My moment….

Several years ago, I noticed that my oldest Hobbit’s hair on her legs was darkening.  I moaned to a friend that the future was coming, and I was sad, apprehensive, and excited.

My precious friend cut us each a giant piece of chocolate cake.  Because every mother knows that the hard things in life are easier when they are cushioned by chocolate, wine, or coffee.

We talked about what the future would hold as our children grew and how we hoped to parent them through their teenage years.

I had imagined that I would have lovely and progressive moments with my young teenagers, but it has not exactly turned out that way.  Hobbit #1 is very private.  Here is the link to my first post about parenting a daughter through the beginning of puberty.

Last night, I finally had my moment.  The warm and fuzzy mother-daughter moment that I had envisioned.

Hobbit #1 had asked me to teach her to shave her legs.  I purchased her a brand new razor and her own girly shaving cream.  Quite a difference from Dad’s old razor and the soap and water I started with as a girl.

We sat on the edge of the bathtub with our feet in the water, and began to shave our legs together.  I didn’t make a big deal out of it, and she told me at the end that it was much less embarrassing than she had imagined it would be.  High words of praise from that girl!

I couldn’t help myself, though.  Halfway through the process, I apologized for what I was about to say, and then told her how happy I was to be sharing this with her.  In her very pragmatic way, she answered, “I can’t believe you waited this long to say it.”

When we were all done, without a nick for either of us, I had to give her a hug and tell her what an awesome girl I think she is.  She humored me, of course.

As a mom, my first journey through puberty is not at all what I had expected.  There have not been very many warm and fuzzy moments.  But it is her journey, to navigate in her own way.

I am respecting her path, and I am just along for the ride.  So far, I would say she’s doing a damn fine job of making her way.

 

 

 

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The yellow ribbon….

As a little girl, I devoured every written word in front of me.  I read everything from nutrition labels on the cereal box to warning inserts about toxic shock syndrome.  If it had words, I was probably reading it.

I read the dictionary and cross-referenced words that I didn’t know.  I learned plenty of bad words that way.  Or proper words for bad things I already knew.  I suppose it was my antiquated version of Google and Wikipedia.

My first steamy romance novel was left in my bedroom after a family member visited.  I learned way more about sexual positions than I should have known when I found a sex how-to book in my mother’s closet.  Thankfully, that book taught me that I would not go blind or grow hair on my palms from masturbation like my brothers would.

My grandparents had shelves full of encyclopedias and old textbooks.  I loved to curl up in the corner, behind their old chairs, secluded and reading for long stretches of time.  One of my favorite books on those old bookshelves was a reading textbook from someone’s long-gone school days.

There was a particular story in that book that captured my imagination, and an animated dinner conversation brought the story to mind.  I promised the Hobbits that I would tell a bedtime story instead of our usual reading time.  With all of the Hobbits gathered around, I began the story….

Once upon a time, there was a little boy and a little girl who became best friends.  The little girl always wore a yellow ribbon tied around her neck.  The little boy asked, “Why do you always wear that yellow ribbon around your neck?”   She mysteriously replied that perhaps, someday, she would tell him the reason.

The story continues as the children grow up, fall in love, and eventually get married.  The question continues to be asked and unanswered, “why do you always wear the yellow ribbon around your neck?”

Finally, into old age, the woman is on her deathbed and reveals her secret.  She gives the boy permission to remove her yellow ribbon “and….. plop…. her head fell off!”

The Hobbits had a split second of shocked silence, and then dissolved into uncontrollable laughter. They repeated over and over through their giggles, “Plop!  Her head fell off!”

One example of why I am not that great at mothering.  That is no way to settle rowdy Hobbits into bed.  What was I thinking?  By the time they were tucked in, I just wanted to yell at them to be quiet.

But then, when the house was quiet, I was convinced that I am a rocking good mom.

Hopefully, they will not remember all of the nights that I hastily pushed them toward their beds, looking forward to the glass of wine or the bag of Oreo cookies waiting for me.

I hope someday, as adults, they will find themselves all gathered together, dissolving into laughter, before the most mischievous of them can even finish saying the word, “Plop!….”

 

 

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Dinner time blues…..

