To My Son, Turning 8

To My Son, Turning 8

By Wendy Wisner


 I so desperately want to wrap him up in my arms. And I can’t. At least not in the way I used to.


When I turned 8 years old, I declared 8 my favorite number. I liked its loopy, curvy shape. I traced it on the roof of my mouth. I saw it everywhere, and in everything. Eight o’clock was my bedtime. School started at 8:00 a.m. I read Ramona Quimby, Age 8 cover to cover, thinking the book was written to me.

I thought everything was about me, really, and that everything could have a direct effect on me. If the kids on the playground got in trouble for exchanging Garbage Pail Kid cards, surely I was next (even though I was watching them from the other end of the playground). My teacher pointed to the graffiti sprayed on the door to our trailer classroom, warning us never to do such a thing. I was sure she thought I had done it. After all, my friend and I had played tic-tac-toe on the wall a few weeks before. We’d erased it, but still.

There was a looming, ethereal, obsessive quality to my thoughts and feelings when I was 8 years old. I’m sure it had something to do with my parents’ divorce, which I had shoved into the back of my mind. I thought it was my fault that my family was falling apart. But my main worry was that my teacher was going to get me arrested for vandalism.

*   *   *

Everyone says my son is just like his father, but I see myself in him—his tender soul, his need for love and approval. And because he is the first child I have raised, I fear for the little things that happen to him, and hope that we are doing right by him, making the right choices, leading him (without smothering, without neglecting) in the right direction.

As his 8th birthday approaches, I take note that he has a good life. My husband and I have a loving, solid marriage. He has a cute little brother, a nice group of friends, a small, nurturing school.

And yet. He is highly sensitive, as I was. If two children laugh at a picture he drew in class, he is certain that EVERYONE in the class is laughing at him. If he didn’t get a chance to shoot the basketball at recess, he is angry for the rest of the afternoon. He takes even the littlest things to heart, and doesn’t let go very easily.

At his school conference, his teacher told us that he is doing well in every area of school but recess. Apparently his sense of injustice on the basketball court ran deep—his teacher relayed a few stories of him lying on the ground, screaming and sobbing.

When she told me this, I could see him lying there, how alone and exposed he must have felt. I felt it in my own body. I wished desperately it had been one of those afternoons his little brother and I took a walk by the schoolyard, that I had found him there crying, scooped him up and brought him home.

And I wondered what had happened—or, really, what I had done—to make him so vulnerable to such meaningless things as basketball scores. Had my own 8-year-old fears somehow reached him even though his family life was far from falling apart?

*   *   *

When I relayed some of the stories about my son to my friends who have similar aged kids, they empathized. Their children were going through many of the same things: the social world around them magnified significantly, and rather suddenly.

Maybe 8-years-old is just like that, with different shades for different kids. Eight-years-old, the age almost precisely between early and late childhood. All ages after babyhood seem a little betwixt-in-between, though, don’t they? But there is something about this now, where I so desperately want to wrap him up in my arms. And I can’t. At least not in the way I used to.

*   *   *

At night, I lie with him as he falls asleep. The darkness melts everything away and we talk. Sometimes he’ll confide those twisted up feelings he has about his social life at school. Sometimes he’ll share the joys—a laugh at what one of his friends said, a game they made up. Sometimes we’ll cuddle for a few minutes. But not for long, usually.

His little brother is two. He curls right into my body. He fits there perfectly. If I leave the room, he toddles after me. He’s soothed simply by my presence.

My older son was like that once. Long ago, it seems.

*   *   *

On his 8th birthday, I want to tell my son how incredibly beautiful he is in his stretched out, lanky body—the moles that magically appeared on his arms and neck this summer, his widening jaw, his new, crooked teeth. His mind always racing, his gorgeous, fiery thoughts.

I want my son to know that his feelings matter, all of them, and I want him to feel them, really feel them, but learn to let them go a little, before they spiral out of control. I want him to know that he will learn this in time, as I did. I want him to know that even though I don’t always seem patient with him, I trust the path he is on.

And I want him to know that the fire that pushes him to the playground floor will one day make art, poetry, justice, peace. I want him to know that his fire is a gift to the world. And to me, always.

