Posts for parenting

How 2 Moms Celebrate Father’s Day

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - June 18, 2017

We celebrate the Uncles

who take her to Crab Cove, to ice cream, to bowling

who send her postcards from their travels and buy her dresses for Christmas

 

We celebrate

The 2 Dad Families in our lives

who remind her that our family is not so different

that she has good friends a lot like her

that men can be loving and nurturing and funny and smart and strong

and make the best french toast

 

We celebrate

Mr. Corey who made her believe she could do math

Helped her through missing Mamas at school

And spent extra time with her 4 days every week for 2 years

 

We celebrate her birth dad

who she doesn’t see

but gave her life

who she doesn’t know

but is very real

who kids ask about and she has answers ready

because we practice

 

We celebrate the men who help her feel seen

Protected

Safe

and

Sound

 

On Father’s Day

We Celebrate

Our Villiage

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Being 8

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - June 15, 2017

 

Being 8 is sitting in the car

Without a booster seat

It’s being able to scooter in front of the house

From here to there

With a friend

While Mamas stay inside

And peek through the window

Being 8

Is no longer needing

Morning snuggles

Most days

Cause you are too busy in your own bed

Memorizing Hamilton lyrics

Or finishing up that Chapter Book

On Your Own

Being 8 is understanding

Cause & Effect

Finally

So chores and morning jobs and “Yes, Mamas”

Are no big deal

They lead to fun and Yes and more of what you love

Being 8 is all about

Playdates

Where you design cookbooks

With recipes like, “Allison’s Amazing Applesauce”

And “Lynn’s Lovely Lemonade”

Being 8 is safe

Being 8 is free

Being 8 is choice

Being 8 is just the tiniest bit sad for Mama A

Because it means you will never again be 7

You will never be again 6

6 is the age that you were born to us

Our baby years with you only lasted a very little while

And you are already

8

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When My Daughter Sees Gay Marriage

Love Wins - Allison Kenny - June 14, 2017

When my daughter sees gay marriage

She sees two parents

Kiss every morning

Every night

And really anytime we see each other

Then begs for kisses herself

 

She sees us pay our bills together

Make dinner together

Run our business together

Sing made-up song and laugh about nothing

She sees us go on dates, every week or month

 

She sees us talk it out

When I get triggered

By Lynn’s sarcasm

or she gets frustrated

By how controlling I can be

 

She sees us ask one another for what we need

Set boundaries

Choose self-care

Most of all, she sees how in love two people can be

After 15 years

 

How we put our marriage

First

Before even her needs

Because first, we had each other

Because we want to show her what

Healthy relationships look like

 

When my daughter sees gay marriage,

She sees our marriage

She sees

Love, stability, respect

She sees happy

 

She sees everything

She deserves

 

 

 

 

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She Calls Me Mama A

Forever Family, Love Wins - Allison Kenny - June 12, 2017

They Want to Know-

Those Mom and Dad families

Feeling Curious

Wondering

Imagining

What Family is Like

When the Labels

Don’t Fit

When the Boxes

Aren’t Checked

Mom and Dad Families

Wonder

 

Who Takes Out the Trash?

And Who Does

Her Hair?

Who Can She Tell Her Secrets To?

And Who Cares For Her When She’s Sick?

 

How Many Moms Do You Have?

Kids At School Wanna Know

Two

She Says

Lucky!

Kids Know

What’s Up

They Know Love Wins and Would Never

Vote Otherwise

 

Mom and Dad Families

Have Questions

The Big One

The One They Ask

Most

Is

What Does She Call You?

 

What is the Name for

Families Like Mine

The Name is Yes

The Name is

Respect Our Rights

The Name is Equal

The Name is Awesome

The Name is Love

 

Also, I’m So Happy To Tell You

To Help You Picture Us

Families Like Mine

Beautiful

Real

As Important As Your Family

I’m So Happy to Tell You

 

She Calls Me

Mama A

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25 Things I Learned as a Special Needs Mom

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - April 12, 2017

  1. Every milestone is worth celebrating. It doesn’t matter how small.
  2. Perfect is not real.
  3. Sometimes, my self-care is THE most important thing.
  4. Take the long view. Big picture is everything.
  5. This, too, shall pass. It always does.
  6. Humor goes a long way.
  7. Be responsible for the energy I bring into a room.
  8. Be gentle.
  9. Notice what my face is doing.
  10. I get to be human. I get to be human. I get to be human.
  11. Forgive myself.
  12. Forgive my kid.
  13. Other kids and families might do things differently not better, not “normal” just different.
  14. Advocate for my kid with persistence, patience, and love.
  15. Saying no is really important.
  16. Saying yes is really important.
  17. Get on the floor and play.
  18. I’m not in control of, well…barely anything.
  19. People act out when they are afraid.
  20. I act out when I am afraid.
  21. People stare. Smile back.
  22. I am a superhero.
  23. My kid is working as hard as I am.
  24. Hold onto joy every time it shows up.
  25. Get help.
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Raising Girls Who Know They Matter

