life

I survived! 12 things I learned about myself this semester!

You guys!! I took the last of my finals for the semester today! I can’t believe it’s already May! When I clicked submit and the grade came back on my anthropology final, I exhaled. In celebration, I thrust two fists triumphantly overhead as I crossed the finish line!

I remember pulling the door open to my Intro to Social Media class that first Monday night. I had been looking forward to taking the class for months, but when I walked in, all I could think was, “Holy sh**! What am I doing here!?” Looking around the room, I suddenly realized I probably wasn’t the only one thinking that. In fact, there’s a good chance some of my younger classmates might have even wondered what they were doing in a class with a bunch of “old” people.

Fifteen Mondays later, here’s what I’ve learned about myself…

1) I waited and waited to take the leap, and go back to school, because of fear. It turns out that ALL those fears were unfounded. Yup. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

2) I’m even stronger than I thought! My combination of classes meant that I had A LOT of homework each week. One class in particular really tested my resolve. By the end of the first month, I was so frustrated, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through. No joke, it felt like I was learning a foreign language and it wasn’t even a language class! My instructor was a fantastic resource and I finished that class with an A!

3) My family and friends are even more patient and wonderful and supportive than I realized! They cheered me up, cheered me on, and they even let me whine when I really needed to. I appreciate all of them so much!

carrotcake4) Education is more valuable now that I am an adult. I have always loved learning, but as a young adult I never considered its value. School is so much more rewarding the second time around!

5) Anthropology is not as riveting as I thought. I used to say that if I could get a degree in anything I wanted, just because, it might be in anthropology, art history, or geology. Truth? I love fossils. If anthropology was just the study of fossils, I’d be all over it. It’s not, so today I crossed anthropology off that list.

6) Carrot cake is my favorite homework treat. Period.

7) I need to invest a little bit of time and energy in myself and my environment every day. The more time and energy I spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control I will have over my #lifelist.

8) Not everyone is happy for you. I know, right!? WTH? That realization was really hard to swallow at first. For every congratulations I received when I told someone I was going back to school, I was faced with, “Wow! Why would you want to do that to yourself?” Here’s how I handled those inquiries. I would say: “Well, it was time to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.” Of course, I would be thinking something snarky like: “Well, I’d explain it to you, but I’m all out of puppets and crayons.”

9) Procrastination has no place at this table! I have said before that I can be a bit of a procrastinator by nature. Uhh, that’s a no-go. I have begun to learn how to better manage my time. Better time management lowers stress levels too, who knew! OK, probably everyone but me.

threecquote10) I have talents that I didn’t know about!

11) Stepping out of my comfort zone was the best thing I have done for myself! I challenged myself this semester. You can’t hope to change yourself  if you aren’t willing to move outside of your comfort zone!

12) I really love to write!

I started this blog as an assigned project for my social media class. I had considered blogging before, but was too overwhelmed to try. Where do I begin? What would I blog about? What if no one reads it?

In the last few months, I realized that I can do this and I plan to continue writing my blog!  I’ve made new friends through blogging and writing has given me an outlet. An outlet that I didn’t know I needed in my life. So thank you Professor Laird, for assigning this project, and thank YOU for following along!

-Kim

motherhood

A note to all moms: I see you!

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I don’t know about you, but I intend to celebrate at home, outside in the sunshine. No computer, no tablet, no phone, and I don’t plan to check my email, or phone messages until Monday!

New moms: Pat yourself on the back, you’re doing a great job! The first year of motherhood is a unique set of challenges. Say yes to offers of help. Keep taking it one day at a time and do not subscribe to any predetermined list of expectations. Very rarely is any part of this job “by the book”.

Toddler moms: “Terrible two” isn’t really that bad. It’s three that you need to watch out for. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and a hug. Nap time is your friend, an extra 30 minutes in front of the TV won’t “ruin” them, and time-outs (even for you) are OK! There will be public tantrums. This too shall pass. If I see you in Target, or the grocery store, looking frazzled, the first words out of my mouth will be “we’ve all been there!” You’re never alone in this!

