Enough is Enough

One quote has been racketing through my brain for the past few days, and that is: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do” by Eleanor Roosevelt.  Today I found out why when my daughter came out of school and told me that she’d been intentionally slammed against the wall by another girl in her class.  The force that she was smashed into the wall with caused her to crumple to the floor in pain.  The lunch aid on duty saw what happened, recognized the pain my daughter was in and said she would report the assault…but then proceeded to walk away and do no such thing.  If you follow me on twitter then you might recall the extremely difficult time we’ve been having with her school and the relentless bullying that she’s been enduring.  Reporting the offenders has gone nowhere and the bullying has only gained momentum.  The last time I spoke with the school about the threats and harassment I was told by the school’s guidance counsellor that this is “normal every day behavior and that my daughter should get used to it because 6th grade would be worse.”  This was said in response to my concerns over daily threats from a girl who said she was planning to beat my daughter up on the last day of school.  Other kids were in on the plan and found great enjoyment in reminding my daughter every day how fun it was going to be to see her get beat up…and that they were planning to bring their video cameras to record it.  And yes, her school claims to have “zero tolerance for bullying”…hosts anti-bullying rallies and conferences…and coats their hallways with anti-bullying posters.  Clearly talk and action are two entirely different things.

So I did what I never would have thought I could do…I pulled her out of school.  My daughter’s physical and emotional health were hanging in the balance and I could not just sit around idly and wait to see what would happen next.  I need to be her advocate.  She needs to know that even if an entire school system thinks abuse is acceptable or is willing to look the other way…I will not.  How else can I teach her to stand up for and respect herself?  I know I’ve made the right decision, but it is a choice that is not taken lightly.  This change of course means that a lot will be in flux for us in the coming weeks.  Not only have I pulled her out of school, but we are packing up and relocate to Oklahoma (you can read more about our move over on Creature Comforts) next Monday (yes, only a week to pack).

I am trying to remain as positive as possible and feel hopeful that good things are in store for us in the near future.  I have tried to make the best out of our move to New Jersey and what has been an overwhelmingly negative past 8 months…but there comes a time when enough is enough.  I have come to realize that this place is just not for us, and we are moving on.

Thanks to all of you who have offered your kind words of support here and on Twitter!  Your encouragement and thoughtfulness has helped me more than I can say.  I will not be updating this blog for a while (until we have things set back up in in our new home).  See you then.  xox Ez

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63 Comments

  1. Julia / / Reply

    I hope you and your daughter find peace in your new move. The public school system is frightening (I’ve taught in it for years) so congratulations for being a parent who is aware of what is going on. I hope your baby girl is okay and that this move will heal you both. God Bless.

  2. Diane Faye Zerr / / Reply

    I’m so happy for you! For a few reasons (and I’ve been reading and commenting about your ordeal on twitter). 1. You’re brave enough to stand up for your daughter. 2. You’re taking a risk by moving and for good reasons. 3. You and your daughter need a fresh start and you’ve put her first in your life (awesome!).

    You’re a good mom and cheers to you for recognizing an awful problem that happens to many (including myself, it was terrifying) and it’s difficult to get over the bullying.

    The school is disgusting for not taking this matter into their own hands! Shame on them! And more than likely the girl(s) who are/were bullying your daughter will now move on to someone else.

    Good luck and take your time!!!!

  3. juliette / / Reply

    oh my word, that is horrible. you poor things! I’m appalled by the response of the school administration. I was the subject of horrible bullying in middle school/jr high in multiple schools (we moved a lot and i really did dress dorky), however the teachers and administration were always supportive and active in advocating for me, even back in the 80′s! I really hope this fresh start will be the the one you need. I like how you’re moving to be near family, that’ll be a huge source of support for both of you as well. hugs.

  4. Betsy / / Reply

    What a good mom– and you’re teaching her what being a good mom is!

    Good luck with your move :)

  5. Kaye Prince / / Reply

    I am so proud of you for not just sitting by the wayside! Your daughter must be really happy to have a mum like you. I wish you all the best of luck with your move to Oklahoma – I have a feeling that this will be really good for you guys. Don’t worry about the blogs, just take your time and get settled in; we’ll all be here when you get back!

