Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

When I became a first-time mom, I’d lived more than three decades.

I’d seen the metabolism of my youth falter. I had started using reading glasses and I occasionally made small grunts of exertion when I got up from the couch.

If I had given birth just two years later, my pregnancy would have been considered by many in the health care profession to be a “geriatric pregnancy.” (Whether someone in their mid-30s should be considered “geriatric” is an argument for another day.)

My point is, I’d lived life, man. I’d seen some things.

Knowing this, I was incredibly confused…

My daughter deserves better than a world on fire

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Earlier this week, I sat down to write a blog post for our local paper’s parenting section. The topic I’d given myself to write about — and the topic that had been approved by my editor — was “judging other people’s parenting choices.”

When I suggested this topic months ago, I had fully intended to write a largely superficial article about why we shouldn’t judge other people’s choices.

You can imagine what that article would have sounded like. I would have talked about giving each other grace during these hard times…

This National Breastfeeding Month, I want to remind you breast isn’t always best

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We were the only ones in the emergency department. Or at least that’s what it seemed like. The only people I’d seen since we’d arrived were the nurses who checked us in at the front — screening me for COVID-19, and telling my husband that he could go home or he could wait in the car.

Only one parent was allowed in with a child. About 2 months ago when we’d been in the hospital last, we’d both been allowed to stay with our daughter in the…

Dealing with Fear, Rage and People Who Suck

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If you’ve been in therapy long enough, at one point or another someone will tell you that anger is a secondary emotion.

They’ll tell you anger is just a cover-up for a different emotion like fear or sadness. And sure, of course it is.

But now, as I sit here cradling my burgeoning belly in the time of a burgeoning pandemic — the emotion I feel most strongly isn’t fear and it isn’t sadness.

It’s anger. No, screw that. It’s rage. Pure, unfiltered rage.

She’s the size of a butternut squash —…

How sexism prevents us from talking about postpartum care

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Long story short: I’m 33 years old. I had a chronic health condition that was misdiagnosed for so long it led to anxiety, depression and not so fun bouts with OCD (the real kind, not like when you think liking things neat is the same thing as having a real mental health condition)and PTSD. Following roughly four years and a surgery, I started to feel better. Then I peed on a stick and found out I’m having a daughter in May.

So we’re all caught up now.

My pregnancy has been…

What my male chauvinist neighbor taught me about being a bad dad

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I don’t want to presume to know the vocabulary skills of all second graders. But I think I can safely assume that most of them don’t know what the words “male chauvinist” mean.

But, I did.

I’d figured it out from the context clues when I was eavesdropping on a group of moms I knew. I was very big on eavesdropping after reading Harriet the Spy which suggested that, though I understood the book’s vocabulary, it’s possible I didn’t fully comprehend the moral of the story.

Anyway, the moms were talking about one of the dads I knew — one…

How My Future Daughter Helped Me Nix Self-Improvement for Self-Acceptance

Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been way too into self-improvement.

At an impressionable young age, I’d read my mom’s women’s magazines that would tell me how to lose weight, get fit, get organized and eat healthy.

In the summers when I was in middle school, I’d take these suggestions to heart and I’d prepare daily schedules for myself that I thought would be endorsed by the magazines: wake up by 8 a.m., eat a healthy breakfast, jog two miles, do 30 sit-ups, vacuum, organize my closet, etc.


How Therapy and Feminism Taught Me to Own My Anger and Use My Voice

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

We don’t like angry women.

Throughout history, women’s anger has terrified us so we’ve tried to silence it. In the past, we’ve diagnosed dissatisfied women who had the audacity to say something about it with ailments like “wandering wombs,” or simply called them “hysterical” and locked them away, so they wouldn’t dare bother us with things as unmannerly as their thoughts and feelings.

Now, we simply call women who own their thoughts and feelings, and express them clearly and with conviction “shrill,” “confrontational,” or “overbearing.” …

Also, what’s with all the horses?

Photo by Millicent Leandra on Unsplash

There are a lot of things I don’t like about the holiday season.

Christmas shopping out in the world with people. Ick.

The cold.

People who get upset when you say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and claim your jolly greeting is some sort of microaggression in the imaginary war on Christmas.

And perfume commercials.

I reserve a lot of my holiday hate for the perfume and cologne commercials that stink up my television at this time of year.

To be clear, I’m not a perfume or cologne person in general. The mere…

And I Was Shocked

Photo by yoav hornung on Unsplash

I live in a fairly conservative neighborhood in a fairly conservative state.

My social media feeds and family tree are chock-full of Republicans, NRA members and people who will probably, OK, definitely, vote for Trump again if they get the chance.

We don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things and sometimes that’s hard.

It has led to a few heated exchanges on social media (before I decided to dump Facebook because, turns out, I really don’t care what that random kid from high school is doing nowadays.) …

Ash Strehle Hartman

I’m a freelance writer and editor. I’ve written nonfiction children’s books, bar reviews, health care communications and more:

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