How the Litigation System is Designed to Screw You
The Five REAL Reasons You Keep Losing Your Shit on Your Kids
Whether your split is amicable or not, if you're separating from a mentally stable, otherwise reasonable person, there are steps you can take to keep it from going completely off the rails. Conversely, there are ways that the system is set up to be sure that it does... and all those ways benefit the system itself.
When I first split from my husband I consulted a divorce attorney—a litigator. I wanted to educate myself on my rights before going into the process. California is a no-fault state, so no matter who did what to whom, the laws are pretty clear: 50% of all assets or debts incurred during the marriage would be mine. The state even has a calculating program called the DissoMaster for figuring out support based on percentage of custody and the incomes of both parties.
Makes sense, right? My ex made more money than I did (I was a stay-at-home-mom, so he actually made all the money), so he would have to pay me child support and spousal support for a time.
Except then the litigator began to show me that if we slid the custody bar of the DissoMaster over, my support would increase. More custody for me meant more money from my ex. When I told the attorney that I wanted my son to see his father 50% of the time, that he was a great dad, and that I didn't want to take my child away from him, he scoffed.
Four Steps To A Harmonious Divorce
If you’re like most moms on the planet these days, you lose your shit on your kids. And then you drop them off at school and sit in your car sobbing, because you’re pretty sure you broke them, and you feel so guilty, and sad, and demoralized, and, and, and…
Or you spend the evening cooking dinner, cleaning up, finishing up work projects, helping with homework, juggling six thousand balls, and they’re not listening, not brushing their teeth, not helping, and you lose your shit on them, and an hour later they’re in bed, and all you want is a do-over.
In my work with moms over the last five years (and in my 11 years as a mom myself), I’ve been able to identify the five real reasons moms lose their shit on their kids—and none of them have anything to do with you having shitty kids, or being a shitty mom.
How To Be An Effective Coparent in Divorce
This is my 4-step process for having a harmonious divorce. This is not magic, nor is it possible in all cases. It will require hard work, but if both parties are willing, this process can be collaborative, rather than combative.
Step 1 - Find a good coach or therapist
I once met a man who had been separated for about 2 years. He and his ex-wife had no children and one day she up and left him with no warning and no explanation. Two years later, when I asked why he thought she’d left, he said, "My best guess is that she had a psychotic break." I was dumbfounded. He hadn’t taken the two years after his separation to figure out what might have been missing in his marriage, to examine what it was he hadn’t seen. He'd simply decided that she had had a psychotic break.
Divorce is fertile ground for self-realization and growth, and while it may seem like you don’t have it in you to deal with your personal growth simultaneous to dealing with the actual divorce, believe me when I tell you, now is the time.
Yes You Are Doing More Work and Yes There Is Something You Can Do About It
Let’s face it, co-parenting in divorce can be a bitch. I mean, you divorced this person, right? Which means that you likely had a really hard time communicating, sharing values, not scratching each other’s eyes out with a can opener at every disagreement…
You’ve finally found your escape and your freedom—or you’ve been left holding the bag and you’re pissed as hell—and now you’re supposed to spend the rest of your ever-loving life collaborating with this person?
If you are lucky enough to be divorcing someone who is as dedicated as you are to your children, and who isn’t dangerous or mentally ill, then yes, you most certainly are.
How to make mornings with your kids not suck holy hell
A common complaint among working moms is that their husbands don’t carry their weight in the house and with the kids.
The good news/bad news is that scientific research has validated our feelings.
In an op-ed in the LA Times from Mother’s Day 2015, Amanda Marcotte, citing a study done by the Council on Contemporary Families, writes:
“The council collected a number of studies that, taken together, squelch the idea that modern marriage is a wonderland of equality. Among the findings: Married mothers do more than three times as much cooking, cleaning and laundry than married fathers. Men have more than an hour more leisure time a day than women. Men and women both — no doubt trying to feel good about their relationships — overestimate how much housework men actually do.”
The Long Game
I was working with a client this week who is going back to work after a year-long maternity leave (oh, Canada!), and, of course, her biggest concern was how the hell she was going to get herself and her two small children up and out the door by 7:15am without losing her ever-loving shit—every single morning.
This particular client works really well with well-laid-out strategies, so she was looking for a clear-cut action plan she could implement that would have her mornings run like a well-oiled machine.
What we came up with applies across the board for many moms, working or not.
Five No BS Tips for Giving Up Control
Yesterday was a shit-show with my kid. Epic fucking shit-show.
My son is in the throes of pre-teen hormonal craziness; let’s start there. Let’s add that I am totally perimenopausal and my patience is at an all-time low. It’s like a permanent state of PMS up in this jayjay, and the combo is, well, let’s just say my son and I are in a hormone-infused horn-locking dance that would put bighorn sheep to shame.
It’s not cute.
Yesterday we had a weird amount of time to kill after school before going to a doctor’s appointment. We opted to come home for 15 minutes, have a snack, and then turn around and go back out, rather than try to kill 30 minutes in the no-man’s land of the doctor’s office (and with a kid like mine, you don’t want to try to kill 30 minutes somewhere that doesn’t have a climbing structure, a trampoline, or wifi).
