A Marginal Morning

It’s not even 9 am and it has been A DAY! It started relatively peacefully with me waking early and getting in a walk and prayer time. When I went up to hop in the shower, I noticed that Michael was awake. He’s been waking up pretty early lately (between 5 and 5:30) but usually enjoys playing and singing (or yelling) in his bed. Having made sure that his noise isn’t waking up his sisters, we’ve decided to leave him there until we’re ready to get his breakfast going. But today, he was crying – so I went to check on him. This is when I discovered that my morning was officially derailed.

The precious boy had pooped and decided that he didn’t like how it felt and so removed the offending diaper from his body and threw it across the room. Unfortunately, that didn’t actually remove the feeling from his body and he only succeeded in spreading it over his bed and hands and body. So, we cleaned up.

And this is where the margin comes in – my husband was around and could help. A few months ago when my business started taking off some more and I was working more regular hours, I told him that what I needed in the mornings was margin. Anyone with children of any age knows that parenting is often a series of interruptions to what you thought the day would be. So, when I wasn’t managing clients and deadlines, basically all the interruptions just dictated the flow of my day. But things have shifted now that my work life is different. So what I asked Tom is to provide some margin in his mornings just for situations like today. Most days, it just means that we both have a little more time to sip the coffee or check in to our apps/games/books. But today, it meant that I didn’t have to clean up poop by myself. It’s just one of the many things I’m grateful for in the scheme of this morning….

…because unfortunately that wasn’t the end.

After the cleanup of room, baby, bedding, clothes, and self, I allowed myself to just sit for a while. Which was totally fine until we realized that we had just missed the high school bus. Oy. Insert second derailment of the morning. The High School is about 10-15 minutes away depending on traffic and the third kid wasn’t even awake yet for the elementary school bus that was coming in 40 minutes. Oops. Everyone shot up into full go-go-go mode and miraculously everyone got to where they needed to go and had what they needed to have (except for a lost very important piece of paper that has disappeared into the unseen regions of a home with 6 active people living in it.).

What’s interested me about this morning the most is how I’ve handled it. This kind of thing – cleaning up poop, missed buses, missing papers – this is normal. It’s the everyday stuff that adds to the chaos and stress of managing a family. But today, I didn’t feel overcome by the stress of it all. I for sure blurted out in frustration – Oh no! We missed the bus!!! But I didn’t yell at my daughter for not telling me or spend the whole drive berating her about time management skills. I was definitely frustrated with the toddler – and ohmygoodness did he hit the ground running this morning after being cleaned up – we are in the toddler chaos zone right now. But it wasn’t pushing me over the edge and into snapping at everyone in the family.

Why am I telling you this ?  It’s not to brag really. It’s just an observation of how things have changed in my heart and mind over the past almost 15 years of being a parent. And I guess I just want to say that things really can get better. My usual way of dealing with mornings like this has been to devolve into just more and more frustration with every. little. thing. going exactly the way it shouldn’t. And today it didn’t. So I’m marking a moment. I don’t want it to be a marker that brings shame to anyone, not the least of which my old self or my future self. It’s just saying – today, love and peace won over the chaos.

Thank you God!

 

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Local Business #WCW – Play, Work, or Dash

It’s been awhile since I highlighted an outstanding woman in my circle for #WCW.  I’ve got one for you today PLUS a teaser about some new things coming down the pipeline for me.

If you don’t already know this about me, I have four children with a large age gap between numbers 3 and 4. Just when I was beginning to think about starting back up a career again after being home (for the most part) with the kids for 12 years, I found out I was pregnant with baby number 4. One of the things that I remember my husband saying to me during those early weeks (okay months) of reeling with the news was that we didn’t have to do things the same way this time. He was supportive of me continuing the journey of what I’d already started – figuring out what I want to do when I grow up, pursuing opportunities, etc.

But, HOW??? For real? Well, when Michael was a few months old, I learned about a new place in our area, called Play, Work, or Dash that was offering a unique solution to moms like me.

The founder of PWD is Nicole Dash; she and her little community over there at PWD are my #WCW for today.  This spot is so wonderful and has been an incredible asset to my life these past several months. Here’s the basic concept – it’s a co-working space with childcare.  There’s a cute office suite over in Tysons – you walk in, drop your kids (ages 9 months up to 8 years old) in the lovely playroom that is staffed with great childcare workers, and head out in to the lounge area to do some work, or upstairs to the shared office space. Upstairs is a kitchen with snacks and coffee, multiple workstations with outlets, a printer, and miscellaneous office supplies. There’s also a conference room that you can book for meetings or just reserve to have even more quiet space to work.

If all of that wasn’t enough to radically open up the possibilities of pursuing my career options, Nicole also began offering workshops to her members. Each one of these that I have been able to attend have been very worthwhile. I’ve gained skills that helped me in some of my volunteer roles, my paid jobs, and also just overall with managing my life.

I’m so grateful to Nicole and to the other women entrepreneurs I’ve met at PWD for having the courage to pursue their dreams. It’s been such an inspiring thing to learn about all these people in my area pursuing very interesting careers in various industries.  I love the little community you’re building at Play, Work, or Dash – the sense of camaraderie and “me too” of young moms trying to do life around the chaos of toddlers and preschool, the environment of empowerment without competition.

That saying of a rising tide lifting all boats rings very true at Play, Work, or Dash – I see women being able to go ahead and take on that new client, get back to doing what they love, or start a new thing.

As for me – I am starting a new thing. I’ll talk more about it another day. There is lots of background as to why, how, and when I’m starting this new thing. But one very large reason I went ahead and took the plunge is because of the air I breathe at Play, Work, or Dash – parent-honoring, business-savvy, child-loving air.

