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We want to shield our children. Protect them. Keep them safe.

We want to make the truth of what happened at yet another school untrue.  We worry about what to say.  We worry because we don’t want to say anything at all. So how do we parent in a moment when our own humanity feels so vulnerable and fragile?

We walk bravely into the face of love.

We talk with our children.  Because if we don’t, they will hear the news from a hundred other sources.  We need them to know that we are here.  That we are bigger and stronger than any disaster.  That we will be present for them, no matter how overwhelming life feels.  We give them the briefest information, not the gory details.  And then, we listen.  We listen to their concerns, their confusion, their worries.  We allow them the space to weep and wonder, and we model for them the river of tears that is our grief.  We cannot solve this for them, nor should we.  These are the deep mysteries of life.  We can be their guides.  We can show them how we wrestle with understanding events that can never be fully understood.

And we show them love.  We point out that while there is only one shooter, there are hundreds of responders.  Hundreds of adults who are right there helping each one of the children.  As Mister Rogers reminded us:  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

And then we can ask for their love.  Is there anything you’d like to do for the families in Texas?  They may initially not know.  And that’s ok. We can circle back later and ask again.  Or offer up possible ideas- do you want to draw a picture? Start a fund to help hire grief counselors?  Hold a vigil?  Say a prayer?  Create a paper chain – each link a hug for the children of Uvalde. By finding their own voice in this tragedy, they learn that they can make a difference in the world, no matter what events unfold.

Don’t fret about the words you use.  Simply start the conversation.  See where you child takes you.  Listen for the emotions that are under their words, assure them that all of their feelings matter.  Hug them tightly.  Let them feel your tears.  Then hug them again once more.

My love to you all.

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Free Guide: 5 changes in 5 minutes to make parenting better, easier, right now!

A late night here or there….not a big deal, right? what are the effects of not enough sleep? here’s what the research shows….

  • aggressive behavior
  • cognitive problems
  • learning difficulties
  • reduced creativity
  • poor coordination
  • memory lapse
  • slowed reaction times
  • temper tantrums
  • depression
  • obesity
  • and hyperactivity.
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Free Guide: 5 changes in 5 minutes to make parenting better, easier, right now!

the realness of dreams

My Dearest Clara,

It is well past midnight. Our Christmas party is over, the guests have gone, and you are, at last, in bed. And I have snuck back down the staircase, pushed the couch right next to the tree, and am curled up on it, pondering the answer to your question.

Yes. The answer is yes.

Tonight as I tucked you in and kissed your forehead, you asked me to stay. To stay and listen to your dream. Your marvelous, fantastical dream of adventure, and a nutcracker, and a giant rat, and a sugar plum fairy who commanded a world of sweets to dance for you.

After you had told me all of it you paused, and looked at me, and asked if I thought it could have been real. This dream that felt so vivid and true. And before I replied, you had drifted to sleep.

So here I sit, wrapped in a blanket, writing to you in the small hours of the night. Because I could not sleep. Not before answering your question.

Dreams are more real than the moments we are awake. For dreams are the companions of our hearts. They interpret our hopes, give voice to our longings. It is in dreams that our deepest wishes come to life.

So yes, I do think your dream was real.

As I look out the window at the setting of the full moon, I know the day is about to start. The night of your dream is ending. And its realness is about to begin.

Listen to your dreams, sweet girl. For they are whispering you into your future.

And know that I am always here to listen to them, too.

with all my love,

 

Mama Stahlbaum

 

Love this Nutcracker Love Note? You can pin it.

This is the eleventh year I have performed in The Nutcracker. It is my tenth year as Clara’s mother, the ninth time I have written a letter to the dancers.  Here are the links to the letters for the past eight years: the secret is you, messy messy joy joy, stage fright, the balance pointe, home for the holidays, blizzards of truth, life in ¾ time, in a nutshell.

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Free Guide: 5 changes in 5 minutes to make parenting better, easier, right now!

The Secret is You.

Dearest Clara and Nutcracker,

Welcome to your night.

A night of snow. A night of lights. A night of magic. A night in which the dancing invites the audience to feel the enchantment. And they do.

And not just because of the snow and lights and magic, but because of the pas–a dance for two. Because of you.

You dance side by side, connect, break apart, return. It happens again and again. Lifts, turns, leaps.

The power of Snow Pas seems to be in the togetherness, but the secret is that it is not.

The secret is you. Snow could not be a Pas without your strength. Snow could not be a Pas without your groundedness. Snow could not be a Pas without both Clara and the Nutcracker being whole and complete on their own.

It is true in ballet and true in life.

In order to be a good partner, a good friend, a good member of our family, we need to be good to ourselves first.