Wendy Wisner is a mom, writer, and lactation consultant (IBCLC).  Her writing has appeared in Literary Mama, Scary Mommy, The Badass Breastfeeder, Natural Child Magazine, Lilith Magazine, and elsewhere; she blogs at



Opinion: We Need to Talk About Breastfeeding

Opinion: We Need to Talk About Breastfeeding

Mother nursing son

By Wendy Wisner

I write a lot of articles about breastfeeding and, each time one of them appears online, there is a type of comment I can count on seeing. It goes something like this: “Breastfeeding is fine. I get it. Do it all you want. But why do we have to keep hearing about it?”

I understand that feeling. As a lactation consultant, even I get tired of talking about breastfeeding! I also know that mothers who have had bad experiences with breastfeeding can feel sensitive about it. Some moms may understandably feel that breastfeeding advocacy is stigmatizing them as having failed in some way. No mother should ever be shamed for not breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not the measure of a mother’s worth or her ability to nurture her children.

But for moms who do nurse, breastfeeding is a meaningful part of parenting. These moms are proud of what they have accomplished. Many want to celebrate the obstacles they overcame to make breastfeeding work. That alone is reason enough for us to share and celebrate breastfeeding—especially because seeing positive breastfeeding experiences encourages new mothers to persevere, and helps normalize breastfeeding for all.

Beyond that, the main reason we still need to talk about breastfeeding is simple: America is failing breastfeeding mothers. They are not well supported to meet their goals; they face daily harassment; and in many cases, their rights are not sufficiently protected by the law.

If you ask pregnant moms whether they want to nurse once their baby arrives, most would emphatically answer YES! Every family wants to do what’s best, and the benefits of breastmilk are well-known. Many mothers have heard the recommendations outlined by the Academy of American Pediatrics and other health organizations (the AAP recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding, and a year or more of breastfeeding overall).

But while the majority of women initiate breastfeeding in the hospital, that number drops dramatically soon after they leave the hospital. For example, in New York, where I live, 80% of mothers start off breastfeeding, 37% are exclusively breastfeeding at three months, and 16% of mothers are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. By 12 months, only 31% of women are breastfeeding at all. You can check your state’s breastfeeding rates here.

What happens in those days and weeks between the initiation of breastfeeding and the three month mark when it goes downhill?

Most hospitals have a lactation consultant on staff to help mothers after delivery. But did you know that some hospitals don’t employ these lactation consultants on the weekend? So if you have your baby then…well, sorry. Also, many hospital lactation consultants only have short amounts of time to see the many mothers who need help. I have learned that most breastfeeding problems take a while to solve: you need to observe the baby nurse, examine the baby, examine the mother, take a health history of the mom and baby, and offer counseling and education. Many (but not all) mothers leave the hospital having received minimal breastfeeding help.

Then the mothers are on their own. Maybe things go well with breastfeeding. But most new mothers have questions.

They might call a breastfeeding counselor, a family member, or a friend. Often, this can help a great deal. But if a mother has a more complex situation, she needs hands-on help, someone who can watch her breastfeed, and see what’s going on. Enter the private practice lactation consultant. Some are covered by insurance. Some are not (despite the guarantees outlined in the Affordable Care Act, not all insurance companies are properly covering lactation consultants). Some lactation consultants are helpful and non-judgmental. Some are not. Regardless, a mother may or may not be able to find one, or afford one.

There is little structural support mothers have to breastfeed—from ill-equipped hospitals, minimal insurance coverage for lactation consultants, and maternity leaves that are way too short.

We need to talk about the fact that many more low-income mothers and African-American mothers are negatively affected by all this, and thus have disproportionally lower breastfeeding rates.

We need to talk about the fact that women are harassed daily for breastfeeding in public even though 49 out of the 50 states have laws protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. We need to talk about the fact that there are no fines or consequences for breaking these laws.

We need to talk about the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which contains a provision mandating employers to give time and space for mothers to pump. We need to talk about the many loopholes in that law, including the fact that the pumping breaks are not required to be paid, certain business types are exempt, and there are no guidelines written into the law to enforce it. We need to talk about the moms who have gone to court to defend their rights to pump at work, and the mothers who frequently lose their jobs in the midst of these fights.

