EVPHO

Executive Vice President, Home Operations

Respect The Safe Word

The Associates are growing up and have discovered, as all brothers do, the joys of wrestling and roughhousing.  Things are a little nuts around here these days.  At any given moment there are squeals of laughter followed by sharp cries of pain.  No one has had to be taken to the ER yet, but our boo boo buddy is seeing a little more action than usual.  It is only a matter of time really.

Associates Wrestling

Associates Wrestling

So in light of their new found love of indoor tackling and body-slamming on the couch, we’ve had to amend a few house rules.

  1. Use inside voices….. Amended to “Use inside voices when the CEO is working from home.”  All other times you can assume it is loud as heck up in here.
  2. Be kind to each other…. Amended to “Mutual aggression is fun, but it is not ok to sucker punch.”
  3. Listen to your mother… Amended to “Respect the referee and do not attack her.”  They still ignore this rule.
  4. Use your words…. Amended to “Respect the safe word.  Only use it if you are in real pain.  Stop hurting your brother immediately if he says it.”
  5. Help clean up your messes….. Amended to “Don’t destroy things.  If you destroy a room, help clean up the mess.  If you break a thing, well, we will deal with that on a case by case situation.”
  6. No jumping on the couch…. Amended to “No couch olympics when company is over.”

That should cover us for now.  As long as they are playing together, having fun and leaving me out of it, I honestly don’t care what they do to each other.  I just want to pee alone.

I’m Famous!

If you are here looking for another funny story about my adorable Associates and poop, sorry to disappoint.  This post represents a bit of a regression in my recovery as a former Political Operative (sounds so mysterious and important, right?!?).   In the days after Obergefell v. Hodges I fell off the wagon.  I have read more news than I have in 2.5 years… since the day Associate A was born to be exact.

My former self, Campaign Kathryn, is fired up. It is my job as EVPHO to keep her in line.  But lately I can’t stop thinking about the issues, the politics, the future of our country.  I’ve lost sleep and scared the CEO with ideas of getting involved with a race in 2016.

I have been interested in the overall reaction to Obergefell, but was specifically looking for the responses of leaders of my party…. the Republican Party.  Polling clearly indicates that the American public has moved to agree with Marriage Equality, and I was looking for any glimmer of hope that a leader would emerge to help move our Party away from arguing semantics and fear.

I didn’t expect an about face, but I did hope there would be one or two brave leaders able to recognize this was a civil rights issue, firmly rooted in the 14th Amendment, and to speak up and address the fears of Christian conservatives who worried this would affect their church and faith.  (It doesn’t affect the vows you made in your church before your God one bit.  Your Christian pastor will still have no legal obligation to marry two Buddhists, two Hindus, or two women.  The decision doesn’t affect your tax break, your right to visit your spouse in the hospital, or your right to be listed on their death certificate.  But our government will no longer deny those rights to your fellow Americans.)   We have so many who claim to love the constitution, would they be able to recognize this as consistent with the ideals laid out there within?

Anyway, seeing the lack of leadership, my mind then turned to the thousands of hard workings young professionals who work for our leaders.  They do everything from answering the mail to writing talking points.  They research issues and help craft the message.  They set the meetings and the agendas, and then they do the work to follow through on what was decided.  And for many young professionals, they develop trusted relationships with the Members they serve.  Their opinion is valued and their advice heeded.

So as my mind raced, I wrote a letter hoping to inspire even one young GOP staffer.  A former colleague at Famous DC blog agreed to run my letter, and there you have it.  I’m on FamousDC.

famous-dc

I put my money where my mouth was, of course, and reached out to my former boss and had a conversation about how he will respond to this issue.  I hope my letter will encourage others to do the same.

Call me an idealist, but I agree with Voctor Hugo,

Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.

