Lessons in Parenting: The Power of the Parental Response

I’m far from a perfect parent. Far from a perfect human, really…and I learn lessons about parenting pretty much every single hour of every single day. And every time I stop and reflect on a lesson I’ve learned I think: damn, that is the most important thing I’ve learned about parenting ever!

Until the next time, an hour later.

And this happens pretty much daily. So, I’ve learned a lot. And they are all important.

I don’t write about them all, though perhaps I should and maybe someday I will. I do write and share regularly about the journey of parenting, not as an expert, but as one parent learning as she goes and wanting other parents to not feel so alone in any aspect of this crazy wild ride we are all on. So, recently, I was blessed with another learning moment, and I felt compelled to write about this one – another most important lesson I’ve learned about parenting – because I know that this situation could have, and often does go a very different way, and I thought it was important to note, and take stock of, the difference.

So as of this moment, I think the most important lesson I have learned in parenting is how important it is how you respond to situations with your children. Now, this might not be news to anyone else, and truth be told, it isn’t actually earth-shattering new news to me either – but sometimes the reminder, in the moment, is important.

Which brings me to the events leading up to the lesson…

Kiddo was outside finishing up some #oahurocks painting so we could distribute our rocks for other local hikers to find. Dollops of paint on a plate, paper down as a protective canvas. Water for cleaning her brushes. Rocks to paint designs on and hide all over Oahu and, when we move back to the mainland, some of our favorite places there too. You know, ‘curated fun’ with the hope it staying sort of manageably clean (c’mon mom, are you serious?) but with the expectation it was going to get very, very messy.

The painting was fun. And then I walked inside to finish cleaning the kitchen and washing the dishes (which was less fun). And within a few minutes of relative “more than quiet, quiet” I peeked out onto the back-lanai (patio in Hawaii) to our make-shift artist studio and, not fully surprisingly noticed, our wonderful little kiddo had proceeded to paint her hands. And not just paint her hands, but full-on, immersed herself in paint, paint her hands.

Of course she had. There was paint. And she’s four. What else would she have done once the rocks were finished? Anyone with a brain in their head would think the obvious next step from the rocks would be the hands.

And even though I wasn’t expecting it, I wasn’t immediately angry either. But, she hid from me as I came out, worried, I know, how I might react so she was definitely thinking my immediate reaction would be anger.

Now, let’s pause here for a moment to acknowledge that HER immediate worry was that I would be angry. I’ll get back to that in a moment.

For sure, with this unexpected little detour into messiness, I could have yelled, or been angry, or huffed and puffed with frustration.

I could have rolled my eyes and made her pick everything up, showing my disapproval.

And then, with each of those responses, her creative spark would have been extinguished and she would have felt like she was in trouble for being creative.

In parenting, you have like a split second to decide in most cases how you are going to respond to any situation. If you are tired, frustrated, in a hurry, exhausted (all the things IMG_6799we are as parents, all the time), you may, like me, end up acting or reacting in a way that is probably an overreaction and, within a few minutes of relative calm and clear headedness, you wish you hadn’t done.

No, I’m the only one? 

I doubt that….but, I’m not writing to guilt anyone – including myself – about how we sometimes probably likely wish we responded differently to situations with our children.

This is the typical situation (tell me if this sounds familiar): Your child does something you really wished they hadn’t, or, sometimes, you expressly told them not to. You get angry. Then you yell or lose your temper. And then your child reacts to your reaction, often in ways that have been escalated due to the upset parent reaction.

Often we enter what parents know well as “full on meltdown mode”. No fun for parent, or for kiddos.

It’s a viscous cycle. And not an uncommon one. But sometimes we lose our shit, and we have to give ourselves a little grace about that. Parenting is hard, and all we can do is take a step back after those not-so-ideal moments and realize we could have handled that differently, and think about HOW we could have handled that differently, so that next time, maybe we can.

So, in this one particular moment of the rock-turned-hand painting moment, I had the micro-second to realize that 1) she had not made too huge of a mess 2) it was water-based paint 3) she’s four AND – and this to me is the most important part here 4) she was TOTALLY waiting on my reaction.

And I had, in this tiny moment, the realization that any frustration I had was about ME. And having to “clean up a mess”, about time out of my busy day that I wasn’t planning on – – but when I looked at the face of my daughter, I realized very quickly, she didn’t see a mess. She saw fun, and creative play, and art, and beauty.

So instead, I broke what may be a more typical cycle or response and instead I said: “Thank you for not touching the door handle with your painty hands! Do you want me to get you some paper so you can make some pictures?”

IMG_6795Ok. Stop the presses here for just a hot minute. Friends, I gotta tell you, the smile that lit up her face was almost too much. Realizing that I had gotten this one right (sometimes I don’t, if I’m being totally, brutally honest), her happiness and relief and even her excitement and pride – it was beaming from her whole little body and I quite seriously got tears in my eyes.

