Being a Woman in a Man’s World

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I act confident because I have to.

The men at work say I’m “cocky”, or “a bitch”, because I act as if I know what I’m doing.

Do I know what I’m doing? They sure don’t make me feel that way.

At a leadership conference, we all have to get up in front of the room and role play. The same demeanor a man has that is described as “spot on” is looked down on when I adopt it.

When I was younger I thought sexism no longer existed. I felt that in this time, in this place, with someone as competent as I am, it could not survive. And it does not survive. It FLOURISHES.

Someone might ask me how I can feel that way, how can I verbalize this. You’re in “leadership”, you’ve been promoted. You’ve been recognized.

But when I look around that room of “leaders”, and realize I am the only one with two x chromosomes, my very presence there feels like a slap in the face. Am I here because I’ve earned this? Or am I here as a show that this company promotes fairly? Just this little seed of doubt can foster doubt in myself, in my abilities. Am I a joke to be tossed around when all the guys sit around and talk about their little experiment in affirmative action.

And when I get angry about something, it’s labeled “emotional”. I’ve never cried at work, in front of my co-workers, or even in the general vicinity of the work place. When I speak about things that issues I can become animated, loud, forceful, but I would not call it an emotional outburst. You certainly wouldn’t call it an emotional outburst if it were being done by someone with a penis. It would be dedication and passion. These things are valued traits in someone, but by no means would we ever want someone who was emotional in any real position of power. I’ll take the passionate guy with the anger issues.

I bet a man has never been asked at work, “don’t you wish you could be home raising your children?” I didn’t know that going to work every day and providing for my children both financially and emotionally was neglecting to raise them. All these years I’ve been just letting them raise themselves! Thankfully there are wise men such as yourself to show me where I’ve gone wrong. Forget this paycheck, I better get my little butt home (yeah the one you’ve been staring at all day) before the kids start swinging from tree vines like in the Jungle Book!

I can finally see the inequality. When people who have less seniority, and are less qualified are being given positions that should have been mine. When co workers speak in a group of “leaders” and they are listened to, and when I speak I am indulged. The only difference between these people and myself is they are men, and I am a woman. And because of that, I take my job less seriously. It’s something I do because of the economy and the need for a two person income.

I come home and I look around and think, I wish I could stay home and raise my kids. At least I know I’m good at that because no one is telling me that position is out of my league. No one is making me feel guilty for wanting to be a mother, or clean a house. We want to think, as strong women, that our own belief in our abilities is enough. No one will keep me down. You tell me I can’t have something, I’m going after it harder.

But what happens when you go after it hard, when you keep trucking up that hill and keep getting pushed back down. How much strength do you have to exert before you just stay down. Because our own confidence is going to run out eventually. We are all human beings; men, woman, child alike. We all need SUPPORT, we all need AFFIRMATION from someone else so that we can continue to replenish our self confidence and our strength.

So I stand in my house after a long day of working twice as hard as everyone else to prove I deserve to be there, even though I’m not sure I even do anymore, I realize that I’m down. And even if I don’t stay down, even if I gather what I have left and try to venture up that hill again, I let them push me down. And they’ve already won. The second I questioned why I was sitting in that room of pinstripes and wing tips, they won.

I don’t even think sexism is a purposeful choice for some or most people. I think the old roles are hard to break, and when a woman is both a good mother and a good leader, she is an anomaly and therefore scary. When something is scary, we are threatened. When we are threatened we seek to keep the scary thing in a safe place, like a closet or under the bed, so it doesn’t creep up on us unaware. I can’t blame men, and even some women, for having this horribly inaccurate and counter productive outlook. But I don’t have to forgive them either.

I am only curious as to where this is all going to go in the future…

I have to go get my kids. They haven’t been raised very well apparently and I’m sure they’re looting a gas station or something by now.

My Karmic Retribution (what did I ever do to you, karma?)

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When I was 15 I left my mother. Packed a couple of my things and left.

Now my 13 year old daughter is doing the same thing to me.

I suppose it is the most basic and direct form of karma the world has ever seen.

