This whole “working mom” gig is pretty amazing! It has introduced all kinds of change into my life…good change.
It has been a long time since I’ve had a consistent Monday-Friday paid job and I think I’ve waited this long because I was scared…scared that I would be terribly unreliable and scared that my family would fall apart. I am happy to report that neither of these things have happened so far. In fact, I actually have a job that I love and look forward to every day. I love getting dressed up in the morning, packing my lunch and my gym clothes, and commuting 15 minutes across my little valley. I love having an office (even if it looks nothing like this) and a desk and an extension. I love helping students prepare for college and apply for scholarships. I love helping make dreams come true. I love that Joe says I have a “happy job” and that Courtnee calls me the “Walt Disney of the high school.” I love that I belong somewhere and I that I’m doing important work. And I love that paycheck I get every two weeks, no matter how small it might be.
I also love that I leave for work after the girls go to school, that most days I’m home around the same time that they are, and that I have the same vacations they do…including the whole summer. Love all of that, too! In fact, I’m feeling pretty blessed that everything has come together so well.
Like everything, it isn’t perfect and I have so much to learn. My girls tell me every single day that there is no food in the house, the laundry is piling up, and I’ve dropped the ball on some important date and events. Somehow, though, we are all doing just fine. And I think I just might change my name to “Walt.”
Gorgeous image by Jose Villa
Once upon a time I had four little girls that looked just like this. We spent days outside at the park, in the fields, at the beach, in the yard. Life wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t easy, but it was fairly predictable and routine and comforting. I knew what it meant to be a mom to little girls and I think I was pretty good at it…healthy meals, fresh air, lots and lots and lots of reading, lullabies and cuddles, puzzles and play-doh, crafts and pets, nap time, nature, and lots of love.
This phase of parenting is different. It is loud and crazy and unpredictable at every moment. A day does not go by that one daughter or another or all are mad at me. A day does not go by that someone doesn’t cry. A day does not go by that I don’t tell myself that I’ve done everything wrong. It is a hard parenting stage and full of regret for so many days that I will never get back and so many things that I wish I had done better. It is full to the top of “if only.”
But something else I’ve learned about this phase of parenting is that there are lots and lots and lots of rewards and reminders that somewhere along the way, I made some good choices and did a few things right. When the way gets rough and I get discouraged, I try and remember the rewards. Sometimes they are big and sometimes they are little and sometimes they come all at once.
This week is full of big rewards that make my heart happy: Halle is dancing in two dance competitions and ranked first academically in her entire 7th grade class. Lainey is performing in Phantom of the Opera several times this week, and received the highest score on her standardized literature test for the entire 9th grade. Riley is taking on the banking industry with her new job and planning to give college another try this fall. And Courtnee and her husband are graduating from BYU this week! Amazing rewards all the way around.
For all you parents out there who are struggling through the early years, hang in there. I promise it will be worth it. It won’t necessarily get easier, but you’ll start to see the results of your efforts. And your children will amaze you every single day with the incredible people they are. And at some point every single day you will realize that you are a part of these amazing people…and then you will smile…and then you will cry.
Simple enough, but apparently this is a big factor in a person’s level of happiness. I’ve actually been working on this for the past month and it really works! I always feel happier in an orderly room, and because the bed is the biggest item in my bedroom, when it is in disarray, the entire room feels messy even when it isn’t. On the other hand, when the bed is made, I hardly notice Joe’s pile of clothes or my overly large stack of books on my nightstand. It also feels calming and restorative when I head to bed at night and my bed is nicely made.
Read this post by Amy Hackworth and the corresponding links. Then give it a try. The resulting happiness is definitely worth the effort of taking a few minutes each morning to make your bed.
Let’s discuss words today. Not foreign words, or grammatically correct words, or even swear words. Instead, let’s discuss words that are just wrong. In our family, we don’t use swear words…at least no one but me uses swear words and the reactions are so over-the-top dramatic that it is only on very rare occasions that I use even the most mild of profanities. We also work really hard not to use words like crap, stupid, dumb, shut-up, and hate. But there are a couple of words that I’m embarrassed to admit we all use on a daily basis. The words gay and retarded are the current swear words of choice in our home, as in “That test was so retarded” or “My hair looks so gay today.” We don’t mean either word to be offensive to people who are retarded or gay, but there is a definite negative tone to the way we use those words.
I know I’m not alone, but I’m an adult with a BA in English who should have a more expansive and eloquent vocabulary. However, I spend the majority of my time these days with teenagers…at home, at work, at church, so I suppose it is inevitable that I’m going to subconsciously pick up on some of their language. Luckily, Joe is here to remind me, and our girls, to clean up our language…I think his favorite and most used phrase is “We don’t say the word crap.” But even he succumbs to these two words occasionally.
After reading this article a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been rethinking my use of the R-word a lot. Then I watched this video, (I don’t agree with everything he says, but I completely agree with his point) and realized that my use of the G-word has got to go, too. So, we are adding these two words to the list of banned words in our home. It might take some time, but we’re going to post a list of alternatives and remind each other to use one of those instead. Wish us luck, please.
And now I’m curious, do you have any words that are banned in your home? What do you think about the current use of the R-word and the G-word?
A (very) few images of what my life looked like last week..inspiration from Project Life 365.
More of my Project Life 365 images here.
Falling behind…super busy with the new job. This is what my life looked like last week…inspiration from Project Life 365. If you have some time, take a few minutes to look at the images on this site. There are some really wonderful photographers contributing beautiful and inspirational images every day.
More of my Project Life 365 images here.
A few images of what my life looked like this past week…inspiration from Project Life 365.
More Project Life 365 images here.
I missed a few days this week. I was in southern Utah until Tuesday afternoon and the rest of my week was just off. So, here is a partial view of what my life looked like this week…inspiration from Project Life 365.
More of my Project Life images here.
I think that Brené Brown has changed my life! Her Ted Talk on The Price of Invulnerability has created the biggest paradigm shift I’ve ever had, and one that I’m sure will lead to greater happiness in my life. I had never really thought about vulnerability vs. invulnerability and the role it plays in my happiness, but as I’ve listened to her words again and again, I’ve realized that most of my life I have been shielding myself from being vulnerable. And I’ve been using the exact tools that Brené describes: disappointment as a lifestyle, low-grade disconnection, perfection, extremism, and numbing. Like many of you, I fear vulnerability because it often leads to fear, anxiety, shame, and guilt. But as Brené points out, vulnerability is also at the core of joy, love, belonging, creativity, and faith.
Brené also talks about scarcity and the constant messages that we receive that there is never enough and that we are never enough, or not extraordinary enough. Do you ever feel that way? I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t struggle with some form of these emotions and it always gives me such comfort to be told that it isn’t true.
In closing, Brené offers these two solutions for embracing vulnerability in our life: practice gratitude and honor the ordinary. What beautiful, yet simple reminders of what we need to do to be happy.
You can find more about Brené Brown on her website. She has also written several books…I just ordered this one and can’t wait to read it and share some thoughts.
This is what my life looked like this week…inspiration from Project Life 365.
More of my Project Life 365 images here: Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6.