Monthly Archives: May 2008

It’s now been about a month and a half since the official release of A Dozen Invisible Pieces.

I have faced the question countless times now–the one that starts off with,

“So, how’s it going with the book?”  (People gradually get around to saying silly things like, ‘let me know when you get on Oprah’–which won’t likely happen until enough folks have written to her about my knock-your-socks off book!)

Regardless of “how it’s going” with the book, I keep plugging away at the PR stuff–a little at a time.  My publicist has submitted media kits to the Seattle Times, Bloomsbury Review, New York Book Review, NewWest on line magazine, Long Island Woman magazine, and Parenting magazine.  Next up: Parents, Child, Mothering, Family Circle, More…  I’m anticipating my second on-line book review to show u–on Posh Mama–any day now…and can hardly wait!  (In fact, the book review will be accompanied by some interview segments, advice for new moms, and a give away contest during which participants can win one of two free copies of A Dozen Invisible Pieces.)

As we take a gradual approach to this whole PR thing–eventually lining up radio talk show interviews, more book signings and public speaking engagements… I can’t help but feel like I’m on some sort of surreal, fun park ride.  And while the process of writing the book was incredibly healing for me, along with the heartfelt comments I’ve received from readers thus far, I can’t help but hold out a little bit of hope that the best is yet to come.


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Teaching Reverence

For the second time in three years of teaching childbirth preparation classes, I had to take one of my children to class with me tonight.  If you’ve read my book, you may recall a devout promise contained within to NEVER put myself in such a position (specifically to not bring a breastfeeding baby to class with me again).  Thankfully, Landon, being 3 1/2-years-old is well beyond his breastfeeding year.

With Andrew away on business and a friend filling in as “babysitter” for the evening (for the first time ever) I didn’t feel it would be fair to leave my asthmatic son who is in the midst of yet another asthma exacerbation with her for several hours.  So, I packed a back pack full of books, toy cars, puzzles, snacks and Landon’s favorite blankie, and an albuterol inhaler, and off we went to teach six expectant couples about early labor signs, cervical dilation, and timing uterine contractions.

Landon did amazingly well.  I only had to remind him twice to stop driving his play motorcycle across the hard floor of the classroom, and his requests for visits to the potty were perfectly timed with natural breaks in the evening’s curriculum.

On the way home, Landon was all-abuzz at having gone to class with mommy.  With mommy “going to work” on a much less frequent basis compared to daddy, my children seem to hold my work as a childbirth educator in somewhat of a mysterious esteem.  I teach people about babies passing through mommies’ vaginas, after all.  What wouldn’t be mysteriously appealing about that?

With ten minutes left to our drive back home, Landon chit-chatted about the make-believe bunny riding in the car with us, the sunset-imbued gray, pink, peach and purple clouds, and the various cars and trucks on the road all around us.  I interjected to ask him if he’d noticed anything particular about the women in classroom tonight.

“Huh-uh,” he replied, perplexed at my question.

“Did you notice they all had big round tummies?” I questioned him further.

“No,” he innocently replied.

“All the ladies in the class tonight had babies in their tummies.  Isn’t that neat?”

“Oh, wow!  That’s pretty cool.  I think that’s really pretty.  Kind of like that truck is really pretty.”

“I think it’s pretty too.”

As Landon went on to ask me what the delivery truck in front of us was most likely delivering to which location, a thought occurred to me:

In some cultures, women–especially pregnant women–are treated with extreme reverence for the mere fact they posses the miraculous ability to bear life.  Native American (traditionally matriarchal) cultures are particularly well known for this.  As much as I would like to assume that this type of reverence is automatic, as a response to the magnetic, glowing energy fertile women posses (ok, I know some of my readers out there may not readily appreciate that last statement) perhaps maintaining an attitude of reverence for this life bearing gift is as much a learned behavior as it is an instinctual response.  If this is true, then I will be sure to remind my children, whenever the opportunity arises, to hold a door, offer a smile, or ponder the life within, of every pregnant woman we come across.

