This Is What My Mother’s Day Looked Like… How About Yours?

Guest Post- A True Story of Surviving Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but really we should be trying to be more aware every day. The statistics are shocking- 1 in 4 women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. Please take the time to read and share this post so that together, we can help that number dwindle.

Our very good friend, Emily, is one of the strongest women I know. She handles motherhood so naturally, while holding down a full time job as a women’s health nurse practitioner, where she offers not only her medical expertise, but her unwavering support for her patients and still has love and energy for her family and friends. She is one of the strongest and most loving sources of support in our circle of friends, so I am not surprised that she wants to share her story to help other women.

The two things I remember most about that night were relief, and hearing the neighbors sliding their chain across the latch as I screamed for help. Relief because there was no more denying that this was abuse. The sound of the chain because it was in that moment I realized how alone I really was.

All the rest sort of floats around these two memories. The sound of his key in the lock. His smashing my head against the wall, slapping me across the face, kicking my gut as I gathered his belongings into a garbage bag. The heinous names. His hands around my throat as I punched with all my strength to get him off me, the fingerprint bruises on my neck.

Relief, and the chain. Those are what stand out, the clearest of all the memories.

Of course, it didn’t start with the events of that night. It never does. It started out well, probably even too well. It usually does. When the first insults came, the experience was akin to walking peacefully along a beautiful pedestrian cobblestone street, window shopping, sipping a latte, and then suddenly being struck from behind by a motor vehicle. At first, I had no idea where it came from, what I had done, how I could have foreseen or prevented the crash. Then, little by little, I started to sense that danger was lurking in unpredictable corners. I would still walk the pedestrian street, but now I would look both ways before crossing.

How did this happen? I am a strong, smart, educated woman. He was bright, funny, on track for an impressive career. I have also always been an accommodator, and until the dissolution of that relationship, was often willing to bend my needs somewhat to meet the needs of someone else. In bending those needs within that relationship, my insecurities grew. And I began to believe some of what he said to me: the names he called me, the cutting insults. The rational side of me knew he was being abusive and mean, but the seedling of doubt that lived in my gut let way to full-grown blossoms. When his jealousy and control took over, I let him convince me that it was because of how strongly he felt, how special I was. I made excuses, I made compromises, I bent and swayed until at times I no longer recognized my vital self; I turned from friends and loved ones on his demand, I isolated, I gave in.

It took a time of separation, after he had graduated from college and I stayed on to finish another semester, for me to let real anger set in. My anger, and the hardening which came with it, were what allowed me to extricate little by little. By the time that night came, it was all the push I needed to free up any doubt or hesitation about ending the relationship. There were incidents even during our semester apart, but until the physical violence bubbled up and over, all I had were words and feelings as evidence. I will never again understate the power of emotional and psychological abuse. The physical is painful and glaring, but the other cuts deep into the soul.

When that night finally came, it followed a jealous episode in which he had shown up at the restaurant where I was working. Though the potential for the attack had been there all along, the more he sensed my pulling away, the closer he got to lashing out. He was losing control, and as often happens with abusive people, my growing disillusionment was the tipping point.

When that night finally came, there were no sirens. My neighbors slid their chain locks, no one called the police. Though after it was over, after he had gone the police did come – in response to my father’s desperate call from Vermont. My dad had been on the phone with me when the key slid in the lock and the shouting began. He gave the police all the information they needed to locate me. After taking my statement, they arrested my attacker at dawn, in his family home three miles away.

Around that same time in my life, I met the man I would marry. To say he saved me is inaccurate. To say he loved me completely is true. Loved me, trusted me, and has never needed to know everything about my every move, never needed to control me. Still, my husband did not save me. Nor did my father, or the police.

I saved myself when I wrote out my victim’s statement, and when I refused to recant my story a few months later. When I stood up in court during sentencing and requested my attacker be required to complete the Emerge Program for Abusive Men as part of his probation so that, hopefully, any future partners might be spared. I saved myself when I refused to go back to the relationship despite his begging. When I became a nurse practitioner: working with women, advocating for them, connecting them to services, empathizing with them in a deeper way than they will ever understand. When I gave birth to four boys I am parenting as positively as I can so they may grow up to be respectful, kind, non-abusive men and partners.