In hind sight, my mother was not BAD to me. She was not abusive or negligent. She was a tired, over worked single parent and she leaned on me for a lot because I was all she had. My older brother was in the Marines and then working in New York City. She was trying to keep a house hold and two young daughters afloat with very little help and even less sleep.

But I was selfish, as young girls are. I was thinking of myself. How my social life was suffering because I had to come home directly from school and baby sit for my little sister as my mother went from her first job to her second. I felt alone because she worked so much and no one else was really around to tell me otherwise. And I was angry because I saw my friends with regular, fully staffed house holds who were allowed to go to the mall and to the movies and didn’t have to check to make sure they weren’t on little sister duty that night.

So, in looking back, she was actually a super mom. A mother who still found time to make dinner (sometimes four at a time) and stick them in the refrigerator so I could warm them up for myself and my little sister Sam. On the days when she had off, although I’m sure she was beat from her 70 hour work week, she brought us to do things so we could still have family time. She made us cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees and hearts for holidays, she made sure I had hand sewn Halloween outfits and that we always had everything we needed, even though money was tight and time was even tighter.

But I left her anyways, in pursuit of more freedom and less responsibility. Funny thing is, I ended up crashing at my boyfriends house, becoming pregnant, and found myself with LESS freedom and MORE responsibility.

So now, fast forward almost 14 years later, and I finally feel like all my hard work has paid off. The many years of moving myself and my daughter from apartment to apartment, job to job, searching for the right place and time, we have arrived. I’m married, have a good job and we just bought our dream house. I was able to rest easy for once knowing that I was going to move Nev into this house and it would be her HOME from then on. Even when she went to college, she would always have her room to come back to in that house. And when she got married and had kids of her own, she would bring them to that house and they would walk around the same floors she walked around when she was a kid.

As I was breathing easy, she had plans of her own. Plans of maybe going to live with her father, because living with us has become a stressful place to live, and she isn’t happy.

This obviously hit me like a blow to my stomach. All the years that I had worked two jobs while going to school and still doing the best I could for her just so I could one day give her the life she deserved. The youth that I had sacrificed so I could be the kind of mother she deserved. How could all of that not mean anything to her at all? How was she so ready to turn her back on me when I had spent the better part of my life NOT turning my back on her.

So we fought. I took my hurt and frustration out on her with my words; biting, cruel words.

I don’t think that her logic is right or good or that it makes any sense at all, but it is her logic. My reasoning for leaving my mother when she had done so much for me was not sturdy. But when I left I wasn’t thinking about what she’d done for me, I was thinking of what she wasn’t doing for me. I was thinking of my friends who had mothers that seemed to constantly be around, interested in what they were doing in school, waving from the side lines at the soccer game. I was too young to grasp that she wasn’t at the soccer game because she was at work so we could have food that week.

And I almost have to laugh through my tears now. Your mother always tells you, “just wait till you have kids, I hope they give it back to you as good as you gave to me”, almost like a curse.

I’m getting it almost exactly as I gave it. And it hurts. Imagining that little baby girl who I held in my arms when she was born, knowing I would never be able to do anything less than give her the world. This is the type of hurt that I can imagine will never go away. The kind you have to get medicated for in order to not have it creep into your brain while you’re falling asleep.

Maybe I should let her go… I just always figured it was the two of us. No matter who came and went, it was us. We had been the original two, living together and creating our own routines and dynamics. Like a modern day Gilmore Girls, we did our own thing and it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought about it. I guess I felt that even if the dynamics changed, she would still have my back, she would still stand beside me, she would know the ways that I had sacrificed and loved her since the moment she was born.

So… maybe I should let her go. This is my current problem. Finding a way to let go of person who has always been my motivation and drive for everything I do. If she feels like she needs to be somewhere else, for her own best interests, how can I argue with that. Lock her up, throw away the key… sure. I’m thinking of it.

But, maybe I just need to let her go.

There Is Comfort In The Vicious Cycle

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I sat in the middle of our bed. Of our marriage bed. But I was alone. So completely and utterly alone, even though I knew he was downstairs in the garage taking his frustration at me out on his car.

