This weekend was our annual trip to the State Fair. Every year it gets easier – no more nap time to plan around, diaper bag to carry, or stroller to maneuver through the crowds.
Hoping to avoid hearing too many questions about when they could go on the rides, we prepped the kids before we left the house. The plan was to see some animals, visit the petting zoo, watch the carvers and blacksmith before going on any rides. Oh the rides … this could be our undoing. Our son, at almost 11, is just shy of five feet tall and 110 pounds. He wouldn’t have to worry about height limits anymore. For our six and a half year old, who wants to do everything her brother does, it might be a different story.
I wondered how many times we might hear “That’s not fair!” or “I am too big enough to go on that ride!” or “That guy’s just a big jerk!” (When she’s feeling particularly aggrieved lately jerk is her favorite word.) I pictured her furrowed brows, eyes narrowing and lips in a deep frown.
First stop was the cattle barn. Our daughter really wanted to milk the fiberglass dairy cow like last year. We were off to a good start as our son took the lead and navigated his sister in the right direction. My husband and I walked a few feet behind, “You see that,” I said looking over at him and smiling, “they do love each other!” I was going to enjoy the peace and togetherness while it lasted.
We saw cattle, exotic birds, sheep, rabbits, horses and even a zebra. The kids were awesome so it was time to head to the rides.
When their dad left to buy ride tickets they began to strategize. I sat quietly and listened. They worked together to decide what ride they’d go on first, took turns choosing the next ride, and even compromised a time or two. And more than once, my son grabbed his sister’s hand and led her through the crowd. They got along beautifully and both had a great time.
Maybe our family has entered a new phase, or maybe we just had a great day at the Fair. Either way, I’ll take it. I’ll sit back and bask in the glow of our parenting success.
Last year, as I sat on the beach in Maui building a sand castle with my then five year old daughter, my husband and nine year old son snorkeling nearby, I decided to go after a goal I’d set three decades earlier.
Thirty years before, after learning S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders while still in high school, I decided I wanted to write a book. At the time I figured I had five or six years to pen my first novel and get it published. (I was ten and figured I could have it finished by the time I was 15 or 16.)
I had a three month summer vacation to fill, an active imagination, and loved the way writing made me feel. I also yearned for the attention a top selling novel would bring. So I grabbed a handful of notebook paper and a pencil, sat down at my small wooden desk, and began writing the next great young adult novel. I wrote five or six pages before I ran out of storyline, lost interest, and was distracted by riding my bike around the neighborhood with my friends.
Over the years I’ve kept journals, continuing to enjoy the relaxation and clarity writing brought. The desire to get my writing published never went away. Although my desire for fame did.
I want to achieve three things by publishing my memoir, The Making of a Mom: 1. Show my kids that with dedication and effort a goal can be achieved (even if it takes a long time).
2. Help someone on an adoption journey know they aren’t alone.
3. Hold a copy of my book in my hands as proof I can do whatever I set my mind to.
After a year of hard work, perseverance, and a few tears, the first draft is done. I wrote 159,876 words filling 473 pages. As a result, I gained both a better understanding of my journey and a greater appreciation for the life I’ve built. I also have more desire than ever to see this goal through to the end.
As I begin to refine the thousands of words and further shape the story, nobody is more surprised than I am that I’ve been able to see my goal through to this point. So hopefully I’ll keep my eye on the prize, maintain momentum, and by this time next year, be a published author.
I enjoyed a busy week away from work. A staycation filled with trips to the pool to watch our kids’ in swim lessons, followed by an hour splashing around during open swim. Rhys and I had a Mommy-Daughter date and went to get pedicures while Theo enjoyed golfing with the Husband. On Friday we went to the movies as a family. The days sped by and I can’t believe I head back to work tomorrow.
The kids made great progress through the week with their swimming. Theo’s challenge was getting comfortable with his face in the water and not holding his nose when he jumps into the pool. Rhys worked on trusting herself and staying relaxed in the water.
The pep talks I gave before each lesson included “You can do this!” and “Show me your power.” and “You are brave and strong. Show me what you’ve got!”
Friday was the last day of the first session of swim lessons. Over the two weeks both kids’ confidence grew, they learned a lot, and made significant progress. Rhys can successfully back float and Theo’s breath stroke now includes a little time with his face in the water between strokes.
Most important of all, they both showed me how brave they were as the jumped off the blocks into the pool on the final day. And on a couple jumps neither of them held their nose, trusting themselves.
When I head back to work tomorrow, I need to remember to take my own advice. It’s going to be a busy couple of months as we work to deliver a few new programs. I am brave, I am strong, and I can do it!
P.S. Thanks for reminding me kiddos and I’ll miss spending time with you at the pool!
It’s been a busy couple months. I think I’m behind on everything. I’m sure I’m not the only working mom who feels that way.
On Saturday morning my husband had plans to play a round of disk golf with a couple of high school friends, so it would be just me and the kids.
“Don’t worry, they’ve been sleeping in.” He assured me that during their first week of summer vacation he’d been waking Rhys and Theo up between 8:30 and 9.
“Awesome, I’m looking forward to sleeping in,” I said. We’ve finally made it, I thought. We’ve hit a new phase in our parenting when our kids are no longer up at the crack of dawn. It only took a decade.
The husband’s alarm went off at six and I wake with a jolt thinking I’m already late for work. Nudging his shoulder to turn off the alarm, he rolls over and says “Thanks babe,” and kisses me on the cheek.
My heart finally stops racing and I realize its Saturday and I can sleep in. “Have a great time babe,” I say with a smile and turn back over to fall asleep.
“Hi Mom,” Theo says from my husband’s side of the bed as he slips in next to me and puts his sweet face close to mine.
“Morning Mommy,” Rhys adds as she slips in next to me on the other side of the bed and cuddles in close.
“Hi guys, what’s up?” I stretch groggily and attempt to look at the clock. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been asleep very long.
“We are!” they both say with a giggle.
“Let’s go down stairs,” Rhys says.
“Yeah,” agrees Theo.
I stretch again and hear the garage door opening. Ugh! So much for sleeping in. It’s not even seven.
“Alright you crazy monkeys, let’s go down stairs,” I say smiling.
The sun is shining, my kids are happy, its Saturday. Might as well make the most of the day.
I post on Facebook about my early birds and the fact they only wake up early for me. A friend comments that its because they missed me.
They’re maximizing their time with me. I’ll take that.
After I arrived home late last night I tiptoed into each of my kiddo’s rooms and covered their cheeks with kisses. They both looked so peaceful and sweet as they slept. There was a part of me that wanted to wake them up to give them each a big hug. I woke up this morning in my own bed for the first time in four nights. The windows were open, the chirping of birds travelled in on the cool morning breeze, sunshine filled the room. It was perfect.
Once again I tiptoed into my daughter’s room to wake her up. Before I could get to her bed she sat up and yelled “Mommy!”
I felt like a rock star. I sat down beside her and she gave me a tight hug and patted my back. I missed my family and the way they fill my heart with love.
I spent the last four days in Chicago attending a conference. Everyday was filled, morning to night. It was exhausting, educational and fun.
While I missed my family and wondered how they were doing, the independence felt great too. Knowing I was only responsible for myself was a freedom I don’t often get to experience.
This week it all worked. I was a successful business woman and knew I was a good mom too. I’m going to cherish the feeling because I know it won’t last as we juggle the demands of our busy routine.
Thank you Chicago and more importantly, thanks to my amazing family. You three are the best!
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.
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.