“Mom, you were like a teenager when they were here,” Shelby said. “Smiling and happy all the time. Seeing you so happy, that was my favorite part. I like to see you happy.”
I’ve spent a lot of time and effort constructing a life where my children are at the center of everything. My most important role has been as a mother, almost to a fault. When my friends came to town earlier this month, I took off my mom hat and became just Kimberly for a few days. I did all the things you do with your friends when they visit from out of town — shopped, ate, stayed up late, laughed, etc. — and thankfully Mike carried the weight of being both dad and mom for a few days. I had so much fun and my soul was filled with joy that only spending time with dear friends can do. My emotional gas tank was filled and I was ready to get back to being a wife and a mother.
But here’s the crazy part … when I talked to Shelby about the visit she pointed out something I hadn’t even realized: when I take time to be happy, happiness filters down to her and the rest of our family. And when I don’t take time for myself, then I’m robbing my family of the happiness that comes from a well-rested, enotionally cared for me. Throwing all of myself into being a mom and a wife is actually not what’s best for my family, despite popular belief.
This seems so counter to the current hyper-parenting movement going on, where all your time and energy is spent doing everything with and for your children. But if I take an honest look at my life, my children are always happier when I’m happiest. And they are even happy on the occasions I’m not hovering over them as long as they know I’m doing something that makes me happy (like painting, reading, working, or spending time with friends …). They don’t have to be the center of my universe to known love them. They don’t have to be the center of my universe to be healthy, happy and well-adjusted children. In fact, being the center of my universe is a lot of pressure. Maybe, just maybe if they shift to being a part of my universe and not the center, we’d all be happier?
Enjoying full time motherhood at the moment. It’s amazing how quickly my time has been filled with mama-related tasks. I’ve become a fixture at the kids’ school and it’s been helpful to have a place to do each day and lots to do.
Noticing the Saguaro blossoms. I’ve lived in Arizona for nine years now and I never noticed the Saguaro blossoms, but when I girlfriends in town a few weeks ago, they were blooming and they pointed them out to me. Now, I’m seeing them everywhere. Just goes to show you how you really have to open your eyes and pay attention to what’s around you.
Binge watching “Call The Midwife“ I’m not a huge TV watcher. Mostly, I watch shows that Mike wants to watch and since he doesn’t want to watch TV alone, I hang out with him and it’s our bonding time (that and walking/running together). Recently he suggested we watch “Call The Midwife” because he thought I’d be more interested in it than many of the other shows he watches. He was right … I love it. We’re halfway through season two and I’m pretty sure we’ll plow through most of the episodes before the end of the month,
Counting down to our trip to Spain. Mike’s always wanted to go to Primavera Sound, a music festival in Barcelona, which happens each year around his birthday. Since this year Mike turns 40, we thought we’d cross this off his bucket list and celebrate in Spain.
Setting alerts on my phone to remind me to send snail mail monthly to friends and family. I also set a separate alert for later in the month reminding me to send an email to my closest friends. I know, it seems terrible I have to remind myself, but I really want to make connecting with those I love a priority, so I’m blocking out time for this and hoping I make it a habit.
Using white noise to help me fall asleep. I really struggle with sleep. Either I can’t fall asleep or I can’t stay asleep (I changes from day to day). Often, I fixate on some small noise and I can’t fall asleep or fall back to sleep because that small noise is amplified in my head. I was in a hotel room in Albuquerque last week with two friends and my friend Kolleen told me about a white noise app she uses to help her sleep. I downloaded this one and am loving it.
Reading Harry Potter series with the kids. We’re on the third book and the kids are seriously obsessed. Originally, Shelby didn’t want to read them. I’ve been trying to get her to read the for years and she’s refused, so earlier this month I downloaded the audio version of the first book and told her Cooper and I would be listening to it on our long rides to and from school. Within a few days, she sheepishly told me she loved the book and she should have listened to me all along about how awesome they are (huge mom win).
Signing the kids up for summer camps. I was so happy when Shelby told me she wanted to go to camp at the Tucson Museum of Art. They have the coolest art camps taught by local, working artists. She’s been in the past, but last summer she didn’t want to go. I try not to push her to do things by want her to do (art), so I was thrilled she picked art camp on her own this summer.
