A Tale of Two Fathers

As we celebrate Fathers and all the Dads (both with us and who’ve left us way too soon, leaving a giant hole where they used to be), reflection is natural.

In real life, my bio-dad wasn’t much there for me, but my step-dad who came into my life when I was nearly out of the house has been there for pretty much every milestone and hard time I’ve come across, and I’m grateful.

It also got me thinking about the awesome new release by the awesome author S.H. Timmins. This is a New Adult coming of age book with an awesome cast of characters to fall in love with and villains to seriously hate. Why am I mentioning this book on Father’s Day?

Well, imagine you’re a youngster from the wrong side of the tracks and your grandmother passed away leaving you and your single mother pretty much homeless. Shortly after the funeral, a wealthy man pulls up, talks to your mom, and before you know it you’re living a new life in a new home on the right side of the tracks. Turns out the guy was her mom’s boss and he offered to “rescue” them if her mother would be his wife, become mother to his son (the same age as the young girl), and never look back at her past.

Doesn’t sound too horrible so far, right? I mean, he took the little girl, Jolene, in and put her in all the best schools. How very altruistic, right? But things aren’t all that they seem. Especially after her mother dies, leaving her alone and in this man’s care.

Of course, there’s another dad in this story. He was the man Jolene’s mom had been dating before her grandmother died. His son, Cruz, was Jolene’s best friend in the whole world, and they both adored her.

Turns out that Cruz’s dad and Jo’s mom had been high school sweethearts, they’d broken up and he married Cruz’s mother because she needed his help. She found herself dumped by her college boyfriend and pregnant with a family who kicked her out. He stepped up. Even knowing Cruz wasn’t his, he married the friend in need which cost him his chance with Jo’s mom.

And yet he never looked back. Until his wife passed away from a terrible accident and they reconnected through their kids. Sounds like a good man, too. Right?

And yet one is an amazing person and one is a monster. The type of villain you can’t forgive or forget with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. In Echoes of Us, Timmins wrote the characters so well that I felt actual hate for a fictional character. I cheered for goodness to win. Nearly died in anticipation of comeuppance and justice for the wronged. And the romance? Ooh la la! Yummy!

Curious? Don’t believe me? Check the book out. I dare ya! I guarantee you’ll love all the twists and turns and you’ll become a huge fan of hers. Just. Like. Me.

Masturbation Misses

Masturbation Month

I couldn’t let the end of Masturbation month without acknowledging it. After all, we have a pretty strong history together if you recall my prior posts like Self Discovery, or Lessons in Going Solo, or Self Pleasure: A Solo Sport? Obviously I’m passionate about sexuality and self pleasure.

Maybe that’s why I’m still able to be surprised when I come across the woefully uneducated or amazingly puritanical viewpoints. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but in this modern age of technology and education, I still find myself blown away.

look_mom_im_a_unicorn

Okay, so this one is funny and a bit cute. There’s nothing at all wrong with the naïve innocence that comes with youth. In fact, it’s important to hold on to that innocence.

But…

And this is a big one.

It’s also important not to shelter your child so much that they are completely clueless about themselves, their sexuality, and the world around them. Don’t leave the job of teaching sex (and I’m not talking in the “sex is evil” sort of way) and/or the body to their friends or teachers.

Teach them not to be afraid of self discovery. Teach them not to be ashamed of the strong physical reactions self pleasure can bring. And for goodness sake…at least give them an idea that sex toys exist or you could wind up with a situation like this….

Fleshlight

Okay. So it’s funny in an OMG, kinda gross sort of way. But here’s a truth. If we talked about sex openly and honestly, would this meme even ever happen?

Or worse….

Can you imagine being so woefully uneducated about sex toys and pleasure that this happened?
image

So technically it’s not a masturbatory toy, but you get my drift. These things are misses in education. In open discussion. In sexual awareness.

Self pleasure is a powerful thing! So is information. It’s through self pleasure that we discover what feels good. How to teach our partners to help us enjoy sex. How not to settle for a poor relationship simply because they make you “feel good” because you can do that all on your own without any help.

So now it’s your turn…

Why is masturbation and/or sex education important to you? Or if it isn’t, why not?