In those early days following the attack and subsequent separation, I would have flashbacks at any given moment, almost as a dream flies through your mind while in deep sleep. It was as though bits of myself, my childhood, my essential being, were crashing back into my mind, heart and soul as I began to realize I was safe again. Safe to cross the pedestrian street without looking both ways.

This is my story, but it is not rare or unique. I share this 12 years later because I simply could not have shared it sooner.   Right after the attack, several people close to me knew what had happened. However, as I have moved on, have grown a new circle of friends, gotten married, had my children, I don’t tend to bring this up in casual conversation. I share it today because it is important that those who see me and know me now – a competent, confident, professional mother of boys, a musician, politically vocal woman, and friend – will know I was once stuck in an abusive relationship.

Every one of us knows someone or has been a victim of partner abuse. The statistics are daunting, and the only way we will overcome these numbers is by teaching our children how to not be abusers, themselves, and how to stand up to abuse when they recognize it. We need to help them understand that they cannot control or demean others; to teach them what it is to hit below the belt, and to help them understand why it is important never to go there. We need to teach them not to bully or make fun of others, even behind their backs; teach them that name calling is unacceptable, and that they are never to perpetrate violence, especially against someone physically weaker than they are.

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If you know of someone in an abusive situation, or are concerned about a loved one, know that they need you even when they push you away. They are either being forced to isolate by their abuser, or they are not ready to leave and are afraid you will judge them. Be their friend, their family, even if you can’t understand what keeps them stuck. You are not there to push them out of their corner; only they can do that. Give them the Lundy Bancroft book, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry Men, so they can read it and know they are not crazy, they are validated. And, no matter what their partner says, there is no justification for abusive behavior. At the end of the day, never be the neighbor who slides the chain across the lock when someone screams or whispers for help. In dangerous situations, calling the police, even anonymously, is perfectly acceptable. Otherwise, open the door, be the friend, be the family, don’t back down. Someday, they will likely find their way to the surface and they will need you in their corner as they heal and come back to themselves.

If you need help, please check out these resources:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

In MA:

Safelink Hotline 1-877-785-2020

Emerge Counseling and Education to Stop Domestic Violence

Emily Swisher-Rosa lives south of Boston with her husband and 4 amazing sons. When she’s not seeing patients, she keeps busy taxiing her boys to activities, playing the violin, and singing in her church choir.

I Am THAT Kind of Mother

At Mommy Business, we believe in sharing our authentic stories. Our Featured Blogger for August, Rebecca Goldi, captured the importance of authenticity in parenting with her post and we are happy to share it with you. As always, your thoughts and love are welcome in the comments below.  xo- M&J


The Dragons and I were in the waiting area at the car dealership. Zillions of popcorn kernels and Nutrigrain crumbs were strewn all over the carpet (because the best way to keep Dragons quiet and out of trouble is with the use of food… any food… the mess is irrelevant) and all was well with the world when an older woman noticed that two of #1’s fingernails had been painted pink and blue. Tacked onto the end of her observation were 6 words that will strike a nerve in any parent.

“Oh, you’re that kind of mother”

The exact intention of her sentiment continues to leave me quite befuddled because, let’s be honest, my name isn’t Inspector Gadget and ain’t no mom got time to decipher the nonsensical statements made by the geriatric generation. But, nonetheless, it got me thinking. I’ve yet to define myself as to who I’ve become (as a mother) due to the simple fact that motherhood is constantly changing… constantly evolving. I am constantly changing… constantly evolving. In a season where no two days are ever the same, is self-definition even a possibility? For now, I (and my parenting style) may not fit into a neat, tiny box, but as for the woman who knows no filter, I’m deciding to agree. I am that kind of mother.

I’m the kind of mother who encourages her children to go outside and get as dirty as freakin’ possible because it’s a hell of a lot of fun!

MoD Dirty

I’m the kind of mother who encourages her children to eat their food with gusto!

MoD Gusto

I’m the kind of mother who emphasizes the importance of personal hygiene.

MoD Hygiene

I’m the kind of mother who allows her son to put makeup on with her in the mornings. It isn’t a political statement and it has even less to do with breaking down the barriers of gender stereotypes. It keeps him entertained, out of trouble, AND has the added bonus of quality time.