So we go home, snuggle with the puppies, and I offer to make my son his absolute favorite snack. Which involves cooking.
While I make the snack, he disappears, and within minutes I hear the TV on.
Setting Boundaries With Your Kids
There’s nothing like being in relationship with other humans to get you to give up your controlling behavior. Other people don’t always do what we want, so controlling them is pretty futile. Duh.
But for many of us, letting go of controlling behavior is, in a word, terrifying.
I don’t use the word “terrifying” hyperbolically. For those of us who grew up in chaotic environments, the slightest deviation from our carefully mapped out plans can send us into a state of deep panic. And when we feel ourselves dipping into panic or terror, we desperately escalate our attempts at control, often clawing at the people around us…and usually sending them running for the hills.
But why do we do this?
Five Reasons Bad Moms is Bad for Moms
There is a common misconception that boundaries are all about the other person.
Not taking responsibility for setting our own boundaries, and then blaming other people for crossing them is kind of like building a house out in the forest and expecting the deer and bears to build the fence around your property for you. It’s kind of insane.
Believe me, I’d know. I did it for years.
Admittedly, there are two types of people in the world: those who have a healthy respect for other people’s space and limitations, and those who see other people’s boundaries as goals.
Our kids are usually the latter, and it’s with them that we have to work extra hard on setting (and maintaining) healthy boundaries.
That Time My Saboteurs Won and Fucked Me Out of a Successful Acting Career
When I first saw the trailer for Bad Moms I was so excited for this movie to come out. Like so many failed relationships, I pinned my hopes and dreams to it. We were finally going to be understood; someone was finally going to tell the truth about what it’s really like to be a mom in today’s world. As a coach and educator for moms, I could not have been more excited.
And when I finally saw the movie last night, I could not have been more let down.
Don’t get me wrong: I LOL-ed. I cheered, and fist-pumped. I agree with the message that moms need to give up their search for perfection and “having it all.” I believe that we and our kids are over-scheduled, overworked and overwhelmed. I agree that we’re all trying to be and do too much and that it’s killing us—as a culture and as individuals.
But this movie missed the mark on so many levels, because in the end, this movie isn’t really about us...
I Took Away the Xbox and Now He is Listening
I am sitting on the subway, slowly slipping lower and lower in the cold, hard, plastic seat, the skin of my thighs stretching, pinching. I’m trying to make myself small. I’m trying to escape.
From every angle my own face is staring back at me, upside-down, from folded-over pages of The New York Times. I’m on the same page as the crossword, above the fold. As each passenger gets on, they unfold, re-fold, re-adjust their paper, and another me stares back.
In this one week my picture has appeared in almost every newspaper and magazine across the country, from People Magazine to The New York Times. I am on the brink of the kind of success most actors dream about...
We Have To Do Better
When my son was a baby, he'd wake up and cry in his crib, and I'd always go in. 3 or 4 times a night, until he was 11 months old. I had to go in. His wails were like something out of "The Exorcist." I was sure the walls were bleeding and the floor boards were popping up. Clearly there was something really wrong this time.
Needless to say, there wasn't. (You know this story as well as I do.)
Eventually we hired a specialist who talked us through letting him cry it out. I protested, but when we talked through what happened each night, she asked me some very pointed questions:
"How badly does he scream?
"So badly I'm sure he's dying!!"
"How long does he scream?"
"Until I come in."
"And if you don't go in?"
"He screams louder!!!"
"Until I go in..."
The Mind and Body Are One System
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that I never bring the news or politics into my business.
If we’re friends on Facebook, you know me to be very vocal and unafraid of giving a damn what anyone thinks. You know my political affiliation, my stance on a lot of issues, and mostly you know that I am not afraid to speak my mind, fully self-expressed, whether it be outrage, sadness or pride.
I am a fully self-expressed woman, and that’s what I teach other women—to own their own power, to find and use their words and voices in ways that matter and in ways that model to their children—sons and daughters alike—what a fully self-expressed, self-possessed, confident woman actually is.
Which makes it slightly ironic that in my business I have fallen short of doing that myself.
Five Reasons You Need to Work On Yourself to Become a Better Mom
I was reading an article this morning about the Gut-Brain Connection in kids with ADHD, and this sentence stopped me in my tracks:
“...95% of the body’s serotonin can be found in the gut, which is why it’s often referred to as the “second brain” or “gut brain.””
Serotonin is “popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.” (Wiki). In fact, SSRIs, the most common type of antidepressant, are a chemical booster of serotonin. I’m a pretty educated woman around this stuff, but until this morning, I thought serotonin was in your brain.
95% of it is found in your gut. Ergo, if you have an unhealthy gut, it could affect how happy you are.
Click below to read more about depression and anxiety and how what you put into your body might be affecting your moods, as well as my own story on how I manage my own depression and anxiety...
How To Talk to Your Kids So They Will Listen
I'll say it till I'm blue in the face, but if you want to the best mom you can possibly be, you really do need to work on yourself first.
