Judge me all you want

Change happens for us all every day. We do not always realize how much change hits us on a day-to-day basis, often because of how we handle the change. At some level we all have a bit of dislike to change. Some individuals are more flexible than others, some are more set in their ways or routines, and yet others relish the freedom and excitement of having things constantly changing in life.

Whatever level of tolerance we have for change, we often do not have a choice of if it happens to us. Whether that means changes at work, at home, with our family, there is change that happens by choice and change that we would rather not come close to with a ten foot pole. These past few weeks for me have been emotional to one extent (thank you hormones) and a little nerve-racking on another level. I know I am not the first woman to have a baby, and I know (because everyone tells you) that my life is about to change in numerous ways. Some of those changes will be amazing, and some will knock me on my ass.

I have to say that what has been hardest (besides my body no longer being mine, the endless peeing, and little to no sleep because of the endless peeing) has been being a professional woman with a team. When you read about others that go on maternity leave, they talk about the baby side of it, but what they do not really talk often about is what it is like for the working mom. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I had a paper route, and babysat kids in the neighborhood. This means that I have been working non-stop for the last 28 years. The most time I have taken off (other than a period when I was laid off), is the two weeks I took for my wedding/honeymoon. I have never not worked for a longer period than that.

Now, judge me all you want, as I think some mothers might — when I say it is going to be hard for me to be away from work. There are some pretty involved and intense projects happening in the coming months and, while I have the most amazing team, it does not make it easy for me to be away from it all. I have poured my heart into the work and my team, and having a child does not necessarily change my dedication to my work. Sure, some of my priorities will change when I meet Mini Conk, but I also want to raise a son that not only understands the importance of hard work, but also sees that I have an identity that is different from just being a mom.

Folks rarely talk about how hard it is for a working mom, instead I see more judgement that my place as a mom is at home with my son. Why should I have to choose, and why should I be judged for how I want to live my life? As more and more women have leadership positions at companies, not only do the rights for women having children need to change, so does the behavior for how we treat women that work and want to do both.

Moment by moment

It is wedding season. So far we have already been to two weddings this month. I have to confess: weddings are just not my thing. However, I have to share about a wedding I went to on Saturday.

We were in Bend, Oregon at a ranch in the beautiful countryside. There were horses out in pasture as we drove up to the ranch (the location of the wedding and reception). It was a gorgeous day, in the low 80’s, dry, and from sunrise a clear blue sky day. If I woke up as the bride, it would have been the perfect day for a wedding. Until a forest fire broke out. Yes, from what the news said, there were two forest fires, and from the sounds of it they were not controlled fires. As we were driving into the ranch, this is what we saw. I was hopeful that the bride would still have the perfect day.

Let me back up a bit. I kept having the intuition throughout the day to text the bride and tell her I was thinking about her. I know how often mother’s and mother-in-law’s and other family can jump in and think they are helping during a wedding, but are actually overwhelming the bride. Not knowing what her day would be like I was going to text her the following: “Remember your wedding is about you and [insert name to keep it anonymous], only the two of you. It is not about anyone else. Know that I am thinking about you today. Do not think for a second about anyone else.” I never sent the text. We met friends for lunch, we got iced coffee, we walked around town, I went for a run, and yet I never sent the text. Part of me did not want to bug the bride, as I knew it was a busy day, and part of me just did not follow through.

Jump back to the time of the wedding. We were told upon arrival to get something to drink and to take a seat (the ceremony was near a pond or river of water and in direct sun). The groom and groomsmen walked down the green to the front, and moments later we hear a siren, and listen as it comes closer and closer to us. It parks in front of the house where the reception is at, and the bridesmaid and bride are standing on the porch on their way down to the ceremony. A firefighter in a yellow slicker stops at the porch, and we all turn to watch. We all wonder: “will we be able to stay or will we be evacuated.” As well as: “What must the bride be thinking at this very moment.” Later I heard that the groom mentioned: “I just want to get married.” A perfect comment for the moment.

