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Summer of Change

Typical Summers

I have been working since I was 15 y.o. with nothing more than a few weeks of vacation every year as a break.  The only extended chunk of time I ever had off was when I took the typical 6 or so weeks of maternity leave after having each of my kids.  Even then, especially as I grew in my career, there was still never a true feeling of ‘off time’ from work.   There was always some project or some deadline to think about.  Having a whole Summer off (and truly disconnect) is something I had often dreamed about but never thought possible.   Summers usually consisted of me or my husband driving our daughter to Summer day-camp, then going on about our daily grind: work.  There was no difference in our day to day between the seasons.  It was all the same: work.  I actually dreaded summers because it meant having to get up even earlier in order to bring my daughter to day-camp and have enough time to get to work on time.

This Summer, however,  was different.  Really different.

Summer of Change

You see, I have recently been through a significant life change.  For the first time in my life, I am not working.  Yes, my blog is entitled “a Working Mom’s Guide” but this is just a temporary season in my life- like Summer.  While I admit that the circumstance around me not having gainful employment is something that left me with constant self deprecating recordings that play over and over in my head, there was one bright light.  It gave me the opportunity to re-evaluate where my passion lies.  In addition, it has given me something more than any job could provide: endless time to devote to my family and a Summer of memory making that I and my daughter will forever remember.

We started the summer off on a softball high where my daughter and her U10 teammates celebrated a Division Championship.  Quickly, we transitioned into a softball summer camp.  It was four hours every day for 2 weeks and I was actually able to drive her to and from without having to rely on anyone else.  I was even able to watch and cheer her on from the stands during the exhibition part of the week.  Being so used to planning ten steps ahead or thinking about all the work that is due, this camp was the first time I came to the realization that I didn’t need to do any of that.  I actually got to live in that moment.

Fun Excursions

It’s not to say I wasn’t looking for work, I certainly was!  But when I wasn’t, I was planning for or on an excursion!  We went to the beach countless of times – I always had a beach bag packed and ready to go!  Living within a half hour from the ocean, it is a quick car ride to catch some waves and rays.  The summer before, I was only able to get to the beach once- maybe twice- so we certainly made up for it this year.

I was able to re-connect with an old friend.  This was something that I hadn’t been able to do or I just never made it a priority.  We went on a mountain excursion to see some beautiful falls and natural swimming holes.  The water was cool and crisp and the memories warm and amazing.

Ella and I then practiced a mother / daughter ‘camp out’ in our backyard.  We wanted to make sure we could set up our site on our own while in the comfort of our own yard.  It was a success! We then went on a 3 day camping trip with the aforementioned friend and her grandsons.  Can you say girlpower?   My daughter learned to pitch a tent, start a fire, and not rely on technology.  It was the best three days!

We traveled by train to Portland, Maine where we explored all the city had to offer.  In the past, I have always driven there by car so it was a super cool experience to travel by train.

We visited The Mystic Aquarium and the Mystic shops.  In addition, we were even able to explore downtown Mystic and see the drawbridge open!

We visited a local science center and learned about some of the amazing animals we have in our state.   Mini-golf was on the list as was being able to participate in 7-Eleven’s free slushy day!  I took her and her friends to the movies, out to lunch, to arcades, and they had several sleepovers! My daughter also had a few day trips with her friend’s families and left me to my own devices.  I took myself to a Sunflower festival and basked in their beauty.

Looking Back

As I reflect on the summer, it was all about reconnecting and grounding myself.  It is about realizing what is important and what deserves my time and attention.  It is about loyalty and realizing that friends and family deserve my loyalty over a place of employment.  I have realized this summer that  wherever my search takes me, I will be looking for that career to fit into my family and life.  I will not adjust my family and life for a career.

If I could give this summer a hashtag, it would truly be #bestsummerever!

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Lessons from the Softball Field

It’s been a few years but I am finally back to sitting on the sidelines watching my daughter play sports. Between my work, my school, my husband’s work and my daughter’s broken leg, we really haven’t been able to devote much time to sports. Now that our schedules are lighter and my daughter’s leg is completely healed, she is back out on the field.

I must say I missed seeing her have fun and learn how to work as part of a team. In addition, participating in sports allows my daughter to understand the importance of time management.  This is especially true in figuring out how to balance homework, practices and games!  She has also extended her circle of friends since she was able to play on an older team.  This is due to her date of birth relative to the cut-off for the specific age brackets. Not to mention, the exercise is good for her too!  Talk about the amount of transferable life lessons.

As I sit on the sidelines, I can truly say I am in awe. My daughter had not played in years and yet she put herself out there.  Softball was something she has always wanted to play and to start on an older team is tough.  She doesn’t remember much from her earlier team-sport experiences.  Plus, it was t-ball and nobody won or lost.  The age bracket she is currently on is child pitched and scores are kept.  Some of these kids have one heck of a pitch too!  But despite the newness of all of this, she shows up and she tries hard to learn what she can from the coaches and the other players.