And I will also appreciate the beauty in a Darigold truck, as seen through the eyes of a recently damned well behaved, incredibly adorable, usually monstrously mischievous, 3 1/2-year-old boy named Landon.

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Livin’ In Montana

As a drastic tangent to my usual topics of choice, visit Andrew’s most recent blog for a perfect photo anecdote of livin’ in the Big Sky State.

Clue: it includes a sign that reads, ” Ryan V***, if you enter this store, the sheriff will be called.”

Life is definitely NEVER dull around here!

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What Do You Like About Your Child?

We have started our youngest child in speech therapy.  At 21-months-old, he has about 3 words he says on a regular basis, and a few more animals sounds on top of that.  (His sound for a cow, and a train whistle are indistinguishable…”Boo-Boo!”)

By federal mandate, each state has a program available to families that will pay for this type of therapy…as long as the child qualifies.  After one quick assessment meeting a couple weeks ago (during which we didn’t even make it through the entire assessment before the woman told me we didn’t have to go any further…that my son was at a 50% delay–placing him at the speech functioning level of a ten-month-old) we were signed up!

So, we now have a case worker–a “Family Support Specialist”–along with a speech therapist, who also happens to be a friend of mine from a long-ago play group I attended with Ellie when she was a baby.  When the case worker came to our home for her initial visit, she pulled out her clipboard, stuffed with questionnaires, carbon copy forms, and photocopied handouts.  She is a lovely, motherly woman named Rose, and clearly adores children.

Rather than start off with a review of Gabe’s verbal capabilities and deficits, Rose started with what, I realize, to her, was the most important question.

“What is your favorite thing about Gabriel?”

A smile erupted on my face.  When was the last time anyone had asked me that question?  When had I actually stopped to ponder that question–about any of my children?  While I laugh, stomp, giggle, pout and ponder my way through each day in reaction to the antics of my children…I couldn’t think of the last time I’d sat and pondered my favorite characteristic of each child.

“He is so incredibly sweet and gentle,” I blurted out, pulling myself out of my momentary, love-induced spell.  “He is such a blessing to our family.”

So this, I think, will be my new approach to centering myself, in the midst of a particularly difficult day with the kids.  Just like the mother in Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever, I have times where I holler to the rooftops, “this kid is driving me crazy!!!”  Those, I dare say, are the exact moments when I ought to imagine myself sitting on the front porch of our home with Rose, one or all of my children milling around in the front yard, with Rose asking me that appropriately pointed question:

“What is your favorite thing about each of your children?”

What is YOUR favorite thing about YOUR child(ren)?


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If Misery Loves Company, Does Joy Love Happiness?

In A Dozen Invisible Pieces, I wrote about how blessed I have been, during some of the darkest moments of my motherhood journey, to have been surrounded by friends, family and a church community when I most needed it. What I didn’t write about at the time, is the fact that with some people, in some circumstances, that overabundant support is more likely to come in the wake of extraordinary difficulties, but may be significantly, if not completely, lacking in times of emotional abundance.

As a side step, I freely admit that I have not always done a superb job in the past of “letting people in” on my struggles…having carefully filtered that which I was willing to freely confess to only a small circle of people–people who I felt were most likely to offer the understanding and support I needed in my challenges with career life, motherhood, life in general. Until the release of my book, that is. And so, I certainly cannot fault those people who haven’t stepped up to the supportive plate, when they simply didn’t know what was going on.

But the funny–really sad– thing is: in my own little cross sectional experience of emotional abundance; in a time when things are really going right for me, during a phase of my life when I finally feel like I’m on the right path–the path I was meant to head down–I’m realizing that some folks are just more comfortable supporting others in times of woe as opposed to times of success. There is no doubt in my mind, that a person REALLY comes to know who their friends and family are, during their own extraordinary life circumstances–both good, and bad.

So what is the deal with people who can’t stand to celebrate a friend or family member’s accomplishments in the same way they held a hand, cooked a meal, or made a series of phone calls, when that loved one was down in the dumps? Does is come down to jealousy? Confusion? A sense of being left behind? Distanced? Is it a matter of just not being GROWN UP?