  6. Emma Angel / / Reply

    Dearest Ez, I was so sorry to hear what an awful time you have been having lately. I read your blogs daily although i hardly ever comment because i am lazy. Sorry.
    It is terrible that such things have to happen to our children especially in a place where they should be nurtured and protected. Unfortunately these things do happen, they happen here in the UK too. The school should be ashamed of how they have handled the situation.
    I am glad that you have made the decision to move on. Hopefully you will settle well in your new house (from the sounds of it anything would be better than your apartment). It is hard leaving behind friends but good friends will always keep in touch and be there for you.
    Take care of yourself and your daughter. oxo

  7. Melissa Allam / / Reply

    Ez,
    You are an awesome Mom for showing your daughter that she is the most important to you. I’m so sorry that she would have to go through something like that and all the seemly negative things that have come your way since your move. I will be praying for an easy adjustment for you and your daughter for this next move. Sounds like it will be good for you two to be near your family again.

  8. Mudrick / / Reply

    Hi Ez,
    I’ve long enjoyed your Creature Comforts Web site and have followed you here. Just sending a little light your way and letting you know that your daughter will never forget how you stood up for her when she needed it!

  9. Erfs / / Reply

    I’ve never commented before but have lurked for a while now :) Just wanted to say I think what you did was completely right and definitely in the best interest of your daughter. I’m actually writing my dissertation on bullying and its effect on mental health and behavior problems – specifically drug initiation and use. I won’t bore you with the specifics but basically, experiencing bullying – especially chronic – is a huge risk factor for anxiety, depression, increased loneliness, drug use, etc. etc. Good for you for standing up for your daughter – you seem like a wonderful mother. Best of luck.

  10. Brigitte / / Reply

    One of my coworkers just did the exactly same thing with her daughter — pulled her out of a school that was doing nothing to stop her bullying, despite conferences, etc. As a person that was bullied as a child, I respect your decision so much. You are teaching your child that there is always an out — that no one has to put up with untenable circumstances.

    Best of luck on your move. I’ll definitely be waiting for more news when you’re settled.

  11. kelly m / / Reply

    that is so sad, and horrible! i also think it’s quite rude of the counselor to tell you that your daughter should put up with the bullying. i’m really so sorry that this is happening, but i think you’re a wonderful mom and i hope you and your daughter are happy in your new home!

    all the best!

  12. daisy janie / / Reply

    Nature vs. nurture. Def a good bit of both for you right now Ez. Continue to trust & follow your instincts as you have, and you and your daughter will always find yourselves in a comfortable & healthy environment …..where you can both thrive. I wish you the very best as you make your way in your new home. My heart goes out to you…

  13. Tracy / / Reply

    I’m so sorry to hear of your string of bad luck. your poor daughter! luckily, she has a great, strong mom like you. best wishes for a smooth move! x

  14. mmorawski@sbcglobal.net / / Reply

    I would do THE. EXACT. SAME. THING.! Teaching our daughters that that CRAP IS NOT ACCEPTABLE is a job I will happily take on. Being a single mother I need to be both sides of her care: mama bear AND papa bear! I strive to be both. And Mama bears are VERY dangerous around their young . . .

    Traveling mercies to you both.

    mary

  15. m / / Reply

    I’m so sorry this is happening to you–I hope your move goes smoothly! My prayers are with you and your family.

  16. Melanie K. / / Reply

    Good luck! I think you did the right thing – there is no way a bully should be tolerated. Period.

  17. crissy / / Reply

    You are doing the right (and maybe only) thing! And you daughter will thank you and respect you for it for the rest of her life. My family went through something similar when my younger sister was in high school. Girls breaking into her car, stealing her things, reporting her to the police for underage drinking (which she never ever did). She had always been an outgoing, sweet, funny girl and was becoming miserable, hateful, and introverted. My mom pulled her out of school and moved back to Hawai’i. And it was the BEST thing she could have done. In a matter of weeks she was back to herself and has been a stronger person for going through the move.

    Your daughter is so lucky to have her mother on her side fighting for her. And she knows it.
    Good luck in Oklahoma!

  18. Ann / / Reply

    Ez, I am sorry to hear that you are going through such stress in you life right now, however, I’d like to say that I admire you and that I truly hope you get a nice new start.

    I understand how you feel about what you and your daughter are going through. I have a 2 year old girl and I would go nuts if someone had to threaten or harm her. You’ve done a great job controlling things that would make anyone crazy.

