Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute~
You grew not under my heart,
but in it.
A good friend gave us a framed version of this poem shortly after our daughter was born. It hangs on the wall of her bedroom and we read it together from time to time. I hope it helps her understand her birth story and how much I love her.
Six years ago we first met our daughter, sitting in the nursery of the labor and delivery unit. Our beautiful girl swaddled in the hospital issued receiving blanket, a white cap on her head hiding her wisps of red hair.
I was instantly in love with her. My breasts ached, just like they had when I first held our son four and a half years before. The only difference this time, I didn’t have the opportunity to create her myself. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know her during her nine month gestation.
Before I met her I wondered if I would feel a difference between how it felt to first hold our son, who I’d carried in my womb, and our daughter who I had not.
The instant she was placed in my arms I knew the answer. I love her, forever and for always.
There is no difference. They are my children. It’s just that simple.
Our ten year old son, Theo, had his Tae Kwon Do belt test Saturday morning. I knew he was nervous. Even though his Tae Kwon Do Master doesn’t test the students until they’re ready, his nerves always threaten to get the better of him.
Saturday mornings are tough for Theo. He and the Husband stay up late on Friday nights to play Xbox. It’s their guy time. A reward for their hard work over the week. Normal Saturday mornings start slowly, Theo choosing to ease his way into the weekend over a couple of hours. On belt test days he has less than two hours between rolling out of bed and the start of the test.
On Saturday, before he stepped on the mats to warm up, I reminded him “Do your best, show us your power. You got this!”
He did it. He showed his power and he earned his red belt. When he shows his power he can accomplish anything he puts his mind to.
I look forward to the day when I no longer have to remind him. Because that’s the day I’ll know he’s learned the lesson and applies it to his daily life.
The Seahawks 12k is less than a month away and my training continues. It is difficult to fit it in between work, kids and continuing to work on Making of a Mom, my memoir. But this race is important to me and I’m looking forward to it.
Since I started training I’ve felt better, stronger and more capable.
On Saturday I figured out that the calibration on my treadmill was off and I’d been running faster and farther than I thought I was. That’s when I figured out my six mile run was actually a seven and a half mile run. The upside, I’m a lot more prepared for the race than I planned to be at this point.
I’ve pushed myself through some tough training runs. Knowing that if I pushed through and didn’t give up, I would be rewarded with a feeling of accomplishment. Every run I push through, I show my power. And I’m living out an important lesson I want my kids to learn.
Last week kicked my butt. Usually a huge fan of daylight savings time and the additional hour of light it brings with it, this year all it seemed to bring was one less hour of sleep.
By Friday morning I was dragging and chose to sleep in an hour later than normal. When I hit the road, traffic was heavier than usual and there was an accident on my route to work. Sitting in stop and go, bumper to bumper traffic, I turned on my running playlist, and cranked the volume.
I decided not to care about how the thumping bass might annoy the drivers in front and behind me or how silly I looked dancing behind the wheel. I needed the distraction and improved mood the music was likely to deliver.
It worked. I was distracted, happy and felt inspired. I thought about everything I accomplished throughout the week and what I hoped to do over the weekend. I thought about my silly kids and the stories I had to share with my mom the next time we talked.
I smiled as I thought about my mom and it made me miss her. She lives four and a half hours away and I don’t call her often enough.
As I composed this blogpost in my head, I thought about how what I’m about to share is likely to embarrass her. She’s quiet, humble and shy. She’s silly, creative and smart. She’s kind, loyal and wise. She’s the best person I’ve ever known.
For more reasons than anyone has time to read about, my mom is my “best person” and I hope someday I’ll be what my mom is for me; I hope to be my kids “best person.”
A couple months ago I signed up for one of my favorite races, the Seattle Seahawk 12k. The first time I did this race four years ago I was training six days a week for my second half marathon. I considered it an important part of my preparations. I had a blast.
Last year I was once again signed up and missed the run because two weeks before the race I got sick and couldn’t recover in time to participate. I was bummed. In the weeks leading up to the race I’d once again been running six days a week and felt pretty strong.