My legs were crossed, my nose was running and the tears were falling. I wiped my nose on the baggy purple shirt I liked to wear when I was lounging around, and something about the runny nose and the indian style seating choice made me feel like a little girl again, not the 31 year old confident and strong woman that I had become.

I had just told my husband I wanted a divorce. No. SHRIEKED at my husband that I wanted a divorce, and since when had I become a woman who shrieked about anything. Since when had I become that needy, nagging woman who SHRIEKS out a series of profanities and accusations which essentially surmounted to the plea of “see me, I’m here”.

And now, sitting in the middle of the bed, feeling like a preschooler waiting for story time, I waited for what I knew would come next.

See, the realization had just hit me that this relationship was bad for me. Whether it was my fault, or his fault, the path we were on was the wrong path for ME. And when you have that kind of clarity, placing blame becomes less important than you ever though it would be. Because, this man whose life you tied to yours not only willingly, but happily, this man is never going to change. Even though he wants to make you happy, and he knows that in order to make you happy he has to be different. Even though he tries to be different, but who can blame him that he just doesn’t know how to be your way when he’s been his way for thirty years.

And how can I blame myself that when I fell in love with him, he was a different person. He was a more easy going person, he was a more attentive person, he was a nicer person. HE was the person I walked down the aisle to on that Fall afternoon. HE was the person who I spent nights wrapped up in; late nights and early mornings running my hands over the length of his back, feeling the raised spots where he was tattooed, tracing those raised spots as if they were a map to my ultimate happiness, to my very existence.

Because although we feel old, we are very young, and very naive. Although we feel like we’ve been through a lot together, it is the tip of the ice berg. We have a son together. A beautiful, curly haired cherub who represents the best of us both. Seeing his face reminds me of the two very distinct individuals we were when we came together and meshed together, at times peacefully and at times kicking and screaming.

For a small moment in time it was just the two of us, and that was when we were at our best. Discovering each other, feeling that every touch was exciting and new, but laced with a familiarity you only encounter when you begin to see a real future with another person. Not a fantasy future with beach houses and European travels, but the kind of future that consists of cooking dinner together, bickering over what color to paint the kitchen, celebrating holidays together, growing old together…

And now, fast forward five years. A million smiles and kind words turned into a million dirty looks and well aimed insults. Staring into each others eyes transformed into staring at our respective smart phones. The weight of being responsible not only for ourselves and sustaining our romance, but for the actual well being of other human beings resting firmly on our shoulders. Instead of making the load easier for each other, we argue about who has it worse. I think he’s distant and cold, he thinks I’m crazy and irresponsible. And we turn to each other for nothing.

Still cross legged on the bed, still crying, still waiting for the inevitable footsteps to ascend the stairs which signify he has had enough time to think and ponder on what a life apart from each other really means, as I am doing the same. Separately, instead of together.

And then he will come into the room, settle himself next to me, look me straight in the eye and say “I’m sorry”, and try to pull me into his arms. I’ll resist, my heart still broken, my eyes still burning with tears. We will talk about how “sorry” is an empty sentiment coming from him now, preceded by so many other apologies and promises to “do better”. I will tell him that a temporary change is not enough, a week of good behavior does not forgive the months of bad behavior that came before and will most certainly come after.

But he will be persistent and focused, one of the things I absolutely loved about him when we first met. I’m not sure when his focus shifted from me to everything else but me. I’m not sure when his OCD and ADD became an ongoing frustration for me instead of something cute I taunted him about. All I know is that now, with his arms circling around me, his familiar scent surrounding me, and his comforting words washing over me, I want so badly to believe that THIS TIME things will change. That when I say “this is what I need”, he will give it to me. I’ve never asked him for anything that he wasn’t capable of giving. I’ve never asked to be the center of his universe, only a part of it.

And although this cycle, vicious and disappointing as it is, is comforting. Because on the most basic and emotional level, I don’t want to be without this man. I want to spend every night for the rest of my life running my hands over his back as his hair turns from brown to gray.

There is that wicked hope that snakes through your resolve that if we engage in this dance enough times, we will begin to change our steps.

