Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I married a dreamer

I distinctly remember a particular conversation I once had on a date with a young man that I met at college. I had asked him what he wanted to do for a living. He responded that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. I thought to myself, "That's cool!" I then asked him what ideas he wanted to pursue. He said that he didn't have any but that entrepreneurs make a lot of money and he would come up with some in the future. My thought? "Fail!" I was so turned off. I'm not sure why but I had always wanted to marry someone who was passionate about his work. It wasn't important what he did, but I never wanted it to be about the money. 

Now I understand that not everyone can pursue their dream career or we wouldn't have a lot of needed services. I'm sure there are many jobs that no one "dreams" of doing. However, I feel that often people feel pressured to work jobs that will provide a particular lifestyle or support their hobbies rather than pursue a job or career that they are passionate about. 

When I met Isaac he was getting his degree in Communication. He had no real plans to pursue a career in that field. Earlier he had hoped to pursue Architecture but due to some changes in the program while he was on his mission he switched paths. Although, I'm sure Isaac was initially disappointed that he wouldn't pursue Architecture I think it was for the best. Isaac is an excellent artist and I'm sure he would have enjoyed Architecture but his real passion is for horses. 

When people ask Isaac about what he wants to do, the response is almost always the same, "That is like my dream job!" People at Isaac's work are constantly asking him why he chooses to work with animals when he has a college degree. Isaac might be crazy, and I might be even crazier for supporting him.

Isaac hasn't landed his dream job and we can't be sure that he will, but I'm so proud that my husband is going to do all that he can to pursue his dream. Isaac could make more money in a different job. He might get better benefits and more vacation time. But, he wouldn't be teaching his children what he is now. I once heard a quote that we can't expect our children to be what we aren't. This has really stuck with me. If I want my children to be driven by passion, then I must be driven by passion. If I want my children to pursue their dreams, Isaac and I must pursue our dreams. If I want my children to share, they need to see that I share. If I want my children to value time with the family, I need to value time with the family. 

I could read thousands of parenting books but I'm going to let this principle guide me: Become the person you want your child to be. It's that simple. It isn't about issuing the right punishment or whether you use attachment parenting. If you don't model good behavior, how can you expect that from your child? But it isn't even about modeling behavior. It must be deeper than that. You can't just not lie, you must be honest. You can't just perform acts of kindness, you must be kind. You can't just act good, you must be good. 

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to strive to be better, to really be something. I know I won't be perfect and that my faults and bad habits will get in the way at times. And that's a good thing because I don't want to be perfect. I want my children to feel the freedom to make mistakes and know that they have a Savior who will carry them the rest of the way. 

Someday, I hope that my children will be able to look at me and say, "She never stopped trying to be more. And yet, she allowed herself to be human. And because of that humanity, she knows the touch of her Savior's hand."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Multi-tasker Anonymous

Hi, my name is Rebecca and I'm a multi-tasker. Whew, it feels so good to get that off my chest! I've been caught multitasking not just at home, but also at work. That's how bad it has gotten. Have I breastfed my child while typing a case note at my work office? Guilty! I thought I was being so clever! My husband caught me the other day while multitasking. Isaac had put on the movie Hugo. I thought he wouldn't notice me slipping into the kitchen to clean a few dishes, but then I heard it, "[silence]." He had paused the movie. And then the dreaded, "What do you think you are doing?!" "(nervously) Uh, I'm doing the dishes..." "Get over here and watch this movie with me!" And the dishes just sat there on the counter, dirty, longing to jump into a pool of soapy water. A basket of laundry just three feet away, my hands aching to fold those burp cloths. But Isaac was on guard, which meant only one thing: I had to sit down and watch the movie. Did I enjoy the movie? Of course, but once I had the chance, I was back at it. Those dishes were splishing and splashing.

On a more serious note, this is something I've been thinking about lately. Sometimes our lives become so busy that we are trying to do so many things at one time. I wonder if I am actually enjoying the activity because it's never just one activity; it's always two. So, is TV relaxing if I'm always working while watching TV? Can house work be therapeutic if I am being distracted by the TV? Am I really listening to the person on the phone if I am folding laundry at the same time? Am I more productive for multitasking, or am I just more exhausted? Sometimes I turn off the TV while nursing to focus on my baby, and sometimes I'll lay down on the floor next to my baby while he is playing. It surprises me how quickly I become antsy. Shouldn't I be doing something on my to-do list? What if I just lay here for the next hour, how behind would I get? Would the house become a mess? Would my husband think I was lazy?

I think all mothers (and women) multitask. The job of running a household is about 24 hours of work packed into the 16 hours you actually have. Life is really about how you allocate your time. I guess I'm questioning how I've been allocating mine.

*I give credit to my dear friend Annette for the inspiration behind this post.

The Shave

 Many of you know that I came home one day from work and found that my husband had shaved my baby's hair off. He shaved it again before Christmas to make sure that all the hair would grow in evenly. Last time he just buzzed his head. This time he used his Gillette Proglide razor.

I wanted Isaac to make Wyatt look like he had a Santa beard...Isaac didn't quite get the concept of me wanting a fluffy beard but Wyatt still looked cute. Below I'm going to include captions of what I think Wyatt is thinking:

 "Oh no, not this again..."