What are we having for dinner? Is it smoked sausage? Are we having sauerkraut? Why can’t we have sauerkraut? I hate sauerkraut. Can we have sauerkraut tomorrow? I love it so much. No! I hate it!  Mom, what’s for dinner?

I walk out of the room and repeatedly bang my head against the wall. No. Wait. Instead, I think I will open a bottle of wine.

I want to scream at the Hobbits, but instead, I feel a pit in my stomach, and the waves of desperation wash over me.  I continue cutting vegetables for dinner.

There is no way to win at motherhood.

Someone is always upset. Someone is unhappy.  Usually, it is me.

There are tears, there are tantrums, there is screaming.  Mostly just from me.

There are days when I simply swear that motherhood is a losing game and it will eventually sink me. I can’t see land, and I can’t touch bottom.

Maybe they will forgive me someday.  Maybe they won’t.  Maybe they will love me anyway.  Maybe they won’t.

I usually forgive them.  I usually love them anyway.

Today, I don’t forgive them.  Today, I am angry that nothing is ever good enough.  Today, I don’t really like them.  Today, they don’t really like each other.  They probably don’t like me, either.

I don’t really care.  Tomorrow, I will try again.

I had better not drink all the wine.

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Happy New Year

I rang in the new year in an unexpected way.  I sat in an emergency room until the doctors finally decided to keep Hobbit #4 overnight.

We settled into our room at about 8 pm, cuddled in bed, and finally fell asleep around 10. Neither of us saw fireworks.  We didn’t watch the festivities on television.  We didn’t see the Times Square ball drop.

It reminded me that we never, ever know what a new year, or even a new day, will bring.

I took a walk down memory lane to the last time Hobbit #4 and I celebrated the turning of a new year in a hospital together.  I was pregnant and we were trying to keep her from coming out too soon.  A dear friend became even more dear as we cradled our pregnant bellies and drank sparkling grape juice to celebrate the coming of 2007.

Our strong and sassy girls were born in the early months of that new year.

Last night, I held that same sassy little Hobbit close while the calendar again turned to a new year.  As I held her close and breathed in the smell of her sweat and shampoo, I realized that I never got those hospital cuddles with her.  She was born in a whirlwind, and our first snuggles were under a blanket in an ambulance.  She was whisked away from me to a NICU where our cuddles took place behind a privacy screen while I gave her my milk to comfort her through her first days of life, hooked up to IV’s and poked and stuck every few hours to monitor her progress.  I held her at my breast, while she was connected to tubes and lights to clear her jaundice.

I was angry.  I was angry with God that he would allow my precious, tiny girl to have such a rude first few days of life.  I was angry with the doctors who wouldn’t let her leave, even though she showed no signs of infection.  I was angry with myself for imaginary things that I had done “wrong” to cause her to be here.  I was angry that we weren’t snuggling at home with the other 3 Hobbits.

But somehow, even through my anger, I found moments to treasurel.  The wee hours of the morning when I would stumble through the halls of the hospital to feed her and feel my milk letdown, knowing that my body was still connected to her in some very primal way.

I came to love the way the nurses cared for her as if she were their very own precious little one.  And they cared for me also.  Did I need a snack?  A drink?  A cup of coffee?

On this New Year’s holiday, I loved our new nurses.  The first nurse who immediately asked my sick little girl her favorite color and then returned to her room with a beautiful pair of purple fairy wings.  The nurse who tiptoed in while my little one was fast asleep and took her temperature and her vitals so quietly and gently that she never even woke up.  The nurses who checked in on her when this mediocre mommy needed a break and headed to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee and make a phone call.  The lovely nurses who brought her every flavor of popsicle, or juice, or Gatorade that she could possibly think to ask for.  The nurses who brought extra pillows and blankets so that I could curl up in bed with her.  The nurses who brought towels and shampoo so that I could shower.

The holiday was a repeat of many of the experiences she and I had shared before.  Our ambulance ride to the hospital reminded me of that first ambulance ride, just an hour after she was born.  The marking of a new year reminded me of the holiday when I wasn’t sure if she was going to be born too early.  The snuggles in our hospital bed reminded me of that precious time I never had with her.

