Everything Else

Thankful for the little things

There is so much going on in the world, and in my little corner of it, that I wanted to take some time to reflect on the all little things I’m thankful for every day. These are the little patches of happiness that bring me unmitigated joy, the seemingly unimportant pieces of my life that put a smile on my face and help me look forward to a morning of errand running, a quiet evening at home, or even a day at work. Before I list the things, though, I want to say thank you for YOU, for reading this, for following along, for commenting when you feel led to. I appreciate your thoughts, your words, and your support through this journey. I am grateful for all of it, truly.

My thankful list:

1. Red cups at Starbucks

2. Feet under the Christmas treefeet

3. Love between brothers

4. A caring touch from my husband

5. A compelling audiobook on my commute to work

6. A surprise package from a good friend

7. Finishing ALL my Christmas shopping early this year

8. The extra quilt on our bed

9. New recipes that turn out right the first time

10. Holiday traditions that our whole family looks forward to

When I notice these things, I pause and take them in. I try to enjoy the moment, to embellish it into my brain, so I can come back to it again and again. There are days when I worry too much about our budget and paying back my school loans and I think to myself, “We have so little.” But the reality is, we have so much.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you.

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Parenting

Putting family first

easter hunt 2014

I completely messed up our dinner plans last night (so really what I’m saying is I didn’t make dinner) because I let a meeting with a friend run long. We ended up ordering pizza but tempers were a little high in our house and it got me thinking. Now that I’m home all the time, I have to learn how to put my family before my other relationships. In my head I believe I do that, but in practice, I fall short. I am such a one-on-one person. I love going for coffee with a friend, or out to dinner with my husband, because I get to look them in the face and really hear what they’re saying. They talk, I talk, we connect, and it is SO fulfilling to me. One-on-one time has always been important to me. It’s just how I’m wired.

So, as I’m slowly learning, there is no more one-on-one when you have kids. There are those magical little pockets of time when we have a babysitter or my husband takes pity on me and lets me go to Target by myself, but mostly the kids are with me. And that should be OK, right? I have kids, my friends have kids, we can hang out together no problem. But it doesn’t always work out that way for me.

Last summer I was at the park feeding the kids lunch when another mom I kind of knew came up to us and started talking. I gave my attention to her completely and we were having a good talk. Until Sam took a bite out of the peanut butter sandwich I had pulled out for CJ. The other mom paused mid-sentence and said, “Oh my gosh, your baby just ate that peanut butter sandwich.” Sam was about ten months old. I looked down at the dinosaur-shaped sandwich I had in my hand and saw it was missing a head. “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “He’s never had peanut butter, I don’t know if he’s allergic!”

“He’s probably fine,” she said reassuringly. “If he’s around it at home and hasn’t had a reaction to it yet, he probably won’t now.” She was right of course, and he was fine, but it shouldn’t have happened at all. Wouldn’t have, if I’d just been paying attention to my kid.

Now that Sam is almost two, I like to say that he’s “at a difficult age.” It’s my favorite excuse these days, and most people go with it, agreeing with me that he’s entering his terrible twos. And I’m not that strict with him. Being home with him, I mostly let him do what he wants—if I didn’t I would spend all day telling him no and trying to put him in time out. But I’m learning I need to tighten the reins a bit.

Recently I was hanging out with a friend and our kids. After we got coffee we walked to this grassy area nearby, surrounded by a kind of turnabout for cars. I let Sam and CJ run around, which was going great until Sam got a little too close to the street. I put my coffee down and ran toward him, but not before a policeman who’d been driving around the circle stopped his car, got out, and said, “Ma’am, is this your kid?”

“Yes,” I replied tentatively. Could I get a ticket for choosing to enjoy coffee with a friend over helicopter parenting my kid?

“Well you need to watch him. He almost ran out into the street.”

“Yes, I’m so sorry,” I said. The policeman nodded at me and got back in his car. I scooped Sam up and trudged back toward my friend, more embarrassed than I’d been in a long time.

Ugh, it was awful. So awful that it’s taken me weeks to admit to it on this blog. That someone else, someone in a position of authority, would think I’m not a good mother? One of my worst SAHM days of all time.

I need to work harder to find a balance in relationships between my friends and my family. Family will always come first, yes, but I yearn for that connection with good friends too. I was so used to having uninterrupted time with friends when I worked full-time. It’s something I’m going to have to give a little on; I know that now. Because when I don’t put my kids first, no matter what the situation, one of us always loses.

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