David is the absolute best at gift-giving! Seriously, he just nails it every.single.time. His system seems so reckless though. Sometimes, it is the night before the big event and there is still no present purchased for his person and yet by morning light, he stands there with a perfectly wrapped and insanely thoughtful, spot-on, “he must know my soul,” kind of gift. I am convinced he is the real St. Nicholas.
On the other hand, I am conclusively the worst. All year long, I keep a list of on-going gift ideas. Little conversations happen often in which the people I am close to might say something like, “Wouldn’t that be a nice gift?” or “I would love this one day.” And I eagerly write down their revelation and feel super confident heading into the holiday season that I have hit a home run this time. BUT nope. What I am learning is that people change their minds and shift their desires and that little things they might have mentioned about a month ago in a moment is totally out of their minds by their birthday so when they unwrap the curated piece there is confusion. It isn’t that they flat out don’t want it, but they are like “oh….yea!” LOL.
I need to figure out my new system. But last year, David did it again. His gift not only hit on Christmas but continues to give me joy: Pottery Classes. It has been almost a full 365 days since this journey into the world of pottery and making started and I continue to be so grateful to David for taking a risk in opening that door for me. But even more than that initial day, he continues to support me and my fantasy of opening my own studio space and one day sharing classes and studio space with a little co-op of clients and crafting men and women. So in order to give back to my man, I have one gift I know is the ultimate ultimate. It is going to take a little time to save for it, but it must be done. Because like my pottery it will be the gift that keeps on giving in his life.
So I am hoping that in 2019, I can use the sales from my pottery world to help save for this for him. I am planning some really cool new items for the pottery shop and I hope you feel like coming to the page and checking out this endeavor. My goal for this endeavor for David is Father’s Day. So that will be a lot of clay and hopefully a lot of craft fairs and a lot of sharing on the world wide webbery, because to get the full value of joy you must have someone to share it with!
Happy birthday to the very best person I know, David! While the chaos of holiday season can sometimes conceal this very important day, there is no hiding how amazing you are and how much we love you. Thank you for being my constant, my best friend, and my partner in everything.
At certain points, it felt like the universe did not want our thanksgiving travels to go down. Some of the occurrences were very small and easily dismissible except when added to the other crazy events surrounding them, then the signs were clear! This trip was disrupting some homeostasis. It all started like every Thanksgiving break with the insane end of the Fall Term. In 7 days time, teachers are tasked with wrapping up course content and student work, grading any remaining products, writing finals, grading said finals, lesson planning for the new term of brand new courses with brand new students, writing comments which is approximately 150 words per students, proof-reading colleague comments, uploading grades, and any other loose ends that inevitability have to be tied. It is a bananas timeline and you can feel the faculty stress levels boil over. But this frenzy is sadly “normal.” I was ready to “tackle” this in order to squeeze into a break with my family. The other pieces though only more deeply complicated this already wacky time.
Henry broke is leg. To be exact, he broke the femur growth plate and ended up in a cast from his toes to his hip. He refused to walk on it for quite some time, and then found moving even short distances both frustrating and exhausting with his heavy green “hulk leg” cast. Over a few days, he adjusted but the concern was: How will he navigate the epic trip which includes flights, Disney, and the beach? Then David burned his arm, because our oven never properly cooks anything and we had a suspicion that it was not rising to the appropriate temperature, David was on a mission. To catch our sneaky oven in the act of under-warming, David bought a thermometer to hang from a rack. But, he forgot that racks get hot and burned a giant letter I in to forearm leaving him with a bad-ass wound and a tender limb. When driving home from work the next day, I pulled over to a random urgent care because I was tired of being so tired and started to think it wasn’t just the lack of work-life balance anymore. Alas, it was walking pneumonia. With three days left to our departure, we were a mess. I could not breathe or keep my eyes open, David was trying to manage the house, grading was piling up, and Henry was incapacitated. Then my sister-in-law called to say she had a horrible eye problem and we all held our breath! If her issue did not adjust in the next 24 hours she would need to be hospitalized and our trip should then just be called off because the universe was starting to laugh at us little too hard.