*** For those of you who knew me in my grunge phase in Junior High, and don’t think I am a Millennial, may I just point out that I was born less than 30 minutes before MTV went on the air at 12:00am Aug 1st 1981.  I’ve never known a world without MTV and Apple computers = Millennial. ***

Talking About REAL Issues With Your Kids

As a recovering politico hiding out in playgroups in suburbia, I am not, how do I phrase this, culturally aware.  I don’t watch the morning news, I watch Curious George.  I don’t have a ‘first hour at my desk before my real job begins” to cruise the web aimlessly reading whatever interests me.  Most days I am lucky if I click on 1 article from my Yahoo daily new digest app.  We don’t really watch live TV at all anymore, and in the car it is christian radio or Raffi on Pandora… you know, things “safe for the little ears.”

I often joke that facebook is my link to the outside world, but it is a terrible, terrible news source.   My facebook feed is almost always exclusively filled with pictures of other people’s children, other parenting blogs and silly meme’s about women, wine and exhaustion.

But some things are so big, so culturally important, they shine through to my little suburban existence and remind me that there is a great big world out there, and I am still a small part of it.  And these last few weeks, I have been reminded that we as a country are still tackling some pretty big issues.

Marriage equality, police brutality and explosive racial tensions that flare up now and then and bring out the worst in us.

The CEO tries his best to keep me up to speed on current events.  I think we are both as interested and passionate as ever (about the news people… focus!) but talking about some of these big issues, that weigh on our hearts and shock our minds, is hard to do with those cute, innocent little ears always around.   Always listening.  Always asking questions.

For example, the CEO was working from home one day and had an audible reaction to a news story.  Of course I notice and come over to ask if everything is ok, and Associate P does too.  The CEO tells him it is nothing and sends him back to play, but then shows me the video of a cop in Texas treating a teenage girl so brutality I have an audible, expletive-laced reaction.

Well now both little Associates are aware that mommy and daddy are upset and something is going on.  The questions begin…

What is it Mommy?

What happened?

Can I see?

It’s nothing.  Someone was being mean.  No, I’m sorry sweetie –  It is not an age appropriate video.  And I try to move on, and pretend the rock in the pit of my stomach isn’t there.

I have been caught, too often lately, wondering how to respond to my little associates when they see mommy sad and distracted, or yesterday joyous and giddy.  Part of me wants to have this big adult conversation with them about what is happening in our world. I want to begin their education right now. Today. But I don’t want to merely brainwash them with my opinions.  I want to raise them with a foundation of solid morals and clear values, and hopefully have them be able to decide for themselves what and why they believe in things like equality, mercy, tolerance.

So I turn to the good doctor.   Dr. Seuss has a way of discussing big ideas…. modesty, humility, kindness, faithfulness, fairness, open-mindedness, patience, equality respect and love… in a way that illustrates them so beautifully and fanciful, we can discuss them with our children and they will understand.  Almost every story he wrote has an underlying  message, from Horton to Yertle the Turtle, Bartholomew to The Zax.

So if you are a parent that, like me, wants to talk about the REAL issues happening in our world today with your young kids, might I suggest you read and watch three of his best lessons: The Sneetches, The Zax, and Green Eggs and Ham.

The Sneetches teaches about discrimination and equality.  The Zax teaches that the world won’t stop for your pride and stubbornness (I’d like to send this one to every single GOP Presidential candidates.) And Green Eggs and Ham teaches that you shouldn’t say you hate something unless you’ve tried it, and perhaps more subtle, but equally as important: you shouldn’t dislike anyone because they like and advocate for something you disagree with.  Sam is an alright guy!

So yesterday, with tears streaming down my face, I read the happiest of happy endings to my associates:

But Mc. Bean was quite wrong.  I’m quite happy to say

That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,

The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches

And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.

That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars

And wether they had one or not upon thars.

Dad Bod Is Sexy

” dad bod would be more like a grazing manatee than a speedy dolphin.”

http://www.vox.com/2015/5/14/8607369/what-is-dad-bod

Moms Need The Father

There is one other important relationship all moms need, and that is a relationship with The Father. 

Motherhood is a humbling experience. Teething Toddlers have the ability to bring grown men and women to tears in the middle of the night.  And what could be more humbling then raising a child, sacrificing everything for them, only to have them grow up to be teenagers who insist they know everything, rebel against you and make bad decisions, and you have no way to stop them. 

There are so many moments in motherhood, where all you can simply do is trust The Father and believe that God has a plan. You have to believe that God’s got this, because you sure as heck don’t.