After a few folks run back and forth to us, and the bride’s father, we are told we have to evacuate, then moments later they tell us, we can do the ceremony as long as it is quick, and we must leave immediately afterwards. The precious flower girl (with a white dress and cowboy boots) runs quickly down the aisle, followed by the bridesmaids and bride, the perfect wedding happens, short and sweet and just right. All attendees are told to go to Drake Park near the Deschutes River near downtown Bend for the reception. Everyone pitches in to take something from the reception, beer, wine, flowers, food from the caterers. A bittersweet moment for the bride.

We each make our way to the park. As we leave the ranch, police and firefighters posted at different points along the way, and as we get farther and farther away from the ranch, more and more firefighters are going towards the smoke in the opposite direction that we are heading. All hands on deck, and all guests pitch in to try to recreate the reception for the bride and groom. Flowers are set out in the perfect way, folding chairs have been brought from the ceremony, all the food from the catering, framed photos of the bride and groom, the wedding cake + cupcakes, a table especially for the bride and groom. We all together decorate that portion of the park. There are even speakers and music. Such a sense of community after events that the bride and groom could do nothing about even if they tried.

My heart goes out to the bride and groom. Such a precious way to start a marriage. Flexibility, compassion, community, and adventure all on their wedding day. For all those days and months of planning that perfect day, in the end your friends and family were there as part of your celebration, regardless of location and it was perfect. You will have such a story to tell for years and years to come. Best wishes and so much love to both of you as you continue on your adventure!

Nobody I would rather be with…

There are a few things I love in life. A great book, new ideas, learning something new about myself, chips, and while there are probably a ton of other things on my list, the one that tops them all is my husband. I never was a girl who dreamed of marrying, or had a wedding book, or even really gave a shit about the wedding, but what I think matters most is that I married my best friend, and he continues to be the best damn thing that ever happened to me.

So when I find a great book that talks about marriage, has a sassy rant throughout the book, and makes me appreciate my husband that much more, I call it good. I just finished a great book called: “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife” by Cindy Chupack. The cover might look cheesy, but let me tell you, Chupack was a writer on Sex and the City, and also writes for O Magazine (Oprah), that woman knows her stuff. She was able to peak our interest for many years (and how many of us wish that Sex and the City was still on the air)? I felt like she spoke right to me. She got me. She got marriage, and attempts into motherhood. She was flawed like we all are all the time. She spoke to my decade ago single self, she spoke to my married self, she spoke to my potential mother self. I think about this all the time pertaining to Chris:

“And I think now about how many of those nights we’ve had since, and how there is nobody I would rather talk to when I am feeling less than, nobody I would rather come home to after a hard day, and how wrong I was about you and us and what we could become. And unlike most people, I love being wrong. I love thinking I know the ending and then being surprised.” Page 33

I wholeheartedly agree. There is no one I would rather come home to than Chris, no one I would rather snuggle with when I have a rough day, feel sick, or just need to feel connected to him. No one I would rather talk about my day to (good or bad), and how clueless I was to how good life would be together. The only difference between me and Chupack: I do not love being wrong. I do not like surprises. Although I have felt I knew the ending and was then happily surprised, and sometimes that surprise is way better than we can ever imagine.

Read this book. It will make you smile. It will make you think about your marriage. If you are single or in a relationship you are not sure about, it will give you humorous clarity or levity. We only live once, life should be enjoyed. We should be pampered, and love every minute of spending time with our better half. They should inspire, encourage us, and elevate our game. So that we bring only goodness, joy, and happiness to those around us. So that the love we have with our better half pours out of us and we and those around us are never the same. Call me a sap, but how can I not be excited for the best date I have ever had?

I hope she is proud.