After most games, the teams have a relay race around the bases.  It is a great way to end the game with everyone rooting each other on and getting out any remaining energy.  One day I sat there and cheered my daughter around the bases, I could see she was running her heart out.  She was towards the end of the lineup and her team had a slight lead over the visiting team.  As she rounded third heading home to tag the next runner, it happened.  In the blink of an eye, my daughter went from full sprint to a dead stop.  Her cleat got caught in a rut and she went down hard.  Face first with barely enough time to put up her hands.  The crowd went from loudly cheering to dead silence.  It was that kind of fall.

I fully expected her to lay on the ground crying and for her team to ultimately lose the relay.  But that is not at all what happened.  Instead, my daughter got right up and finished her leg of the relay.  At that point, you could tell she was holding back the tears and biting her bottom lip as the coach was assessing her for any injuries.   She ultimately did cry after all was said and done.  Despite the pain and some minor scrapes, there were no serious injuries from the fall.   Her team won the game that day but also the relay race.


How many times has this happened to you?  Not literally falling flat on your face, but figuratively.  Honestly there is such a profound lesson in this.  My daughter knew that she had people depending on her and that she needed to do her part and finish.  Despite the pain, she pushed through for her team when it would have been much easier just to stay down and cry.

Sometimes in family or work it is not about us.  Despite everything else, we must push through the pain, heart ache, difficulties and get to the finish line.  Whatever that may be- this is different for everyone.  Knowing that someone is depending on us, gives us a greater meaning and added responsibility.  This could be a child, a parent, a co-worker, a boss, a customer, etc.  I may pause to shed a tear or to eat a pint of ice cream but ultimately, I know that I too must push through because people are depending on me.  Whether we stumble with our children or loved ones or in our career, pushing through some of the difficult stuff will always make us a better person on the other end.

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All For Not?

Did you ever wake up and think to yourself: When I leave my child to go to work, do the lessons I try to teach them and show them get through?  I often think about this very subject during many early mornings.  I know that my older son is certainly on the right track but I was home a lot more with him as he was growing up.  My daughter is much younger and has seen me work away from the home through out most of her life.  This includes long hours, plentiful work trips, and an MBA to boot.  She is growing up in a completely different generation from her brother.  She actually makes him feel old!

Life Goals

Realistically, we all know that time is limited with all things- even people.  It is a precious commodity that once is gone, you cannot get back.  Sometimes, before getting out of bed, I lie there hoping that I have instilled important life lessons to both of my kids.  Especially my youngest who is still in her formative years.   The other week, I had a business trip and I didn’t see her for almost 24 hours.  Come to think of it, I didn’t even have time to talk to her.  It was a few days later when I was contemplating work and family that I come across proof that somehow, in some way she hears me.  My daughter is listening- even when she looks like she’s tuned me out.

I found her Boogie Board that she occasionally uses for notes and drawing when paper is not convenient or easily found.   These are great on trips or in the car.  It is essentially an electric piece of paper that erases with the touch of a button.  What I read on that that board, honestly makes it all worth it and reinforces the path I am on.  Ella had divided the board into two categories:  Weekly Goals and Key.

Ella’s Weekly Goals:

  • Eat Healthy
  • Exercise More
  • Make Better Decisions

Ella’s Key:

  • Be Happy
  • Be Responsible
  • Be Kind

Inspire

What else is there to write?  She sums it up nicely.  Not only does she share how to become a better person, but also what it takes to get there.  This little late night writing means the world to me.  As working Moms, sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to wondering if we are doing the right thing by our kids.  Think about it.  Every morning we bring our kids to school or to daycare and we entrust them to others for over eight hours a day! By the time we Moms get home, its supper and bedtime.  Have we done enough to instill anything of ourselves into our kids?

Heck Yes!!

It is time that we start deleting these negative comments in our head.  Kids are sponges in the way they absorb everything around them.  They see the way we handle ourselves through various situations, how we treat people we interact with, and they benefit from this exposure.  They also benefit from those they are around while we are at work.  Whether, they are at school, daycare or with a trusted family member or friend.  The saying is true: it does take a village- the right village.  I am so glad that my daughter is exposed to different people and experiences.  She understands compassion and empathy, fortitude, gratitude, and possesses an openness to new experiences, people, and adventures.

The next time thoughts come into your head about working and not being there every minute with your children, delete it.  Do not give those thoughts credence.  Instead concentrate on all of the great opportunities your are exposing to your children.  Yes, time goes by quickly so we have to make the most of what we have with them and trust that our children gain so much from us- even when we are not looking.

Now go ahead and do as Ella says and “Be Happy”.

 

 


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