The things I’ve said…

Recently I was thinking about how people change and grow. I know there are some people who are pretty consistent and others who are maybe a little stagnant, but for a lot of people, I believe life experience changes and shapes us and our ideas about life all the time.

I would argue that who we were 10, 5 or even 1 year ago is sometimes incredibly different.

I was thinking about that idea in terms of how those changes impact how we interact with others. I think back to who I was in high school, college and even my first few years in the workforce and I know I said and did things that I would be so embarrassed by now. That’s part of life, right? Making mistakes and learning…

That’s all good, but what if our words and our actions from years ago still hurt people? How do we go back and apologize (if we realize) and what about the many things I’ve done or said that I don’t even remember or maybe didn’t realize affected someone?

I definitely have several memories of times when someone’s words or actions completely knocked the wind out of me.

This may be ridiculous, but I have an example from 4th grade – 2 examples actually. My teacher made an off-hand comment that none of us should weight more than 80 lbs in 4th grade. I weighed 100 lbs in 4th grade. I was tall and muscular. I will never forget the way those words hit me. I went home and immediately told my mom about it. Her careless words made me feel different in a bad way and I have never forgotten. This same teacher also made a comment about how no one wants to grow up to flip burgers. This was super offensive because my dad was a restaurant manager and I had seen him flip burgers multiple times. I also told my mom about that, and she said, “Oh, she doesn’t mean a manager. She means people who are just cooking…” I didn’t care though. My dad did flip burgers as a manager and I remember thinking she should have thought of that before opening her mouth. (Now, I’d like to stop and preface that she was a great teacher and I liked her class a lot. I also literally just ran into her at the grocery store a week and a half ago. She remembered me and caught up and it was a really sweet interaction.)

I use this example because those words have been with me since THE 4TH GRADE. That’s impact y’all.

I can’t help but wonder if my own carelessness has caused lasting damage.

There have been a few instances lately that have caused me to reflect and realize that I was too harsh and not as understanding as I should have been in past situations. At the time, I couldn’t know what I didn’t understand… but I wish I’d handled things differently. That’s hard for me to accept – that I wasn’t who I would want to be today, then.

I plan to reach out and apologize and just let those people know that I’m sorry and I want to do better in the future.

At the same time – I don’t think it’s healthy to feel bad for past things or to feel like you have to say the exact perfect thing all the time. That’s not realistic.

I think it’s good to think about this stuff. I am reminded to have empathy. I want to always try to understand and moving forward I want to be able to ask questions when I don’t. I’m also realizing that I would want forgiveness for my past carelessness or lack of understanding. I need to work on forgiving past hurt. I know that some of these situations that I’ve held on to are only affecting me because the other person or people involved have NO idea. They don’t know because I didn’t say anything. I want to do better at saying stuff now.

Even that’s hard though. Sometimes I am too sensitive or defensive and sometimes I feel like I need to come out guns blazing about my beliefs because I feel so attacked or judged. I’m working on being proud of and totally OK with my choices so that I don’t have to feel like I’m defending myself – because I simply don’t EVER have to defend myself.

I don’t know… I want to empathetic, understanding and truly listen to what others are struggling with. At the same time there’s a place for boundaries and I definitely struggle with that too – especially in family relationships.

It’s important to meet people where they are, while also protecting yourself and being true to you. Everyone is going to have struggles and hard times in life, and I want to always give people the benefit of the doubt.

I guess, if I’ve ever said or done something that was upsetting, I hope you would reach out and clarify it with me – or let me explain or apologize. I want to grow and be better and I really crave authentic relationships.

I definitely feel like relationships are hard for me in some ways, and I’m working hard to understand my role in some tough relationships and how to improve.

Does any of this make sense?

BK

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Finding the right words…

So this idea of “right words” has really been on my mind lately.

I can be over sensitive and easily misread tone in texts or on social media and even sometimes in person. I also have trouble understanding intent sometimes too.

I believe words are so incredibly powerful. There are so many struggles that people experience in our society and most of the time, I think there’s very few people who say the right things because it’s hard to know what to say.

I think about when we were trying to get pregnant with Lochlan. We heard the worst things… from our friends and family and well-meaning people…. I know their intent was different than the words they were speaking, but for something so raw to us, their words were knives.

I know I’m not alone in these feelings. I have a beautiful friend with an incredible daughter who has autism. I know she struggles with the words people say to her. I know people who are going through separations and no one seems to be saying anything truly understanding.

So many of us hear the same phrases over and over again when we share about our lives…

  • When the time is right
  • Everything happens for a reason
  • You’re so strong
  • It could be worse…
  • Well, have you tried (insert unhelpful suggestion)

I know there are so many more and others that are more specific to certain circumstances. These were just the phrases that popped into my head.

I believe we all need to think a little harder about what our words are really saying and how it might affect a person going through something that we may not fully understand.

If your friend is struggling to get pregnant, you probably shouldn’t suggest something is wrong with her or her partner, that she should adopt, that you know 15 people who got pregnant right away, etc. These statements are going to make her feel worse, or misunderstood, or angry.  You know what you could say, “This is really hard. I want to be here for you.” And if you don’t know what to say, that’s OK. Sometimes, it’s just important for people to share about their struggles, speak their truth and have someone just listen.

I know for me, I didn’t expect anyone to have answers and I didn’t want anyone to solve “my problem.” I just wanted people to know I struggled with it, it affected my life and that it felt devastating (even while I knew my life was good).

Something I’ve tried to do more of, is to really stop and think about what my words may sound like to someone else. What meaning could they take from this? Do my words contain a hint of judgment? Could these words possibly place blame on someone unfairly? I’ve also started saying something to the effect of, “Man, this sounds so hard. I don’t know what to say except I’m here and I will always try to be available to listen with an open mind and heart.” Sometimes, I also ask if there’s anything I can do to help. I’ve learned to stay away from empty words. “You’re so strong. Wow, I don’t know how you do it.” These words rarely make anyone feel better.

