Smash Your Parenting iShoulds by Amber Trueblood, author, Stretch Marks (Book Excerpt & Giveaway)

Chapter One


All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas layin’ in the sun, talking ‘bout the things they woulda-coulda-shoulda done… But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas all ran away and hid from one little did.  Shel Silverstein

I have this one stretch mark that’s longer and wider than all the rest. When I lay on my back, it looks like an earthworm crawled up on my stomach and died. A pet worm carcass, with me always.

Between all four of my pregnancies, I gained 178 pounds.

Parenting; it’s the perfect storm of sleep deprivation, dirty laundry, and preparing the same boring meals a quadzillion times. Yes, parenting is amazing. But, it can also make you feel insane. Or, like a vampire bat attacked and drained all your mojo. You play the part of personal chef, private chauffeur, nursemaid, housekeeper, bookkeeper, toddler-stylist, financial manager, activities consultant, teacher, and baby- whisperer. Oh, and you often look like crap. No offense.

Do you fantasize about feeling a sense of accomplishment? Imagine if someone complimented you regularly. Dream about receiving acknowledgment for all your time and effort. Ooh, this banquet is for me? What beautiful flowers! And a foot massage? How wonderful!

The Bad News: This will never happen in real life.

The Good News: You are not alone.

I called this book Stretch Marks because those little worm carcasses represent so much more than the physical stretching of your skin. They are memory stamps of the major growth events in your life. Stretch marks are permanent, but not painful. You may have one or two, or maybe you’re covered in them. Either way, you’ve endured an intense event. Your body accommodated.

It expanded if you will.

Stretch marks aren’t only physical. We have psychological and emotional stretch marks too. We all endure crises and go through significant changes in our lives, and we grow from these experiences. If every event was easy and painless, what would we learn? How would we change? Would we become better? Stronger? Wiser?

Can you remember a time when you saw a limit, a barrier, or a boundary, and you pushed through it? When have you persevered despite a huge setback? Maybe you experienced the death of someone you loved dearly. How did that change you? Maybe you lost a job, became seriously ill, or got divorced. What did you learn?

Think of the times you’ve pushed past your comfort zone and realized you’re stronger than you thought you were. You’re more powerful. More resilient. You have some stretch marks, my friend. Let’s celebrate them.

A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.  Eleanor Roosevelt

Squash Your Bird

You probably listen to that little yellow bird. She’s the bird of self-judgment. You know the one? She sits on your shoulder just waiting for the perfect moment to start chirping and chipping away at your confidence and self-worth. I can hear my

little bird now. You should be home more. You should be more patient. You should yell less. You should do some sit-ups. When I hear her judgy chirps, I say, Quiet, you! Fly away now, or I will squash you!

What judgments does your little bird chirp about most often? What does your little bird say to you? Give her a name. Then, the next time you’re fed up with her incessant chirping, just yell, Shut your beak, Rebecca!

Your iShould Devices

If you’re not one for bird metaphors, you can try my high-tech version. Imagine your self-judgments as flashes and beeps and chirps from all of your devices. Your phone, tablet, and computer are harassing you from their various speakers and screens.

These, my friend, are your iShoulds.

iShould really go back to work now. iShould research elementary schools. iShould call the dishwasher repair company.

Please collect all of your iShould devices and put them on a big round table. Let them chirp away one last time. Then, grab the biggest mallet you can find in that awesome imaginative brain of yours and hoist it way up above your head. Now swing down hard with all your might and smash them up. See the tiny pieces flying across the room? Don’t worry; you don’t have to clean up this mess. If you’re a self-proclaimed neat freak, just grab your imaginary garden hose and wash it all down the big drain in the center of the room.

The more you practice quieting your chirping bird or smashing up your iShould devices, the quicker you’ll notice when they pipe up again. You become more aware. But, that’s not all that happens. As you learn to ignore the distractions and silence those inner judgments, a clear picture will emerge.

Those clouds of self-doubt dissipate and what you want in your life shines through.

Unfortunately, you’re so accustomed to running full speed ahead, whisked along in the rushing current of your life. You might surface for a breath now and then,

panting and frantic. But, let me ask you this, who’s driving your boat? You? Your boss? The kids? Who knows where this river leads? What if your actual destination is somewhere different? What if you’re doing all this work only to end up in a place that will ultimately leave you unhappy? Maybe it’s time you took the wheel. Or, the rudder; whatever steers a boat.

What will make you feel calmer? More satisfied? Happier? The tools and stories in this book will help you blow away those dark, stormy clouds so you can once again see clearly. You can find a future that is perfect for you. Not perfect for your mother-in-law. Not perfect for your boss or your neighbor. But, perfect for you. Stick with me, and you’ll leave behind the guilt and the iShoulds to captain your own ship without the influence of the outside world.

Smash your iShoulds.


Amber Trueblood is an author, retreat-host, and the mother of four sons. She’s an unapologetic bibliophile, having devoured over 250 books on behavior, management, parenting, meditation, and self-development. Amber wrote Stretch Marks, her debut book, while on a Broadway Tour with her husband and sons, traversing over 60 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Amber helps clients clarify values and priorities, so they may use that knowledge to make better discipline decisions, relieve mom-guilt, reduce self-judgment, and become an enlightened, happier and calmer parent. Visit


BOOK GIVEWAY — is giving away a copy of the book. To enter, put STRETCH MARKS in the Subject Line, and share why you would like to read it.  Email, and please include your full mailing address.  Winner will be notified via email.

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