I want to change our steps.

Photo credit: Stephanie Vindigni

The “Reminiscence Bump” and How It Hurts Us All

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Have you ever wondered why it feels like your days melt into each other? Why you lose track of what day of the week it is, sometimes what month it is?

I remember being a kid and it felt like it took FOREVER for Christmas to get here. From Thanksgiving to Christmas morning felt like a million years, and now it feels like Christmas hits in a split second and I’m usually not ready for it. Is time actually moving faster than when I was eight years old, or am I just perceiving it that way? And if it’s my own perception, why is that happening… and how can I make it stop!

I did a little research on this strange phenomenon, and came up with some interesting information that will cause me to live my days a little differently from now on. I hope it does the same for you.

When you’re a child, or a young adult, everything is new to you. Every day is a new experience because you’re encountering things you probably have never encountered before.This is called the reminiscence bump. We even remember more from books we read and films we saw in those formative years. This is possibly because memory and identity are so closely related. We hold on to those experiences from our youth because that is when we were developing our identity, who we are and who we wanted to be. These are the years when we had our first kiss, our first love, our first notable achievements; the things that are highly emotional and like book marks in our memories.

Then we get older. We have all our shining moments filed away in our mind; high school graduation, college, first real job, getting married, having a baby, buying a house… all the milestones that we talk about when we’re old and gray. And the worst thing EVER happens. We fall into a routine…

We get up in the morning. We get our coffee from the same place every morning, we take the same route to the same job we’ve been working for five plus years. We sit at the same desk and we see the same people and our brain, well it just stops recording these events because it’s seen them so many times. Hence, it feels like our days and weeks fly because because our memory has taken a vacation. Nothing noteworthy is happening, it doesn’t feel it has a job to do.

I guess the most important issue at hand is not the science of WHY it happens, but how do we prevent life from becoming one blur of commutes and tv dinners. Here are some tips I’ve integrated into my own life recently, and they have actually made a huge impact not only on slowing time down a bit, but my personal happiness.

1. Wake up earlier:

Even if you have nothing to do and no where to go. Wake up about an hour earlier than you’re used to. Have your coffee at home instead of on the go. Sit outside and watch the sun rise or spend a little snuggle time in bed with your puppy and the paper.

2. Talk to different people:

I’m not saying avoid conversation with your office mate, but seek out different people to talk with. Standing in line at the grocery store? Lift your head up from your smart phone and engage the person next to you. If you go to a party or work event, don’t talk to the people you already know, talk to their guests that you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. For me, I travel around a little bit for work, but even so I find that I stick to the same familiar people in each location that I know. The other day I struck up a conversation with a new co worker that I hadn’t really talked with yet and found out we had a whole lot in common.

3. Expose yourself to different music

If you’re like me, my music exposure is usually limited to my Spotify playlist of about 1,500 songs. There is an area in Spotify that is labeled “Discover” and I’ve been trying to go into it at least once a week and listen to different genres, even different languages of music. It activates a part of my brain that has been laying dormant due to familiarity. Sometimes I cringe at what I hear, but I have found a couple tunes that I really dig, and have added to my old faithful playlist.

4. Change your route

Give yourself some extra time, and take the scenic route to work today. The weather is warming up, it’s time to turn your new music up, roll your windows down, and check out the town you live in. Hopefully get into some less populated areas if possible. Drive by some water or farmland. See how different the sky looks and the air smells when you aren’t surrounded by buildings and cars. This has probably been the tip that has worked out for me the best. I’ve taken to snapping pictures of the scenery and looking back on them later with a smile.

5. Turn the television off

This was the hardest tip for me. I’m a big TV watcher. I have Netflix, Hulu Plus, cable, a DVR… I can’t MISS anything. And it’s pretty much a waste of time but it makes me happy. With two kids I’m not getting out the movies a whole lot, so the television has become my entertainment. But it has also begun to kill my brain. I have three or four books I’ve purchased but have not yet cracked open. I used to devour books like they were Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. That was when I was younger. Now, reading sometimes feels like too much work on my already tired mind. I’d rather just sit in front of the TV and let Law and Order do the work. Recently, I’ve been trying to cut the cord and turn off the television. I’ve been weaning myself slowly. An hour a day that I want to watch something, I’ll pick up one of those books and get lost in it. I’ve rediscovered my love of books and the worlds they transport you to, and I couldn’t be happier.

