A Mother’s Wish for Her Daughter About Sex


Friends, I know this is a tricky subject that can be strewn with harsh opinions and great big fears. I share these thoughts as my nineteen-year-old daughter navigates the new world of relationships and only with her permission. My hope is to be helpful to others who may not know how to talk to their adult children about sex. IMHO, this topic applies to daughters and sons, regardless of their sexual orientation, and it shouldn't be avoided, shamed, or brushed over, rather it should be talked about with honesty, compassion and awareness. If this scares you, I get it. If this offends you, I'm sorry. If this is useful, amen. So here goes...

A mother’s wish for her daughter about sex.

It’s conflicted and pulls on my heart relentlessly.

Hopes for true love and gentleness and long gazes mix with images of a little girl who can’t possibly be old enough yet.

Concerns for her heart to be sheltered against the roller coaster of regret and fortified with conviction in a decision that just doesn’t seem to ever have the right timing, at least in her mother’s mind.

But it’s not about me. It’s about a girl who’s always had the ability to read a room and find the safe places there. It’s about a girl who feels fully and deeply with all the emotions. It’s about a girl who isn’t really a girl anymore. 

As a woman, I want her to discover the immense connection that lovers and partners can share. To explore intimacy and discover how to grow in her love, physically and emotionally. I want her to know how the strength of a marriage is partly dependent upon a commitment to loving each other and reconnecting intimately and regularly. I want her to be a good partner and I want her to know what a good partner looks like. She deserves to be loved wholly.

As a young woman, unmarried and exploring the world of relationships, I want her to be discerning, not careless. Cherished, not used. Respected and revered. I want her to take her time. I want her to know that sex is not a tool or a game or a way to barter.

As a Catholic, I want her to wait. To know the sacred bond that exists between partners for life when they give the gift of their whole selves to each other. 

As a human, I want her to know that sex is natural and beautiful and can still be sacred. Finding the balance between timing and maturity is different for everyone. But I want her to know that I will be here if she’s scared or confused or sad. Just as I will celebrate with her when she’s elated and committed and ready.

If I could have one wish for my daughter about sex, it would be that she is loved and knows how to love. That she has no regret in the decision to share the most intimate experience with her partner when she knows the timing is absolutely right. That she’s safe and in control. That her voice and the desires of her heart are heard. And that her partner realizes what a gift, a priceless, cherished gift he holds in his hands.

That is this mother's wish for her beautiful, beloved daughter.

(Photo by HOP DESIGN on Unsplash.)
Holly and Jenn

Please Don't Judge


I'm afraid for summer to end because I know in my bones how much this transition is going to hurt.

For the last ten weeks, we've enjoyed almost no routine. The three teens in my house have been living rent-free in this awesome place where someone cleans and stocks the fridge and all they have to do is make curfew (sometimes they fail at this) and do a few chores (sometimes they fail at this too). To fill the time they're not hanging with friends doing amazing things, they have video games and Netflix and all sorts of fun distractions. And then there's been napping. You guys, they haven't napped since they were toddlers. But now, we have naps again.

(I WANT A NAP!)

So herein lies the problem: they are out of practice. Reality practice. And maybe I am too, a smidge. Confession time.

My kids might not know how to read anymore, or at least read fully-formed, punctuated words in a book. Practicing math facts, novel-reading, current events...not a clue. Sorry future teachers.

I might've forgotten how to cook. No one is ever home for dinner, with work schedules and ALLTHEFRIENDS. So I haven't regularly cooked for five for a LONG time! And can someone tell me wheat kids are eating for lunch these days? I have carefully, lovingly filled the fridge with all sorts of great lunch and snack foods, but I'm pretty sure they would rather use the precious five minutes it takes to assemble lunch, to sleep or scroll or streak, so they're going to head off to school without enough fuel to nourish their brains to do the learning. (And I refuse to make their lunches...they have to learn...it's a choice not a punishment.) CRAP...see the trouble I'm in?

Also, they don't sleep in the nighttime. They go to Corky's, they have friends over to play video games and watch movies, they do those things at their friend's houses, but sleep is not a high priority. Which also means I don't sleep. Because they are like elephants with big stomping feet that can't enter a house quietly. And you better believe they become Master Chefs at 2 a.m. and cook all the things with all the pans and every possible appliance. I love waking up to a kitchen full of splatter and crumbs and shit. It's my favorite.