We need to talk about how formula is handed out like candy at some hospitals, even when mothers specifically express their desire to exclusively breastfeed. We need to talk about how formula is mailed to most new mothers’ homes without them ever asking for it. We need to talk about the fact that formula supplementation can drive down a mother’s milk supply, even though the formula ads claim otherwise. We need to talk about how much easier it is for a mother to find a bottle of formula to give her baby than to find good, affordable help to solve a breastfeeding issue.

We need to talk about all of this, and more. We need to tell our stories of how the system is still failing us. We need these issues to be exposed. Yes, there are mothers who just don’t want to nurse (their reasons are none of my business and I respect their decision). And yes, there are moms and babies who have very difficult experiences because of biological anomalies. But I have seen too many mothers fail at breastfeeding simply because there isn’t enough built-in support in our country for them to get adequate education, support, and time with their babies to establish and continue breastfeeding.

I get how annoying it can be for people like to me be talking about breastfeeding all the time. And I wish it didn’t sometimes feel like a slap in the face to non-breastfeeding moms to hear about it. I wish it didn’t seem like discussing breastfeeding is somehow furthering the “Mommy Wars.” But the fact is, until we solve these issues—until breastfeeding mothers are given the respect, rights, and very necessary help that they deserve—we need to talk about it. In fact, we need to raise our voices and shout about it.

Wendy Wisner is a mom, writer, and lactation consultant (IBCLC). She is the author of two books of poems (CW Books), and her writing has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Brain, Child Magazine, Scary Mommy, Club Mid, Role Reboot, Your Tango, and Mamalode. Find Wendy at Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Marked for Life

Marked for Life

By Wendy Wisner


“This is your birthmark. Your special mark. It’s part of you. It’s beautiful. And so are you.”


My two-year-old son is at a playdate. He and a four-year-old girl are playing at a toy kitchen. He’s at the sink; she’s crouched down, picking up some plastic cauliflower. She looks up at him, her eyes resting squarely on his neck.

“What’s that on his neck?” she asks me.

“It’s his birthmark,” I say.

My son looks at me with a faint glimmer of recognition. I have used the word “birthmark” before to describe that rough, pebbly brown spot on his neck. Every night before bed, I rub ointment on it to keep it soft. Every so often, I say, “This is your birthmark. It’s your special mark.”

Other than that, I rarely discuss it, and neither does anyone else, for the most part. His birthmark is certainly noticeable, however. It covers most of his neck. It’s coffee-brown, in the vague shape of South America. Perhaps people are too polite, or too uncomfortable, to mention it.

When my son was younger, he was too young to know what other people were talking about. But I knew the day would come that someone would point it out in front of him, and I knew that it would be another child. Far more children have asked about it than grown-ups.

“How’d he get it?” the little girl asks. There is no malicious intent whatsoever, and I’m not sure my son would pick up on it if it were there. But I begin to feel a little uneasy. And suddenly—madly protective of him.

I know this is the first of many encounters like this, and know that as time goes on, he will understand more of what is being said. I know that there may be children who are not as innocent in their questioning. Questions may turn into insults. Or worse—bullying.

And I am keenly aware that I will not always be there to answer the questions for him, to fold him up in my mama-wings, and fly him away from it all, back to the place where he is my perfect beauty-marked angel.

“He’s had it all his life,” I explain to the girl. I show her a beauty mark on my arm. “Does your mommy or daddy have a mark like this?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says, with some level of uncertainty.

“His is like that, only bigger,” I say.

The little girl seems satisfied, gets up, and walks away. My son looks at me for a second, brushes his finger along the length of his birthmark, and then wanders after the girl as she leaves the room.

*   *   *

I know that there are far more disfiguring birthmarks out there. I also know there are much more life-altering birth defects, and certainly life-threatening ones.

My son is normal in every way. He is bright, cute, and remarkably healthy. I have been concerned that writing about his birthmark could come across as overdramatic, hypersensitive, or self-involved. After all, his birthmark is an entirely cosmetic issue.

I also know that there are options for him should he decide to alter or hide it. Doctors have told us that surgery might lighten it. But it would take several surgeries, and results would not be guaranteed. As he gets older, he can wear clothing to hide it (though who wears turtlenecks and scarves in summer?) or use cover-up makeup (but he might feel self-conscious about that too).

