v.
C: A Marine Biologist
D: A ballerina or Belle.

How much money do you think that job pays?
A: I guess like $70 per person they save.
B: I think like a hundred. But probably less if it rains because people will be sad and not want to pay you.
If only weather really worked that way.
C: I don’t know. Like a thousand maybe.
D: A ballerina probably makes, I don’t know a lot. Belle probably doesn’t make that much but its okay because she already has a big house.

Do you think you’ll get married someday?kidstalk4
A: Yes.
B: Yeah I guess.
C: Yeah.
D: Yes.

How old do you think you might be when you get married? What’s a good age for that?
A: 25. No, actually 27.
B: Like 25.
C: 25
D: My mom and Dad got married when they were 25.
Again confirming that the kid-approved universal age for marriage is approximately 25.

Kids Talk: One Unified Talks to a Younger Crowd This Week

We’ve all heard that kids say the darndest things or kids say the funniest things. The idea has spawned television shows, books, blogs, and more. If you have kids, no matter how old they are, I’m sure you can recall many occasions where your child has said something so goofy, so silly, that it sent you into a fit of hysterics. I like to jokingly say that they were made to be cute and funny when they are young because that is what keeps us from giving them away when they drive us absolutely crazy!

It’s not just humor though. Another expression, out of the mouths of babes, although it’s roots are of a biblical nature, has become an idiom to represent a moment when from a child comes words or ideas that show a very adult like mentality or sentiment. Did you ever hear the story about the semi-truck that got stuck going underneath a highway overpass? It didn’t make the clearance and became wedged in underneath, holding up traffic, and causing problems for the truck driver, his cargo, and the other drivers. For some time police, firemen, road crews, and workmen all tried to free the truck using a variety of equipment. It wasn’t until an 8-year-old boy driving with his parents in a car going the other way came upon the scene and asked his parents what was going on. His parents, describing the scene, told their son that the truck was stuck and that the crews were working hard to try to get it out and under the clearance. The little boy to the surprise of his family, said simply, “why don’t they just let the air out of the tires?”

There’s some speculation as to whether or not that story is true or if it’s just one of those urban legend, folk tale type stories, that get passed around from person to person, and eventually pulled out when it fits the situation. Today, it fits the situation. All this week we are letting the kids do the talking. We’ve interviewed many people about many things in the months since we began this project. We’ve asked lots of questions and heard many opinions. Our goals? To find common ground for people. To find things that people would like to share and like to do together regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, class, and so on. To give people a platform to talk, and an opportunity to listen. To write material and conduct interviews that people can identify with. All of the people we’ve talked to have been different from one another in so many ways. The one thing that has been true of each and every one of them is that they were all adults.

We’ve done the grown-up thing here on One Unified. Now, we’re taking this entire week to a different level. All of our interviews, questions, polls, and even our Sunday Spotlight will be by the kids, for the kids, and about the kids. It really is true that kids say the darndest things. It can be pretty amazing just to hear the difference in perception that a child has when faced with the same question or problem as an adult. You’ll see if you follow along this week. Whether you have kids or not, you’ll surely be able to identify with our kids talk week, so stay tuned all week for more…

And now, we’re sharing the comparing perspectives of a parent and child. The only “grown-up” we interviewed or spoke to this week (apart from getting parental consent of course), we thought this started the week off right. Goes to show how differently a grown up and a kid will answer relatively the same questions. Also goes to show how verbose some 6 year olds can be. And of course, this particular interview shows that sometimes 42-year-old men are really just 6-year-old boys with a car and a job.

Our grown up is 42-year-old man. Our kid? A just turned 6-year-old boy. They are father and son.

Have you ever bkidsweek2een interviewed before?
Dad: I was interviewed for a local paper when there was a fairly serious accident at my workplace.
Kid: That’s boring.

What’s your favorite tv show? 
Dad: Game of Thrones.
Kid: I really like Little Einsteins but my mom said that it’s not on tv anymore and the player for the dvd broke because the dog knocked it off the table. I think my sister threw it away though.

What do you think is the coolest job in the world?
Dad: Navy Seal is a pretty cool job.
Kid: Superhero. Like if I was gonna get a job as a superhero I’d want the job to be Spiderman or Hulk. I think Hulk more. I kidstalk3don’t think I like being green but he is really strong and then I could keep away all the bad guys that try to break in to my house.

