Their stories began turning the pages of our imaginations before they were even born. After wondering who they would favor on the outside, our minds turned to imagining the person they would grow into. What story would unfold from the pages of their life and how can we as their initial story keepers help them write their best works. I find myself daydreaming about my children’s stories, fastforwarding in a time traveler sort of way in order to look back to the present day. How will today shape their lives?
I often reflect on how my life was shaped by the chapters that came before mine. The forward to my own story was so colorful that its pages bled onto my blank pages before I even opened my eyes. We are all born into a tale that started long ago yet has a way of staying with us today.
My father’s parents were immigrants from Ireland, making my dad first generation American born. At the tender age of three, he was placed into the foster care system of NY upon his mother’s passing. Five kids were too much for his father so he kept only the eldest son. The traumas of living with multiple foster families left its mark. My eyes widened with every story shared at the dinner table; they all sounded like works of fiction to everyone but my dad. His eyes shared the pain when words were too painful to speak.
My mother became a citizen of the United States after living in England for fourteen years without truly belonging. Her parents fled Estonia during WWII to escape their own deaths, living in the woods for months while enroute to a safer place. My mom was born in a displaced person’s camp upon arrival in Germany where she lived until the age of five. Once the American Red Cross reunited my grandfather with his family (he was a POW for two years), they applied as refugees to go to England.
By the time I reached adulthood, I developed a huge appreciation for the stories that make us who we are. I understood why my parents found one another. I knew to never pass judgement too quickly. I developed a deep sense of compassion and empathy. I learned to truly listen. I learned to truly forgive. And as I grew into my thirties, I finally understood the source of my anxiety: it was woven into my DNA. It can take up to three generations for war traumas to be cleansed from our DNA. I wiped my brow and sighed a great relief knowing that my kids should have less burdensome DNA.
But is it all burdensome? Afterall, emotional strength comes from adversity. My parents had both confronted more than their fair share of challenges. Together they created a family of their own with my brother, sister and me; there were certainly times when it felt like we were all on the learning curve together. I can see how my strengths were born from their experiences, as well as my own experiences.
So now fast forward to my own children’s stories. I sometimes question if they have enough adversity in their lives or more directly, are their lives too easy? While I never want to wish too many challenges or strife upon them, I know I want them to be emotionally intelligent and resilient. My life has certainly had pages and chapters of adversity which I now embrace more than ever as a parent. I have become a storyteller armed with powerful lessons. I am literally an open book. I have shared my (and my family’s) most vulnerable stories with them, stories that I once considered burying forever. I watch them listen to me and see myself reflected in them when I listened to my own parents’ stories. I feel myself grow stronger with every story shared, but more importantly, I see that invisible thread weaving into the cloths of their beings, strengthening their souls. So don’t hold onto your most vulnerable stories. As painful as they might be, they are treasures for your children. And what happens afterwards is priceless – they in turn share their vulnerabilities.
Can you believe it? Really can you believe it? With every new school year, I have such a hard time grasping the fact that a new school year has begun. How did time manage to pull the wool over our eyes once again? How did time manage to end what seemed like a never ending summer? Three months ago we all felt like we had endless possibilities to mold summer into what our Pinterest boards envisioned for us or felt like we could easily slash through our summer bucket lists.
Whether or not you made it through your vision of summer, the fact is the bell has been rung and classes have started. The first day of school kind of reminds me of the anticipation of Christmas or any other holiday where you feel the pressure to find the perfect gifts, arrange logistics that will please everyone, plan meals, check schedules, and have the right outfits. Consider the start of school a warmup for the holidays!
In the weeks leading up to the first day of school (literally Christmas for some of you) and into the first couple of weeks of school, we find ourselves relating to the trials and tribulations that come along with the new school year:
– After finding the exact sized binders (mom, it has to be ½ inch, not one inch), you find out that you child really needed a three-subject notebook instead.
– Then after really finding the exact sized binders and notebooks, you venture back out for forgotten dividers (which have to have pockets and are $10 more) only for your child to see binders that are indeed Pinterest worthy; commence the start of the return pile by the back door. Read More →
That is a question that our children will think back to for the rest of their lives! Many Charlotteans will be witnessing the solar eclipse very close to the path of totality. For those of you who are planners and total eclipse enthusiasts, you have had your hotel booked within the path of totality for months, even years. For those who are a little late to the game, perhaps you’re waking your kids up early for a road trip into the path of totality. Nonetheless, Charlotte is abuzz with eclipse excitement.
