Raising better human beings

Of course preparing myself to have a baby boy has me thinking of a lot of different ideas. I always thought it would be easier to raise a girl than a boy — for the simple fact that I am a girl and it felt more relevant to me. Having said that I have never really been a girly girl (nevermind the few years growing up that I was adamant that my sister play Barbies with me). Then I had to grow up fast and, well, my most girly girl self was replaced with real live survival.

Of course I enjoy a bit of dressing up — you know once every year, where I bring out those uncomfortable high heels, and Chris oohs and aahs, and then those shoes collect dust in the back of the closet. I am and always will be most comfortable with myself when I am comfortable. Flip-flops, comfy outfits, and hopefully all that just falls in the background so that others see just me. Not what I am wearing or how it fits. As none of that really matters. I digress — this blog post’s intent is nothing about that at all.

Over the weekend, I came across this article “Why Boys Need To Play With Girl Toys Too” and I thought I wonder what Chris thinks of that? No matter at the moment, because whether he is okay with it or not, the message that I left with that I want to bring in to our parenting (we’ll talk Chris) is that I want to teach my son to care. For some that may mean a boy playing with a doll, or maybe it is about nurturing an animal or pet, whatever the vehicle I want to make sure to show my son how to care. That in my mind starts with Chris and me. For a long time he will watch us, emulate us, and learn the way of the world from our example. If he wants to play with dolls and we do not let him, that sends him a message. You get the point.

And in the end, while I have not really even started this raise-a-child thing, I can tell you I was one (with not the best childhood), and I spent from the age of 9 – 23 babysitting, working in day cares, and nannying — what matters most is that you show them you care. You do this by being present, listening, and appreciating what they have to say. By showing you care, they respond and show that to others. To me that is what matters most.

Quiet enough

I woke up early this morning unable to get comfortable. As far along as I am with my pregnancy, I have to sleep on my side, which I did at times before, but oh how I miss sleeping on my back when I want to! Between constantly getting up to pee, and then trying to get comfortable again amidst the pillows that surround me, it is no wonder I only get one hour increments of sleep at a time. Poor Chris — he usually wakes up every time I do, although he does not have to get out of bed, readjust, and hope his feet do not get cold in the process.

In any case, this morning I woke up way before it was time to get up and lay snuggled in with my pillows, knowing I should get up to pee, but not wanting to move. My mind started to wander and develop ideas for the day, and the first thought that came to me was: “When do we really get quiet enough to really think?” I know nothing ground breaking, but for me it was a bit of an aha moment. We often get up thinking about everything we need to accomplish in our day and laying in bed longer is cannibalizing the minutes needed to accomplish the many tasks set before us. Are we really thinking during that time though? Are we really pondering our life and wondering if are we going down the yellow brick road that is meant for us? Or do we know it so well, we do not question if it is the right one?

As we endeavor to move through our day, we go from deadline, to appointment, to other engagements, ending up at home with a list of items to accomplish, and if we decide to veg out, it is usually in a way that still does not allow us to be quiet. My hunch is that for most of us the deep quiet never comes. Instead we decide to put another load of laundry in, respond to that email, or organize what needs to happen for the next day, and if we are lucky, when our head hits the pillow we fall fast asleep after a good full day. Every once in a while we might be able to quiet our minds before falling asleep. If I had my choice, I would rather wake up with my thoughts quiet enough, as often when it happens as you fall asleep you never remember the quiet voice speaking to you.

I want to start bringing the quiet into my days — even if just for a few moments where I can check and adjust. I want to ask myself if I am going down the right road that day, and if I am, what do I need to do to be quiet at some point in my day. To truly listen and hear that quiet voice remind my why I am on this road, and what I need to do next.

Rising Strong: Passing on our pain and hurt to others

There are times when we all get frustrated and act out, not always exhibiting our best selves to the world. Maybe we are having a rough day, are cranky, tired, and in my case potentially hungry. Chris has a joke for when I am cranky and he knows I am probably hungry. He says: “Do you need a Snickers bar?” It is his nicer way of telling me that maybe my grumpy mood is connected to my hunger. Often we also have too high expectations (I know I do) and those lead to disappointment.

I recently finished reading Brene Brown’s new book to come out: “Rising Strong.” Brown is the author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead a book that is on my top 5 list. I have been patiently awaiting the release of Rising Strong. This specific idea Brown shares discusses not passing our pain and hurt on to others. Oh, and I love the term badassery.

