Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Above the clouds

I'm siting here on the airplane, 30,000 feet up on the air, getting farther away from my city, and it's got me thinking. 

Why do I spend so much time wanting a break, when the minute I arrived in the security line, I feel lonely?

What?! Are you crazy, Nora? You finally get away from the kids-- and to be alone with girlfriends for the first time in probably ten years, and you're missing them already? 

I guess so. Call me crazy, but when your life starts embedding in your children's lives more deeply with each passing year, I finally get what all those weepy-eyed college mothers are crying about.

When my kids were super little, I loved getting away. There was the time Travis and I ran away for three days to the Mexican beaches and I was so fed up with a one and a half and three year old, all I did for the whole car ride down there was eat almost an ENTIRE bag of Sunchips. Not fed up obviously, just delirious and hungry-- a bad combination when standing in a gas station. 

Now that they are (almost) out of toddlerhood, and with the advent of school years upon me, I am more tied in than I ever thought.

This is when it is time to detox. I'm not saying to run away from your children maliciously. Or to neglect your duties or ignore your children's physical or emotional needs. I just agree with many other smarter old school mothers: I have to take care of myself.

This is a concept discussed with much more eloquence by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her book Gift from the Sea. She writes how important it is to create creative and emotional space for ourselves as women, because we get tied up in being caregivers.

I think we all need time, extended time, away from those we love as caregivers. It will honestly take me several days to detox from mom and wife mode and the distracting thoughts about dishwashers needing to be unloaded or to find that missing pacifier. I have to choose to distance myself, not by disconnecting or stop caring, but by getting away from the essential, well known belief women all have that it's all up to me.

When we get away, we know that no vegetables will be eaten, the floors won't be clean, the laundry bins will overflow and something WILL get lost or broken.

But in our love to be central to our households, we can sometime forget the freedom found in letting go. 

It would have happened anyways: the laundry and cleaning will never cease. Food will spoil in the dark recesses of the fridge to the best of us. Tears will be shed anyways.

We're important but also important as an individual. Caring about yourself, specifically, your own soul, mind and body isn't wrong. It's a good thing for both you and the ones you are entrusting to others.

I feel this way every morning I put a little sweet kindergartner on the bus. I have to 'entrust their souls to God while doing good'.

A great speaker at our church said it well:  faith is believing in character as much as capabilities. On a deeper level, I have to trust other caretakers that they are reliable in character as well as capabilities.

We would like to think that the kids will really miss us (most likely our spouses will after they spend a weekend or afternoon fending for it on their own), but we will probably miss them more. It is good for children to learn that the universe does not revolve around Mom either. Dads can really use the time alone, without us disturbing their mojo with interjections and 'that's not the way we usually do it' commentary. 

So, here's from the flight deck: fasten your safety belts and take off-- take off for an hour: don't worry about your kids or think about how if you're not there present with them, that you are disappointing them. For full-time moms as well as full-time working moms this helps us survive as well as spend our emotional energy wisely. Taking time off also helps us to recharge our capacity for helping them through life and crazy heart emotions. Getting away helps us use other parts of our brains, including strategic and creative centers.

Friends, when was the last time you got away?? I'm just going to try not to text my husband reminders of a million details this weekend for starters :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

To a real friend...

Do you have THAT wonderful friend? Mine is the kind that would make me Pinterest worthy lunches just because. She loves my kids almost more than I do. She always answers the phone in a crisis moment. And she is a smokin' hot wife to her husband that puts my love language to shame. Put it this way: she inspires me.

It's her 30th birthday and I am off flying off this weekend to celebrate. I'm so excited!

First of all, she's totally worth it. And, second, o. my. goodness. I am leaving my family behind for five whole days! Yes, it's another beach vacation (which, if you've been paying attention, is like the seventh beach trip this year) but more so, it's about quality time with some awesome women.

Do you have THAT friend? What makes elevates a normal friend to that upper status? All I know is that I sure learn alot from her-- she's the kind that tells me I'm crazy, or overreacting, or both. The truth is we all need someone like that in our life. Someone that can see us from the outside (not inside a family) and tell us the bracing, unabashed truth.

I think it's what is called fellowship.

Have you found that? Do you seek it out?

True fellowship sure takes a lot of work and it isn't for the faint of heart, because it involves lots of driving back and forth, late nights, lots of money, talking on the phone again to talk about that one thing over and over again, rescuing them from their own children, loving sacrificially, and letting them borrow your clothes (or their husband borrowing your husband's clothes-- shhh! don't tell them we did that!) along with a million cups of coffee and other, shall we say, sustaining beverages.

