Monday, April 8, 2013

"this too shall pass..."

Once, a very wise woman said to her daughter "this too shall pass..." she didn't pen it, but she used this quote on more than one occasion to express the fact that regardless of how hard or challenging a time in your life was, that it too would eventually be over.

Over the course of my life, I've thought of this simple, yet rather true and powerful statement.  Regardless of the situation, the moment will pass.  It's the fleeting and glorious truth of human life.  There aren't many constants in our lives - we age, our children grow up, our parents and grandparents will die, people will move away, relationships will start and end and ultimately everything that challenges us or excites us will pass. 

The wild part about this thinking is that it's simple and true.  All that is challenging, all that is beautiful in my life will eventually pass.  I will be left alone to contemplate where I am with my life and my challenges and triumphs.

The world is always full of challenges and triumphs.  It is full of trials, victories and questions - but ultimately - all will pass and we will be left to work it through.  Either way, it will all will pass and all that remains will be what is meant to be.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maybe I should just get a puppy

Why is it that though people acknowledge that many mothers in today's society have to work, that they still have reservations and prejudices against those of us who do? 

This entire thought process was sparked in my mind today, when at our family Sunday dinner, we were talking about college expenses and plans with my cousin, who is a HS Junior.  From there the conversation transitioned into a discussion about my daycare costs and the financial burden that adulthood and adult decisions can lead to.  In talking about all of this, I stated that "I didn't put myself through my M.Ed. program so that I could stay at home." 

To this, both my mom and aunt, hesitantly brought up the fact that I have two children and that when they had their children "they were lucky" that they could be home during the day.  Then they quickly acknowledged the fact that in "this day and age" for a family to have a house, live well and do things they want to do, both parents have to work.  It's almost like they can see inside my heart and are playing into my worst fears and doubts - "does working make me a bad mom?"
For my family, both of us working full-time makes the most sense.  There are a variety of reasons we both work.  It's not only financial, but also about quality of life for us as a family.  I never realized how people would view me as a working mom, or how I would view myself.

I wonder everyday if I would be giving my children MORE if I could stay home with them.  Would it make me more of a mom?  Would it make me a better parent?  Would my children turn out more well rounded?  What if Dave quit his job, got a job working nights and weekends to stay home with the kids during the day - sure, we'd save money, but would our kids be ready for pre-school?  Would they be better off staying home with their dad?  These are questions I wrestle with on a daily basis.

I do realize that my children go to a daycare setting where they both are happy.  Olivia LOVES seeing her friends each day and Benjamin is just a happy soul.  They are well rounded kids.  They have a healthy home to live in, food on the table, toys to play with, clothes to wear and warm beds to sleep in.  During the day, they are under the care of a woman who loves them and treats them with respect.  She educates them, plays with them and in my opinion, has been an amazingly positive influence in their lives thus far.

I guess the part then frustrates me about being a working mom, isn't the working part.  It comes down to the biases and cultural expectations on moms.  Some of this is my own perception of my parenting.  It is about my inner struggle to be the best mom I can be while not losing the parts of me that make me the best person I can be. 

Truth be told, I want to be a great mom.  As much as I dislike getting up early, there is nothing I'd rather do at 4:50am than see baby B's face as I go up to get him out of his crib.  He is just a gentle, loving soul.  He is happy just to be.  There is also something magical about baking cookies with a three year old girl.  My daughter is a force to be reckoned with.  She is powerful, opinionated and driven to get what she wants.  I can see that in her now.

The truth also is that I love my professional life.  I worked for and am still paying back both my B.S. and my M.Ed.  I took out loans, did the work and got the grades that allowed me to graduate from both of my programs with honors.  I feel a huge sense of accomplishment in my work.  I take pride in my job and feel humbled and honored to work with families and students as an educator.  I know that I am a better mother because I am a good worker.

I don't think that it's fair to constantly make me or any other mom, working or not, feel like they aren't doing what's necessarily right but what is "understandable in this day and age."  I think that regardless of my financial needs, working provides me with a sense of purpose and a sense of control.  I like to work.  I was raised to see college and a career as an attainable and expected outcome.  I was also raised to see having children and a family as an attainable and expected outcome.  Is it so wrong to have both and work on finding the balance between the two?

And for the record, I do NOT want a puppy.  Now, there is something that would just be too much work...