The Power of Mothers…

 

Throwing back to when I was 6

 
I’m a very lucky woman. I have a mother who dedicated herself to being a strong, loving person. Her faith in God & family have carried us through some of the toughest tragedies a family can face together.

Blessed. That’s what I’d call my life. Despite the hardships; the losses. I’m still blessed.

And my sweet little sister who stood beside me in this picture is now a mom, herself! Her journey to get there was both rocky and scary, but she’s got a core of strength, steeped in faith and love that would not be denied.

She’s going to be an amazing mother, and I couldn’t be more excited to see her share her life with the new addition she and my brother-in-law have given our family.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the message of “you can do anything and be anyone” will be passed along to my little nephew.  This Martina McBride song always reminds me of the sense of self my Mom inspired in me. I hope you love it…

And, to share my gratitude for you Mothers out there; the love you instill, the patience you exhibit, and the forgiveness that you endlessly give… I want to give something back. Go pick up a FREE copy of Four One Night on Mother’s Day. Consider it my gift to you, with love and respect for everything you do, tirelessly, day in, day out.

  

The Power of Mothers

Mothers-day

Mothers are powerful. Through them, children learn life lessons like self worth, empowerment, or sometimes…the opposite.

A mother’s feelings about her body or sexuality are often passed down and reflected in her children, particularly, daughters. A mother who diets a lot and speaks negatively about her body and weight sends the message that beauty is contingent on a very specific body image, often one that’s almost impossible to live up to.

The other day, it was driven home to me just how impressionable children are and how important a mother’s role is. A fellow author friend was lamenting the fact that her 3 year old had become convinced that she was “sick” and must stay home by her day care teacher because she’d been coughing. Apparently the teacher told her she shouldn’t be at school. My friend knew it was allergies, but because “teacher said,” her little girl could not be convinced to go to school because she was “sick.”

One word from that teacher. That’s all it took to convince a 3 year old. Wow! Is it any wonder that it got me thinking about other messages parents send their children, intentional or otherwise? I’ve shared the positive impact my own mother made on me regarding body image and sexuality….

But what does one do when the messages sent to them weren’t so uplifting? How does one go about fixing themselves so that they can be a better, stronger person for their children?  Recently I saw this video by Amy Jo Goddard and thought she had some great points…

A mother’s job is so important. She molds and builds her children to be strong, capable, productive members of society…hopefully who are also comfortable in their own skins, with their own bodies. She can raise children who aren’t afraid to embrace life, make their own decisions…and handle all the consequences, both good and bad.

What valuable lessons did your mother teach you? If your a mom, what message do you hope you’ve imparted on your children?

In honor of all the wonderful Mothers out there…and the wonderful and challenging job they have, I’m giving away my first novelette, Three For All….so go grab your Freebie and tell your friends!

Here’s a little excerpt:

“Oh, come on,” James whined. “You’re not seriously going to make me go play by myself.”

“That was a loaded statement.” I bit my tongue to keep from giggling over James’ inadvertent innuendo. “But seriously, there are always options.”

“Options?” His eyes were nearly black with intensity, his curiosity was caught. “Such as?”

“Well,” I smiled brightly and stepped between both men, “We could always head back to your uncle’s cottage. Much more privacy there.”

James shook his head as he took a step back. “Oh, hell no. This is my vacation too. We are not going back there just so I can sit all by myself in my room while you two get your freak on, christening every room in the place. Been there, done that. No thanks. Not today. Love you, but no.”

The urge to do a happy dance at the opportunity that just landed in my lap was nearly irresistible. Instead, I batted my eyes at them playfully as my hands found their way up both men’s chests, enjoying the feel of firm muscle. “Who said you had to be by yourself?”

Message Sent

I was talking to a friend yesterday. She’s the mother of three very active children… But, as we know, every child is different. Those differences extend to personality traits, clothing styles, and even appearances. Genetics can be funny in that you can have two siblings who look nothing alike…sometimes one takes after the father’s traits while the other mirrors mom. (And sometimes traits skip generations altogether…)

Why this biology lesson? Because she’d voiced her frustration about trying to find ways to reflect being a “fair” parent in the eyes of her children. Here’s where it got tricky. One child is at the perfect weight to match height and age, one is a bit underweight…the third one has tendencies towards being overweight regardless of how active the child is (and the child is active).