Now, just for a moment, let’s go back to the response she was expecting from her mother. And, if I’m being totally honest with you all, the response that I just as easily could have given – anger, frustration, annoyance. Based on her reaction, this was the response she was expecting because, I am certain of it, I have responded enough like this in the past to make her expect that response.

That breaks my heart. In that moment, I vowed to continue to try to do better, every moment.

Loads of research exits that can help us understand the behavior of children and as a parent who is always looking for advice to be a better parent, I’ve read the research. A lot of it. I have books like Scream Free Parenting and The Conscious Parent on my bookshelf, well-worn and dog-eared. These books and all the research talks to us about those behaviors that can drive even the most calm parent among us to our breaking point, and how and what we are supposed to do in those moments.

That research reminds us in a lot of these situations, it’s not that kids are “being bad” but that, children often respond with emotional outbursts, hurtful words, or tantrums because this is the only way they know, in the moment, to show us how upset they are. When a child does something upsetting, and we respond with heightened emotions and being upset, we often escalate the tantrum situations (not always, but often).

According to Psychology Today, “children don’t yet have the frontal cortex neural pathways to control themselves as [adults] do. The best way to help children develop those neural pathways is to offer empathy, while they’re angry and at other times. It’s ok — good, actually — for child[ren] to express those tangled, angry, hurt feelings. After we support kids through a tantrum, they feel closer to us and more trusting. They feel less wound-up inside, so they can be more emotionally generous. They aren’t as rigid and demanding.”

But those books, and all the research, they aren’t there with us in those moments, are they?

And sometimes, our own emotions get the best of us, don’t they?

So, again, as parents, we are on the long-road journey and if in some moments we react before taking a moment to breathe and change our reaction, we can always remind ourselves to do better the next time.

And there’s always a next time. Parenting is a never-ending gig.

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 8.41.00 PMMy next time came just a few moments later when my daughter looked up at me and said excitedly, “mama, can I do a footprint too??” And I really wanted to say ‘no’ and I started to say ‘no’ but just asked instead “well, how will we make sure we don’t get paint from your feet all over the lanai?” And she said “you could bring me a paper towel?” with a hint of a little uptick in her intonation…wondering, hoping…


Yes, yes baby I can.

So, she made gorgeous, messy hands and feet art this weekend. And I let her. And it was messy and the world didn’t end.

And I honestly cry at the fact that I almost missed this moment. To capture her perfectly adorable 4.5 year-old footprints in paint. I look at these pieces of paper, and I get all teary-eyed again.

This could have gone so differently. What if I had yelled or gotten upset or let my frustration get the better of me?  What if the cycle of my response and reactions had been different?

I imagine I would have had an upset daughter, I wouldn’t have these beautiful footprints, and she wouldn’t have the memories of enjoying this play and creativity, and we’d both be upset for no good reason.

Instead, she is proud of her art. She even helped clean up without me asking. And I am sitting at the table writing this with tears in my eyes looking at a tiny footprint memorializing a moment of a parenting win.


Sources: Markham, Laura. “When Your Child Gets Angry: Here’s Your Gameplan.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Apr. 2017, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/peaceful-parents-happy-kids/201704/when-your-child-gets-angry-heres-your-gameplan.