It’s not perfect and when I find myself in these tough, vulnerable conversations I am reminded that the human experience is so varied and full of pain and hardship that I don’t understand. I leave these conversations humbled and committed to staying compassionate and open.

I fully believe all of us want to do and be good to others. I truly do believe humans are made to care and love. Life hardens us and each of those hardenings leaves less and less room for that simple love for others. I vow to fight against that and try as hard as possible to listen and hear.

I also think this topic stretches beyond just hard life events. I think in friendship, we can also struggle to be there for the people we love in daily interactions and conversations. I know I haven’t always said the right thing or that I’ve accidentally offended or hurt someone with a careless opinion or word. That happens and we aren’t perfect. We won’t always say the right thing, but I think we have to start speaking up in those moments. Telling those you love when something was hurtful or when they said something that didn’t sit well is the only way to have better interactions.

With my husband, it is so easy for me to say, “What did you mean by that?” or “That was rude!” When I say that, he is afforded the opportunity to explain or think about his words. I don’t always afford that same opportunity to friends or other family members. Instead, I sit with their words and my interpretations of them. I let it steep until I’m angry and hurt. Meanwhile, that other person has no idea that they’ve offended me. Then, when enough of those misinterpretations build up, I began to craft a story that this person doesn’t care or want to understand me and I move on. Do any of y’all experience this? Or is it just me?

I was talking to my husband and mom about it earlier, and they agreed, although they don’t get quite as extreme as me maybe. My husband reflected on some of his past friendships and the lack of true connection. The words that weren’t spoken that said so much or the questions that went unasked. My mom talked about the well-meaning words some have said to her that really made her feel hurt and misunderstood. Neither one of them told those people how they felt.

I am not suggesting a society where everyone walks on egg shells and overthinks everything they say. Not at all! I am advocating for a world where we try to have compassion for things we don’t understand, we seek to stay engaged as friends and show our love through questions that show we’re interested, and that when we are hurt by another person’s words, we simply and calmly call that out. No one can do and be better if we don’t give them the opportunity.

Everyone deserves that opportunity and I have faith that when given that opportunity, the people we love will reflect, learn, and do better.

I don’t always have the right words, but I’m on the journey to showing others how much I care and that I want to understand and be there because ultimately I want friends and family members who will do the same for me.

I’d love to hear from y’all about moments or situations in which you were let down or hurt by a well-meaning phrase. I have definitely learned to stay away from certain phrases, but when people share new ones with me it really helps me connect and catalog those phrases so that I don’t unintentionally hurt someone in the same way.

Thanks for reading,

BK

Seeking truth, purpose and myself

My first ever blog was called Seek Truth Britt. I wanted to use my writing to figure out life and write about that process. I loved that blog and still do.

Life looks very different now and yet I still carry that desire to find the answers, figure it all out and I still very much enjoy writing about that.

I was talking to the hubs just today about how when you’re growing up, you have the modeling of your parents, you are trying to figure yourself out and it takes time to do that.

In college, I had the chance to live alone, face conflict and adversity, and start discovering who I wanted to be. Also, several big life changes/events happened that kind of forced me to get to work on who I wanted to be… my parents separated, I had my first serious relationship, I got fat… I had to start thinking about my life for me and how I was going to live to be exactly the person I was made to be.

It’s not easy to live that way sometimes, and in other ways it’s incredibly easy to listen to yourself and do what feels right.

I’ve wrote before (I think) about my drive for achievement and success. That competitive drive lives within me and for my formative years it was VERY strong. That kind of started to change when I had my anxiety episode at 15. I got knocked down big time for the first time and it made me soften my ideas about life and people. I began to think harder about what lives beneath our surfaces. I understood desperation and fear in a whole new light and it was life changing for me.

After that episode, I switched high schools because I wanted a fresh start. My anxiety had led me to a few things I was embarrassed about and I hadn’t connected with my church and friends over the summer while experiencing that crippling anxiety. I felt isolated, misunderstood and I struggled to return to the place where everyone knew the “old” me and was bewildered by my disappearance.

My new school was awesome. It was wonderful to walk in to a place where no one knew much about me. I could start over in a few different ways. They didn’t know I was a soccer player or smart kid or that I grew up in a “bad” neighborhood. Instead, I now lived in a regular neighborhood, I was nice and funny and easy to get along with.

I made real friends who heard my whole story and began to know more about me. I wasn’t playing club soccer anymore so I could actually hang out after school with friends in my neighborhood. I relaxed a little and stepped back from the overbooked, achievement driven life I was so accustomed to and a life I had really enjoyed. Instead, I had a chance to be “normal.” My normal was still straight A’s, newspaper, national honor society, etc, but it wasn’t ALL of those things and varsity and club soccer and ___ and ____.

Those last two years of high school showed me a different version of what life can offer when you try something new. I learned a lot from hanging with a regular group of friends and building memories and connections in that community.

When I headed off to college, I knew I wanted to achieve and succeed, but I also wanted to make sure I took time to grow as a person. I took Honors classes that sounded interesting and a poetry class that let me think and be creative. Even though I was at the number 1 journalism school in the country, I managed to stave off the crazy, frenzied, “change the world” attitude that so many of my peers embraced. I will admit that my magazine trip to NYC made me really consider going all in and devoting my life to becoming a fancy magazine writer with a snazzy apartment and a ton of rich friends. I knew deep down I could do anything I set my mind to (because I always have), but there was something in me that said, “No Britt. What do you want most out of life? Is that path the way to get it?”

For me, that answer was no. Deep down I craved family and connection. I valued working hard, achieving, being smart and becoming a well-rounded person with varied talents and interests, but I also valued love and having a family and even then I seemed to know it was those things in life that would bring me the most joy.

