Amazing August (and Our Fifth Blogoversary!)

11223909_10155927501205083_8923143630314572106_nAugust is so amazing… we’ve got our summer groove on and are in the thick of the season. There is alternately so much happening or, if you are lucky/intentional, nothing much happening at all, and both of these states are perfectly good.

It’s also a time when many of us find the time to travel, in all of its many forms. This month, we’re writing about some of the ways in which we move around.  Some of us are destined for faraway places, some of us stay near to home, but all of us are moving, all the time.

We’re happy to announce our special guests lined up, including friend Kristi Ashcroft on summering with her kids. We also have – wait for it – original 4 Mothers co-writer Marcelle Cerny back for a post! It’s wonderful to have her writing on our screen again.

We’ll also offer some tips on making those travel plans work: everything from games, shoes, sunscreen and bug spray.  And if you’re looking for great reads for kids, stay tuned, and we’ll tell you what our favourites are in our What We’re Reading Kids feature.

Most of all, we hope that reading here is, in some small way, giving your summer days a bit of a boost. Because that’s kind of why we’re here in the first place. This season marks our fifth summer writing daily to you – that would be FIVE YEARS – when, exactly, did that happen?

Beth-Anne, Nathalie and I are as surprised as you are… when we started this project those many moons ago, we didn’t have much of an agenda.  What we did know, and what we still know, is that we wanted to show up and write here, everyday. The fact that you are showing up too and reading here is exciting and humbling in equal measure. We now have over 11,000 subscribers, a number that makes us feel as grateful for your support as it makes us proud of our growth. We are so grateful for the new horizons this blog brings to us, the reliable way it calls to us to get the words in our head down on the page/screen, and especially for the way it helps us to connect to each other, to you, and to our world beyond. Thank you so much for joining us in this shared space!  We are looking forward to all the future has to bring.


Happy Blogoversary!

9BeuK0uZSDAnexbwvP3ZdHXRKOoCdJ3ArjMKmFQdIcLY23OQ6G0UalNV7QS3R4TzHappy Blogoversary to us!  4Mothers turns 4 today and to mark the anniversary, we’ve updated our look.

A few weeks ago the three of us met on campus at the University of Toronto.  The lush greenery and historic buildings provided the perfect backdrop for our photo shoot by photographer Sara Beasley.

What did we learn?  That modeling is hard work!  That there is a knack to knowing how to hold your head just so, and position your body in just the right way to avoid triple chins and arm fat, but we sure did have a lot of laughs.  Our cheeks were aching by the end of the session!





For almost a year now, we have been blogging as three mothers and inviting special guests to join in for our regular theme and at issue weeks.  We said a sad farewell to one of our founding members.  We’ve been fortunate to have made our writing foursome up with such talented guest writers.  We love how they have expanded the boundaries of our conversation and our community.

We are so grateful that you have made us part of your day and of your on-line community.  We are thankful for your comments, your social media shares and likes, your word of mouth sharing and your nominations for blogging awards.  We love to write, and hearing back from you makes that process come alive in ways that keep us energized and enthusiastic about this place we call home.

We started 4Mothers with the intention of creating a corner of the blogosphere for mothers to share their feelings about motherhood, relationships, and everything in between without judgment.  Through our personal reflections on motherhood, we wanted to show how women with different opinions and “ways of doing it” could still be supportive of each other, learn from each other and feel connected with each other regardless of any differences.

We are about to start our fifth year of blogging and during this time we have never received any financial compensation for any product or event we’ve featured on 4Mothers.  We get a lot of requests to promote products and causes, and we decline a large majority of those requests.  We only feature products and events that we like on our blog or think that our readers would like to know about.  When we do promote a product, we try to do so in the way we would tell our friends about a great new discovery; it’s something we genuinely like and can recommend.  There may be a time when we decide to accept advertising or financial compensation, but the right format for that has not appeared yet.

Thanks again to all of you for keeping us going and growing.  Please continue to leave comments, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest, and please do say a virtual “hello.”  We love to hear from you!


Beth-Anne, Carol and Nathalie

brick group

A Good and Grounding Place

My computer died yesterday, so I made some elaborate childcare and car borrowing arrangements tonight to go to my sister’s house to write to you about what blogging on 4Mothers means to me.  Having dropped my kids at my mother’s house (thank you God), I stopped at a stop sign and was rear-ended in my mother’s car by a hit and run driver.  As in, he smashed into me, screeched in reverse half a block to get away from me as fast as possible, crashing into a telephone pole before careening into the nearest side street.  Like you might see in a bad TV show. 

I jumped out of the car, memorized his licence plate, called 911, talked to two witnesses, picked up the pieces of my mother’s car (and unknowingly the other driver’s car too) off the ground, drove to my sister’s without closing the trunk of the car, went to the doctor, and am taking what preventative steps I can to stave off or at least minimize whiplash.  Now I need to go home with my three kids and wait for the police officer who will be coming over for the report.

