I dropped my kid off at daycare and I didn’t even have to work.

Thursday I did something I’ve never done before. I dropped Elle off at daycare on my day off.

I mean I had an appointment that morning and we don’t live around a single family member, so regardless, she was going to end up there for at least an hour or two, but I did something I’ve never done.

I left her there all day on my day off.

There was a small period of time where I struggled with my mom guilt about it. The entire time I was driving there, I felt bad that I wasn’t going to get to spend one of my three days a week off with her. I really do relish our time together.

I also know how exhausted I am coming off working 3 straight days of 10 hours plus commute time. How I get home at 6:45 on those night and we barely collectively have the energy to throw something together for dinner and make it to bed time and onto the next day. Dishes barely get done. Nothing else does, that’s for sure. That’s just the beginning of our week together and it can be pretty brutal.

By the time Thursday rolls around, I have had maybe four seconds to myself and when I look around, the house is messy and unruly (even on a good day it seems to fit that description) and then I will typically struggle through trying to pay attention to my two year old in between trying to do dishes, do laundry, mop and sweep and maybe clean a toilet.

You know what normally happens? I toss a movie on and do that.

Now, that’s obviously not the worst thing ever, but I feel myself rushing around the entire time. We pay for 5 days of daycare, so I also asked myself where the harm in dropping her off there while I try to power through some of these activities at a less stressful rate really lies.

The harm lies in my head of course. I made it up. It’s my mom guilt kicking in and it sucks. But I really got thinking about it and honestly, this is the best thing – for her and for me.

I could spend my day paying some attention to her, but not all attention of course because we’re not really spending quality time together when I am trying to get our house situated and ready for another week. I could save those activities for the weekend, but we almost never get them completely done and if we do, it is my husband watching Elle or me watching Elle while the other person cleans something up – that’s not really quality family time. OR, I could just take her to daycare, knock that stuff out and pick her up at 3 or 4 after she’s refreshed from a nap and I am refreshed from no longer having a messy house.

Quality time is so much more important than quantity of time spent together. I have always, always told myself that but sometimes I don’t think I believe it. Once upon a time I did everything when she slept. I refused to clean anything or do anything but hang out with her and do kid related things or go places unless she was asleep. Fast forward a little bit and she of course sleeps less and my workload has not diminished. In fact, we added on more schooling, at one point had a home business plus school plus a kid plus a house plus full-time jobs and we’re just now getting into the swing of things sans extra job. It’s stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. A kid needs a clean-ish house, not an immaculate castle. We need clean clothes. Some things are obviously not avoidable and until I can get my husband to let me outsource, we’re doing it together and on our own.

So here I am now, planning to do the same thing next Thursday. Not because I want to be kid free. Not because I don’t miss her. Not because the feeling will wear off, I don’t anticipate that it will. But because a sane mommy is a much better mommy and I don’t want to spend our day off together with her chasing me around begging me to hold her while I am trying to juggle that and everything else. I want to take her to a place that makes her happy, that will further enrich her and will give her a chance to play with other kids (something she doesn’t get at home since she’s an only child currently) and I want my few hours to just knock everything out so I can pick her up and spend time with her – in the greatest sense of what that means.

Knowing that is more refreshing than even seeing vacuum lines on the carpet (and if you know me, you know I loveeee vacuum lines).

Why Ya Gotta Be So Mean?

Let me first preface this by saying I am going to sound like a wet blanket.

Let’s talk T-Swift. I grew up with her. We’re basically the same age. I loved her before anyone even knew who she was and I have religiously gone to all her concerts, some more than once. I’ve bought every album. I know the words to every song. I am a very, very loyal fan.

Her new single though, it kinda makes me sad.

From a marketing standpoint, it’s genius. I’ll give credit where credit is due. She sings that the “old Taylor is dead” and that’s represented in the removal of all her social media and going dark. Genius. It’s a rebirth in so many different forms and what I feel this album is probably going to be for her – a complete change.