“There are too many people today who instead of feeling hurt are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they’re inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they’re choosing to live disappointed. Emotional stoicism is not badassery. Blustery posturing is not badassery. Swagger is not badassery. Perfection is about the furthest thing in the world from badassery.” Page xxvii

So how do we go about focusing more on how we are “feeling” rather than transferring our pain and disappointment to others. First, you might read “Rising Strong.” Another simple way is to talk about it. Chris and I have been talking a lot recently about how we want to raise the son we will meet in just a few months. One of the things that comes to me so strongly is encouraging and creating an environment where he feels comfortable to share his words, emotions, and feelings. I did not grow up in such an environment, and Chris keeps a lot to himself. I want to make sure that we are not doing anything as parents that closes any doors for our son to freely be himself.

A more open and free person feels their hurt and disappointment and acts out less to others. Remember that when you watch someone live their pain, they might just need a bit of help to see what they are doing and how to change gears.

Grandmas, Daycares, and Nursing Homes

Growing up I was addicted to my grandma. For some reason we had a special bond when I was little. Maybe it was because I was the youngest, or maybe I just spent the most time with her, but I had a way of getting her to laugh, smirk, and end her sentence with: “Oh, Tami.” Usually because I was doing something that she would have thought girls should not do or talk about, and yet I had to be different and try to do what I could to “shock her.” I was a good girl, yes, but she was easy to shock.

While in some ways my sister and I had the strangest relationship with my grandma (she was not always there for us in ways she should have been) but she also was sometimes there in ways we would not have expected. Part of it was her upbringing, part of it was that I do not think she knew how to handle us. Since my mom died when we were quite young, my grandma was our stand in. That does not mean she became mother/grandma, it just means she is the only maternal family figure we had left. Which meant she handled us in the way she knew, and the way she was comfortable with — which mostly meant let us figure it out for ourselves. Maybe that is why I am this way — “I will do it on my own, in my way, and do not get in my way.” I did not have much choice.

I am trying to remember how often I saw little kiddos around my grandma. I think she might have cooed a bit when she saw them. I think she smiled and warmed up a bit, but I’m not sure she got goose bumps and maternal around them. So when I saw this viral article about “What Happens When You Put a Daycare in a Nursing Home? Magic” I thought, “Would that have made her softer, happier? Would she have come out of her shell?” I learned a lot about what I would and would not do from my grandma. It was hard to know where you stood with her. Her expression of love was, well, different. This video brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes of the possibilities of love that get passed from these little ones in daycare to those in the nursing home and vice versa. It is getting made into a documentary called: “Present Perfect.”

Business Casual?

What is business casual these days? Last week I spoke at a conference in San Francisco. The dress code was business casual and I had to spend time on the Internet exploring what that really means these days. If you work for a company that does not dress up, what does that mean when you have to take it up a notch? Business casual does not exist for me. Every day is casual. So when you are in a situation where you might be interacting with customers, vendors, clients, or partners what is the true meaning of business casual?

From what I can tell it means no jeans. However, is that really true? With today’s tech world, are jeans still out of the realm of business casual? I barely had an outfit to wear to speak at the conference and I realized I went from working from home for so many years (and basically living in my pajamas and sweats) to my current company which is very laid back. Why should I add outfits to my closet that I will never wear? I know the origins of business casual are probably not much different then “casual Fridays” — a chance to dress down and be more relaxed. In my mind everyday is “casual” Friday. Yet, my terminology for business casual is not in the traditional sense. My version of business casual equates to: “Am I comfortable?”

Yes, I am not a traditional one. Going from my early career where I had to dress nice (and no, I no longer have any of those clothes) to spending almost a decade hoping that I had showered before Chris came home. I would roll out of bed and immediately go to my laptop instead of acting like a normal human and actually getting dressed. Why should I have when I saw practically no one all day? When you spend most of your day as the voice in a grey conference room speakerphone in the middle of a long table 3,000 miles away from your house to now, where I have a lot of work outfit options. I can be comfy and I can dress nice, so what is the 2015 version of business casual? Has it changed too much? Have we evolved and become a more laid back society? Or do lawyers and Wall Street exec’s still dictate the definition of business casual?

So I ask you, what does it mean to you?