My child choked, and I knew what to do…

Public Service Announcement…from one parent to all other parents. 
If you have not taken a CPR/First Aid course ever, or lately…please seriously consider doing so. If you have kiddos, I’d make this request urgent. If you have older kids in the home, have them come to the class with you.
I’ve been a lifeguard since I was 15, have been a lifeguard instructor, have taken and taught CPR and First Aid classes basically every year since I was 13 and have been a first repsonder – I’m not freaked out by blood and I feel pretty confident that in an emergency, I’m the one you want with you.
And despite all this, it is wholly different when it’s your own child.IMG_4678
Last night, my child choked. Sitting across the table from me, at dinner, in our home, while my husband was deployed – my only child choked.
She is, thankfully and most importantly, all right. 
But, this was a full-on choking incident. Not just coughing for a bit because something was stuck and she could still breathe.
Not just “something went down wrong”.
My child was sitting across the dinner table from me and she started choking.
There was one cough. One high pitched whistle (it’s called stridor). Then nothing. Her eyes were super wide, she was very clearly scared.
Again, I know what to do…but this was MY kid….
She sort of “fell” off the chair she was sitting on, trying to get around to my side of the table.  I feel like I basically leapt across the table to meet her where she was, her hands grasped tightly up to her neck (turns out, the universal sign for choking is, in fact, universal even for five year olds).
I hit her on the back and asked her if she could cough — tried to get her to cough, said “honey, please cough”. She looked up at me with eyes wider than I have ever seen and she shook her head no…no coughing.
I got down on my knees and did the Heimlich, kid version…nothing.  It was not a pleasant feeling to feel the power of my adult arms squishing and squeezing my daughter’s body – and knowing that it was not helping, that she was still choking, unable to breathe.
Thankfully, my kiddo is tiny and I picked her up, like you would do for a smaller child, or a baby, and did the back blows with her head facing toward the ground — body propped on my arm, against my thigh…
Four blows to the back. Pretty forcefully, truth be told.
Out came several chunks of food.
But can we just pause for a second and let this sink in?  I had to Heimlich my child and that did not work and then, I had to deliver four forceful blows to her back in order to clear her airway so she could breathe.  I held my baby, our child, in my arms and had to deliver back blows in order to, quite seriously, save her little life.
If I did not know what to do, I’m not sure what would have happened. Turns out, I did. I did know what to do.
According to the New York State Department of Health, “choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of 5” and for children in this age range “the most common cause of nonfatal choking in young children is food.”
My child is 4.5 years old.  Her food was cut up into pretty reasonably bit sized pieces.  I was sitting at the table with her.  As we sat at dinner chatting about our day, I did not think at all about the fact that “at least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the U.S.” and that on top of that, more than 12,000 kids head to local ERs every year for choking-related injuries.
Now those statistics are seared into my brain. 
Now, I also feel more strongly than ever that anyone with kids, and frankly, just everyone, should take a CPR and First Aid class. Yes, they have them online, but I don’t feel like those prepare you in the same was as feeling what chest compressions, and back blows, and the Heimlich FEEL on a body — even the mannequins they use prepare you for the feeling of this better than watching a video.  And to be fair, and totally transparent, I have DONE Heimlich, rescue breathing, AND CPR on real people before in my work as a first responder and lifeguard.
It is different when it is your own child.
I remained calm, yes, and my child is now OK, but please know, this freaked me out more than anything has  – ever.
So I implore you – find your local CPR and First Aid class and sign up.  Maybe – hopefully – you will never FullSizeRenderneed it.  And maybe critics would say that taking just taking a class once is not sufficient, and perhaps that is true – and I would have to say I agree – but one class is a start.
In our house, last night, there were tons of tears afterwards, loads of cuddling, and constant checking all night long to make sure she was all right and safe. I, for sure, did not sleep a bit last night but sat up and watched her sleep a little more restlessly than normal.
In the end, yes, she is fine this morning. She will probably chew her food a little more from now on. But here’s the thing. She’s almost five. And she was NOT messing around, being goofy, doing anything “wrong.” She really was JUST eating. And this happened.
If I didn’t know what to do, I do not want to even imagine the article I would be writing this morning.
Check out American Red Cross  or The American Heart Association or your local Fire Department to find CPR and First Aid classes near you.
“Choking Injuries and Deaths Are Preventable.” Choking Prevention for Children, Apr. 2007, http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/choking_prevention_for_children.htm.

To My Husband, On The First Night Of Deployment


Spent some early time contemplating through writing all that this deployment is about to bring…and my latest piece, which I posted fully below, was picked up by HuffPost (link to that here: https://tinyurl.com/yabnm46r)  and will be run on

Scary Mommy

later this week (linked here).