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I’m the kind of mother who encourages her children to continuously test their limits (which is probably why they’re dragons, let’s be honest.)

MoD Test Limits

I’m the kind of mother who encourages sibling love, even when it hurts.

MoD Even When it Hurts

I’m the kind of mother who teaches that good cooking feeds the soul!

MoD Feeds the Soul

I’m the kind of mother who encourages her children to express themselves artistically.

MoD Artistically

I’m the kind of mother who chooses her battles. Wearing new shoes to bed? Go for it!!!

MoD Shoes to Bed

I’m the kind of mother who encourages a curiosity and love of nature.

MoD Nature

I’m the kind of mother who teaches the overwhelming love, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and strength that can only come from the Lord above.

MoD Kindness

I’m also the kind of mother who finds herself overwhelmed with the seemingly endless lists of tasks that never seems to get shorter. I’m the kind of mother who has more patience than a Buddhist priest, but when #2’s crying never ceases and, in an attempt to gain my attention, #1 breaks my Le Creuset skillet, I completely lose it.  And then I just keep yelling because it just feels so good to get it out.

In defining myself, I do not look to the instances of extreme chaos, but rather to the moments in which I feel the most joy… where I feel whole.

I guess in defining myself, I should start there.


Rebecca Goldi bio picRebecca Goldi is a SAHM to 2 boys she jokingly, but accurately, calls dragons. When she isn’t wrangling the boys, she can be found piddlin’ on her pumpkin farm, riding around town looking for lost animals, and keeping up with the Kardashians. She’s a southern mama who loves Jesus, margaritas and making people laugh at the expense of her young dragons.

For more outrageousness, follow the Dragons on Instagram

Guest Blog Post: Donna Mavromates of MavroCreative

We take inspiration from lots of sources; often from other moms and business owners. With that in mind, we offer words of wisdom and inspiration from our very first guest blogger- Donna Mavromates!

Life is fluid. A lesson learned from a mother of twins.

Life takes twists and turns that we often don’t expect. For most of my life, I have been a planner. I like to know precisely where I’m going and what lies ahead. The first time that my best-laid plans were put to the test was when I became pregnant for the first (and only!) time. I was working in a corporate environment and I added the baby’s name to the waiting list for the on-site daycare. I was going to take 12 weeks maternity leave and would be right back to work. All set. Until an ultrasound revealed that the “baby” was actually “babies”.

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My identical twin girls at 6 months!

Twins? Wait a sec…that wasn’t in my plan!

And right then and there, my focus shifted and I quickly learned that I had to be open to a change of plans in all aspects of my life. It’s been almost 18 years since my twin daughters were born and I can honestly say that flexibility and adaptability are now ingrained in my persona!

So what does all of this have to do with this blog post? Because it’s along that same vein that I approach my business, Wicked Simple Marketing. I spent the second half of 2014 refining and defining the business and understanding what our clients need and want from an agency like ours.  Wicked Simple Marketing has been a part of me since 2010, and when I decided to focus on the business full time in June 2014, I did so with the intention of digging deep and understanding exactly what its mission is and what it is designed to do.

A name and branding change wasn’t something that I anticipated doing. In fact, I love the name Wicked Simple Marketing, because it’s fun and whimsical and quirky and very Bostonian! But the deeper I dug, and the more I learned about myself and what aspects of the business get me excited, the name “Wicked Simple Marketing” no longer resonated with me.  I realized that I hadn’t taken the very same advice that I give to my clients:

I hadn’t defined my brand.

Our core mission has always been to deliver affordable marketing and design (web and print) to businesses and providing the best possible customer service. That will never change. What we have done, however, is refined our offerings, concentrating our efforts on our core competencies and the things that we love to do, and on what our clients are telling us that they need and want: website and graphic design that is clean and sophisticated and that tells their “story”.

And so, the vision of MavroCreative began to take shape.

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John Jacobs, co-founder of Life is Good, speaking at the recent MA Conference for Women in Boston.

“Do what you like. Like what you do.”

John Jacobs, co-founder of Life is Good, said those very words at a recent conference I attended.  “Do what you like. Like what you do.”  I left the conference and those words stuck with me. When I really thought about it, the word “creative” kept coming up. Over and over. It is the aspect of what we do every day that motivates and drives me.

