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Write along with me ...



So this is me, in your cubicle, at your dining room table or maybe the only time you have the time and space to catch up on stuff like this is in the bathroom –let me guess, little kids at home? --

This is me asking you to consider taking up a notebook. Please, please?

You need nothing fancy. A stack of paper, bound in some fashion – or not. And a pen. My favorite journaling pen right now is a black Bic pen. Sometimes I use the blue one, just to mix it up. Or more likely because it’s the one in my hair or within easy reach.

There are so many reasons to do this – and different ones will resonate with each of you. Some of you are probably instantly out, you’re thinking “Yeah – nope!” And that’s cool. I promise I’ll keep writing about other things. I also promise I will continue to hope you consider joining me.

*If you're thinking YES I want to start, or start again - and that comes with a but ... let me know what that is, okay? (I was going to say "tell me about your but" - and then thought ... well, what you're thinking now. You're welcome.)



The parent trap

The parent trap


May 8, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register


I just had an idea for the best mother’s day gift in the history of ever. Maybe.

I mean, it’s no child-crafted macaroni necklace. Those are so precious they are priceless.

This is something we can give freely to mothers everywhere. And what the heck, dads deserve it just as much.

What I have in mind is giving each other a break. Some slack. A giant portion of grace.


I can’t worry about watching my kids and my back at the same time.

Parents make mistakes. All the time. I’ve made several today and it’s not even time for lunch.

We make bad calls. We lose sight of our priorities. We forget what matters most. 

Look, it’s hard parenting under constant public scrutiny, which, if you haven’t noticed, is the deal these days. It’s hard knowing anything you say or do is game for being disseminated, dissected and distorted on social media.

While people still tend to avoid the messy places where actual abuse and neglect are occurring, it seems it doesn’t take much for a busybody to dial 9-1-1 to tattle on a parent doing something outside of his or her own personal threshold of comfort.

If anyone reading this takes it as an indictment of getting involved in instances of actual abuse and neglect, that represents a willful choice to ignore the intent of my message. Simply distilled, it is this:

I help manage a local information page. Whenever a scanner post details of a call about a child who could be in danger, people seem to ignore the fact that, in all likelihood, the concern will prove unfounded. Police are just running a check to make sure nothing is amiss.

Sometimes it turns out a child has suffered an injury, but not necessarily due to any lapse on the part of parents. Accidents do happen.

I get why these calls are placed. Better safe than sorry, for sure.

But their posting routinely triggers a slew of comments to the effect, “Where was the mother?” — often in all caps following by a series of exclamation points. That makes me want to hit my caps lock key and scream, “Maybe she had to pee! Or even just blink.”

Sure, it’s possible she made a bad call. It happens. But for most of us, it doesn’t take more than one lapse in judgment to exercise greater care next time. 

My 7-year-old recently broke his arm. When someone asks him about it, he is quick to respond, “I fell off the monkey bars after school.”

“After school,” of course, means it happened on my watch. 

If you’ve been tuned into social media, you know “free-range” isn’t just for chickens anymore. It’s another label assigned to parents. It’s intended to be the antithesis of the “helicopter” parent.

We are generally loath to put labels on children, but somehow eager to slap them on one another. 

If I were asked to pick between being a helicopter parent, always hovering about, and a free-range parent, letting my child wander completely unsupervised, I would refuse to accept either label.

I think we virtually all fall somewhere on the continuum, not at one end or the other. And I don’t think that wherever we happen to land makes us any better or worse as parents. 

The whole “free-range/helicopter” debate was kicked up when a couple in Maryland was charged with child neglect for allowing children 6 and 10 to walk to and from a park roughly one mile away.

Suddenly, everyone wants to know, what kind of parent are you, as if any single phrase could sum it up. 

I’m glad we’re having this conversation, though. Because the message I hope to see rise above the noise is one of solidarity.

My wish is to parent in a culture where we trust each other to all want what’s best for our kids, even if we come at it in different ways.

My sincerest desire is to live in a community where we look out for each other rather than looking at each other, eyebrows raised. After all, smugness does not make us safer. 

There’s the “it takes a village” mentality and the “everyone is out for herself” attitude.

Middle ground, people. Middle ground.

**My next book signing gig is Saturday, May 9 at the Coffee Cottage in Newberg from 3 to 6 p.m. Come say “hi” and maybe pick up a copy of my book as a mother’s day gift? Oh, and tell your friends! By the way, there WILL be bon-bons!**

Mothers Day Revisited


**This column is included in Raising The Hardy Boys: They Said There Would be Bon-Bons which could make a pretty cool Mother’s Day gift, just sayin’. **

Still rewriting the story of me

First Published: May 5, 2012

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Whether you grow up in Disneyland or Dysfunction Junction, friction is a natural part of family life. Who doesn't have moments when they look around the dinner table and wonder how they could possibly be related to these people?

Imagine my surprise when I found out, 21 years ago, that this occasional passing fantasy was actually fact in my case.
Let me set the stage for you. It was my freshman year in high school. The assignment was to write an autobiography, with the incentive of extra credit for creativity.

I decided to use a picture of my mom, pregnant with me, for the cover. But I couldn't find any such picture.
I tried to substitute one from the period my mom was pregnant with my brother. None of those existed either.

I found it difficult to believe my father, who even takes pictures of his food, didn't have a working camera available during a pair of nine-month spans. So, overachiever that I was, I had no choice but to take my project to the next level.

