Monday, December 4, 2017

What I Learned When I Quit My Job

I've been sitting on some writing the last few months.

Sometimes it's best to write. And think.

And then share.

I quit my job.

Yup, you know that job I’ve loved for over six years? I stopped loving it. Slowly. It started with some cracks and continued until it was a full fracture. If I’m honest, I was a little broken too. I stopped being my best self. I got burnt out. I lost some confidence along the way.

And, sometimes, when something is fractured, you just need to break it in order to put it back together. So, I broke it. I made the decision to leap without knowing exactly where I'd land.

And I learned some stuff. 

We are not our careers.
I sit on the board of a local non-profit and shortly after I quit my job, I attended a board meeting. There were new members of the board present so we all went around the room and introduced ourselves, saying what we do. Jobless, I froze. Without the title of Marketing Director, what am I? And, why am I here?

The truth is, we are not our careers. They are a part of us, but not the totality. What outlasts a job or a career path are the relationships gained along the way. We build these relationships by helping others to grow, doing work that inspires and investing in each other. These relationships define the person; not the job itself. And, frankly, I did a great job building and maintaining some of the relationships gained during the past few years of my career. And other relationships I did a piss-poor job of establishing and growing. We live and we learn.

I am not meant to be a stay-at-home mom.
I adore my children. Anyone who has only had brief contact with me since having kids knows this to be true. I’m borderline obsessed. I’m also an achiever. I like to set goals and accomplish them. And, every parent knows that any day home with kiddos means you’re simultaneously doing so much while getting nothing done!

And, yes, you’re doing the most important work. I believe that to my core. But, I also know that my mental health can’t take the feeling of coming up empty every day. I always thought this to be true, but the experience of being home with my kiddos with no job to attend to each day, made me know this to be true.

I so admire all the stay-at-home mamas I know. I am absolutely in awe of them. I know I don’t have it in me to do this important work so I’m proud to have found a good village. And I’m happy to know myself well enough to know this is best for our family.

Pausing is important.
I’ve heard the power of meditating comes from lengthening the time between thoughts. Embracing the pause. Lingering in the pause.

We go from singlehood to marriage with little pause. Just the two of us to a family of three with absolutely no pause. And, typically, job to job with no pause. The problem with this is that each new phase of our life is going to expect a new us. To figure out the parts of our selves needed for each new phase takes a pause. It takes a moment to identify what strengths we need to focus on and what areas we need to improve upon to bring our best selves to this next challenge.

I was blessed with a pause. I know this time was a gift. I was fortunate to end up with options for my next career path and I understand this isn’t the case for all. But, whether that pause is taken by quitting a job or just taking a few days off, I believe it’s important.

So, more to come about what's next in my professional life. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Coconut Allergy Update

It’s been a little over a month since we confirmed Weston’s severe allergy to coconut. And, man, it’s been a journey. My initial reaction was a mix of guilt and relief. Guilt for all that we had put the guy through and relief to finally have an answer. My next thought was; “this won’t be so bad!”

And, I was kind of right.

Coconut is like a crazy little boy who hides in things and then jumps out to roar at you like a dinosaur.

I don’t know, maybe that analogy didn’t work. What I’m trying to say is that coconut is in more places than I expected – and this is coming from someone who previously proclaimed that coconut oil cures all!

What I thought might be helpful is to update people along the way on what we’ve found.

Skincare products
We think Weston experiences rashes on his skin when he comes in contact with products with coconut if his skin is already irritated – think diaper rash + sitting in a bath tub with soap suds that have coconut oil in them. So, we’ve changed the hand soap we use in the bathroom and his shampoo / body wash. And, while this has helped, we can’t control everything. He still washes his hands at school and is a thumb sucker so we notice irritation around his mouth but this seems minor in the grand scheme of things. The products we are using are included below.

This doesn’t include coconut oil but does smell like black licorice – not ideal. I will let you know when I find a better smelling product. But, for now, it works!

This DOES include coconut oil but we haven’t noticed any major irritation. I usually do an extra rinse cycle when I wash his clothes and so far, so good.

This was hard. I went to my local Co-op and with the help of a VERY nice lady, read the backs of shampoos for a long time. She eventually found this one and while my son smells like a baby hippie (which I love), we don’t notice any skin irritation!

