Raising Boys

Every time I imagined having a family when I was young, each time we got pregnant, I always thought I’d have daughters. I thought since I was one of two girls and my sister had two girls and I was such a damn feminist I was destined to raise girls. That sounds stupid, but if I am totally honest, that was my logic.

So obviously I have two boys (or children who are biologically male but may later identify otherwise). I am jealous of my friends with daughters who will get to pass on stories, advice, experiences that are specific to women. There is no relationship that is more powerful than that of female friendship, which can often apply to mothers and daughters.

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Sisters. I’m the one who can’t sit up by herself. 

Will I have a special bond with my boys that is totally different and equally wonderful? Yes, of course, but the story of uplifting women is the one that is most familiar to me.

This week at work we had a guest speaker talk for International Women’s Day. She was a bad-ass former CFO of a major pharmaceutical company and while she said many humorous/poignant/thought-provoking things, the one still with me is “Raise your sons differently.”

Exactly.

I am mindful of many things as we raise our children. I want them to be more resilient than we have been, with inner resources that they can rely on when they feel down, when a challenge seems too much to bear. I want them to be kind and have empathy for themselves and their fellow human, even when that person’s experiences are very different than their own. I want them to appreciate nature and music and the internal freedom those things can bring.

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Early on, I was more worried about addressing “this is for girls and this is for boys” topics. I don’t want my boys to feel limited from interests, hobbies, careers that society identifies as feminine. You want to sew? Learn it. You want to be a nurse? That’s a noble and important job, work hard for it. You want to be a stay at home dad. More power to you. Now I’ve realized it’s the modeling that we do as parents that is so much more impactful. It’s not just the targeted conversations we have, but our behaviors. 

Together I am hopeful that Tyler and I can model a partnership where my boys will see two people who treat each other as equals, both with valid opinions. Where we compromise and attempt balance. Where we are human and learn from our discussions, from our mistakes.

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So, here’s to raising boys that are feminists. Boys that believe their mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends, random female strangers are capable of anything and have never thought otherwise. Boys who give as much as they take. Boys who approach each situation with the idea of shared responsibility and accountability.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Getting My Fancy Back

Let’s be honest, I’ve never been fancy. I’m a self-described plain Jane but really, I just like things simple- furniture and home decor more purposeful than pretty, jewelry more minimal than statement, and my look more streamlined than statement-making.

I look the minimalist, natural aesthetic but between this and simplifying my life due to children, I’ve lost a bit of my fun and fancy. At one point I had pink hair. My clothes were very colorful. I had solo dance parties in fancy dresses alone in my home. I used to wear my wedding veil around the house for no reason. I delighted in making homemade, overcomplicated gifts for all my friends. I painted our garage apartment all fiesta inspired colors. Fancy. Fun.

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Actual outfit I wore in high school. This hair is pink.

My mental fog has cleared from babes enough that I have started to envy people with a bit of fancy. Before I just shook my head and said not for me. I am function. I am survival. Now, I want to dip my toes in the waters of fancy.

Fancy does not mean money. I’m not willing to invest a lot into feeling fancy because this isn’t something I’m trying to cultivate externally. Bringing back fancy is about igniting a feeling within. I wasn’t sure where to begin (and truth be told, I’m not sure I have begun) so I made a list of things that make me feel fancy. Don’t judge me, I’m new at this.

  • Fancy hair- AKA getting regular haircuts, braids, curls
  • Charcuterie/cheese boards
  • Bubble baths
  • Dancing/music
  • Picnics
  • Massages ($$$)
  • Painted nails
  • House plants (this feels lame but true)

For some of you, this may feel basic but these last few years have felt like it’s all efficiency. How can we simplify our lives? My world is all strict sleep schedules, meal prep, budgeting, “work/life balance” bullshit. But some things are worth complicating. So this weekend I painted my nails and curled my hair. My houseplants are freshly watered and looking fine. The work to bring back fancy has begun.

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolution #4: Make My Bed

Yes, I’ll admit it. I don’t make my bed. Sorry to out my husband as well but neither does he. We are not bed making people. We used to be repeat snoozers until we had children. Now we lay there complaining about the baby crying until it is clear that the baby has no plans on going back to sleep. Then we drag ourselves downstairs without ever looking back at our poor disheveled bed.

