Archive for June, 2014
It may have taken me a few months, but I finally feel like I have this working mommy-of-two warrior princess thing down (most of the time).
And I am happy to say that even with (or maybe despite) the demands of motherhood and family life, I love my job. When I’m at work, I do my best. I love a challenge and am always looking for ways to improve our magazine and keep people reading.
Sometimes the role of Mother and the role of Editor clash though. This year that happened when I had to miss my annual work conference because I’m still breastfeeding Norah. I really really wanted to go. It’s the one chance I have all year to meet up with my counterparts across North America; a place where we all share the same language and the same problems. And this year it was in Charlotte, NC.
Could I have figured out a way to make it work? Probably. But it wouldn’t have been something I was completely happy about. My milk supply is slowly dwindling as Norah races towards that one year mark and I haven’t been able to produce enough extra to store for the length of time I would be gone. I knew that going to that conference would be the death nail in breastfeeding – something I’m not quite ready to give up yet. Even the thought of my baby outgrowing nursing in a few months makes me a little weepy.
So, I made the decision, a little heavy heartedly, to skip the conference this year and prepare for next year instead.
But, that’s not the end of this story.
You see, that conference is where they announce the awards for the various publications in my field. Friday night a New Orleans number appeared on my phone. When I answered it was my counterpart there calling to tell me that we had won a second place award for “Best Family Life Column.”
Last year was our first time to win an award since I’ve been Editor. And last year we took third place in the same category. It was a jump up in rank and I was so very proud of our columnist, Katie, for that great achievement. Thrilled, I immediately sent Katie a message, then went to sleep and prepared for a busy day of work the next morning.
When I got home from the morning’s work, I checked the award website to see who had come in first place in the family life category and I discovered something even more exciting – we had also won Second Place in Overall General Excellence in our magazine category. My jaw dropped. That’s a huge award y’all and the biggest recognition the magazine has received since I took its helm a little over six years ago.
Alone at home, I sat there stunned… I may have cried a little. My husband had the kids at their grandparents and wouldn’t answer the phone, so I proceeded to call and message everyone I know who works with me on the magazine. While I may manage it all, it’s truly a combined effort of some amazing writing talents. What an awesome moment!
The response at work on Monday was great, too. Lots of congratulations from my coworkers, supervisor and even a warm and excited personal congratulations from the very top. It was a good week.
I should probably mention that out of the three issues I submitted for the General Excellence Award, two of them were put together while I was at home with a newborn – taking that whole family / work balance thing to a new level.
I love my job and I love what I do. I am fortunate to work in a place that is not shy about sharing joy and happiness when things are done well, but sometimes things like this give me a great deal of validation, validation to keep me motivated and keep me pushing towards creating something even better, even stronger. And it’s moments like this that make me stop and realize that even when I feel like I’m having trouble keeping the work /family balance, I am doing it and somehow doing it right.
My friend Kelly of Mrs. Bachelor Girl recently asked me to join in the discussion about my writing process. I love reading about what inspires others to write and how they manage to pull it all together. Kelly has a great gift for humor and her posts on living in the South often have me laughing and nodding along knowingly.
Without further ado, here are my answers to this blog link up.
1) What are you working on right now?
Because I run a small monthly publication, I tend to wear all hats: editor, graphic designer, writer and even webmaster. Most of my time is consumed with the editor part of that job. This means I do a lot of editorial planning, article assignments, photo set-ups, photo journalism and copyediting. But the great thing about being an editor, is that when a story comes my way that really captures my heart and attention, I get to lay claim to the story and write the piece myself.
Right now I’m planning our next three issues, assigning writers and figuring out what I’m personally going to tackle. A couple of those items include write ups on the ordination of two men to the priesthood and their celebration by a Swahili choir and a piece on a couple of big awards our magazine recently won (Whoop!)
I’m also giving some much needed love to my blog that has been limping along since I gave birth to our second child last September.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
As far as my professional writing goes, I like to find the heart of the story – what motivates people to do the things they do: help people, go to an amazing international event, sponsor a ministry. I like to connect with people on an emotional level and try to share their stories in a way that will make people read and care.
When I blog, I try to do the same thing in a way. I share things that deeply touch my own heart. Sometimes those are serious things like secondary infertility or encountering families in extreme need, and sometimes they are lighthearted things like celebrating “Mermaid Day” as imagined by my 3-year-old.
3) Why do you write what you do?