Baby Wipes
I had always used Huggies wipes which I loved but found they had ingredients derived from coconut. So, we switched to Water Wipes which seems to leave his skin less irritated. While the wipes seem much flimsier, we are making it work!

Foods with coconut
This is where we’ve struggled the most. One thing I looked into after learning of Weston's allergy was formula! Weston is no longer on formula but I was curious about options seeing as this was clearly an issue for us. And, I still haven't found one. I will update the blog as I continue to look.

There are obvious places where you find coconut; coconut yogurt, many granola bars, and lots of cereals. But, specifically we have found coconut in the following items;
  • PAM cooking spray
  • Corn Pops
  • Fruit Loops
  • Ranch Veggie Stix
  • Some Progressive soups
  • Chocolate coated ice cream
  • Some animal crackers
  • Swiss Miss hot cocoa
  • Welch's fruit snacks

With food, we've definitely connected Weston's exposure to coconut with breathing issues. He has a specific cough we've identified that signals an allergic reaction and it usually ends with him throwing up. But, all in all he's doing much better and we continue to learn. We're so thankful we've figured this out and just hope there are no additional food allergies.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Two Year Mystery, Solved!

Please Note: This is a history of our experience. I am not a medical professional in any way!

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sleep-deprived. Barely back to work, and I made the decision to introduce formula to the little man. I believed all the hype about formula fed babies sleeping longer and I was willing to give it a try. So, I filled a bottle up, rocked my little guy and was optimistic about the sleep we were about to get. He no sooner finished the bottle before he literally puked the entire thing up.

Since that day – almost eighteen months ago – we have had slightly more sleep but many more headaches. Weston never did take to formula well. He threw it up consistently upon its introduction even at a 3:1 ratio of breast milk to formula.

In addition, Weston has endured countless colds that seemed to always escalate to include ear infections and low oxygen levels. We have gotten tubes in ears, own a nebulizer, and even put him on a twice-a-day inhaled steroid after months of low oxygen levels. And, sporadically in between all of this he has broken out in hives.

An example of one of his hive outbreaks.
For two years we have been exhausted. Confused. And, frankly, sad for our little guy who seemed to never catch a break.

A few weeks ago, I was excited to pick the kids up from school early and head to the park. Ever the smart mom (ha), I made sure I had a snack to keep any hanger at bay. On this particular day, we’d snack on Larabar brownie bites before hitting the park. Weston barely took a bite before he started whining. Nora responded by reminding him that if he didn’t eat his “chocolate,” she would. Weston responded by puking. I quickly cancelled our park trip and changed routes to head home. Weston continued to whine as we were driving and I turned around to check on him only to notice him once again covered in hives. This was clearly an allergic reaction and luckily these bites only have six ingredients.

Post Larabar hives on his face
As I racked my brain that evening and examined the pictures from all of the other hive episodes, I finally connected the dots – coconut. I had made muffins with coconut oil, given him coconut milk during one episode and now finally these brownie bites were dusted with coconut flour. But, I still couldn’t get right with this being our answer because why in the world had he always reacted to formula as well?! I finally looked up the ingredient list of Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula and the sixth ingredient listed was “organic coconut!” And, because we tried just about every formula under the sun, I looked up countless others’ ingredient lists and found coconut in every single one.

His reaction following coconut milk
Cue: Mom Guilt!

I write all of this down and share it today so hopefully it helps someone else. I can’t help but think “if we would have just known!!” Of course, he wasn’t sleeping because his belly hurt. And, while I nursed him for ten months, I certainly supplemented and so wish I hadn’t. Maybe if we would have known I could have just nursed, maybe he wouldn’t have had to go through so many rounds of antibiotics for ear infections or the countless other medications due to his respiratory issues.

So, we live and learn. I’m thankful we’ve now connected some dots and our little man is back to smiling. And, I’m so grateful we can proceed by eliminating coconut from his diet with very little effort. Finally, I hope this story helps some other tired mama out there!

Cheers, all!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I Ran Into Myself

I think I was fifteen when I started running consistently. This means, for over half my life running has been an outlet for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that running is more for my emotional health than it is for my physical health. This is exactly why I was so excited to lace up my shoes and head out the door shortly after Weston was born.