And how is it they don't know how to silently open/close a door? I mastered this skill as a teen who had to sneak out of the house in order to go to a 24-hour diner for onion rings at 2 a.m. because there was no way my parents would let me go to a diner at 2 a.m. for onion rings. But our kids just wake us up, say they're heading to Corky's with their friends and we say OK because SUMMER and onion rings are awesome. Oh to be young. In the meantime, we've robbed our children of learning a priceless skill of covertly/quietly opening and closing doors. So I guess it's my fault that I haven't slept through the night in 10 weeks. Thus, the desperate need for a nap.

This nocturnal behavior also means they've forgotten how to wake up early. Unless work or something fun FORCES them to set an alarm, they just haven't heard one this summer. Proof that next week is going to be really painful. I'm also not sure the last time my boys used shampoo. Rinsing off after a surf counts, right? And didn't I read on FB that chlorine kills more germs than Pantene? So maybe they're fine. At least they do their own laundry and they don't stink.

So here's the thing...I think we're all going to need some re-entry grace around here. Like Jen Hatmaker says, we just can't expect much from our kids the week or two that they're getting back in the routine of things. I'm here to declare that it goes both ways.

Kids, please know that this transition is hard for parents too. We don't want to nag. We don't want to have to remember all the things YOU need to do while your brain re-learns how to think and plan and execute multi-step tasks. I don't want to check School Loop daily because you ignore it. To me, School Loop is offensive because it implies that I am somehow responsible for your homework. I am not.

But I will look at School Loop. I will assist with lunches. I will help with lists. I will check up and check in. FOR TWO WEEKS ONLY. Really. I'm giving you a two-week grace period to figure it out. And believe me, if you put your phone down for two minutes, I know you can do it.

Friends, if any of this sounds familiar, I stand with you in solidarity. Let's give them two weeks to get their shit together. And then, we start smashing devices and taking away driving privileges. Okay?

By the way, I might need a vacation. Is it summer yet. Is it just me?

Peace and strength be with them, and us.

{J}
Holly and Jenn

Four Lessons From Our Social-Media-Slow-Down


Social media detox, Facebook fast, Instagram break...have you ever done it? It's all the rage!

Holly and I haven't been completely off the grid, but we have definitely shifted into low gear the last couple of months. At first, it was because of ALL.THE.THINGS. Kids finishing the school year, moms finishing the school year, vacation-planning, book-editing, oh, and working and wifing and parenting. The time we had was spent doing the things that needed doing.

But then, something interesting happened. We kinda didn't miss it. Don't get me wrong, we love our people. FIERCELY LOVE! So, during the quasi-break, when we would jump back into the interwebs, we focused on them. We posted some stuff. We commented and liked some stuff. But we found we weren't as addicted to the stuff.

Here are some of the things we discovered whilst reducing our scrolling time:
  1. More time for other things we enjoy - like family time, relaxing, friends time, reading, and obviously more writing. We still captured the memories with pictures but we were selective about the ones we shared. Life's moments seemed a bit more sweet and meaningful when we decided to be immersed in them.
  2. Less procrastination - spiraling into endless feeds as a way to ignore laundering the whole house, parenting the wild teens, writing all the words, and other necessary jobs, was a bad habit and just delayed the inevitable. We felt better just getting all the $#%@ done. And being more intentional about our social media visits was stabilizing. Say it with me...MODERATION.
  3. More productive use of our limited time - less time on FB and Instagram and Twitter meant more time writing and editing and planning. We're getting ready to submit to some awesome agents we met at our last workshop so this was so helpful. (More to come on our progress soon.)
  4. Less green - anyone ever feel a tad bit envious of all the amazing things in your feed? No? Well, then you can skip this point. But if yes, then this is for you. You, we, pretty much everyone around us, we're all amazingly blessed. Being present in your blessings and ingesting less of what the world tells you your life should look like, helps you know that truth. Really know it.
As writers, it's important for us to engage with the cyber-sphere so we will never fully withdraw from social media, nor do we want to. The world is full of interesting people doing interesting things, and we are all those people. Mindfulness and balance have helped us learn how to navigate these worlds in a healthy, helpful, harmonious way.

