Life

My wonderful, amazing friend Molly gave me a little care package just because and it included a fantastic book, which I’m almost done with called “Carry On, Warrior.” I’m not one to read a lot (sadly), but when I pick up a captivating book, I seem to dive in and go nuts about it. I saved this book for my flight from Seattle to Miami and I could not put it down. As soon as I got to Miami I ordered several copies for some of my girlfriends I thought would enjoy it as much as I do. My friends asked me “what’s it about?” I tried to come up with several themes of the book, which was easy because there are many, but at the end of the day – it’s about life. And truth.

The book made me cry during much of my flight, which I’m sure caused those around me to think I was slightly crazy, but I just didn’t care. There are so many memorable parts of the book. The part where she writes her son a letter in case he’s gay is absolutely fantastic. I also just read about her AIDS bike ride, which was hilarious and inspiring. There’s a section where she writes about her love for her husband, which just absolutely brings me to tears because of course it makes me think of Brian and his love and devotion to us, which is unwaivering.

The best thing about the book is that is goes from those serious and sappy topics to things like this about parenting:

“I think parenting young children (and old ones too, I’ve heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting to climb, is an impressive accomplishment. They try because during the climb, if they pause and allow themselves to lift their eyes and minds from the drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they cried most of the way up.

And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers, ‘ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T! TRUST US! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!’ those well meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.

Now I’m not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. They are wonderful ladies, clearly. But last week, a woman approached me  in the Target line and said the following: ‘Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by fast.’ At that particular point in time, Amma was wearing a bra she had swiped from the cart and sucking a lollipop she undoubtedly found on the ground. She also had shoplifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. A losing contestant. I couldn’t find Chase anywhere, and Tish was sucking the pen on the credit card machine WHILE the woman in from of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled, and said, ‘Thank you. Yes, Me Too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you.’

Craig is a software salesman. It’s a hard job in this economy. He comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. But I don’t ever feel the need to suggest he’s not doing it right, or that he’s negative for noticing how hard it is, or that maybe he shouldn’t even consider taking on any more responsibility. And I doubt his colleagues come by his office to make sure he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF. I’m pretty sure his boss doesn’t peek in his office and say: ‘This career stuff, it goes by so fast. ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE CRAIG???? THE FISCAL YEAR FLIES BY!! CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!’

My point is this: I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.

But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:

‘It’s helluva hard, isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She’s my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours ’til bedtime.'”

Absolutely hilarious. And so relatable.

To read more, find the book here: Carry On, Warrior and her blog here.

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Happiness

Happiness is one of the things parents strive to encourage in their children. Some people are born very happy and some people who aren’t want to do things to make themselves happier. After all, what are we here for if nothing other than to be happy and love life? Happiness is likely one of the most philosophized and studied human traits. It is something that can’t be forced, but what if you knew there were specific things happy people did? Would you do them too? Perhaps doing so would make you happier. My Mom always told me if I’m ever feeling sad to smile. Smiling releases chemicals in our bodies that actually make us happy, so even though we might not feel like smiling, if we force it doing so will actually result in cheering us up.

Last week I got an article from Nita Talwar at Peak Experience Parenting that provides a list of 22 other things happy people do. It’s fun to look through the list and see what things you naturally do and what things you don’t. Perhaps by trying some of the things you don’t do, you will become happier.

Here is the article: http://www.peakexperienceparenting.com/22-things-happy-people-do-differently/

Personally, I felt a lot of reassurance reading the article, but there are definitely things I’d like to do more of to encourage happiness (and well-being). For example, I’d like to meditate and exercise more. Brian is very good at living minimally and I’m not too bad, but I would like to cleanse some of the “things” I keep around that I don’t really need. I also think I need to work on my listening skills, so that will be a focus moving forward.

I hope this article is helpful to you and your family as it has been for ours.

Learning and Growing

Those are definitely the two things that have been going on for the past month or so, both by Ellie and for us as parents. When I was pregnant I spent so much time doing research to find out what was the best thing for my unborn child, but I didn’t spend quite as much time learning about what to do after she was born. I bought the What to Expect the First Year book, which was helpful for the first four and a half months I was home from work. I would read each section while Ellie napped and inform Brian of everything I read when he got home.

After going back to work though, we really haven’t spent much time reading about the development of our baby girl, outside of the Brain Rules for Baby book (which is absolutely fantastic by the way). Thank goodness for our PEPS group. When we go to dinners with them on Mondays, we absorb all the little things that come up. Last week we learned that babies really can’t understand the word “no” until they’re about 2 and a half years old. There were several books that were recommended to us. Here are a few:

  1. Positive Discipline
  2. Parenting With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition) (Maranatha Novels)(I think this is the right one)
  3. Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason

As far as Ellie’s learning and growing goes, it seems like there is something new she’s doing every day. She walked up our two back stairs the other day instead of crawling! We’re certain she said “turtle” in the bath and “do it again” to me. She is smiling non-stop; it’s really quite contagious. She’s eating so well and loving all types of things. My only concern and priority as far as that goes is getting her a lot of vegetables every day. She babbles all day long and it’s just so adorable.

I know I’m gloating, but it’s just so exciting and I know every parent shares in that excitement as we all watch our little ones transform into more mature human beings. A couple of our friends came over the other night and we were talking about contrast and perspective. Being parents poses an interesting contrast. It’s challenging and every day there are new things to learn, but in the very same moment we experience the most profound pride and joy.

Here are a few pics of our pride and joy from Easter weekend:ImageImageImage