And then I watched her use the remote from her hospital bed, whenever she wanted, to watch television shows that she wanted, and I saw what a big, strong, sweet girl she has become.  I watched her independently use the call button for the nurse, and advocate for what she wanted or needed.

Those were my jobs when she was so very little.  She is growing up, finding her independence, and she is able to speak for herself.

Those 24 hours were not how I had envisioned spending part of our holidays, but honestly, I found many, many moments to treasure.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving….

I have so many reasons to be thankful.  But my Thanksgiving has a cloud over it that I cannot shake.

A couple of years ago, I was determined to handle the holiday family anxiety with grace and dignity.  Instead, I handled it with too much Xanax and wine.  You can visit those posts here and here if you want to relive the horror.

After my brother had a scary accident, my family vowed that we would stay close and connected. For a while, we tried.  And then old habits and human nature surfaced.  We drifted again.

I almost wish I had spent this holiday flattened by Xanax.  Because, you see, I remember very little of that Xanax day.  I wish I could forget how I felt on this Thanksgiving.

I spent the day reminding myself that my Hobbits are a gift.  I gave them my best as we carried on a family tradition of making dumplings.  Every little Hobbit helped in some way.  It was messy and took much longer than necessary, but it is an experience that creates holiday memories for the Hobbit to carry with them as they grow.

I held my Hubby close and knew that he will always be my safe place.

I enjoyed every moment of being with Hubby’s mediocre family, laughing, and loving cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who have become my family.  We cried as we toasted those that have left us. We missed them deeply.

I held my (not-so-mediocre) mother-in-law tightly, as she has become my own mother.

Through it all, though, there was still a lingering cloud over my heart.  I had my chosen family around me, but I had been deeply hurt by the family I was born into.

Today, I will not mince my words.  Today, I will not worry if my family will read this.  Today, this blog is not for my readers.  Today, the blog is a place to work through the difficult emotions I am feeling.

I woke up this morning to a sweet message from my crazy mother.  She told me that my family is precious and wished me a happy Thanksgiving.

Less than an hour later, over morning coffee, I learned that my parents were spending the holiday less than 10 miles from my house, without a word to me.  I wondered how “precious” I could possibly be to them?

I am not precious enough to warrant a visit, and neither are my Hobbits.  We are not precious enough to be told that they are going to be traveling so close to us.

For several weeks, I have thought about my childhood, and even more so, about the way my family has treated me since I became an adult.  Judgement from the people who gave you life and raised you hurts at every age.  Or at least, every age up until 42.

Just when I think I have learned to deal with it, and that it cannot affect me anymore, it does.  And it hurts all over again.

They don’t treat any of their other kids like they treat me.  They spend loads of time with sibling #2….in a weird, unhealthy sort of way since his accident…although they don’t seem all that interested in his wife or kids.  Sibling #3 has stayed close to them in spite of the fact that they have made him mental in so many ways.  Sibling #4 still sees them and has the golden child-heir.  And Sibling #5 is the one they spent their holiday with.  He has tried for years to win their love and approval.  Maybe it is finally working for him.

I don’t know how to process this.  I don’t know how to find any sort of perspective.  I don’t know where to go from here.  (Dear therapist, if you are reading this, get ready to see me next week. I have issues.)

Maybe there is no way to make it better.  Maybe the only thing I can do is make a different life for the Hobbits.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that my Hobbits will never be hurt by them.  I comfort myself with the knowledge that the Hobbits know how fiercely we love them.  I comfort myself with the knowledge that I have had a family for 19 years that loves me unconditionally.  I comfort myself with the knowledge that those are the family my Hobbits are growing up with.  I comfort myself with the knowledge that my Hobbits have involved and loving grandparents in Hubby’s family.

I comfort myself in the best ways I can.

I hold the Hobbits close.  I find solace in the arms of Hubby.  And I get up every day to be the best  partner, mother, and badass woman that I can be.

Badass.  Fiercely protective.  Unconditionally loving.  Those are the only gifts I have to offer.  I have to believe it will be enough.  I do believe it will be enough.

 

 

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The night that dinner imploded….

The Hobbits wrote this for me.  I couldn’t have done it any better.