If you aren’t a big reader, do something else. Make a model airplane, if you’re into that. Go take a walk around the neighborhood. Call an old friend, or hey, your mother. Go through old photographs and start making that memory book you’ve been swearing you would for years. We don’t realize how much time we waste watching TV, but let’s do the math quick.

Two one hour shows a day, doesn’t feel like much… at the time. But that’s 14 hours a week, 90 hours a month, 1,080 hours in a year…that is 45 days a year spent watching television. Over a month of your precious life a year is wasted. Ouch. I don’t want to do the math anymore.

6. Get Active

I know some people aren’t gym people and I’m not going to sit here and say you should be. I go to the gym often and I still don’t really LIKE it, but I know I feel better after I’ve gone, and that is something that is important to me.

You don’t have to go the gym, though! Play with your pets, throw a ball around with your kids, take a brisk walk, bring your kids to the playground and run around like you were ten again. Swing on the swings, burn your legs on the slide, climb around on the jungle gym. (This is a little harder to do if you don’t have kids as a cover, but I still highly suggest it) Bringing yourself back to your childhood when things were sweeter and simpler can only make you feel that way again. I’ve done it, I still love doing it. I love pumping my legs to swing as high as I can and imagine jumping off, but I don’t because my 30 year old legs can’t withstand the shock my ten year old legs could have. I love feeling freed, the wind whipping through my hair. It is priceless, and indescribable, although I’ve tried. So don’t take my word for it, DO IT!

Let’s not allow ourselves to walk through life without living it. The worst thing that will ever happen to you is for you to open your eyes, realize your 75 years old and you’ve spent the last 50 of those years taking the same route to work, drinking the same coffee, watching the same programs in the same mind set. Even a small change can make a HUGE difference.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your life. And pass it on.

What Being a Good Parent Taught Me About Being A Good Leader

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I am a working mother. And since both my career and my family are incredibly important to me, I often find commonalities between the two. The things that I learn at home I try to apply at work, and vice versa.

Within the past six months I have found an interest in what we call at our company, leadership. Leadership is NOT management. I am not anyone’s manager, or boss. It is in my best interest to do what is in the best interest in those who are led by me. The general idea is that if those who are leaders are able to make those around them better, the team and the company overall become better.

As I have begun my journey into leadership, moving from being a regular representative to a person who is responsible for the lives and livelihoods of others, I have seen very distinct parallels between what I do at home and what I do at work.

So, it starts. I compare being a regular employee to being a single person. You aren’t married, you don’t have kids. You are responsible for yourself and number one is always you. The decisions and choices that you make are going to be those that benefit you, and you put no one before yourself because no one is important enough to you yet. A regular rep is going to ask for a schedule where they know the most money is, they are going to worry about their own deals before the person sitting next to them.

Once you find someone, settle down and start a family, you are no longer number one. Suddenly there are two, three, four other people who are more important. Every morning you wake up and your to do list consists of things you need to do for the other people in your life who are now more important, because you’re looking in the big picture. The same thing applies when you move into leadership. You begin to pick your schedule based on working with people who need help the most, and you are that help. You find yourself tuning out the customer sitting in front of you just to hear what is happening at the next desk over.

Here are a couple cardinal rules in parenting that I have learned over the years that I think have given me an edge and an advantage over others who are not yet in that place in life.

1. “Because I Said So”

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I’m well aware that those in my generation and the generations before mine have heard this saying many, many times. If we are honest with ourselves, even if we never spoke up for fear of being hit with a wooden spoon (thanks Mom), it was never a good enough reason for us. And it’s not good enough for our children, or our employees.

