When You Finally Get It… #WeWillRise

2016 is turning out to be the year of the woman.

Women in business are Leaning In and shattering glass ceilings. We are pushing back and demanding to be heard in boardrooms across the globe. We are redefining femininity, and we are fighting sexual harassment in the workplace, in Wall Street and in The White House.

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wewillrise

2016 is turning out to be the year of the woman.

Women in business are Leaning In and shattering glass ceilings. We are pushing back and demanding to be heard in the boardroom. We are redefining femininity, and we are fighting sexual harassment in the workplace, on Wall Street, and in The White House.

Here’s to strong women.
May we be them.
May we know them.
May we raise them.

I left college during my senior year. I ran away. I ran away from a traumatic situation, an overload of stress, and an inability to cope with my circumstances. I’ve considered it my greatest failure in life.

Last year, I decided to turn my life upside down and move across the country to go back to the University of Florida. I decided to turn my greatest failure into my second greatest accomplishment (My first, being a mother). I left a career as a data analyst in the IT/Manufacturing industry. It doesn’t sound exciting, but I was proud of it. I worked my way up from entry level customer support and was promoted 3 times in 3 years. And yet, I was still constantly struggling to prove myself, to prove my value.

Let’s talk about value.

I’m a single mother. I almost died giving birth, with my best friend holding my hand and my parents in the waiting room, thanks to eclampsia. And yet, I walked out of that hospital on my own 2 feet with a new lease on life and was back at work within 3 weeks.

When I couldn’t afford food during a hard time, I stood in the welfare line for hours upon hours to get assistance, then listened to people tell me I was what was wrong with this economy when I used them at the store.

After applying to about 100 jobs and being denied, I threw caution to the wind and told my last interviewer that I didn’t care what the job was. I would clean their floors and they’d be the cleanest damn floors in the company, if that’s what they needed. I just needed a job.

4 years later, I decided I needed more.

Now, I balance being a reporter at a radio station, a freelance social media strategist, and a sometimes weekend bartender. I balance being the mom of a precocious 8-year-old who lives and breathes horses and wants to spend every waking moment at the barn. I balance a full load of senior level classes at a campus where I look like a parent instead of a student. And I’m loving every minute of it.I finally know how lucky I am to get the chance to balance it all. I finally get it. I am not alone in this struggle. This is not a story of failure. This is a story of survival.

Girls across the globe are fighting for the right to learn. They’re fighting for the right to embrace the same education that is freely offered to their male counterparts. First Lady, First Lady, Michelle Obama‘s “Mission to Educate Girls Around the World” is sharing so many of these stories from around the world, showing how  girls gather together every day and say #WeWillRise.

Compared to these, my story is a simple one. It’s a story that thousands of women share. It’s nowhere near the most difficult. It’s nowhere near the most affecting. But it’s mine, and I want my daughter to know it. I want my daughter to know that #WeWillRise.

 

Naughty By Nurture

That moment you realize…she gets it from her momma.

My kid’s a little naughty…and I love it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t let her get away with everything. Once in a while, though, you have to smile behind your hand at the nonsense. I see myself in those moments more than any others. It’s not intentional misbehavior. She isn’t harming herself or others. It’s just… that little sneaky thrill you get from being mildly naughty. I get it…I totally get it.

I was a naughty kid myself. I may or may not still have my moments.

I think a little naughtiness is a sign of creativity and eccentricity. I love seeing her mind at work, even when it’s due to a brilliant little idea like hiding a rubber cockroach on the cupboard door (been there), or putting makeup on the dog (done that), or setting up a life-size stuffed cheetah next to my bed so it’s the first thing I see when I wake up. (Oh, I definitely lost about 5 years of my life to that one.)

So the next time your kid’s a little naughty? Do yourself a favor… laugh a little, they probably got it from you.

 

 

 

It’s Gonna Be OK

Parenting on the best of days is still really really hard. There are days when the sun shines, the house is clean, you have money in the bank and you hear, “Mommy, you are my best friend!” There are the days that you run out of coffee, the dog pukes on the floor, the kid’s socks are “scrunchy”, you walk outside already late and see a flat tire. Then there are the days no parent wants to even consider. Illness, injury, loss of a child.

I lost my sister as an adolescent and saw what it did to my parents. There are no words. There simply aren’t.

Years passed and I became a mother. I will be the first to admit that my early years as a mommy were incredibly stressful. Learning to be a working single parent, dealing with depression and anxiety, and living in a constant state of self-doubt combined to create the epitome of an unhealthy, unhappy woman.