The Night that Dinner Imploded….

1.  Hobbits are talking about different teachers that have an innovative policy when students forget something for class.  Need to borrow a pencil from the teacher?  Trade in one of your shoes.  You also forgot your red pen?  Trade in a second shoe.  When you need your shoes back, you will remember to return the teacher’s supplies.

2.  Mediocre Mommy begins to think out loud.  Thoughts that were clearly better left unsaid.  “That is a great idea.   How could I make that work for me?  What could I make you trade to do your chores?  What about your loveys?  I could have you each deposit your favorite things into a basket as you leave for school.  While you are gone, I will check your room.  If it is clean, I will leave your things in your room for you.”

3.  Hobbits begin to poke holes in my plan.  “I don’t have a lovey.”  That’s right.  Well, I suppose I will take your favorite library book.  “I will hide my lovey.  I won’t tell you which book is my favorite.” For each of their plans, I come up with an equally devious way to outsmart them.

4.  The Hobbits begin to panic, and their plans become more desperate.  “I have known each of you since you were a single strand of DNA.  Do you really think there is any way you will outsmart me?”

5.  Hobbits around the table begin to sob uncontrollably.

6.  Mediocre Mommy begins to laugh uncontrollably because there is something just so ridiculously satisfying about getting your kids where it hurts.

7.  Hubby walks in from work, horrified at the scene displayed before him.  Hobbit are crying crocodile tears;  Mediocre Mommy is laughing hysterically.  He immediately sides with the Hobbits, as I have clearly lost all control.  I yell at him to stay out of it.

8.  Hobbits leave the kitchen in tears, only to return with proclamations of their impending moves and their search for new families.

9.  The mayhem finally settles a bit when Hobbit #4 tearfully asks if she can go see the school counselor tomorrow.  I laugh again, but this time, I try valiantly to suppress my giggles.

10.  I tuck Hobbits into bed and kiss them goodnight without tripping on one single stray toy or piece of laundry out of place in their rooms.

Dinner was a disaster, but it looks like my plan for getting chores done will work out just fine.

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The Wheels on the bus…..

“The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, ’round and ’round, ’round and ’round.  The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, all through the town.”

Now, replace the words with these:

“I’m gonna run away and change my name, change my name, change my name.  I’m gonna run away and change my name, so no one knows who I am.”

I created this little ditty when I was driving one day.  There was nowhere for me to run…. nowhere to hide.  I so desperately wanted to drown out the Hobbits that I began to sing to the only tune in my head.

The song is catchy.  It’s rude.  And it is perfect for belting at the top of your lungs when you just cannot take one more call of “mommmmm!”

I have been asked what I am doing with my time now that only one Hobbit is home during the day.  I have been asked if she and I are enjoying our time together.  I have been asked if I can please do a better job of cleaning the house and getting errands and projects done.  (Guess who!)

There are times when it certainly feels like a luxury to have only one little face peering through the fog of my shower.  Or only one fist pounding at the door while I pee.  Or only one pair of shoes to find before we can leave the house.

There is only one vote on what to watch on television. I only have to make one lunch, because I’m just going to eat the crusts from her plate and save room for Oreo cookies at nap time.

I have no idea what I am doing with all of this “free” time I have found.  I do get to read a chapter in a book here and there, and sometimes, I even flip through the new Time magazine at lunch.

Mostly, though, I just wish I could run away and change my name.

I argue with that little Hobbit all freaking day.  About 80% of the time, I win.

When five Hobbits come home from school, it is like a herd of elephants just plowed through my front door.   They charge in and trumpet for a snack.  They vomit backpacks, papers, lunchboxes, sweatshirts, and stinky socks all over the front room.  They argue and push and chatter incessantly about the “hilarious” things that happened.  I use the term “hilarious” very loosely.

Every one of them ask what is for snack, even though the answer is the same every day.  Every single one of them ask if they can play outside, even though the answer is the same every day.  Every one of them ask what is for dinner, and they usually ask that one more than once.

Between 3:00 and 3:30, I have given at least six answers of “fruit or vegetables,” six replies of “not until you do your homework and chores,” and probably ten answers of my menu planning.