Do a lot of bad guys try to break in to your house? 
Dad: Not that I’m aware of. Unless this goes on when I am at work.
Kid: Not right now, like today. But if it happens then I could be ready and shoot them with my laser gun.


So, you are a laser shooting Hulk. What about another job besides superhero? Can you think of another cool job?

Dad: I think being a brain surgeon is a cool job. (At this point I call the dad out for saying that just to try to subconsciously implant the idea of becoming a doctor to his laser gun wielding Hulk wannabe. He concedes.)
Son: I think a cop or like an agent. Like, you know, a secret agent or a spy. yeah, a spy. That’s a cool job.

What do you think your wife (and your mom) does all day at work? (She is a social worker)
Dad: She assists people who are struggling with paying their utility and other bills on time. She tries to get them on payment plans, find out of they are eligible for grants, and so forth. I know she spends a lot of time on the phone with various people and agencies. Probably about 80% of her day is spent on the phone.
Kid: I guess she talks on the phone. I don’t know. I know she talks a lot on the phone at home so she maybe probably talks a lot at her work too. I know when she picks me up sometimes she looks very very grumpy.

Do you think grown ups are grumpy a lot of the time? Why do you think that is?
Dad: I try not to be grumpy. Or at least not when I am around the kids. Everyone gets grumpy sometimes though, right? Sometimes people are just having a bad day.
Kid: I don’t know about kids. I see kids who cry sometimes and kids who laugh sometimes if something is funny but I don’t think there’s that much grumpy kids. If they are grumpy they probably just play X Box or have a snack and then they feel better. Like my mom she has ice cream sometimes. When she sees me and my sister and when she has ice cream. Those are the two times she cheers up fast.

What do you think is the prefect age to get married?
Dad: Is this a trick question? I’ll say 30. I was actually 27. I think you need to be a little bit established. I think you need to be sure, be ready. But if you plan to have kids, you don’t want to wait too long. You need all the youth and energy you can get to deal with these guys!
Kid: Like a thousand (laughs). I don’t think I am gonna get married really because then I will have to live in a house that has kids and stuff in it like my house. If I have to get married though I think maybe 20 or 25 is a good age.

Well said.

Happy Father’s Day From The One Unified Project!

The dictionary defines the word father as simply “a male parent”.
There are those who grew up without the ability to add anything deeper or more substantial to that definition. Those who could never quite attach an emotional connection to the simply defined word. Those for whom a father was something that other people had, that you read about in stories or watched on Primetime tv.
So this Father’s Day, if you’re fortunate enough to be among those who have been blessed by a father’s love, be truly grateful for that.
For some, a father is an anchor, the cornerstone of their family. Some of the people we spoke to used words like “role model”, “provider”, and “hero” to define their dads.

In advance of Father’s Day on Sunday, we are honored to share some family photos from One Unified readers honoring the father figures in their lives.
We here at One Unified wish every man who elevates that simple definition of “male parent” to a new level, a very Happy Father’s Day.
Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

Happy Father’s Day

dadcollage2

Class of 2015: Having a Graduate Makes Parents Proud and Reflective.

As a mother, I know that I live on borrowed time with my children. Sure, they’ll always love me and I will always be their mother, but inevitably there will come a day when their lives will be their own. With every grade that passes, every milestone reached, I watch with pride as they turn from babies to children to young adults. Preparing to watch your child put on a cap and gown and walk a path that will lead them onwards towards independence and autonomy is one of the hardest things a parent can do. How does one simply let their child go?…

graduatesYOU HAVE A CHILD WHO IS A 2015 HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE?
“Yes. I can hardly believe it. I feel like I just graduated from high school myself.”

IS THAT EXCITING FOR YOU?
“Of course. It’s been a long road, so to see it all finally come to this point is a really incredible feeling.”

I’D IMAGINE THERE ARE SOME NERVES THERE AS WELL. I KNOW FOR ME THERE WOULD BE.
“Definitely nerves. I legitimately can’t believe that my baby is turning 18. I can’t believe that he’s leaving high school. He’s driving. I look at him and I see the man that he is becoming but I also see the little boy underneath. I can close my eyes and picture his little face asking me to tie his shoe or open his juice box.”

HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU HAVE?
“4.”

