In My House

When It Feels Like We Can’t Celebrate

The last few months have been a dark place for most of us on at least some level. We have struggled with loss, we have watched loved ones experience discrimination, and we have coped with a new level of uncertainty. It has been hard.

So with all of this happening, does that mean we are no longer allowed to celebrate the good? That question has been on my mind as I have held off posting pieces I would normally post on A HOUSE WITH CHARACTER. I refrained from posting about my daughter’s third birthday. I started, then axed a post about a recent camping trip, and I decided not to even go there with a post about fun patio items.

My blog has always been primarily light-hearted. It’s a hobby for me and an escape from my busy job in health care administration, which, let’s face it, hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows over the past few months. Social media can be a cruel place. When it is all doom and gloom, we can start to feel guilty about posting simple pleasures.

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Call me crazy, but I love reading those posts about the simple pleasures in life. I like seeing people make S’mores with their family on a Friday evening. I want to know people are still whipping up a delicious cocktail to enjoy on the patio. I even want to know if you got a good deal on the perfect summer hat.

This doesn’t mean I don’t care about politics, divisiveness, and all the serious issues impacting our society. I care deeply about others. I want to make a difference in my community, and I want to be a good wife, mother, and friend.

The simple pleasures in life give us the fuel we need to do the hard stuff. So work hard, contribute to your world, and process the fear and uncertainty. Then turn all that off and celebrate a new scented candle, a flower garden in bloom, or a summer night under the stars.

 

In My House

What I Hope They Remember

While driving today, I listened to a psychologist on NPR talking about how although we as parents might be stressed right now with all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we would be surprised what our kids will remember from this time. She said the odds are actually quite high that their memories will be good ones. She said one of her teenage clients told her via a Zoom visit that he was enjoying his time at home because his parents had sat down and played board games with him.

Could it be that our kids actually like a little simplicity? For the past month, I have been so focused on the upheaval of our usual routines and the loss of the remainder of my oldest daughter’s kindergarten year that I have struggled to recognize the blessings that have come our way. Yes, I recognize the really big blessings like the health of my family and my continued employment, but I often struggle to recognize and appreciate the simple blessings of day-to-day life.

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(Photo by Alyssa Crawford Photography)

Vacations have been canceled. School is taking place at home. I miss a lot of things. I miss picking my daughters up from school and daycare. I miss taking my oldest to ballet class. I miss lunch dates with friends and making travel plans.

Still my young daughters seem to find excitement in the simple things. When they’re not arguing over which color of cup they want, children are exceptionally good at finding the positive in life. They are able to remind us to make time for joy, even in the face of uncertainty.

So when we look back on this time of social distancing, wearing masks, home-schooling, and oh-so-many Zoom meetings, I hope my daughters remember the good. I hope they remember our nature walks around the neighborhood, breathing fresh Black Hills air and collecting pine cones to make homemade bird-feeders. I hope they remember extra snuggles and movie nights with homemade popcorn and M&Ms.

I hope they remember the countless books we have read together when there’s nowhere to go and nothing much to do. I hope they remember riding bikes in the driveway in the afternoons. I hope they remember laughing at the little chipmunk that likes to hang out in the bushes outside the dining room window.

I hope they remember feeling safe and happy in our home. I hope they remember to keep appreciating the simple things, long after they’re grown. More than anything I hope they remember how much they are and always will be loved.

Adventures

Love, Support, and What’s Coming Next

Thank you all for the outpouring of love and support after I posted about losing my grandmothers. I am reminded that we are really never alone in our grief. Others have been there. They care. The challenge sometimes is letting them care for us, letting ourselves be loved when we need it most.

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I will be posting more on memories and my personal navigation of the coping process in the months (years?) to come. However, I’ll also be posting some more light-hearted pieces in the next few weeks. I have some book reviews coming your way as well as some shopping posts and of course some adventures in parenting.

Thank you for reading!

Adventures

I’m Not Ready for This

I’m not ready for this. I have that thought often as I navigate this thing called parenthood. It was front and center when I found out I had to be induced two weeks early with my first baby, and when I went back to work after my youngest was born.

I’m not ready for this. The thought crept in again a few days ago at my daughter’s kindergarten screening.

I’m not ready for this. My aunt texted it to me a week before my cousin graduated high school.

I’m not ready for this. A friend said it recently before her oldest moved away for a new job.

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Photo by Heritage Photography

As parents are we ever really ready as the next milestone comes our way? Can we love someone as much as we love them and ever feel like we have done enough? Did we have enough time to prepare them, teach them, and let them know how loved they are?

I’m not ready for this. I know that will be my state of mind when I drop my daughter off for kindergarten in a few short months. Like with all milestones, all I can do is hope and pray that everything I have done up until that point is the best I could have possibly done.

