Doing What Only I Can Do

Even though I quit my job after Bea was born, I quickly found a new identity about a year later working at an incredible museum. Title-wise, it didn’t get much better. Mom and Museum Educator? Pretty cool.

IMG_3982A few weeks ago, I officially quit this pretty cool job. Life has gotten super busy and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. A friend once advised, Do only what you can do. When taking inventory, only I could be wife to Frank and mom to Bea and Elle. But for as much as I loved this job, I knew someone else could do it and do it better.

I confidently made my decision, had a great conversation with my boss, and embraced really being present in this fleeting preschool season.

This past week two small things happened to shake that confidence. One was an offhand comment from a working-mom friend about how much time I have. Another was the response from a stranger who told me that it was cute that I stayed home.

In reflection, I am amazed at how quickly that confidence can be shaken. I know my identity is so much deeper than the job that I hold. I know that the decision we made was the best one for our family. I know that my days are busy and that being a full-time mom is a full-time “job.” And yet, that confidence wavered when my decision was so quickly dismissed.

I think that, no matter which path we embrace; no matter which life choices are best for our families, there will always be moments of hesitation and question. Because none of these choices are The Best. They are the best for us, in this moment.

What are some in-the-moment choices you’ve made that you see being temporary? How do you embrace the season you’re in?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “embrace.”

Raising Friends

When we first found out we were having two girls, I immediately thought, They’ll be friends!! Even though my brother and I are close and Frank and his sisters are, too, there seems to be something about a same-sex sibling relationship. I’ve always envied people who had sisters – who had a built-in best friend growing up and into adulthood.

IMG_3935A friend and I were recently laughing at that ideal. She and her sister are close in age and are friends. But she said she wouldn’t consider them best friends. Another friend said that she and her sister, who are 9 years apart in age, are still quite close. I suppose it’s more of a personality thing than an age thing.

The past couple months have seemed like a turning point for Bea & Elle’s relationship. After the newborn phase, where Bea was disappointed in Elle’s lack of interaction, to the frustrated She’s messing up my stuff!!!! phase, we’re finally in (somewhat) of a playmate phase.

The two are inseparable. They’ll draw together, mother their dolls together, eat together, read together. Elle can’t wait until Bea is done with school and Bea rushes to her with a bear hug at the end of the morning.

I know we still have many years of fostering friendship with these two. But I hope that these moments are a true glimpse into the future. That, through the tween and teen years and into college and adulthood, they’ll continue to create and share food and perhaps even mother together.

What is your relationship with your sibling like? How do you foster friendship among your kids?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “Friend.”

Abandoning Books

In January, I quickly put the book Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship of Muhammed Ali and Malcolm X on hold at the library. It’s one that I’m writing the discussion post for with the Red Couch Book Club and I was eager to get started. When the book came in, I dove in but quickly found myself floundering. I was having such trouble connecting the lives of Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali to the book club audience of primarily women who are social justice-minded.

IMG_3693I emailed the woman who was writing the introduction post, saying I was about 100 pages into the book and just not connecting with the direction. She wrote back saying she was at about the same place and would focus on her views of Palestine.

Wait. Palestine?!

I quickly went back to the archives of when we assigned the books and realized in my haste, I had reserved the incorrect copy of Blood Brothers. What I actually wanted was Elias Chacour’s memoir of being a Palestinian Christian. Completely different story.

The Muhammed Ali-Malcolm X book is still sitting on my desk. I’ve renewed it twice and only have 3 more weeks before I need to return it. I know that I’m not going to finish it, but I’m unable to abandon the idea that I could still read it and learn something new.

I’ve always had trouble leaving books, whether they’re just not my style or too dense or the completely wrong book. I like the idea of being able to find something anywhere to learn and expand my worldview.

But sometimes, it’s ok to stop, to return the book, and to recognize that I’m just not in a place to finish every single thing I start. And that’s ok.

Are you able to abandon books or projects? When do you realize it’s time to let something go?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “abandon.”

Reflecting My Self to Others

When I first read the post back in October, offering a 4-meeting journey to write my mission statement, I hesitated. What does a person like me need a mission statement for? For the next few years, I’m in this staying home thing, raising these little girls before school starts.

img_3818But something tugged at me and I ended up signing up and joining 10 other amazing women as we met via video chat, from all corners. We talked each week, processed specific questions, learned from each other. We reframed the idea of a mission statement into a purpose statement, something that seemed much more applicable to this stage in my life.

At the end, during my one-on-one call with our leader, we were writing words and moving them around, seeing what worked and what just didn’t resonate. At one point, my statement seemed pretty good until my coach asked, Is this for you or for others?