School aged moms: Being “Supermom” is overrated. Being “Mom” is absolutely enough. Take time for yourself. Whether you head off to work during the day, or work from home; with laundry, cooking, homework, errands, and other household chores looming, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that if you’re not “busy” you’re not doing your job. Wrong. Do something daily, weekly, or monthly that improves your personal well-being. There is some truth behind, “If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy.”

“Obsolete” moms: Embrace your emotions. You have turned the corner, the role shift has begun and you have earned the right to feel all of those feelings. What now? Reinvent yourself. Congratulations if you have your next act figured out! If you’re still on the edge of the pool, put your life jacket on and jump in! Paddle around in that pool until you figure it out.

To all moms: Thank you for the things that often go unnoticed…

  • Getting up early to make breakfast and lunches.
  • Those who mother alone or without much support.
  • Kissed elbows and band-aids on knees.
  • Reading Goodnight Moon or Harold and the Purple Crayon for the 1000th time.
  • Stopping to wonder if you’re doing all of this (or any of it) “right”.
  • Getting back into the car to drop off at practice, or pick up, or both.
  • Clean laundry.
  • For Dads who “Mother”.
  • Rocking colicky babies.
  • Going without so your children can have what they need.
  • Applying sunscreen.
  • Finding the lost blanket, pacifier, shoe, stuffed toy, bouncy ball, favorite shirt…
  • Pushing forward even when you think you might break.
  • Extra time in the morning braiding hair.
  • Teaching them how to be kind.
  • Handmade costumes.
  • Cheering them on.
  • Helping with homework, when you still need to do your own.
  • Wholesome dinners prepped when you don’t feel like it.
  • Nights spent sleeping in a chair, holding a sick child.
  • Giggling and belly laughs.
  • Volunteering at school, for sports, or wherever you are needed.
  • Strength when they are vulnerable.
  • Movie nights, cuddled up under blankets, with popcorn.
  • Standing up and defending your child when necessary.
  • Tucking them in every night.
  • Baking cupcakes at 11PM.
  • Showing them how to appreciate the beauty in the world.
  • Worrying about all of the little things.
  • For hugs and kisses that are second nature.
  • Encouraging them to work hard and follow their dreams.
  • The smile on your face and doing your best, even when you’re exhausted.
  • And ALL that you do to make their world a better place.

You are enough and more than enough. You are a #mom and you are incredible!

Happy Mother’s Day!

-Kim

life, motherhood

15 Realizations about parenting kids that are 18+…

Being a mom is the best job I have ever had and it has also been the most challenging. I have struggled with the motherhood role changes the passage of time brings. If you’re not familiar with my story, you can read my very first post here.

I still miss our babies cuddled up in my lap, listening to a story, or the muffled patter of the rain in the middle of the night. I miss the “baby smell”, their sweet little faces watching me intently while we sing quietly in the rocking chair, baking cookies with them, and regular family movie nights with all of us snugly tucked into our bed.

drivinglessons
Realization #11

The other day, I was in the midst of writing another post and our oldest came buzzing in from work. She sat down to chat with me for a few minutes about her day and then she proceeded to make something to eat, before disappearing to shower.

In the moments after that interaction, I came to the realization (several of them really) that being an #obsolete mom, and parenting kids 18+, has some real advantages.

15 Realizations about parenting kids that are 18+…

1. They do their own laundry!!! Enough said.

2. Going out to dinner isn’t a crap shoot anymore and the restaurant doesn’t have to be family-friendly. There’s no worrying about the possible no-nap meltdown, who has the green crayon, or fighting over which fork belongs to who.

3. The only butt I have to wipe is my own. If you consider this TMI, sorry. With the exception of changing the toilet paper roll, they handle their own bathroom business. I mean what could anyone possibly miss about wiping someone else’s behind? The end.

4. I no longer have to watch Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Pooh’s Grand Adventure, or The Jungle Book 585 times in a row. Disneyland is truly one of my FAVORITE places and I love Disney movies, but I don’t feel the need to see any of them on repeat anymore.

5. When not at school, or work, they sleep in.  This allows for extended coffee time with my other half, or time to clean house without any interruptions. It’s glorious!

6. They can cook the basics. Even if it’s just eggs & toast or grilled cheese. If they’re hungry and it’s late, or my other half is traveling, I’m not on the hook for a whole meal!

