WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “I think it is only natural we all wish for that small break where we can just be ourselves and not be mom for a minute. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as taking a whole vacation, it can just be hiding in the bathroom for 15 minutes to take a second to breathe, running to the store alone, going on a weekend trip, or in my case, driving eight hours away to a cabin in the woods to hopefully unwind and unplug.”

WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “It may take years to realize that you have forgotten about yourself. I know it did for me. But when you finally break out of that mom cocoon it can feel refreshing to finally do something for yourself. It can be as simple as sitting down for 30 minutes to read a book or as elaborate as taking a kid free vacation to recharge your batteries. The reason I am writing this is to remind you that in the middle of the chaos, spit up, and dirty hair, you are in fact a person. You are still you.”

WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “This past summer I finally started letting my daughter stay home by herself. I would be lying if I said I don’t think of every possible thing that could go wrong before I leave the house though. When does protecting them too much start to hinder their growth process? Has worry and fear taken over my life? Am I putting my child’s happiness in a bottle and locking it up until they are old enough to move out of the house? Am I taking away their ability to become risk takers or confidant adventurers all because I let my fear and worry take over my life? I think the answer is yes, at least a little bit.”

WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “I am a big supporter of taking medication to help with one’s mental health and other health related issues. I wouldn’t be able to function without mine. But my daughter is feeling some shame with hers. She feels like something is wrong with her because she has to take medicine. So how do we end this stigma? Unfortunately society has not helped with this. Mental health is still not considered a health problem even though it has the word health right in its name. It is considered taboo to be depressed. People don’t like discussing or dealing with it. I’d like to end that now.”

“From the toddler stage we moved into the little boy stage. The stage where Nathan was learning to become independent. Learning about things he liked and disliked, and teaching us to accommodate his needs as they came along. We were working diligently to help him navigate life with Autism, and he started to be able to do more things for himself. But he still needed some help. He still needed me. He still needed that Happy Meal.”

WSV Columnist Steph Hightree writes, “Most of all, I have learned I never want to be a teacher, and that teaching is a thankless profession. We really need to give these teachers a little more grace and credit than we are giving them in this unprecedented time. Teaching in a normal environment is hard enough but teaching remotely during a pandemic? It’s nearly impossible.”

“This time of the year can be a challenge. But I hope my children see all of the little details I put into making it the best Christmas for them. I hope they know how much I love them, and I hope one day I will realize I really do enjoy all of the behind-the-scenes work it takes to make wonderful memories and traditions. I guess all I really want for Christmas is a nap and for someone else to do the dishes after dinner. Is that really too much to ask for?”

“I’ve said this in almost every column I have written but it will always be true, being a mom is hard. But being a mom in the middle of a pandemic is close to impossible. My children are 13 and 10, so they have questions and concerns of their own. I can’t sugarcoat things anymore. I have to tell them the truth or else they will inevitably call me out.”