How Being Cyber Bullied After Going Viral Will Make Me A Better Parent

Sarah Martin Photography018What a week it has been!  I am beyond blessed and humbled after my What Having Four Kids (Including Twins) Has Done To My Body And My Confidence post has gone viral.  I have enjoyed every comment, email and message from mothers telling me they have “parallel stories”, “been inspired by my story” and “needed that honesty”.  I truly feel a bond to mothers across the world and know that me sharing my story is helping others who have been struggling with body image.  I partially wrote this piece for my three daughters.  I hope that one day they can read this and be inspired as well.

When I sat down one evening to write this piece it just flowed out of me within an hour.  I had been thinking about my own body image quite a bit throughout the previous week and decided last minute while going through my photos for another post to put it out there.  I never in a million years thought it would be shared thousands of times, read millions of times and be interpreted in countless articles across the world.  I thought I was writing an honest, from the heart piece that would be read by my few hundred wonderful followers.  I sat down at my desk after my kids were in bed while enjoying a glass of wine, chomping on Mentos and listening to Yo-yo Ma thinking “wow, I haven’t enjoyed writing a piece like this for a while, I must do this type of personal piece more often”.

Along with the incredible stories and thank-yous has come criticism and some pretty hateful words.  I learned quickly to stop reading comments on other sites when the bullies felt the most anonymous and address one that got to me a bit.Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1Of course there will be people who disagree and want to challenge what I have to say.  That is not only expected but is good to create conversation.  But, I have learned that there are adult bullies out there and am learning how to take a breath, let it go and move on.

I grew up without social media.  Being born in 1983 I had a Walkman and then a Discman and finally at the end of high school ICQ became popular.  Remember the exciting “uh oh” noise alerting you to a message?  I can even credit ICQ for solidifying Mike and my relationship as official boyfriend and girlfriend.  But I never experienced cyber bullying.

We have a strict zero bullying tolerance in our home.  Our son Holden has been praised by many teachers as a sweet soul who has been known on more than one occasion to make deals to get a toy to another child who wanted to play with it.  He has also been the victim of bullying. I was able to help him in that situation by giving advice and relating as I too experienced bullying as a child and as much as it pains me to say so, was the bully from time to time.

In today’s society, so much, if not most of our social life takes place on social media and that has scared me for when my children reach the age where they use social media.  I had never experienced what going to school with social media being available was like.  The anonymity.  The cliques.  The judgement.Sarah Martin Photography025

Although I don’t have any pearls of wisdom or tricks on how to deal with cyber bullying, I can honestly look at my children and tell them that I have experienced it.  I have had to process hateful anonymous words and be able to let them go.  It’s okay to feel it, address it and defend yourself when necessary and find a way to move on.

I will continue to pour my heart out on my blog and from time to time (like now) use it as therapy or my own personal diary.  Even to just help sort out the thoughts and feelings in my head, get them out of me and move on.  It is so worth it when I stay up (too late lately) at night reading all of your amazing stories and comments and feeling such a connection with all of you!

Photography by Sarah Martin Photography

5 Signs Growing Up With Older Brothers Has Affected Your Parenting

Nesting Story Older Brothers Photo1. After dinner wrestling matches are not just fun, they are mandatory. After dinner while growing up, my two older brothers, my younger sister and I (my sister and I were usually only wearing diapers) would race down to our basement with our dad and have a massive brawl. I am pretty sure this was my mom’s favourite time of the day. These days I turn to my husband after dinner with a knowing look and herd our rowdy kids into another room with him while I clean the dishes in peace and quiet.

2. Your casual use of potty words. I’m not talking swear words, I’m talking actual potty words. For example: the everyday use of the words puke, fart or taking a dump. You think this is the norm until your kid tells you in front of another parent “I need to use the bathroom, but I can’t because someone’s is in there taking a dump”. That parent then gives you a look that’s cross between puzzled and disgusted. You realize you may not be teaching your kids proper kiddie etiquette. Woops!

3. You hear yourself saying, “let them fight it out”. I would definitely consider myself a relaxed “free-range” parent. Nothing drives me crazier than when I am at a play date and another parent is constantly scolding little bobby because they think he may not be playing nice. Relax mama, let’s let nature take its course while we sit for five minutes or at least until blood is drawn. Which takes me to number four…

4. The game is over when someone is crying or bleeding. The only way to get anything done when you have four kids is to banish them to another room, cross your fingers and hope for the best!

5. Your taste in music. As a child my friends were all listening to New Kids On The Block and Madonna while I was rocking my grunge look listening to Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead. Kids, can we please turn off Taylor Swift?