When my parents were out one evening, I went into reporter mode, snooping through my mom's red address book. One by one, I called close family friends to announce I was doing a project for school.

Naturally, they were all happy to help. That is, until I asked: "Could you tell me your favorite memory of my mom pregnant?"
Whether by hesitation, an awkward pause or the sharp inhalation of surprise, my suspicions were confirmed.

A couple of them wanted to know if my mom knew about this project. She sure didn't, but this was pre-cell phone, so no one could text my parents a heads up.

Why didn't I simply ask my parents? I did in 1991, and purely by coincidence, it was on Mother's Day.

After a painfully awkward brunch on Bainbridge Island, and a silent drive home, my parents finally told me the truth about my birth.
I felt as if my foundation had cracked.

In retrospect I wonder what that news changed exactly. I mean, besides where I spent my first week of life, everything else was the same.
But it wasn't. Not really.

I wish I could tell you I handled the situation with grace and understanding. But, alas, I was 14. So there was plenty of drama.
Unconsciously, I started to ignore the idea that my parents loved me and instead dwell on the fact that someone I'd never met didn't - at least not enough to keep me.

Now I understand the best way my birth mother could show her love was by acknowledging she couldn't do for me what my parents could. But back then, I started telling myself the secret truth about me was that I was simply unlovable.
This became a core belief of mine, one I sought out and affirmed in my relationships.

It wasn't until very recently that I learned the story I was telling myself wasn't true. How could I have been so wrong about something I was so certain about?

The thing about our birth stories is that they're just that: stories. The meaning we give the story is what matters.

I could focus on the fact that nobody was with me during the first week of my life, or I could instead remember that my parents canceled a ski trip*** to come and get me as soon as they heard they could.

At every birthday since, I've heard that story. And it delights me every single time.

I don't know very much about my biological mom, besides the fact with was an Irish X-ray technician with four children. But I can tell you my real mom has cutting boards stained green with parsley, can make goulash in her sleep, has fingers calloused from a lifetime of hard work yet still capable of soothing a feverish forehead, keeps her nails clean and cuticles trimmed, has a favorite apron in green, and smells like Gucci and geraniums.

She is probably reading this with tears in her eyes. She should know that while I'm sorry for that one awful Mother's Day, I have loved her as my real and only mom on every one of them before and since.

the way, I did get extra credit for my bonus chapter: "My Adoption." I like to think of that as my first investigative reporting piece, inspiring a career in journalism.

**My next book signing gig is Saturday, May 9 at the Coffee Cottage in Newberg from 3 to 6 p.m. Come say “hi” and maybe pick up a copy of my book as a mother’s day gift? Oh, and tell your friends! By the way, there WILL be bon-bons!

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. To contact her, visit Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.

***Didn’t take them too long to get back on the slopes though!


I’m bringing the bon-bons

First Friday Poster


I was distracted on deadline because I was arguing with strangers on Facebook, ironically over a plea for us all to just let each other be. I should mention I was on deadline as the situation in Baltimore was escalating.

I’m glad the video featuring a woman now known as The Baltimore Mom didn’t go viral until after I submitted my column or I would’ve been really, really tempted to tackle that topic instead of the whole free-range fiasco, also triggered by an incident in Maryland.

Because, you know, I have some thoughts on that whole thing. But I think I’ll spend some time sorting them out before writing a reactionary post. I’m thinking we need less reflexive reacting and more careful consideration. So I’ll start with me. Except that one time on Facebook.

Here’s a peek at something that will run in next week’s column, it’s almost like I knew I was going to virtually meet The Baltimore Mom, huh?

Look, it's hard being a parent under constant public scrutiny, which if you haven't noticed is the deal these days. So it's hard enough knowing anything you say or do is game for being disseminated, dissected and distorted on social media but it is harder still to watch my kids and my back simultaneously.


In other business:

  • No. I haven’t seen my doctor yet. But I totally will. Soon. I’m still consulting Google and my journals to put together my list of symptoms and such to maximize my seven and a half minutes with the doctor. You can imagine my dad’s …. how you say … dismay when I told him the “we” who ruled out panic attacks and a few other things was me and my Google Machine. I know, I know. I called today. My call is very important to them. But better luck tomorrow. I’m still feeling pretty weird and foggy and short of breath and other fun stuff. But don’t worry I am “getting lots of rest and taking it easy.” No. But I totally will. Soon.
  • Meanwhile … I’m so excited to have two book signings on the calendar. And I’m bringing bon-bons. Not the melty ice cream ones, or the fancy, pricey ones but rather the kind I can afford on a writer’s budget. But still. Free chocolate. And hugs. Come! Tell your friends. And maybe even buy a book or two.  The first one is FRIDAY, May 1 in downtown Newberg at Chapters Books & Coffee from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the second one is Saturday, May 9 from 3 to 6 at The Coffee Cottage, also downtown Newberg. Thinking my book will make a fun Mother’s Day gift for your favorite mamas. (If you can’t come in person but would like to give one as a gift email me or comment and I can pop a personalized one in the mail in time for Mother’s Day next weekend.)

**Help? For those of you who have already read it, would you consider taking a picture and emailing or texting me a favorite quote or passage? I’m working on a little project and am a little … uhm…attached to pick just a few quotes. This would be a huge help! Doesn’t need to be favorites, actually – just something that resonated or maybe even made you write in the margins. You know how I love that!




Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.