The thing is I’m a terrible runner. I’m slow and look awkward when I run. At my fastest a little less than four years ago I ran at a ten minute mile pace, with the occasional 9:30 mile mixed in.
Oh and another thing, I hate running. It is mentally and often physically painful. I have never once felt the “runner’s high” so many of my runner friends talk about.
You might wonder why in the world I do it. I do it to prove to myself that I can. I can make time for myself. I can do something that makes me feel stronger. I can ignore the voice in my head telling me to stop.
I also do it to show my kids physical activity is important. I do it to show them how to set and work on achieving goals. I want my kids to see me sweat. I want them to see me push myself. I want them to know that when life gets tough it’s okay to give yourself a pep talk as you struggle through.
This week as I did speed work, hill repeats and ran my first four mile run in over a year I was once again reminded how much I hate running. I remembered how much hard work it takes and how much easier it is to sit on the couch and read a book.
But when I logged my workouts into dailymile and saw my lifetime stats I smiled (1,000 miles logged to date in 301 workouts). And when my son rode his bike as I ran my four miles yesterday I loved spending time with him. These are just two examples of why I love running.
Just think, if I hadn’t had four miles to run yesterday, I probably wouldn’t have spent 45 minutes with my son. And that time is precious and just doesn’t happen often enough.
So there’s part of our recent trip to Canada I’ve thought a lot about since returning home. I’ve shared the story with family, friends and coworkers. The more I think about it the more it frustrates and angers me.
Unbeknownst to me the story has its roots in events that took place a year ago when my identity was stolen. Thieves stole it, along with several hundred others, from a database and used them to file fraudulent federal tax returns. After realizing I was a victim, I contacted all proper authorities at the instruction of the IRS. After that, I pretty much forgot about the situation. There wasn’t anything more I could do about it and as the police officer who took my report told me, it was unlikely the criminals would ever be caught.
Well, come to find out, there was a little more I needed to know. Turned out, I needed a password to verify my identity for the border agent. The thing is, nobody bothered to tell me that because of the identity theft complaint a password was created and associated with my passport. So imagine my surprise when the feisty border agent rudely responded “I don’t know who you are!” when I asked why we were being told to go to secondary screening. When I tried to explain why I was asking, he responded with “Do I need to pull you from the vehicle?!”
I’ll spare you the remaining details and just say the agent’s aggressive tone and body language, he put his hand on his side arm and lunged toward me while I sat in the driver’s seat of my vehicle, were completely unnecessary. I had two tired and crabby kids in the backseat who were wondering why it was taking so long. On top of that I was managing my own confusion and surprise at the unexpected turn of events. I was simply trying to understand what was going on, what the problem was and to calm my kid’s growing impatience.
Here’s my bottom-line:
1) We’ve taught our kids if they are ever lost, see something suspicious or dangerous to tell a trusted adult. A trusted adult includes a person in uniform. Hard for my kids to trust a person in uniform if they see someone treating their mother the way the agent treated me.
2) It was hard to explain to our 10 year old why he should respect the person in uniform who just treated his mom so disrespectfully. My son saw a bully, not a man of authority.
3) I feel lucky to be white. I don’t want to live in a world where I’m lucky because of my skin color because that means someone is unlucky because of theirs. I find myself thinking about how things might have been different if I was a person of color. I hate that the color of a person’s skin makes a difference, but I know it does.
I continue to work hard for what I have. I paid my way through college and spent time and energy developing my career in more than one male dominated field. I make daily trade-offs to find balance between work and family.
More now than ever, I realize my road to success, while at times bumpy, has always been a paved road. And those bumps, well, they were more like small potholes. There are plenty of people for whom that isn’t the case and I hope I never forget that.
Four years ago the Husband and I took Rhys, almost two, and Theo, six, to Whistler, British Columbia for a short family vacation. Theo was in kindergarten and had battled respiratory infections for weeks leading up to our trip. Less than a week before we were scheduled to make the five hour drive north Rhys caught the crud and we had two kids diagnosed with walking pneumonia.