Here are five reasons I think this is vitally important:
- Children’s success and happiness in life is most strongly correlated to their emotional intelligence. In a study published in 2011, children were followed for 50 years, from childhood well into adulthood, and it was scientifically proven that their success and happiness in adulthood was directly related to their levels of emotional intelligence. Sure, they could have learned that in adulthood, but how much cooler would it be if your kids learned that from you? Working on yourself in specific and strategic ways—increasing empathy and objectivity, becoming better able to notice and name your emotions so they don't take over in tough times—boosts emotional intelligence. If you do this work here and now, your kids are raised with it. If you don't, they're raised in the shitstorm of your past. You have a very real choice before you...
How I Got My Kid to Clean The Toilets
There is a popular saying that states: “The meaning of any piece of communication is the response you get.”
What this means is that you are actually responsible for being sure that your communication lands the way you intended it to, and if it doesn’t, you are also responsible for adjusting your communication to be sure that it does.
Including with your kids.
Here’s how things usually go:
Mom, calling from the other room, or peeking around the doorway: "Come to dinner," "Please get ready for bed," "Get your shoes on,” “Brush your teeth.”
10 minutes later mom comes back in to find kid still on iPad/Xbox/Legos/book…
Mom loses shit.
Here’s where the communication breakdown occurs:
In Defense of Dads
I was in a bad mood. Capital F Foul. It was Sunday, late afternoon, and it had been a long weekend. That morning we'd gotten up early to go to a pumpkin festival at a farm over an hour away. I'd had to leave the farm early to drive an hour back to a work meeting, then 45 minutes home from that to meet my son in a parking lot at Michael's where he was with friends buying crafts for their Historical Pumpkin class project (please don't ask) and by the time we got home I was D.O.N.E.
But the house was an absolute mess. Dishes piled up in the sink, dog hair sprinkled throughout the house, laundry piled up, and dirty, filthy toilets (why can't boys pee IN the goddam toilet?). So there was work to be done before I could feel remotely good about relaxing.
Exasperated by what I was facing when I was already exhausted, I told my son to clean up his Legos in the playroom while I started on the dishes.
"Mommy will you help me?" he whined. (He is a class-A whiner.)
You Cannot Have It All
I have spent a good portion of my career advocating for and working with Single Moms, but I have a few choice words to say in defense of dads, because I am sick and tired of watching them be disenfranchised—by our society, and worse by their exes.
(That’s us, mamas.)
I am sick and tired of dads being seen as half the parents their counterparts are.
I am sick and tired of dads being treated as if they’re stupid.
I am sick and tired of dads being treated as if their relationship with their kids isn’t just as important as a mom’s.
Sure, there are deadbeat dads out there, and to those, I give a giant “F*^k you”—as I give any parent, male or female, who doesn’t fully understand the weight and value of the job at hand.
But those aren’t the dads I’m defending. The dads I’m defending are all the rest—the majority, in fact: those who see their kids 50% of the time, or more. Those for whom every breath is taken so as to care for their children— who eat, sleep and breathe fatherhood.
On Turning Forty Five
One of the greatest lies being told in the world today is that women can “have it all.”
I see self-help gurus, personal development leaders and spiritual teachers spew this shit all the time. It’s a way for us to feel like we’re fucking it up, ALL. THE. TIME. If we could just keep our houses better organized, if we had better systems for this that or the other, if we could just BE BETTER HUMANS, we’d have this.
This promise that there is a “there” there somewhere, this panacea of a Balanced Life, has sold millions of books, magazines and coaching programs—and kept a multi-million-dollar self-help industry afloat.
Part of the strategy is that if there continues to be a promise, and it continues to be elusive, you’ll continue to seek it, and buy more products in search of it.
I call bullshit.
The cold hard truth is that we simply cannot have it all.
As adults, as parents, as mothers, we make hard choices every single day...
I turn 45 on Wednesday.
Until it was right on top of me, I didn’t exactly think about how this would feel. It’s a birthday and I tend to like my birthday. I get a massage, take the day off, and indulge in… me! Plus there’s all that Facebook love! What’s not to like?
But this? This is a huge hump.
I’m now closer to 50 than to 40.
What the actual fuck?
Today, here’s how this whole birthday thing is looking and feeling (I’m premenstrual, so I admit this might be looking and feeling a little bleaker because of that. Cruel nature.):
On Tuesday, the day before my birthday, I am having a cervical biopsy because I had an abnormal pap. Regardless of the results, cervical biopsies SUCK. They hurt like hell. They’re invasive and send your body into trauma-shock for a while after. My body takes longer than the average person’s to heal from every trauma it’s ever experienced—major foot surgery, a c-section, and, yes, a cervical biopsy and LEEP procedure in my 20s. So, yay. This year on my birthday I’ll be recovering from someone taking a giant, un-anesthetized snip out of my cervix.
I’m single. I’m getting to that age where the guys I check out are more interested in the women in their 20s, and the guys who helicopter me at parties are pushing 60...