When I didn’t meet the love of my life in college, but instead left college fat and sad…. to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. College brought me tons of experiences and lessons that I am so thankful for as well as one of my best friends, but it was also hard and lonely. As I ended my senior year, I was grateful and also ready to tackle my new job as a teacher with TFA.

Again, I was being thrown into a high-achieving minded group of people. They were a mix of smart, talented, dedicated people who wanted to have a positive impact on society. I was excited and nervous and curious to see what the next two years would add to my story. I hoped to make a difference and find the man of my dreams. (Oh the romantic!)

Those two years didn’t disappoint on either counts.

Again though, I was faced with a decision: to take my success in the classroom and start on the school leadership path or remain in the classroom and live. (Not that you can’t live and be a school leader…)

So I stayed in the classroom, got married and prepared to have kiddos that I would eventually stay home with. (That was always my idea if we could swing it with our budget.)

Then, when we struggled to have kids and the perfect job for me opened up as an operations school leader, I thought why not go for it. I’m not pregnant, it could take a while and operations is something I’ve thought more and more about during my years as a teacher.

When I got the job, I was ecstatic. I threw my all into it (while pregnant, because of course, I got pregnant weeks after getting the job). That job became my baby and I loved it. I spent hours and hours improving, thinking about how to be better and would you believe it, dreaming about where I could go with this job? I was already starting to think of the career ladder. I loved OPs and learning about it and I could imagine someday being a Chief Operating Officer – streamlining processes and efficiency, solving big organization dilemmas and just being an organizational badass. I loved the feeling of success, helping teachers at my school and receiving the praise and appreciation of people I respected and admired. Ding ding ding! It was the perfect mix of hard work, achievement and success that I knew was a fulfilling thing for me – especially before my kiddo arrived.

Then he arrived and of course my world changed.

My big dreams of being an OPs badass went out the window… because being a breastfeeding, baby-cuddling mom became the most rewarding and fulfilling job.

It was too easy to walk away from it all to be home for my family. It’s been wonderful taking care of my son and my husband and getting better at it all the time. I like going to the library and playing and reading during the day. I like cooking with my kiddo for my husband and even cleaning is rewarding sometimes. It feels good to hold down the fort and support my family.

I have bad days of course. The days where I’ve cleaned the kitchen multiple times and it’s messy again. The days where Lochlan is on his 4th outfit and won’t stop touching me. The days where I mispronounce words, forget what I was saying and feel like there is nothing “smart” left in my brain. I have lots of those days.

Even on those days though, I don’t wish for a second to be back in an achievement-driven environment where the hours are long, the stress is intense and the work leaves me feeling awesome (most of the time). I loved it and if I had to be back there, I would thrive. It’s too easy for me to meet expectations and get it done. I will.

BUT, in that environment there is a whole other, very big part of me that is not being fulfilled and appreciated. There’s that deep part of me that loves a simple, grateful and meaningful existence surrounded by a family I love and get to care for.

I still want to find my “purpose” or “calling” in life. I still feel there is something I will do later that will be awesome and more for me. But I also feel 100% sure that if I never do anything else than what I’m doing right now, I will feel proud and thankful for the opportunity to live this life.

I know deeply that I can be and do anything I set my mind to and I think it’s that feeling that leaves me open to do what my heart and soul tells me is right. It’s not always an easy choice, but I absolutely believe that when you seek to find your truth, you can create the life you’ve imagined. Maybe it will take a while and maybe it won’t ever fully develop the way you intended (because life changes things!) but the more we listen to ourselves and attempt to learn what we really want and need, I think it’s easier to fully engage in life and make life choices that match those desires.

I’m not sure how to end this blog… I started this on Dec. 20 and decided to come back to it today. I’m not sure what my overall motivation was when I started this post, but I feel like I just let the writing come and this is what came out. I guess, I’m just glad I listened to myself and I stepped back from my achievement- focused, wanna-be-famous or rich mindset to think about what would make me really happy and fulfilled. I think if I were living another life, I’d be missing out on this one.

I am so glad that this is where I am today.

BK

 

 

Pregnancy: Life with K2 on board

Ok y’all. I have done a TERRIBLE job blogging about this pregnancy. I think because life in general has thrown me for a few loops and I haven’t been in the best place emotionally because of that. Pregnancy already does so many things to your body, that it can be hard to figure out what to feel and how you’re feeling.

I actually did start to write a few posts, so I’ve just copied and pasted those here. I’m not going to go back and edit or add to them. They speak for themselves and where I was at that time. So read on if you want. 🙂

Written: 11/19/17

Here I am, almost 11 weeks pregnant with baby #2.

It’s exciting, scary and intense all at the same time.

When L was 9 months old, Eric and I said we wanted to wait for a while before trying for another baby. We wanted some time to get back to us and calm down after a pretty hectic year. So many things happened during L’s first year of life. We needed a chance to breathe.

Then he turned 1 and we really started missing our little baby. We reminisced and considered when we might want to have another baby. I told Eric I thought a summer baby would be perfect because he would get sooooo much more time with the baby and it would be great for L to have us both around for the transition into brotherhood. However, we knew that if wanted to have a summer baby we either needed to get pregnant this month (September) OR wait for a year. We didn’t want to wait for a year AND it took a year to get pregnant with L, so we thought, let’s start (kinda) trying.

It was our first month trying and BOOM: prego.

BUT like all good stories, there is sooo much more to tell about this one.

My 30th birthday was coming up, Eric planned a surprise trip to Austin so I could see all of our friends and celebrate. I was sooo excited!

We packed up, prepared everything for our little guy to come along and headed off. It was wonderful, but I was cranky! Like, the whole trip. At one point, we were driving and Eric says, “I’m regretting this whole trip.  You’re miserable.”