In First Peter 5:7, we are told “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”    He cares for you, and He cares for your children, because we are all God’s children, and He loves us and will provide for us. 

Matthew 6:31-34

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

My husband and I love this passage and hold firmly to the belief that we cannot borrow worry, we must cast our anxiety on God and trust Him.  I often tell myself, they are not our children, but they are His children, and He has blessed us by giving us the opportunity to care for them.

I remember spending hours rubbing my growing belli, contemplating the miracle of it all.  We waited to be surprised with the gender for our first child and you know how they say that baby girls are born with all the eggs they will ever have. So while I was in my mother, all my future children were already inside me. And now if this baby is a girl, all of her future children are already inside her?!?!   Mind Blown!  

That deep contemplation also reminded me that women were made to do this – God made us to be mothers.  We are part of a plan.  God’s plan.  As Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”   

I hope what I have said today will inspire you to be intentional about who you journey with as a mother.   Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and while it is always nice to be honored and pampered by the men in our lives, it is also an opportunity for us as daughters, mothers and grandmothers, sisters and friends seize the opportunity to celebrate each other and our unique relationship with the women in our lives. Let’s celebrate the sisterhood of Motherhood and praise God for the many blessings he gives us.

Read my previous posts discussing why moms need other moms to Mentor and Journey with them.

Moms Need Mommy Friends In The Same Phase Of Life

This is PART III of my recent remarks for a Mother’s Day Brunch, where I talked about why Moms need other Moms.  You can read the beginning HERE and I discuss the importance of mentor moms in Part II HERE.

The second important relationship is that MOMS NEED OTHER MOMS who are in their exact same phase of life.

It is inevitable, that at some point, a mentor mom will say to you “Enjoy this moment – they grow up so fast”  But when you are exhausted and dealing with a moody threenager throwing a fit in Publix or when your teenager has just crashed the family car — the last thing you need is someone to tell you to enjoy THAT moment.  You need to be able to vent to other moms who are exactly where you are in life and completely get your frustration. 

moms-need-Paula Dean

And that is why MOMS NEED OTHER MOMS who are in their phase of life.  Nowadays we call this The Birth Club.  Whether you actually meet in person at the hospital birthing class, or simple at the park or your child’s school… moms need to be a part of a Birth Club with mom’s whose children are about the same age.  We do – it is a need.  We are drawn together by this primal instinct of pack survival.   It is good for the kids, and it is great for the moms.  Play dates are easier – and the conversation can be open and honest.

Both my mother and mother in law have friendships that began when they were young mothers, with young children.  And now, decades later, they are still friends whom they rely on to talk through the joys of grandkids, worrying about their grown children, or fussing over their husbands.  They’ve grow up together, shared the best and worst of life together.  Those female friendships are precious. 

I also look to the many military mom’s I’ve met here as a great example of the importance of this mommy support network. Military wives do an amazing job of caring for each other.  They are uniquely positioned to understand each other’s lives, the way civilian women can’t.  They form friendships that, like a birth club, help moms survive each day by being a friend who understand exactly where they are. 

The Bible also talks about the importance of having a Birth Club. Its true!   I’ve never gone to seminary, but I was raised in the Catholic church, and growing up we learned a lot about Mary.  My favorite story is called The Visitation.   

In the Gospel of Luke, we learn that immediately after the Angel brings the good news to Mary that she is pregnant with the Son of God, Mary travels to visit her older cousin Elizabeth, who had been thought to have been barren but the Angel told Mary she too is pregnant.  Many scholars believe that Mary stayed with Elizabeth through the birth of her son, John the Baptist. 

But here is what I love about this story – this isn’t just two cousins who are both pregnant helping to care for each other. This is a Birth Club of women in very scary situations.  Both women are unexpectedly pregnant – Mary not yet married and Elizabeth much older.  Both women have partners who doubt the circumstances of the pregnancies.   An angel actually appeared to Elizabeth’s husband and because he voiced doubts the angel command he shall be mute the entire pregnancy!  And at this point in the Gospel, the angel has not yet appeared to Joseph, so many scholars think perhaps he was not with Mary during this time.  That He stayed back in Nazareth. 