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

research to feed my soul

If these ladies aren't a sign that I am on the path that is right for me...thanks to the power of Google and a little guidance from the spirit above...I just stumbled on the pieces below.  All written by moms who are PhD students, these pieces embody my anxiety and guilt and put to rest my fears.  The future I envision for me and my family IS possible...these HIGHLY intelligent women at Columbia have proven it!

Reflections on Motherhood and PhD Studies

Seeing that these women have written about their experiences makes me more confident that I could in fact, find the balance between being a mom, wife and any case, these women have given me the push I need to complete my applications and let the chips fall where they may.

I am confident that I can do what I want in, once I hear back about my applications - that's when the real anxiety begins...

how to be a "good" mom

Being a good mom is hard.  It's harder than any other job I've had in my life.  After talking to a trusted friend and advisor today, I came to a realization that I was struggling to wrap my head around:

I have a hard time being a mom because there is not one definitive way to be a "good" mom.

I like standards, measurable results, benchmarks and goals.  In radio I always had a sales number to reach or a certain number of tickets to try to sell, it was much easier to figure out what I was supposed to do.  As an educator I have curriculum, time-tested methods and pedagogy to look at and compare my work against.  Professional success has always been something that I have strived for and parental success is something I aim for as well. 

The problem I am having is that there is no real way to measure how successful I am being as a mom.  I want to believe I am doing a good job with O and B.  I want to believe that the schedules and my sometimes over the top need to give them structure and security is going to produce strong, healthy, independent citizens of the world.

I want to believe that I am a "good" mom, even when I feel like I am not "good" enough for my kids.  It is hard for me to be the mom I want to be and still be the person I want to be as well.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Something as simple as rock n' roll would save us all"

It's true.  I drive around town, switching stations endlessly.  I can't find many songs I like, and what's worse - I have no where to go to hear real true alternative rock.  The death of WFNX, meant the end of an era for me.  The end of a connection to the past that I truly loved, but ultimately had to move on from. 

In 1996, during my senior year of HS, my friend Jessica and I hit up the 'FNX Best Music Poll Concert.  We saw live bands at the Orpheum and enjoyed a festival of amazing alt rock on Landsdowne Street.  It was amazing to me, even then, the power that radio stations and music truly had over people.  I loved being able to soak in the culture, hear sounds I had never heard before and meet other music enthusiasts.  Jessica and I were music junkies back then.  We loved all things alternative and really enjoyed getting to hear songs by new artists and see some of our favorites live. 

It was experiences like this one, that led me to enter a career path in the radio industry.  I loved the idea of connecting to people with music.  There is something magical about radio - or wait, there was something magical about radio at that time.  Stations were local, live and many were still independently owned.  It was a time when DJ's answered their own phones, music was not ALWAYS pre-programmed and phone calls weren't necessarily canned prior to airing.  It was a time before websites, podcasting, iTunes, 24/7 streaming.  You heard a song on the radio and actually went out to buy a CD.  Music was digested, savored even. 

The connection you felt to the DJ's actually meant something.  You let the DJ's into your bedroom, your car, your backyard BBQ.  You felt like you knew them.  It was more than just a person announcing the title of a song, being a DJ was important.  DJ's introduced us to new music.  They helped us find the song that would remind us of our favorite moments, make us cry and make us laugh.  DJ's were THE musical taste makers.  Now, just 16 years later, WFNX is gone.  The DJ's who inspired me to pursue my dreams have long since moved on and the station has been flipped to yet another pre-boxed, pre-imaged format that can be heard around the US.  Different call letters but same voice over talent, same "play anything" format that can be heard anywhere.

Part of being a good mom is exposing my children to a wide variety of arts - including music that will inspire them to be creative, bold and brave.  Music that will take them by surprise and ultimately create the soundtracks to their lives.  Music and radio changed me.  My life is better for having been inspired by it and more interesting for having worked in the thick of it.  I can only hope I can use my iPod and the internet to find ways to create that same inspiration and excitement for my O and B.  I can't in good conscience let them become Top 40/CHR fans, that would just be wrong :)! xoxo

Monday, July 23, 2012

mirror, mirror on the wall...

Vanity.  The quest for beauty.  Our desire, as a culture, for perfection.  As I push myself to run each night on my treadmill, I think about why I am really doing it.  I could say that "I am doing it to stay healthy," which is true...but it's not the WHOLE truth.  The whole truth is that I am vain.  I want to be thin and attractive as well as healthy.  I want to fit into my size 6 and 8 pants again.  I want to sheld pounds.  Now, getting healthy is important too...I will never say that I don't want to be healthy, because I do want to live a long, joy filled life, but to be completely honest about it - I want to lose weight and look good in my clothes. 