    I have experienced many of these things and I live away from my family, I assure you that when you get to see them, hug them and talk with them it will give you encouragement enough to tackle the next thing with a lot of strength.

    I pray that you get all the love and comfort you deserve and that your daughter may find the peace and content any girl her age needs in a new beginning along with a precious mom like you.

    Be blessed and stay strong!

  19. margot / / Reply

    that entire school system should be shut down.

    you seem like an amazing mother. wishing you luck & happiness in your move!! :-)

  20. Lauren / / Reply

    I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. No one should be treated like that! Especially in elementary school. Hope everything goes well for you two. You’re in my prayers :)

  21. shannon / / Reply

    I pulled my son out of school two years ago and we’ve been homeschooling ever since. He is grateful Every Single Day that he doesn’t have to go back. Good luck on your move, I’m sure things will work out great for you!

  22. Megan / / Reply

    I am so sorry your daughter has been going through this, and now you. I was bullied when I was young; in Junior HIgh. Nobody ever seemed to take it seriously and it made me dread going to school every day. My rule of "being nice to everyone" didn’t pan out well for me those years. Everything eventually worked out when I got to high school, but I still remember and feel the pain from those times. I’m so glad you are moving; it shows you are taking this seriously and it shows your daughter comes first. Good for you! Best of luck with your move; it sounds like a fun adventure is ahead and I hope you find the peace and happiness you both deserve!

  23. Cyn / / Reply

    You and your daughter are brave and courageous. Good luck with your move. I wish you all the goodness that most people have to offer in your new home!

  24. susy / / Reply

    Wow. Ez. What a big decision…and a good decision. I will miss knowing you are nearby, but I also can’t wait to find out where your new path leads you.

    …so order a big pizza, put on a good album and pack up those boxes! : )

  25. danielle thompson / / Reply

    i am just sitting here in utter horror and disbelief that this is happening! And to *you* of all people in the world, Ez, one of the kindest most genuine souls. Your poor daughter, it breaks my heart into a million pieces. I just can’t believe that this goes on without ANYTHING being done about it. It absolutely blows my mind. GOOD FOR YOU taking her out and moving. It’s obviously not where you should be, or any human being should be (!!!)… my thoughts and prayers are with you and your daughter and i know wherever you go, it will be far, far better than where you are now. Hopefully the whole experience will just make you stronger. I hope SOMETHING positive can come out of it. :( Hugs to you! I’m so thrilled you’re getting out!

  26. Stacy / / Reply

    It’s odd how your story almost exactly mimics my own. The school claimed to have a zero tolerance & did nothing to protect my daughter. To make matters worse it wasn’t just the girls taunting her, the boys were involved as well. One even had the guts to punch her in the face in gym class leaving her with somewhat of a black eye. We ended up moving as well, just not as far as you will be. Good luck.

  27. Elizabeth / / Reply

    I admire your courage and your willingness to stand up for your daughter. No one deserves to have their power and spirit taken away in such a manner. Good for you both! I wish you the best in the move–I did something similar one year ago. My boyfriend and I relocated to Brooklyn from Nashville so I could take my dream job as the editor of a women’s website. It had always been my dream to work as a writer in NYC…then we got there.

    The city was gorgeous and the energy was intoxicating…but from the moment we stepped out of the moving van, things were off. Our first place wasn’t anything it was advertised to be, so we were holed up in a crumby hotel until we found a new place–a pretty apartment with hardwood floors that (unknowingly) put us smack between an aggressive drug dealer and other unsavory neighbors. Long story short, my dream job was a nightmare (workdays that lasted until 3 am and spilled over to weekends were the norm). The best parts of the city became difficult to see and experience because we were always so physically and emotionally exhausted from swimming upstream.

    Six months into it, we quit our jobs, broke our lease, packed it all up and headed to Portland, OR to be closer to my family. It’s more than a year later, and I can see that all of that mess served to push us toward where we were meant to be. Sometimes, life gives us clues that are difficult to follow.

    I hope that your move will bring some much-needed lightness to both of your heavy hearts. Once you get settled, we will all be here waiting to rejoin you in the virtual world.