As we were talking she explained to me that with the underweight one she was having to find new and different ways to try to help him gain. These things included snack bars high in protein, etc. The problem was that the sibling who is a little over would see this and want one…and, unfortunately, sometimes her answer had to be, “no, baby, I’m sorry. This one just has way too many calories.”

The thing is, she struggles to find that fair line…and keeping her kids healthy and active. She’s a loving, attentive mother. It frustrates her because all she wants to do is keep her kids healthy, teach them proper eating habits and encourage things that she knows will help them with their self image in the future. She’s also been teaching them the importance of moderation…that there is nothing wrong with certain foods, but not to overindulge.

With all her careful coaching (through education on the ‘why’s’ behind the decisions she makes…in a positive, wholesome manner…which isn’t easy to do), she was quite taken aback to overhear a conversation between another mother and daughter the other day.

As she explained to me, the daughter was slender (maybe even a bit underweight) and an adorable pre-teen. She’d asked her mother if she could have something… I think maybe it was a kid’s cereal. The mother snapped at her daughter…”Do you want to be a fat cow?”

Now please don’t misunderstand… I’m okay with electing to have or not have certain types of food in the house. In fact, we don’t have soda in mine. I also grew up a vegetarian till I was about ten years old….and never felt like I was missing anything. What concerned me was the positioning of why the food wouldn’t be acceptable in the home. To me, it felt like she was sending the message to her daughter that she was either heading towards being overweight or was already there. Again, that’s just me.

It’s amazing how important a parent’s role and actions can be in a child’s body image perceptions. Am I a parent? No. But I do have a story to share… Shocker, right? 😉

I used to work with this woman. She was beautiful… Tall, willowy, blond…great shape (and boob job…that she was hugely proud of). She had a body builder boyfriend, so she made sure that she was in the kind of shape she deemed someone in his “fitness style” would have. How did she do this? She worked out like a crazy person…and she popped diet pills like they were candy. In fact, I later found out that she carried an extra pair of slacks in her car in case of an emergency. I asked the question some of you may be asking…what do you mean, in case of emergency? Well, apparently, one of the things these diet pills did was “cleanse your system”. That meant that sometimes she’d have “accidents”….that required her to change her pants!

No thank you! I don’t ever want to be that much a slave to “beauty”.

Here’s where the problem happened. She sat down across from me one day and began to vent.

Her: (big sigh) I just don’t know what I’m going to do!
Me: About what?
Her: My 12 year old is driving me crazy?
Me: Oh, being a pre-teen, huh? Those little rebellions or boy crazy?
Her: I wish! She’s doing well. She looks great. She made cheerleading this year.
Me: So what’s the problem?
Her: She’s been asking me if she can have some of my diet pills. I keep telling her she doesn’t need them! She looks great just the way she is!
Me: (tongue in cheek) Hmmm. Tell me something, Mom…. Where do you think she got the idea that she has to do all this stuff?
Her: What do you mean?
Me: Come on, Sweetie. Think about it… You look incredible…but what are you always doing? You don’t think she sees that? What message do you think you send to her every time you pop one of those pills?
Her: Well she doesn’t need them.
Me: And neither do you…but that doesn’t stop you. She looks up to you. She’s picked up on the message you send. She may be talented, smart and beautiful…just like her mom. But all she sees is all the things you do to your body.
Her: Hmmm.
Me: Just think about it….

The thing is, here in the States….we’ve got two extremes, and not enough in the middle. My buddy The Modern Philosopher tackled the issue of kids who aren’t active enough…and the opposite end of the spectrum (from a very unique point of view, I might add).

I guess my thoughts are…those of you who are parents…you have so much more influence on your children than you think, just not always the way you think. You can talk until the cows come home…but it’s what you do that people notice (and emulate).

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts. What things do you think are some tough issues that parents have to tackle? Have you seen/heard anything that’s made you kind of cringe inside? What kinds of examples have really wowed you?

For all you parents out there…you have a tough job. No one is ever perfect, but I sure do respect what you do.