Now, this raises an even bigger question, "what does look good" actually mean? 
For me it means my pants fit without having to use a hair elastic to close them.  It means I don't get to show off my back fat when I wear my pre-baby bras.  It means that I feel more confident in my clothing and in turn will be a better wife, mom and teacher.  There is a sense of power and freedom that comes with "looking good."  Right before I got pregnant with Benjamin, I was getting to that point.  I was losing weight, my clothes fit well and I really felt good about myself.  The confidence I felt was an amazing thing.

The vanity inside me comes from a good place.  It comes from the fact that I truly believe that confidence, looking good and feeling good are all interconnected. 

Look good - feel good - be confident (repeat).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

making the most of it

Recently, I learned a friend of mine, another mom, was diagnosed with cancer.  The thought of a woman, who is the same age as me, diagnosed with cancer just seems impossible.  But, sadly, it's not. 

My friend, Tegan, is a woman who I knew in high school, and by "knew" I'm going to say we had some of the same classes, didn't have really many of the same friends, but went to a small suburban HS together.  It wasn't until 2006, through the magic of Facebook that we really reconnected.  She was heading out west to a 2-day music festival in Indio, CA called Coachella and my best friend, west-coast sister Amy and I were going.  We met up at the festival and spent two days enjoying the sun, the music and the adventure.  We walked around in the hot sun, listened to bands, had a few festive beverages and just enjoyed this experience together.  I will never forget playing hacky-sac, drinking and laughing with random guys we met who were there from Vermont.  I actually still have the hacky-sac from that day hidden away in a box of momentos I keep from my travels.  It was a weekend I'll never forget not only for the musical experience, but the chance to connect with Tegan.

Now, hearing that she has cancer and will be going through treatment makes me think alot.  We both have 2 children, who oddly enough, are the same age and were born within months of each other.  We both are working moms who need our income to help keep our children fed, clothed and the lights on.  If it was me, I would need as much help as possible.  I know that if I was missing work for treatment we would run the risk of losing our home, have trouble providing necessities for our children and in general would struggle. 

Reading Tegan's facebook updates and posts about her treatment schedule along with the comments and words of encouragement from her friends and family have really reminded me to make the most of every moment of everyday.  It is so easy to become caught up in the commercialism of life, the hurried pace, the rush to do everything now and the desire to have all the things we want as soon as we want them.  You never know when things can change or how they can change.  I'm taking the time now to just enjoy the days and enjoy the kids.  It's scary to think about what might happen and who could be.  I think it's best to just take it one day at a time...

Monday, May 14, 2012

"mom enough?"

Recently, TIME Magazine ran an article about attachment parenting, timed it right at Mother's Day and put the image of a 26 year old mother breastfeeding her 3-year old son on the cover.  Now, don't get me wrong, like most moms, I have an opinion on the idea of breast feeding a 3-year old person.  But that is a blog for another day.  My thoughts for today are more focused on the title so boldly featured on the cover of the magazine.."ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?"

I am a mom; a working, married, busy mom of two amazing children.  Regardless of my parenting style - I believe I AM mom enough

The title of the article is, in my opinion as a mom and woman, fairly offensive, hurtful and downright disrespectful to the role of the mother in modern day America.  I do not believe that breastfeeding until a child is 3 makes someone more of a mom than me.  I also do not believe that letting your child sleep in your bed with you makes you more of a mom than me.  Staying home with your children does not make you more of a mom than me either. 

Being a good mom is about finding what works for you and doing it.  I do not think that any parenting style is "more mom" than another.  We have to remember as moms that we are all in this together.  WE are members of an exclusive, amazingly personal club.  We have the distinct honor, pleasure and responsibility of raising small citizens of our world.  Regardless of how they get there, we expect and hope that they will grow up to be responsible members of society.  We are the ones who are molding them into the future of the planet through modeling, provding guidance and teaching them how to treat others.  Being "mom enough" is performing these duties selflessly, with honor and to the best of our ability.  It is not about creating a divide between moms by categorizing one parenting style as "more mom" than another. 