Dear husband,
I already miss you, and it’s only the first night of this deployment.
I almost forgot on my way home from work that you wouldn’t be there when I returned today. Sigh. As I walked our daughter home from school, she had forgotten too, rambling on about how excited she was to show you the newest drawing she made at school. Double sigh.
These first days are always the most challenging. We aren’t used to new routines yet, our heart is still heavy from the tears of the goodbye. There is the ever-present anxiety of a new normal of never knowing when the next time we will hear from you, speak to you, or even see your face.
Yes, these early days ― this first day ― is always the hardest, harder still for me, I think, now that we have a daughter, one that is old enough to feel the difference but too young yet to comprehend the reality.
Today is the hardest day.
Tomorrow I will start my deployment plans, the ones I make each time we go through this. No matter how long or short the deployment, no matter how unexpected the timing, there are always plans: clean this, organize that, accomplish this, learn that.
Tomorrow those will begin. But, tonight, this hardest night, I am simply sitting, sipping on a glass of red wine that would be much tastier with you here, listening to the silence of our home.
Missing you. Already.
Earlier, I tucked our daughter into bed ― yes, our bed (there goes not co-sleeping anymore) ― and read her three more stories than normal in order to settle her down and try to help her understand that, no you wouldn’t be home tonight, or tomorrow, or the next night. I failed miserably at these explanations, in case you were wondering.
Instead, I watched her fall asleep from the rocking chair in the corner of our room, noticing how tightly she hugged your daddy doll and your pillow; she would not let me leave the room, she kept opening one eye to make sure I was still there…
Tomorrow I will make the bedtime routine a little quicker and use the time in the evening to finish the laundry, empty the dishwasher, catch up on emails, and episodes of “Scandal”… but tonight, it’s the first night of our over-half-a-year deployment and the house is much too quiet without you and all I want to do is watch our daughter sleep in the space where you normally lie.
Tomorrow I will worry about all the toys that we didn’t pick up today before bed.
Tomorrow I will work on my next piece of writing.
Tomorrow I will get in touch with our command families and the various support groups in order find out when the family meetings are held so that I can at least connect, occasionally, with other spouses who understand the unique circumstances we are in and so that our daughter can be with other children who are, like her, missing their daddies and mamas.
Tomorrow I will figure out which days of the week I will go to Target, the commissary, and the “regular” grocery store in between the days of Hula classes and soccer and neighborhood playdates for our daughter.
Tomorrow I will start putting together your first care package.
Tomorrow I will organize the office.
Tomorrow I will figure out what meal planning for one adult and one picky toddler looks like.
Tomorrow I will build a new fitness routine for myself, that includes twice-a-day workouts because… well, that’s how I roll (and you know that about me).
Tomorrow I will remember to mow the lawn and water the plants (hopefully).
Tomorrow I will start catching up on some television shows I’ve skipped in lieu of our spending quality time together and maybe start a few new ones to binge-watch.
Tomorrow I will (maybe) clean our bedroom closet.
Tomorrow I will start planning out the weekly and monthly milestones that I set for myself to make the time pass more quickly (a 5k here, a wine and painting class there, taking the car in for an oil change sometime…)
Tomorrow I will worry about what I’ve missed: writing down a date for a license tag renewal, the date that recycling comes, an account number for the cable, or a due date for something I don’t even remember we have.
Tomorrow I will figure out ways to keep our daughter feeling connected to you these next several months, and you to her.
Tomorrow I will make my house cleaning schedule and write it down to actually hold myself accountable.
Tomorrow I will work on finding the words to explain the sadness our daughter and I both feel not having you home for dinner, or our evening walk, or our weekend hikes.
Tomorrow I will start to re-organize the spaces in our home that I’ll spend the most time in while you are away and that I know (and have to already smile at this) will drive you nuts when you get home (don’t worry, we can go back to “our way” when you are back).
Tomorrow I will re-learn what “solo-parenting” means and looks like for me.
Tomorrow I will still miss you but will feel less sad about it.
Tomorrow I will start to “get on” with this new normal, this deployment life of learning to juggle the work-life-mommying balance without you.
But tonight I sit.  Wishing you were here and already looking forward to seeing your face again — in many — too many — months.
On this first night of deployment, my love, I am sitting here missing you but also thankful for the sacrifices you make every day to keep us safe here at home. I am sitting here missing you, but feeling so proud and honored to be your wife and partner in life.
And that will not change. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
Fair winds and following seas, my love. Or as we say here in our current home: Makani ʻOlu a Holo Mālie.
Your loving wife,
#navywifelife #military #motherhood #deployment #deploymentlife #navy #milspouse #militarylife #militarylove #usnavy
Dr. Colleen Green is an advocate for global equity in education and works, nationally and internationally, as a educational consultant providing trainings for public, charter, and independent school educators. She lives in Oahu, Hawai’i with her family where she serves as the Director of Accreditation and Licensing for the Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools. When she is not writing, teaching, planning projects or training other educators, she works as a fitness and running coach, enjoys marathons and triathlons, and loves spending time doing just about anything outdoors with her husband and four year old daughter. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.



This is Where She Knows

Yeah, we don’t cosleep anymore.

Except, again, when we do.

We didn’t at first either and then we did. And then, well, she was bigger and we needed to sleep and so we transitioned her back into her own bed.

But as all parents of small children know, all too well, parenting is a pivoting dance of what you need versus what they need.

Most times what they need – these tiny humans who rely on you for love and care – most times what they need take precedence.

So every night I watch her through the glow of a monitor and about a dozen times a night I want to go back in to her room and bring her into bed with us so I can hear her breathing next to me and smell her sweet smell and feel her little toes curl against my leg as she sleeps.

And then I doze off again.

Some nights she stays in her bed all night.

Some nights I hear the little pitter patter of her feet down the hallway to our room three hours after she has gone to bed; other times it’s a whole six to eight hours.

We don’t turn her away.

We bring her pillow and stuffed animal and water bottle into our room.

We help her climb sleepily onto our bed and nuzzle in next to us.

Of course this is where she wants to be – where it’s warm and she can reach out and pat our arms, and she can nuzzle and nudge her way into the curves of our bodies, tucked warmly beneath the covers.

Before I became a parent, I would have never considered cosleeping. It would be uncomfortable. I would not sleep as well. I need to honor that space with my partner. Yet, the older our daughter gets, I am shocked at how comfortable I have become with putting her needs first.

I take care of myself, to be sure, but her needs come first – always.

And so that has come to be true with sleeping. Sometimes she is able to go back to sleep in her own bed after a bad dream, or waking for a drink, or just losing a stuffed animal in the folds of the covers.img_3102

Sometimes she is able to settle back into her blissful rest and I am able to sleep without her little body wedged against mine.

Sometimes she cannot. The dreams are too scary. She wants to hold my hand. Or place her tiny arm around me and assure me “you’ll be OK, mama” – and I know full well that even without having the words to express it, her being next to me assures HER that SHE will be Ok.

And so, our cosleeping journey continues. It is not perfect nor is it always comfortable, but it is right – for us and for her.