I don’t care that it is bringing down our bedroom aesthetic but I do care that it means our room feels messy. Our room always feels chaotic. We have piles of clean laundry on chairs and the dresser, heaps of dirty laundry on the floor and a bed with twisted covers and misplaced pillows.

It also means our day starts and ends with chaos. We leave our room a mess to go downstairs to our wildling children where the mess seems to erupt around them but when we climb the stairs to seek refuge from the chaos of the day, we are still met with the chaos of our room.

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Chaos

New Year’s Resolution #4: Make the Bed Everyday

This is a joint goal. I’m not making the bed every day. It’s a joint bed and a joint issue and now it’s a joint goal. Plus sometimes I’m not the last person to get out of bed (although I would prefer to be and would be happy to make this an additional resolution).

We need to start our day with a small win. This is a small accomplishment that can be totally ours, separate from our kids, that can start our days on the right foot. It also allows our days to end well. By taking a moment of calm to make the bed, we’re taking care of future Kat and Tyler, who are going to be tired tonight. They will be so thankful to see there is a nicely made bed at the end of their day.

I am trying to learn that self-care is not a big thing. It is a million small things. And although my self-care goal is a separate resolution, this is one small, specific thing that I want to do regardless of what else happens in my day.

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New Year’s Resolution #3: Live Openly

For many years I considered myself an open book. No secrets were far buried for me. You could get to my deep thoughts without too much digging. An admirable way to live. Done and done.

Actually, this is a terrible analogy. An open book? The books I read often require much digging to get to its heart and some secrets are never truly revealed. Interesting literature for sure, but not healthy as a human. Despite constantly trying to crawl inside a book (I’m on my third book in 4 days), trying to emulate one is not a mental health goal.

Recently it’s become clear just how much I’m not living openly and what that does to my ability to connect with others personally and even advance professionally. I am hesitant to admit personal struggle unless I feel it might help someone else, even in my own home where I should be most free, most open, most loud.

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New Year’s Resolution #3: Live Openly

This year I want to say what’s on my mind. I want to speak up and be wrong and apologize and get over it. I want to be a burden at times. I want to get messy and embrace being messy.

This is the resolution that will be hardest. I honestly don’t know how to do it, except with as each small opportunity presents itself I will try to take a step closer.

New Year’s Resolution #2: Me First

Me first can sound selfish or it can sound obvious depending on where you’re at in your mental health, self-care journey. I always thought I did a pretty good job before I had kids. I had ample hobbies and interests, friends and social activities that my life felt full and rewarding.

Kids totally knocked that out. I did not have a routine. I did not have a stable, dependable habit or thing that kept me sane during tough times. I was just floating by.

Side note: the most important unsolicited advice I would offer an expecting parent is that you establish a meaningful, flexible routine that allows you to keep your sanity in check. Daily meditation? At-home yoga practice? Friend that you can call day or night? Get it before that baby arrives in your home. 

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Sometimes the only answer is to leave the house, rain or no rain. I wanted to go hiking but didn’t want to risk messing up his nap so just hit a nature trail nearby. Compromise.

Now that we’re two kids in I have learned that I really don’t have any self-care habits. I had things I did for fun, not really for calm and it’s really made it difficult to have any emotional resilience.

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Another rainy moment but we rode downtown for ice cream. Totally worth it. 

New Year’s Resolution #2: Me First

I’m going to do something for myself every day. Some days will be small. A cup of tea after the babies go to bed. A long cuddle with Clara. Saying no. Ignoring chores. Taking the kids for a walk even if it’s dark outside or sprinkling rain. Perfect conditions not necessary. I don’t know what this will look like (I’m learning after all) but these are my plans:

  • Hot baths
  • Baking bread
  • Get outside, with or without kids
  • Stating what I need, am feeling
  • Declining invitations
  • Ignoring chores
  • Writing blogs, essays, gratitude journaling
  • Watering the plants
  • Eating food when I’m hungry, not waiting until the children leave me alone
  • Take a pottery class
  • Go to yoga
  • Crafting