In the morning light, Jessie was convinced her eye was improving so we packed our suitcases only to be hit by winter storm Avery! Six inches of snow fell and we braced for flight delays and indeed landed in Orlando at midnight. Waiting for over an hour on the jetway, our stroller had gone missing. My reaction to this “not so terrible occurrence” was to lose my freaking mind. Everything suddenly hinged on whether or not we had that stroller to navigate this epic trip with our son with a femur cast. The children were melting down to epic proportions because it was almost 1AM and we were waiting for over an hour and they were so exhausted and tired and frustrated and I was about one second away from throwing a tantrum right on that carpet next to them. When we finally boarded the Mickey Bus to bring us and our chaos to the hotel, the charming driver turned on her Disney princess voice at 2:30AM and declared, “Good Morning and welcome to the magical Disney bus!” and I nearly lost my head from the intensity of my rolling eyes. We got off the Magical Express and left behind our sweatshirts on the bus because losing something other than our minds was needed and we crashed in our beds to only wake up at 7AM exactly 4 hours later. But, all of the other members of our travel team slept in, and David and I just started to laugh the kind of laughs of unstable people, because all of this happened and we were in literal shambles and everyone was crying and we were about to start our first day at the Happiest Place on Earth.
We did pull it together and we did have a great time, but Smith also did puke to add one last moment of chaos to the journey, but overall these were the parts of the trip that social media usually glosses over but the parts of the trip that were so real, and so ridiculous that we inevitably had to go from there!
Checking out of the grocery store way back in 2012, I vividly remember a magazine cover. The image immediately drew my attention. A little child sat in a mom’s work briefcase looking up longingly with big, brown eyes. The bold black title that hung over head took my breathe away, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” My response was shock. Yes, the work-life balance routine is hard. But, I thought I had it all. In 2012, I felt alive in my feminism, my career, my marriage, my community, and balked at that article. I didn’t even read it, because it did not resonate with me and my life.
But I never forgot that magazine cover. It weirdly haunted me.
Two years later, I became a mom. It continues to be the most amazing, rewarding, and enriching life experience that I have the privilege to share in with David. Our hearts grew when we added a second little boy 20 months later. But, then that article made total and utter sense! It haunted me all those years because I knew the message rang true. Raising a little human(s) is demanding. Not only because they have needs that their caregiver must provide, but also because ,as a parent, I had needs too. I wanted to be with these little creations. Sitting on the floor and cuddling them and playing with them was so important to David and me. They change so quickly that it is hard to leave them because my world shifted inward towards them. As they become more independent and interesting the desire to experience the world alongside of them continues to deepen. These three relationships are primary in my life because of biological and emotional connection. At the same the time, the house needs up-keep. Food needs to be bought, made, stored, cleaned-up as does the laundry, and so many other household “chores.” When do you do these? In front of them cutting down on your time together to enjoy each other? When they go to sleep cutting down your time to rest and restart? It is a balancing act to do all the necessary tasks while also giving your love and attention to them. The layering of these two demands is heavy. Then add full-time work. This layer removes you from your primary loves for 8+ hours every Monday through Friday. Now your time together as a family is cut significantly during the week and the house piece of life gets squeezed into these odd pockets of time. Late nights folding laundry at 11PM means waking up groggy trying to be engaged in morning play at 5AM but also who is going to make breakfast? The weekends follow a similar balancing routine. With teaching, I bring home work nightly. This adds to the time crunch. Family, house, work compete incessantly in my mind for the limited hours of the day. Then friends and fun become even harder to shift forward in the long-wait line.
A friend shared this comic with me a little while back and it reminded me of that article in the Atlantic. It visualizes so beautifully and precisely the inner turmoil of trying to have it all, do it all, and be all things to all the relationships you want to engage in and feel obligated, at times, to maintain despite knowing that unless you stop time you will fail at some or all of this often. Motherhood is the most humbling experience of my life because it forces me everyday to be give of myself as completely as I can to my family, work, and other relationships, to be efficient, to fail, and to try again at the same balancing game every day.
So why am I writing about this now? None of this new or likely different from the stories of other working moms. Obviously, women and moms, in particular, face this dilemma. But, for me, the transition from life as a “stay at home mom” in the summers always brings back into focus the intense shift of the school year. From having the time to focus on family, friends, travel, and interests and enough time to get the basic maintenance of the house in order, to being back to the grind of the school year and the game of work-life balance is such a hard transition for me. The craziness of it all because normal and lived and by June my “trying to make it all work” muscles are pretty good at it. But then the 12 weeks off, reminds me of that article in the Atlantic and I just wish there was another way….
I promise a real post tonight!! I finally feel ready to write after taking a little time off to finish school and transition into summer mode.