I was super hurt and also frustrated with my own feelings, and I said to him, “Listen dude, I’m either pregnant or getting my period so you need to chill out!” He shook it off, but I knew…

Little did he know, I’d taken a test 6 days earlier because I was feeling a little weird. It was negative, but there was still nothing and I felt crazy.

When we got home, I told him we needed to go buy a test. He didn’t want to “waste” our money, but I was persistent. Then when we got home, I was ready to take it. Again, he said, “Don’t waste it babe.”

I needed to know though! I didn’t really think I was… I mean, I wondered, but it had taken so long for L, I doubted. I thought I’ll take it before my shower and see when I get out.

I saw the positive test and ran out to tell him. Of course he was taking out the trash. When he got back in and I told him, he said,”You’ve got to be kidding me!”

It was crazy. We were truly shocked.

It made me feel A LOT better about my crazy mood swings.

I also love that we found out about this baby on Oct. 16 because we found out about L on Dec. 16. I’m weird and like patterns like that.

Already, this has been a completely different pregnancy. I have food aversions and cravings. I feel soooo hungry ALL THE TIME. (I am still nursing, so I’m pretty sure that’s the cause, but I also wonder about twins…) We’ll just have to see I guess.

Written: 1/2/18

Oh man, this pregnancy has been a doozy.

From weird cravings and morning sickness to extreme hunger and exhaustion, my first trimester was soooo different from Lochlan’s pregnancy. Not to mention, still breastfeeding and taking care of my active toddler left me feeling pretty overwhelmed.

Can I do this?

Now, that I’m in the second trimester, I feel soooooo much better, but now I just feel guilty a lot.

I feel bad that I’m not as connected to this new baby yet. I also feel bad that I haven’t eaten as healthy for this kiddo. Then, I look at Lochlan and I feel bad that I’m more tired and that my milk is drying up. I want to be able to give him everything he needs and it’s hard when he gets upset because he doesn’t understand everything yet.

I’m also sad that his life as an only child is coming to an end, even though I’m really excited for him to have a sibling. It’s just a weird feeling sometimes.

____________________________________________________

So today, I’m 23.5 weeks pregnant. I feel like I’m finally hitting a really good stride.

This pregnancy has been interesting, but I think my stage in life has made this pregnancy feel  more complicated. Between nursing, taking care of a toddler, having some family stuff going on and being an emotional eater, I just haven’t been as healthy or in the right emotional space. I’ve felt guilty a lot, as well as tired, cranky and just plain emotional.

However, all of that has really started to turn around. I feel like night weaning Lochlan was a saving grace for my sanity, as well as joining a moms group at church that a really great friend invited me to. It’s so easy to forget how important friendship, connection and communication is, especially when life feels overwhelming. This group of women are inspiring, graceful, and so open to being vulnerable and real. I am incredibly thankful to be a part of it!

I’ve also started doing prenatal yoga, working out and taking more time for myself. All of these things have just added up to make me feel much more focused, excited and more motivated to be as healthy as I can be for this baby.

So, in the last month, I gained like 9 lbs. Which is totally crazy and I hate it. I’ve only gained 20 lbs total, but I’m only a little over halfway there, so I need that to slow down. I had an 8 lb month bump with Lochlan during the 2nd trimester too, so I know it happens. BUT, I also know I have been struggling with emotional eating (also girl scout cookies just arrived!).

However, being in a better emotional state is really allowing me the energy to take better care of myself. I am now starting every morning with a berry, kale, greek yogurt and protein powder smoothie. It feels good to fuel my body with the right stuff and get my nutrition started off right immediately. I’m also going to the gym 5 days a week which helps me feel strong and empowered. I’m literally the only prego at the gym and it’s kinda funny sometimes when people do a double take after seeing my tummy poking out. Yep, I’m prego. Or I have a weird fat deposit. lol

I also decided to cut sugar and not go out to eat for Lent. I know we’re only a few days in, but I already feel my sugar cravings dissipating. I really do want to be as healthy as possible for little K2. The not going out to eat part isn’t super hard, but I do love to have someone else make my food once in a while…

The newest thing I guess is that this little baby of ours is starting to move so much more now. Feeling Lochlan move in my belly was my FAVORITE part of being pregnant and I’m not going to lie, feeling K2 moving around is definitely giving me ALL THE FEELS. I am getting more and more excited to meet this little person. I am also feeling more connected and that feels like such a blessing and a huge relief. (I will like you after all!) Hahaha.

What else to share?

Well, we are planning another homebirth. We love our midwife and are really pumped to bring another baby into this world in our home surrounded by the love of family. We also chose to hire a doula this time. She’s really awesome and we can tell she is going to be such a huge help during labor especially since my mom is going to be taking care of Lochlan this time around.

Otherwise, my pregnancy is going well. I have no clue what this baby is…. boy or girl. With Lochlan, I knew pretty much the whole time that he was a boy. I just felt it. I had a few moments where I wondered if it could be a girl and I was wrong, but I always went back to boy pretty quick. With this baby, I just still don’t know.

There for a while, I just kept thinking about boy names. I didn’t feel confident in the other names we discussed during our first pregnancy. So I was hunting and hunting for a boy name I loved. Eric actually came home from a walk a few weeks ago with a pretty solid boy name that I really love. So that makes me feel better, but I still am not sure this baby is a boy.

If you go by the old wives’ tales, we are definitely more on the girl side, but again, I just can’t say for sure. So, that’s kind of cool, but I also kind of want to know… but I don’t.

This birth might be more exciting just for that very reason – WHAT ARE YOU KID?

Anyway, thanks for reading and if you have any thoughts or questions for me about this pregnancy or an idea about what I should blog about next, let me know! 🙂

 

The Mom Hiatus

It’s hard to write sometimes. I feel like I have a million jumbled thoughts and things I want to talk about, but when I sit down to write, it’s not up to my “pre-mom” standard. It doesn’t flow or make as much sense and I don’t want to spend more time trying to make it better because I’m tired, the clock is ticking and it’s just really not that important to me right now. So I don’t post it and then I just don’t even want to write.