I can’t write to you what I was planning to write because it would take quite a bit of energy to reign in my mind, and I think I’m going to need my energy.  Also my children are either sleeping or crying in the next room.  I don’t feel terrible, but I do find myself pining for some string of months without so much drama.  Never mind.  This is the life I’ve got.  My guardian angel might have been drowsy (I was in a crash) but she’s not asleep (my kids and mother weren’t in the car with me).  Things could be worse.

While life is happening to us, it’s good and grounding to have people who will help you through it, and some means by which to make some sense of our worlds, including the way they can completely change and crumple at a moment’s notice.  My fellow writers of this blog are my friends, that we write together is usually an energizer and sometimes a comfort to me, and as Nathalie says, it provides a means to tame erratic experiences into some kind of narrative.  This is incredibly useful.  I didn’t quite feel like my life had flashed before my eyes tonight, but if I had, 4Mothers has given me women and words that I can lean into.  This is important, and isn’t at all properly captured by the word “blog”.


Writing is the best kind of therapy there is.

If you can scratch out words with a borrowed pencil on the back of a napkin, or open a vein, you can write. If you can write, you can make sense of your dreams, order your sock drawer, and make nice with the demons that spellunk in your amygdala, and it won’t cost you a dime.

Talk therapy might be more efficient, and slightly less painful than writing.  But it doesn’t get the job done as thoroughly as pen and paper.

I took a writing course  in 2010 to work through the effects of a miscarriage and subsequent infertility. I hoped that by reducing those experiences to paper, I could excise them. It was once believed that taking a picture of someone stole their soul. I wanted to transfer my frustrations to paper: to let the ink flow and take my pain along with it.

Catharsis came, not as a result of what I wrote in the course, but as a consequence of the women I met: Nathalie, Beth-Anne, and Carol.  The Other Mothers are a source of inspiration and friendship, and for me this blog has become the best darn therapy money can’t buy.

The women with whom I write challenge me regularly to consider situations and facts from other perspectives than my own, which requires this introvert to pick up her head and look around once in a while.   Most importantly, the Other Mothers force me to actually write — for which I owe them the biggest debt of gratitude. I’ve composed whole novels in my head, but without a deadline, my regular output of pixels on screen is approximately equal to a shopping list. Being responsible to three other people every week to ensure that a post goes up under my name certainly helps grease the wheels: the more I write for the blog, the more I want to write, period.

Despite being a blogger, I consider myself rather private in nature. I don’t know that what I started writing in 2010 will ever be fit for public consumption, but no matter: the process of writing it helped get me out of a pretty serious funk. The women I met while I was writing, to my everlasting gratitude, have helped me to stay out.

“I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I am not afraid of falling into my inkpot” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am often asked why I blog.   Many of my friends don’t know how I find the time to write posts between being the primary care giver of our three young boys, the various other activities that I participate in and organizations that I volunteer with.

I am not sure where I find the time either, but find it I do.  It’s that old adage in action, if you want something done, ask a busy person.

Truthfully, I make time for it.  It only took a few months of writing with these incredible women for me to realize that I was gaining so much more from this experience than I ever thought possible.

My three co-writers whom have challenged me to think about things differently, inspire me to try new things and listen to my ideas without judgment have enriched my life.

While I have definitely grown as a writer, more importantly I feel that I have grown as a human being.  I have learned to take risks and unabashedly try new things even though the outcome is uncertain.  Through my actions I know that I am teaching my boys that life is an evolution where opportunities are presented and regrets are not worth having.

I hope that our blog inspires parents too.  It makes me feel proud when I hear people talking about something we’ve posted and I am giddy when I read comments from people whom I don’t know, sometimes zooming from across the world.

Beyond the stories that we share, I hope we are showing parents that it is possible to find time for something that brings you joy and fills your soul.  And if you are like I was and uncertain about what your passion is, try something.

Encourage yourself to try something new.  Just like you’d encourage your child.

The 4 Mothers Community and the Stories We Shape

As you know from our About Page, the 4 Mothers met in a writing course, and when the course was over, we wanted to stay together.  So we decided to create a blog.  Two years later, and that blog is one of the happiest corners of the internet for me.  Although I am often on the computer past midnight, I never read the posts scheduled by Beth-Anne, Carol or Marcelle.  I prefer to save the other mothers’ posts as a morning gift.

And that’s what the blog amounts to for me: a gift.  It is not always easy to make sure that we have material for each day of the work week, to fit our writing in around the millions of other things we have to do, but doing that writing and reading what the Other Mothers write is always rewarding.  I love how they offer me a new perspective on parenting.  We are all university educated, and so have much in common, but it is our differences that I find so enriching.  The Other Mothers stretch my thinking, make me challenge my assumptions, and are always a generous audience.