I have had some people ask me why I am so excited by a minute of activity (in my book the eclipse should definitely be considered more than a minute of activity). My kids even looked at me a little puzzled when I asked them to block their calendars and told them they had to view the eclipse with our family. Without going into scientific details or perhaps spiritual frames of reference, I shot my replies from the hip. Here are my top reasons as to why we must witness the eclipse: Read More →
So if you love babies like we Smarty Moms do, you are most definitely going to want to step into the life of Dr. Tiffani Jones for at least a day. Tiffani delivers babies in Charlotte while gracefully living a full and meaningful life. Tiffani’s smile is contagious and if you ever find yourself in conversation with her, you will find she is also magnetic. If her positivity and passion isn’t evident yet, then look no further than her caring and selfless children. I just love this family and know you will too!
Married to: Thaddeus Jones
Kids: Gavyn (8) and Greyson (4)
Alma Mater: Meharry Medical College
Originally From: Pontiac, Michigan
What part of Charlotte do you call home? Eastover
I was once told that things are always better when you don’t make it about you. That is how I look at delivery. While different for cesarean deliveries, for most deliveries I consider myself a guide. I take my medical knowledge, the desires of the mother, and the status of the baby/pregnancy to help guide her decisions about what to do and get their babies safely from their uterus to their arms. It is an honor to witness the joy and happiness of childbirth. Read More →
I try not to throw that word that starts with an S around too much, you know, that word that denotes a more rigid schedule, lost freedoms, early mornings, papers, projects, tests, and maybe late nights. Can you hear that? Is that the sound of your own cry resonating from the bowels of your own childhood? Or is it the sound of your highlighter excitedly marking the new school year calendar?
I have one child who just doesn’t participate in any S conversations – said child is on the fence from what I can gather. I don’t press the conversation; I know what thoughts and emotions linger in the space between us. It’s about to be a transition year, a release into new wilderness. Too much mention of S only brings in the clouds for the rest of summer. It’s as if I have the power to control the weather with my choice of words – and I want the sun to keep shining.
On the other hand, I have one child who hounds me to go school supply shopping at least every other day. I find screenshots and written lists around the house of back-to-school essentials. Said child makes MY stomach turn. “Shhh…we have plenty of time,” I whisper as I push her words away for the time being. It’s too much confrontation. And it’s not like the last school supplies are going to be swept off shelves like bread before a snowstorm anytime soon. Read More →
As a kid you told yourself that you would never ever compare your childhood to your own child’s when the time called for motivational conversation. As your mom or dad began the dreaded statement, “When I was a kid…” upon seeing you move about the house aimlessly in the summer, your eyes rolled to the back of your head. When the perceived eyeroll was caught by that superior parental peripheral vision, you complained of something in your eye that was making you look up and then spent the next few minutes looking up at the ceiling while rubbing your eye. The wrong eye. Conversation turned one sided for a few moments as you studied the imperfections in the ceiling that you never noticed before – before the summer, before the eyeroll – while your mom or dad spewed out ideas. Something about a dust cloth, weeding, getting dressed…
You then checked in with Boredom who was saddled up next to you at the kitchen table who was shaking her head “no” after your dad got to the word “encyclopedia” and something about learning. Boredom was a relentless friend who you wanted to unfriend but instead allowed to degrade your behavior down to silly noises, eating from the sugar bowl, looking for split ends, sitting in contorted ways (I guess you could get away with calling it yoga these days), studying back-to-school fliers while making yourself sick, and then back to looking at the imperfections in the ceiling and noticing that an array of bumps actually looked like a face. Your parents seemed to have a million terrible ideas on how to rid yourself of Boredom (dusting and weeding was supposed to make Boredom unfriend you). “I would never say that to my kid!” circulated throughout your stagnant grey matter.
Ultimately, most of us split up with boredom decades ago. Well the relationship just kind of slipped away without much to-do. A free moment became hard to find and you weren’t even sure what color your own ceiling was…that is until you had kids and mashed peas ended up on splattered on the ceiling – a ceiling that could use a coat of paint one Saturday when there was nothing else to do. Hundreds and even thousands of Saturdays then raced by and you finally called a painter because there was no free time to be had. You found yourself wishing for Boredom who seemed to now be a privileged friend. Read More →
If you’re looking for an easy, fun (and no mess) summer project to inspire wonderment in your children, then you definitely should check out the butterfly project we just completed. And you might be surprised by the childlike excitement that you too will experience.