By the time Hubby comes home, I am ready to pull out my hair.

He will say something like, “you were fine when I talked to you a couple of hours ago.  What happened?”  He asks with genuine confusion, and I wonder the same thing.

What the hell happened?

The wheels on the bus stopped going ’round and ’round.  The wheels fell completely off the stupid bus, and I did not run away and change my name when I had the chance.

 

 

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Ok?….fuck you…..

Apparently, it is much more difficult to be three years old than it was to be two.

When Baby Hobbit turned three, her undeniable charm became obscured by angry determination.  It is not pretty.

Over the summer, none of the Hobbits wanted to hear her scream and cry, and they certainly didn’t want to witness her tantrums.

It worked out perfectly for the Hobbits to cater to her whims because I didn’t want to hear her cry, either.

With summer over, Mediocre Mommy and Baby Hobbit are home alone…all day.  I had imagined a victory dance, celebrating seven hours of relative peace and quiet.

My days are ruled by a tiny tyrant.

She wants every damn thing her way.  No, Baby Hobbit, you cannot have another snack. But I very want a snack.

I very want to play outside alone.  I very want to rule the world.  I very want what I want, and I very want it now.

I have taken a stand, and so has she.

Hubby is standing strong too.  This morning, he told her no, and then walked down the stairs.  Just as he turned toward her shrieks, a stuffed animal narrowly missed his head.

It took several tries for her to find something satisfying to throw.  She hurled a stuffed animal and a security blanket before finally being satisfied with the heft of a heavy, plastic, princess shoe.

Less than an hour later, there was another screaming confrontation as we headed into church.  In the aftermath, during a sweet and snuggly moment in my lap, Hubby leaned over and whispered to her, “we will break you.”

We have been here before, of course.  Probably, five times with five different Hobbits, but I honestly don’t remember.  I am sure that each of the Hobbits have had their own special stage of asshole-ness.

Baby Hobbit is also working to perfect some sort of twisted Jedi mind trick.  By tacking on the words “ok” at the end of every demand, she believes that her wishes should instantly be fulfilled.

“I’m going to pour my own juice….ok?”  or, “I’m going to do this my way, ok?” or, “I am going to completely ignore what you told me, ok?”

In Baby Hobbit’s world, the phrase OK is just another way of saying “fuck you.”

“I’m going to pour my own juice, so fuck you.”

“I’m going to do this my own way, so fuck you.”

“I am going to completely ignore you, so fuck you.”

“I am going to own the world, so fuck you.”

Well, fuck you, Baby Hobbit.  Game on.  We will break you, ok?

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Adrenaline junkie….

In typical boy fashion, Hobbit #3 leaned into his buddy’s shoulder, gave him a shove, and said, “Dude.  I went to Great America.”

I held my breath, and waited to see what he would say next.  He received the appropriate respect from his buddy, but what did not happen?

He did not elaborate any further.

He did not mention that he hated every single ride that wasn’t in the baby area.  He left out the parts where he shook like a leaf, his face pale, in every single line and then cried like a baby before he even got off every ride.  If he was able to keep it together until the end of the ride, he began to sob immediately after he got off.

Waiting in every line, he told us what a mistake we had made by not buying the pass that lets you skip lines.  “Too bad we didn’t get that fast pass.”  Really, Buddy?  You wanted to torture yourself sooner each time?

After every roller coaster, he decided what the reason was that he hated it…..first, it was because he rode with dad instead of mom.  That sounds reasonable.  Clearly, moms do everything better than dads.

English: The Invertigo Roller Coaster @ Califo...

So then he rode with mediocre mommy….with exactly the same result.

Then he decided to try a ride that didn’t have such big drops….same.

Maybe a wooden roller coaster….nope.

Every, single time, we told him that he didn’t have to ride.  And every, single time he decided to try it anyway.

As soon as the ride began to move, he would say….”this wasn’t such a good idea….I don’t think I like this….”  And by the time the ride was over, he was pale and crying.

His last attempt of the day was an indoor roller coaster. Dark.  Not too many big drops.  Lots of quick turns.

And that was when he finally broke.

He sobbed all the way off the ride….alligator tears rolling down his face.  Game over.

