Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Pyramid

“Last day of school – Yay?”

There are plenty of Mommas out there who can relate to this – I know I’m not the only one!

I love my children and I’m looking forward to all that Summer Vacation means for our family – but if I’m being honest? I’m kind of dreading it as well… Can you relate?

For about six hours a day, I know exactly where my kiddos are and I have the time and space to be get a lot of stuff done. Even though I work outside the home as well as within the home, my life resembles that of a stay-at-home-parent.

I wake everybody up, jump into the shower on days that I don’t work out, and on the days that I do, head into school sweaty and without any trace of vanity to drop my kids off where they need to be. Most days on time and with everything they need to be a successful student.

And then? Well, let’s be real – I don’t go home, pop my feet up, eat a few bonbons and catch up on my Netflix! I’m not even sure why the term “stay-at-home-parent” exists! I’ve yet to meet the parent who’s the primary caregiver that even spends much time at home. Okay, when the kids were young, I might have orchestrated my days around their nap schedules, and then preschool drop off and pick up, and now, elementary school drop off and pick up – but I’m rarely “sitting around.”

My 8-year old son actually said to me the other day, “I’ve often wondered what it is you do all day while I’m at school.” He said this with complete innocence and sincerity – and I wanted to throttle him for even hinting that I might just be “hanging out.”

I responded with, “Dude, if you were here on any given day to watch all that I get done while you’re away at school, you’d be exhausted!”

All of this makes me really wonder (with true admiration!) how families where parents work full-time outside of the home find the time to get anything else done?

Just going to the grocery store can take two hours! (No, I’m not making this up…) When I’m at the checkout and the cashier asks if I’d like someone to help me out to the car, it takes everything in me not to yell, “NO! I don’t need someone to take this stuff to the car! I need someone to come home with me, haul it all into my house, clean out my refrigerator of old food that’s been hiding and silently turning into a science fair project, rearrange my cabinets and then put all of the food away! Don’t you understand? I’ve only got four more hours of daylight before my full-time Momma duties resume!”

But instead, I just smile and say, “No thanks – I got it!”

On the rare days (like this one) where I don’t have anything work-related, or volunteer Board-related, or field trip-related, or “I-need-a-tri-fold-poster-board-for-my-project-that-I-just-found-out-about” (two-months-ago!) related issue on the calendar, then I get a short little window of time to say, return a cowboy hat to Target that I got months ago because it was so cute when I tried it on and then became seriously not cute when I got home, go to four (!) different stores in search of the stupid trifold poster board that apparently EVERY other one of the 1,600 students at my son’s High School all needed in the last week of school, go the grocery store and buy ALL the food, and maybe, just maybe, do a little bit of cleaning.

This leaves me with even less time to devote to the creation of my new website (under construction and coming SOON – Wahoo!), to write a quick blogpost, or explore writing an essay about pregnancy, birth and parenting for the new book idea that I’m super excited about.

Sigh.

This is my real reason for dreading the last day of school.

On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll see that “creativity” is right at the very tippy top of the pyramid. And there are a lot of levels to attend to first before you even get to consider fulfilling those needs (And yes, being creative is a need!) I started craving this need about five years ago and in all this time, I’ve attempted to fit it in around my role as primary at-home parent. As Momma, I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure that everybody else’s pyramid gets attended to.

Translation: Historically, MY pyramid doesn’t get as much attention during Summer Vacation as it does during the school year. Just a quick review of my blog over the past several Summers confirms this. The amount of posts on my blog go down between the last day of school and the first day of school. During Summer Break, just finding the time to sit, be still and create anything becomes much harder for me.

So, don’t blame me for not being 100% excited about the school year ending!

I’m looking forward to more time with my kiddos, I swear! I’m acutely aware that my oldest will be heading off to college who-knows-where in the Fall 2018, and this makes me very conscious of just how fast time is moving forward, and that I only get them for a short while, and that I should enjoy them while they’re still living under my roof, etc., etc. But…

This year, Summer Vacation is going to be different.

My personal goals for the months of June, July & August this year, entail not ignoring my own pyramid of needs. I’m putting it out there right now that even though I will, of course, continue to attend to my children’s pyramids – I’m going to make sure that my needs continue to be met. I’m going to attend to all the levels of my own pyramid – even those at the very tippy top!

Will you join me in this, fellow parents?

It might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s so much easier to make sure the kiddos are getting all they need, when we make sure that we’re getting all that we need.

Each one of the levels in this pyramid matter. YOU matter. Create those boundaries and model the behavior that you’d like your children to adopt. And then? You might be as excited as they are for the last day of school. And bonus – you might discover that this song is not quite so annoying!

Happy Last Day of School!

Why I No Longer Care If My House Is Clean…

Dusty

Let’s be real… I’ve never cared if my house is clean. But once I started having children, the pretty low standards I began with kind of bottomed out.