I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m going to spew my jumbled mom thoughts because I like it and I’m going to accept that my standard is a little lower. Blogging has always been about having a voice and using my blog as a place to write my thoughts, reflect on life and feel good about it. Just because I’m in a different stage doesn’t mean I can’t still benefit from that…

So excuse the lack of cohesive transitions, proper grammar and a tidy ending.

The other day I was reading this blog post, Walk Slowly, Mama.

It was beautiful and based off an Old Indian proverb: Children tie the feet of their mother. It really resonated with me because I completely agree and I want to enjoy this tied stage. A stage I’m calling, “The mom hiatus.”

As soon as I became pregnant, I began reading about parenting, babies, and what to know about my life for the next 5 or so years. I read child development books and I dived deep to try to figure out what my parenting ideas were.

Immediately, I felt so protective of this little life. I wanted to do everything in my power to do the best for my kiddo and to soak it all up.

One of things I heard most from moms was that I needed to enjoy every moment. It all goes by so fast, they said. Enjoy even the hard times, because you will miss the cuddles and the nights only you can rock a sleeping baby.

I thought, I’m going to do it. I don’t want to miss these glorious, intense baby years. When I went to my first La Leche League meeting they talked about adjusting expectations and being realistic. They were honest about what having a newborn would look like. They encouraged doing nothing but lying around, nursing a baby and healing. My midwife seconded that advice and assured me I would heal much faster that way.

So I did it. I didn’t leave my house for two weeks. I nursed Lochlan as much as he wanted. I actually did sleep when he slept and I did heal fast. I was almost completely done bleeding by 10 days postpartum. Sure, I felt a little stir crazy, but it was magical y’all. Pure serenity and love.

I learned through research and through trusting myself that I’m an attachment parenting style mom. I don’t use that label to be annoying, but because it is truly what I am. I didn’t want to leave my son for more than 2 or 3 hours. I liked staring at him all day, holding him for his naps and cuddling his precious body.

I learned that me time, while important, is not as important to ME in the beginning. I like the sacrifice of time and attention for my little person. It may not be the same with my next kiddo, because I’ve already got a kiddo who needs me too. BUT, for my first, it was absolutely what I wanted to do and at home with him was where I wanted to be.

Sometimes it was frustrating because other women would say, “You need to take care of yourself. You need to get out. The baby will be fine…”

They are right. I do need to take care of myself, get out, my baby will be fine… BUT I need to do those things on my terms and when I’m ready.

When my kiddo was around 9 or 10 months, I was ready to venture out more and I felt confident in being out. It also helped to have my mom around to watch Lochlan. He felt comfortable with her and that made it so much easier to get out on dates with my husband.

Even now, I love to get out and get away, and then I LOVE coming home to my boy. Staying home with him is hard sometimes, but it’s also such an amazing gift for him, our family and me. I seriously love it!

I also want to recognize that it can be easy to lose yourself in motherhood. I don’t want to do that too much either. I want to make sure that when I emerge, I still know who I am and that I have passions, interests and other things that remind me I’m not just “mom.” I definitely see the importance of that. It’s a balancing act, like all things, and I think it’s OK for me to be a little unbalanced for certain stages.

But back to this proverb: Children tie the feet of their mothers. They sure do!

I love the tying and I want to be intentional and purposeful about drinking in these baby and toddler years because that is what I want to do. My life, as just me, is on hold (in some ways) for now. My kids need me and I need to be here and present for them.

I don’t think all moms need to have this feeling or take this approach. But it’s important to remember that every mom has her own story to write, her own way of parenting to uncover and her own life to live in the way she feels best.

Now that Lochlan is 17 months old, I look back on his babyhood and I have very few regrets about the time I spent loving him. (I wish daycare wasn’t a part of that first year, but that’s ok.) He is fine, I’m fine. But seriously, I don’t look back wistfully. I cuddled, rocked, kissed, fed and played with him so much. I soaked up that baby. I look back on his first year as a rough, beautiful, intense, perfect time. I don’t often want to turn back the clock because I had my fill. I love watching him grow and seeing each new phase develop (even though not all phases are as easy or fun!).

I’m interested to see what K2’s little life will bring to our family. What will the cuddle-in, baby stage look like with an older toddler? Will I need more me time? Will I be ready to get away? Or will it be the same sort of soaking where I don’t want to leave the house or my baby for a while?’

Only time and life will tell. But hear this y’all, I am walking slowly because my feet are tied. I may not be the best friend, wife, daughter or me right now… but I will come back and the cloth of motherhood will have made me better, kinder and fuller than before. I’ll be back ready for lively conversation and connection and I’ll be ready to fill my cup up and share. So, be patient and try to understand (oh and come visit me and my baby!)… that is what I want.

I know these years with my kiddos are such a short, sweet stage. (I’ve come to realize that my feelings about this stage and my desire to soak in it are more intense than most, and I’m OK with that.) Also, please don’t feel like I’m judging you if you don’t feel the same way as me… let me say again: Every mom has a story to tell and a way to live. I support and honor that in you!

Love,

B

 

Family Estrangement

Today, I read a NYT article about family estrangement titled, “Debunking Myths About Estrangement.”

This was particularly interesting because that’s a subject that hits close to home.

I’m a family person. I believe in giving your all and having as many conversations as necessary to work things out. I just really believe in hearing people’s feelings, compromising and trying my best to be kind and respectful because ultimately love and understanding can solve so many differences or at least help move past those differences.

