Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Daughter, Myself

In just a 17 days, my daughter, the adorable one, turns 2.  There's a lot of twoishness going on - pickiness about nearly everything, from what she eats and wears to whether she wears anything at all, temper tantrums, the ever-enjoyable turning into a limp noodle-being and sinking to the floor when she doesn't want to go somewhere, and a whole big lot of the word 'no'.  Pretty normal for an almost 2 year old, all things considered.

I love to watch her though.  She's curious about pretty much everything, and she's convinced with the right balloon she could fly.  She's outgoing, and seems to have an idea about people - more than once she's provided a hug to someone at exactly the right time.  It's like she has a 6th sense about that kind of thing.  I both love to watch her grow right before me, and pray that she doesn't grow too fast.  I  get the empty nest thing now, I know I will be both proud, and deeply saddened when it's her turn to fly off. 

Motherhood has changed me.  It's inevitable, really - parenthood starts when a rather smallish little dictator is delivered to unsuspecting parents.  Babies are adorable dictators, but dictators still.  All of a sudden, you go from being all about you - albeit not as svelte a you as perhaps you were accustomed to being before the advent of the whole pregnancy thing - to being all about someone other than you.

But that's not the surprising part.  I sort of expected that part, although the sheer brutality of 12 months without a single night of more than 5-6 hours of sleep (and often less) would startle anyone.. anyone who could work up the energy to be startled, that is.  To be honest, I still don't often get a good night's sleep.  But even that isn't the really big surprise.  

The really big surprise is that not only did parenthood change my focus, it changed the way I see the world.  If I had empathy before, but it's nothing like now.  Kids who are hungry, in  need of medical care, or heck, just winter boots - are deeply upsetting to me.  Our giving, both planned and ad-hoc, has gone up exponentially in this area. To the point where Sander occasionally attempts to remind me that saving the world is beyond our means.  

But in many areas, it's also crystallized my feelings.  I think some things to me are more fixed and firm than they were before.  I'm open minded about some things, and about most people, but I'll never be able to vote Republican.  I tend to think that motherhood forced me to become a more ruthless editor of my life - tossing out once and for all the possibilities that likely will never fit me so that there's room for the possibilities that may.  There's that cliche about never saying never, but I think it's okay sometimes.  I've made it to 37 years old and still don't like lima beans, I'm comfortable saying that they will never cross my doorstep.  The only way you are getting lima beans down my throat is if it's 50 years from now when I'm drooly and in the old folks home.  Because by then I might not care, or be able to tell the pureed lima beans from the pureed peas.

Motherhood has also helped me to understand loss.  To have a child is to forever have that little finger of fear in your heart.  I know enough people who have either lost a child or children who have lost a parent while they were still young to not feel vulnerable.  And a recent loss of our own over Thanksgiving, of a baby in the first trimester brings that possibility of loss much more in the present.  I literally thank God every day for keeping the adorable one healthy and safe. 

Parenthood has made my marriage infinitely more solid...and infinitely more fragile.  It took a while for us to adjust, but we're more of a team than we've ever been, and rediculously happy to boot.  That said, I'm now so much more aware of what could go wrong. 

And I even now get why someone like Michelle Duggar keeps doing the baby thing.  It's hard to look at your child as a blessing and not see more as a blessing too.  Not going for 19, not even more than 2 - but I do understand it.  

I get what it means to love someone just for loving your child.

I get why parents will give up everything and anything to ensure their child has what he or she needs. 

Motherhood is a funny thing.  It takes what you think you know about the world and upends it on it's ear.  But you don't really mind, and after a while it starts to seem rather normal..after a while, you wonder how you could have ever seen the world any different.

My daughter is about to turn 2, and it's a milestone for me too.  There's no Peep and the Big  Wide World party for my milestone, but that's okay - it's one any mother or father could recognize.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is There Enough Oil To Fuel The Economic Recovery We All Want?

Allow me to direct your attention to Jeffrey Rubin's very interesting question here.

I'm not saying he's right or wrong.  But I thought it was a fascinating, and prescient take on our current economic conundrum.

Is there?  No idea, but it will be interesting to find out.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


This year, for the first time, I took the week between Christmas and New Year's off.   It's a good week to take off in the corporate world - there is little going on, and most people take at least some vacation.

We didn't go anywhere - we've been on the road a lot this year, between weekends to visit family, our 1200-mile road trip this summer,  a few trips up to Moosehead Lake, where my husband and his parents have cabins, and some other random trips, so some time home was a good idea. 

Still it was busy - a good chunk of time was spent on the perpetual tidying-up wheel as a steady stream of visitors came through last week, starting on Christmas day and running up until New  Year's Eve.  Okay, one of those visitors was my mother, who came over for a few hours so that we could have a date -  we even achieved the holy grail of parents with a toddler, seeing a the theater.  Yes, folks, it can happen (it only took us 22 months) Alert the media.