4mothers1blog has also given me the gift of taming into narrative the chaotic flux of the life of a mother.  It helps me enormously to rein some aspect of the overwhelming work of being a mother into a short meditation, memory or opinion.  Motherhood is process; writing is product, with a beginning, middle and end.  I find it enormously satisfying to shape bits and pieces of our lives into something with a coherent narrative arc.  God knows the sibling squabbles never end.  I have to find closure somewhere!

Happy Birthday, 4mothers1blog.  And many thanks for the gifts you give.

And Now We Are Two

This month, 4mothers1blog turned two, and this week for our birthday At Issue we will be writing about what blogging has given back to us over the last two years.  Please let us know what your favourite posts have been (our favourites from our first year are here), what topics you have enjoyed reading about, and what you would like to see more of.

Numeral Birthday Candle 3.5" w/Balloon #2

Marcelle’s favourite: Put the Princess on a Punchclock?

Working mothers, we should all rage, rage against Kate Middleton.Apparently, by quitting her day job at her parents’ company, she’s let the side down. Let the sharpening of fingernails commence!

Here’s another woman of privilege who could be setting an example by maintaining a career,  but who has instead chosen a life of leisure. She has, as Katrina Onstad suggests in her Globe and Mail piece,  “[u]nwittingly stepped into the opt-out debate”; by leaving the workforce, Middleton has sided herself with other educated, powerful women (like, suggests Onstad, so many women who leave the workforce to raise their children) for whom work is best avoided.

Given that Middleton is 29 and childless, I question whether she stepped, or was pushed. And as a working mother, ask me if I care whether the princess works at paid employment or not. I’m too busy folding laundry at 11 pm to give a fig.

Middleton is one of maybe a handful of women across the world who live lives of such privilege that they, through birth or marriage, may hold the title of “princess”*. She is everything I am not: childless, wealthy, thin, and blessed with all the time in the world (okay, 10 weeks and 1 day, but who’s counting?) to plan a dream wedding. I vaguely recall trying to interview caterers on my lunch hour while planning my own wedding. I would have given my left leg (its absence wouldn’t have been noticeable; my dress was long) for the luxury of that sort of free time. And I didn’t even have David Beckham and Posh Spice on the guest list. But I digress.

Middleton is, in short, no role-model of mine. But in her defense, if three billion people were going to be watching MY wedding, I’d probably have quit my job to worry about the details, too. And if I’d signed up for a lifetime of travel, charity balls and hospital openings, I wouldn’t be too concerned with the contents of the want-ads.

But wait. Kate’s a modern princess! Why, asks Onstad, can’t Kate be a working princess, too?

Why not, indeed. And if she chooses to, now, or in a few years,  she should. But why should she? Did we miss the part where it was stated that she’s a princess? As in, a woman living a life of privilege bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the lives of any of the women I know?

Apparently, being a princess, with all that entails (and Diana knows, most of us wouldn’t want that gig) is not enough. No, Middleton needs paid employment as well, even if she ends up donating half of that to charity. Why she wouldn’t just do charitable work — like other princesses — isn’t contemplated. Onstat seems to been in possession of a crystal ball of remarkable clarity, such that she has managed to both predict Middleton’s future (or lack thereof) and condemn her to a life of banality in one fell swoop.  Let this be a lesson to working women everywhere: don’t quit your day job.

I suppose, if Middleton dies tomorrow, her epitaph might be: “Putative Princess. Expected to accomplish nothing else. Sad, really”.

But let’s be clear: Kate Middleton, for all that she embodies the new, common-touch royalty, is quite simply  no longer one of us, and her getting a job won’t change that.   Oh, she is unremarkable in some ways – caught up as so many women are, in planning what is often thought of as one of the most important days of one’s life – but right or wrong, her contribution to society will never be measured by how many widgets she can pack into a box in five minutes.

Nor, for that matter, will her husband’s. But no one’s asking him to get a job at Tesco.

As for Michelle Obama, Onstad suggests that she is yet another one of those “spouses of powerful men, who give up their jobs and recede”. I like to think, however, that she’s just biding her time. In the spirit of compromise.

It’s  worked for some pretty powerful women. One might ask Hillary Clinton how it’s working for her.


*June 2011 update:   In the interest of accuracy, Catherine, as she is now to be known, is not a true princess but is now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  Still doesn’t change the fact that it’s unlikely she’ll be working anytime soon.

Our First Blogaversary!

A year ago, 4Mothers1blog was born.  We were four very different women who had met less than a year earlier in a writing class for moms, but who had that strange intimacy born from sharing some very personal memoir writing on the rite of passage that had transformed our worlds:  motherhood.

We decided we wanted to keep writing together about our varied experiences of being a mother, albeit in a much different forum, and created 4Mothers.  We are pleased with our efforts (277 posts!), delighted with our readers (almost 61,000 views!), and inspired by the conversation that often gets sparked through our posts.

To celebrate our first blogaversary milestone, we have each selected a favourite post from our archives to re-publish this week.  We thank you for taking the time during your day to visit us, and hope you continue to enjoy reading us here as much as we enjoy writing.

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