Then things started to change. There are simply too many factors to address today, and I’m sure they will pop up in the blog some other time, but one thing really impacted my mentality on daily living.

I reconnected with a family I had been very close to in my own childhood. We had lost touch over the years and the magic of Facebook jumpstarted the process of reconnecting,…although not in a manner that I would wish on anyone. They lost one of their children. A child I had babysat, binged on pizza with, and learned my first lessons in caregiving from. Simply put, my heart broke.

In the continuing years, we stayed in touch over social media, and I was able to witness possibly the most astounding parenting moments. I saw them band together as a family, mourn loss, yet still celebrate life.

During one of my most trying weeks this past year, they sent me a simple gift that reminds me every single day that hope exists. It will always exist. On our best days and on our absolute worst. They sent me a sticker with a simple acronym. igbok.

It’s gonna be OK.

And it was. And it will be. One day at a time.

 

Parenting a Kid with Passion

I think it is probably every parent’s dream to have their child discover their passion early on in life.

But what happens when they do…and it scares the SH!T out of you?

We tried ballet… nope. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I thought a kid who detests all but the brightest most flamboyant hues of pink would agree to dance in neck-to-toe pastel.

We tried gymnastics… nope. I believe her opinion was, “I’m tired of showing my butt cheeks to the world.”

Then she rode a horse. A real one. A really really big one. And completely fell in love.

It started out totally OK. How adorable! She is walking around in a circle, attached via lunge rope to her trainer! Insert mommy paparazzi camera sounds here. Then she got better. ALOT better. She started walking on her own with her lesson horse. Then trotting. Then cantering around one handed. Then she entered a dressage competition and competed against all adults.

Her trainer asked her, “Where do you want to take your horsemanship skills?”

“I want to go really fast and jump really high.”

WHAAAAAT?! My mommy bells and whistles started going off. She was 7 at the time. I mean, come on, are you really asking my 7-year-old what she wants to do with her passion?!

She was. And my daughter meant it. My daughter mucks stalls, feeds horses, moves them from stall to pasture and back. She picks hooves, lugs saddles bigger than she is and showers horses that weight literally 20 times more than she does. She does all of this for hours on end, day after day because she loves it. Every dirty, sweaty, glorious moment. Her ability to focus and her level of responsibility has improved so dramatically that some days I forget she is only 8.

So what do you do when your kid falls in love with eventing, a sport that is considered to be the most dangerous sport in the Olympics?

You buy a really great helmet, and when she starts jumping… a really great airvest, and you hold on for the ride.

 

 

Strong Enough to Bend

Here’s to strong women.
May we be them.
May we know them.
May we raise them.

The author of this may be unknown, but the message resonates. From the moment my daughter was born, I made it my mommy mission to raise a strong woman. I knew that raising my daughter as a single mother, many times working multiple jobs, and now working AND going to college would demand that I teach her the independence and personal strength she would need in order to adapt to the specific challenges that a kid in her situation would require.

But what makes someone strong?

Aesop’s fable about The Oak and the Reed provides a stunningly simple analogy of what I believe #postmodernparenting really means.

It is better to bend than to break.

I believe strength lies within the ability to adapt and evolve. Strength does not mean being so hard as to be brittle. It means being strong enough to withstand the storms that inevitably happen in life. In parenting, it means adapting to each child’s unique needs and the evolution of your parenting style to best support their continued learning and growth.

 

 

 

 

 

The Postmodern Mantra

Parenting today is not our parents’ parenting.

To be honest, if I had to choose a mantra for my parenting style, it would be, “What the hell am I doing?!”

Parenting today is not our parents’ parenting.

We do not have a template to follow, our lives are no long based on the stereotypical American dream of a white picket fence, our kids’ lives do not even follow the paths of our own childhoods.

We are creating our new normals, one day at a time. Parenting can be inclusive, it can be diverse, parenting today can be a million shades of gray, or green, or blue, or pink. Today, more than any other, our children are members of a global community, with access to information and experiences we could only dream of in our childhood. The only “normal” today, is knowing that there isn’t one. And that’s OK.

Our kids aren’t the only members of a global community. They aren’t the only ones with access to endless reams of data on any subject imaginable. Today, if our lives, if our kids don’t fit the mold we were taught to expect, we can create our own normal based on the experiences of parents the world over.

Postmodern Parenting is simply my take on how I am navigating my new normal, in this crazy, connected, constantly changing world.