One doctor said some kids don’t do anything, and just learn to accept the birthmark as part of who they are. I like this choice best, but the reality of living with a large birthmark as a child—as a teenager—might not be as simple and wholesome as the doctor described.

*   *   *

We didn’t notice the birthmark at first. We were in a daze, and he was a curled up, rosy-skinned newborn. We thought the light pink splotch on his neck was just another “newborn thing” that would fade in time. When he was about a month old, it darkened. We realized it was there for real, a part of his body.

The pediatrician said it looked like a port-wine stain (the kind that Gorbachev famously had on his head). Another doctor said it looked more like a hemangioma, a kind of birthmark that disappears on its own in early childhood. Both doctors recommended I see a pediatric dermatologist for a definitive diagnosis.

On the way to my first appointment with the dermatologist, I realized how much weight this diagnosis was going to have. If it was the kind of birthmark that disappeared in the first few years of his life, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But if it was the kind that would stay with him forever, it could be a very big deal. He’d be marked for life.

I flashed back to the times I was teased as a kid. The day the boys surrounded me at recess and asked if I stuffed my bra. The day the “in-crowd” formed a circle around me and told me I was “from another planet” because I wore tie-dye shirts and ate veggie burgers for lunch.

All of this seemed innocuous compared to what I imagined could happen to him. Children can be cruel without knowing it. Or they can be intentionally cruel, their own wounds and rage unleashed right before your eyes. It seemed to me that the world has gotten more unkind since I was a child, stories of bullying and violence in the schoolyard strewn across the news almost daily.

The dermatologist took out his ruler, measured it. My son pulled on the doctor’s Mickey Mouse tie.

“OK,” he said, “it’s called a congenital nevus,” a kind, crooked-toothed grin across his face.

“It’s not the kind that goes away,” he said. “It grows as he grows.”

*   *   *

It grows as he grows.

We have not decided when—or if—we will get the birthmark surgically removed. With no guarantees of success, it seems like too much to put his young body through. We will continue to grapple with it and reconsider as time moves on.

For now, we just continue the nightly ritual of rubbing ointment on his birthmark. As the months go on, we repeat the words more frequently, and add new ones: “This is your birthmark. Your special mark. It’s part of you. It’s beautiful. And so are you.”

Wendy Wisner is a mom, writer, and lactation consultant (IBCLC). She is the author of two books of poems (CW Books), and her writing has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Brain, Child Magazine, Scary Mommy, The Mid, and Mamalode. Find Wendy at Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sleep Training: Two Different Perspectives

Sleep Training: Two Different Perspectives

Sleep deprivation is hard for all parents. But not everybody takes the same approach to a baby, even an older baby, who wakes up during the night. For Wendy Wisner, crying-it-out was not an option: she co-slept with her children and “waited it out” for the years it took them to sleep through on their own. Jessica Smock, on the other hand, believes babies should be actively encouraged to develop good sleep habits, and that sleep training, though difficult, can be best for the entire family. 


Why I Don’t Sleep-Train My Kids

By Wendy Wisner

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 6.15.21 PMWhen it comes to children’s sleep, I think the choices parents make are influenced—at least in part—by their own childhood associations.

When I was a child, we had a family bed: sleep was a shared experience, replete with elbow bumping, shuffling, sleep sighs, and minor snoring. I remember falling asleep next to my mom, sometimes next to my sister. Eventually, I asked for my own bed, but I always knew I could rejoin the family bed whenever I needed to. I never had a stuffed animal or security blanket. My parents were that for me.

As luck would have it, I married a man whose family also espoused a communal bed. So when our first son was born, he naturally joined us in ours. It made nursing a million times easier, and keeping him close minimized sleep disruptions. I was able to latch him on, and go right back to sleep. I’m sure the fact that I spent my childhood settling in and out of sleep with others nearby helped me feel comfortable with this arrangement.

Sleeping with my son wasn’t always easy. There were plenty of wake-ups, and even though I didn’t have to leave my bed to tend to him, my sleep was still fragmented, and I would wake up exhausted and depleted. At the four-month mark, I reached a breaking point. My son was waking hourly, all night long, and kicking me in the head. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I said to my husband, “I can’t live my life this way. I just can’t do it.”