So both women are confident of the miracle and blessing of their pregnancies, but their husbands doubt, and they have ample reason to fear what outsiders might think.  The Gospel of Luke actually says Elizabeth was secluded for 5 months. 

In my head I just imagine the tears, fear, joy and the unique bond these two women shared.  God could have picked any woman to be John the Baptist’s mother, but in choosing Mary’s cousin they were able to be there for each other from the very beginning.  They were a Birth Club. And while the relationship isn’t described in the Gospels further, I imagine they remained close as they watched with pride as their sons grew to be preachers, and eventually even shared in the grief of their deaths.

The down side of this very primal need of moms to seek out other moms is the comparison game.  This can be a downward spiral into a very un healthy relationship.  Too often, mothers want to compare rather than support each other. 

As we saw in the video at the beginning, judging other mothers really just distracts us from our calling to care for our own children. 

And can you imagine if Mary and Elizabeth got into a comparison game?  What if rather than joy, Elizabeth felt jealousy… why is her baby going to be the Son of God?  Why not mine?   Of course that is not at all what she said.  Upon hearing Mary’s voice, the baby in her tummy leaped with Joy and Elizabeth proclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of they womb!” 

Just as you need to be intentional about choosing your mentor Moms, you need to be intentional about choosing women for your birth club.  Don’t get pulled into comparison games, or judgmental groups.  Seek out mothers who want to journey with you, and be a friend to them and love their children.

The awesome diversity of our MOPS group has taught me that motherhood can be so beautiful when it unites us together, despite our differences and our children’s differences.

Moms Need Mentor Moms

This is PART II of my recent remarks for a Mother’s Day Brunch, where I talked about why Moms need other Moms.  you can read the beginning HERE.  

The first important relationship that plays an essential role in our own experience and success as mothers is that with Mentor Moms.

A mentor mom is any experienced mother who inspires, teaches or motivates us. They are the women we turn to for parenting advice big and small.  From what bouncer to register for to what preschool to attend.  For advice on adjusting to life as an empty-nester or advice on dealing with a grown adult child who has moved back home.  No matter what stage of parenting you are in, you will need a Mentor Mom or two on speed dial.

Many of us are lucky enough to call our own mother’s Mentor Moms.  Personally, I count myself as one of the very lucky ones, because both my mother and mother-in-law are tremendous resources for me, and have supported me through every step of my journey.  If I can be half the mom they are, I will be doing ok! 

The mother daughter relationship is so special, because we were once a part of her, and she is forever a part of us.  But this relationship is really divided into two parts.  The first half is when one is a mother and the other is just a daughter.  This part is special and wonderful, but it is also known to be a difficult relationship at times.  Particularly around the teenage years.  

I was the youngest of five and my mother was, as they say, of “Advanced Maternal Age” when I was born.  This meant that when I was entering my dreaded preteen years, she was beginning menopause.  The result was a perfect storm of female hormones, that my poor father had to navigate through very carefully.  

But like magic, there is a clarity of understanding when the daughter matures and becomes a mother herself.  They then enter the second half of the Mother-Daughter Relationships, when they are joined in the Sisterhood of Motherhood.   For most women, when the going really gets tough, there is only person they want to turn to, and that is their mom. 

Of course not all women consider their mother a Mentor—  sometimes women are “inspired” to do things differently.  

And of course not all of what mentor moms teach us is a formal conversation or lesson, but rather knowledge that we gain simply by observing them.  Values and traditions we then try to embody and hope will carry on with our own children. 

There are many women whom I consider a mentor mom who probably don’t even know they fulfill that role for me…. neighbors, other MOPS mommas, and women I’ve met in my career or in the community who inspire me. 

keep calm mentor mom

In MOPS we really value Mentor Moms who join our groups and help provide our young momma’s, who are deep in the trenches of toddler warfare, a compassionate ear, sound advice and even a shoulder to cry on.  Perhaps most importantly, they provide knowledge that only comes from experience.

We need to surround ourselves with Mentor Moms that inspire us to be better moms, and so we need to be intentional about these relationships.  If you can have the perspective that “I am not the first momma to go through this” your next thought instantly can be, “who can I turn to for guidance on this mommy crisis?”