IS HE THE FIRST ONE TO GRADUATE?
“Yes. He’s the oldest. The first one to leave the nest.”

WHAT ARE HIS PLANS AFTER GRADUATION? IS HE GOING TO COLLEGE?
“He’s going away to college in August.”

SO HE IS LITERALLY LEAVING THE NEST. HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THAT?
“Nervous. Old (laughter). I’m worried about all the normal stuff I guess. I want him to do well. I don’t want him to party away
his college experience. I don’t want him to experience all of the negative aspects of college life. But I know he has to experience all that there is to the experience and make up his own mind about things.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE PREPARED HIM FOR THAT?
“I think we’ve done a good job. He’s a good kid. I think we taught him right from wrong. Now he’s got to go out and put everything we’ve taught him to use.”

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST POST-GRADUATION WORRY?
“I just know how different college is than it was when I was there. And I’m a worrier. I am sure I will lay awake many nights when he first starts. Is he drinking? Did he remember to set his alarm to get to class on time? Is he going to do things to fit in that he’s not really comfortable with?” I don’t want to think that he would do that. He’s smart, gets good grades, plays sports and all that, but realistically it’s always a concern when you’ve got a kid in college.”

DO YOU THINK IT WILL GET EASIER TO WATCH THEM GRADUATE ONE BY ONE NOW THAT YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH
IT?
“I don’t think it will be easier. I mean, you still deal with all the feelings and concerns and every kid is different so you’re going to go through something different with each. I am proud of them all. Above all else I think when your child meets a mark like this, pride is the number one thing that you experience. Of course, if you are like me, it just gets you thinking about how fast time goes, and how they are only ours for such a short time.”

WHAT KIND OF PREPARATIONS HAVE GONE INTO HAVING A MEMBER OF THE CLASS OF 2015 AROUND?
“Oh it’s been the whole year. There’s so much senior year. Pictures, events, special school functions, 2 trips, getting ready for the prom, for graduation. Ordering pictures and yearbooks and picking out suits and applying to colleges and visiting them. That was like a full-time job there for a while. Writing essays, filling out applications, submitting tax records and bank statements and all kinds of stuff. It’s an exhausting year for the parents I know that much.”

DOES THIS HAVE ANY IMPACT ON YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT AGING OR MORTALITY OR DOES IT BRING UP ANY gradTHOUGHTS ABOUT THINGS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE DONE, WHAT YOU MAY HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
“Well, like I said, I feel old. Just to say out loud that you have a kid old enough to be graduating high school is weird. I am a very reflective person, so it gets me thinking about my college years. It gets me thinking about all the fun and not so fun times I had at that age. But, it also reminds me that my kids are growing up and moving on and that I have to as well. I wonder what life will be like when there are no more children here. It’s been so long, I can’t even imagine.”

HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO PREPARE FOR YOUR NEXT GRADUATE?
2 years til the next. Then another 2 years after that. Then the last one is a ways away. I am holding on to that one with everything I’ve got!

Cover image courtesy of David M. Groehning (CarbonNYC on Flickr) and is subject to the rules of the following creative commons license.

A Tale of Two Moms: An Adopted Son Talks About His Feelings for Both His Mothers.

april-723028_1280Mother’s Day is coming this Sunday. So all this week we’re talking to moms, talking about moms, and asking you to share your own mom-related stories, photos and more. Be sure that you are following us on Facebook and Twitter so you can keep up.

We’re starting off the week with an interview with someone who has both a biological and an adoptive mother. What does it feel like to find out that you are adopted? Read on and find out…

WHEN DID YOU FIRST FIND OUT THAT YOU WERE ADOPTED?
I was probably about 5. I think they may have told me even earlier than that, but I remember knowing in kindergarten. I remember telling my friends about it.

DO YOU REMEMBER HOW IT FELT WHEN THEY FIRST TOLD YOU? WERE YOU UPSET OR ANGRY OR SAD?
I don’t remember having any reaction really. I mean I remember listenig and taking it in. It didn’t bother me I guess. No big gut reaction or anything. I was just kind of like, “okay” and that was it. Through the years I’d think about it from time to time. Very rarely, from time to time, if I did something that seemed uncharacteristic for my family, I’d wonder if that’s because I was adopted. You know, if it was something I got from my bio parents. And lord knows I look nothing like the rest of the family obviously, so I’d wonder every once in a while who I looked like.