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - April 6, 2017

 

Before my daughter came into my life, I worked for a decade as a theater teaching artist. Children ages two to twenty-two of every race, gender, ability and learning style taught me to be a compassionate human. I got used to thinking on my feet, tuning into their particular needs, and speaking from my heart. All of this prepared me for parenting.

“That sign says Black Lives Matter, Mommy. What about me? Does my life matter, too?”

I remember the day my little girl asked me this question. She was almost seven and was learning to read more every day. She was in that exciting threshold between reading nothing and reading everything. Spacing out as we moved through the world and noticing every billboard, menu, and sign. This was a big opportunity for me, too. She was asking me, her White Mama, to unpack the Black Lives Matter movement while we waited in line at our favorite mac n cheese spot.

A big part of why my wife and I choose to stay in Oakland, CA after adopting our little girl was to make sure conversations like these were part of our everyday experience. We’re commitment to living on a street with folks of all races, sending her to a diverse school, and making sure she has teachers who look like her. My wife grew up as one of few Black people in an all-White suburb. This was hard on her. She wanted something different for her daughter.

READ MORE on RAISING RACE CONSCIOUS CHILDREN

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Having the Confidence I Want My Daughter to See

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - March 31, 2017

Recently, I hit a rough patch with my confidence. First, it was facing Imposter Syndrome in my new career path as a freelance writer. Then, it was being the new mom of a deeply hurt child. Then, it was facing health challenges that kept me in bed for nearly 6 weeks. Throw the Presidential election of 2016 into the mix, and I was a goner. Confidence shot. There was nothing I wanted to write and nowhere I wanted to go.

Luckily, my wise self and life coach reminded me that there is no need to suffer in silence. I reached out to my biggest fans. I texted them the horrible things my inner critic was saying and admitted how much fear was taking over. Of course, they responded with a ton of love, humor, and solidarity. I may have felt pitiful but I was not alone in my self-pity. That mattered. Slowly, as allergens fill the air and cherry blossoms start to bloom, I am emerging. I’m ready to get my confidence back this spring.

I can take baby steps to rebuilding my confidence and model these same tools for my daughter, while I’m at it! Wanna follow along? Check out my (usually, probably, almost always) daily Facebook Live videos each morning in April and I’ll share the winding path to believing in myself again.

Let’s see what a mama who actively works on confidence can do for the little girl who’s watching.

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My Daughter Called Me Fat. Here is What I Said…

Go Girl!, Self-care - Allison Kenny - March 15, 2017

Photo credit: Mary Cressler, Vindulge

 

Fat. It’s the word I dreaded most of my life. The word I spent the most time thinking about, worrying about, planning around, crying over and nearly destroying my relationship to myself about. Like so many of us, I spent my time, my money and endless hours of energy on a decade worth of diets. Now that I’ve given up dieting, I can spend that same time, energy and money on things that matter to me more than what size my body is.

I’ve learned to eat intuitively. I’ve learned that sometimes my trauma takes over and it’s nearly impossible for me to notice if I’m hungry or full. I’ve learned to forgive myself for emotionally overeating. I’ve learned there are no bad foods. I’ve learned to enjoy eating as a source of pleasure. I’ve learned about lots of other things I get hungry for- play, intimacy, creativity, adventure and most often…solitutde. I’ve learned to appreciate and respect my body at every size. And since I have been sizes 8-16, I have a lot of practice with this.

For me, the fat is no longer a problem. I honestly believe I am gorgeous at any size. My doctor tells me I am in good health and I notice that if I’m managing my stress well, I feel good. I feel happy. I am grateful for what I have and what my body can do.

So when my daughter sweetly said to me one day, “Mommy, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but do you think you’re fat?” I took a deep breath. I smiled. After 8 years of disordered eating, chronic dieting, shame and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t control my body, I was prepared for this moment.

When I started the transition out of dieting and into claiming my life as a well-fed woman, I committed to self-love above everything else. I knew how to reflect that back to my daughter. My response came naturally, powerfully, easily. I scooped her into my arms and answered with confidence.