Thank you Nicole!

 

#WCW – International Women’s Day Edition

Well, I haven’t written in almost a month! Things got busy around here. I was going to skip today too because my head is just spinning a bit from other things going on, but then I saw that today is International Women’s Day! I have to highlight someone on this day!

So, today I’ll tell you about my daughter, who is rapidly becoming a woman in her own right. She turned 14 last month and today she had quite the milestone of getting her braces off! Ugh, now she’s even more beautiful.

Parenting is such a funny experience. It all happens right in front of your nose so you don’t really see what’s happening. Then you look at a picture from a baby album, or remember how old you are, or write on the invitation to the birthday party the age of your kid and the reality smacks you upside the head. She is growing up! She is not a baby anymore! All the things they said when she was a toddler are true! “It goes so fast.” “The days are long but the years are short.” “This too shall pass.”

22431_301334152450_5771074_nYep, we conquered teething and sleeping through the night, potty training and not eating poisonous things from under the sink. She does NOT still use her binky (phew!)

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I no longer worry about her having separation anxiety or whether she’ll learn to tie her shoes. She’s spent the night away from me too many times to count. She eats her vegetables and makes her bed. We’ve moved on from Dora the Explorer to Harry Potter. The milestones just keep piling up.

She’s an amazing daughter and I’m so excited to watch her turn into a lovely young woman. Next year she heads to high school and while I simply cannot imagine time going any faster than it already does, I know that it, too, will ZOOM. So, I’ll share some hopes I have for your future while I have this moment. (Your baby brother is currently very happily banging on an empty coffee can. This could go on for MINUTES!)

I hope you always believe the TRUTH about yourself – that you are talented, intelligent, creative, beautiful, full of potential, worthy of love, and loved immensely by your family and by God.

I hope you continue to surround yourself with friends who support you and who you support. Girlfriends are life – treasure them! Bring them over for dinner – we love your friends and we love a home full of girls’ laughter.

I hope you take time to pursue your dreams and passions. Go to school. Travel (just always call me when you get there, ok??) Try something crazy. Enjoy the adventure of your life. We’ll always leave the light on for you.

I hope you know you are more than your GPA, your transcript, your list of activities and accomplishments, your eventual college acceptance. Your achievements will be so important, but they’re not everything.

I hope you’ll remember you come from a line of strong women. We support you and cheer you on. Your grandmothers and great grandma are women who have not always walked easy roads, but who have gained resilience from walking those roads with dignity. Their legacy is an amazing one and I’m so glad you get to know them. I hope you keep up your own relationship with them as you grow older.

I love you my sweet girl. You and your sisters and brother fill me with such hope for our future. Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Sheltered: On media exposure and parenting

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how sheltered my kids’ lives are in comparison to how my life was sheltered as a child. I grew up in a fairly strict conservative household that limited tv and movie viewing and book reading to titles with only G or PG rated material, and sometimes even the PG was a little much. Little to no secular music was played in the car or at home.  We watched Gospel Bill and SuperBook instead of the Smurfs and Scooby Doo. I went to a Christian school through middle school so I didn’t get much exposure at all to the popular music of the time.  My kids are growing up a bit differently.  We still limit a bunch of tv and movies, mainly because we don’t have cable! The tv is rarely on. But my kids know the words to several classic rock songs thanks to my husband, and are constantly humming top 40 tunes thanks to the music they hear on the announcements at school.

So, in some ways, my children are less sheltered than I was. But in one way particularly, they are extremely MORE sheltered. What way is this? The News.

Growing up, the evening news was always on the tv from around 5ish until dinner and then back on while dinner clean up was happening. I rarely sat down and watched it with my parents, but I was very aware of things that were happening. I watched the videos of the Rodney King beating, Gulf War SCUD missile strikes, DC protests of all manner, etc.  (Interestingly, somehow I missed the Challenger explosion. Apparently every other kindergartner was watching it, but not me. Maybe I was sick that day? who knows.) But now? Like I said before, we don’t have the tv on much at all. We don’t have cable (mainly a financial decision, not a philosophical one), we haven’t sprung for a roof antenna, and the tv just doesn’t get great reception down in the basement. I don’t have a little tv in the kitchen either. So my kids just don’t really get the exposure to current events like I did. I get the news on my phone, usually during the day while they’re at school and after they’re in bed. Sometimes on the radio – but I usually switch it off in the car when the kids are with me, because it’s usually the only time I have one on one time with them and it’s a good time to talk.

I know they hear about some things at school. For example, my husband and I had not really been talking about the election at home, but my big girls all still knew all about Trump and were fairly flabbergasted at his success. What’s interesting to me is that this sheltering is not intentional. I’m not trying to keep things from them; it’s just that my consumption of media and news is not as public or in front of them as my parents’ was.

I’ve read blog posts and articles about how to handle kids’ anxiety in today’s news world where it seems that some major disaster is happening every few days. I always read these and am like – wait, does my kid even know that happened? Should she know it happened? Just what does my child/teenager need to know about what’s going on? About Black Lives Matter? About the cultural battles being waged over LGBTQ issues? About abortion? About this mass shooting? About that terrorist attack? etc, etc, etc.

I don’t mean to be doing them a disservice by not opening the door to current events.  I also don’t necessarily think they need to know about everything happening – it’s overwhelming for me as an adult to engage with every story. I simply do not have the emotional capacity to handle caring so deeply about all of the major cultural discussions swirling today.

I would love to hear how other parents are handling this issue – are your kids media exposed? Are you intentional about it? Any lessons learned?