YAY! I’ve been published again on the parenting website, Red Tricycle! Please click here to read the rest of my article and then share it widely with those who you think might want to read it. And I’d really love it if you’d comment below if you feel like cleaning has taken a back seat to your parenting (“Misery loves company!” or maybe, “There’s solidarity in numbers!” – ??? In any case, it will make me feel a lot better about the state of my house if I know I’m not the ONLY one.)

#YourTrueCalling – Quest 2017 Begins

quest-2017

What is your vocation, your sense of callings as a human being at this point in your life, both in and beyond job and title?

And so it begins… Quest 2017! An adventure not for the faint of heart because this is just the first of thirteen prompts from visionaries in different fields provided to us “Questers” as an alignment for the coming year. Think of it as a full body (mind, heart, and spirit, too!) alignment, so that as the beginning of 2017 opens the best self is ready to bust open the door and do big things – with thoughtfulness and intention.

This first prompt, by Krista Tippet of On Being no less, gets the ball rolling by asking us to name our true calling. And if this is any example, we’re going to be going deep – fast.

I’ve written before about how the work that I do with expectant families is my true calling. In fact, it was the first post I’ve ever written on this blog. But over time that calling has shifted.

When I first started out, before I’d ever given birth or actually done any parenting of my own, I had the naive and at times self-righteous passion of a activist teenager. After all, I had taken the training, I had read ALL of the books, and I knew what was “best” for the women and families in my classes. I had a bad case of tunnel vision. Loads of desire and passion, but no real-life experience. I remember meeting with my families at reunions after they’d given birth and I would feel personally responsible, as though I’d let them down, if they ended up with a birth that didn’t look like anything they’d written on the Birth Plan they drafted during class.

As if I, or their 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, had any control over how their births would unfold.

I find myself today, almost 20 years and four children of my own later, with a completely different mindset. I’ve mellowed in some ways and gotten even more passionate in others.

The realities of pregnancy, birth and parenting are so much more nuanced than I once believed them to be. There are too many variables to account for, too many that are unseen or unexpected, for anyone to really make an actual plan about how these things will play out. So instead, I try to work with pregnant women and the people who love them in ways that I think will really prepare them for what’s to come.

  • I want the families in my care to have positive birth experiences – no matter how their births unfold. I want them to come to my class, or talk with me over the phone or on a Skype session and feel listened to, validated and understood.
  • I want them to have knowledge about how they can best fully participate in their births. To not only accept their feelings of vulnerability around this life-changing event, but to embrace these feelings and move toward them with intention.
  • I want them to feel confident in their ability to do this thing called birth, but also know what questions to ask when necessary that will help them make decisions in real time, as birth happens.
  • Instead of chasing after the ideal “Pinterest Birth Experience,” I want them to be ready for the real, authentic, messiness that often happens in birth. I want them to know that even when birth goes rogue, it can still be a Positive Birth Experience.
  • I want them to drop comparison and judgement from their birth and parenting experiences. Both of these things are so detrimental to developing a sense of self-confidence in their new role. Judgement of others stems from a deep sense of insecurity and does little to lessen it. And when time is spent imagining others’ experience, there’s no chance to enjoy or be present in this very real moment.

It’s hard for me to distinguish my professional from my personal vocation or calling – which is as it should be, in my opinion. I want my every interaction to be honest, open, authentic and real. That kind of connection with others can only happen from a place of trust. I need to trust that in laying myself bare, others can put down their own armor and we can meet heart to heart. That means acknowledging when I’ve made a mistake, asking for forgiveness, and admitting that I need help. It means practicing what I preach to the families in my classes: Don’t run from feelings of vulnerability, explore them with wonder and curiosity – remaining open to the transformation that can occur.

So… This is my first reflection to Quest 2017 with the ever-amazing Jeffrey Davis and his Tracking Wonder Team. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in December, a prompt for reflection will appear in my inbox – and depending on the nature of the prompt, I might choose to post my reflection here on the blog if I think it relates well to my work. If not, I’ll post to the private Quest 2017 Facebook forum for the group.

This Quest is open to the public and it’s completely FREE. You can join me and many, many others from around the globe as we intentionally and thoughtfully look to 2017 and map out how we wish to bring our best selves forward to do the work in our personal and professional lives that we feel called to do.

And, as happens from time to time, a song pops into my head while I’m writing a blog post. Seeing as the title of this first prompt is #YourTrueCalling, try and guess what song came to mind and Will.Not.Go.Away? It’s not an exact fit, but it’s a pretty great ear worm. If you’re so inclined, you can give it a listen and a look here. (80’s MTV at it’s best…)

I’m One of the “Spokes” on Red Tricycle!

redtricycle-spoke-contributor

Whoop! Whoop!