Our pediatrician assured us that after a couple days of antibiotics and steroids they would both be fine to travel and the cold, clean air of the mountain resort would be good for them. So we packed everything into our Subaru, double checked we had their medications along with plenty of kleenex and hit the road.
The Husband loves and I mean LOVES to ski. Swooshing down the mountain at breakneck speed is when he feels most free and alive. He was looking forward to a couple of days of world class skiing and I was looking forward to being away from work and playing in the snow with the kids. With a winter wonderland and a hotel with a pool there would be plenty to keep us busy while the Husband hit the slopes. Who couldn’t have fun with that combination right? Um, yeah, not so much.
The Husband had a great time skiing that vacation. I found myself stressed out, tired and resentful. It was hard trying to carry one kid while holding up the other as he battled his way through knee deep snow. At one point we had just returned to the hotel, snot running into the mouths of both the kids, only to have to head back outside when the fire alarm went off. I didn’t even have time to grab more Kleenex, so as we quickly trudged down the stairs to the lobby, both kids crying, I wiped their noses with the front of my sweatshirt.
Then there was the trip down to the pool, when just after Theo got in and started playing I had to haul him out because Rhys had just vomited all over me. As we stood waiting for the elevator Theo declared “I’m NOT getting in that elevator. She stinks!” I couldn’t blame him, she did reek of sour milk. But I also couldn’t leave a six year old in the hotel lobby to wait for the next elevator to arrive and hope he got off on the right floor.
As we drove back home from that “vacation” I was guilt ridden. I had a terrible time, was exhausted and grumpy. The Husband did all he could to help with the kids, but I resented his day and a half up on the slopes doing what he loved to do. By the time we arrived home, I’d decided I was a terrible mom and ungrateful person. (Yes, I tend to get a bit dramatic when stressed out and tired.)
A few days after we returned home, I read a blogpost about traveling with young kids. The author wrote that after a couple of trips with her oldest children, she had something like twenty kids (okay it was probably four), she decided to stop calling it a vacation. They went on family trips instead.
Her words resonated and gave me hope, dragging me out of my funk and self-loathing. Wasn’t vacation supposed to be fun, relaxing and care free? If I went on vacation and came back feeling exhausted, annoyed and resentful was I a vacation flunky? Who wants to be a flunky …. especially a vacation flunky!
What if we went on a trip. All a trip meant was that you spent at least a night away from home and returned alive. So, I figured if we all arrived home still breathing we’d succeeded. From Flunky to Success with the change of a word. From that day forward, when we decided to go somewhere overnight a family trip it was.
Speed forward four years and several family trips later. This past week we once again traveled to Whistler. This time with good friends who also have kids the same age as ours, sons 10 and daughters 6-ish. Our friends are amazing and super easy to travel with. They’re easy going, active and just plain fun to hang out with. When not outside enjoying all the activities Whistler has to offer, the boys were happy to hang out watching tv, playing on their electronics or swimming in the pool. The girls played with their stuffed animals, drew, cut and glued paper, and also swam in the pool.
While we were away, our family had our moments, like the one where Rhys lost it, screamed “I hate skiing!” at the top of her lungs and threw her mittens onto the ground. As skiers walked past on their way to the ski lifts, I once again felt like I had four years ago.
But for the first time, it also included moments like at the tube park when the boys took off together to enjoy themselves and the moms got to race our daughters down the mountain. Where at the bottom we were greeted with smiles and “That was AWESOME, Mom!” That made it feel like a vacation.
If you find yourself on a family trip, hang in there and I hope you can at least find the humor in it (and don’t worry, finding the humor may take days, weeks or even a couple years).
If you’re enjoying a family vacation, we can’t wait to join you. I’m looking forward to it and intend to savor each and every moment.
And to our friends who travelled with us to Whistler this year, thanks for joining us.
The lines seem to be clearly drawn you either love Valentines’ Day or you hate it. There’s very little middle ground and few people on the fence. It’s an interesting time of year.
As a kid I loved making the big Valentines envelope that would soon hold the small cardboard cards from my friends. And the little boxes of candy hearts. Giggling with my friends when the one saying “Kiss Me” fell out of the box.