However, it can’t be one-sided. Both parties have to want to work on a relationship, compromise and come around. As much as I believe in working hard and never giving up, sometimes you have to call it when you’ve done all you can. Especially when someone continues to show you, over and over, that you’re not important and you’re not worth fighting for.

It’s a hard pill for a family person like me to swallow. It doesn’t help that I’ve had two pretty intense conversations about this stuff in the last 2 months with two different people. At the end of both conversations, it was clear to me that I can’t force it, I can’t make it happen all by myself and that sometimes you have to walk away to protect yourself.

As much as I’ve come to realize that, it is still a very raw and painful decision for me.

Reading this NYT article today was a good reminder that I’m not alone. Relationships are hard and estrangement happens. If you would have told me this would be the case for me 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, I would have vehemently disagreed. NO WAY! You can always work it out! ALWAYS!

Estrangement doesn’t just happen though… it starts with small breakdowns in communication, missed opportunities, and gradual distance. It takes years and often there is no one reason it happens. It’s so many things that add up.

All relationships require effort and shared experience. I want to put in that work with people who are also willing to work. I don’t want a superficial relationship that we maintain because we should – that’s almost more painful to me: continually seeing what it has now become.

I don’t think I’m ever going to feel completely at peace with the decision, but I am at peace with the effort I put in. I cannot allow more pain for myself and especially my family. Eric has picked me up after several disappointments and it’s been devastating and hard for everyone. I don’t have time for that anymore and I don’t want to desensitize further for my kids.

I also can’t allow certain people to be around my family who can’t wholeheartedly accept and love the things that make us who we are and support the decisions we make for our family. There is absolutely no room for that hatefulness here.

So, that’s it. I’m one of those people that is estranged from a person in their family. I know I’m not alone and it doesn’t make me a failure, but I still don’t feel comfortable with it.

More than anything, our world needs more love and understanding. We are all humans, doing the best we can and I wish we could all choose to be more kind. I will never stop striving for and fighting for that! I’ll also always keep hoping for a happier ending and for the miraculous repair of once great relationships.

Validation, polarization, & parenting

I’m coming off a heated discussion last night where it was made clear to me, for the first time, that my parenting choices are offensive, wrong and misunderstood by this person. (Maybe I’ll write about that later, I’m not sure yet.)

Anyway, it was super upsetting to me. Like, wow, you completely don’t understand me and if you’d asked any number of questions, maybe you would. BUT you didn’t.

I’m getting really tired of hearing about my fucking choices.

It’s like, this conversation wasn’t even about that. I didn’t bring it up, but when that person got mad, that’s what she brought up and used to belittle me and pass judgment.

Parenting is FREAKING hard. Everything is sooo polarized. I’m right. You’re right. He’s wrong. It’s all shit. I mean I’m sure there’s some stuff we can all agree is wrong, but there are seriously so many ways to parent. Every kid, parent, family and situation is different.

I feel like I’ve really understood how intense this all is over the past 2 years from being pregnant to having my kid. There are sooo many things to think about, decide on and then change your mind as you go along.

I’ve tried to read a ton of books because that helps me understand information and think critically about stuff. I know not every parent does that and I don’t really care.

I just am tired of it being polarizing. AND YOU KNOW WHAT? I’ve been a part of the problem. I’ve posted polarizing stuff not even thinking or realizing how some else might view that. I think we’ve all done that by accident – and we all need a little grace with that – BUT I want to do better and I’d like to be a part of the solution.

So I was thinking – why did I post stuff like that? Well, it’s important to me, it resonates with me and I want validation. I want to feel like someone else out there gets my parenting choice. It’s hard to make these choices – I want the best for my kid. So I debate and question and read and think some more until I finally have to choose. Some things are super easy and just feel right. Other stuff, is harder. I want to feel understood and it’s nice to find people who’ve made similar choices.

BUT – I also would love to get to a place where I don’t need that validation; where I feel pretty darn confident about my decisions. I’m clearly not there yet and maybe I’ll get there or maybe this is life and taking care of another life is so important to me that I may always question certain decisions.

I think part of the reason I feel defensive sometimes is because I’ve felt like a lot of my choices and decisions have been under attack since I became pregnant the first time. That’s been a huge blow and really hurtful to me.

From multiple people questioning our home birth, to breastfeeding, cosleeping, to quitting my job, moving in with my mom, breastfeeding while pregnant… I’m telling you, leave me ALONE.

I don’t mind talking about stuff, but GEEZ LOUISE! I just want to make choices and not have to defend them all the time. AND just because I question them and wonder, doesn’t mean I need you to convince why I’m wrong or right. If I ask your opinion, then by all means, please share. But if I don’t, then you should think about what sharing your opinion may do. I get being concerned and if you really are, I think there’s a good way to go about that. Find a way that shows me you really care, you want to share this information and you trust me to make the best decision. I would really appreciate that!

Sometimes, it’s like, I don’t want to talk about anything. Please, don’t talk to me about parenting or pregnancy or anything. It makes me want to delete social media, only talk about movies and pop culture – is that even safe?

I’m actually not joking.

You might be thinking – well, why do you bring it up?

Sometimes, in the past, I was the one to bring up my choices. And believe me, novice parent, I’ve learned that lesson. I actually try to stay as far away from conversations involving any of those things because I’ve realized it can be bad.

However, now, it’s usually people asking things. I don’t want to lie or sound rude by saying, “I’d rather not discuss that.” But what options do I have?

How do I politely say that’s off-limits? And if I say that, someone might think I have something hide or that I’m unsure.

I also think, I just wish people would assume the best: assume that I’ve done some research, I’ve thought about it, talked with my husband about it and looked at other options. I can also understand when one of my choices is in disagreement with a strongly held belief of someone else. That’s life – it happens and I can respectfully understand and probably even listen, but I can’t if I’m feeling judged or attacked. That’s hard for me.

