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Spirit Animal

Recently, while doing a meditation, my spirit animal emerged so clearly from within that I was unable to dispute its presence. In the meditation, sitting around the campfire in the woods, a red tailed hawk emerged from inside me, Interestingly, the word that came to mind was eagle, as I don’t know much about birds. When I searched Google images, there it was: the red tailed hawk, which is somehow related to the bald eagle. And two words also emerged in capital letters during this meditation, SOAR and ABOVE. Not knowing enough about spirit animals and the hawk in particular, my quest for information began.

The concept of a power animal or spirit animal is universal in all native cultures. It may be perceived that power animals act as spirit guides to help or protect individuals, family lineages or entire nations. They represent a person’s interconnection to all life, their character, power and inner self. When we call for a power animal, the universe provides us with the one we need- we do not get a choice. In fact, we may receive one that doesn’t fit with what we think of ourselves or actually dislike. The animal that comes to us represents an instinctual part of ourselves that we may be disconnected from. A person can have more than one power animal, and power animals can also change over time, depending on the path of one’s life. Power animals most often appear in dreams, meditations, initiations and visualizations.

When a hawk swoops into your life, be ready for a whole new level of awareness developing in your mind and spirit. Having a hawk as a spirit animal means you have an inclination towards using the power of vision and intuition in your daily life. The hawk uses wisdom while seeing situations from a higher perspective, uses the power of observation and focuses on the task at hand. A hawk also takes the lead when the time is right. Interestingly when you have the hawk as a spirit animal, you may have a natural inclination to receive visions, which I always have.

I could not ask for a better companion then the hawk on this Suburban Goddess Mom journey.

Mom

My mother died thirteen years ago on March 28th; and though my actual memories of the days and weeks and months and years that led up to her death have faded mostly, my feelings of sorrow are still right below the surface. Despite all those years that have rolled by, all those words I have spoken and written, I still feel a gap where she once was, which I can’t quite find anything to fill.

As the years go by, my feelings of loss have changed shape. Some years just hit me worse than others, and I have no doubt that my grief is exacerbated by whatever head space or stage of life I’m currently in. Some days are especially difficult: anniversary, birthdays, Mother’s days, family holidays and life milestones.

When someone we love dies, their body goes but their love remains. They live on through us, through the things they left behind and the memories they have made.

I have learned this: the magnitude and bottomlessness of the pain you feel is a testament to the love you shared. And while I don’t ever expect to arrive at a point in life where I’m alright with the fact that my mother is gone, I know that I am so, so lucky to have loved and been loved that much by anyone. Time does heal but there are scars left behind.  Loss is a lesson in being vulnerable; it taught me to treasure time and people.

I love you and miss you, Mom.  Thank you for the lessons and gifts you have given me during your life and during your afterlife.

love,

The Suburban Goddess Mom

AKA, Marna

Raising A Son

While single mothers have to fill all the roles life throws at them; breadwinner, chauffeur, tutor, chef, maid, disciplinarian, role model, etc., there is one role that is impossible to fill, and that is the role of father. I, for one, do not want to be the father; I just want to be the best mother I can be.

But what is a dad?  Father is more than just a name. It’s more than a title. It is more than the sperm that fertilized an egg. He’s a man who knows his role and will not relinquish it for anything. Things happen: divorce, unexpected tragedies, and life trauma. But no matter your circumstances, when your child comes looking for dad’s face, they know exactly where to find it. It takes personal discipline to be that man. Not nearly enough is done in our culture to celebrate the men who hold their position well. 

My son, Brayden, is an inquisitive child. It is one of his best qualities and one of his most exhausting qualities. He asks questions all day everyday, from sun up to sundown. The game twenty questions is a warm up for him, really.

Recently, he has been asking a lot of questions about his penis and about puberty. As always, I answer his questions to the best of my abilities, using honesty and compassion. And when I don’t know the answer, we always figure out how to get the answer. Sometimes it takes asking a teacher or his father or just doing research. This most recent line of questioning has made me pause and ponder how difficult it is to be a “single” mother raising a son. I say single in quotations, because I do have my amazing partner, Chris, who is with us daily and does more than his fair share of co-parenting, as well as the children’s father who’s very active in their lives. Nonetheless, there are bound to be many challenges ahead as a woman raising a son.

How lucky are my son and I that we have many male role models to support us? We have his father, his grandfather, my partner, his fantastic first grade teacher, an amazing vice principal, basketball coach, etc. Each one of these men will help mold Brayden into the amazing man I know he will be. But since he is with me the majority of the time, I play a significant role.

My goal is to guide my son toward manhood and help him become the kind of man I can be proud of. I will do this by teaching him values, making sure he understands appropriate behavior, keeping the lines of communication open, and not making him the man of the house before his time. This Suburban Goddess Mom is raising her son to the best of her abilities and the abilities of all the men around us.


What’s In a Name?