Be strong in yourself so that you can be strong for others. Know who you are so that you can help others know themselves. Be gentle and kind to yourself so that you can offer kindness and grace to others.

There will always be asks and demands and pressures on your time. Friends will need you. Family will want you. Life will pull at you.

Before you say Yes to them, say Yes to yourself. Before you give to them, give something to you. A quiet moment. A deep breath. An awareness of who you are. When we know ourselves, we are most ready to help others.

And then let the Pas begin. Let the dance of life take you wherever the music leads.

And tonight, let it lead you to the land of enchantment. A place you have created for yourself, for your partner, for the audience. All from the magic of you.

 

With all my love,

Mama Stahlbaum

Love this Nutcracker Love Note? You can pin it.

This is the tenth year I have performed in The Nutcracker. It is my ninth year as Clara’s mother, the eighth time I have written a letter to the dancers.  Here are the links to the letters for the past seven years: messy messy joy joy, stage fright, the balance pointe, home for the holidays, blizzards of truth, life in ¾ time, in a nutshell.

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Free Guide: 5 changes in 5 minutes to make parenting better, easier, right now!

Summer of Love. Each week we do something just a little bit different. A small twist on regular life. Last week was choose-your-own-emotional-adventure. Everyone in the family got to author their own experience.

This week you don’t get a choice. I’m telling you what to do. Which may feel like a surprise, since being bossy isn’t my usual Summer of Love style.

 

Nahhhhhh.

I’m not really going to tell you what to do.

But I am going to tell you how to feel.

Yep. Bossy. Because I’ve been watching closely—my friends, my colleagues, my clients—and I’ve seen something recently. We all need a bit (or a lot) more Joy.

Joy holds a unique space in our emotional experience. It’s lighter than happy, more carefree than content. It is the surprise emotion that sneaks up inside of you, bubbles out, and then floats away.

Joy tends to be coy. At least for adults. For us she hides in plain sight. She’s there during the most boring times. And especially during the most painful times. But as we grow up, we forget what she looks like. We don’t recognize her invitation to play.

Joy shows up when we suddenly realize the burden we’ve been carrying belongs to someone else entirely.

Joy arrives when we see a task we thought would be filled with drudgery is surprisingly bright.

Joy reveals herself when we drink a soda too fast and it fizzes out our nose and everyone in the room laughs and laughs and laughs. And laughs.

Remember her now?

 

I thought so.

This week, we’re going on a joy hunt. Watch for her. Lift up heavy rocks, look in dark corners. The places you think are the least likely for her to be? That’s where you’ll find her.

Still need help? Follow your kids. Observe them from an anthropologist’s perspective—watching the customs of a different culture. See that? There joy is. Our child’s constant companion.

Wait. What? Constant? You’re thinking I haven’t seen your kids lately. I’m not saying our kiddos are always joyful, or joy-filled. (I mean, let’s be real, remember what happened the day before yesterday at your house? I certainly remember what happened at mine.) Joy isn’t always on–but she is always there.

Joy is an emotional firefly—patiently waiting to shine.

So this week, hunt for joy. Relentlessly. Make it a family event. Have everyone looking for her. Find her, but don’t try to trap her. The magic of a firefly isn’t felt when we capture it in a jar. The magic happens when we see the momentary flash. And then trust impatiently it will appear again.

Joy. She’s out there. She’s right next to you. She’s within you. Enjoy her. Here’s to your Summer of Love.

Xoxo,

p.s. The joy-er part? hearing from you. I’d love to know where you (and the kids!) found joy this week. You can send me an email, or join the conversation here.

p.p.s. Want to make sure you are signed up for Summer of Love emails? Have friends you know will love Summer of Love? click right here to get all signed up. Love the Love.

p.p.s.s. worried you missed a little joy? Here’s week 1 summer of love.

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Free Guide: 5 changes in 5 minutes to make parenting better, easier, right now!

MAY 17th, 2018 6:30 pm

Social and Emotional Roots: What can grow out of an education based on relating to the whole child.

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Free Guide: 5 changes in 5 minutes to make parenting better, easier, right now!

MAY 16th, 2018 begins at 6:00 pm

 

Come joins me for a viewing of the movie Screenagers, followed by a discussion where we address key and surprising elements of the film and how to have healthy screen experiences for our kids.

 

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Free Guide: 5 changes in 5 minutes to make parenting better, easier, right now!

MAY 14th, 2018 6:30 pm

Raising our T(w)eenagers: Bombarded by peers about school, social life, and choices, how to help our kids grow during the middle school years.

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Free Guide: 5 changes in 5 minutes to make parenting better, easier, right now!