I have really made a vow to assume the best about other people as well. I am going to assume that they’ve thought about x, y and z and I’m going to move on because it’s not my kid or my life. (Also, this can be hard for me because I just love all the babies and I still do believe there are some weird American culture things that are not best for babies. I just can’t let that go… BUT I can make sure I don’t let it affect how I treat people because I know it’s not my job to educate or change anyone.)

One of my best friends has two kiddos and we do things differently with our lives and our kids. We also do a lot of things alike. I LOVE talking to her because she listens, shares insight and asks follow up questions, but she’s always kind. We never have to debate or argue, our conversations about parenting are natural and I love that even though some of our choices are really different – it’s not an issue.

I wish I had more relationships like that… and I feel like I’m developing them.

I’ve been thinking about parenting and polarization for a while now and I’ve really made a concerted effort to not bring things up and to just take off my parenting hat and be a person. When I do that, people usually respond and when topics come up that are controversial, I just deflect or stay quiet. It’s working.

That’s not to say people can’t share things they learn or things they are passionate about. I don’t want that. I just think there’s a way to do it.

I don’t need anyone to be on my “parenting” team. My husband is and that’s awesome. I just want to live my life, have friends and family who love and care about me and don’t judge me.

We all judge – I get it, but I’m not going say anything to you or force my ideas and I certainly don’t want that stuff done to me.

Parenting is hard and I really do believe every parent (that I know) is trying their hardest and making the decisions they feel is best for their families.

That’s awesome!

The best gifts don’t cost any money…

Oh friends. I love Christmas. Celebrating the season with friends and family, singing Christmas carols and remembering the REASON for the season: the birth of Jesus.

It’s magical and warm. I love finding the perfect gifts for the ones I love and sharing in the joy of food, conversation and simple family time.

Every year, though, I start to realize that my love for the season has really shifted. As a kid, it was all about the gifts I was going to get. It was visiting Santa, making my list and soaking up all the Christmas goodness.

Now, it’s about the family time. I don’t want for much, but I do want for time and conversation with the people I love most.

I think it’s also that becoming a parent, quitting my job and taking on a simpler, but very full life has just forced me to tune in to what is really important in life.

But, that leaves me feeling a little weird about Christmas this year…

I have ALWAYS loved finding the best, most thoughtful gifts for the ones I love. I didn’t mind spending the money because I either had it, or was willing to sacrifice a little to give the gifts I wanted to give.

This year, I don’t have it. We’ve really made some decisions to take care of our family and that means less money coming in. We do fine. We have more than enough money, but we are trying to set up a future that feels better: paying off student loans and saving money for our next home and a new car. We also have another little one on the way, and we plan to pay for a home birth again. Let’s also acknowledge the cost of feeding and clothing a growing boy. Hahaha…

We have less to give monetarily and through gifts. That feels hard because I don’t want to receive gifts and not be able to share with those I love in return.

However, I know what lots of people say. If you are giving a gift, you shouldn’t be expecting one in return. Yes, yes… agreed. I definitely feel that way. However, I don’t want people to think I don’t care.

This is the stage of life that we are in and it’s incredibly fulfilling. It just leaves me feeling weird about what I can’t give.

Eric and I have been trying to think up ways we can make gifts and we’ve come up with some great ideas. Then, we think about the time investment required and we just don’t know that it’s as doable as we’d like.

You know what we do have to give though? We are happy to share time and food and great conversation. Since becoming parents, we are sooo appreciative of adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around babies. I mean, I love our sweet chub, but it’s really nice to have adult time. It makes me feel human.

So, this year, please don’t buy for us. Send us a thoughtful card, plan a hang out or set up a time to chat on the phone. That would be the BEST gift for us!

We love y’all and we look forward to the day when we can buy super thoughtful gifts again!

Birthday blues

I turn 30 in a little less than 2 weeks and I have the birthday blues.

Not because I’m not excited to turn 30 – I actually am SOOOO excited – instead it’s because I won’t be celebrating it the way I imagined.

When I turned 29, it was quiet. I was home with my month old baby and husband. I was content. My birthday felt so small and being with my little family was perfection. I didn’t want to go anywhere or really do anything.

I should say that I LOVE birthdays. I love a day where I get to feel special, appreciated and celebrated. My birthdays have always involved lots of family, friends and good times. I’ve had very few bad birthdays and my parents always did such a great job of making me feel loved. So, I truly look forward to every.single.birthday.

I told Eric right after my 29th that I really wanted a big 30th celebration – so he better start planning. I was so looking forward to having an older baby and being able to celebrate with friends and kind of close out my 20s and get ready for my 30s. I’ve been looking forward to this birthday ever since.

Then we moved.

We moved away from the place I spent the majority of my 20s. I miss our home, our friends and in some ways I miss that little life. Soooo many things happened in Austin in those 5 years and I changed so much in my late twenties. I want to spend my birthday celebrating with the people who understand me in this moment and time; the people who’ve been there for the big and small moments, who’ve watched as I faced obstacles and tackled challenges. Quite simply: the people who know me best right now.

About a month ago, Eric and I were on a date and we got to dreaming. We crafted a little plan to get down to Austin for a long weekend and do my birthday up the way I imagined it – with all the friends I love.

After our date, we were so excited about the possibility that we attempted to make it a reality almost immediately.

Long story short – it didn’t work out. There are lots of details to the why it didn’t happen and I am left feeling disappointed and sad, and a little unimportant too.

I know that life doesn’t always work out in your favor – and hell – this is just a birthday after all, BUT it’s my 30th and it means something to me.

Now that we’re living in Kansas, I have lots of family around and I’m making friends and that’s all such a beautiful thing. I have been reminding myself just how lucky am I and thinking about all the things I have to be grateful for.

BUT – I’m still sad about my birthday. Typing that feels so trivial – there are people suffering and going through real shit – move on kid!