Sometimes Google, WebMD and Mommy blogs or Facebook groups provide quick and easy answers, but they are not always the best idea…. you can get sucked into debates, or fed faulty knowledge too easy.  Be intentional AND discerning in your choice of who you learn from. 

That is not to say online forums are not legit sources of information… they can be a wonderful resource.   Especially in the middle of the night when you really don’t want to call your own mother.  But there is something to be said for speaking with your mother, or sister or neighbor or friend, and having a conversation.  So much of mothering is not just about the issue we face with our child, but how we are handling it as well. 

There is no textbook for how to be a good mom, but there is a long, rich oral history that we share generation to generation, and mom to mom, that when heeded can build on your natural instincts and personal beliefs to make you a better mom.

Moms Need Other Moms

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

I was honored to be asked to speak at a Mother’s Day Brunch yesterday at my church.  I am sure they asked me because for the last year I was one of the co-coordinators for our MOPS group, but I also like to think its because of my EVPHO title, which let them know I take this whole Mommy gig seriously.

More than likely, my church family simple knows I am obsessed with being a mom, and prone to talk to any stranger on the street who will listen about the joys of motherhood.  I’ve convinced more than a few friends than having two kids close together is soooo easy and wonderful.  They know who they are, and you’re welcome.

My obsession with Motherhood has involved countless hours reading mommy blogs, babycenter articles, parenting books as well as watching every episode of The Cosby show multiple times.  I am not sure that any of this qualifies me as an expert,  but I had plenty of ideas to inspire a Mother’s Day talk.  So let’s begin by watching this video …

At first, you watch this and think, “Ugh, this is the worst of what motherhood can be,” which is lonely and judgmental.  It began with the lone mother, arriving at the park.  Full of new mommy fears – wanting to do what is best for her child, that she loves more than anything. 

Quickly we see that the different parenting styles lead to division and hostility, rather than empathy and friendship.  The one group they left out, in my opinion, is the Grandparent group they should have had a gaggle of grandmas watching from the sidelines shaking their heads.

Of course the point of this video is that we are all parents.  We are all mothers.  And we all want what is best for our children at the end of the day, right?  RIGHT!   If we could all approach motherhood as a sisterhood, a uniting factor that brings us together, we would find abundant blessings in our relationships with other moms.

We have so much to learn from each other.  Because the reality is, whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom; a mom with young children or an experienced mom with grown children – Motherhood is not something we can do on instinct alone. It’s just not.  Mom’s need other moms.

Moms need other moms to mentor them,  and mom’s need other moms to support them and help them as they go on the journey.

Raising children is an incredibly complex, demanding job. Mother’s instinct is amazing – and I certainly believe in that gut feeling that so often props me to act on my child’s behalf.  But instinct alone does not give us all the tools, guidance and support that we need to navigate the daily grab bag of random issues you will face as a mom.   There is no major in college, no HomeEc course and no amount of time spent reading parenting books that can give you all the answers you will need.

And while I dearly love our pediatrician, and he is a wealth of knowledge, Doctors often help diagnose a child’s needs, but it is up to us as moms to figure out how to tackle those needs on  a daily, sometimes hourly basis – and for that, we must rely on the sisterhood of motherhood. 

Just ask any parent with a special needs child, or a brand new momma struggling to breastfeed. They turn to other moms for advice, or even just encouragement that their struggles are normal and really they are doing just fine. 

We need other moms to mentor us and teach us, and we need other mom’s to support us and see us through the scary, exhausting and ridiculous moments of motherhood that only other mother’s will understand.

In this day and age, many women feel they need to be a Super Mom – juggling kids, cooking, cleaning, a job, being a perfect wife – and they think they should be able to do all of this on their own.  I would counter that nothing could be farther from the truth.  Moms need other moms, and we need them now more than ever.

Women have always rallied around each other to help with childrearing – in many cultures throughout history a new mom was afforded a great deal of help in those difficult postpartum months.  Mothers, sisters, neighbors, aunts move in and help cook, clean and care for older children and their husbands. 