I was prepared for it to be a rough road back, but was ready to have something that was mine again. I was ready to find the quiet that exists when out on a good run. Unfortunately, that quiet didn’t quickly return. Instead running became another area of frustration. Every time I’d head out the door, I felt wobbly. Slow. Unsteady. I couldn’t clear my head. I’d remember how tired I was. Physically and emotionally. I’d beat myself up for lacking the endurance to run. This ineptitude was a reminder of all the other areas in my life in which I seemed to be lacking endurance.

I desperately wanted to see a glimpse of my old self out on the pavement. To find my stride there even if I couldn’t find it anywhere else. But for seventeen months, I felt clumsy instead. Then one day, with Eric Church in my ear, I ran right into myself. I looked down at the app I use to track my distance and speed, and realized I had run two miles with ease.

Mom or not, I think we women put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be all things to all people – including ourselves. I thought I’d run right back into my old self quickly after having my babies but the truth is that woman is gone. In her shoes instead is someone who is a little more patient. She laughs a lot more often, sleeps a lot less, and runs fewer miles. Her body – the one that once endured a marathon – has grown two people and learned to carry both a baby and toddler while simultaneously wearing heels (equally important feats).

I finally feel – nineteen months later – like I can call myself a runner again. But, admittedly, my running has changed too. I now find my quiet more quickly, but I’m more often pushing a stroller. I take out my headphones these days, and zone out to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” sung by my three year old who anticipates our running dates as much as I do.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Dear Nora James...

I can honestly say that at three years old, you are one of my absolutely favorite people.

I don’t mean that I like you because you’re my daughter. I mean, of all the people I’ve come across in my life, I’d choose you to be around!

Want to know why?

You’re Funny.
You say hilarious things all the time. You told Weston’s friend at school that “your brother needs a little space!” You were insistent that we’d have a purple cake with a rhino on it for your birthday, and think you can only “giddy-up” while wearing sparkle shoes. But, beyond the funny things you say and do, you have a sense of humor that is dry and off-the-wall. I appreciate it so much!

You Listen.
You ask your dad and me how our days were during dinner. Then, you nod your head as we talk about our experience and ask follow-up questions. Do you know how rare this is? There are so many adults who don’t take the time to truly listen. And, at age three, you do! How cool is that? 

You are an Amazing Sister.
Your entire demeanor and tone changes when Weston is around. You bend down to look him in the eye even though he’s not much smaller than you. You offer to share your birthday presents with him and yell from the other room that you’ll be right there when he’s crying. The genuine care you show for him makes me happier than you’ll ever know.

You know what you want and you won’t stop until you get it.
I’ll be honest, sometimes this is a hard one as your mom! I’ve never met someone as stubborn as you. You don’t back down when there is something you want. And, while at three this can be frustrating, I know that this drive will serve you well in the long-term. 

You have vision!
You go to great lengths to tell me about the things you want. You leave no detail out! This can (and does) often include the shoes you think you should wear for a particular activity and / or how you think we should proceed with a family adventure. I often think it’s my job to just keep you safe on your quest toward your vision!

But, ultimately, Nora James, I hope you know that for three years you have been loved. Through every smile, tear and frustrating-as-hell moment, you have brought so much joy to your dad and me. Today, and every day since you were born – I love you and I like you!

Cheers, little lady!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mom, Are You Pretending to be the Mom?

Both of my littles enjoy playing with babies. I love it. They sweetly kiss their dolls and swaddle them in blankets. They ignore all recommendations by their pediatrician and lie them face first on the floor to “go to sleep.” I’m serious, sometimes it looks like a baby doll graveyard in our living room while my littles alternate patting various baby dolls' backs.

Recently, I was honored to play baby. I laid on the floor as Nora put a blanket over top me while she and Weston patted my back. As they finished getting me to sleep, I told them to lie down so they could play my babies. To which Nora responded; “Mom, are you pretending to be the mom?"

Ah, yes, Nora! Every day for almost three years, I have been pretending to be the mom. 

When both of my kids are sick and throwing up simultaneously, I pretend.

When sleep deprivation’s effects take over, I pretend.

When someone is funny and / or cute when they are supposed to be in trouble, I pretend.