This is where she knows she is safe.

This is where she knows she is loved.

This is where she knows.

And I know, in my heart, for as long as she needs me, there’s no other place I’d rather she be.


Revision Note: This piece is revised from an earlier post.  You can follow more of my writing and daily musings, on parenting and life on my Facebook page at Colleen Warwick Green and at Twitter at twitter.com/prepsterhippy

This is Where She Knows

Yeah, we don’t cosleep anymore.

Except, again, when we do.

We didn’t at first either and then we did. And then, well, she was bigger and we needed to sleep and so we transitioned her back into her own bed.

And every night I watch her through the glow of a monitor and about a dozen times a night I want to go back in to her room and bring her into bed with us so I can hear her breathing next to me and smell her sweet smell and feel her little toes curl against my leg as she sleeps.

And then I doze off again.

Some nights she stays in her bed all night.

Some nights I hear the little pitter patter of her feet down the hallway to our room three hours after she has gone to bed; other times it’s a whole six to eight hours.

We don’t turn her away.

this-is-where-she-knowsWe bring her pillow and stuffed animal and water bottle into our room.

We help her climb sleepily onto our bed and nuzzle in next to us.

Of course this is where she wants to be – where it’s warm and she can reach out and pat our arms, and she can nuzzle and nudge her way into the curves of our bodies, tucked warmly beneath the covers.

This is where she knows she is safe.

This is where she knows she is loved.

This is where she knows.

And I know, in my heart, for as long as she needs me, there’s no other place I’d rather she be.


PUBLISHING NOTE:  originally posted this on my Facebook page and in a few groups.  I had over a thousand likes/hearts in the groups and over a hundred messages from mothers and fathers with whom this resonated.  It’s a short post, but I’m putting it on my blog here just because it seems to have made an impact on so many readers.

You can follow me on my journey on Facebook at: Colleen Warwick Green



An open letter to President Elect Trump, from one loving parent to another

Dear Mr. President-Elect Trump,

The other day I was in our kitchen and emptying the dishwasher for what seemed like, Processed with Snapseed.I have to say, the tenth time in two days, and I was in hurry to get off to work and, in my hurry, I dropped and broke a dish. When it happened, you can imagine, I think, my frustration – and I yelled out a “mother fucker”, loudly.  And guess who was standing a few feet away, watching me the whole time? My three year old daughter.  I grimaced and she said, “What’s wrong mama?” and I replied, “Nothing, Honey. Mama just broke a dish.”  

In my head, I’m thinking, “Shit, you have to stop swearing in front of her!” (and no, the irony of my response in my own head is not lost on me). As I was cleaning the broken dish up off the floor, my three-year-old purposefully threw her doll on the floor and yelled, in her lispy-little voice, “Fuck!”  

I had broken a dish on accident and cursed out of lack of self control and awareness.  She did this on purpose, but because she was mimicking me. Her words, like echoes of tarnished innocence,  played on loop in my mind, reminding me each time that,  as her mother, I had to do better, to be better.  

And yet, three days later, in the car on our way to swim lessons, traffic was heavy and we were running a bit late and other drivers were being, well, annoying.  Or maybe I was just annoyed that, once again I had gotten out of work a little later than I’d liked and that set off a chain of events that had left me frustrated and running behind.  When a car changed lanes in front of me, a little closer than I would have liked, I mumbled, “Asshole! Stupid driver! What are you doing?”

“Who is stupid mama?” my daughter asked.  

“Nobody,” I replied, to which she said, “Oh, Asshole?”  

Again, at that moment, as her mother, I knew I had to do better.  

To be honest, Mr. Trump, we don’t agree on much, but as parents, I am sure we can agree upon this: My child is my whole world, this three-year-old girl.  She looks up to me, her mother. And I’m not perfect, but I strive to be better every single day, for her.  When I had her, I became tasked with the biggest job I have ever had. I’m tasked with being a role model.  I’m tasked with leading by example in both my thoughts and actions.  I’m tasked with being more patient, more understanding, more open minded because she’s three and she can’t do those things yet on her own, I have to teach her, show her, model for her.

And sometimes I fail.  Big, messy, epic-parenting fails.  

And then I apologize. I explain that “Mommy is sorry. I said some things that aren’t nice because I was upset.”  I know that not everything she says that’s inappropriate is going to be my fault, but I have to know that if I’m not careful about my words, these little eyes that are always watching and little ears that are always listening are going to pick up on that and will begin to think it’s OK for her too.

And it’s not OK for her too.  Right?  I think, as a parent, you’d probably agree with me there?Processed with Snapseed.

As a parent, when I unintentionally or not set an example for my daughter that is less than ideal, when I fall short, when I make a mistake, I have to acknowledge that I have done so.  I have to tell my daughter that, very clearly, so that she knows that what mommy did was not OK and that I don’t want her to do those same things.  I have to explain that I made a mistake, and I might not be proud of it, but that I want her to do better and for her to know that I will try to do better myself.  This, is my role as her parent.