Teaching Shelby how to shave her legs!!!!! Holy. Moly. Cow. When did my girl become old enough to shave her legs? She asked me yesterday if she could do it and if I would teacher. She was suddenly very self conscious about her “hairy legs” (her words, not mine). So I gave her a little lesson and tried not to cry.
I’ve never had much interest in refurbishing furniture. But last month I volunteered to help Shelby’s 6th-grade class refurbish a chair for their auction project (each class at their school creates a project that’s sold at the annual auction) and I had a crash course in transforming a thrift-store chair into something awesome.
I bought a chair at a thrift store for $10 and then asked Shelby to look at Pinterest for some inspiration. After some searching, she decided we’d be making a comic book chair.
From the beginning of the project, one of my main goals was to keep the costs low. The chair I bought had a cushion, so I looked in my fabric stash for something we could use to reupholster it. I had some fun and soft blue fabric, which helped us decided on what comic book character we’d focus on — Superman. All the comic book chairs we saw had no central theme, and they seemed a little busy or disjointed to us. So we decided to pick one comic book character and only use strips from comics featuring that character.
Once we decided on Superman, I went to a used bookstore and bought a bunch of cheap ($1 or less) Superman comic books. I had the kids cut out the strips, trying to focus on ones that featured Superman.
We used a sanding tool to strip the wood surface for varnish and once that was done, we covered the entire surface with comic strips using Modge Podge (I let the kids do all of this on their own, and went back later and cleaned it up a later).
Once the chair was dry, we applied a glossy varnish to seal it. We used a varnish that was designed to seal wood floors (because that’s what a parent had donated) and we just brushed it on and made sure it was evenly distributed on the chair.
Early on, the kids decided that we needed to paint part of the chair to break up the business of all the comic strips and create a focal point. We painted the back of the chair red and added a large picture of Superman the kids found in one of the comic books. It looked super cool and sort of pulled the whole design together.
All together I spent about $25 and a week of work to complete the chair. I could have gotten it done faster, but I wanted to kids to do most of the work, so it went a little slower than if I had been working alone.
I love how the chair turned out and I really want to do a few more chairs. I’d never done something like this, so I watched a few YouTube videos and easily was able to figure out how to accomplish the different steps of the project (sanding the wood, reapo
Cooper said he’d love an Incredible Hulk chair, so if I can collect enough Hulk comics, I’ll make him one.
Last week, after nine years and three days, I was laid off. For the first time since I was a teenager I’m unemployed. I’m still processing what this means and how I feel, but in the 10 days since I got the news I’ve already learned some valuable lessons.
1. My self worth isn’t tied to my employment. There’s so much more to who am than whatever job I might have. It was quite a blow to my ego to be let go, but layoffs aren’t really a measure of how good you are or your value as a person … They just happen. It’s a business decision to lay people off and for the business it was the right thing to do.
2. I have an awesome support system near and far. The outpouring of love, support and encouragement has been amazing and reminder of how lucky I am to know and be associated with so many amazing people.
3. Having a finically savvy, forward-thinking husband is such a gift. Mike has had us on a budget for ages now, really making sure that we’re responsible with our money and savings. Thanks to him, we’ll weather this change and be just fine.
4. Being a stay-at-home mom (at least for the time being) is keeping me really, really busy. I’ve been volunteering at the kids’ school nearly every day since I got the news. Shelby got sick and had to go to the doctor for shots three days this week. Cooper is now sick too. I’m grateful I’ve been home and available to care for them and get them whete they need to be.
5. Exercise is even more important to my well being than it’s ever been. Mike and I started running again and I’ve been going to the gym to take come classes as well. I feel a million times better when I exercise and that’s especially helpful during this stressful time of uncertainty.
Though I loved my job and I really like contributing to my family’s income I know that being laid off won’t beeak me. I’ve endured nuch harder things in my life and I’m focusing on looking forward and finding new adventure … I’m looking forward to new beginnings and fresh starts.