7. I don’t have to lug around a diaper bag loaded to the gills with 8 changes of clothes, diapers, wipes, toys, and snacks. While we’re on the subject of diapers, there are no poop “episodes” just as we’re leaving the house. Seriously! I don’t know how many times I was heading out the door, late, and just as we’re locked and loaded in the car, the stench would waft from the back seat, and it was all the way up their back and down their leg. Screw you peas and sweet potato!

8. Profanity is no longer censored. I was so strict about language when our girls were young, my friend Jessica used to call them the “word police”. Let’s face it, sometimes “shoot”, “gosh darn it”, and “fudge” just isn’t going to cut it. In fact, my desperate need to use a swear word is how our younger daughter got her nickname. (That’s a story for another post – she’s always been a bit of a firecracker.) Frankly, none of the kid-friendly “swear” words have the same effect that the F-bomb does, and now that they’re adults, it’s actually funny when they slip and let one fly too.

9. Their homework is just that, THEIRS! No late evening trips to the local Walgreens for glue sticks, glitter, and posterboard (which they WILL inevitably be out of because every kid in the neighborhood is frantically doing the same damn project). That’s all I have to say about that.

10. Privacy in the bathroom! My mantra was always “I get to pee by myself!” No more knocking on the door, or little eyes peeking under. No answering questions about body parts and bodily functions. Just ME. ALONE. IN. THE. BATHROOM.

11. No more driving lessons and late night pick-ups. I served my time white-knuckling it in the passenger seat; grasping the oh-sh** handle, holding back expletives, eyes squeezed so tightly closed my brains might pop out my ears. I have also racked up my share of frequent flier miles shuttling them from here, to there, and back at all hours.

12. They help around the house. They unload the dishwasher, vacuum, dust, rake leaves, take out the trash, and did I already mention THEY DO THEIR OWN LAUNDRY!

13. I am not aimlessly wandering the Target toy aisles, dodging strategically placed end caps full of My Little Pony, or daydreaming of tropical beach vacations while passing the “Luau Barbie” display. BONUS: Sometimes we divide the list at the market to speed things up. Woot! Woot!

14. No tantrums, no time-outs in the corner, no potty breaks, and they pack their own sports bags and suitcases. Period.

15. They’re even more fun to talk to! They’re witty and sarcastic, and it’s often hilarious even when it shouldn’t be. Our girls have opinions about what’s happening in the world. This ultimately leads to some great conversations and it’s enlightening to hear their views.

Are you parenting, or almost parenting, teens and/or young adults? If change has been a challenge for you you, there is hope! If you have already parented through this stage, would you add anything to this list? I’d love to hear it!

-Kim

life

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

There is a German proverb that says “fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

I’ve said it before, we all have fears. Here is a list of the ten most common fears. Maybe you identify with a few of them too?

  1. Flying
  2. Public Speaking
  3. Heights
  4. The Dark
  5. Intimacy
  6. Death
  7. Failure
  8. Rejection
  9. Spiders
  10. Commitment

I don’t like public speaking, or spiders, at all! The gigantic potato bugs that I find floating in our pool freak me out too, but they didn’t make the list. (Admittedly, some fears are a bigger deal than others. Lol.) I know we’re not talking nail polish colors, or picking a new sofa here.

All joking aside; #fear often keeps people from reaching their full potential. Has this ever happened to you? In the last few years, fear of the unknown has kept me from taking needed steps forward in my life. It’s interesting to me that I do not consider myself a fearful person by nature. I embrace change and new experiences. I’ll try almost anything once, but there’s a difference.

So why do I hold myself back?

Variables. I can’t control the unknown variables involved with the big changes, and at this point in my life, time is a very valuable commodity to me. My career goals are a good example. Right now, I don’t have any. Why? In part, because uncertainty keeps me from diving into the water. I have a basic vision of what I want to accomplish, but I’m not sure how I want to get from point A to point B, and I don’t like the idea of trying and “failing” now that I am approaching mid-life. It’s a cyclical fear. I know I don’t need to have all the answers right away, but I don’t feel like I have time to waste. I want to dive in and love what I am doing until I can no longer do it, but I won’t know what that is until I dip my toes in the pool. In turn, I am sitting on the edge, wasting the time that is so valuable to me.