“Oh, baby, I’m so glad you asked. Yes, it’s true that my body has some extra fat. I like to call it my curves and I don’t mind it one bit. You know why? Because I believe all bodies are okay. I know I look beautiful just how I am. And I take good care of myself to stay healthy and strong. I love my arms that can pick you up and swing you around. My lap is strong enough to hold you. My soft belly is good for snuggling. I celebrate everything my body can do.” 

She accepted that. Sometimes she even tells me, “I love your big belly, Mama.” There are plenty of days I don’t love my big belly and self-doubt creeps back in. I hold onto this conversation as a reminder of what I know for sure to be true. I am just right as I am. Big belly and all.

More: Why My Daughter Eats Kale and Candy, Amaranth and Cheetos

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25 Things My Mom Taught Me That I Want My Daughter to Know

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - March 8, 2017

 

  1. Join in. When you are part of a community, show up and help.
  2. Fridays are for take-out. Period.
  3. It’s okay to laugh so hard you cry. Or pee.
  4. Swim as much as you can.
  5. Ride horses in the summer even if you are scared.
  6. Pie is a great way to celebrate most things.
  7. Learn how to make chicken soup from scratch.
  8. If you fall in a lake, just laugh at yourself.
  9. Pray. It helps.
  10. Notice who needs help around you.
  11. Mothers are always there for their kids. Period.
  12. School is your job. Work hard.
  13. Find out which activities make you happy and do them.
  14. I will love you no matter what you do.
  15. Take charge of a group, even if you’re shy.
  16. Hold babies every chance you get.
  17. Blankets and scarves snuggle better if knitted by hand.
  18. Let people celebrate you, even if it’s hard.
  19. Singing makes things better.
  20. Make something and enter it into a contest.
  21. Read everything you can.
  22. Get excited about giving people presents.
  23. Decorate your house for every single holiday.
  24. Learn the names of trees.
  25. Let your kids be whoever they are and don’t judge them.

More: If I Took Care of Myself Like I Take Care of My Daughter

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Why My Daughter Eats Kale and Candy, Amaranth and Cheetos

Self-care - Allison Kenny - March 1, 2017

There are no bad foods. That’s what my time recovering from many years of disordered eating has taught me. I spent most of my adulthood resisting more food items than I would eat. Not just gluten and sugar. Eventually meat, dairy, tomatoes, peppers, caffeine, and all processed foods were off the list as well. Restricting this way lead me to binge on these very forbidden foods. Over and over again. This binge-restrict cycle kept me so busy that my career, relationships and sense of freedom or agency took the back seat. My food issues were all-consuming.

When my wife and I decided to adopt a six-year-old girl, I knew that wanted her food journey to be easier. My hope for my her- and all of us who suffer with compulsive eating- would be to experience food as nourishing and pleasurable. After a decade of diets, a 12 step program and too many tears, I found Intuitive Eating and Rachel Cole. I slowly learned to trust my body and accept myself at any size. I put down perfectionism and picked up compassion.  I wanted to model this kind of body-trust for my new little girl and lay the foundation for her to love her own body…no matter what.

 

More: If Your Daughter Fears Being Fat

So, I read up on Ellen Satter’s how to’s and took charge of when and what my daughter ate. I let her stay in charge of how much. I kept her favorite foods in the rotation, including hot Cheetos, Cup-O-Noodles, and spaghetti with hot sauce. I added smoked tofu, homemade chicken strips, and kale salad. We made granola together. We went to the Farmer’s Market so she could taste everything. I asked her, “what would make you happy to eat this week?” before I put together the shopping list and I bought those things. We set the table together and often include candles, flowers and special dishes.

We say “play food” instead of “junk food” and talk about how some food is full of nutrition and other food is just for fun. They are all okay. I ask her to guess which vegetables I put into her egg pie or identify the fruits in our salad. Enjoying play food is never a reward or a consequence. A little bit is offered each day alongside the rest of the meal. She asks for another “sweet treat.” I say, “Of course! I can add some to your lunch tomorrow.” She can count on a sweet serving every single day. Every once & awhile, I give her unlimited sweets. We do this on a day when her brain and body are super regulated & strong. If any of us are eating too fast at the table, we remind each other to breathe. We talk about how the food tastes and how we made it. Other times, we go through a drive-through or eat cereal for dinner in front of the tv. On Valentine’s Day, we had so much fun decorating cookies together that I didn’t have enough energy to make dinner. We had cookies and frosting and yogurt and fruit for dinner.  All of this is okay.

So far, it doesn’t seem like my history of food rules or body shame is affecting my daughter. As she grows up and my healing deepens, I know things will evolve. But making my home a safe space to enjoy food was a big goal for me. So far…so good.

More: “My Mama Has a Big Butt That Jiggles”

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