While I do enjoy social media and other forms of marketing – including marketing strategy – the parts of Wicked Simple Marketing that resonated with me the most revolved around the creative.  Helping businesses find their voice and creating that brand with them, and seeing it evolve in print and on the web is what I really like to do and it’s what the majority of our clients are looking for.

Deciding on a brand change was scary. I had my plan for Wicked Simple Marketing all set and it was hard to let it go. But, the lesson I learned almost 18 years ago continues.

Life is fluid and sometimes you have to follow a different road than the one you set out on.

So what does this all mean? In a nutshell, Wicked Simple Marketing has evolved into MavroCreative, LLC.  We provide sophisticated web and graphic design services to businesses and help them create and maintain their brand across all platforms. We are the same team, providing the same high level of customer service, under a new brand:  MavroCreative.

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As we say goodbye to 2014 and look ahead to the years to come, we are mindful of the fact that life is fluid, and sometimes the best-laid plans take a sudden turn. We look forward to seeing what this coming year has in store and our wish for every one of you is to take the advice of John Jacobs and “Do what you like. Like what you do.”

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Donna Mavromates is the owner of MavroCreative, LLC, a Hingham-based website and graphic design agency. In her spare time she is a hobbyist photographer and most recently can be found visiting prospective colleges with her 17-year old twin daughters, who inspire her every day. Learn more at www.mavrocreative.com .

Yell Less, Love More! The Orange Rhino’s Book is Ready to Order!

A frequent guest and contributor to our radio show, Sheila McCraith has finally stepped out from behind her secret identity as The Orange Rhino to share her fabulous book, Yell Less, Love More. Sheila is an everyday mom who is just trying to do her best, like all of us. When she was stunned by an aha moment, she decided to share it with the world via her blog. Now, she shares more- and it’s awesome! Pre-order today for Nov 1 delivery!

31 Days of Giving

Giving is good for your heart!

Giving is good for your heart!

Inspired by the book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker, Jenn and I have committed to 31 Days of Giving. The rules are simple- give something each day- it can be small, like helping somebody carry something to their car, or giving a compliment that pops into your head, instead of keeping the thought to yourself, or dropping off soup or cookies to a neighbor…or a bigger gesture, like paying for someone’s gas, coffee, or groceries.

We will post our “gifts” on Facebook and here. Will you join us?!

Day 1:  Planning and talking with kids; spreading the word.

Day 2:  I consciously let every driver who needed to turn or pull out in front of me do so (without driving the people behind me crazy.) It’s amazing how happy it can make a person- just to not have to wait an eternity to pull into the line of traffic.

Day 3:  Helped kids kick off their fundraisers for IFAW and the local food pantry. (They are selling Dave and Buster’s cards and accepting donations!)

Happy Gift Giving!

-M 🙂

Falling in…

Why is it that good habits take so much effort, and bad habits are so easy that you can just fall into them? I was thinking about this today as I struggled to stick to my guns over a screen time dispute with my 8 year old, and again as I came head to head with my 4 year old about eating a healthy dinner BEFORE dessert.

I’m not always a stickler for the rules. I’m happy to serve chocolate chip pancakes (GF/CF/SF baby!) for dinner from time to time, but in general, life seems to go easier if I hold strong to limiting sugar and screen time. The trouble comes at times like this- post World Series victory (we let the kids stay up- we’re big Sox fans) post-Halloween, super busy weekend, Daddy traveling all this week. I am exhausted, the kids are a wreck, and it is so tempting to feed them pancakes and bacon in front of the TV and then let Josh play Minecraft til his eyeballs fall out. Except he would. Play until his eyeballs fall out. For days straight until that happened, if I let him. And when I do let him play too much, or when we get out of the good habit of a super healthy, real food menu, the behavior takes a turn from life with normal ( but still a little crazy-in-a-fun-way) kids to I Want To Duct Tape Them To The Walls and Run Away To A Private Island for Three Weeks- and it happens so quickly! I know I am not alone here, so I ask- why do we do it? Why is it so hard to stick to good habits, when they work so well and so easy to just trip and fall right into the bad ones?