So, that’s why I’m writing to you tonight Mr. President-Elect Trump.  I know you are not my parent, but you will be my President in just a few months.  And, much like I am the parent to my daughter, you are assuming the role, in many ways and albeit figurative, as parent to our nation.  And while we aren’t all three-year-olds, sometimes we still operate like them – we watch and listen and model OUR behavior on those who are leading us, who we look up to.

You are now tasked to lead us.  You are tasked with guiding us.  You are tasked with modeling tolerance, understanding, and acceptance.  That is such a large part of the ‘parenting gig’ and in many ways, honestly, it’s a large part of the ‘Presidential gig’ too.  You are the parent of a nation now, and that nation – and all it’s friends, near and far – are watching.  

I shared my confessions about things I’ve said that I wish I could take back because I get it– when frustrated, we all say things we regret. And let’s face it: You’ve said some things in this campaign that some people are scared and nervous and upset about.  And, like when I broke the dish in my kitchen and yelled at the car in front of me and I didn’t “mean” it, you may not have meant some of what you said, or at least I hope that is the case, but the words are out there regardless.  Those words are out there, and people heard them.   

Now it’s time for you to share with us that what we’ve heard you say in times of heated debate, stress, and just in places where you were not as mindful of your words, that the words you used that are being taken as hateful and hurtful were wrong and that, like the rest of us, you will try to do better in the future.  As a parent owns their mis-steps to their children, so that their children can learn from them, grow, and be stronger, we need you to acknowledge the mis-steps in your words for us, so that we are not modeling a negative, hateful, and hurtful message moving forward.

And just like I have to acknowledge and apologize to my daughter, you NEED to do the same for us, the nation you are going to be leading.  


Because our eyes have been watching and our ears have been listening and they are now starting to mimic you. And while YOU may not have “meant” what you said, some of these people do.  And that’s scary and sad for a great many of us – those who voted for you and those who did not.  

We have students in a middle school in my home state of Michigan chanting “build a wall, build a wall” in their school cafeteria, I think probably not understanding the severity, and threat, associated with their their words.

We have individuals in New York spray painting a swastika with the words “Make America White Again” onto a Little League baseball dugout.    

We have restaurant managers who chase down black people and call them the “N-word” before robbing them.

We have high school students who are blockading their black and Latino peers from getting into their classes or their lockers.

In Minnesota, we have a school bathroom stall covered in graffiti with the words “whites only” and “fuck niggers.”

And we have people, on BOTH sides of the political spectrum, who are attacking others on the street based on what they “think” they know of them.

You are my President, our nation’s President.  Unfortunately, you’ve said some things during this Presidential election cycle, as have your opponents, that were hurtful and scary for many people in this nation, even for those who supported you.  But now is the time for you, like me, to remind the nation that those words are not OK, admit that they are not appropriate, remind us that they are not appropriate – just like a parent does for their child, just like I did with my daughter. You have to look at this nation, our nation, your nation, as you would your children.  They have been looking to you and they have heard you and seen you and they are mimicking you now. They are perpetuating those hurtful words and behaviors because they think it’s OK.  You need to remind them that it is not.

Mr. President-Elect Trump, I’m not just some random woman who doesn’t “get it.”  As I said, our differences aside, I get it.  I’m a Navy wife.  I’m the daughter, granddaughter and sister of Police Officers.  I’m a mother. I’m a teacher. I’m a writer. I have a Ph.D. and I am a proud American.  But I’ve “been around the block” a time or two as well and I get that the world is complex.  It’s that complexity that truly does make us great.  We need reminders of that right now, Mr. President-Elect Trump, and those reminders need to come from you.

Sincerely and with a hopeful heart and open mind,

Colleen J. Green

To the Mother at Daycare, I Know the Feeling

Our morning routines are pretty well set at this point. My husband gets up a little early and starts to get ready. Then I get up and start to get ready. Then we tag-team getting our toddler ready and then we are off – out the door and off to work/school/daycare, a toddler and two adults who are still just half ready, at best.

It’s not always easy. It’s not always pretty. There’s usually some stomping of feet, some huffing and puffing, and even a few tears (and that’s just from me!) and at least one change of clothes (for me and the toddler!).

And it hasn’t always even been this *easy*. When I first went back to work full-time, my husband was deployed. That was tough. I mean, wow. That was beyond difficult. I am still not sure how we got through those eight months and how I survived my return to work in the midst of solo and first-time parenting fiascos. Our daughter was younger, and I was more tired, and man, sometimes I can’t even remember those early days. Except that I can.

I can remember each and every morning with utter clarity.


Because every morning I was having to make a decision to take my daughter and place her into the care of other people while I went off to work. I loved my job. I still love my job. Financially, even if I didn’t love my job, I would have had to return to work – our family needed my income.

But that doesn’t – that didn’t – make it any less heart AND gut wrenching to leave my daughter in the arms of someone else each and every day.

The pain of that suffocated me.