Taylor has always been honest in her lyrics and she draws so much of her work from her personal life, as many artists do. She’s always seemed to take the high road in her lyrics though – calling people out and being semi-direct, but never vengeful. She’s also had her fair share of shade thrown her way as a result. She not only seems to  be embracing that shade, but she’s seeming to indicate that she is everything they say she is.

Some people might construe this as “using her power” and applaud her for it. I don’t quite look at it the same way. She is powerful. This rebirth is powerful. Has her power ever even been a question?

She’s leaning into it, I get it. It’s definitely a strategy, but it’s not one that we’ve ever seen her use in the past and I am not sure that it shows growth.

Her newest single is vengeful. It is full of bitterness and I have no doubt that’s how she feels. Why does it make me kind of sad? Well, as someone who has grown up with her, it’s a definite change and it makes it seem like the bitterness is stealing her sweetness. Where before she used to question why people were mean, she seems to be embracing the queen of mean stereotype that people  have been throwing at her. Does this make them right? In my mind, people live for reactions and she’s giving them one. She’s claiming they’ve changed her as a result of their actions, and while I am sure they have, the way she’s portraying that they’ve changed her is not one of growth, but rather makes her look like kind of bitter and petty. THAT is what makes me sad – I saw her as someone who would rise above that stuff and right now she’s not doing much in the way of rising.

She’s entitled to her feelings. I do think this is another stage of her life and is definitely a shift in her personality. I wouldn’t expect someone to sit back and take all the lashings from her haters, but I will admit I expected her to respond differently and was surprised when she didn’t.

My curiosity is piqued for the rest of the album. If it reads much like this one song, I am not sure it’s going to be a favorite of mine. I am still an avid Swift lover, but I am proceeding with caution on this one. I support an evolution in music and in person, but I thought she stood for something different than what she’s making herself out to be at present. For now, it’s not love for me.

New Beginnings

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I got a new team at work this week and whenever that happens, it’s like the first day of school all over again. Associates are concerned about the transition. I am concerned about the transition, the foot I am getting off on, the impression I am making, the expectations I am setting. Yet at the same time, it’s very freeing.

We also got rid of quite a bit of stuff over the weekend during a garage sale and a donation drive by after said garage sale. So many things we were just hanging onto for the sake of hanging onto – we’d probably never use them again and I’m not sure they’re worth keeping to figure that out. That was also freeing.

I spent a whooping 45 minutes in the gym for the first time in many, many months. I ran two miles and biked some and shockingly, it felt good to get out there and get moving. I forgot how much I enjoy running, even just on the treadmill. The trick is keeping it going, but I feel as though I am at a strange point in my life where I actually WANT to keep it going. Not for the sake of a chore to be fit, but just because it represents a few moments to myself where I feel really mentally clear and like I can actually do it. That is freeing.

I didn’t realize how many of these things just happened to stagger upon each other, but it’s refreshing. I am coming off a weekend of being mostly by myself (Ryan and Elle were both out of town) and although I did almost nothing notable, I feel recharged and ready to take on the world – or at least a small portion of it. I binge watched some stuff. I cleaned some stuff. I got rid of some stuff. I let go of some stuff. All things I might be able to accomplish around people, but am better suited to handle alone.

So many new, yet not so new, things.

I often wonder how many new beginnings someone actually needs. Like how many times do you actually have to start over? You really shouldn’t, right? Yet we find so much solace in closing chapters of our books and moving onto something else. Beginnings happen all the time, all over, to everyone. Some things close because we want them to, others are forced closed and we’re left wondering why. Yet even when they’re things we don’t want to happen, there’s still something to be said for getting to start over.

With my work teams especially, I get an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I can take a minute, reflect on what I’ve done right or wrong with my last team and decide what I want to carry over. It’s not a completely fresh start. People gossip. They talk amongst each other about what type of boss you are, but at the very least, you get a chance to prove them right or wrong – depending on your preference. Things that were challenges before may not be again simply because you head them off, expecting them to come up. It’s always calm in the beginning because people are shy. Then you start seeing true colors and you can adapt accordingly. There’s just so much that goes into it.