I think the answer is right there- the bad habits form from doing what is easy. When I am stressed and busy, it is easy to say yes to screen time so I can focus while the kids are quiet. When we have an especially busy week, or someone is sick, it is easy to serve quick meals, or skip veggies. When I have a lot on my schedule, it is easy to skip working out, and to stay up late to work, while the house is quiet…. But we all know where these things lead. So, I am working on identifying the bad habit red flags and finding ways to make the good habits easier.

What tips can you share? What are the bad habits your family falls into? What good habits would you like to have instead?

– M 🙂

Mint.Com

As promised, I sign up on Mint.com and linked most of my accounts so far. I still have some categorizing to do, but it looks like I was right about our food expenses. It falls right under our mortgage as our second highest expense. I would think that it’s the same for most families, no?
Overall, I have found Mint to be pretty user friendly. The only hiccup was when I entered my bank login and my husband’s (for some reason, one of our accounts doesn’t show up under my login… I should probably call to fix that!) our checking account linked twice, resulting in double entries for everything in that account. It was easy and quick to fix, though.
I think it will be easy to get and stay in the habit of checking in with Mint. I hope this will miraculously lead to more money in our savings account!
A listener sent me this link www.mavenofsavins.com for a blog all about saving money! Turns out, the blogger is a Massachusetts mom! Hoping to have her on the show soon, so get your questions ready!
– Melissa
 

Spending and Cost Cutting!

Food for a family is expensive, especially when you care about what you put into your body. Add to that the cost of gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free everything and you’ve got a mortgage payment. I am certain that groceries are my second biggest expense. But, I can’t prove it without pouring over bank statements. With this in mind, we got to talking about budgets and finances. NOT my favorite topics, but it is another top ranking resolution. So, it’s on our list.

We got lots of good tips from our Facebook friends. Quicken was a recommendation addressed to me. 😉 So, I’ve signed up for Mint (an online Quicken product) and now I’m ready to be horrified by our spending habits. (Eh-hum, Whole Foods…)

Kicked off by last week’s meal ideas, I’m trying to plan a weekly menu and a shopping list from there. Several people made the recommendation to make your meal plan based on the weekly sales flyers and coupons. Sounds like a good idea to me. Most stores have their weekly flyer available online, so it should be easy to do.

Outside of groceries, I’m not a careless, crazy spender. When I shop online, I always check retailmenot.com for coupon codes. I also shop through Ebates to get cash back on my purchases. The check should be here any day for my holiday shopping!! (Join Ebates now- http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=5vrvhN8RI1Euypfw7Qmf3g%3D%3D )

Favorite tips from FB:

  • Freecycle after tax-free days and other holidays is great timing to catch people who just upgraded and want to pass on
  • Don’t spend money on vending machines/lunches at work. Buy snacks ahead and pack lunch- even a savings of $5 per week goes a long way when you calculate the total for the year.
  • Buy in bulk, plan ahead, try to combine grocery store sales with coupons, be flexible about which brands you will purchase, buy store brand products, never go food shopping on an empty stomach, use the gas buddy app to find the cheapest gas, get rid of cable tv, and buy just the shows you want to watch on Amazon or Netflix. Get rid of your landline, or replace it with a VoiceOver IP system…
  • Fill up your tank early in the week. Gas prices usually rise steadily through the week, hitting their peak on the weekends. *This one is so interesting to me! I’m going to pay attention this week to see if I notice this trend!

There is so much more to post on this topic. I promise more to come over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to hear and read about my progress with Mint. Wish me luck!

-Melissa

 

Eating Healthy!

More resolutions today! Bernard Kinsella, of Good Health Kitchen in Norwell, MA, joined us to talk about eating healthy. We can’t wait to take a class or have a dinner party with Bernard. Learn more about Bernard and his classes at www.goodlifekitchen.com

Because it’s always easier to make good choices when things are planned ahead of time, here’s a week’s worth of dinner, all planned out for you- http://pinterest.com/mommybusiness/a-week-s-worth-of-dinners/ and check out the smoothie recipes too, for an easy way to sneak some more fruit and veggies into your kids!

Follow us on facebook and pinterest- I promise lots of good ideas and tips to make life easier!

-Melissa