So, this is a homage to my friend. I never knew that someone could be closer than a sister. She proved me wrong, and I am so grateful, because I am so much of a better person. I am so excited to not even pretend to be a skinny as her (lucky!) and do what we do best: enjoy good food, drink calorie-laden mochas and keep on talking.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

If they put it on Amazon...

It must be real.

My (third) child has arrived. My friend just told me she preordered it. She should get a prize or something for being the first one to order it, right??

You can see it here, too.

It is our book: The Measure of Success: Uncovering the Outside-the-Box Biblical Perspective on Women, Work, and the Home.

It's due out sometime this spring officially, February 1, but, if you're crazy, like she and probably my Mom are, you can pre-order it here:

Friday, September 06, 2013

Competition, Bylaws and Negotiation: How Business Principles Apply To School Lunches

As you know, my daughter just entered Kindergarten this week. As a mom, and as a dietitian, I worry about her: not just her emotional well-being, and her fears, but her physical health too. Thus enters the lunch competition.

Their are a million blog posts out there about packing healthy lunches for your kids. Just like most mommy topics, plenty of amazing ideas can instantly trigger the 'm-sending-my-kid-with-Cheetos-shame and subsequent guilt.

Here's the truth: stop feeling guilty. It's not too late to make a plan and gain some ground.

But here's a more important truth: you have limitations and so do your kids. Maybe, your five year old won't eat organic sunbutter (here) or doesn't like nitrate free lunch meat (here again). Not to mention that not everyone has the time or energy to create gorgeous, organic bento box and flower shaped cutout fruit bowls.

I am blogging this in real time. My kids ate eggs for breakfast, but Kate just refused to drink a honey sweetened fruit smoothie. Blast. She's getting dehydrated at school and, ahem, you moms know what that means for their bowels. 

Challenges. They're real. Especially when it comes to kids and healthy foods. They're picky, they're forgetful, their distracted, and then, to top it all off you are competing with the cafeteria, aka the magical kitchen where they can get pizza, nuggets and everything else theywould  rather eat anyways.

Sure, K will eat salad and broccoli, where G will have none of it, but the comparison between my lunch and that lunch in the cafeteria is just a world of difference in their minds. Moms, they just plain want that other choice more.

Here's some tips: 

1. Let them choose some of what they want for lunch. Getting them involved will create buy-in, that thing every mom should know: marketing strategies must be applied to children so they want the food.

2. Create ground rules. Don't be manipulated by school-aged children. Just like you don't give them the option of brushing their teeth, enforce some healthy guidelines for that child and stick to your by laws aka drinking water instead of soda.

3. Bend the rules occasionally. The worst thing we can do for our children is to create a black and white world that doesn't exist in the real world. Live (yourself included) in the 80/20. Do the right thing 80% of the time so you can break out of the box 20% of the time. This is called negotiation, a very powerful tool when you wield the power, not them.

Last night we were having a crisis of grand proportion at the dinner table. K was crying hysterically that her enchilada filling (usually her favorite meal) was falling out of the tortilla. And G was crying because he wasn't hungry and refused to eat any more than one bite of both that and the side of cantaloupe  Wow. A new low. So, after we had our requisite two bites, I pulled Kate aside and told her Here, eat this piece of chocolate, and that I told her extra snuggle hugs and a piece of chocolate fix most problems. Boom. World crisis averted. Break the rules sometimes, moms, and get over it if they don't eat all the right food groups yet. Persistence will eventually win them over from the dark, I mean, junk side.

Finally, just give yourself a pat on the back for surviving the first week of school lunches and have a piece of chocolate.


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

First first.

The first first of many. We put Kate on the bus a few minutes ago for her first day of kindergarten. Although it is exciting to start a new adventure together, it is really hard to say goodbye. I was totally surprised by the tears that leaked out of the corners of my eyes as I smiled and waved.  She was very excited for the last few weeks, but a couple of nights ago, I think the reality sunk in for her too. She was going to be gone all day. All day. This isn't camp, or vacation bible school, but this is leaving her home life for something much bigger and much longer. She's usually a brave girl, not afraid of new people or places or experiences. But I could tell, for us both, that we were sad to leave each other. The bond that we've spent five years making is stretched with new distance. She has spent the time looking at the world through my eyes and now she will have new experiences that I will only see through her beautiful, blue eyes. I love you girl.