Contemplating these questions, I think back to the times I have observed others coming into their own abundance–how well did I support, and celebrate with and for them? Did I allow my own sense of jealousy to get in the way of being totally, and utterly proud?

Regardless of the answer, I sure know which tack I’ll take in the future.

But there have been some friends and family–Andrew in particular–who have always been there to rally around me, in good times and in bad.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.

The advice to “count your blessings” has been apart of our national motto across the ages.  I know I, for one, continue to count mine.

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Don’t let this one get away…help him get his way!

Have you heard about Paul Sanchez’s 8 Wishes project?  He’s working to raise money and create scholarships for children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties.  Check out Paul’s video that explains his 10,000 mile solo bicycle ride around the U.S. – raising awareness, raising money, connecting with families and children affected by dyslexia.

Now, THAT’S someone working to exact real change!

Way to go, Paul!

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Signing Books for Social Change


By the time eight o’clock rolled around last night, I was more than done. Done, as in: well-done; not even medium-rare. I barely made it through one of the Seinfeld Season Four episodes Andrew and I rented from Netflix before my lids were drooping. And boy, did we have fun yesterday!

With about 55 people in attendance at the Mothering Our Mothers event (including attendees ranging in age from 18-months to 70 years) the dialog, networking and awareness-raising was all fruitful.

I faithfully spoke from the heart about some of the challenges I’ve faced since becoming a mother five years ago, including redefining myself through and beyond my roll as a mom, the inherent isolation that sometimes comes with motherhood, postpartum depression and more.

I was doing pretty well working through my keynote piece, until I looked up to see half of the audience crying. Then it finally hit me: my story really is something other people can connect with. And not because it is my story. Because it is the story of my generation of mothers.

As a society, we have strayed so far off the path when it comes to ensuring an emotionally sound start to the life of each new family. And it’s no wonder social issues such as truancy, substance abuse, eating disorders, violence, ambivalence, egotism, and disconnectedness are becoming defining characteristics of a rapidly increasing percentage of our American population. If we, as a culture, continue neglecting to bathe new mothers in love, comfort, support, care-taking and nurturing…how can we expect them to adequately pass these society-saving attributes onto future generations?

The scariest part: since the turn of the century, our culture has rapidly steered away from supporting, teaching and nurturing new mothers through communal efforts. (Communal means MANY friends, family and neighbors.) This pattern has taken hold in a little over one hundred years. And now, as our great grandmothers, and grandmothers are rapidly passing on, we are losing the remaining subset of our population who even remembers what it was like to be adequately supported after childbirth.

As I sat at the Prairie style oak desk in a floral patterned, wing backed chair, signing copies of my book for friends, family and strangers, I heard words of congratulations, questions such as, “how did you find the time to do this?” and “when is the next book coming out?” But what I kept hoping I would hear was, “You know, Kimmelin? You’re absolutely right. We need to start making a change now in how we mother new mothers, before it’s too late, and the current trend gets away from us.”

But as I recall the sentimental, startled, understanding and even grieving faces of the people–mostly women–in the crowd from yesterday, I find within myself a little bit of hope that yes, we have started to make that change.

As I told those fifty-some people yesterday, I don’t want my “book signings” to be just about selling and signing books. I want each event to be about so much more: about raising awareness of the amazing difficult, fabulous, joyful, maddening, isolating, celebratory, mundane, and anything-but-mundane work we moms do. And about the fact that we need SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT to keep on doing what we’re doing from what sometimes feels like a dry well.

Oprah says it everyday on her Mother’s Day edition of her self-named talk show. “Motherhood is the hardest job on earth.” So how about if we, as a community, as a society, as a culture, as a generation, make the necessary changes that will finally bring us full circle (and back to where most other earthly cultures have remained) and SHOW mothers everywhere how loved they really are for the work they (we) do. And not just on Mother’s Day.

After all, as moms, what we want most of all, is for Motherhood to be all about this:

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