Friday, January 6, 2017

Looking back and looking ahead: words and photos.

H I G H L I G H T S of 2016:
P R E G N A N T: Getting pregnant and sharing the news.
T W O: Everett turning two, and with that becoming more fun, independent, active, talkative, and crazy.
T R A V E L: Taking two trips to Yosemite, my happy place (hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls, cross country skiing, hiking to the top of Nevada Falls), a summer trip to Mammoth, and a summer trip to San Francisco.
W O R K: Ending the school year completing two projects with my students that I loved and am passionate about. One project focused on refugees and we partnered with two local non-profit organizations and the other focused on reading and access to books and was made possible through a grant I applied for. Starting the school year as an instructional coach in the school community that I love so much.
S A N D I E G O: Continuing to explore our beautiful city and go on little local adventures with our family.
B I R T H: Having baby Cambria (giving birth, finding out she was a girl, Everett meeting his sister). I still get teary eyed thinking about our time in the hospital.
F A M I L Y: Figuring out how to be a family of four. We still haven't figured it out, but we are trying.


What a year of highs and lows.

As I sit here typing this, Everett is on a run with Matt, my Christmas tree is lit, I am holding a sleeping baby in my arms, and enjoying a beer, because all my presents are wrapped, our car is packed, and we are ready for Christmas, so that is a reason to celebrate.  

I was looking through my journal from January, and one of my hopes for 2016 was to get pregnant. Here I sit holding my two month old baby, and I could not be more grateful. My heart is so full, yet, I am also extremely exhausted from the day in and day out (and nights!) of motherhood. 

My life looks pretty different from what it looked like at the beginning of 2016. A year ago, I spent my days teaching high school, and was beginning work on a refugee project in collaboration with two local non-profit organizations and my students. I was doing social justice work that I deeply believe in, and it was easy to feel like I was doing my part in the world to make a difference. I spent my afternoons with Everett, and was able to attempt that ever elusive balance of career and motherhood. We hoped to get pregnant, but it hadn’t happened yet. And, let’s go there, Obama was president.

Now, I am a stay at home mom to two kids, a newborn and a toddler. I am getting a lot less sleep, connecting a lot less to the real world outside of my home,  and Trump is going to be our president soon. 

I am tired and happy and wondering what is next for me and my family, and frankly, for our country and our world as this year has seemed full of violence and hopelessness for so many. 

I begin 2017 taking an extended maternity leave from my career, since I won’t go back until August, and I spend my days feeding a newborn every 2-3 hours, changing too many diapers to count in a day, and playing with a toddler who is so full of life and energy and talks ceaselessly. Just this morning over the course of an hour we read books, played in the tent, played in the playhouse, “cooked” pretend pizza, played trash truck, saw the real trash truck in the alley, rode bikes, played the drum, had a picnic, cuddled, and played cars. My days are full, yet simple. The song “Let it Go” is Everett’s current favorite, and we dance to it and sing it often. It has taken on new meaning for me, because as much as I rolled my eyes at it’s popularity a few years back, it turns out that it is the current soundtrack to my life, both literally (it is always playing in my head) and figuratively. I am trying to let so much go and take on a new perspective. 

I am so in the thick of parenting that I am struggling with how to connect beyond the walls of my own home. I am used to being involved in a community of change makers (students and teachers), doing good work, making an impact, and it is both emotionally and mentally difficult for me to feel like the only area I am impacting is my own home, and two children who will never even remember this time in their lives. I don’t know if that means I am meant to be a working mom, or if I need to change my perspective to realize the importance of the work I do for my family. 

I have reflected a lot this year on being a woman and a mom. It has always been important to me to be a strong empowered woman, and a big part of that for me that has meant getting a bachelor's and a master's and a career in an area that I feel like I can make a difference. I want to be an equal partner with my husband, which to me includes making money. For now, I need to let go of those expectations for myself and focus on my family. For some reason, I feel like if I am going to be a stay at home mom, that I need to have a perfect house and be domestic. Honestly, my greatest strengths are never going to be cooking and cleaning, nor would I want them to be. When I am in the midst of cleaning, and Everett comes up to me and says, “Play with me, mama,” I have a hard time saying no. 

I want to explore more this year how I can be an empowered stay at home mom, and I think that a good place to start for me is to focus on the idea that I am enough and I need to be true to myself.   

As I was looking through the books I read in 2016, a few quotes from Brene Brown stood out to me as I end the year. In Daring Greatly, she writes, “To set down those lists of what we’re supposed to be is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.” Further, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” On parenting, she writes, “The real questions for parents should be: ‘Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?’… The mandate is not to be perfect… Perfection doesn’t exist.”

What I love to do as a mom, and what I think I am good at, is being engaged and playing with my son. We build houses out of cardboard, forts out of blankets, we read so many books that he has his favorites memorized, we play cars and dinosaurs and trains, we spend hours outside in the backyard playing soccer, riding bikes, having picnics, and “cooking” dinner. We color and we paint. We take baths and sing in the shower. We have dance parties. None of that is extraordinary, and yet, it is so beautiful and fun and important. 

Other things that bring me joy are taking photos, making videos, running, doing yoga, being outside, going on adventures, exploring San Diego, reading, journaling, and so those are things that I hope to do in 2017 in addition to my main role of mothering.


H O P E S for 2017:
M O T H E R in a way that is true to myself.
D O C U M E N T life through taking photos, making videos, and journaling as a way to practice gratitude and focus on joy.
B A L A N C E motherhood with other areas of my life.
C O N N E C T with my husband, friends, and community.
Have G R A T I T U D E for this beautiful life.
L O V E life, people, and our world.
A D V E N T U R E with my family.
Be A C T I V E.


2016 in P H O T O S:

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