Jen writes

May 14, 2014

Happysad

This morning I wrote my last preschool tuition check—late, like just about all of them, but last. I started writing at Momalom when this soon-to-be kindergartener of mine was just about six months old. How did that happen?

The milestones keep coming, and we enjoy them and smile and remark about how it all goes really fast. It’s sad and it’s happy and if I dwell too long, it’s more sad than happy. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling that tells me I haven’t done enough. I should have had another baby. I would finally know what to do the fourth time around. The feeling that tells me that I haven’t enjoyed the moments enough. That I’ve focused too much on the constantly dirty floors and the piles of the laundry and the half-eaten apples on the kitchen counter.

But if I don’t dwell too much. If I move around just enough that the feeling doesn’t settle in the pit of my stomach, I can feel it instead move to my chest, my heart swelling with pride at this baby of mine, a baby no more. Like every mother lucky enough to witness this growing up of the children who carry them through their every day, there is nothing quite like pausing to look at this little person of yours and allow yourself to think back about the time when she was so much littler. (Like yesterday. Wasn’t she littler just yesterday? Really. Weren’t her pants long enough yesterday?!)

My children rely on me for a lot. Reasonably clean floors. Reasonably clean clothes to wear. Fruit that is not too bruised to eat. One of the secrets of parenting, though, is that I rely on them for more. That this more makes me a better person as each day passes and as the years add up, more birthday candles to buy at every turn. Every day being a mother makes me stronger. Kinder. More aware of my actions. More aware of my reactions. Every day my three children smile at me and roll their eyes at me. They grow and change. They challenge and frustrate. They fall and get back up. They soar, and I wipe away the tears. My tears. They still don’t understand the connection of tears to absolute joy.

Next year is the one year in this parenting gig that our three children will be attending the same school. This feels big. It feels like the beginning of another stage for all five of us. And I’m focusing on this, because the last check, as glad as I am to have come to the end of seven straight years of preschool payments, sure as heck feels like high-water pants and my baby going off into the world on her own. From the pit of my stomach to my hand clutching at tissues, I am happysad and in awe.

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Jen writes

February 14, 2014

#smallandmighty

This Valentine’s Day I love Project: Underblog. I know, you’ve heard me say it before. But I’m telling you again, because this community is small and mighty. And you’re invited to join. We’re in a great transition right now, with room for submissions while we make some really cool updates and start to roll out some even cooler campaigns. If you have something to say and no where to say it, Project: Underblog may be the perfect fit. If you have something you’ve said and want a new community to read your words, send us that post. We’ll share it! All of us at the ol’ Underblog understand that life moves fast. We’re busy with work and book contracts, children and our own writing. We’re a small community of big ideas, and we want to share them with you. So come on by, take a look, read a few posts, leave a comment, ask a question.

 

We’re small. We’re mighty. Join us.

 



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Jen writes

February 11, 2014

On Being Worthy

I don’t have time to be writing this. I have deadlines to meet, PTO work to get done. But the words I should be working on are being pushed aside, because there are words I need to get down, out of the way. There are things I need to work through, and this is the only way I know how.

Last night I watched half of a TEDx talk by Brené Brown. Half. Because that is my life right now. Too busy to find 17 consecutive minutes to sit and watch a video. Even if it is exactly perfect. Exactly what I need to be watching. The right message. The right everything.

Last night I also read half of a post by Katrina Kenison, whom I adore. But, again, a full post. Who has time? But as I was scrolling down to get to the bottom of the post to maybe comment (it was a giveaway post; and the giveaway a book – irresistible) I scrolled too far too fast, skipping the comments and seeing the name of this blog there, on hers, with so many other blogs that seem to me more established, more important, more worthy.

Worthy. The word actually crossed my mind. That word. Maybe because of that half of a video by Brené Brown, who was speaking about worthiness. About how we can so easily get in our own ways (or at least that’s what I took from the first half of the video).

Years ago, long before my blogging journey, before parenthood, at the very beginning of my current well-established partnership with Sweetie, practically in another life, my path crossed with Katrina’s. And I was so timid. So hesitant. I didn’t feel worthy. I see it now. I was intimidated. There she was, living across the street from the family I was babysitting for frequently. She had her own house, her own children, and she had a job that seemed mythical to me. A job with words, with printed words, a job reading and editing, the end result—I saw—her name on books. I couldn’t imagine ever getting to that place. And I got in my own way by not just saying hello. She was practically always smiling. What was I so afraid of? On many occasions the boys I was babysitting for were playing with her boys. It would have been so easy for me to walk up and introduce myself formally.

I am a very different person now. My kids have made me braver. It’s a necessity, when you have to speak up for your children. You have to step out of your own way. You have to put aside wondering what people are thinking of you. You have to do your best, try to be respectful and understanding of the person you’re talking to. You have to hope they will do the same for you. You have to go easy.

I feel worthy in a lot of ways now. My children are a gift. Three gifts. To have become a mother was all I really knew I wanted for so very long. And to have a family that is so full of energy is something that I don’t take for granted. I don’t write a lot about the intricacies anymore. But I think all the time about these smiling children, the older helping the younger get cereal in the morning just one tiny instance that makes my heart tickle with recognition that I have done right. That Sweetie and I have endured and thrived and have so much more work to do.

But the blog is neglected. A blog is a lot of work. For it to be all that I want it to be, anyway. And I don’t have the time. And the passion for it comes in fits and starts. But I want it to be worthy. I want it to be good. I want to be here and be engaged.

As I scrolled through comments on Katrina’s post I saw so many familiar faces and names already there. Bloggers whom I met through this one. Through our Five for Ten so many years ago, and over and over again since then. It’s a community that is still there, even if I feel removed or—honestly—not quite pulling my own weight. I can’t give blogging my whole self anymore. And I have to get out of my own way and stop apologizing for that. There aren’t a lot of comments. I don’t even look at page views anymore. But it’s still one of the places I feel I belong and that I can get out my words on this busy morning when I REALLY don’t have time to be pouring out word after word. There’s something about Just Write (122!) that has brought me here today to ponder my own worthiness and to tell you to go find that Brené Brown video and read that Katrina Kenison post about Kelly Corrigan’s latest book or Just Write your own thoughts. There is so much REAL on the Internet. So very much. It’s worth it to just take a little time.

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