I scoured the Internet looking for solutions. Most of the advice I found was something along the lines of, “Put your baby down, drowsy but awake, and then leave the room.” I hadn’t heard of sleep training or cry-it-out at that point—at least not explicitly—but I knew that if I took that advice, it would result in more crying than I was comfortable with. My son had already revealed his intense personality. When I did leave him alone in the room at naptime, he didn’t just fuss a little until I came to get him: he cried his head off. I wasn’t going to subject him to more than a few minutes of that.

So I waited it out. As an at-home parent, I was able to nap with my baby, cancel plans when necessary, and take my sleepy days slowly. I know mothers working outside the home don’t have this luxury, but I managed to slog through. Sleep got a little better, then a little worse, then a little better again, and I made it through the first six months. At that point, things became more bearable. I didn’t do anything differently; my son’s sleep patterns just changed, with stretches of uninterrupted sleep happening more often.

I soon began to take the baby out, and have my first conversations with other mothers, many of which cycled back to the topic of sleep. As a new, idealistic parent, I was appalled by the other moms’ tales of sleep training. A mom at the playground told me they were still crying-it-out after a month because it wasn’t working yet, and she wondered if the neighbors in her apartment complex heard the screaming. There was the mom at a birthday party who told me that her son had just recently started waking up again after he’d been trained a few months ago, and that they had recently survived a night of four hours of crying.

In that first year of motherhood, I became the classic, righteous attachment parent when it came to sleep training. I’d hold my pure, innocent baby close, and feel sick at the thought of leaving him in a dark room to cry for hours at a time. A baby cannot talk: when he cried, he was asking for my presence. In these early years, I was teaching him about communication and kindness; it seemed inhumane not to respond when he cried. I found articles like this, which demonstrated that excessive crying increased the cortisol (stress hormone) levels in babies’ brains, and this, which showed that sleep training could cause attachment issues.

That was eight years ago. I have two children now. My older son has slept blissfully through the night since he was just under three years old. My second son has recently started sleeping through at around the same age, though he still wakes in the early morning and needs to be soothed back to sleep. Having “waited it out” twice, I will say that it isn’t always rainbows. I have felt sick from exhaustion. Extreme sleep deprivation increases my anxiety and exacerbates my migraines. But most nights my children’s wake-ups were manageable, and I felt as well-rested as most parents of young children feel.

I haven’t changed the way I handle sleep with my own children, but the way I perceive other parents’ choices has changed. I have made friends with many loving parents with awesome kids who have done some sort of sleep training. I understand that not all parents want to attend to their kids in the middle of the night, and that having your child in your bed or in close proximity (which is the best way I know how to deal with sleep disruptions) is just not within everyone’s comfort zone. I also understand that not everyone has the right support or lifestyle to get through months of sleep deprivation.

I am also aware that there are different kinds of sleep training, and different kinds of sleepers. I still have a big problem with letting a baby cry for hours at a time (really, any more than a few minutes is hard for me to fathom). Even Ferber, the father of sleep training, never advocated for hours of crying at time. I think that most parents take a kinder, more measured approach to it, checking on their babies frequently, offering assurance along the way—at least I hope so.

Even so, it still breaks my heart a little (OK, a lot) when I hear about a baby who is sleep trained, especially when controlled crying is involved. I just want to rush to the baby, and place him back in his parents’ arms. I want to tell his parents to wait just a little bit longer, because it gets better on its own. It really does. And someday you might even miss those midnight snuggles.

Wendy Wisner is the author of two books of poems and her writing has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Washington Post, Literary Mama, The Spoon River Review, Brain, Child magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, Full Grown People, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, and elsewhere. She is a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and lives with her family in New York. For more, visit her website. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Why I Sleep-Train My Kids

By Jessica Smock

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 6.13.09 PMSleep training my son was hard. But not that hard.

By the time he was four months old, his sleeping habits were becoming more challenging for all of us. He was waking up more times during the night, becoming more difficult to soothe back to sleep, and napping less and less. My husband and I were exhausted. We fought constantly, and our son was cranky and overtired too.

