We need to stop talking and start listening.

I stood in my kitchen a few months ago, my son a few feet away, and I could just feel the sadness emanating from him, “what’s wrong?” I asked, and, as usual he replied, “nothing, I’m fine.”

I’m not sure how I knew, but I felt it and said to him “Jacob, you know there’s nothing you can’t tell me, if we’ve learned anything from the past few months it’s that your mom has pretty much done everything and doesn’t judge anything.” Rowan looked over at him and said “it’s true, you can tell her anything.” He broke down in that moment, let me hold him and proceeded to tell me everything he’d been bottling up.

It was a breakthrough moment for us, where we both were able to sit and talk as 2 people, not just mom and son.

I had a lightbulb moment a few years ago, a tragedy rocked our small town and put a spotlight on the immense pressure our kids were under when a local child took his own life, and in this moment, I began to question everything I thought I knew about raising teens and being a good parent. I realized it didn’t matter where my kids went to college, or what sorority they were in, what mattered is that they were happy, healthy and listened to.

When our kids were little we had ideas on who they would become, ideas taken from our own families and the ideals we’d grown up with, but as they grew up we realized who they actually were was so much better. When we stopped talking so much and started listening more, we realized what amazing people we were raising.

Open, honest dialogue with my teens had been the best part of doing this show, the issues we’re dealing with, often highlighted in the public, had brought us so much closer, and being able to look at each other and say, “I’m not perfect, but I’m trying, and thank you for understanding,” has given us all such more open, honest and meaningful conversations.

Teens are amazing people, love them the way the are, listen when they talk and give them the love and support to be their authentic selves…..I promise it’s worth it.

You can’t make anyone happy but yourself

I was talking to a friend yesterday, she was on vacation, somewhere warm and beautiful with her family and she mentioned how much she despised it because “it’s my job to keep everyone happy.”

At the time I laughed it off, anyone who has traveled with 2 small kids knows it’s hard, but when I woke up this morning, it was still in my head, and I couldn’t help but think “no it’s not.” It’s not our job to keep everyone happy, at least it shouldn’t be. I’ve planned the most magical Disney trips only to have a child break down and have to leave early, we’ve been on ski vacations where a teenager refused to leave the condo, and more times then I can count I’ve had a child, who after 5 minutes has looked at me and said “I’m bored.”

As parents are jobs are to love, nurture and support, to listen and guide, to offer advice and encouragement, but free entertainment? Not always kid. I’m not saying don’t play with your kids, of course it’s great to play a board game or build a sand castle, but also remember it’s good for them to figure out how to be content on their own, and being a little bored or unhappy when you travel is a part of that.

We live in a world where everything is instant, so at times maybe it’s best to let your kids just “figure it out,” given enough time I’ve noticed mine will eventually go off and build a snowman, go on a quest for treasure at the beach or break out all the pens and paper in the hotel drawer and create a game only the can understand.

Give your kids a chance, step back, read a book, and focus on yourself, if your kids see you happy and relaxed I promise it’ll trickle down and everyone will have a better time for it.

How much has your life changed?

I’ve been asked this question a lot lately, friends, family, people on Instagram, and the truth is, not much.

I still wake up in the morning, grab coffee and stagger back to bed hoping it kicks in, I still half ass a healthy breakfast for the little kids as I try and fit a few minutes in with the older ones, and I still yell “get your shoes on,” as we try to make it out the door on time (usually failing.)

The day to day, my friends and family are the same (mostly, things with my mom have been hard, but that’s a whole different post,) I drop off the kids, workout, go to Target and search for dance shoes, I wipe the counters and pick up toys just as much as before, the only place things are different is social media.

Opening up your life, the good, bad and honest, you think you know what to expect. I didn’t, not really, some parts have been amazing, the hundreds of people that reached out after Rowan shared her story about OCD and anorexia made us feel like we were making a difference and gave us such a feeling of love and community, the women who shared their stories about their own relationships with their mothers made me feel less alone and the moms who laughed with me as I danced, kid free, around the hotel suite, made me remember why I wanted to do this show in the first place! Then there’s the haters, the ones that say mean and hurtful things, and as much as I remind myself to not look at the comments, sometimes the sneak in, I knew this was part of it, and I’m working on developing a thicker skin, but damn it hurts sometimes.

I love being on the show, I love when fans come up and say hi, I like being part of such an iconic part of T.V. history, but I’m still just Braunwyn, whose probably headed to Orangetheory, then to the grocery store in my mini van!