People need the WHY. If we want to create well-rounded, independent thinking children who will grow into well-rounded and independent thinking adults, we tell them WHY we need them to do something. This creates communication, and understanding. So if I tell my thirteen year old daughter that I’d much rather her not watch television while she does her homework and she asks me why, I can point out the many studies that have been done that show how divided attention can affect performing well on one task. If my three year old son wants to know why he has to go to bed, I explain it is because his beautiful, big, growing brain needs some rest so that it can continue to grow.

If the people we are leading in the work place ask “why”, we should not look at this inquiry as a declaration of insubordination. We can’t just tell them that policies have changed “because”, and they don’t need to know why, just do it. This kind of response effectively shuts down communication. It makes people feel as if they are not important or relevant enough to be read in on the decision that could be affecting their life. Not giving someone a logical explanation is essentially telling them, “this decision is above your pay grade, and you have no say and no control”, which will be a very quick way to cause unhappy and insubordinate employees. This will also create rebellious and resentful children.

No matter the age of your child or the station of your employee, TALKING to them makes them feel respected. A person who feels respected will respect you, and follow your lead.

2. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” 

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Another favorite statement of my mothers…

I’ve seen this happen with parents and leaders, and in my opinion it is the most disruptive behavior to a team or family dynamic.

As parents, we are supposed to be setting an example. Our behaviors, our values, our standards are most likely the same ones that our kids will develop. Even if they are bad ones. A father who displays anger over the outcome of a sporting event, shouting at the television and banging his fist on the table, will translate to a child doing the same thing over the outcome of a video or board game. And then that same father will discipline his child for that mimicked behavior. It actually makes no sense at all, but is the most common parenting mistake we make.

The same applies in the professional world. There are certain standards laid out and set up for the entire company to follow. I cannot, in good faith, wag my finger at someone for being late when I am notoriously late. I cannot ask someone to pull out a mop and clean the floor when they have never seen me do the same. A true leader does not delegate all the tasks to their employees and sit smugly by while the tasks get done. He or she delegates to themselves as well, and gets down and dirty with the people they are leading.

This applies for military or sports leadership, as well. The best military leaders of our time were those that got into the trenches and on the front lines with their subordinates. Athletic coaches are usually those who have already proven their worth in that sport. They may be standing on the side lines now, but their teams know that not long ago they walked (or ran) in their shoes.

“I’m Your Parent, Not Your Friend”

Being your childs friend and allowing your child to know you CARE about them are two entirely different things. A lot of parents don’t see the line, so they never go near it.

My husband struggles with this in parenting, and he is working on it. Our daughter will come home from school and after a brisk “how was school?” he will begin to bark out orders. Do your chores, clean your room, and do you have homework?

It may have been many years since I was 13, but I remember it very clearly, and I remember being very put out by this type of behavior, along with every other type of behavior because I was a teenage girl. I basically spent six years in a constant state of angst. With my daughter, I try to dig a little deeper, even if she is not responsive right away. I’ll ask how school was, I’ll tell her about a funny video I saw on YouTube that reminded me of her which indicates to her that I think about her when she’s not around. If I’m at the store for milk, I’ll grab a pack of gum I know she really likes and give it to her for no reason. It’s important for them to know that you are not just a disciplinarian. You are someone who genuinely cares about them, their day, their likes and dislikes.

This is another commonality with being a leader. It is beyond important to let the people you work with know that you care about more than just what happens when they are at work.

I know it’s difficult because you are likely to have more employees than you have children… I hope. If you have to, keep a little notebook. I keep a notebook with tabs that bear each persons name. In my notes I’ll write down their spouses name, their kids names, what sports teams they like, what their hobbies are, is there anything important going on in their lives like a big purchase or a medical issue. It doesn’t make you cold or indifferent that you need to keep notes. It makes you someone who cares enough to keep track of all these little details, even though you don’t have a photographic memory.

You can also use these little tidbits to help motivate your people. If you know Greg is looking to buy a house, he’s going to need a downpayment. Now when you approach Greg to coach him, you can relate how his performance will directly affect something he really wants to do. Greg will see the benefit to his sales improving, and he will also be impressed (and possibly touched) that you remembered something he told you in passing last month.