With a name like Marna, you often think and talk about names. People are always asking me how I got my name. What does it mean? They are often mispronouncing it or forgetting it. In my mind it’s just a name, random letters arbitrarily in an order.

You may be surprised to know I have had many names in my life. I was born Marna Carly Noritz. Noritz was my dad’s last name, and Carly was a name I was given by my father to remember one of his relatives who died, come to find out later of suicide. Then after my dad abandoned me and divorced my mother, I decided I wanted to change my name. I was 15. I became Marna-Daryn Silverman. Silverman is my mother’s maiden name, and Daryn was a name I chose to remember my grandmother Dorothy. For a while I went by MD. Then I got married and became Marna-Daryn Altman. Altman is my now ex-husband’s last name. After I got divorced, I decided to keep Altman as my last name for my kids. When I taught I was Miss Marna. Then I had kids and became Mom and Mommy and also JoJo’s mom and Brayden’s mom. But honestly, I don’t really identify with any part of my name. I don’t feel like a Marna or a Mrs. Altman.

Recently Brayden has been asking about changing his name. He would like to go by his middle name Henry. When I asked him why, he said he feels like a Henry. So I try my best to call him Henry, at least for now. Truthfully I don’t know if he is more of a Brayden or a Henry.

That got me thinking: what makes someone identify with a name? Parents arbitrarily pick names, but what if they are wrong? What if he really is Henry, and I am really called someone else? Would having a different name make me someone else?

Maybe names are so important because very often, the first piece of information we have about a person is their name. It’s often the first thing you learn about someone, and we form judgments about people very rapidly.  And those judgments accumulate, so the first piece of information is especially important.  It can lean you in a positive direction or a negative direction and can set the stage for future interactions.  

Another factor is that we identify very strongly with our names, and they are an important part of the baggage that we associate with ourselves.  They reflect upon us. I don’t, but everyone I have spoken to about this topic seems to.

Choosing your child’s name is a big decision–after all, he’ll be walking around with it for the rest of his life. When a child is born, the name reflects more on you, the parent, than him. The name doesn’t belong to you–you’re making the decision because your child can’t do it for himself–but what you choose does say a lot about your personality. As your child gets older, the name will also reflect on him–especially when he’s doing things like sending out job resumes. People do draw conclusions based on someone’s name. It sends out such a strong signal before the person even walks into the room.

There is a surprising number of parents who, following the birth of their child, suffer “namer’s remorse”. In a recent poll of 1,219 mothers conducted by BabyCenter.com, 10 percent considered changing their baby’s name. The reasons they gave ranged from being inspired by another name to having a relative disagree with the choice. Many of them use a nickname instead, but some will go the legal route and officially change the baby’s name.

Regret is common after any big decision, and few prenatal decisions these days are as open to debate as picking a child’s name. Rare are the parents who haven’t invested in a small library of baby-name books or trolled the Internet for a name unique enough to be usefully Googled, but not so weird as to cause ridicule. Today, there’s this perception that naming a child is almost like naming a product — there’s this huge national drive now to not be like anyone else.

I am sure I don’t identify with my name, because it has been changed so many times. And I will honestly answer to any and all versions of my name. But right now the name I like best and that fits best is Suburban Goddess Mom.

 

Gray, Yay

I am 37 years old and thinking about going gray. More accurately I am already gray, but I am allowing myself to no longer cover up the gray I already have.

I was 18 when I first spotted a very few gray hairs, a little patch just above my third eye. It was impossible not to notice. I felt a twinge of embarrassment, sure, but I told myself it was fine; I’d just dye my hair.  And so, I began the monthly process of covering my grays like clockwork.  So much time, money, chemicals and shame.

Cosmetologists and colorists, as a general rule of thumb, advise going gray when 80% of your hair is white/gray or when your hair starts feeling increasingly dry and brittle.  I do not believe I am at this point or anywhere near it, but for me and for now, I am ready to try to go gray.

I fear “looking” old. I worry that people will treat me differently, or that people will stop noticing me altogether. I worry that my outside will not reflect how young and free I feel on the inside.  I am worried people will say things, and I won’t know how to answer.  I’m worried about what Chris and my kids will think.  I am worried what I will think.

For some reason, our culture is obsessed with youth and preserving said youth. We overlook the advantages of aging – being wiser, smarter, and more settled in life – in an attempt to look like our younger selves.  There isn’t a grandmother, mother, aunt, godmother, or sister who doesn’t want the younger women in her life to feel confident in their own skin. Often, we learn from our role models, and unfortunately, there aren’t many gray-haired women over 50 in the public eye and very few under 50. If young women and girls don’t see older women being confident as who they are, why should they be? Set an example for the girls in your life of what a real, live woman looks like as she ages. Show them that there’s nothing wrong with embracing who we are; and that any person – small, large, blonde, gray or white-haired – should feel beautiful in their own skin.

 Confidence is beauty. Being true to yourself is beauty. So this Suburban Goddess Mom is going gray, yay!  Besides, if I hate it I can always change my mind and dye it.