11 Moms You MUST Befriend

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We all know them and we have seen many types of moms portrayed on TV and in clever ad campaigns. I thought I’d take it a step further. Do you know these mamas? If you can try to snag some mommy friends with these methods, beliefs, situations, thought processes and personalities I can assure you, you will be a better mom for for befriending them!

1.  The Veteran Mama.  This is probably a family member or an old friend that you may have drifted away from when she started having kids while you were still enjoying the freedom of a kidless life.  You probably rolled your eyes at some of her parenting methods while promising yourself you’d do things differently when you have your own kids.  The Veteran mama quickly becomes your hero, lifeline and role model when you have kids of your own.  You admire her clever little tricks to help make everyday life easier and you don’t know where she gets her energy and how she does it all!  Keep this mama close and let her know what a great job she is doing!

2.  The Vegan Mama.  For us carnivores, being vegan is ludicrous.  Why pass up on that juicy steak?  But reality is, there is this whole plant based smorgishborg of deliciousness out there that you don’t even know about.  Vegan mamas are typically creative wizards in the kitchen and can teach you a thing or two about creating some healthier meals for your family.

3. The Dictionary Mama. You want to know something about anything?  She’s your mama.  She’s constantly researching and up to date on new trends whether they are parenting methods or how each school rates in your area.  She probably already knows more about something specific to what you are going through than you do because she has googled it as soon as you have vented or confided in her.  This is because she’s not only there for you, but she can truly understand exactly what you are going through.

4.  The Hippy Mama.  While you are sweating under your nursing cover she’s enjoying the breeze because she wouldn’t dare cover up while nursing.  You look at her confidence and freedom with envy.  The hippy mama is incredibly patient as she wears her baby, cloth diapers, co-sleeps and wouldn’t dare sleep train.  She exudes freedom and while you may not be ready to jump on the crunchy train just yet you may find yourself taking a deep breath and whipping out a boob to nurse in a crowded room on occasion.

5. The New(er) Mama. This is a special friendship. Not only are you paying it forward by answering her texts at 3am with questions about teething but you are also reminding yourself how far you have come, how much you know and how awesome a mama you truly are! Even on those days when you feel you have failed because your kids had crackers and cheese for dinner, you couldn’t possibly face baths and you might have used T.V. to get a few minutes of peace, the guidance you are giving her is a constant reminder that you are doing a damn good job!

6. The Cool Mama. Why bother buying fashion or celebrity gossip magazines when you know the cool mama? She is always sporting the newest trend and is the one who settles the who’s dating who in hollywood debate. She has fantastic fashion advice and is your first choice when you are in the mood to walk the mall while pushing your strollers having a much needed gab!

7. The Holistic Mama. She loves her essential oils and she is a huge natural birth advocate. She can soothe pain, boost an immune system and create cleaning products all from her essential oils and her vast knowledge of natural remedies. This is a very smart and adventurous mama. Even if you may not be a fan of these natural methods, her vast knowledge may come in handy when you least expect it.

8. The Education Guru Mama.  This mama has an incredible relationship with her kid’s teachers, she probably has her kids in some extra tutoring and has set up a semi classroom in her kitchen. This involvement in her children’s education may have stemmed from her child’s previous struggle with learning. But not only did this mama meet this challenge head on, she has made it a priority to help her child not only catchup but enjoy learning. This mama is determined and can be a fantastic resource and example when you encounter your own educational road block.

9. The Laid Back Mama. This is the mama that leads by example. You want to have playdates with her because although she is strict with her kids when necessary, she chooses her battles and there tends to be this non-competative vibe when she’s around. Being around her is like taking a trip to the spa. You leave re-energized and refreshed… if that is even possible after a playdate! Not only is she great for your blood pressure but you will find she’s rubbing off on you when you realize you didn’t get mad when your little one threw the whole roll of toilet paper into the toilet.

10. The Out-going Mama. She’s up for anything, whether it’s a night out for drinks or organizing a Bachelorette betting pool. The out-going mama is typically the glue to your group and is great at forcing you to get out of those sweats, slap on some makeup and break out of your little nest you have created at home. Just when you are on the verge of becoming an agoraphobic she comes to the rescue with a bottle of wine in hand!

11. The Warrior Mama. This mama is incredibly strong, patient, loving, brave and genuine. She has multiple children and one of them has special needs. Although she rarely complains or asks for help she incredibly thankful when she gets a helping hand. This is the mama you want to aspire to be like. If you can have a shred of the patience she has each day, you are doing a great job!

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