What women do everyday all over this country (and the world) amazes me. Our strength, our sacrifice, our tolerance, our ability to have a cold and not act like we have the plague. If we choose, we can grow life and we can nourish that life from our bodies. We do so much that often isn’t seen or noticed or recognized. We aren’t paid as much and we have to work much harder for our successes. We have to worry about how we dress, if we walk alone at night, how our actions will be perceived. Our appearance is deemed worthy of commentary. We are shamed and judged for our choices. Sometimes by other women. So today, and every day following, let’s be united. Let’s recognize each other, support each other, lift each other up. If we don’t, how can we expect our male counterparts to do it? How can we teach our sons as well as our daughters? We are strong. But we are stronger together. Here’s to the strong women: may we know them, love them, raise them, and be them. I think if you look inside yourself you’ll see there is a strong woman in each and every one of us. Imagine what we could do if we all work together.
Art designed by Erica Canup, via jointheuproar.com
It probably sounds funny to say that moms deserve to enjoy things, but when you really stop to think about it, how much do we really get to truly ENJOY? Sure, we love our families, but with all that we do and are responsible for, are we truly able to enjoy them? Are we given the freedom (on occasion) from stress and sacrifice and responsibility to be in the moment, or are we so overburdened with an endless TO DO list or never-ending needs of our little ones that we can’t ever just stop and take a minute to enjoy that meal/vacation/nap/party/_________ for ourselves too? And who is at fault for that — our partners for not taking on more so we don’t have to, or ourselves for taking it all on or not knowing how to delegate, say no, or stand up for our own enjoyment? Or maybe no one is at fault, or maybe we all are?
I don’t know what it is about the start of a new year (or new day or new home, etc.) that always gets me excited. I love a clean slate and the opportunity to start fresh. I’m not so much a resolution person as I am a goal-setter. It helps me to focus and feel less overwhelmed when I can nail down (and make a list) of a few attainable goals for myself. Especially when things feel so out of control (in both the world right now and as the mom to three small boys) taking control of small areas of my life helps me feel less anxious. So I’m putting mine down here, so I can hold myself accountable to work towards them and also in case it helps you set your own goals for the year. Because 2016 was a “survival mode” year for me, and I am SO ready to be done with that.
When I reflect back on 2016 I have mixed feelings. Although I’ll always be grateful to this year for giving us our Quincy Q, it was a really tough one overall. It started off with a scary delivery and stay in the NICU, followed by months of colic and even more months of reflux, very little sleep, not nearly enough dates with my husband (I think we’ve had two), and a blur of motherhood living in survival mode. For basically the entire year. It took most of the year for me to get Quincy feeling better and then catch up on life and to get a handle on the whole “3 kids” thing. It has been the most physically exhausting and mentally draining year of my life. So I’m going to try to give myself some attention in 2017. I need to eat better, find some time to exercise, and get more sleep for starters. Also, I really really need to stop drinking Coke (my favorite thing) and drink water instead. If I somehow manage to accomplish those things I also want to give myself more grace — expect less of myself and put less pressure on myself to do it all. Those things will be what I work on first. But these are my goals for myself and my family to work on throughout the year.
My Goals for 2017
Getting family photos taken is something I used to look forward to, but as we’ve had more children it has become a miracle to get all five of us in one frame. Figuring out what we will all wear (especially me, especially with my still very postpartum body that doesn’t quite fit into most of my things), picking a spot that is nice for photos but not so interesting that our boys will want to play or explore rather than have their photo taken, and picking a time where everyone is in the mood to smile (or at least not meltdown) — it is no easy feat! I usually leave thinking “there is no way we got one usable holiday card photo.” But my friend Jennifer Roper always works her magic and is able to not only get great photos, but capture our family and each boy’s personality just as it is. She freezes that stage of our family in her beautiful photographs, and I know that (not our outfits or the smiles or the setting) is what I’ll cherish most in years to come.
I don’t know what it is that I love so much about Christmas trees. I think so much of it is tied to memories — memories of decorating our tree as a kid, memories of where and when we bought an ornament in our collection, sharing stories with our kids about them. Growing up in a small town in Ohio, we always went to a Christmas tree farm and selected the tree we wanted. They would put a tag on it with our name and then we would go back a few weeks later and chop it down, bring it home, and decorate it as a family. I loved that ritual of going with my dad to pick out our tree.
As an adult I always wanted to have a real tree, but since we had kids and because we live in a city (where tree hunting consists of picking one out in a parking lot) we decided to start using an artificial tree. As much as I have always been a tree purist, insisting that real is the only way, I now realize how much easier it is to have an artificial tree. Especially when you have really small children! No water, no needles everywhere, no fear of the tree drying out. After our old pre-lit artificial tree from the past 6 years died, we considered going back to real. I love the look of a real tree. But I’ve been spoiled by the convenience and lack of mess of artificial trees.