In fact life in general has almost always been more communal than what it is today, with extend families living closely and integrated into each other daily lives. I have often joked that I would love to go back to the days of tribal living or set up some kind of mommy Co-op where neighbors rotate nights cooking, we all supervise the children running around the neighborhood and feel as much an obligation to care for their children as we do our own.

But today… what do we have?  Today we have world where if a young child is playing outside on their own in front yard while you are inside cooking dinner, you might have a nosey neighbor come knock on your door and scold you about letting your kids playing outside alone.  That neighbor, too many like them, make mothers and parents feel like it is solely our responsibility to care for our children, 24/7, and that they bare no responsibility at all.   

The reason Hillary Clinton had to reemphasize the “It takes a village” mentality is because sadly, in America today we have gotten far, far away from that.   We live in our own little McMansions. Our own little fiefdoms.  That support network from days gone by has long since fallen apart.

So over my next two or three posts, I’m going to continue this discussion of why Moms need other Moms.   These are important relationships that play essential roles in our own experience and success as mothers, and I hope you’ll keep reading and share your thoughts! 

 

The Best Job You Will Ever Have

If I’ve heard her say it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.  My mother and mentor is quick to tell me that “Being a mom is the best job you’ll ever have.”  Every once in a while, usually after I am griping to her about an extremely frustrating day with the Associates, she will modify it to say “Being a parent is the HARDEST job you will ever have.”  I hear the words but sometimes it is hard to really believe that endless laundry, dishes and diapers is the best job in the world.

I mean, I had a really REALLY cool job before.  I actually had a really cool career.  From 2002 to 2010 I worked in Republican Politics in Washington DC and for candidates across the country.  The work was hard, the hours long, but the perks were very cool.  I met Don King the night Republicans gained seats in the 2002 midterm elections (which almost never happens when the same party is in control of the White House) because you know he likes to hang out with winners ;)   I got to have after work drinks on the Speakers Balcony of the US Capitol Building overlooking the entire National Mall;  I attended White House Christmas parties, watched the fireworks on the fourth of July from the White House lawn, and even stood on the White House lawn to pay respects to President Reagan’s casket as it was paraded through Washington.  I had the honor of working for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, dedicating a year of my life to each of them (and yet I just had too google to spell check both their names – ugh MOMMY BRAIN!).  Most recently, I served as campaign manager and district director for Congressman Bill Posey, one of the most down to earth, honest statesmen the state of Florida has known, and in doing so was able to intimately learn about the community I lived in. I worked with all the community leaders, elected officials and CEO’s; I toured the big industries – from citrus groves to aerospace companies; and perhaps the coolest part of my job was being able to attend numerous Space Shuttle launches from the closest viewing area possible at the Kennedy Space Center.

Seeing a space shuttle launch has got to be one of the most amazing experiences in the world, no matter where you view it from.  But it was nothing short of emotional at these special VIP launch viewing receptions because the families of the astronauts where there, many former astronauts, scientists and engineers who worked on whatever program was being launched, and so much tradition and history that you couldn’t help but be in awe of the amazing accomplishment of sending humans into space and returning them safely.

Me with KSC Director and Astronaut Bob Cabana and my boss, Congressman Posey, and the stunning Atlantis Space Shuttle behind us.

Me with KSC Director and Astronaut Bob Cabana and my boss, Congressman Posey, and the stunning Atlantis Space Shuttle behind us.

KSC Director Bob Cabana telling the Congressman and I about the heat shield tiles and re-entry as we stand directly below one of the shuttle orbiters (Discovery or Endeavor?)

KSC Director Bob Cabana telling the Congressman and I about the heat shield tiles and re-entry as we stand directly below one of the shuttle orbiters (Discovery or Endeavor?)

Photo taken by the CEO of a Shuttle Launch from the VIP viewing area we were guests at.

Photo taken by the CEO of a Shuttle Launch from the VIP viewing area we were guests at.

Failure is not an option!