  28. Abigail / / Reply

    I am SO sorry that you and your daughter have had to experience this. There’s absolutely no excuse in this day and age for children to be tormented like that in school.

    If there’s a silver-lining, it’s that you’ve set an incredible example for her being such an advocate. It takes guts to buck the system. Bravo for doing the right thing!

  29. caroline / / Reply

    Good for you. I am so sorry that you and your daughter have had such a tough go of it in NJ. The school’s (lack of) response to the bullying situation is unconscionable. Best of luck with the move.

  30. Tammy / / Reply

    First off HUGS to you! You daughter will never forget what you did for her! Good for you! I hope when things calm down you write a VERY LONG letter to everyone in that school system….heck and the media there also. How DARE a counselor say it’s normal and she should get use to it! Oh, I can’t even type the things I’m thinking!!!!!! It’s absolutely disgusting. Obviously she is in the WRONG business and should NEVER have been hired in the first place. Karma to her!

    You will have WONDERFUL things to come on your new journey. I wish you and your daughter all the best. And tell your daughters all school are NOT like that horrible one and there are good people still in this world.
    Hugs to her too!
    Take care!
    You are pretty amazing…your daughter is VERY lucky to have a Mom like you! Kudos!

  31. alexandra keller / / Reply

    Ez, you are so doing the right thing. I wish you all the best and please let me know if I can do anything from all the way out here in AZ. I’d help you pack ( Chakra P can be my reference) but I can’t quite get out there this week :(

  32. Chacoy / / Reply

    all i can tell you is, YOU ARE A GREAT MOM!!! and if you feel good about your move and are excited about it, then it will all work out! you carve out your own destiny!!
    have a safe move and let your daughterknow that she is a smart and beautiful girl, who had a lot to offer to the wrong and very ungreatful people, but there are people in oaklahoma who are going to benifit greatly from her;}

  33. Nadia Morrison / / Reply

    I feel upset and disappointed that a guidance counselors comment was it will get worse! I believe you made the right decision, and you have saved your daughter further torment that she would have carried with her for quite sometime! I to was bullied very badly until grade 8 and some memories still sit with me to this day. It is time to throw out the old school and life and start building a new happier one.
    Be brave and strong girls…and take your time settling into a new home,with warm thoughts.

  34. April / / Reply

    I am stunned.
    I have your blog linked on mine for its sheer beauty. I have to admit that I have been terrible at catchign up on my blog reading and I totally missed all of this. It makes me ill that you and your daughter had to endure this. But what a wonderful mother she has! I wish you both peace and the best of luck as you head out.
    <<hugs>>

  35. girlrobot / / Reply

    wow, i was so sad to read this but happy to see that you stood up for your daughter and pulled her out. definitely the right decision. and i’m even happier to read that you are moving to oklahoma…this is where I grew up my whole life til I went to college and I think it is a WONDERFUL place to raise children. btw, i attended union public schools in tulsa…if you guys happen to move to tulsa it’s the best school!!! and this is also why it’s so important when choosing a place to live to look at the school district and find which ones are good and bad. it can be everything for your kids. good luck with everything!!!!!

  36. fanny / / Reply

    I cant believe the school did nothing, again. You’ve made the right decision, have a good time in oklahoma. xx

  37. Graciete / / Reply

    Good for you: it’s not so much the bullying that scares me but moreso the attitude your daughter’s school demonstrated… All the very best with your move, wiht hopes of happy neighbours and good friends for you both.

  38. jenna @ sweet fine day / / Reply

    wishing you all the peace and happiness with your girl in this move. so sorry ez that the last 8 months have been so hard. you are taking action for your daughter and I applaud you for that. xoxo.

  39. benelapuce / / Reply

    you did the right thing, last year my son was hurted by two boys and one of them was his best friend (before) and he did not said anything because he did’nt want to lose this friend..The school teacher told us not to interfer but at the end it never finshed and i went to see the parents of the boy, it was the worse period i knew, my son was very sad and so alone at school…Now, it is finished but i am always frigthen that it happens again, it is very hard to be parent because we don’t learn them to be violent but they must defend themselves, not easy at all to know the good thing to do…

  40. Nancy Cook / / Reply

    I’m so sorry this has happened to you.
    As a fellow Maplewood resident and Mom I have to say this post sends me shivers and makes me nervous about the future of my kids. They are now only four and two. The thought of them being bullied like this is just so heartbreaking.
    Best wishes with your move.