At the moment, my needs are pretty simple. I want to do something that is as fulfilling as raising my children was. (Frankly, I think I have earned that opportunity.) I also want to contribute financially to my household and realizing the goals my husband and I have for our future. I have taken the first step forward and returned to school, but I’ve yet to unlock the next door. It would appear that, besides #2 (public speaking) and #9 (spiders), I most directly relate to #7 (failure). If you haven’t read my previous post about my interests (read it here).

So how do I break the cycle? It’s not easy to let go of fear, especially our fear of the unknown. It takes practice. Often we manifest this fear because what is known to us is our safety net. Our brains create scenarios about all that can go wrong with the unknown. Kick off those cement shoes! Will there be setbacks? Maybe. Focusing on what “might” happen is not worth your energy. The truth is there is always another option. It might take some brainstorming to come up with solutions, but very rarely are you without choices.

Change is good and knowledge is power. Ask yourself what you’re really afraid of and then take the time to process the information. When you have a clear picture of your fears, it makes them easier to identify when they begin to infiltrate your thinking. Take a deep breath and LET THEM GO! You are in control of the outcome! Think about the positives. Not every step has to be dramatic, just keep moving forward. Focus on the big picture and the good that will come from making the changes you envision.

Do you need to make a change in your life? It was Sheryl Sandberg who said “So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

So? What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid?

-Kim

motherhood

Back-up plans and stepping forward. It’s just a calculated risk…

In business, my husband is all about calculated risk. In our personal life we have never done anything “the way you’re supposed to.” What’s life without a few plot twists? We are high school sweethearts. We were still in college and I was working for a software company, when I found myself pregnant with our first daughter. I was 22 years old when she arrived.

We scrimped and saved and bought a home with a little yard. In 1996, two semi-broke, working college students could still buy a house in Sonoma County! (I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true!) In those early years, we took a calculator to the grocery store. I left school. I went to work before the sun was up and he worked swing shift so we didn’t have to put our baby in daycare. Along the way, we got married. Three of us became four and that same year we started a business. We decided that one of us at home was the best thing for our daughters. Then we partnered in a second business, unrelated to the first. There were ups and downs and for the most part, life was simple. I wouldn’t change any of it.

An acquaintance once told me that she had difficulty adjusting to becoming a mom (at 33) and she asked me what my back-up plan was? I never had a back-up plan before becoming a mom. I never gave it much thought. In high school and college I fouled off ideas like they were wiffle balls. Maybe I would be an attorney. Maybe a journalist, or a photographer. I loved the idea of being a flight attendant. The only thing I knew for certain was that at some point, I wanted to be a mom. Not just any mom. The best mom I was capable of being. My back-up plan was built in. We had two businesses. My husband would need help with those and then later there would be grandchildren. I was set.

That conversation was a light bulb moment and I ignored it. I realize now that she had more than a decade of adulthood under her belt before becoming a mother. Even if their focus shifts, older moms have building blocks that I would not establish until much later. At 33, I had been a mom nearly ALL my adult life and I really hadn’t established who I (me, myself, outside of my role as mom) was at all.

Someone could have flicked me on the ear, or at least mentioned it to me in passing. “Hey! HEY! Just a reminder that kids grow up fast! What if you and your husband aren’t on the same page? What are your plans after that? Do you want to be standing there, like a monkey in front of a mirror, just scratching your head? Why didn’t anyone tell me? (insert sarcastic chuckle here.)

Fast forward. I was on the precipice of 40 when our oldest daughter graduated from high school AND I realized my husband didn’t want my help. It was a triple whammy! What’s that old saying about just assuming? Yes, “judgement day” was coming, but between homework, shuttling kids among sports schedules, piles of laundry, cooking, errands, cleaning, etc. it always seemed so far off. Many times I said I would finish my degree before I turned 40, but I never felt like I had time to think about it. Truth? I never allowed myself to think about it. Part of me felt guilty thinking about myself. Of course, self-care isn’t selfish at all, but my identity was so wrapped up in being a mom and wife, I couldn’t see it at the time. Moms, take note! #selfcareisNOTselfish !!

