The Grace of Giving Up

The last two years have been a whirlwind of joy, successes, milestones, good food, great friends, and new adventures. In the midst of all of that joy, there have been some real challenges. There was a dark cloud that colored the past two years in my life, and it can be pinpointed to one thing: I did not take kindly to being a working mom.

After maternity leave, I lost the luxury of being at home with my Emma Beaux. It was tough to miss things like Emma’s first steps while I worked on projects that took me across the state and country. Hearing secondhand accounts of my child’s milestones hurt in ways I could not imagine. This heartache weighed on me and I struggled to be a good employee because half of my soul, heart, and being was miles away. I had one of those all-encompassing jobs that I thought required all of me. If you know me, you know that I have always given my all to work and academia because that’s where I found my greatest validation.  As a result, I did not have grace with myself, and decided that I could  not be the employee my company required and the super mom that Hollywood depicts.

I couldn’t. I cried. A lot. And then I quit my job.

Quitting was the best decision I could have made for myself and our family. Quitting initiated a few things: Calvin started a dream professional scenario, we took 3 months in Maine to heal and enjoy summer and family, and then we moved again, to a new place. I had no job, no career plan, and honestly I was equal parts excited to be a full-time mom and terrified of what that might mean. I had no idea what would fill our days or how I would nurture Emma’s precocious mind. Emma and I were both excited for our new adventure. However, our first day at home together was less heaven and more of a National Lampoon’s vacation from hell. I learned that toddlers require a lot of scheduling, and that fights between momma and kiddo can happen well before those teenage years. “Two-nagers” can be equally as sassy as pre-teens, let me tell ya.

Thankfully, God set provisions out for us. We set up a fun schedule, we made new friends, and we rarely said no to play. Those were our rules. We changed Emma’s nap time to coincide with the nap times of friends. We structured our days with morning play, time to reflect, and afternoon coffees with folks I admire. We plugged friends, libraries, museums, parks, and gyms into all of our free time. There was no deadline to meet, and no boss to please, so we embraced flexibility and self-care. To that end, I started practicing yoga and got to catch up on reading. Spending time with my girl helped me to get to know her and learn more about myself.

Recently, I started an incredible new job. I always  knew in my spirit that my time at home with Emma would not last forever. So I was determined to savor every moment. I wanted to be whole again. I wanted to find myself and be the type of mom that I dreamed of being. Leaving the corporate world for a beat allowed me to do this work. I had to quit to make room for play, and I had quit to realize my value. What I learned in my 8 months of being a full time mom was grace. I learned to have grace with myself, grace with my husband, and grace with a toddler and her independent spirit.

Grace brought me full circle. The issue wasn’t with being a working mom. It was with giving myself wholly to work that didn’t fulfill me. It was with trying to be all things to all people. Grace gave me the peace to find validation away from offices and work product. I was able to define my own success. Now, my work life is in the proper context and amplified by the smiles that I know will greet me when I log off for the day.

 

Fake News Is For The Children

Fake news is a global debate. NPR’s Avi Wolfman-Arent wrote a story  detailing how fake news is affecting students. Wolfman-Arent spoke to middle-school teacher Nick Gurol, who says his students now believe the Earth is flat because NBA player Kyrie Irving has been an outspoken proponent of the scientifically inaccurate theory. I sent this article around to some friends and we joked about how unfair it is that kids can blame fake news for ignorance. Can you imagine how poorly this would have gone over if we had tried this as lower school students? Where was fake news when we needed it?! Well, it’s never too late for justice. Here are some ways you can use fake news to help with adult life.

One of our favorite shows is “The Affair” starring Dominic West and Ruth Wilson as a couple with two different narratives around the same events. Each episode is split between their dueling vantage points which offer alternative, self-serving, and contradictory versions of the same incidents. It’s compelling because recollections of events are often like that no matter how loving relationships are. Scenes are viewed differently because humans have unique personal experiences that frame the way we process moments. For instance, Mo would like for you to believe that I was asleep during her contractions. This is simply not the case. Were my eyes closed? Yes.  Was I under the covers in our bed? Yes. Were snoring sounds coming from our room? Yes. Thanks to fake news I can now claim that my eyes were close because I was praying for the safe arrival of our baby. Now, we have a healthy and strong baby girl thanks to my praying. You’re welcome, Mo.

Also, not all fake news is bad for education. Jay Z may be an astute businessman, but he is not going to be your kids’ 4th grade math teacher. On the “The Life and Times of Sean Carter Vol. 3” he raps, “I’m the one like five divided by four.” Before alternative facts were accepted, this would have gotten a red letter “X” on his notebook paper. He’s got 99 problems and the remainder is 1. But let’s not cast stones at Mr. Z because he missed one little math problem. It has been a minute since my last lesson in long division. Emma may have some homework questions I can’t answer. No worries. All I have to do is apply a little alternative math like Jay Z and my wrong answers turn into cool rap lyrics. I might even win a Grammy. That’s what I call addition by subtraction.

Another delicious alternate truth is how tasty Tylenol is. If you offer Tylenol to Emma she will purse her lips and shake her head to reject it. However, if you pretend like you want to drink it and then offer it to her, she will greedily accept it. For this reason, we put on elaborate hoaxes about how good it tastes. Mo and I will even pretend to fight over the syringe containing the Tylenol until she snatches it from our hands and drains its contents. Popping (medicine) bottles and telling tall tales.

All jokes aside, I’m really excited to go on this journey of discovery with Emma. In the aforementioned article an Ivy League professor advises teachers to “give students the tools to think like a scientist. Teach them to gather evidence, check sources, deduce, hypothesize and synthesize results. Hopefully, then, they will come to the truth on their own.” Tall tales, myths, and inaccurate information have always existed. It’s our duty to help future generations ascertain what is real and what is not while in world where misinformation is prevalent. I may not have all the answers, but I know where to find them: The Onion and Babylon Bee.