Author: Christa Allard

Be Still Together

This night…I’m as sleepless as I was five years ago, except this time she’s beside me instead of within me. But always within me; always a piece of me… It’s clear that one of my favorite times with my daughter is snuggling her to sleep at night. No matter what the day brought, it’s our chance to regroup and reconnect – a reset button for the day to come. It’s our chance to be still together, to lay quietly after the noise of the day. Tonight I lay beside her on her last night as a four year old. This time, five years ago, I laid in a hospital bed, not yet with her by my side. I’d been in labor for 24 hours already. I was tired and ready to meet her. Ready, yet terrified of them opening me up and bringing her out, leaving me raw and exposed. Motherhood can do that to you; leave you raw and exposed. They said it was time. It was my first difficult choice as a parent. It was the first time I had to put her needs ahead of my own. It was the first time it truly mattered that I had to push through the fear and do it anyway. We may have already bonded in those first nine months that I carried her with me inside my body,...

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Baby face

It’s late, but my daughter isn’t feeling well and is having trouble sleeping. She’s got me pulled in close, playing with my ear as she always had, and I’m simultaneously basking in the snuggle and trying to avoid her germy breathing. Up close like this, I can still see in her face the little baby I used to hold all night long. It hasn’t been that long, after all; she’s not yet five. But lately she’s appeared older than her years, in the way she interacts with adults, her sense of humor, her mannerisms and inflection in her speech. It has become harder and harder to remember not having her in my life. It seems she’s always been here, and yet it’s in the moments like this one when I catch her baby face and am reminded how new to this world she still is. I tend to push her to grow and learn – that’s what we do, right? – but the truth is I still need her to still need me. I may roll my eyes by the third time in a row she claims she can’t do something for herself that I know she can, but what about the day when she no longer asks for my help? Won’t I then be longing for the times she would drag me onto the floor to again explore...

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Two times parenting has made me question my feminism (and why my feminism is stronger because of it)

My first degree was in sociology and women’s studies. I chose it because I loved it. I liked that my classes pushed me to think out of my comfort zone and consider possibilities I didn’t know existed. I didn’t understand what feminism was before college, and it was there that it increasingly became a pivotal part of my identity. And yet, it wasn’t until I became a parent that I realized just how narrow my understanding of what it meant to be a feminist actually was. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit now how exclusively I had internally defined feminism for so many years, despite outwardly working towards equality. I didn’t realize that disconnect, but parenting, as it has a way of doing, has opened my eyes to many of my weaknesses, including those in my work empowering women. Here are two ways parenting has challenged my idea of feminism, and helped me become more inclusive: 1. Being a stay-at-home mom is not anti-feminist. I graduated college with a goal of creating a career. I wanted to get married and have children, but I had a murky understanding of how that would fit into my career. Mind you, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted my career to be, but at the time I was determined to work; after all, so many of my classes emphasized equality in the...

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Roll with it, baby

Nothing makes you feel more like you’re in the Twilight Zone than when your four year old hits, kicks, punches and name calls. It stings even more when the behavior is directed almost solely at you as her mother. I’d considered everything to explain her brash and sudden behavior – too much sugar, too much screen time, even a yeast infection; but I couldn’t seem to peg the blame on anything. After initiating a conversation with her teacher, however, it became apparent that the problem was me. I’d worked hard to be a mindful but firm parent. Show her the boundaries, enforce the limits, support and guide her through the disciplining. I had worked with teenagers, after all, and dreaded the dynamic that existed between some of those girls and any figure of authority. That would not be my kid, I promised myself. My parent-teacher conference, though, quickly made me realize that I was not the firm boundary-setter I thought I was. My daughter wasn’t consistently seeing me as any sort of authority, even a peaceful-mindful-attached one. It was deflating, but I was determined to turn things around. We drew a hard line that weekend with her, and saw a glimmer of hope in more controlled behavior. My husband and I stood our ground together. I felt encouraged, while still a bit apprehensive to continue towards progress during the...

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Learning to speak her love language

Somehow, when my daughter began preschool, I got into the habit of treating her to little surprises when I picked her up from school. Sometimes it was a small treat, like a cookie or a piece of candy; other times it was a trip for ice cream or a surprise visit from her aunt or grandparents. When I began this, it wasn’t an everyday occurrence, and to me the surprises felt special and well received. Until this school year, when my daughter expected a surprise every day. I stubbornly resisted at first. I wasn’t going to raise a spoiled or entitled child, I’d say to myself; surprises aren’t special if they’re expected, even demanded. As you can imagine, my conviction didn’t go over well with a four year old. At the end of each school day she’s happily run down the steps towards me, asking if I had a surprise for her. On the days I didn’t, she quickly turned into a puddle of tears, her screams making me want to hide from the stares of her classmates’ parents. I was embarrassed. What did this look like to them? Asking for surprises every day? Throwing a fit when she didn’t get one? Had I already passed the point of no return? Was my daughter entitled and spoiled? We struggled for weeks. Things weren’t getting better. It bothered me so...

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