Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Childhood...Rewind..Pause...Fast Forward

They say time with your children goes by in a blink. As I rock the last baby I know this time around that serene quiet moment of a baby snuggled against your chest in which you're his whole world for a moment will be lost before too long in that kaleidoscope of flashing memories that seems to spin faster as time goes on, leaving us torn on our desire to hit the rewind button.

But as I also glance in the rearview mirror at the five year old that now happily chats to me about her day I'm struck by how much I don't yearn for her infancy because with each new age I  just seem to  love her more than the age before. Each age seems better than the last. Will I yearn for the rewind button back to this moment or will I just continue to long for the pause button to savor each age just a little bit longer even though the next will be just as good if not better.

Then I find myself awed by the almost eight year old that can keep with me for two miles and up the hills she use to whine about. I love that somewhere between being my daughter I also seeing the blossoming of the forever friendship we're building that will hopefully flourish in her adult years. I don't want to fast forward yet, but by now I know as much as I may want to rewind or hit pause, the view of watching them grow just gets better and better.

It is a bittersweet experience watching our babies grow and feeling the years slip by. We want to pause the best moments, rewind back to the precious memories of their youth that start to blur together, yet we can't wait for the years to come as they flourish into the wonderful adults they'll one day be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful for People

We are hosting Thanksgiving at home for only the second time in our almost ten years of marriage, and it's looking like for the first time ever my kids may wake up Christmas morning at home. I won't say their own beds because I've been waiting years for that to happen so unless it's a Christmas miracle that will have to be another year. Shortly after that we'll head up to spend a few days with my husband's family, and the kids and I are flying out to spend a long weekend in January with my family so they'll still get lots of cousin and grandparent time in the months ahead so it's the best of both worlds kind of holiday season ahead.

It's also my last baby's first holiday season so I'm pretty excited about the weeks ahead. As this thankful month comes to close I am once again incredibly grateful for all the blessings I have in my life. Things aren't always perfect, and whether it's been financial struggles or health struggles which have both resulted in marriage struggles these last 9.5 years in the big picture of things they've been so minimal. As I hear of friends about to celebrate their first holidays without parents or even parents about to celebrate their first without their children, I know the people in our lives are the greatest blessing any and all of us have. Unfortunately, we can't and shouldn't take a day of that for granted.

My husband and I have been incredibly blessed with the people in our lives. First and foremost, our greatest blessings are our three children. They each bring something unique to our family dynamic and raising them is by far the greatest adventure of our lives. As any parent knows these years are passing by way too quickly, and we do our best to enjoy these moments of their childhood.

Another great blessing of ours is our families. Though we've spent all this time far from them both, they have been supportive of our choices, our goals, and they always seem to be waiting there in the wings to come to our aid when we need the help. We do our best despite the distance to make them a constant in our children's lives and be there for their big moments and milestones when we can.

The other people that are huge in our lives are of course our friends as we have surrounded ourselves over the years with an amazing support system. Some friends are like family, others are friends we've made through work, the other adults in our children's lives, and the neighborhoods we've lived, and some are friends we made before there was ever a Nate & Ang story and kept in touch with through the years. Some we see in person on a regular basis, some only a few times a year, and some we stay in touch with mostly through social media or phone calls, but they have all had moments of being an amazing support to us in our moment of need through the years.

I could go on and on about the abundance of our blessings with our home(s), jobs, financial security, hobbies, and our health (which is a very huge blessing right there with family), but people and our relationships with the people in our lives really is everything.

So this Thanksgiving I want to give thanks for the people and relationships in my life . God has blessed our life and I thank Him every day for that and the wonderful people He's surrounded us with in this life.


Friday, November 18, 2016

When I See Me in You

We are hitting the three month mark since I went back to work full time with three young children at home. If you follow any of my ups and downs it’s definitely been an up and down experience. Some think social media is the reason for women’s drive to want to do it all, have it all, be it all. However, I think for some of us that drive exists long before we’re aware of social media.

I attended my oldest daughter’s parent teacher conference this week. As a parent I couldn’t be more proud. The teacher gave her raving report of a strong work ethic, with perfection tendencies, a kind heart that is friendly to everyone but respectful of authority, and she's an “own her behavior and mistakes” kind of kid. The girl is seven but I have no doubt the child will succeed in life. But at the same time I watched her walk out onto the basketball court the weekend before to try a sport she’s been bugging me to try for a year now. Just like with the past two sports she’s tried and eventually found success with that first attempt out there she came off the court upset with herself and frustrated and with a  bit of what I considered a poor attitude because well, she’s not that great at it yet. She didn't meet her own expectations. She’s intimidated by older, better kids and self conscious of her own skills.

This girl is so many of us grown successful women at seven years old. That drive, that passion to succeed, to do it all, be it all is present way before we hit adulthood, motherhood, and are ever aware of the window into others’ lives on social media. As I’m giving her a “talk” on the way home in the car after this first attempt at basketball it’s like a smack of reality in the face that I could be talking to myself.

I don’t want to kill her drive or her passion, anymore than I want to kill my own. However, I know all too well as these last three months have shown me once again, that sometimes we can’t do it all, be it all. That realization is blow to our self confidence.  I told her she’s not going to walk out onto a field or court and just be great. She’s going to struggle. It’s going to be hard. And that’s OKAY I told her. She’ll still be great despite her struggles, despite the rough starts, despite the poor game performances sometimes. Just like I’ll still be great; just like you’ll still be great.