In those final years, I built a bit of resentment and it took me awhile to sort through what I was feeling. Let’s be clear, my husband is a brilliant, hard-working man, who is also a wonderful husband, father, and best friend. I love him with my whole heart and every ounce of my being. I’m not exaggerating when I say he is brilliant. He is GOOD. AT. EVERYTHING. Do you know someone like that? I found myself torn between emotions. He goes to work everyday and is his own boss. He travels often, has client meetings, conference calls, barbecue nights, private track days, and dinners at nice restaurants. Sounds glamorous doesn’t it? It really isn’t. Most of me was “bragging rights proud” of his hard work and well deserved successes. A part of me was just the tiniest bit envious that his purpose was not in question and he still had it all figured out, and the other part of me was mad at myself for assuming I had a built in back up plan and not being able to step forward into my next phase.

I would bring up my feelings about becoming “irrelevant” and he would respond with “Well, you should…” He made it seem trivial, as though it was all just so simple. My blood would instantly boil (INCOMING!) and I would return fire with something really snarky like, “Well, when am I supposed to do that?” or “Wow! It must be nice to have time to figure out ALL the answers!” I know he was trying to help, but everything seemed impossible. Our busy season, according to the calendar, is from late February until late October; with miscellaneous events mixed into November, December and January. Our busy season, in reality, is all year long. So he was still traveling and I was still parenting (and cooking and cleaning and everything else.) He couldn’t possibly understand and I definitely did not want someone, whose identity was not in question, telling me what I should be doing. In those moments, I just wanted to be heard.

Pondering what life looked like beyond being a stay at home mom, I knew I had to figure out what my next act would be, but I had no idea what it was. Once I turned the “big 4-0” I felt like my timeline for decisions was limited and I no longer had time to waste. I wanted to go back to school, but I couldn’t decide on a direction. For the first time, I felt overwhelmed by the idea that I had done everything in my life backwards. It was suffocating. I was terrified of wasting time and yet, I was floundering like a trout on the dock, stuck in a cycle of thinking that I needed to have all the answers before I could begin. 

One morning, over coffee, the tears welled up as I asked, “What if I choose wrong?” My husband very gently replied, “just take the first step” and finally a switch flipped. It’s a calculated risk. I don’t need to have all the answers right now, I just need to keep moving forward.

So for now I’m a mom, a wife, and more recently, I’m a student (again) and  writer. We have never done anything the way “you’re supposed to.” It still seems to work just fine.

-Kim

motherhood

I am an “obsolete” mom. You might be one too…

We all have fears.

My husband and I met when we were teenagers. In college, I thought I knew exactly where I was headed. We were young when our first daughter was born and I was never afraid of motherhood. I took it on and embraced it; the good (breastfeeding and bottles when I was certain I might be starving our oldest) , the bad (poopy diapers, spit-up, and sleepless nights) and the colic – which can only be defined as the ugly! All of it! Sure there were weepy nights here and there; quietly rocking the baby on the bed, staring blankly at the wall – no sleep will do that to you! Still I never questioned my abilities or purpose.

Fast forward eighteen years! (In spite of what everyone might tell you, those two words are really the only accurate way to describe how quickly your children grow up! Truthfully!)

A stark reality began hanging around my head like a little black cloud. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, life was changing and soon I would be “obsolete”. I have always welcomed change, but without warning, I found myself petrified of it! I was in unfamiliar territory and surrounded by mountains of questions. Questions that I had only very casually considered over the years. One morning I looked in the mirror and all I could think was “who in the hell am I and what am I going to do now?” and the tears began to flow…I had lost sight of my purpose.

Oh, deep down I know that as parents, we are never truly obsolete. If we are really doing the best job we can, our sweet little ducklings are supposed to spread their wings and create their own nests. I knew all of this. Really, I did! Of course, knowing is one thing. Learning to embrace the changes can be an emotional mine field!  Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t possibly be alone in my fears, so I decided to own it and figure out how to move forward. Read a bit more about me and why I started this blog here.

Welcome! I’m an “obsolete” mom. Maybe you are too?

– Kim