When I mentioned our sleep issues to a few friends, I was given one name from each of them: Weissbluth. Like thousands of parents before me, I devoured Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. From Weissbluth, I learned about sleep associations, infant sleep cycles, wake times, nap schedules, patterns of sleep organization for newborns and older babies, and graduated extinction (“crying-it-out”). From there, I moved on to books by other experts in the field of baby sleep: Ferber and Jodi Mindell.

At that point, I had just finished the coursework for my doctoral degree in education and development. Immersed in the world of academia, it had made sense to me that because I was struggling with an issue I knew nothing about—solving and preventing baby sleep problems— I should turn to research from the experts: people who had devoted their lives to helping parents with this exact problem. Left to our own devices, what my husband and I were doing wasn’t working, that much was certain. We were all miserable. Consulting these books suddenly made me feel less alone. I now had hope.

Online I read some of the criticisms of sleep training—that it could cause long-lasting psychological harm, that it can impact the attachment bond between parent and child. But then I reassessed the sleep training research for myself. It was obvious to me that these critics were grossly overstating and misconstruing the research on infant stress responses. If you look closely at the studies many critics cite, you will see that they are specifically about the effects of chronic, severe neglect and abuse on the infant brain, not about the effects of a temporary stressor, like sleep training, in the life of a baby in an otherwise happy, loving home.

And a secure attachment bond develops over the course of months and years of sensitive and responsive interaction between parent and child. Attachment researchers state that a few nights of sleep training (and even periodic “retraining”) resulting in better sleep for everyone will do nothing to harm that bond. In fact, it’s quite possible that it may improve the bond once the parent and child are no longer suffering the effects of sleep deprivation.

So we did it. We let our son cry it out, using gradually increasing “check-ins” and then no checks at all. He cried for almost an hour the first night. Then less and less over the next few nights. In less than a week, he no longer needed to be rocked or fed to sleep and didn’t cry at all when placed in his crib awake at bedtime. From our video monitor, we witnessed how he learned to self-soothe: he discovered that he liked sucking on his fingers and sleeping on his stomach. Best of all, he now only got up once during the night to eat—rather than four, five, or six times—and woke up happy and babbling, not screaming, crying, and rubbing his eyes.

Three years later my daughter was born. Unlike my son, who was bottlefed from the age of six weeks due to severe milk protein allergies and who never liked co-sleeping, my daughter is breastfed. Up until she was more than four months old, I shared a bed with her, purely out of desperation. The only way that she would sleep more than an hour at a time was nestled in the crook of my arm, inches away from the breast. All the things I swore I would never do with her—bedsharing, breastfeeding all night on demand past the age of three or four months, rocking to sleep, holding her in my arms for naps—I have done. And still do on occasion.

At four months old we decided to sleep-train her as well. While this taught her to fall asleep on her own at bedtime, she continues to wake up inexplicably and inconsistently, screaming again for the breast or for my arms. We let her cry during the night, sometimes, for almost an hour. For two or three nights, she’ll wake up once for a quick feeding, but the next night, she’ll wake up four or five times and refuse to go back to sleep. Naptime is also a struggle.

Despite my daughter’s more challenging sleep habits, I still feel confident in our choice to sleep train her. Before sleep training, she and I rarely slept for more than one or two consecutive hours, and I found it impossible to sleep well in the same bed with a baby who demanded nearly continuous breastfeeding through the night. I was so tired that I was afraid to drive and had no patience for my four year old. Now she stays in her crib all night, and she falls asleep at bedtime without much fuss. My husband and I get at least a couple hours of time together in the evenings before she might wake up.

If my son was the hare of sleep training, my daughter is a tortoise. But that’s okay. Because helping our children to be good sleepers is just like any other skill that we teach our children. Some of our kids are fast learners, some are not. The goals of sleep training are not the same for every kid or family, and neither is the process. There is no one sleep training method that will work for all babies.

So we won’t give up. Sleep is too important. We’ll keep adjusting our expectations and methods as she grows, develops, and matures and is capable of more and more independence. We’ll continue to support her and love her, even if it that means leaving her alone to struggle a bit, every day and every night.

Jessica Smock is a former educator and researcher who earned her doctorate in educational policy last spring. At her blog School of Smock she writes about parenting and education and was the editor of the recent anthology, The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain, and Power of Female Friendship. She lives in Buffalo, New York with her husband, son and daughter.