At any rate, it’s refreshing. I feel refreshed. My people feel refreshed and I am going to try and make it a point to take good care of myself during this cycle in hopes that I can find things that I don’t have to start over ever again. But, if we’re being honest – going to the gym sounds terrible. 😉

Toddler tantrums and an entitled society

 

A celeb went viral a few months ago for a post he made about parenting. In it, you could see his 4 year old throwing a fit at the store and he was letting her work through it. Rather than forcing her to do anything, he was just letting her work through her feelings so they could move on.

There were cries of outrage and there were screams of joy that someone was parenting in this way.

The outrage came from people who feel as though letting your child throw a fit creates an entitled child. They feel that the kid needs to get up and do exactly what the parent wants and behave in public or they’re going to get in trouble. Many people cited spanking as a means to an end to get a kid to listen and commented that the people who were in favor of letting their kid behave in this way were attachment, crunchy parents – and they meant that as a derogatory term.

I disagree for many, many reasons and I am not a crunchy mom.

Think back to the last time you were super mad about something. If someone walked up to you, picked you up or tried to hug you and tell you to get over it, how would that feel? I bet you $10 you wouldn’t get over it. I bet you $20 you’d get madder and I bet you $30 you’d react or at least consider reacting and try to distance yourself from that person.

Why do you expect something different from the least rational human beings on the planet? Toddlers and younger kids have complex needs that they don’t even begin to understand. Toddlers especially cannot even tell you what they need in some cases. Can you imagine how difficult it must be living in a body that desperately needs something, but can’t explain exactly what they want? Can you imagine how hard it must be to get told no so frequently? These are the lives toddlers live.

And if you think I’m someone that thinks a kid should be allowed to roam and do as they please, you’re also inaccurate and you’ve misjudged me.

Kids do need to listen, but we need to have realistic expectations for their age group. I do not expect my 2 year old to know how to sit through a full 1-1.5 hour dinner. I can barely sit still that long. I do not get mad at her when she tries to get down. Do I make her try to sit? Yes. Do I sometimes get up and walk with her? Yes. She has limits. She is learning.

I do not think that if you child throws a fit you should give into said fit. THAT breeds entitlement. The notion that if I throw a fit and cry hard enough my mom will toss me that popsicle because she just wants me to shut up is definitely something I’d continue to employ as a means to an end if it was successful. Heck yes.

But that’s not what this dad was doing. This dad said no to something. Their kid got worked up about it. They let her work through those feelings. They didn’t give her what she wanted, they just let her throw her fit, get it out of her system and then moved on. I parent similarly.

If Elle wants something and it’s not appropriate – like candy, I tell her no. When she melts down and throws a fit, I ignore her to the best of my abilities. I tell her to let me know when she’s doing with her feelings and then we can play together again. She works through her feelings. She periodically even looks up at me to see if I am paying attention and I do my best to avoid eye contact. I make sure she’s safe and can’t hurt herself and I carry on with my day.

When’s the last time you did something over and over again with no reward? Conditioning teaches you if something is or isn’t worth your effort. No means no in my house. It means you’re not getting that and no amount of kicking and screaming is going to make it happen for you. Sorry bout it. Eventually, when she realizes that her tantrums are just that – tantrums, she will stop. She will stop crying and whining and she will start doing things that do result in rewards. It’s a basic notion really, but it’s very complex.

I agree with the dad in the supermarket on so many levels. Nobody is more frustrated about a situation like that – it’s super embarrassing. What would also be embarrassing is watching her grow up assuming she can be a giant pain in the butt and get her way. It would be embarrassing to know that she thinks she deserves these handouts in the world and that we’re going to give them to her if she raises enough hell. THAT is embarrassing. I can explain a 2 year old throwing a fit. I can’t explain a 15 year old that thinks she deserves everything and doesn’t want to put effort in. That’s when I’ll feel like a failure. Until then, my house may be a little louder occasionally, but shhh, we’re teaching some serious life lessons over here.