Despite popular belief, you can be your childs parent and friend. One day when they are older and they don’t need you to cut the crusts of their sandwiches or tie their shoes, you are going to want to sit down, have a glass of wine together and be friends. You might as well start developing that relationship now. Start figuring out the intricate little things that make your kid who they are, and will be a part of who they become.

You can also be friendly with people you work with. Just like with your kids, you aren’t going to want to pass out drunk and dance on tables with them, but you can care for them on a higher plane. The people in my life and career who have always made the biggest impression on me were those who showed I was important to them, and who made me feel that they believed in me.

Overall, it’s going to be your choice what type of parent and leader you want to be. This is why some people don’t have personalities to be in leadership, because they see things on such a small and selfish scale. And some people should definitley not have kids, because we don’t need anymore small scale, selfish people in the world. Someone who was important to my development as a leader once told me if you look behind you and no one is following you, you aren’t a leader.

And I’ll end with that.

Three Things I Can Do Better (But Probably Won’t)

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Things to Do.

1. Following through on semi-important at the time tasks:

So, there are always those things that pop up as you make your way through the day and you put a pin it them, so to speak. You think to yourself, “shoot, I can’t forget to call so and so to have this fixed”, and then you continue on the path you were already traveling hoping that this errant thought you pinned in the dark depths of your brain floats back into your immediate consciousness sometime soon.

I could be better at following through on these things. Every night when I get in the shower I kick myself because I have yet to call the property manager of our complex about the temperature in our shower. I don’t know what the heck is going on there, but all I know is that the bulk of my shower is playing with the knobs and trying to get the water temp somewhat tolerable. It is literally a hairline turn between ice bucket challenge and hellfire, there is no place in between that exists or that I can find.

So I lather and rinse off as quickly as possible, either shivering or turning my skin an unpleasant scarlet color. I curse the property manager, the woman who sits in the office and collects rents, the two guys who drive around on a golf cart supposedly fixing things and promise that as soon as I am wrapped up in a towel I will call and leave a well worded message for all of them.

BUT, before the last drop of water from my shower has dissipated from my skin, I have forgotten about it. Why?! Why are we like that.

The answer is, because it’s not an immediate concern any longer. It was when I was in the shower being greatly inconvenienced, but that was then and this is now. Now I am making a mental note to call Time Warner AGAIN, because my cable box is lagging, AGAIN. (Never got around to that either)

I still don’t know the answer to becoming better at retaining these things better, but I have developed a theory, and here it is:

They must not be that important! There are a million tasks and thoughts swirling around in our heads through out the day, and we manage to do the necessary ones like feed ourselves, feed our children, make it to work, pay the bills, feed ourselves again…

Would I like my cable box to do freeze up every time I try to DVR The Good Wife? Yes, that would be convenient, but… I’ll live.

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2. Minding Your P’s and Q’s:

Thank you notes, Holiday cards, invitations, any kind of hand-written, time sensitive correspondence is bad for me.

I know it’s polite, I know it’s “the thing to do”, but I very rarely send them out. And, I have found that a lot of people have also found themselves in this moral dilemma.

The fact is, we are in a different time than our parents were when they taught us about this unwritten rule. Now we live in the digital age where I can very easily shoot Grandma a text and say, “hey, thanks for that birthday card!”, or I can send a mass email to everyone I know that says, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

It sounds terrible. I have the best intentions, too. Every year I buy Christmas cards and sometimes I even fill a couple out. It never goes any further than that. The idea that I have to write essentially the same sentiment over and over again in different cards, shove those cards into envelopes that never seem big enough, LICK this envelope (who knows where it’s been) and then buy or find stamps to place on each one. Ough. The internet and cell phones have made staying in touch with each other an easy and instantaneous process, WHY ARE WE STILL PUTTING THINGS IN ENVELOPES AND MAILING THEM?!

So if any guest at my wedding wanted to know why you didn’t receive a thank you card almost until my first anniversary, there’s your answer.

For those of you who still just love getting something in the mail, and get butterflies in your stomach whilst ripping open the envelope to see what could be in there… please know that whoever sent this card was probably resenting doing so the entire time.