When my toddler agrees to wear undies but not to pee on the potty, I pretend.

When toddler tantrums seem to escalate by the day, I pretend.

When one bout of illness fades into the next and scary thoughts run through my head, I pretend.

And, when my heart expands by the day with not only love but the most immense pride in my two littles achieving new, hard things, I pretend I was prepared for it all!

Cheers to pretending!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Am I Still Brave?

I stood in my bathroom throwing makeup on and my hair in a ponytail so I could rush out of the house in time for a meeting downtown. My two littles, ever at my feet, were a little less energetic thanks to a stomach bug that hit our house hard. I was in a hurry. Flustered. Exhausted from being thrown-up on more times than I can count when my daughter spoke in an uncharacteristically timid voice:

“Mom,” she said.

“Yes, Nora.” I answered.

“Remember when we went to the museum?”

“Of course! With Aunt Betsy and Lauren?”

“Yeah, and I went down that big slide?”

“Yeah, I was so proud! You were so brave to go down by yourself!”

There was a pause as my sweet two and half year old finally got out what was on her mind;

“But, mom, I cried a little. Am I still brave?”

In that moment, I was no longer tired, hurried or distracted. I slowly bent down so I could look into my girl’s eyes and I said;

“Nora James, every time I have ever been brave in my whole life, I have cried a little! That just means you’re being REALLY brave!”

And, she ran out of my bathroom clearly relieved. I could hear her run to the living room to exclaim to her dad that she went down the big slide by herself, she cried a little, but she’s still brave!

Man, this girl is doing it right!

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
I feel this kind of raw bravery that is so often only possessed by innocent toddlers is needed today, tomorrow, and in the coming weeks, months and years. We’re going to need to get loud. To stand up for whatever it is we all believe. To make our voices heard. Shed a few tears. And be brave.

Let’s all have the courage to go down whatever big slide is in our future.

Cheers to 2017!

Friday, January 13, 2017

What I've Learned

I recently wrapped up a blogging opportunity with St. Luke's Birth Care Center. As we said goodbye to that blog which brought a diverse group of mom voices together, I decided to share what I’ve learned as a mom so far.

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
Of that diverse group of moms, I represented a voice of a working mom. I work full-time outside of my home and am a mom to two kiddos who are seventeen months apart.  I’ve been a mom for a whole two and a half years so it’s safe to say I don’t have it all figured out. Even so, here’s what I know to be true…

We’re More Alike than Different.
Sure, you can fit me into a box based on my quick intro above. But, truth be told, I’m not very different than a stay-at-home mom with five littles. We all suffer many of the same battles and laugh at the crazy things our toddlers say. What binds us together is the desire to make the best decisions for our families.

It’s Hard.
This parenting thing, it’s really hard! I literally have no idea what I’m doing. I make things up every. single. day. I’m simultaneously exhausted from never having enough time and bored by the monotony of it all. I pray I’m picking the right battles, setting boundaries and loving them enough to see them grow into emotionally stable, happy and successful adults.

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
 Stay on Each Others Sides.
My husband was insistent that my daughter couldn’t draw with a pen tonight. It’s a fairly reasonable rule. The pen isn’t washable. She’s two. Accidents happen. But, if I’m honest, I would have let her color with the pen. Will Nora ever know this? Of course not. Above all else, I choose my husband’s side. We are partners and that means we stay on each others side even we disagree. The conversation about why we disagree can happen later. After the kids are snoozing. But, in front of them, I want them to know what it looks like to be a party of a supportive partnership.

I Could Have Used Six Months.
I don’t have the answer for this one, but I know we can do better with parental leave. I was lucky. I took around twelve weeks off after the birth of each of my children. But, truth be told, I could have used six months. And, six months is an arbitrary age that feels right to me. I have so much to say on this subject but I will sum it up by saying this; I could have been better for everyone. With a little more time at home following the birth of my children I could have been better for my children, husband, employer and self!

We Need Others.
We need each other. We need the mom who has been there and done that. We need the mom who is completely different than us, and the one who is quite similar. It truly takes a village. Whether we find our village though online communities such as this one or offline activities, we need to lean on each other. We need to put away our judgement and righteousness and be there for one another. Because, we’re all doing important jobs and we can’t do them alone!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...