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When the Mask Falls Off

by Wendy Bradford

Last night, I received an email, and then a note outside my apartment door. Each made me a little weepy and a whole lot grateful to know even in the ugliest moments when all the masks come off, I am not alone.

But I will back up to yesterday morning.
            
My son, Henry, has a double ear infection and has to take antibiotics for the next two weeks. We were on day two; the night before had been a bought of screaming, begging, threatening, promising, crying, cursing, and finally my wrestling him to the ground and squirting the chalky pineapple-ish liquid through his clenched teeth. My apartment floors, rugs, and walls are covered in hardened white spots like a post-modern painting gone wrong.
            
Yesterday morning’s dose was not any better. And my husband and I were trying, at the same time, to get the three kids ready for school. When I say we were a mess, I am leaving out the animal sounds, the throwing of toys, and my husband calling me “demonic.”  A “mess” would have been way preferable to what we were.
            
Finally, bit by bit, Henry downed his tiny dosage and I wiped off all the excess from his hair, face, hands, and feet.
            
We grabbed backpacks, tossed shoes into the hallway, and the five of us were on our way to school.
            
When we got into the elevator, I pressed the button for the lobby floor, and—of course—Henry freaked out. I will never learn. Henry grabbed his glasses off his head, screamed at the top of his lungs, and snapped his frames so that one of the lenses fell to the elevator floor.
            
There were two other families on the elevator with us. My family already looked as if we’d traveled 48 hours without rest or water to make it onto that elevator.
            
I had not one thought or ounce of self control left.

“DAMMIT!” I screamed when I saw Henry had broken his glasses.

There were three children who were not mine in the elevator, along with the three that are, and two other mothers, neither of whom I know well.

I spent the day—even though that is far from the worst thing I have said in public or private in front of children—feeling ashamed. As a mother of three who spends a great deal of time alone with my children, shame, guilt, and regret are not unfamiliar to me. But it isn't often I have to apologize to children other than my own for losing my barely-cool-to-begin-with.

When we were back in our apartment in the evening, after another dose was fought over, covering me, and finally in Henry’s stomach, I sent an email to one of the mothers. I left a note outside the other mother’s door. I apologized to both and to their children for getting upset and using that word (which is not such a big deal in my apartment obviously, but I imagine other people are teaching their kids better values) in front of their children.

The one mother emailed back to tell me not to worry about it, of course. The other left a note of understanding and empathy. Both told me I wasn't alone.

Motherhood creates wells of vulnerability. At least it has for me. I am often not the person or mother I want to be in a given moment. Sometimes I can’t even pretend to be nice or patient or even normal. There is nothing more human or merciful than to see the worst in another person and to be able to say, “You’re okay.” Even or especially when the behavior was not; I wish I hadn't screamed in the elevator. I wish I wouldn't yell the way I do at my kids a lot of the time. Perhaps there are things you do that you that feel horrible about, and are working to change. Maybe you are embarrassed, like me, when your mask falls off. If we can remove the shame from the behaviors we need to fix, and know that people are supporting and standing with us, it is much easier to move forward and show our faces.

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What Not To Say to My Five Year Old This Summer

by Wendy Bradford

I have always wanted to write a “What Not to Say” piece--"What Not to Say to Pregnant Women," "...to New Mothers," etc. I figured being a mother of twins was my best shot. 

Who knew that my five-year-old daughter would do most of the work for me (again) and give me a blog post? 

Gauging from her reactions this week, I’ve assembled a list of seven things you should not say to a five-year-old girl. In August. In or near my apartment.

Don’t say: “Hi princess!”
Because: Mommy, everyone at camp is calling me a princess! This is the worstest day of my life. (Note: She was wearing a tiara.)

Don’t say: Song lyrics of any kind within one foot of her head.
Because: Mommy, Rider, that little boy in camp, was singing in my FACE! This is the worstest day for me.

Don’t say: “You don’t need to compare drawings with your sister’s. There is no ‘best.’ I love them both.”
Because: YOU DON’T LOVE ME ANYMORE!

Don’t say: “Where’s Ellie?”
Because: Mommy, in computers, the counselor asked ‘where’s Ellie?’ and EVERYONE TURNED AROUND TO LOOK AT ME! This is the worstest day of my life.

Don’t say: “What do you want for lunch tomorrow? Turkey?”
Because: You never listen to me! OOOOH! I can’t take this anymore.

Don’t say: “I think you’re just tired and it’s time for bed.”
Because: You are the worst mother ever and you’re never nice to me! YOU DON’T EVEN LOVE ME! This is the worstest day!

Please don’t say: “Well, tomorrow’s another day!”
Because: MOMMY NO!

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Check out Alison and Allison on Fox News International!

A few months back, Alison Berna and Allison Schlanger, co-founders of apple seeds, joined giggle CEO and friend Ali Wing at Fox News for an interview with Fox correspondent and apple seeds member, Julie Banderas.

The segment will air in over 100 countries over the next 6 months!


Special thanks to Julie Banderas and Fox News!

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Racing to Fight Childhood Cancer



by Ari & Sam Schlanger and Maddie & Sydney Berna with their moms Alison & Allison (family co-owners of apple seeds)


Every year in May, we encourage our family, friends and the apple seeds community to support us in our efforts to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. It’s the cause closest to our hearts since Gretchen and Larry (Witt) are our friends, but mostly because their son Liam, who would have been 10 years old this past May, was our children’s friend. Not only did they all go to school together, but Liam and his sister Ella also spent much of their free time at apple seeds, our NYC indoor play space. We called Liam “the mayor of apple seeds.” Everyone knew him. Everyone loved him. Liam would ride his orange scooter down the hall, giving hugs to all his teachers, peppering them with questions about science class and rolling around with Ella in the playground. He had an infectious energy, personality and smile that drew people to him everywhere he went. We all miss him in a way that’s hard to explain, and he comes up constantly in our thoughts, conversations and lives.


In May, we hosted our annual bake sale at apple seeds. But, this year, we decided to add another element to our fundraising/awareness raising effort. We encouraged our four older kids — Ari, Maddie, Sam and Sydney — to run a 5k race with us to raise more money. They hesitated a whole 1.7 seconds before saying yes, and we were off!


With an email, a photo and a plea to friends for help, they raised over $10,000 in just two days! Over Memorial Day weekend we all ran the 5k race together. During the three-plus miles, the kids barely stopped running, with mentions and reminders of Liam along the way. It was as if Liam kept us all going. It was as if those four young kids knew the difference they could make for children just like Liam, children who have a chance at life. It was as if they knew that running and talking about him and helping his parent’s organization would keep his memory alive.

As they crossed the finish line, they asked, “How much money are we up to now?!” Now, $11,548 dollars later, they feel proud of their contribution to fight childhood cancer, and they are already planning ways they can continue to make a difference.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was kind enough to ask our children to present their check for their donation.

They know that if Liam were still with us he would have been running that 5k with our group. They’ve seen first-hand the fragility of life and the enemy that is cancer, and they are determined to make a difference.

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Congratulations Cassie and Eric!

Just 3 weeks ago, our very own Birthday Manager, Cassie Orzano Haviland, celebrated her wedding day. Cassie looked so beautiful and we just had to share some photos with you...ENJOY!