 "Are they going to shave my beard? I don't even have facial hair!"

 "I'm going to need a drink to get through this..."

 "You're taking a picture? Great..."

 "This is really gonna happen?"

 "Oh, it is happening!"

 "Just breathe, don't think about it."

 "Not my sideburns!"

Friday, January 11, 2013

The gift of poverty

Those that know me well, know that I grew up in an affluent community. I was very fortunate to be born into a family where my father was a doctor. And although my parents divorced, the divorce settlement gave my mother a monthly income that was much higher than many families could provide on two incomes. I never realized how privileged I was until I entered graduate school and was asked to write a paper about privilege. My mother tried her best to keep us grounded by giving us chores such as vacuuming, cleaning toilets, and mowing the lawn. However, I still went to some of the best public schools and I was always dressed in beautiful clothes. I studied abroad, served a mission for my church, and received an undergraduate degree and I was never in the red. 

I got a job with Enterprise Rent-a-cad. I remember becoming financially independent. It was scary. My parents had given me so much and now that I had a real job, I knew I couldn't ask for help. I was going to have to figure it out. And I did. I was paying my own car insurance now. I had my own apartment. I was learning to budget. Yet, I was able to go Costa Rica with my friends and shop at Banana Republic whenever my little heart desired. Then I decided to go back to school. I was going to take out student loans. 

Flash forward to graduation. Graduate school had come to an end. No more student loans to provide income. I was married and five months pregnant. Neither Isaac or I had what you could call full-time employment. I was trying to set up a private practice so I could work part-time before and after the birth of the baby. Isaac was able to work more hours with the job he had worked while in school. While Isaac had been dreaming of working on a ranch, the drought had dried up those jobs. We were poor. Well, we still are actually. We were living pay check to pay check. Sometimes we still don't know how we are going to pay this bill or that bill. BUT, somehow we do. It has been difficult to control my stress. Often I would grow concerned and rack my brain trying to think of ways we could come up with money before the next bill due date came. I would drive myself crazy. Isaac always seemed so calm, so confident that it would work out. I thought, "He is crazy!" Yet, every time it did work out. I've learned a couple lessons from being poor that I will list and discuss below:

1. I love to give
2. To receive is hard
3. To receive is divine
4. Karma is real
5. Tithing is a blessing
6. Money is not happiness

1. I love to give
One of the most difficult things about being poor is realizing that you don't always have the money to buy others gifts that you would like to give. This has been extremely hard for me. I also love to cook for others. It has been difficult to look at the bank account and think, "I want to have these friends over to eat, but I'm not sure we can feed others until we get our next paycheck.We will have to wait." 

2. To receive is hard
It is so much more comfortable to be in the position of giving than receiving. It is hard to admit that you need help or that you depend on others. Although I was given a lot by my parents, that is very different from when you are a grown adult and feel that you should be capable of meeting all your own needs.

3. To receive is divine
There have been so many times when Isaac and I have unexpectedly received gifts and money from others when we really needed it. Receiving money when you really need it, when you have been praying for a solution, is a unique experience. It has brought tears to my eyes, warmth to my heart, and caused me to fall on my knees recognizing that God often cares for us through our friends and family.

4. Karma is real
What goes around comes around. When you have little, it is often hard to give because you aren't sure that you will have enough. However, we have never gone without and I think that is because we have continued to give as much as we can. No meal shared with others has every left us with empty stomachs. Anytime we give to others, we receive.

5. Tithing is a blessing
As part of our faith, Isaac and I give 10% of our income back to God. This is not easy, but we have made a commitment to do so and we recognize that all we have is from God. Sometimes it seems that not paying tithing would allow us to pay a bill, but we pay our tithing and find that somehow we still have the money to pay that bill even though it seemed that we wouldn't be able to. Even if we were not monetarily rewarded, we recognize that we should always give thanks to God for what he has given us.

6. Money is not happiness
Now, I think we all know that money can buy a good time. I'm not disputing that. Even though Isaac and I never went on a honeymoon, even though I haven't been able to buy new clothes, even though Isaac hasn't been able to buy a saddle, we are happy. It is the simple things that make me happy. I love cooking a meal and having a husband that is at home to eat it with me. I love having friends over and enjoying interesting conversation. I love taking road trips and talking with Isaac for six hours when our car radio is broken (okay, so I sleep some of those six hours). I love that Isaac and I created this life, our little Wyatt, who is discovering this world and all the wonder in it. These things bring happiness. I often think, "what if tomorrow was my last day?" I wouldn't stress about money today. I would enjoy today. So I try to hold Isaac a little closer, play with my baby a bit longer, give that baby a kiss and brush his face every single time before I lay him down in his crib, get up at 5:30 am to fix Isaac breakfast,  make sure that I kiss him when he gets home, because God forbid anything happen, I never want to think that I wasted away these years worrying instead of living. 

I was accustomed to wealth and how blessed I am because I grew up in wealth. But, I am just as blessed by poverty and that is why poverty is a gift. It has taught me a lot about myself, love, and what matters most. I know that we won't always be poor but I hope that I never forget the lessons I'm currently learning.