Please stop talking down to me because I’m young

I know, you’re older than me. So is everyone else.

I also know you have more experience than me (in some areas, I would argue not all areas). I appreciate your experiences. I value your perspective. What prevents you from valuing mine?

My age in my office is a running joke. It’s a running joke because frankly, I am pretty young. I play into it also, and remind people I am basically a toddler compared to some of them. I am fortunate that my age has nothing to do with my respect level around many of my peers and all of this is in jest. When I walk into a room, I expect to have to earn respect. That door swings both ways. I may respect you as a person because inherently, that’s just what I do. I do not respect you professionally just because you’re older than me.

I’m a self-proclaimed old soul. I find I have many more similarities to people that are 10 and 20 years older than I am rather than my own peer group. It’s always been that way. I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve been around (both my age and older) and I’ve just found my personal comfort level to be more similar to people older than myself.

It kills me that I do encounter people that dismiss me because of my age. They see it as a weakness where I leverage it as a strength. I’ve still got the stamina of a 21 year old in college when it comes to studying. I have the benefit of being able to stay up all night and not feel it as bad the next day. Heck, my hangover might not even be as bad, though I can count on one hand how many times I’ve even had a hangover in my entire life (not my jam, y’all).

I’m trying to make moves here. I’m trying to build a name for myself, not just at my company, but in my personal life. I hate it – and I mean for real I hate it – when people preface things with “When I was your age I also thought X item was a big deal” or “You will get over this when you’re older.” Nothing invalidates a person quite as quickly as pointing out that their feelings aren’t worthy or they’re blowing it out of proportion simply because they lack maturity to handle a situation.

Maturity may often come with age, but age does not define maturity. What seems like a big deal to me is oftentimes A BIG DEAL! I’m extremely logical, I don’t react emotionally to nearly anything and I think with my brain, not my heart, not anecdotally, but about the entire big picture (as best as I can see it). I do not need someone telling me that if I was 10 years older, this wouldn’t be a big deal. Maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t know and neither do you. You know what we do know? That your comment didn’t help this situation. I also know that not everyone is like me, but that doesn’t mean we don’t all deserve a level of respect for our opinions and our experiences. Being older doesn’t negate this. It is a fundamental necessity.

Recently, in a friend group on Facebook there was a major falling out. You might roll your eyes here and say that nobody should care that much about the internet, but I bet if you are, it’s because you’re old. Err, I mean, not a member of some tight knit groups on Facebook. I know the age shaming goes both ways (this is my attempt at a joke).

But seriously – a constructive conversation was being had. People were being transparent. They were speaking their minds and expressing their feelings. Then the mamma bear (her words, not mine) came in and said something that was pretty wise, but she prefaced it with “When you’re older…” and then I stopped listening.

When you do something like that it sends a message that because we’re not older, we’re not able to understand or comprehend on the same level as you. That our feelings are invalidated because we’re young. That we shouldn’t be worked up about something that we care about because there are bigger problems in the world and that your experience has given you the opportunity to look DOWN (not back, I said down) on all of us from your high horse and laugh because you think we’re being ridiculous. It’s not constructive, helpful or appreciated. It’s actually the worst. Literally, the worst.

Then there’s the folks that assume you’re not qualified because of your age. They take a look at you and immediately talk down to you because you can’t possibly know more or the same amount about a specific topic. Even if you did, they don’t take you seriously.

Now, I am not for giving things away for free. I earn my respect. I earn the trust of my peers and frankly, I don’t disagree with many of the sentiments of folks older than me. I too think participation trophies are dumb. I also don’t think that people should sponge off their parents and work part-time for the rest of their lives. I value hard work, commitment, dusting yourself off, putting in your time. I get it.  I do disagree with an automatic negation of my thoughts and feelings based on age. I do disagree that I am not as capable of you because I’m only 25 years old. I disagree. If you don’t, I guess you miss out on the opportunity to watch me succeed. That may sound arrogant, but honestly, I am not about to let age keep me from sitting at the table and what I lack in talent I make up for in grit.