  41. MelanieO / / Reply

    I just want to chime in that you ARE doing the RIGHT thing. More of us (parents) do need to put our children first. I know there were a lot of reasons for your move, but letting your daughter know that her safety and happiness are important enough that you will move cross country, well, that’s a lesson in unconditional love. I think you’re a great parent and a great person. I would probably do the same for my daughters. I was bullied and threatened in school (never told my parents, though) and I will not tolerate it for my own children. It is not a part of growing up and it is not something they should get used to. It’s good you’re going to a place with a good support system. Possibly, hopefully, a better school situation. I know bullying happens everywhere, but mid-westerners and southerners seem a bit more laid back, no? Bravo to you – you are an inspiration!

  42. Trude / / Reply

    Good. For. You. Really! Can’t believe what hypocrites the school staff is made up of. Bullying like that is definitely NOT a normal part of school, at least not in my experience or anyone else I know. Teasing? Sure. But physical violence? Absolutely not. Wishing you the best of luck with the move…and honestly, from what I hear, anything is better than Jersey. ;)

  43. Alison / / Reply

    Hi Ez, you absolutely did the right thing. Bullying is not something to mess around with. I know it must have taken such courage, and I so admire you for it. And you are so right: there’s no better way to teach your daughter self-respect than to simply always be in her corner, sometimes fighting for her, sometimes simply whispering in her ear that she can do anything. It’s what my mom did for me. So proud of you! Alison

  44. dianna / / Reply

    My daughter is a year younger than yours…I just can’t imagine. Way to stick up for your girl Mom.

    I hope these next few days are filled with busy, GOOD excitement over your fresh start.
    Fresh start…even the words sound wonderful!

    Hope all goes smoothly my dear : )
    { I’ve got the words to "I Can See Clearly Now" running through my head! }

  45. ThiliBlooms / / Reply

    Good luck with your move! I wish it will bring peace and happiness to you and your daughter :) take care!

  46. Katie / / Reply

    I’m with Megan; I was bullied (in fifth grade as well) verbally, and my family ultimately moved away altogether, due partly to the experiences in the school and other familial issues, but it was the best thing for me. If they hadn’t made that hard choice, I would not have had the same academic and personal success I ultimately had. I’ll be graduating from college in a few months and I’m still thankful for the move my family made to be near grandparents and let my sister and I attend a better school for my sister and I.
    So…all that stuff about myself is all meant to say that I think you’ve done something good, and I just wanted to share that to reaffirm your decision.

  47. yanni / / Reply

    Hi, I’m Yanni, from Singapore, a very small country which u might not have even heard of.
    Anyway i came across your blog few months back then, i appreciate and love all your posts, especially the daily inspirations and your other projects and I’ve become a regular then.
    I’m sorry to see this post. I wish you and your family can endure all this, I believe u guys can make it through.
    May God bless you. =D

  48. Nadine / / Reply

    I read this post with sadness in my heart as well as a shudder.

    to think that an institution would not even do much for a defenseless girl
    is beyond me. I hope your move would be a smooth transition for both
    you and your daughter even though it may be a struggle.

    all the best.

  49. decor8 / / Reply

    Oh Ez this breaks my heart. I had no idea that this was happening to you and also to your daughter. And I’m sorry that your move was a negative one but I’m happy that you are strong and smart enough to move on with your life… Lots of people stay in ruts and you are not and this is a very positive thing.

    I was beat up in school as a child and it did a lot of damage to my grades and my self esteem. I was so grateful when we relocated around the same time, I don’t think that I could have made it as I always had a sensitive side and felt scared of other girls for most of my young life because they were so horrible to me. I remember getting beat up by a friend once, they had planned an attack when I was in 6th grade. I’ll never forget that day of being punched in the stomach so many times that blood came out of my mouth. When I fell to the ground they bent back all of my fingers and kicked dirt on me. It was hard because I wasn’t (and I’m still not) a confrontational person. I usually walk away from problems or people who do not care about me – I’m not one to convince anyone to love me and so I think this angered these girls even more — they wanted me to almost beg them to be their friend and be on their side and join their stupid girl gang. Not fighting back made them even more upset with me.