Just found out that one of my blogposts from about a year ago has been picked up and published on Red Tricycle. If you’re not one of the 8 million parents that access this site on a regular basis, Red Tricycle is a kind of go-to, online parenting website where families can discover cool things to do with their kiddos, both nationally and locally. Over the years, if I’ve had a long weekend ahead of me, I’m not scheduled to teach a class, and I need some ideas about what to do with the kiddos, I’ve definitely checked them out!

Recently, they’ve started posting articles that are not just about fun things to do as a family, but more about the experience of parenting. That’s where I come in!

I submitted a blog post I wrote about a year ago which is titled, The Parental Code of Honor. It’s my offering to get all parents – expectant, newbies, even veterans – to support one another as we try our very best to do the hardest, most rewarding job many of us will ever have: the job of raising our children.

None of us is perfect at this. Thankfully, none of us have to be.

But the first step in supporting one another in this parenting journey is to only offer suggestions and advice – when specifically asked to do so.

You can find this and other tips about how to support one another in The Parental Code of Honor published just this morning at Red Tricycle. And if you haven’t checked them out before, stay awhile and poke around. They have lots of cool ideas about how to make the most of your life with little people. Including this list of 20 awesome things to do with your kids in Portland over the long Labor Day weekend. By the way, MY family will be busy doing #14! 

PS – Have a great holiday weekend, and thanks so much for your support. 

What About The Book, Barb???

WhatAboutTheBook

“How’s the book coming?”

Why does such an easy question inevitably lead to such a complicated answer?

Yesterday morning, I told my visiting mother-in-law that I was going downstairs to try and write for “just a little bit.” Which prompted her to ask me about “the book” and “how it was going.” I felt compelled to try and answer even though I knew I had a very small window to write because of the way my day was unfolding. 

I only had so much time before trekking off to our local park to fill 100 water balloons for my kids field day celebration I was volunteering at later in the afternoon. As it turns out, field day was happening just a couple of hours before the ice cream fundraiser that I’d coordinated earlier in May. And both of these things were happening after a late night of mentoring a new educator, and before heading off to teach a class while two new (different!) educators would be observing me as part of their on-boarding orientation.

So, where does my writing fit in when I’ve got so much teaching and mothering going on?

Some days, it takes priority and I set aside hours to flesh out an idea for a blogpost, or review my BIG book about birth to see if it’s still in alignment with what I’m wanting to convey, or compile blogposts about “The 4th Trimester” into what I’m hoping will be a smaller, e-book about “What To Expect After You’ve Been Expecting.” (What do you think of this tentative title? I’d love to know…)

On those days, when I have the time to devote to these projects, I sit at my dining room table, put on my streaming Jazz station and get to work. My writing seems to mirror my extroverted personality: just put it out there, onto the page, all at once. I can get to a really, really rough draft of close to a 1,000 words pretty quickly.

And then the fun part happens – editing.

I’ve created a really odd writing habit. I write the first draft as a document and then cut and paste it into my blog site’s editing mode. I might edit the piece 25-30 times before I hit the “publish” button, but I always keep a copy of the original document on file. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s so I can look back and see how much improved my final post is before any of you get to see it.

But all of this takes a lot of time.

So on those “writing days” everything else falls by the wayside. And by “everything,” what I really mean is cleaning the house. It’s gotten to the point where I need to schedule some gatherings at my house just in order to actually clean it up every once in awhile. Thankfully, I have a hubby and kids who get what I’m trying to do. They support me completely, and rarely point out that I’m quickly losing any hope of winning the title, “World’s Best Housekeeper” (Which, let’s be honest, I’ve never been in the running for.)

But on days like yesterday, I strap myself in, write what I can, and move into “git-er-dun” mode.

“How’s the book coming?” Well, yesterday my answer went something like this…

I’m still concentrating on THE BOOK, but there are a lot of other things that I do and that need my attention in order for the book to be what I want it to be. I’m taking steps to update my blogsite into an actual website. I’m gathering the curriculum to begin offering my Becoming Us classes. I’m co-teaching some great trainings for L&D nurses so they can concentrate on ways to provide more support for their patients who are hoping for an unmedicated, low or no-intervention birth experience. I’m mentoring three new educators into this field that I have such a love and passion for. I’m creating a new DBA (“doing business as”) account under my name and printing business cards. I’m focusing my attention more on the smaller book about early postpartum and figuring out exactly what’s necessary to bring that project to completion. And so, THE BOOK is on the back burner at the moment.

And I’m doing all of these other things between the hours of 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, M-F (on a good day!) Evenings, weekends (and field days!) – I’m busy doing other stuff. I know I’m not the only Momma out there who’s right in the thick of it, trying to carve out time for herself and her creative pursuits while in the middle of life. But as I wrote just last week, I can’t do it all, and I’m (trying) to be okay with that.