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3. Attending Social Functions:

So, you’re friend/coworker/cousin is having a get together at a bar/restaurant/their place.

The specifics don’t matter, cause you’re always down for a good time! Right? Right..?

Sure, at the start of your day when the world is brand new and there are a million bright and shining opportunities in front of you, you are down for ANYTHING!

But that was before you went to work, got yelled at by your boss, got a run in your stockings, realized you were having a bad hair day and the pizazz from your initial cup of coffee ran out…

I’m really not an anti-social person. I really enjoy being with other people, and I can get along with all sorts of different personalities. But I do this thing where I overextend myself. In any given day I’ll wake up ready to GO. I’ll hit the gym, get ready for work, the sun is shining and I’ve got some caffeine in my hand. I’ll make lunch plans, fit in a work meeting, tell my co-worker I’ll swing by her apartment for her birthday and commit myself to dinner with my in-laws. And this ALL seems possible at 8am.

By around three I’m wishing I could come down with ebola and be admitted to the hospital just so I could put some slippers on and go to sleep.

I think we all are guilty of this. We have way too much faith in ourselves when it comes to “doing it all”. Unfortunately, the media has portrayed these characters who easily manage high powered careers, juggle their home lives and make it to happy hour still looking flawless and awake.

Instead of being better at running myself ragged, I need to personally start having more realistic expectations when it comes to the amount of things I can do in a day. That means learning to tell people, “I’ll try” instead of “absolutely”, and not feeling guilty when all I want to do is swap out my pencil skirt for pajama pants and watch Orange is the New Black until I fall asleep.

If I Didn’t Have Kids

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Every so often, as parents and adults, we will ship our children off to their grandparents (or another responsible party) for the night so we can as romantic partners and adults go to dinner and maybe a movie.

There have been a couple of those nights for us recently.

The first night that both children were away for home, we came home and kicked off our shoes. There was no little bodies to bathe or get into pajamas, the only person I had to worry about getting into pajamas was myself. There were no bed time stories to read or songs to sing, no last minute glasses of water or lunch money to lay out for the next day. I took a shower, got right into bed and watched THREE episodes of Orange Is The New Black in bed with my husband, alone, for the first time in a long time.

We looked at each other and laughed because we had both had the same thought. Is this what it would be like if we didn’t have kids?

Tonight we both had a work event so the kids were spending the night elsewhere, and I walked into my house after a long day of work and craziness expecting to feel a relief that I had no one but myself to worry about. I did not feel that relief.

The house was dark and quiet. There was a plate of chocolate chip muffins on the counter that Nev had made when she got home from school because she knows their my favorite. And I wanted to go up to her room to kiss her forehead and tell her thank you, but she wasn’t there of course.

I did not hear the pounding of little feet running towards me, or feel a little toddler body throw himself into my arms because he could not contain his happiness that I was once again within his reach. No, “I love you mama, I missed you mama”, just myself to worry about.

There was no bedtime stories to read with a curly little head still damp from his bath tucked under my arm. No songs to sing while I cradled a creature who holds more value to me than everything else in this world. No pajamas to put on while he tells me a story about a dragon and a princess with wide, expressive eyes. Those kind of eyes you find only on very young children who haven’t seen the worst the world has to offer yet.

And when I got into bed there were not two mini human beings clamoring to find a space near me just to have one more song, one more story, one more glass of water which really means one more minute together.

THIS is what it would be like if I didn’t have kids. I would only have myself to think about, but thinking about yourself doesn’t take a whole lot of time out of your day.

I have so much more to think about while raising children. Does she have lunch money? Did she do her homework? Is he making friends at school? Do they need new socks/underwear/toothbrushes? My days are filled with an infinite amount of questions swirling through my head that I am responsible for answering and acting on.

And while I’m thinking of them, they are thinking of me.

Nev bakes brownies and muffins when she gets home from school and leaves them for me. Aidan tells me one hundred times a day that he loves me. I am not being neglected, I am not sacrificing myself to care for others. I am very, very well cared for. I am very loved.