Have you ever taken a break? Do you want to? We'd love to know what you think.

Oh, and we missed you too! xoxoxo

{J & H}

Photo cred: Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
Holly and Jenn

Summer Is...



Good vibes only.
Toes buried deep in the cool sand.
Long, lingering walks anywhere.
Adventure around every corner.
Vacations, staycations, leisurely days at home.
Family time.
No routine. 
Saying YES more.
Bike rides, beach days, bonfires, BBQs.
Healthy, yummy salads.
Followed by froyo or ice cream or gelato.
Books to fall in love with.
Movie theater visits, extra popcorn.
Netflix binge-watching with your girl before she moves to college.
Quiet mornings and a cup of tea while the kids sleep in.
Long nights playing your favorite music.
Cold drinks with the best of friends.
Less social media, more phone calls.
Mindfulness.
Making memories.
Life is sweet, in the summer.
Holly and Jenn

When Writers Really Need The Right Words...


Writing conferences...we LOVE them!! Truly! It's in this environment where a writer can feel all the creative energy and hopefulness that budding authors share. Professional editors, literary agents, and publishing folks, gift us their insights, experiences, and nitty-gritty. They give honest feedback on ideas and map out the various paths to publication. Writing conferences are FULL of good stuff.

Now, I have to be honest because that's just the way it works here, writing conferences are also very stressful. For the authors who have spent years working and dreaming and re-working their projects, it's just another opportunity for someone to imply that they aren't good enough. That their idea is overdone or too obscure, either way, unsaleable. (That's a real word...a nasty one in my opinion.)

But if you really want to be a published author, as in any profession, you have to take the good with the bad. And with a little preparation and grit, you can learn how to make the most of the not-so-fun parts of any job, right?

Writing conferences can build and tear down. They can inform and overwhelm, inspire and discourage. It's really up to you.

So this is the trick. Writers, aspiring authors, dreamers: we have to learn how to be game-players, in the most authentic, humble sense of the term. Here are some tips:

  1. Prepare for a conference like you do a job interview. Present yourself in every setting as someone who's serious about their writing career, even if you're just starting out. Practice your pitch with your family and friends, perhaps strangers. Get feedback and refine it. Arrive early, engage with the conference faculty and attendees, build relationships and take notes. Smile. :-)
  2. Create a list of talking points, the three most important things about your book, and make sure the information is relevant to the industry professionals you plan to talk with. Comparable books/authors, the audience and genre, and why the world needs your book. Start there.
  3. Do your research. Each literary agent has a web page with details on what they like and who they represent. Follow them on Twitter. Look up #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) to learn about trends. Maybe your book doesn't fall into a trendy box...that's ok. New is great!! Just know how/why it's great and practice selling it.
  4. Set your expectations in line with where you are in your writing journey. If you haven't let anyone see any of your words on page, or if you are stuck on chapter one, you're not quite ready to fully pitch your book yet. Still go to the conference. Attend the workshops that will answer the questions you have at the beginning stage of your project. Still talk to people, you can pitch your idea and state honestly where you are in the process. Every author started at the beginning once. And feedback at every stage is essential.
  5. Prepare your work. If you have a complete book and plan to pitch to agents or editors, make sure your work is the best it can be. Have you received feedback yet? It doesn't have to be a professional editor (though they are amazing and if you can invest in yourself, you won't be sorry), but at least someone who reads a lot and loves you enough to be honest. Even better, find a critique group. Send your words out in the world and see how they fare before you pass them over to the pros.  
  6. Believe in yourself. This may sound obvious but humble self-confidence is REQUIRED if you want to be a published author. And if you spend time doing the first five steps above, you'll find that goes a long way to helping you believe.
Anyone else heading off to San Diego Writing Workshop tomorrow? We're looking forward to some great workshop sessions, and pitching to four awesome agents. 

Wish us luck and all the right words. 