My impatient self would like to be “done already” on so many of these projects. But my wiser, less-impulsive self is realizing that whatever is worthy of my attention, whatever is worthy of being shared with the world, takes time. Time is a priceless commodity and it is finite – there are only 24 hours in a day, after all.

And by the time I’d written that sentence, I’d just about used up all the time I’d allotted for the day, in terms of writing. So, off I went to eat a quick lunch before water-balloon-filling-duty began.

I encourage all of you to realize that whatever “thing” you’re trying to accomplish today, this week, month, year – has to somehow fit into the daily living of your life. Take stock of all that you do in a single day and realize what progress you’re actually making.

You’re moving toward the completion of your projects – they’re not going anywhere without you! Just remember to breathe and do what is able to get done today. Try not to let the past fill you with regrets of wasted time and effort – it was all necessary to be where you are right now. And don’t let the future be filled with panicked thoughts of “When will it ever get done?”

Just today – take stock of all that you accomplished in every area of your life. And allow yourself to feel good, and strong, and proud. This is the only way I know how you’ll be able to get up tomorrow morning and keep on trucking.

Most of the time, I write these posts for you, but I realize now that this is one I wrote for myself. I hope that doesn’t come across as too indulgent! I think I needed to both write and read this post more than anyone else. I needed to take stock of where I’ve been, where I am now and where I’m hoping to end up – eventually.

Thanks for your support. It really is appreciated. And thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law! She gave me this blog post topic to write about – and a new perspective to think about.

I’m Adding “Guest Storyteller” to My Bio!

KNOWING-300x300

 

I’m so pleased to have been asked to be a part of the lovely, Marisa Goudy‘s #365StrongStories project by contributing this super short reflection (especially for me, dear reader!) about the moment that I figured out what the word, “mother,” really meant.

Knowing Motherhood

My baby lay on my chest, warm and wet from being born just moments before. I called my parents to announce they were grandparents – again. This was their 10th, but my first. Still high on the other side of giving birth, I looked at her impossibly tiny fingernails, and dialed. My Dad picked up on the first ring shouting with joy. Mom got on next and the minute I heard her voice, I burst into tears.

“I’m so sorry!”

Concerned, she asked, “For what, honey?”

“For all the times that I said I’d be home by midnight and didn’t come home until 2 am! For all the times you must have worried. For everything!”

She chuckled, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” Which only made me sob harder.

How is it that the word “mother” remains unknown, unknowable, until you are a mother yourself?

Just as my mothering journey was beginning, the veil that obscured motherhood had been pulled away. Suddenly and with great clarity, I realized that all of those times I’d been convinced my Mom was “ruining my life” were just her attempts to save me from harm. I couldn’t make sense of this at the time. The center of my universe was me.

Now, holding this completely dependent, tiny little person, I realized the enormity of it all. I had just irrevocably committed myself to doing everything possible to raise this child into adulthood with an intact and healthy spirit. What the hell was I getting myself into?

I couldn’t believe that my Mom had made this commitment six times – all without a mother of her own to call and apologize to.

Where does this determination come from? To love so fiercely that your heart catches in your throat at the thought of your baby ever getting hurt?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. But my Mom was willing to show up and answer them. I’m forever grateful that I have the opportunity to show up and answer them myself, however imperfectly.

But I admit it: I’m looking forward to receiving that call to support my own daughters when it’s time for them show up and try to answer these questions on their own motherhood journeys.

 

To learn more about Marisa Goudy’s #365StrongStories project, visit here. Subscribe to the weekly digest to read more stories of motherhood and the quest for a magical, creative life and pick up Marisa’s free guide to telling stories that connect. It’s great!

I’m a Literary Mama!

LMToday is the day!

I received the official news from the editors at Literary Mama that my essay I submitted to them in late Summer, which eventually went through six revisions, has gone live!

I’m so excited for this “origin story” to be out there in print. It tells how I came to be a writer, a title which I am finally beginning to own. The process of working with the editors at LM was wonderful for me. They were patient, encouraging and I could feel with each back and forth that they were really wanting my piece to be the best version possible. I think we achieved that together: my words + their editing prowess.

If you’re interested in great writing by women, who also happen to be mothers, please do yourself a favor and head over here to read some amazing stuff.

And while you’re there, read my essay and join the revolution, won’t you?

Thanks so much for your continued support of me and my writing. It means everything to me!

PS – If you have a story to tell, or a personal revolution you’re wanting to start – but need guidance just how to do this in an authentic way, I highly recommend Jeffrey Davis and his Tracking Wonder team of professionals. Jeffrey is leading this group of amazing individuals who are committed to doing business as unusual, and unlocking your best potential.