SO YOUR ADOPTIVE PARENTS WERE ALWAYS OPEN ABOUT IT?
Yeah. They never tried to hide it from me. They just waited until I was old enough that they thought I would understand on some level what it meant and they told me.

AND DID YOU? UNDERSTAND THAT IS?
I don’t really remember what I thought the first time they told me. I imagine that I didn’t fully comprehend what it really meant to be adopted, but I understood that somewhere out in the world there were two other people who were also my mom and dad. They of course talked to me many more times over the years about it. I remember them talking to me when I was in elementary school and asking me if I understood what it meant that I was adopted. And I remember them coming to me once when I was in 9th or 10th grade and asking me if I had any desire to find my biological parents.

DID YOU HAVE A DESIRE TO FIND THEM?
Not really, no. I mean, they told me enough. I didn’t feel a void or anything like that. And my parents were the greatest. To me, they were my parents. The other two people were just the man who donated the sperm and the woman who gave birth to me. I don’t mean that in a mean way. I understand the bond between a parent and child. I am sure what she did was not easy. And I respect her for that. And I hope that she went on to have more children that actually were her children.

SO WHAT DID YOUR PARENTS TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR BIOLOGICAL PARENTS? WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THEM?
I know next to nothing about my father because they knew next to nothing. Not much was offered to the adoption agency other than that he was my mother’s boyfriend and that his parents did not want him tied in any way to the baby, to her, or to the adoption.

WOW. THAT WAS POSSIBLE? FOR HIM TO JUST NOT HAVE ANY PART OF IT? I JUST THINK OF MY KIDS AND HOW I WOULD HANDLE THAT. NOT BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU’D DONE WOULD NOT BE AN OPTION!
No, me either. If one of my sons were to get a girl pregnant there is zero chance I would let him just shirk that responsibility. And if it were my daughter who got pregnant you can be damn sure the guy is going to man up. But it was a long time ago and I just don’t think her parents even pushed the issue. They were probably just in shock that their teenage daughter got knocked up, ya know?

AND WHAT ABOUT YOUR MOTHER? WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HER?
Well, my mother was fifteen. It was her first real boyfriend, and the guy she supposedly lost her virginity to. I don’t think she was an angel but I don’t think she was on drugs or anything like that. I think it was a matter of her being so young and the father not wanting any involvement, and her parents not wanting her to ruin her life. It makes sense. I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing.

DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO HER OR TO HIM?
No. I really don’t. I just know how old they were, where they grew up, and what their first names were. I don’t know if the adoption agency or even my parents kept tabs beyond that, but I never really wanted to know more. I know that’s probably not a common response. I mean, I hope they’re both still alive and well and have happy lives and families. But, their lives and families are not my life or my family, so I see no need to intermingle the two just because we share some DNA.

DID YOU EVER EVEN ATTEMPT TO FIND THEM OR FIND OUT ANYTHING ABOUT THEM?
No. It used to be much more complicated. Now I could probably hold up a little sign and post it to Facebook and meet her within three days. I just don’t want to. I just don’t see a reason to risk complicating everyone’s lives.

DID YOUR ADOPTIVE PARENTS EVER TRY TO SWAY YOU IN ONE WAY OR THE OTHER?
No. Never. They always said I could do whatever I wanted with the limited information that they had. I never wanted to do anything with it. They were my parents. I never needed more than that.

picjumbo.com_HNCK4313-2THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLE WITH ALL SORTS OF ISSUES RELATED TO ADOPTION. IDENTITY PROBLEMS AND SO FORTH. YOU SEEM LIKE YOU NEVER HAD TO DEAL WITH ANY OF THAT, IS THAT TRUE?
It is. I know. I am remarkably well-adjusted in general. I’m just not the kind of person who lets things that are out of my control get me down. It is what it is. I know who I am. I understand people who have a different take on life than I do may get caught up in all of the “what-ifs” and the “who am I’s”, but that’s just not me. I don’t feel like I am missing something. I don’t long for the truth. Nothing at all like that.

MOTHER’S DAY IS COMING UP. DO YOU DO ANYTHING SPECIAL THAT DAY?
We usually go to church and then to brunch. My wife and my kids, and both her parents and my parents. It’s always a good day.