Me with Gene Kranz, fellow CCHS grad and lead flight director during NASA’s Apollo 13 manned Moon landing mission. (aka my personal hero)

These doubts were ringing loud in my mind one morning as I rummaged through my coolest memorabilia from the shuttle launches I attended.  Associate P’s class was learning about space that week, and I was to be a guest speaker and then read our favorite space book, Mousetronaut, by Astronaut Mark Kelly.  I couldn’t help but think, had I made the right choice when I left a job I loved and was passionate about, and had worked so hard to succeed at?

We were of course off to a hectic start that morning, and perhaps she could sense my mood, but my mom said her same old line to me again “Being a parent the best job you’ll ever have dear.”

The phrase floated in my head as we rode bikes to their preschool and I wondered what big important thing might I be doing right now if I were still working.  Would it be better than trying to inspire a few toddlers to dream about becoming a rocket scientist?

After a giving my thrilling presentation to his class, his teachers thanked me for sharing my career with the kids and I almost corrected them… “It’s my former career.  I don’t work for the government anymore.”  Instead I just mulled on that phrase the whole way home.

Needless to say at that point I was having a full on personal crisis. I love my boys and I love teaching them the ways of the world, but I missed feeling a part of something so big… and it doesn’t get much bigger than working for the Federal Government. ha!  Would I ever get that feeling of doing something big again if I am just a mommy.

The CEO and I decided their learning about space was a perfect opportunity to take the Associates to Kennedy Space Center visitor complex for the first time so they could see the now retired Shuttle Atlantis up close.  So that Sunday we loaded them up, plus my parents, and headed to KSC.  The boys loved it.  What an awesome, fun educational adventure!  I could see their imaginations take flight.  Associate P loved seeing the mission control room and announced he wanted to work at a computer like that one day, and my heart swelled with pride.  How proud would I be if he really did grow up to do something amazing like that!!!

Then it happened.  The circular moment that brought it all together.  The KSC bus tour took us to another of the special viewing areas, and my parents and I reminisced about the time, thanks to my job and position, that I was able to get them here, to this location to watch a shuttle launch.  BAM.  I could still see in their face how proud they were of me.

My parents had done something big.  They raised an Architect and got to walk up the gorgeous ramp of the Seattle Space Needle that he helped design.  They have been in homes their other son built with his own two hands.  They have supported two daughters who care for others daily, and have even saved lives, in their respective nursing and Optometric careers.  And they have gotten to enjoy the perks of my political career, from tours of the Capitol to shuttle launches.

Being a parent is the best job in the whole world, because you get to help mold and shape the next generation and see what amazing things they might do.  Behind every brave astronaut that prepares to launch, I bet there is a mother who is already over the moon with pride.

So since this epiphany it has been a little easier for me to see the long game.  To appreciate the little moments to teach, encourage, love and support my little Associates as opportunities to mold them into men who might one day do big things.  Then I know I’ll be over the moon with pride.

 

PS: Being a parent, especially a SAHM is still crazy hard, exhausting work.  So I might amend my mother’s phrase to instead be “Being a GRANDPARENT is the best job you’ll ever have” because they also get to enjoy helping raise amazing little Associates, but they can hand cranky Associates back to the parents and sleep all night long uninterrupted :)

My parents with Associate P at KSC.  They were pretty proud of our little Astronaut.

My parents with Associate P at KSC. They were pretty proud of our little Astronaut.

Riding the Emotional Rollercoaster

So we all know toddlers are crazy, right?  I mean you don’t have to be a parent to know this.   Anyone who has ever met a toddler has probably experienced their split-personality tendency when they go from screaming fury to pleasant contentment after their parent gives in on whatever it was the psycho-toddler was demanding.

Ok, maybe they aren’t crazy.  They are just learning how to control their emotions and figure out how their behavior can control their environment.  Everything is over dramatized, and because their energy is finite, they vacillate between euphoria and hysterical depression before collapsing from exhaustion.  I know they can’t help it, and I’m supposed to be the one to help them figure out how to manage these emotions, but it is so hard to be the even keel some times.

Supervising this learning process often feels like an emotional roller coaster that leaves my head spinning, torn between vowing never to ride again and wanting to immediately get back on.

