Feast or famine. We’re all getting along gloriously, or annoyed and arguing all day. We find three pairs of shoes we want, or zero pairs of shoes that will be the needed match. The kitchen is full of desserts and we overeat, or we hate everything we see in the pantry.

Tough conversations also seem to fall into this category. We can go for weeks or months without one, and then suddenly as the girls’ worlds get bigger in some way, I’m ambushed – sometimes caught still trying to map out what I should bring back up when a new subject pops up. What the heck did parents do before portable devices with a pathway to Google?! I rationally know I am not dumb, but I certainly feel like it pretty regularly. And I know the exact face I make when I know I am expected to speak but am out of my comfort zone, and four- letter-naughty words are rattling around in my head.

Did you know makeup is tested on animals? I knew this, and yet I didn’t really know it. My go-to when unprepared is to respond to a question by asking a question, to buy time and assess the seriousness – a little but what have you heard? – but that didn’t even help here. She’d read a lot by the time she asked me. There’s no good answer for why humans would intentionally hurt animals, whether you’re trying to explain it to a person who doesn’t love animals or to a 10-year-old tender-hearted animal-lover. Cruelty is cruelty and it’s just not right. And no words can erase or explain the images that are so easily found on social media. So I landed on the old “when you know better, you do better” and sat patiently as she went through all of my products. Thankfully only four things ended up in the bad brands pile and a quick trip to Sephora fixed that. I was so proud to watch Audrey proudly tell the guy who greeted us that we were there to replace products by brands that aren’t kind to animals.

Is abortion a sin? I’ve found that when I don’t feel certain in my answer, often because I am not really sure what I think or believe, that I just focus on statements that I am certain about. (1) Every woman I know who’s had one, whether they ultimately regretted it or not, remembers that day as one of the hardest of her life. (2) 1 in 3 or 4 women have had one, so we all know people who’ve made that choice and people who’ve made that choice fill our churches. (3) It takes two people to create a baby but abortion seems to be a sin of women only, and that’s just wrong. Whether the father is a loving counterpart or an abuser, he didn’t use birth control or tried to and it didn’t work, he drove her to the procedure or didn’t know the details, or maybe he was not around to even find out his counterpart was pregnant – he shares responsibility in the pregnancy and the outcome. (4) If we don’t lean toward empathy for people who’ve had to make this hard choice, no matter what choice they ended up making, we will never have real conversations with many of the people in our lives because shame thrives in environments of judgment.

I feel weird about x. I hate when I don’t know context and I sense that if I ask a dozen questions to get the needed context I might frustrate the child and the opportunity for the conversation will be lost. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, even if it makes you seem silly to others, remove yourself from the situation. Always follow your gut. Additionally, if your gut says all is ok but something isn’t sitting right with a BFF, follow her gut. Maybe she’s more in touch with the universe today. Or maybe someone who would never be harmful to you would be harmful to her or someone else. Maybe it’s not even about physical harm; maybe it’s about mental peace. Follow your gut and support your tribe when they need to follow theirs. As a Mom or a friend or a colleague or a stranger, we need to support women following their instincts or advocating for who and what comes into their space.

There’s no reason for this anxiety today. You’re right; today was a good day. But anxiety is not always about what’s happened today. Sometimes it’s about what happened a while ago. Sometimes it’s about lack of sleep or a good meal, sometimes it’s about overstimulation or a trigger, and sometimes it’s just about brain chemistry or hormones. Anxiety isn’t always going to make sense. Time spent in the moment overanalyzing all the reasons it may be happening or shouldn’t be happening is time spent poorly – time spent on how we help someone or ourselves get back to peace is time well spent. Sometimes we will really want to do things that will be a struggle for someone we care about. We can do them on our own or not do them – but part of loving someone with anxiety is not expecting them to do things that will cause them stress and helping them feel safe enough to communicate and to create boundaries, without fear of our reactions.

Tough conversations make me second guess myself in ways I never do in other areas. Why did I take classes like Women in Cinema or Art History?! I should have been in classes like Explanations for Life’s Big Questions and Appropriate Responses to Drug and Alcohol Questions at Each Age Range.

Just as I was overthinking all the ways I could maybe go back and touch on a few extra points without being annoying, I found my “Kindness Is” shirt in the mailbox (check out Kind Cotton!). I’d forgotten I ordered it, but it arrived at just the right time. Perhaps as long as we teach our kids the core things, and keep focusing primarily on those, we don’t always have to overthink so much.

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