Love you all,

{J & H}

Photo credit: Debby Hudson: Unsplash

Holly and Jenn

#wefriendsohard


Growing into momhood with friends that are trustworthy, authentic and ever-available, is quite a gift! In honor of Sue-Marie's birthday, this gang went to happy hour at Tannin's (YUM) and then visited our mobile recording studio...That's where the magic happened. Check out episode 6 here

#wefriendsohard #mftweekendinjuly #onepieceswerediscussed #laughingismyfavorite #wearesowhite

Love to ALL our amazing friends who've grown up with us through all the Mommy-years!

{J&H}
Holly and Jenn

And Then They Were Teens


Teenagers. Between us, we have five, although Ella is close. Perhaps pre-teen girls get a couple years added to their age. Because it really feeeeels like we have six. And man, they are all complicated.

Here's the disclaimer: we love our children. Like the feel it in your bones, aching in your heart, keep you up at night, kind of love. We do not regret them or wish to turn them in for a different batch or yearn to go back and do it differently. KIDS, WE LOVE YOU!!! YOU HEAR US? LOOOOVVVVEEEE!!!

And now, parents of teens? We have some possibly-shocking information to share. Spoiler alert: parents of young ones, perhaps you want to stop here. You have the benefit of littles who make everything magical, even when they make you crazy. Teens take things to an all new level. Your blissful ignorance is at stake here. You have been warned.

Ok, so parents of teens, these are some of the things that we, and other friends who will remain unnamed to protect the innocent, are learning about:

  • Teen drivers use their phones and drive fast. Most of them. Maybe all of them. They also drive with people in their cars, regardless of your rules or the policeman's rules. Nothing bad can happen. They are immune to the four million possibilities that flash across our minds, inducing unparalleled fear. Even though we know nothing. Still, talk about the rules and possibilities. 
  • Teens in relationships are heavily motivated by their hormones. And sex is not a big deal. Even though we tell them all the physical, emotional, and holy repercussions. Again, we don't know what we're talking about. But keep talking anyway. 
  • Teens know the name of the local drug dealer at their high school. Whether they're experimenting or not. They can "hook you up." Just ask them. Drugs are everywhere. If your teen has gone outside, to a hang-out, a party, a dance, one of the various centers in Ladera, your teen has likely seen a drug or a druggy. Talk to them often about what to do in those scenarios. "Just Say No" is just so 80's. 
  • Teens don't buy kegs and fill red solo cups. They buy hard liquor and fill red solo cups. This is a problem. Speak loud and regularly about alcohol. A side note, if you feel compelled to be the "cool safe house," please don't serve teens-that-aren't-your-own unless you've personally spoken with their parents about it first. This is one of those instances when "Every Child is Our Child" doesn't apply. 
  • Teens with social media...there are a million articles out there about the effects on mental health, access to all-bad-things, changes to attitude, go read those. But know this, social media is here to stay. Best to help the less mature ones in our charge navigate and self-limit it. Abstinence is probably not the answer. Awareness probably is.
  • Teens listen to terrible music with horrifying lyrics. Don't react like our parents did when "Like a Virgin" hit the scene. (I think it's fine.) Because teens also LOVE the great music of the olden days, also know as, the 70's/80's. In this one area, they actually wish they were us. Capitalize on that as much as possible. Music has huge power. And if you haven't seen Bohemian Rhapsody yet, family movie night for sure!! Everyone will love it!
  • Teens love food. You wield great influence when you use food to attract the masses. And you can learn so much watching your kids and their friends. But don't be obvious. Use teeny-tiny chip bowls that need constant refilling. Make cookies or pizzas or sushi, WHATEVER, in batches. Keep them close and turn on your ears. It's equal parts entertaining and frightening.
I think I've covered the basics: sex, drugs, rock n' roll. The take-aways: communication and presence! Our teens want us up in their business in their lives, even if they won't admit to it. 

And it isn't easy. They are moody, erratic, lazy and loud. They smell, curse and make bad decisions. But they are also passionate, innovative, loyal and bright. They give the best hugs, make us laugh, and remind us that we were once just like them. We turned out alright, right? We need to love them through all of the hard, messy parts. And that means we need to know about those things, even though ALL OF IT keeps us up at night.

So go forth and parent, shepherds of teens. If it's hard, you're showing up. And you are not alone.  

Love and strength be with you. 

xoxox,
Jenn
Holly and Jenn