I found some notes from December, when they had been sick, and one day the ride was so wild I had made an effort to write it down, positive I was so exhausted I wouldn’t remember.  Re-reading and reliving I see the funny, although it was far from it at the time.

Thursday 12:30am:  Exhaustion.  We normally go to bed 10:30/11pm, but the CEO and I had a hot date the night before and walked in the door at 12:30 am.  I could barely keep my eyes open.  As I fell asleep the room began to spin and I began to regret asking for a 4th glass of wine.  I’m going to pay for this tomorrow.

5:00 am:  Associate A’s meds have run out and he wakes in a fever spiking up at 102.  He is tired, but too miserable to sleep.  I spend the next hour trying to get him comfortable, but nothing seems to work.  He wants me to hold him, but at the same time pushes me away.  He’s shaking with chills but refuses a blanket.  He’s hacking but won’t drink anything.  He wants his lovie, but also doesn’t want it because it is wet from his own tears.

Sometime after 6am we both fall asleep on the couch.  This hour ends in bliss, as my little man is not usually cuddly, so I cherish the chance to hold him while he sleeps.

6:45 am: Associate P wakes up and his meds have also run out.  His fever broke yesterday, but his cough is worse than ever.  He is coughing to the point of gagging and throwing up.  He and I hang out the playroom, and try to let Associate A and the CEO get a little bit more sleep.  I am grateful because he is such a sweet kid.  After one vomit, wash up and new clean shirt on, he instantly coughs and gags up more, but looks and me and apologizes.  “I’m so sorry mommy.”  My poor, sweet kiddo.

7:05 am  Here comes the Cra Cra.  Associate P rolls around the kitchen ground, crying and refusing to drink the “special sick tea” that for the last two days he has been chugging down like a champ.  He is still coughing violently, but now, for some reason, won’t drink the warm water with honey and lemon that I know will soothe his poor throat.  This random refusal drives me insane, as his picky eating habits are growing out of control.  It also wakes up the CEO who stumbles in just in time to play interference before I really snapped on the poor kid.

7:50 am  Potty Bliss.  Associate A wakes up in a good mood (thank goodness) and even tells me he has to go poopies, BEFORE he does it, and successfully drops his first poopie in the potty!!! This is a huge deal as I just recently began encouraging him, and yesterday morning during some naked-time he pooped in the playroom then came and told me, and the night before that he told me as he dropped a big package in the tub.  Speaking up before is a BIG DEAL.

8:45 am Insanity.  Both kids are now adequately medicated and running around like the caged animals they are.  They’ve been cooped up for three days, and they are bored and restless.  They’ve also discovered the jingle bells I put out on the front door when we decorated the house this past weekend.  My head is pounding as I feel the pain of last night’s over-indulgence, and I do not appreciate them screaming Jingle Bells.

There is a rocket waiting to launch just 30 miles north of us at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, so I get them changed and head out the door to the beach in hopes of seeing it take off.  Words cannot describe how much I love living next to the beach – the giant free sandbox from God that keeps little boys happy and occupied for hours.

9:30 am  My associates don’t like my plan of “you two play in the sand while your hungover mommy lays on the blanket and naps” and insist I march up and down the beach finding shells with them.  I have a rough job, I know. You should feel bad for me.

The launch is scrubbed, which leads to the most annoying thing in the world… a three year old asking the same question over and over and over and over and over and over.  I try to explain why, after almost an hour and a half of talking about it and building up excitement, now we will not be seeing a rocket launch.  Associate P does not accept my answer (to windy) and would like me to put him in contact with mission control to get answer’s straight from the commanders mouth.

A 75 degree sunny day in December is reason enough to stay at the beach and we do have a great time.  In fact I’m so content after what had been a very long morning already, I lose track of time, and it is only when I see their noses start leaking uncontrollably again that I realize my launch window has closed.  I better get these kiddos home before they explode on the beach.

That is where the diary ends… and I honestly don’t remember the rest of the day, so I am glad I had typed that bit up.  It is also clear, in retrospect, that perhaps they aren’t really the crazy ones.  I think I am a little crazy for complaining at all.  If that was one of our worst days, life is pretty darn good.  Maybe I am ready to go for another ride…. hmm…

 

 

 

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