Another year has gone by and Sunday is, yet again, another Mother’s Day. I am still not yet a mother myself. Each year, I have a bit of nostalgia and a bit of numbness for a day that comes each year. It has been 19 years since I have celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom. It is hard to believe that it has been almost two decades. How is that even possible? I struggle with the concept that I have spent more of my life without my mom then I ever spent with her in my life.

my mama

my mama

Has it made me independent? Hell yeah. Has it made me miss her? Hell yeah. I have often been asked by others: “What is the hardest part about losing a loved one?” Many think it is the days and weeks surrounding their passing. Yes, that part is hard. What is harder? The months later. For a child, it might be a future “bring mom to school” day. For a teenager, it might be going to prom and wishing their mom was there to see them off, or wishing their loved one was there to watch them receive their diploma. Whatever the situation, it can be incredibly hard months and often years later when the depths of pain and sadness rip you apart in ways you never expected.

I can tell you this from experience. The day before my wedding, Chris and I made the decision to get married — just the two of us on a beach in Hawaii. It felt so right for us to start this stage of our life together, just us saying our vows together. No fluff, no commitments to others, just two lives joining together. That day, before we got married, I got sad. I had no idea I would miss my mom so much. Just thinking about it almost ten years later I have tears streaming down my face. I wanted her to be able to watch me with pride join my life with Chris, and yet I had no idea her absence would be so hard for me until that moment when I was preparing for my special day.

Chris might have thought my oddness that day meant I was afraid of getting married and that I might back out of our wedding. Yet, I was not afraid of marrying Chris, I was just sad. I had no idea the absence of my mom would hit me so hard on such a happy time in my life. I do not remember if I missed my dad that day, only that my mom should have been there and watched me marry this wonderful man.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I hope you can see all that I have become in life and all that I have. I am a grateful daughter with so much to be thankful for every day. Life has not always been easy, but I have learned so much along the way. It has made me speak up, say what is on my mind (whether Chris likes it or not) and I think you would be proud.


A little wedding cake ten years later?

My wedding was different. We both wanted it that way. We wanted it to be about us. The focus was about two distinct and unique individuals coming together to take vows to spend our life with each other. We did not want to get caught up in making other family and friends happy, or to cater to everyone’s little need. I have seen it happen so many times, where the bride and groom get so sucked into the wedding and party afterwards that they forget to breathe and remember why they are bringing their lives together. The most important moments of a wedding day is not what you look like, if your hair looks perfect, or if your mom is happy, but those precious moments when you promise to keep your vows. That is what a wedding is truly about, the vow and promises that are the beginning steps of a marriage.

Now that you have heard my rant and thoughts about a wedding, you can probably guess that Chris and I got married just the two of us. We did not elope per se, because we alerted folks that we were going to run off to the beach in Hawaii to make our promises to each other at sunset. Getting married with just your life partner in tow might not be for everyone, but it was so right for us. We still comment on how perfect it was for us, and have not regrets.

Yet a few things could have been easier. Those things had nothing to do with our vows, or family, or even because we almost missed our appointment to obtain our marriage license. The parts I might do differently were the silly, unnecessary wedding details. My dress. A cake.

the cake made for our after wedding party

the cake made for our after wedding party

Finding a dress was complicated. At the time, I could choose a big ass dress from David’s Bridal, spend more than I was on my wedding and get something unique, or do what I did and purchase a dress at Banana Republic for $100. There was not a wedding dress line at J. Crew or Banana Republic at the time. I know I might sound old, or many other women before me might say that I had more options than they did, but whatever they may say, the options are now endless.

When I recently came across the website: Loverly, a Pinterest site of sorts that specifically focuses on weddings, I thought: “Bummer, wish such a site was available when I got married.” Sure, theknot.com was around, but it was more for creating a website and registry pages. There was not a pin board type site where you could find endless creative ideas. Even though I have been married for almost ten years, I recently had so much fun exploring the different boards on Loverly. We did not have a wedding cake, instead a very generous friend made a cake for us for a party after we got married. It tasted amazing.

Maybe for our upcoming tenth anniversary, I will have a cake made, invite friends over, and eat to our hearts content. The dress, well in the end, mine was perfect for a beach wedding.