This tower has me convinced that he’s going to be an engineer. Or an architect! It’s amazing to see what he creates, what he says, how he processes the world.
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Before I stopped attending church, I attended by myself with a toddler for several months. The experience is three hours total, three separate meetings, with childcare (for kids older than 18 months) for the last two hours. Eventually I stopped going to the first hour and only attended the last two because I was tired of managing a 2 1/2 year old all by myself through a meeting where everyone is expected to be still and quiet.
I was reminded of this today when I attended (Mormon) church with my friend who also has a husband who travels for work. In our group there were two adult females, a six-year-old girl, 2 three-year-old boys, an eighteen-month-old boy, and a 9-month-old baby. We sat in the back and tried to keep the kids from running around on the basketball court. Eventually the toddler broke down and I was left managing the rest of the kids by myself. It did not go well.
I’m no longer attending church, but for the sake of my friend, I was left wishing that there was something different about how all of this works. Telling all parents with young kids (especially those adults who are sitting alone with young kids) that the first meeting is optional doesn’t seem like something that will happen. But maybe there would be ways to help these families without making them feel like a project? Visiting and Home Teachers could try to set up a system to understand when the solo parenting is going to happen and sit nearby in order to help. Indiviuals and couples without children of their own to care for could choose seats that will place them close enough to keep an eye out for opportunities to help. Don’t always sit right next to them (sometimes people don’t really feel like being social, especially if kids have worn them out), don’t impose, don’t make assumptions. Keep an eye out and step in when help is needed saying something like “I really want to help you. I’d like to do so by doing ______. Is that okay with you, or can you tell me something that would be better?”
My friend is never going to ask for help. I know I never did. When her husband is out of town for work she’s going to feed and dress her kids, get them in the car, attempt to keep them all silent and still for an hour in sacrament meeting, manage their problems while fulfilling her own responsibilities for the last two hours, and then get them all back in the car as they drive home fussy and hungry, all on her own. I am no longer part of that community, and I acknowledge that some will see this as me being overly critical. But I know that some within Mormomism may read this, and I hope that sharing my thoughts might inspire some changes that will help men and women like my friend. If you are LDS, maybe there is someone in your ward who could use some backup on Sundays? I’ll keep an eye out for opportunities like that outside of religion as well.
I don’t bathe my kids every day (The Dirt on Clean is partially to blame for this, at least I’m not putting it off for years at a time like parents used to do with their children). Logistics are a bit tricky by myself, but I’ve figured out how to get them both in, bathe them at the same time with only minimal splashing into baby’s face, and back out again without anyone drowning. And even though I like simplifying the bedtime routine by leaving the bath for another day, the moment when I pull a clean child out of the tub is a highlight of parenting for me. They smell wonderful, their skin is soft, and no matter the age they cling to me tight and lean their head against my shoulder. I ask them “Who’s going to get out first, my first baby or my second baby?” I encourage independence and growth and have no desire to keep them as babies forever, but this is one of the things I’ll miss when they’re grown.
When I started my first blog, blogging was about journaling and connecting with other people. A few years into it I noticed that people were making money doing the same thing I was doing. I wanted that (who wouldn’t?). So far my charges to move into that space have not been what I needed them to be, and it’s time for me to pull back and strategize. I’m not there yet, but I’m approaching a fork in the road. I either need to throw myself into self-employment and make it succesful, or I need to scale those back to something I only do in my free time and start going out on job interviews.
I’m at BlogHerPro 2013 today and tomorrow, multi-tasking as I listen to the speakers. Pinterest Fail has seen incredible growth over the summer, and I think it might have the potential to launch a career for me. Whether I turn the blog itself into a career, or I develop something that I can use on my resume to show what I can contribute to the company I’d like to be employed with.
I’ve played with this idea, blogging as a career instead of a hobby, for a long time now. My sites (this one and Pinterest Fail) have the traffic and following that it should be a reality already, but my attempts to monetize have not been very successful. I think common wisdom says you aren’t supposed to admit something like that (what if I’m in the position in the future where I’m trying to market myself as just the opposite?), but the keynote speaker for today, Porter Gale, just advised us to admit what we don’t know. This conference is one of the ways I am trying to turn my monetization and marketing weaknesses into strengths. Is this one of your strengths? I would love to hear more about your strategy if you’re willing to share.
I think a first step would be deciding what my priorities are. Have you seen my Jenna Cole twitter bio? I want to do all the things. This is not sustainable. Do I want to be a photographer or a blogger? Young kids+blogging+photography+traveling husband is more than I can handle. Or maybe I need to develop a plan that limits my involvement in each, allowing me to split my time 30/30/30 (the extra 10% can go to rest and relaxation time, which I rarely allow myself to take guilt-free). It’s very easy for me to get caught up in a whirlwind of passion and excitement as I approach a project, and I want to avoid depleting myself so that I can’t manage any of it.
I haven’t been active in the comment section lately, but over the next day and a half I am kid-free with pockets of time to pop by and interact. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on my situation and how you have perceived my efforts over the years. I’d really like to hear how you have been able to monetize your own blogging efforts. Or you can just tell me what’s going on with your life (sometimes I think about the people I have interacted with over the years and I feel sad when I realize that I have no idea where they are at or what they are doing!).
T1 was sick this past week, and stayed home from school on Monday and Tuesday. Monday he was listless and refusing milk (this is the moment when I fully grasped how sick he was), but Tuesday was a day between sickness and health. Based on the preschool guidelines I could have sent him in, but I took advantage of my self-employed status and kept him home to play with us instead. We went to Happy Hollow with friends and picnicked and rode on Danny the Dragon. I was grateful for my privileged ability to be flexible, but after 48+ hours with both kids without a break I was very happy to slip back into our routine again on Wednesday.