For my day job I write and assign stories based on what I think will inspire our readers to pick up the magazine and read more than a glancing word. We are so imbedded in a culture of scanning readers that it’s hard to grab their attention and keep it. I try to write and share in a way that makes people want to read more.
In the blogging world I write because I believe in a community of sharing and support. Sometimes sharing my most difficult and emotional moments has helped others or garnered an amazing and caring support network.
Also, I really like to brag on my kids. I can be an annoying mom like that.
4) How does your writing process work?
My writing process really varies depending on what I’m writing. For example, this past weekend I attended an ordination to the priesthood for two men: one was Kenyan and one was Indian. And while that, in itself, was a neat celebration, what really captured me was the joy and overflowing enthusiasm of the Swahili choir in attendance. Their joy pushed through the somewhat usual stiff structure of the Mass and had everyone on their feet and celebrating. That clash of culture and infusion of joy really inspired me to go home and write immediately.
Other times my writing process is meandering: I’ll start to write about my day and in the process realize that one of the details I’m mentioning needs a whole blog post to itself. I start over, delete and re-shape often. You can’t be afraid to scrap something that doesn’t work and try again.
As part of the link up I’m to tag three of my favorite writers.
Lori: a co-worker and real life friend who has been a great inspiration to helping our family move to a healthier lifestyle blogs over at Purpose Driven Mom and DomandLori.net. She has a beautiful gift with words and has had me sobbing with her beautiful and inspiring posts about her recently deceased pup and member of the family, Mason.
Cassie: initially a blog friend and now a real life friend, shares in an honest, no-nonsense way and I am often humbled by the things she and her family do for one another and their community.
Bluz: a blog friend of mine I met many years ago now. He can spin a good yarn and make me laugh. And while he and I may not see eye-to-eye on everything, we can always talk and discuss civilly and he always teaches me a thing or two about sports.
Well Norah girl, you’ve been in the outside world for as long as you were inside of me now, and oh how you’ve grown.
This past month in particular seems to have been a big one for you. In one great move of determination, you grabbed on to our vacuum cleaner one day and hauled yourself up to a stand. And while you fell a few seconds later, that certainly didn’t stop you from doing it over and over again. And as of this week, you will let go of whatever object you used to pull yourself up with, hover unassisted for a few seconds, fall to your bottom and do it all over again.
As if that weren’t enough, your mouth decided it was all or nothing. When I looked in to check on your one little tooth coming down, there were THREE others coming in with it, giving you a total of six teeth total. As a result you’ve decided chewing on anything and everything is your favorite activity.
Pretzel sticks are your very favorite thing to chew. We’ve started introducing a few solids to you too. Squash and zucchini have gone over well, as has pineapple. You like just about all foods with the great exception of yogurt. I’m not giving up on it yet though.
This past month you also finally managed to say “Mama,” but the conversation went something like this:
Norah: “Ma ma ma ma!
Me: “Norah! Did you just say mama?”
Norah: After a long pause, “Da da!”
Still though, she can say it!
Norah is happy nearly all the time, with the great exception of bed time when she really wants to just go to sleep, thankyouverymuch.
She continues to love bath time, her sister, eating her sister’s toys, trying to eat leaves, paper and onion skins.
Norah is such a social baby. She has no fear of anyone and will happily leap into anyone’s arms (a stark contrast from her sister).
We put her in the swimming pool last week. I held her on her belly and she kicked her legs in the water like she had been doing it her whole life.
In the past few nights she has stolen her sister’s sippy cup and drank out of it like she had been doing it her whole life.
She’s also figured out how to clap and dance. Singing and music bring both out in her, and she always laughs and smiles with joy when she gets her hands going.
Sarah started taking swimming lessons with her cousin Jacob last week. They are taking private lessons with a friend of mine from high school who has been teaching lessons for years. When we arrived at the pool, the kids had very different reactions.
Sarah immediately panicked and refused to get in the water past the first step. Jacob plunged in like he was a merman come home. The lessons proceeded accordingly with Sarah screaming and crying when the instructor tried to convince her to get in, and Jacob attempting to march off to the deeper end of the pool on his own with no flotation devices. Pretty soon Jacob was on the kickboard, looking to all the world like the next Olympic champion. Sarah slowly warmed up, and by mid lesson was blowing bubbles in the water before crying that water got in her eyes.