Sadly, as much as it pains moe to admit this - my marketing mind is impressed with this article and cover.  The idea of showcasing a breast feeding, thin, attractive, 26 year old woman with her 3-year old son on the cover of TIME Magazine is truly brilliant.  By timing this article with Mother's Day, featuring a young, attractive woman and her toddler engaged in breast feeding on the cover and adding a devisive title they have managed to renew the public's interest in print media.  From a business standpoint, I believe the creative people and marketing staff at TIME should be given some sort of bonus.  The debate that this article and cover have sparked should lead to increased circulation and I'm guessing a spike in subscription sales.  And as it pains me to admit - it is always the edgy product (article, idea, thought, etc.) that will get the most notice and in turn, provide the fuel to fan the intellectual fire you see here today. 

Ultimately, regardless of what this article insinuates about moms, I believe we are all "mom enough." We give life, raise small people and ultimately (if all goes well) help them navigate away from us into the adult world.  We play the part of teachers, doctors, critics, fans, chauffeurs, janitors and chefs to please our little ones.  We provide them with food and clothing, teach them skills that will help them transform into meaningful members of society and give them unconditional love.  Being "mom enough" is bigger than breast-feeding or co-sleeping.  Being "mom enough" is about love, respect and family. 

I am "mom enough"...are you?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

disconnect and recharge

For the past week I have been phone has stopped holding a charge.  I have been using my husbands cell phone, which thankfully we had never turned off when he got a job that came with a phone, so I can at least make calls in an emergency. 

What I have been discovering is that it is really NOT necessary for me to have a phone with a million bells and whistles.  Without access to facebook, twitter, foursquare, yelp, email, words with friends, scramble...etc...I am actually OK.  In fact, I feel a weight has been lifted.  I no longer have to be concerned with daily check-ins, coming up with witty 140 character messages or following the tweets of my favorite tv stars.  I've discovered that those things are a luxury, not a necessity.  Now, I love technology, don't get me wrong, I believe that the evolution of a modern technologically advanced society includes social media formats and platforms.  I am of the opinion that for some, this technology allows them to connect with others and opens them to new ideas and experiences that they otherwise may not have. 

BUT - now that I am disconnected, I don't think I NEED a phone that has applications.  I can survive with a phone that does calling and texting.  I am enjoying that I don't have access to twitter or facebook 24/7.  I have discoverd that I don't have many interesting things to say.  I'm NOT as important as I think I am.  LOL.  No one needs a play by play of my daily life and honestly, I don't need to read a daily play by play of other people's lives.  Maybe this disconnect period has led me to a new era in my own life.  Time to focus on those around me, my day to day life and me.  Less focus on how to make preparing dinner and getting the kids ready for bed a witty commentary for others to enjoy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

shout it out...

There is a voice inside of all of us, a part of us that gives us the drive to work towards the things that we desire.  He or she is always there, rooting us on, coaching us and inspiring us to move forward.  I've always been fairly in tune with my inner muse.  She has always been a screamer, which is fitting because I've never been the silent type.  Lately she has been silent, or at least I thought she was.  But really she has been screaming at me, I have just been too lost in my own fog to fully hear what she was trying to say.

But today, I figured out what my inner muse has been trying to say. She was trying to get my attention by being gentle, subtle even.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am anything but subtle.  She was trying to push me forward with her words of wisdom - maybe I wasn't ready to hear them, but today, just a few hours ago, she came through loud and clear.

"You will have it all," she keeps saying over and over.  Those five words were exactly what I needed to remember.  She knows that I hate feeling defined by the ordinary and typical.  She knows I need more to feel whole.  She gave me the confidence that I need to move forward.

I know what I need to do - it's time to mount the attack; prepare for the future and go forward armed with the knowledge that I WILL have it all.  There is no CAN or WILL TRY to have it's a matter of the fact that I will do everything I imagine.

It's so simple to be complacent and just settle.  For me, that is not an option.  I can't settle in to just being one thing.  I want to be more.  I can be more and I should be.  I won't be defined as a wife, mother or daughter - I also won't be defined as a teacher or student.  I can and will be both. 

In the next few weeks I will mount my attack on the future.  It's time to get organized and take care of myself - mind, body and soul.  I will get my body back to pre-pre baby shape, I will continue to be an amazing mom and wife who takes care of her family AND I will do my job to the best of my ability.

And then I will pursue the bigger picture dreams I have for myself...pursuing my Doctoral degree, paying off some of my bills, raising my family and enjoying a few minutes now and then with friends. 

It's not where we start from that's important - it's getting to where we want to be that ultimately shows who we are.