I know, I know…

I think I’m coming to realize that this birthday just holds a lot for me symbolically. It is the big 3-0. I feel like more than ever I know who I am, who I want to be and I’m excited to keep moving and growing to become that person. We did just make a big life change by moving and it was hard. It was closing the door to a really important chapter of our lives and I want to celebrate that chapter with those people.When our plans fell through – that kind of made me think about the last 5 years and come to terms with a few things: sadness about Austin and that community as well as hope for my growing community here and the future. I guess, it’s just a big birthday to me because so much has happened.

I will obviously get over these birthday blues. I’m even thinking of having a small celebration here – I haven’t decided yet.

Here’s what I know: When I turn 30, I’m going to hug my kiddo tight, have a lovely dinner with my husband and get ready to soak up all the ways I will grow and change in this next decade.

My life is full, imperfect and I couldn’t be happier to be living it everyday.

Thanks,

BK

The real story behind our move

I often stop, look around and realize that just a year ago, I became a mom to the most precious gift. Today, our life looks VERY different and that very different has been such a positive thing for our family. It wasn’t easy and there have been lots of questions from friends and family members about our decision. Not everyone agrees and that’s OK, BUT I did want to tell more about our story and the path that led us to such a HUGE, pivotal decision for our family.

Here goes…

My husband and I are partners in a beautiful marriage and I think of him as the head of our household. Not to say he rules, but I like that he’s our leader and protector and I seek his opinion in almost everything I do because he’s my partner, my best friend and the one person in this world who knows all of me. AND guess what? He does the same with me. It’s the best!

We are so very different, but our ideas, hopes and dreams about life are intensely aligned. We talk about everything! We imagine our life and we discuss the future, the now and what we plan to build for us and our family. Those discussions are full of joy and debate, tough questions and laughter. We spend a lot of time trying to be purposeful and realistic, while also keeping the whimsy of this fragile and unpredictable life we all lead. When we had our son, our lives were thrown into chaos and we needed to be present and really see how we felt after becoming parents.

We had no idea when I became pregnant that bringing our baby boy into this world would shift our thinking and force us to be realistic NOW about what we wanted for him.

We imagined living in Austin among friends and the community we had created, in our first home. We knew we would have long visits to grandparents over summer and Christmas, but our life would remain in Austin for the foreseeable future.

Then, it changed.

We missed dates, we missed friends we saw less, we hated the traffic that kept us from connecting with those friends, we had to be there for our son and support the schedule he needed, and we needed to be real about our values.

We watched our son struggle in daycare. He wasn’t held enough, he didn’t nap, he was sick all the time, and we saw the sometimes 7! different daycare workers he dealt with in one day. They were nice, they were doing their best, but their best wasn’t good enough for our kiddo. We cried over it. We needed our son to be in my arms, at my breast and at home in our safe place. We sacrificed, we made hard choices and it all seemed so easy because it felt so very, very right.

It may have felt like an overnight shift to many, but to us, it was a change that happened slowly. An intense burn that multiplied over many minutes, hours and days while we deliberated and considered our sweet son.

When we visited family, we felt the stark contrast between time spent here and time spent at home in Austin where we very often felt isolated and lonely, as all new parents do from time to time. But, that feeling became painful as we watched our family members love on him. Grandma drove down multiple times just to cuddle him and love him. At Christmas he lit up having his clan surround him. With family around, our world felt whole and complete: the missing piece of a puzzle we didn’t realize we needed.

We debated some more, we considered our long-term future and we discussed what a move and this choice would mean for EVERY member of our family: Dad, Mom, Baby.

There would be drawbacks for Dad and Mom, but baby would benefit so much and the drawbacks for us were manageable, and possibly could even be remedied over time.

So we jumped. We made a decision and we haven’t looked back. We made this decision, like we do all decisions, as team with full acceptance, happiness and nervousness. I’m sure some may not or can’t understand it, and again, that’s OK. We have felt and seen so many wonderful and positive experiences already, including but not limited to:

  • More dates together which means conversation, alone time and reconnection.
  • Our son is building deep relationships with other people who love him: grandma and grandpa, papa Jason, and all my aunts and uncles and cousins. The more people around, the happier our little guy is! He was being such a HAM at his first birthday because he was surrounded by so much love!
  • Eric is having a wonderful school year! Co-workers, students and parents are showing him tons of appreciation for his work. I am so proud of him and glad that he’s hearing what has always been true: he’s an excellent teacher who offers so much to a learning community. I can’t wait to see what else this school year brings!
  • We are feeling the effects of living in a community: Eric’s students see him on his runs and wave as we take walks in our neighborhood, we’ve made friends and can walk down the street to hang out, we attend the Friday night football games and we had such a great time attending the local community festival and rodeo this fall! There’s still so many more ways we can begin to connect in this community and that is an exciting prospect

ALL OF THIS, my friends, has been so rewarding and proof-positive, that this “crazy” decision was the right kind of crazy for us. We can literally feel the difference in mindset and daily life. We are happier, healthier and our son is blossoming. Life is far from perfect, there are still ways to improve and continue to be more purposeful, but this HUGE change has already given us some HUGE payoffs.

I don’t write all this to say everyone should do what we did. On the contrary, I think everyone should look at their life, consider what they may need and do what they believe is best for their family. Then, I think we should all cheer them on for living THEIR life the best way they can.

The life we have chosen and are building looks very different from most people in a variety of ways: living with family, owning one car, eating the way we do, etc. It can seem limiting and hard to some and possibly unhealthy or weird to others, but it’s actually so freeing to us! We feel free from debt, excessive possessions and our bodies feel cleaner. It also feels good to be living with family and feeling the daily love and community. Next up on the blog: The benefits and consequences of multi-generational living. My mom insisted I share about this soon! (Living with family is probably the thing we get asked about/judged the most!)

Thanks,

BK