But we spent a lot of time relaxing and doing stuff as a family, which was great.  I think the greatness was augmented by the fact that with a few sanctioned exceptions, when I needed to  remote in to work, I totally disconnected.  I read the news online in the mornings, but that was about it.  Whole days went by when I didn't even check email on my blackberry.

The end of November and all December was a bit like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for me, and as a result, for my husband and daughter.  I had a fair amount of work and non-work commitments, and to top it off, I ended up stepping in at the last minute for a major transition in my - not my client - company unexpectedly in early December, when the person who owned the work I took over had a double family emergency.  By the time I came up for air from that, the holidays were in full swing, and we were not ready.  So we headed in to Christmas at a dead run, which wound down oh...about 9:15 am Christmas morning when I got the turkey stuffed and in the oven.   While a room full of people was waiting for me so that they could open presents.

Fun, right?

So I owed my family some time, after long workdays followed by weeknights and weekends of 'I just need a few hours to...' .  Disconnecting meant some requests didn't get answered in a timely manner, and that I punted on a few things I probably should have stepped up for.  But it was worth it, because I managed for the first time in a while to put my family first, above all the other stuff going on.  And wow, did they need it.  So did I.

My life - and many others around me - have become about 24/7 contact.  Texts are expected to be answered in minutes, not hours.  IM is the norm at work, which is a mixed blessing.  It saves me from endless conference calls, but it is a pain in the butt, and has interrupted more work than I prefer to think about.  I used to go days without answering email, but now I answer it daily.   Our new normal is to be available...always.

And I think it's a really mixed bag.  Sure, instant information is handy.  But the constant flow of texts, emails, IMs and alerts means that few things happen uninterrupted these days.  There's always something external that needs paying attention to, and opportunities pass by those who don't stay on top of the stream of data that flies our way.  But relationships are the best thing in my life.

Because I disconnected, I got to fully enjoy introducing my daughter to real, live penguins at the aquarium without distraction.  I got to spend a full hour talking to my 90 year old great aunt about her experiences as a nurse in the Phillipenes during World War II when I visited her in the hospital while she recuperates from a fall.   I spent long hours talking to my husband about everything and anything.  I played blocks, dinosaurs and chase with my daughter, minus the almost ever-present feeling that I should be doing something else. I slept in, took naps, and read. 

My life doesn't often afford me the opportunity to sign off for a few days.  But I think I'm going to make it an annual goal to do so every year at the holidays.  It's far too easy to overlook the really important stuff when the texts are flying.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Should You Have New Year's Resolutions?

I set new year's resolutions every year.  Sometimes I keep them, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes, around April or May of a given year, I find myself racking my brains to even remember what those resolutions were.

It's a process.

But I plan to keep making resolutions, and here's why:

I think setting goals and not meeting them is better than no goal-setting.  I also believe that writing down one's goals (note to self:  writing them on post-it notes you then proceed to lose is not a good methodology) helps you achieve those goals, even if you never look at that piece of paper or blog post again. I am a case in point, see my note to self above. I couldn't tell you why that works, but it does.

Whether you set those goals on January 1st or August 14 doesn't matter.  It's the setting of them, writing them down, and then taking specific actions to move in the direction of achieving them that matters. 

So what are my goals for 2011?  I have a few, in a few different categories.

1. Blog more.  I certainly did better than in 2009, but I'd like to manage 5-7 blog posts a week.  I think it's achievable, but it will take a commitment to do so.

2. In conjunction with that, a redesign of my site and a concerted effort to move more traffic to it.  

1. Spend more time in the garden.  This is also a way to add focused family time to our lives, as well as increasing our food yields and improving our landscaping.

2. Exercise more. Between work, which is rarely just 40 hours,  commuting 2+ hours a day most weekdays, family life, friends, and external commitments, this is just one thing I have not managed to fit in.  But I need to figure this one out, because it's having a detrimental effect on my life.

3. Less TV.  Because we're so tired so much of the time, TV is the default entertainment most nights.  Because of that, we've pushed off other things that may be just as enjoyable.  I'll shoot for 1 night a week free of TV.

4. Spend more time with friends.  Sadly, because of the reasons in #2, friends often get bumped to the bottom of the list.  I need to work on that.

1. Start work on my PMP.  It's something I've pushed off

2. Use my network to continue to try and drum up both clients for my company and work for my husband

1. Plant more fruit trees and perennials, such as berries.  

2. Enlarge the garden

3. Insulate and re-side our house, which will help with how much heating oil we burn.

4. Grow and/or find more sources of local food, and spend more time preserving it.

Well, it's a long list, but even if I only get it half done, that's pretty good.  It will be interesting to see how the list turns out.

Happy New Year!!

How about you? Do you make resolutions? Why or why not?