We kept an eye on them both the whole time from the poolside, while we simultaneously held babies and talked. Thank goodness we were watching because Jacob, in his confidence, went a little too far into the pool, while the teacher was on the opposite side of the pool with Sarah, and suddenly he was in too deep. For a moment that seemed to stretch into eternity, we saw him start to scramble and go under. Shannon and I raced to the pool with babies in our arms. I honestly can’t remember the next few moments exactly. All I know is that I saw Shannon jump in the pool while still holding Norah, and then I started to panic as I tried to figure out how to also rescue my baby while holding a one month old. Fortunately, my sister kept her cool and somehow managed to tilt and angle her body so Norah stayed above the water while she simultaneously rescued Jacob with the other arm. I immediately reached in and grabbed Norah from Shannon with my one free arm.
Just like that the moment of panic was over and everyone was ok, at least physically.
We quickly discovered, however, that our little merman no longer had any desire to get back in the swimming pool. We made him take one last lap around while holding on to the teacher, and he grudgingly obliged, but he was not happy.
Fast forward to this past weekend. We went over to a friend of Shannon’s to go swimming. We had high hopes that we would get Jacob in a floaty and in the pool with his mama and show him everything was fine and safe – no such luck. Jacob wanted nothing to do with the pool – he refused to even get his feet wet. He cried and cried at our many attempts and suggestions to get him in. At one point he stepped in ants and still refused to dip his poor little ravaged feet in the water.
Sarah, who is getting a little braver each day, sat on the top step of the pool, patted the space next to her and asked Jacob to sit by her. No luck.
We go back for our next lesson on Thursday. I have complete faith that their instructor will help him overcome the fear as much as possible, but is there any way that you can think of that will help him get near the pool again?
I am going to give you some insight into the brain of a mother of young children who is also an introvert.
First, let me start by telling you how much I love my children (as if you didn’t already know by the overwhelming number of photographs and posts about them on my blog, Facebook, Instagram, etc). I love playing with them, doing things for them, listening to them and laughing with them. But there are many days when bedtime comes around that I am counting down the moments until I can climb into bed, or sit in front of my computer and have some time to myself. That’s how I regenerate: quiet, alone time.
This also creates a great force of guilt within myself. Because I work full time, I feel like my time with my children is somewhat limited and I need to soak it all up when I get it. And while the thought of some time to myself is intoxicating, it also makes me feel guilty for wanting to spend any free time I have away from my girls. (Side note: maybe this would be remedied if Sarah napped, but she gave that up well over a year ago).
So, when Mark suggested bringing the girls out to his parents house for one whole Saturday, I experienced the immediate mixed feeling of guilt and excitement. But, I know his parents love playing with them and hanging out with them, so that made the decision much easier. And when loading the girls up in the car to go out to their house, Sarah told me to get out of the car so they could go. That also made me feel… slightly jilted? better? relieved?
I will say this, when they pulled out of the driveway, a big part of me wanted to go skipping through the house singing. So much time ahead of me and I had it all to myself. There was no one watching or judging me; no one pulling me in another direction. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin. I immediately thought about taking a nap, but then figured that would take up way to much of my alone time and quickly discarded that idea.
Instead, I changed into some comfortable clothes and took the dogs on a long walk through the neighborhood, enjoyed the sunshine and listened to an audiobook that I love.
Other things I did because I could:
1. Ate a Counter Culture Humphrey for lunch while I watched So You Think You Can Dance.
2. Went to Barnes and Noble and flipped through a book I’ve been really wanting, The Art of Neil Gaiman, only to get frustrated and put it down when I learned they don’t honor their own website’s prices (what the heck B&N?).
3. Shopped at Old Navy unhindered and bought all things for myself (except some much needed socks for the girls).
4. Went to the grocery store and bought the following: $5 sunglasses, sunscreen, popsicles and a soft drink.
5. Laid out a giant towel in the backyard, put on the sunscreen and read a book while sipping my drink for over an hour.
6. Cooled down inside afterwards while still reading.
7. Took a long shower (with no one interrupting me!)
8. Ordered the book I wanted off of B&N’s website with a gift card I had (and free shipping).
Things I did not do because I didn’t want to:
3. Grocery shop
And the day isn’t over! In a little bit the girls will be home for the evening and I will shower them in hugs and kisses. We will settle into our usual routine of dinner, bath and bed time. But then, I’m going to put away my introvert shoes, and go out for a girls night for a friend’s birthday. It’s been… years? since I’ve managed something like that. So here’s to a quiet day all for me, followed by drinks and what is sure to be an evening of laughter.
And guess what? I don’t feel all that guilty after all.
- Things That Go Bump in the Night
- Two Two-Year-Olds
- Today, You’re Six
- The Aftermath
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