If I have to work a little bit harder to prove my points, I will. I do believe people need to put their time in and I am not expecting anyone to hand me anything. They never have so why would today change that? I don’t want a handout. I want you to give me a chance and not look at my face – which looks like it belongs to a 12 year old – and decide off the bat that I am not capable or worthy. I want you to quit saying “those damn Millenials” as if we’re some disease (can I remind you that you raised us and it was your idea to give out participation trophies?). Stop making assumptions and let me show up to work and show you how I work just like the 30+ year olds.

This message has been brought to you by a salty 25 year old that’s just trying to succeed in life.

LOL wanna go vegetarian?

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Okay, so I am not vegan, nor did that happen the way the meme implies, I just thought it was funny. 🙂

About 2 weeks ago, I was in the shower and my husband was shaving at the sink next to me and I called out to him “so what do you think about being a vegetarian?”

He laughed. Not just a little, like a full on belly laugh.

we went to breakfast and I ordered a country fried steak and he laughed at me again for my comments earlier.

Fast forward a few weeks and I am now on day 7 of not eating meat. Jokes on…who?

Ryan’s doing okay with the not eating meat thing. He hasn’t been eating it at home because I haven’t been making it and he made an awesome sweet and sour cauliflower meal the other day that we’re sure to have again. He still eats it for lunch and claims he cannot go cold turkey. We shall see what week two looks like. He’s lost 5 pounds. I’ve lost three pounds.

I should say we’re not being staunch about it. We’re still eating eggs and dairy and if something has meat in it (chicken broth, baked beans), we’re not going to turn it away. If Ryan’s mom makes a casserole and it’s got meat in it, we’re going to eat it for dinner.

For us, we’re not making a move like this because of the animals. If you do, I commend you. It’s kind of just maybe an added bonus I suppose? I didn’t watch a documentary and suddenly grow a conscience about what I was eating. I just simply felt like we don’t get a lot of the fruits and vegetables that we otherwise should and I was feeling otherwise uninspired in the kitchen. It was getting tiring continuing to make the same heavy casseroles, meat with a veggie, etc. I wanted to spice it up a bit.

Then I considered the health benefits. A more balanced diet, potentially longer and healthier lives, lower incidences of obesity. The list goes on.

I still wasn’t really sold, per se. I think if you asked me to explain to you why we decided to stop eating meat it would come out much like the word vomit you just read above. Really, I just quit making it and here’s how my week kind of went.

Sunday we said goodbye to our visitors. We did not grocery shop. That made Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday pretty terrible. When I sat down Wednesday and added up how many calories I was eating, I was seriously deficit and it for sure explained why I felt like a giant pile of poop with a  constant headache.

So Wednesday I sat down and I decided to actually try to pre-plan for the rest of the week. I baked 2 spaghetti squash and stuck them in Tupperware for lunches, munches, you name it. I also hard boiled a bunch of eggs for simply snacks when we got hungry. Then I found some vegans and I asked them for food ideas.

Thursday I made a better grocery list and ordered those groceries on Friday. I got us a protein powder for the morning and I also cracked open a bottle of this terrifying stuff called Healthy Skoop. I dumped that in some OJ and to my surprise, I didn’t hate my life. I actually didn’t have a headache right after drinking it and gasp, it didn’t make me gag. I’ve been drinking that since Thursday and I even convinced my best friend to drink it. She also didn’t die and now we’re both getting more veggies in our diets!