We ordered painted lady butterfly caterpillars from Carolina.com and within a week, six little guys arrived in a small plastic covered cup containing all the food they would need to make their transformation. I found it amusing that the website Carolina.com takes one to a website dedicated to insects and educational items and not the Panthers, Tar Heels, or Gamecocks. Who knew!
The caterpillars were not very active upon arrival and were less than one inch in size. Within a day or two, they started feeding while leaving small web trails. They were like toddlers practicing walking. And if you think your kids grow quickly, watching caterpillars grow is like watching the world through a time lapse lense. Read More →
A couple weeks ago, I shared a story about our bunny Andie, specifically why we rehomed her and what we all learned from that chapter in our lives. Our daughter took it the hardest, ultimately blaming herself for not stepping up to the responsibility of pet ownership. We had many conversations about the lessons that surfaced, lessons that I knew would not remain on the surface but would ingrain into them.
We had no idea exactly how profound the bunny experience was for our daughter. After tears dried and life shuffled us all into next chapters, unbeknownst to us, Addie kept going back to reread those painful pages over and over. Behind closed doors, she was working on how to make a wrong a right. She needed redemption. And she missed her fuzzy friend.
For six months, Addie researched hamsters: the different types; necessary care; food; toys; cage requirements; handling requirements; and costs. She filled the pages of a one-inch binder, complete with tabs to delineate all hamster categories. She watched hours of educational videos, read blogs, and studied websites. We had no idea until she presented us with a letter and a YouTube video to show us why she was ready to take on the responsibility of pet ownership all on her own – she even saved up enough money pay for everything. Read More →
Smarties, meet Amelia Abbott, a woman effecting change in the Charlotte community. When Amelia sees a need for volunteerism, awareness, compassion, and advocacy, she doesn’t just join the ride, she helps create the movement by mobilizing others through Do Good Charlotte. Her passion breeds action that directly affects our neighbors, causes, and organizations right here. I am grateful to have women like Amelia and the other founders of Do Good Charlotte in our city, helping to create better worlds for all of our children!
Enjoy getting to know one of our Smarty neighbors and consider joining Amelia on her mission to make Charlotte an even greater city!
From? Bronxville, NY, a small suburb outside New York City.
Years in Charlotte? 13 years
Children? I have two fantastic kids – Wilson, age 9 and Jorie, age 6.
Alma Mater? Randolph Macon College in Ashland, VA.
Former career? Before moving here I worked in political fundraising in Washington, DC, and then did event marketing/sales here in Charlotte.
Do Good CLT is a group of women, mobilizing locally, to propel positive systemic change through community-building, volunteering and advocacy. We currently focus our efforts in the areas of women’s rights, education, immigration and racial reconciliation. Through partnerships with nonprofit organizations actively working in these areas, we seek first to listen and learn, and second, to identify volunteer engagement opportunities for our members. Through these relationships, we strive to form meaningful connections across the lines of race, class and status. In addition to volunteerism, Do Good CLT supports educational, community-building initiatives through participation in cultural events, facilitating panel discussions at our general membership meetings, hosting a Do Good CLT book club, and meeting with city leaders on relevant issues. Read More →
If you follow my posts, you know I write from the heart. When I first started writing for Charlotte Smarty Pants, I have to say, it felt a little uncomfortable. Why? One word: vulnerability. Once I post, I know I am potentially opening myself up to judgement.
I have a story to share involving a parenting decision that has received applause and scorn at the same time – it’s a story that I haven’t shared with many because quite honestly, it makes me feel vulnerable, and it still has the potential to unsettle me. Here is the story of Andie:
Andie was a miniature Netherland dwarf rabbit, our pet of two years. Her runt size made her the smallest of the dwarfs and allowed her to live inside, in a cage, in our sunroom. Andie was ridiculously cute. Seriously. And debunking all rabbit truths, she never bit a single person, never chewed a single item, and even loved hanging out with our dogs. Andie possessed all rabbit perfectionisms. But we were not perfect for her. Read More →