Do we deserve the bad rep?

Photo by Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

I had no frame of reference for how to be a mother-in-law when I became one four years ago. I never knew my mother-in-law, and my ex-husband never knew my mother. Everything I knew about in-law relationships came from movies and TV, or friends and co-workers.

Movies and TV have us all pegged as monsters, and the consensus in real life wasn’t much better. All the young married women I worked with told me horror stories about their in-laws. Mothers-in-law were terrible, judgmental and intrusive. My older co-workers assured me, however, that it was the daughter or son-in-law that was…


Give them the gift of what you’ve learned

Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash

Graduation season is nearly here. As parents, high school and college graduation is a time for relief; that both you and your kid(s) made it. They are both milestones, turning points where we see our kids beginning adulthood and careers with their own paychecks and hopefully some good health insurance.

It’s a huge step and one worth celebrating.

The question is, how do you celebrate the culmination of all your work as a parent? What can you give your kids to commemorate the sweat, blood, and tears you put into raising them?

I did the traditional party and gifts for…


Love, Mom (an old nurse)

Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

I am completely unbiased in my opinion that being a registered nurse is the best career a person (who can deal with blood and needles) can choose. It has everything: interesting and meaningful work, good pay, good health insurance, and endless possibilities to expand and change direction. Don’t like general care? Move to the ICU, be a school nurse, be a nursing professor, go back to school and be a nurse anesthetist (a brilliant move in my, again, unbiased opinion), a nurse midwife, or a nurse practitioner.

When my two oldest kids graduated from nursing school I was about as…


I say yes

Nativity scene portrayed with dolls
Nativity scene portrayed with dolls
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Before everyone gets angry, I know it is possible to be a thoughtful, contemplative parent while raising religious children.

However, this wasn’t my experience as a child or as a parent.

My parents raised me in a religious home. It didn’t keep me from screwing up in all kinds of ways, and, honestly, I reveled in my rebellion. Religion was always there, though, simmering in the background. I thought my mutiny rejected how I was raised, not necessarily a rejection of religion itself.

I assumed, once I had kids, I’d find my way back to organized religion. I thought that’s…


Why protecting your kids from everything isn’t the right move

Woman holding umbrella over child in silhouette.
Woman holding umbrella over child in silhouette.
Photo by J W on Unsplash

Parenting is confusing, frustrating, and exhausting. One of the things I found the most confusing as my kids got older is this: my job as a parent is to protect them, right? If my kid messes up or gets hurt, isn’t it my fault for not teaching/warning/protecting them better? Isn’t it my responsibility to be sure they don’t have to go through the things I went through? But then how do they learn anything themselves? …


The advantages of being a slow runner

A turtle in grass
A turtle in grass
Photo by Nathália Arantes on Unsplash

Unless I’m driving, I am not a quick person. No matter what I do or what I’ve tried, I’m just not a speed demon. But I’m a runner… just a slow one.

I have read dozens of books on running and subscribe to multiple magazines as well. I’ve read more blog posts, newsletters, and posts about running than I can count. Articles on getting faster, setting personal records, and how to find your anaerobic threshold (by going faster). Faster times, quicker foot turnover, speedier gaits, longer strides. Lighter shoes, frictionless clothing, pumpin’ music. …


And why isn’t jiu -jitsu?

Man and woman with fists up, sparring outside of a home
Man and woman with fists up, sparring outside of a home
Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

A few years ago, I discovered I like to fight.

This was a surprise since I’m a generally peaceful, middle-aged mom of three grown kids. Plus, I grew up with six brothers so you’d think any pugilistic tendencies would have shown up earlier.

It started with a self-defense class I took with my kids and then continued with kickboxing. It was a great workout, and I loved learning new things.

Mostly, though, I loved walking to my car at night after work with a little less fear.

I loved it so much that I began…


Why I didn’t give my kids an allowance

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

My kids did not get an allowance while growing up. They claim it was because I was the meanest mom in history. Actually, it was because I didn’t want to raise little assholes.

My kids got to allowance-age around the time I finished my nursing degree. I was an older student, and I took a lot of classes with 18- and 19-year-olds. Some were serious and responsible while others were shockingly spoiled and entitled.

The latter group complained about their parents limiting their spending money and taking away their credit cards. They…


Time management helped make me successful.

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

“Busy.” That’s how we all answer the question, “Hey! How’s it going?”

And it’s true. Bills need to be paid, dogs need their shots, kids need dentist appointments and more money in their lunch accounts. Oh, and the house needs to be cleaned, the laundry done, the lawn mowed, and that leaky faucet fixed. Add to that the needs of extended family, friends, and work. Plus, having time for exercise and hobbies.

It’s no wonder our heads are spinning.

Time is the only resource we can’t create more of no matter what we do or how hard we try. If…


Why I’m glad I was guilted into adopting the goodest boy

Zeke sitting in my office, looking pretty
Zeke sitting in my office, looking pretty
Photo of the goodest boy by Amy Torbenson

Zeke joined our family in the middle of a tumultuous divorce. Because every household going through massive changes needs an eighty-pound lab/retriever mix. When we got him, Zeke was so hyper/anxious the shelter had him on meds to calm him down.

I should add that I’m a bit of a neat freak. And a cat person.

My 16-year-old son broached the topic of adopting a dog on the drive home from a family reunion. We had four hours in the car ahead of us and I thought we would…you…

Amy Torbenson

Mom of two amazing sons and one amazing daughter, lifelong reader of anything and everything, (really) slow runner, and a terrible cook.

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