I’m not ready for this. When we doubt ourselves as parents, most of the time what we have done has been enough. We have prepared our children by loving them, and by sending them out into the world with a supportive home to return to, be it after the first day of kindergarten or on break after the first semester of college.

With every new step, when our internal voices are telling us I’m not ready for this, we might not be ready, but they are.

Adventures

Eat Your Vegetables and Stop Apologizing So Much

It was nearly 10 p.m. one night a couple of weeks ago when I realized I hadn’t eaten one serving of fruits or vegetables that day. I had grabbed fast food on the go to a work meeting. I then got home late after attending a meeting for a volunteer group, and stood in the kitchen ravenously devouring the rest of the macaroni and cheese my husband had made for our daughters.

I had trouble getting to sleep that night. I felt lousy. I felt rushed. I felt like I hadn’t done a good job at anything that day despite giving it my best shot. I felt like I owed everyone an apology.

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Photo by Tayhart Photography

Then around midnight, a voice of clarity crept into my restless brain. It said: What you need to do is eat more vegetables and stop apologizing so much. Wow, voice of clarity (we’ll call her Lucille), well-said.

Eating more vegetables is pretty straightforward, but what about the apologizing? I apologize a lot. Even if I don’t say the apology out-loud, I often have thoughts like: “Did I offend that person? Was that too harsh? Should I have done that differently?” Most of the women I know do the same. Why do we feel this need to apologize constantly?

I even see it in my four-year-old, who often apologizes for things that truly do not warrant an apology (dropping a toy, mispronouncing a word, writing a letter the wrong way), and I can’t help but wonder where she got that? From watching me? You won’t catch most guys apologizing incessantly for the minutia of the day.

When I look at my young daughters and all the other amazing women in my life, I am often overcome by just how much I want for them. Sometimes, though, the message is simple: Take care of yourself and stop apologizing for everything. There’s a time and a place for a sincere apology, but chances are, others are not criticizing your actions as harshly as you are. That’s Lucille talking again.

Adventures

I Know I Should Stop Comparing, but Her Curtain Rods Are So Much Nicer Than Mine

Purusing Instagram, Facebook, and lifestyle blogs can be a fun way to decompress, get decorating ideas, and find inspiration. It can also be a soul-sucking rabbit hole leading to excessive comparison and feelings of inadequacy. Case in point: A couple of nights ago, while perusing a couple of lifestyle blogs I like to follow, I found myself comparing my living room curtain rods to the beautiful ones in that woman’s post.

Yes, my curtains rods. That’s what it has come to, ladies and gentlemen. I was just about to launch an intense search for new curtain rods, tie-backs, and valances, thus ordering $100+ of stuff I really do not need, when sanity began to regain hold of me.

Psychiatrist, author, and public speaker Marcia Sirota wrote: “Choosing not to compare ourselves to others doesn’t mean that we should be complacent. It’s appropriate to be always learning, growing and changing, but we’ll be more motivated to change when we already feel good about ourselves.”

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Photo by Tayhart Photography

The truth is, my happiness is not driven by the same factors as those that drive the happiness of the woman with the perfect curtain rods. Sure, we probably have something in common. We want to be good mothers, and we enjoy connecting with others through blogging, but that could be where it ends. I have never met her. I don’t know her deepest secrets, just that her curtain rods are cool and she loves shiplap. We all live different lives, have different stressors, different sources of joy.

The curtain rod comparison didn’t fill me with despair or make me genuinely feel horrible about myself, but it did prompt me to ask myself some questions. Will spending $100 on new curtain rods fulfill me and bring me true joy? No.

Then what will? Spending a Saturday afternoon playing with my daughters. Reading a good book. Talking with my husband on the couch after the girls have fallen asleep. Beating my personal record for running two miles, which by the way, is not fast by any standard but mine.

Speaking of running, when I run on the treadmill at the gym after work, I’m not worried about how fast or slow the person on the treadmill next to me is. I’m just trying to jam out to some White Zombie and not fall off the track. That’s life.

I have been guilty of posting false perfection, too, and my goal moving forward will be to be more self-aware of that tendency most of us share. When I post something on the Intranet, I want to make sure I am doing so for the right reasons.

Sharing a piece of our lives, connecting with others, even offering nutrition, fashion, or decorating ideas are all worthy reasons of being active on social media. It’s OK to be proud of something once in a while, or to show off a cute new puppy, outfit ideas, or flowers from a loved one. When we are reading others’ blog posts and social media content, let’s take it with a grain of salt and just be happy for them. Let’s find joy where we can, help others feel good, and try not to fall off the track.