The memory of that pain suffocates me still.

As I was leaving that same daycare this morning, dropping our daughter off as I do every morning before heading into work myself, I watched a mother who, I swear must have been just at her six weeks postpartum mark, dropping off her child. The moment I saw her walking toward me, I literally couldn’t catch my breath – the memories of what she was feeling at that exact moment flooding desperately back into my brain.

I saw her first from down the long hallway; I had just come out of my daughter’s classroom where we finished our own morning ritual: hug, high fives, kisses and I love yous. Then she “pushes me out” the door and waves at me through all four windows looking into the room – two on the door, two off to the side. We blow each other kisses – she runs toward her friends, waiting in the classroom – sometimes I catch a glimpse of them hugging. I walk, smile on my face, holding tight to the memories of our routine throughout my entire day.

And then I see this mother.

She is walking slowly, compared to my hurried gate, ever concerned about getting to work on time.

She is cradling and cuddling her baby, who is nestled against her chest, head snuggled up underneath her mama’s chin. My hands once wrapped around my daughter that same way, the soft tufts of her hair tickling my chin as I carried her down that same hallway. Now my hands were empty and my chest suddenly felt cold, with no baby nestled there.

She has her face against the very top of her baby’s head, taking in the sweet smells of newbornness that we all know, you know, the way we all do. I found myself unconsciously taking a deep breath in, and remembering the smell that I sometimes still catch on my daughter, when she first wakes up or right after a bath – that newborn smell, that smell that connects me to my daughter.Processed with Snapseed.

She closes her eyes for long moments at a time. I know mama, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: Why am I leaving her here? Is she going to be held enough? Will she miss my smell and my touch the same way I will miss hers? Will they know what each of her cries mean? Will she forgive me?

Oh mama, I remember that feeling – all of those feelings – those I don’t want to leave my baby feelings. I actually still have those feelings every single day.

Oh, mama, I know all too well how you feel.

Thank you for visiting my page!

You can also read this post, and others I have written on The Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/581b4efce4b0570d6d6f0c5e?timestamp=1478186050399

And now you can see my writing featured on the wickedly popular scarymommy.

Scary Mommy

Confessions of a Cosleeping Parent

Confessions of a cosleeping parent

I am no longer a cosleeping parent, at least not with our toddler.

Except, she’s still in my bed as I write this, snuggled close to me, her right hand wedged under my leg.FullSizeRender

You see, we are on vacation, my daughter and I. And my husband, her father, is at home because he had to go back to work.

There’s a perfectly good bed here she could sleep in.


She didn’t want to.


I didn’t push it.  I know these snuggles won’t last much longer. Nor will the kicks to the ribs or the side of the head in the middle of the night.  I’m willing to take what I can get.

At this point on our vacation, I am cosleeping with my daughter, not the other way around.

Let’s be serious, the person getting the most comfort out of this cosleeping relationship right now, on this vacation, is me – the mama.

I am comforted by the sweet sound of her tiny snoring and the rise and fall of her little chest that I can feel each time I gently rest my hand on her.

I am comforted by the smell of her toddler-ness, you know it, that indescribable mixture of baby skin, shampoo and sweat.

I am comforted by the tiny little sigh she lets out about two hours after she falls asleep, alerting me that she has dozed off soundly and has let the ‘worries’ of her toddler day slip aside.

I am comforted by her small hands that she cups around my face when she rolls over in the middle of the night to face me, saying nothing and not even opening her eyes (yes, this REALLY happens!).

I am comforted by the little wiggle of her toes that I feel underneath the blankets with me, or against my leg as she snuggles closer to me during the night (or, maybe as I snuggle closer to her).

I am comforted by the fact that, when I am there with her at night, she still needs me to get her a drink from her water bottle, that is right next to her on the night stand.

She still needs me.

I am comforted by the fact that she needs my reassurances when she is startled by the oddness of toddler dreams, about pizza with no toppings or the cat that is most definitely not on the stairs.

She still needs me.

I am comforted by the fact that when she wakes up in the morning, pops up like a little flash of a light bulb with a chirp of “it’s time to wake up mama!”, she wants me to help her to the bathroom and to change her clothes.

She still needs me.

We didn’t always cosleep. I didn’t ever actually intend on cosleeping even. When my daughter was just shy of three weeks old her daddy deployed for an eight-month tour, leaving me alone as a first-time mother who knew she eventually had to head back to work full time. Cosleeping was the last thing I wanted to do. I thought it would be horrible for my own sleep, which I knew very much that I needed.

So, just after daddy deployed, our little daughter was sleeping (not through the night mind you…) in her own bed, in her own bedroom – with mama keeping a watchful eye through an elaborate baby monitoring system.

And this was our life for about the first year. It worked for us. Sure, there were nights when she was going through feeding clusters, where it was easier to nurse her in my bed with me, and not have her sleeping in her crib. And I didn’t mind that, not one little bit. But overall, she was in her own bed.