I feel better than I have in a long time. I’ve been bloated and I am not anymore. My stomach isn’t cramping like it was. I’ve tried to cut back on my carbonated beverages as well (so I am sure that’s helping the bloating in a big way). This is the longest I’ve ever done a “diet” if you can even call it that. It’s more of a lifestyle really. I feel good about it. I am curious how long and if I will sustain this, but I am already planning for this weekend and we ate more vegetables this week that we probably have in the last month, so I feel even better about the quality of our food.

We’re not sanctimonious about it. We’re not even strict about it. We’re just a few people testing the waters on something I used to think was completely ridiculous (*pats self on back for growing as a person*) and unattainable. It’s good for me. It’s good for the environment. It’s good.

My next task: figuring out what the heck you should do with lentils.

Grit

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I’ve been struggling my way toward a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation for like…3 years now. It feels like 478396498324632 years, but I guess it really only has been 3.

For most anyone, those words are accompanied with a “huh,” or a “what’s that?” They mean virtually nothing to people outside my working profession, but to people inside my profession, it holds a level of esteem as only around 2% of industry professionals hold a CPCU designation.

Only 2% hold it because it’s kind of a giant PITA (pain in the a$$).

When I say struggling my way through it, I mean literally struggling. Struggling to find time to do it all outside of work. Struggling to find energy. Struggling to care. Struggling to pass. Struggling to pretend I don’t care that I didn’t pass. I am driving the CPCU struggle bus, there’s just no other way to put it.

I passed my 6th test a few weeks ago. Passing is usually accompanied by a feeling that I can accomplish another one and then it is quickly followed with a reminder that I am a mom who works 40 hours a week and drives 30-45 minutes to work one way and I like to keep a clean house and cook dinner and go to bed at 8:30pm. It’s a good reminder that I don’t actually know where I am going to fit these things in.

But, somehow I manage. I manage because it is important to me no matter how much I am going to downplay it when I actually do hit the finish line. No matter how many other people have it. It matters to me in a way that I can’t explain and for reasons that probably don’t make a lot of sense.

I recently watched a Ted Talk called “Grit” and in it, Angela Lee Duckworth, an esteemed professional, talks about what makes people successful. As it would turn out, IQ and raw talent have nothing to do with success. Successful people are gritty people. I found myself in that Ted Talk, finally understanding a little bit about why I am (in my own opinion) successful. I am a gritty person.

I don’t have raw talent. I’ve never been particularly good at anything. I sucked at playing the Cello. I was even worse at the Violin. I might be considered athletic, but my short little 5’3” frame is hardly considered an athletic talent. Still, I played varsity softball and I played the Cello clear through high school.

It wasn’t talent that kept me going. It certainly wasn’t people showing up to my games to tell me how good I was (lol that never happened, I was NOT good). It was grit. It was tenacity. I didn’t want to sit on my hands and be told I couldn’t do something. I operated under the fall down seven times, get up eight philosophy.

I knew I couldn’t be the only kid in my high school program (IB, highly, highly recommend) that struggled to figure out how she was going to college. I knew I didn’t want to be the one that people whispered about that ended up not going after showing promise all through her academic career. I busted my butt in a Barnes and Noble for days on end typing up essay after essay to win a scholarship. I won. That’s grit. It was scary. It was risky. It paid off.

I am a gritty person.

Getting my CPCU has reminded me that there are going to be a plethora of failures before you reach success, and that’s absolutely okay. Where I might’ve found these failures earthshattering 10 years ago, I don’t anymore. I am not afraid of them. I tackle them head on understanding that at least if I fail, I moved forward. I can pick myself back up, apply what I’ve learned, brush off my knees and try again.

As an adult, it has taught me so many lessons about who I think I am, what I think I know and how terrible a studier I am these days. These things are taught in the material, they’re taught in how I manage it (and frankly, I could do a better job).

Reminding myself to focus on the long-term goals and not sweat the short term failures has been a major push for me. I am not going to run out of steam because I am a gritty person. I may not be able to sprint very fast, but I have the endurance of marathoner when it comes to my life goals and I recognize the long term payoff that propels me forward. Every. Single. Day.