We switched a couple words and suddenly, my purpose statement was for me. My coach said that if this statement was for others, it would falter. It needed to be at the core of my self. If I had a statement that reflected me, it would reflect to others naturally.

This process helped me reframe this idea of self-care, of purpose. It can be so easy to make life about others – how am I best serving the girls? How does our home best create hospitality for others? How can I best love and serve this world?

But, when I take all those core values – of serving and hospitality and love – and internalize them first, it seems easier to go out with energy to give what I have to others. It’s a reminder that self-care often means including myself in the things I’m already doing.

How do you make sure you are included in your purpose or mission? How do you reflect yourself onto those around you?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “Purpose.”

Enjoying Two Cups of Coffee

When I was teaching and single, I never drank coffee. There wasn’t much time in the morning and I preferred a cup mid-afternoon to combat that slump. When Frank and I got married, I started drinking a cup because it was already made. Though, really it was just about half a cup before I’d dash out the door. I have vivid memories of one of my elementary teachers having coffee breath and I did not want to be remembered for that attribute, so once I brushed my teeth and left the house, that was it for the day.

img_3739Now, staying home with the girls, I enjoy 2 cups each morning. No matter the chaos of bright-eyed girls running around, I’m usually able to enjoy those two cups in relative calm – not needing to gulp them down or scald my mouth.

The other day I wanted to get just One Thing Done before breakfast. It needed my attention and would have taken less than 10 minutes, uninterrupted. Of course, the moment the thought crossed my mind, my two interruptions swarmed and I had to put the project aside.

It’s easy to get frustrated with lack of alone time and even more frustrating when the things I need to do aren’t for me, but for commitments I’ve promised to others. I envision a quiet house, a slow rise and cup of coffee, and breakfast before the day begins.

And then I think, In what world?! My job right now is the girls. And when I had an “actual” job that morning only existed on the weekends. I guess I have this vision of being retired mid-thirties, enjoying the luxury of time I haven’t worked for.

So today, I’m grateful for preschool that starts at 9:00 and is only 5 minutes from our house. For time to enjoy 2 cups of coffee, even if the environment around me is swirling. And the reminder that I can slow down in the midst of chaos.

What is your morning ritual? Do you ease in or get up and go? Are you a coffee drinker?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “slow.”

Sitting Just Quietly

One of Bea’s favorite stories is the one of Ferdinand the Bull, who is content to sit just quietly under a cork tree, smelling flowers. I love it for many reasons – not least is that his mother is an understanding cow who lets him sit just quietly. (A lesson I need to remember.)

hebwnWhat I love most about Ferdinand is his pacifism. Even when he is taunted and faced with death (which would probably have been the more likely outcome of this story), he sits just quietly in the middle of the stadium, smelling the flowers in the ladies’ hair.

What a reminder, in a time when we are constantly reminded that strength is necessary. Our country needs to strengthen its borders; strengthen its foreign policy; strengthen its domestic policy. Our churches need to strengthen their messages; strengthen their programs; strengthen the community.

Growing up, I was taught that Jesus loved children, that Little Ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is Strong!

But I wonder if we’re missing something about the message when we focus on strength? When we forget the fact that Jesus taught about an upside down kingdom of peacemakers and helpers and those who turned the other cheek and offered to walk an extra mile.

I wonder, in a time of fear and wanting to strengthen our values and beliefs, we need to remember to stop, to sit just quietly, to smell the flowers, and to remember that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to the peacemakers?

How do you find strength in peacemaking?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “weak.”

Creating Safe Spaces

I recently worked through the process of writing a personal mission statement. I’m still holding the phrase close, seeing how it fits, and taking time to see areas in my life in which it’s already present.

One part of the phrase is that I create safe spaces. As I was talking this through, my coach and I noticed places that safe spaces already exist in my life.

img_3194Our messy playroom is a safe space for the girls to explore, discover, and create.

A recent decision to step back from commitments has created a safe space for me to be more open about our current season.

We have a housecleaner come on a (very!) occasional basis. Instead of feeling guilty that I can’t keep our house sparkling, a friend reminded me that it helps me create a safe space to invite others in – and it’s ok to ask for help in that.

As we plan out tax season and schedule in time for family, I’m guarding that time and keeping it sacred. Getting together with friends and building community is important; Keeping our scant family time together is even more so.

A friend recently wrote a post about finding peace in the noise and I’m remembering that self-care is important. It’s a privilege, for sure, but it’s nonetheless an important one to remember.

In a world of chaos, I’m thankful for the reminder of checks-and-balances. For means and ways to create a safe place for myself, for my family, for our friends, and for our community.

I’m holding this part of my mission close and seriously. How can I best help others feel secure?

How do you make space for safety?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “safe.”