Then, at about 7 months, she got horribly sick. It seemed like “just another cold” at first, but her coughing progressed pretty rapidly and got to the point where breathing was incredibly difficult for her and very scary for me.

Medicines and homeopathic remedies were not working quickly and I made the decision that I could not sleep in a different room and be sure that she was OK.

And so our cosleeping journey began. And her illness didn’t let up and when it did, it came back often. Imagine, for those of you who have not lived through this, giving nebulizer treatments to someone who isn’t even a year old.

I wanted to give her every bit of cuddling and comfort that I could, and that extended into our nighttime routines; we were still nursing and that nursing and nighttime nurturing, as well as my watchful eye – that happened through our cosleeping. And it remained that way even after her dad returned, partially because that was our new “normal” but also because her illnesses weren’t subsiding and both of us now agreed, cosleeping was the best option.

And then when she turned two, and she was getting bigger but our bed was not, we decided to work with her to move her back into her bedroom and her own bed.

It wasn’t a process that took a long time, though part of it had one of us (mama and daddy alternating nights) on a air mattress on the floor next to her bed. And it wasn’t perfect either. Some nights she ended up back in our bed. Sometimes she lasted until 2am or 4am. Some nights it was all night long. But gradually, eventually, she was in her own room and she was not upset, and we weren’t waking up with bruises!

Do not get me wrong, I loved the amount of time we did cosleep and, despite concerns from some parents and parenting experts, knowing what I know now about the benefits of cosleeping, I would do it again from the beginning, in a heartbeat!

We experienced many of the benefits of cosleeping in our short time doing it. Our daughter rarely woke or startled in the night, unless she needed to nurse. We also saw the emotional benefits that sites like Dr. Sears tout, we had a less anxious and more independent kiddo on our hands, even early on – and to this day (seems opposite, right?).

There are risks, of course, that need to be addressed to cosleep safely. We took those measures into consideration and made every possible choice to make this a safe sleeping environment, even though we hadn’t planned for it originally.

Let me pause here and say, very clearly, I am neither stating parents SHOULD or SHOULD NOT cosleep. I got over the parent-shaming thing a long time ago and I am not participating in any of that nonsense here. So if you came here to read some parent bashing, go elsewhere.

I am a firm believer that we, this village of mamas and papas, are doing our level best to raise our kids and we need to support each other in doing so.

That said, I’m just sharing my experience.

And my experience on this vacation has been traumatic – for me. Not her. She’s fine. She would have been totally, 100%, hunkey dory, if I had encouraged her more to sleep in her own “special” bed while on vacation.

I gotta be honest with you. I didn’t want to.

I know she isn’t going to need me in all these same ways for very much longer. Sure, sure, she’ll still need me. She’s only a toddler for Pete’s sake, but you know. I mean, she won’t need me the SAME.

So, I’m back to cosleeping. And I only have six more days to enjoy the snuggles and the cuddles and the baby breath on my face and the knee in my back and the hand slap to the face. So, I’m going to relish it for a bit longer. For six more wonderful nights, I’m going to be comforted by my toddler in my bed next to me.

Because, let’s face it: I still need her.


I shouldn’t have to choose – but I do.

Shortly after our daughter was born, I wrote a post about how frustrating it was that everyone was already asking us about having another child. At the time, it was most frustrating because all we really wanted to do was revel in the beauty and joy of our new daughter and enjoy this new experience of being a “family.”

Now, as our daughter nears three years old, my husband and I are beginning the conversation about a second child and I am overrun by anxiety. Not because I don’t desperately want to have another baby. I do. Not because I don’t want our daughter to have a sibling, I do. And not because I’m not acutely aware of the financial implications of adding to our family will have. I am very aware that even for a dual income teacher-military household, our choice will have some strain associated with it.

Those choices are all worth it for me.

No, the anxiety I am feeling is knowing, full well, all the moments I’m going to be missing out on for our daughter, and our new baby, when I return to work. This week we are on vacation visiting my family in Michigan and I am watching my daughter explore, discover, grow, flourish, and shine.

All before my very eyes.

She has gotten taller, and I’ve been around to witness this.

She has started using a larger vocabulary and even putting together complex sentences, and I’ve been around to hear every bit of it.

She has started using some quirky facial expressions and recognizing when she is being humorous, and I’ve been able to enjoy all of it!

She has learned to fish, and I’ve watched that.

She “reads” books on her own and does a whole lot more playing independently, and I’ve been able to sit quietly in the corner and watch this.

When I return to work, I know there are other not-so-major milestones that I’m going to miss, that I won’t even know that I miss, for her and for any future sibling we may have. And I love my job, as I always say, I truly, deeply love my job. I guess there’s a growing part of me just wishing that taking time off for parenting in these early years was easier for us professional moms – that we could take the time we want and need to be with our littles in these early formative years and not feel 1) guilty 2) financially burdened 3) afraid that our professional careers are over.

As much as my kiddo is up past her bedtime this summer making wishes on the star-filled skies, I am wishing on those same stars that the path for career mommies could be just a little different.