In high school there was the formal Key Heart dance, a time to dress up and go to a fancy restaurant. And if the holiday happened to fall on a school day, there was the mystery of who would receive a rose in class. Teen love was intense (an often short lived).
Twenty years ago, late in the evening my boyfriend knelt down on one knee and asked me to marry him. The boyfriend became the husband almost 19 years ago.
Valentines’s Day is still full of love, but how we celebrate it is different. We save the gifts for our two kids and the candles on the dinner table are about bringing our family closer together. For the husband and I, we check in with each other, reconfirm our commitment and remember why we decided to dive into life together.
Happy Valentines’ Day to my kiddos, we hope you are filled with love and joy. And to the husband, Happy Valentines’ Day to you. Thanks for celebrating in our laid back and casual way, that’s who we are … And I love that.
Are you following the editorials Sheryl Sandberg is writing in the New York Times? If not, you should.
In her most recent editorial, Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant address women doing what they call the “Office Housework” and the impacts to individual careers and team effectiveness.
Overall what strikes me is Sandberg and Grant don’t place the blame on any one group and don’t excuse anyone’s choices that lead to the phenomenon they discuss. Instead they make the case for change, talk about the areas women as individuals can address and finish with suggestions on how we can work together to move toward improved individual and team performance.
Following are the points that struck a chord for me:
By putting self-concern on par with concern for others, women may feel less altruistic, but they’re able to gain more influence and sustain more energy. Ultimately, they can actually give more. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I work to balance everything (and everyone) competing for my time and attention. Life is too complex for my current, simplistic strategy of pushing harder until the next break comes. It’s time for a change.
Just as we still need to rebalance housework and child care at home, we also need to equalize and value office housework. This means first acknowledging the imbalance and then correcting it. I need to pay attention and stop automatically jumping up to help. There are almost always plenty of people to help out. I need to be discerning and think critically about who is the best person to fill a need.
The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point. I need to remember there are times its important I’m available to “make the killer point.”
Research shows that teams with greater helping behavior attain greater profits, sales, quality, effectiveness, revenue and customer satisfaction. As I mentioned in a post a couple weeks ago, I have a home team and a work team. When both are running smoothly it feels great and produces energy. That’s why I’m going to spend energy on making the changes in my approach so I can lead toward the change I want to experience for myself and for the people around me.
The excitement was in the air everywhere we went this week. The Seahawk blue and green, the number 12 on cars, planes, and trains. It was on buildings, men, women, children, dogs and even a pony or two. Seahawks spirit was everywhere and it was awesome. The community spirit was infectious.
Our Seattle Seahawks are an easy team to love. Its easy to love a team when they are winning … and our team has won a lot in the last few years. But our Seahawks are easy to love because of more than just their record. They are leaders on and off the field.
When they were down in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game they didn’t give up, dug deep and delivered an amazing win. The Seahawks play for each other and they play for their fans, the Twelves. Seahawk players and coaches volunteer in our community during the season and wherever they call home in the off-season. Their hard work and dedication illustrate their love of the game and dedication to their profession.
I wear my Seahawks gear with pride and I have no reservations about having my kids represent the team either.
Thanks for an amazing season Seattle Seahawks. Thanks for teaching your fans, young and old, the pay-off for dedication, preparation and old fashioned hard work.
So go ahead, call me crazy. I know that’s what at least a few of my friends will be doing when I share my latest goal.
It really isn’t that outrageous of an endeavor, its more that I’m adding another item to my already long to do list. Last week, to celebrate the amazing Seahawks win I decided to register for the Seahawks 12k. I love this race!
I stopped running nine months ago and haven’t made time for it since. That all changed this morning. I hit the treadmill for a 30 minute run to start getting back in shape.
For me, the point of running isn’t to take first place. (Which is a good thing, cause it will never happen.) It’s about making time for myself, proving that I can do what I set my mind to and feeling my body getting stronger.
I also like the side benefit of showing my kids it’s important to exercise. So when I get frustrated with my family, all with noses next to a screen, I’m not a hypocrite when I insist they put down their device and move their bodies.