Just before leaving, there was one more ride to conquer….the carousel.  A gentle goodbye to our fun day.

We made our way to the top level of the carousel, and each Hobbit chose their horse.  Hobbit #3 ended up about 2 horses in front of us.

Before the tinny music even began, I noticed his death grip on the shiny, golden pole.  Hubby said, “Buddy?  You ok?”

Boy Hobbit turned, with a pale face, and white knuckles…..”I’m not so sure about this….”

We couldn’t help but laugh.  And then, when he turned back around, we spent the entire ride taking selfies and laughing at our poor boy.

Believe it or not, he was traumatized by the carousel.  The ride that babies sit on the minute they learn neck control destroyed our poor Hobbit.

I’m pretty sure we will not be taking that kid back to an amusement park any time soon….although he did mention the fast pass again in the car….

 

 

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The Mommy army….

For the mom in crisis…..

We sat near you at the restaurant last night, and I am thinking of you this morning.  I wonder how you are doing and how your daughter is today.

I had expected to have a night out with mediocre mommy friends….laughing a little too loud, drinking a little too much.

And then, from a table near us, you shouted your daughter’s name and asked someone to call an ambulance.

We had no idea what was happening, and we stayed at our table, not wanting to crowd you.  But you needed a mommy army….and we were there.

I came down next to you to help with your daughter.  You kept telling us that you are a nurse, but I know that the fear is different when your child is in trouble.

We placed your little girl’s head in your lap, so that she didn’t scrape her face on the concrete as she was gripped by a seizure.  We turned her head to the side, as she vomited into towels that someone handed to me.  I asked you questions to relay to the emergency operator.

One of my mediocre mommy friends kept handing clean towels, damp towels, and napkins over my shoulder.  I glanced over my shoulder and saw her comforting your husband….what a helpless feeling for him….his little girl in trouble and nothing he could do to help.

Behind her, I saw the last member of our mediocre mommy army with her arms around your son.  She was talking into his ear, and keeping him calm while strangers tended to his sister.

I met your eyes and asked if you were ok.  You gave exactly the answer I expected you to, but then you tried to thank me.  I said simply, “That’s what mommies do.  We take care of each other.”

You were calling your daughter’s name, nearly begging her to come back to you.  When the seizure finally released its grip, you told her to look into your eyes.  She said she couldn’t see you, and I felt the panic in your body.

Your girl began to cry, to shriek, in fear.  I murmured soft words to her…..”your mommy is right here with you….just close your eyes and put your head on mommy….I know that was really scary…..it’s no fun to be sick….you’re going to be ok…..mommy and daddy already called the doctor…..they are going to come and check you and take you to the hospital to make sure you don’t get sick again.”

Your panic was evident in your voice, and so I encouraged you to talk softly into your girl’s ear, to help her focus on you.  You responded immediately, and your precious girl began to relax into your arms.

The ambulance arrived, and we carefully lifted your baby to her feet.  She was so weak, and you held the weight of her body against you.  The emergency technicians brought over a gurney, and we gently settled your girl.

She continued to vomit, and clean towels kept being placed into my hands.  And then damp towels to wipe her face.

I could hear Mediocre Friend telling your son how exciting it was going to be for his sister to ride in an ambulance…telling him that he and Daddy were going to drive behind the ambulance in your car.

Dad fumbled with his wallet, wanting to pay for your meal.  Someone made him put it away, and told him the Mediocre Mommies would take care of it.  He had tears in his eyes.

You walked with your girl to the ambulance, without a glance behind or a thank you.  It didn’t matter.  We knew.  We all knew.

That’s what mommies do….mediocre or not….we take care of other mommies.  When something happens to one of our children, there will be an army of mommies to help us.  That’s just what we do.

My Mediocre Friends are mediocre mothers, at best.

But when a fellow mommy is in trouble….we are anything but mediocre.

We are fucking awesome.

We are a Mommy Army, leaving no mommy behind.

If we are near when you fall….if you are mediocre like us….or even if you are a better mother than we are….we will never leave you behind or turn away from your distress.

You are a mommy, and that makes you one of us.

The army is behind you….and we are an army filled with more than a few good women.

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