But we as women and unfortunately even as little girls we are more times than not our harshest critics. No one sets the bar higher for us than we do ourselves. I think that’s okay, but it’s also okay to realize we have our limits when we reach them. Reaching them don’t make us failures either, and this is something at seven years I feel a sense of desperation for her to know and understand now. Going out there to give our best or try something new, but falling short isn’t the end all be all. There’s so much more to our greatness than that failed moment. Just as I told my daughter  it’s just a moment and it doesn't change all the other great things that make her her. Or me me. Or you you.

So to the mothers or the seven year old girls that watch us I say this:

It is our passion for the things we love, the commitment and high expectations we hold for ourselves, the getting back up and trying again when we fall short of our own or even others' expectations that are the greatest parts of us. That greatness even on the worst days and moments is still there. Don't ever forget that.




Sunday, November 6, 2016

Being the 21st Century Woman of Today

I am raising two daughters in the 21st Century, which after centuries of oppression with our very first woman presidential candidate regardless of your political affiliation, it is indeed a great time to be a woman. However, as much as I am a feminist, all about girl power and women's lib or whatever you want to call it, I often find myself asking what do I teach my daughters about being a 21st Century woman.

My sisters (their aunts) and I are career moms. Two of us have master degrees and the other went to trade school and now runs her own business. We were three girls raised by traditional 20th century parents in the Midwest in which the dad worked and mom stayed home (at least the first ten years when we were little before she reentered the workforce part time and eventually went full time as we entered our teenage years). With neither of them having a college degree they did not push college on us at all. They didn't discourage us but there wasn't a lot of stress or emphasis on a future career. Even though I have never outright asked them I often imagine the thinking of the time was something along the lines that because we were girls the social expectation was we'd marry, have kids, and be home as many of the women they were friends with at the time also stayed home and did not have any, if much,  post secondary education. Even my dad's two sisters with college degrees stayed home the first ten years or so, living the 20th century traditional family lifestyle, and I believe they were the only women I knew growing up that had college degrees.

However thirty years later than when my mother was home raising three girls the expectations are so different; life is so different. As much as I love being a 21st century career woman myself and admire and look up to the amazing 21st century career women my friends and classmates are, a part of me sometimes wishes I hadn't been so ambitious, that I was contend living a more simple life because I also know others here in the 21st century living life like my mother use to. Some didn't accumulate college debt, they get to be home with their babies all day or work part time jobs that are just jobs, and they don't carry half, if not more, of the family financial burden. I envy them in way; their life is simple in a way I often wonder is easier and more content than being the  21st century career woman. However, I also believe there are pros and cons to every choice.

The beauty is in today's world is they have a choice to be 21st century career woman or the more traditional 20th century woman. But I also know either way they'll face moments of feeling like it is not enough or feeling like they're not enough. They will doubt their choices, second guess if they've done the right thing. The guilt will swallow them at times and though the mommy wars of the 21st century may appear to be about if the working mom or stay at home mom has it harder the real mommy war will be within themselves about whether they should model their life after the more traditional 20th century woman or the supposed 21st century superwoman. The road is hard either way.

So how do I raise them to be a 21st century woman of tomorrow. How do I teach them there are many different ways to be the successful woman of today. Our career and $$ and everything attached to our career is not the only thing that can make us a successful  woman of today, right?  The more they balance won't necessarily mean the more successful they are in this world, right? Because sometimes it feels like that's the message of what the successful woman is.

Whether that's correct or not, I'd rather teach them doing what makes them happy in this new world of competition and social media generated mommy wars is what will make them successful. Because they live in a time of choice it is their choice to decide what the successful woman will look like for them. I want to teach them dedication to their family, being true to themselves in the choices they make, standing up for or representing the right things in this crazy world of ours today can make them just as successful as the roles they attach to their name. I want them to know that success and happiness looks as different for each of us as the color of our hair or eyes or anything else that makes us who we are.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Birthday #5: How is it so?

Wow, baby girl, I can't believe it's been five years already since we were blessed with your arrival into our family. You have been momma's girl from the start. You are so much like me, and though it's kept us close these first five years I pray every day that continues to be the case as you get older.

You have been my baby girl for five years now and though I know in some ways you'll always be my baby girl, I know at five years old the "baby" you is slipping away and it's time for me to let that go. As sad as I am to say good bye to the true baby girl years, on the other hand I am so excited to watch you grow into the amazing young woman I know you'll be if the amazing little girl you are is any indication.

You have been a know what you want and not afraid to ask for it and ask for it and ask for it kind of kid since the first night you were born. That stubborn streak runs deep in you; yet you have the most giving and sometimes softest heart. You'll stand your ground even if it means getting in trouble at times, but the thought of hurting  your brother or sister or disappointing us breaks your little heart.  Even though you're the little sister, I know in the years ahead you'll be there for your big sister and look out for her as much as she'll look at for you as you already speak up in her defense and will do whatever she asks if it means making her happy. First you let her cut your hair years ago and now you'll willingly give her all your money when she wants to buy something if I didn't stop you.

As the second girl I worried so much about you feeling like you're in your sister's shadow but you have totally created your own path, little girl. You are so unique, beautiful, creative, and amazing in your own ways and the two of you together are quite the pair. I have no doubt you will always carve your own path.

We are so proud with how easily you have stepped into your role as big sister this past year. You adore your little brother and are such a loving, caring big sister. You are the perfect middle piece to the Glenn five piece family puzzle. We are so blessed to call you our daughter and sister. Five is a big milestone as you will begin school within a year and leave these early days of your childhood behind. As you enter into that new world I hope you always keep that smile of sunshine on your face, that heart of gold that only wants to help and take care of others, and that stubborn streak that will help your thrive in your individuality.

Happy 5th birthday, our baby girl, Nakenzi Grace. Love you!

You will always be my sunshine!
Age 4
Age 3
Age 2
Age 1
About 6 months