    I’m happy that you are leaving and moving on. Every mouse is different — some are country mice and some are made for the city. And some are made for New Jersey, LOL! It’s just how it is. There is nothing wrong with the differences between us all.

    I clearly need to catch up on my blog reading. I had no clue that you were moving to OK. I wish you well there.

    I wish you must love, peace and happy trails…

    Holly

  50. france / / Reply

    oh my. this is such a terrible story. I don’t have children, but I just know that it would absolutely break my heart if anything like this happened and i would be compelled to save my child. You did a heroic thing. I grew up with a single mom and I always felt like she would move heaven to save me from something bad. I still do:) Your daughter will never forget that when this all was happening you were the one to stop it.

    Best of luck to you both

  51. Natalie Jost / / Reply

    Ez, I’ve been so heart-broken for you and your daughter these past weeks since I saw your tweets. It’s a shame there’s not more legal advocates for public school children in these and similar situations. Public schools are becoming more and more intolerable. The cynic in me says the "zero-tolerance" policy means very little to school officials when head-counting time comes and they see $ being lost by the absence of kids. One lost victim is better than ten lost bullies.

    Other people have mentioned home schooling and with only one to teach, it’s worth looking into. It’s not as scary as it sounded when I first started. As long as you follow your state’s rules, it’s mostly up to you, how and what she learns. It’s mostly a matter of attendance, and keeping up with basic standards, but once you get out of the public school, it’s easy. Kids don’t need 8 hours a day to learn. They just need one person giving them 100% of their attention, and you’re a mom, that’s what you do!

    Of course, being a single mom, I imagine it feels impossible, especially with all you’ve been through, but with family to help, maybe not so bad? Family is good. I’m happy to hear you’ll be in a more secure place and have another fresh start. And sorry to say this is my first comment. I don’t get out much. ;)

  52. CD Beatrice Clay (@chrissybell) / / Reply

    Oh my dear! Know that you are a brave and wonderful mother for putting on the brakes and rerouting! I did the exact same thing in August just a couple days before the new school year and I haven’t looked back since. My daughter and I are both better for it and the peace we now have (both in home and school) is incredible! I pray your transition is a blessed one!

  53. Joanne / / Reply

    I think you are doing a wonderful thing by moving, it is so beautiful to see that that is what is most and truly important in life. Your daughter, first and foremost and nothing in the world can be a better help than family. I wish you the best and you are doing a GREAT thing.

  54. Christina / / Reply

    We had the same problem with my brother when we were younger. The schools had just started zero tolerance back then, but continued to do nothing and the bullying got worse. Then, when the bully was caught in the act of harming my brother, the school suspended them both! He didn’t even defend himself and he was suspended. I would say you should contact the police regarding this incident so they can contact the school. Maybe it will spur them to do something different in the future…like actually going after the bully and letting them know it’s not okay to pick on kids. I would say it is within your rights to file an assault report with the police. Maybe that will get the child’s parents to do something.

    Such a big move! I hope that it is very positive for you!

  55. Michelle / / Reply

    Ez, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter! I think you’re definitely making the right choice, and I wish for the best for you and your family.

  56. Katy / / Reply

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had to experience this!! Good for you for taking a stand!! I hope your move will allow a fresh start. Good luck to you and yours!!

  57. Naomi F. / / Reply

    You’re a wonderful and brave mother and you’re doing the right thing!
    Your daughter needs to know that you’re always on her side and since the move / house / neighbours have affected you two so badly anyway, it sounds like starting afresh is the best decision.
    Plus, the best way for both of you to recover from this, is in the warmth of your family.

    I wish you two the best of luck and happiness and may this move bring new and wonderful things your way.
    xox

  58. Evita / / Reply

    Delurking to say I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. I wish you safety and when you can, laughter, in these tough days.

  59. Deb / / Reply

    Mummy you rock! You will forever be your daughters hero. In fact you are my hero!
    God bless.
    Love D
    x

  60. lml416 / / Reply

    Wow. Your post made me want to cry. I wish I had had the support you’ve shown your daughter from my own mother when I was bullied in school. Her first question, always: What had I done to instigate the behaviour?Oh, what I wouldn’t have given for a mum who had my back, like you have your daughter’s. Blessings upon both of you, and a sincere wish neither of you ever has to deal with it again.

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