08 Aug

The Days After

Posted by Jenna, Under Parenting, Uncategorized

T1 had been sleeping on the couch during his stay with Nana and Papa, but asked to sleep in the same bed as me and T2 the first night after our reunion. It’s a king-sized bed and there was more than enough room for me to have my own sleeping bubble, not touching anyone while I slumbered, while listening to his breathing deepen as he drifted off across the mattress from his sister. Little kids are so generous, so tender, so ready to love and be loved in return. I’m grateful I had the chance to work through some of my own shit before they are old enough to to start stressing about their own and realize what I mess I’ve been.

  
I watched their chests rise and fall, thinking about my last post and how they had reacted exactly as anticipated. It’s me who is unpredictable, sweet and patient one moment and snapping the next. How unnerving that must be for the little ones who crave stability and a knowledge that their caretaker will always be there for them. I see T1 seeking assurance that he is loved and accepted less often now that he’s had this month with Nana, which is one of the reasons I did this break, because it was killing me how often he told me he loved me in an attempt to hear that I loved him back. I could see what I was doing, but each day I tried to do better I slid back into the same old patterns. Self-awareness does not always go hand-in-hand with an ability to solve the problem at hand. I needed to be stress- and anxiety- and depression-free in order to understand how to address the stress and anxiety and depression in my life. If I can’t fit it in between my child-free hours between 9-5 M-F I’ve got too much on my plate and need to look into simplifying somehow

On the second or third day I opened my to-do list app and that’s when the regression into old patterns was stark. I was frustrated with them, short because it’s hard for me to be interrupted in the middle of a task once I start. That’s why a crucial part of our plan going forward is a combination of outsourcing and family time that forces me to set boundaries for when I’m in to-do list mode. 

I think my favorite day in Royal was the morning  we rode horses with the neighbors. The kids were delighted, we were able to connect and bond in meaningful ways with the sort of people who remind you how good humanity can be, and I was completely present with no worries about what came next or what I should/could be spending time on otherwise. This is the feeling I want to replicate over and over throughout the coming months. This is what I’ve been missing.

07 Aug

The Night Before

Posted by Jenna, Under Parenting

I am writing this the night before I reunite with my two- and five-year-old children, after 26 days of them in Washington and me in California. A separation that was my choice, after weeks of pleading with my mom to please help me. Please. I can’t do this anymore.

I’m watching videos of them on Notabli, crying because I can see how much they’ve changed in the days we have been separated. I know this time apart will be better for us in the long run, but it’s hard to see my daughter looking and speaking in much more mature ways than when I left. She’s no longer the baby I tucked into my dad’s pickup truck at the beginning of July. She speaks in full sentences now, she rides a trike, she refuses to wear anything other than “pretty dresses.”

I see through my tiny phone screen into my son’s eyes when we FaceTime, and there are the questions “This is fun, but why am I here? Do you still love me?” I can’t change who I have been, but I can affect who I become.

those-kids-in-SF
expired Portra 160vc, RZ67 Pro II

Tomorrow I anticipate my five-year-old will run to me, cling to me, immediately seeking the reassurance that I’m really there. All of me, not just my arms and my lips to hug and to kiss, but my eyes, heart, and psyche as well. Read more →

04 Aug

The Fog Lifting

Posted by Jenna, Under Parenting

“A thing seen cannot be unseen.”

This has been the thought running through my head at repeating intervals over the past few weeks. I came into this childfree month with expectations about changes to my career, changes to the unpacking status of our new rental, changes to my social life during this very unique time where there is no need to line up babysitters for $20/hour when I want to have a night out.

I saw all of those changes, but the starkest unfurling was the enormous shift I saw to my temperament, attitude, and general happiness levels. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but TH told me last week “I see the woman I fell in love with all over again. I haven’t seen you like this in years.

thefoglifting-jennacolephotography

He calls me The Martyr. When I take a position I dig in with all I’ve got to hold the fort and make my intentions a reality. Of course I adapt with new information, my departure from Mormonism made that clear, but if I don’t see an alternative option that feels better than my current approach I keep my heels planted firmly in place no matter how my holding might affect those around me. And because I like to be right I’m often not good at objectively weighing the alternatives in search of something better. That’s what was happening with my life, my parenting, my marriage. We got married with a 1950s dynamic, he works and she does the house and the kids, and I was hell-bent on making that doable for us (even at the expense of my well-being and the well-being of those close to me).

It obviously wasn’t working, I had plenty of data points to tell me that. One of those points was the time a close friend said she would describe me as “cynical.” She was being genuine and honest and true to what our friendship is, but it hurt me so much I cried for days. I had become a version of myself I didn’t recognize, and when she said that I realized for the first time that she wasn’t the only one who saw me that way. I don’t agree with it, but I get why there is so much hostility directed my way whenever I share something that revealed a part of my inner turmoil. The problem was not in the sharing, it was in my acceptance that there were no alternatives to what I was doing and how I was doing it. TH and I would have one of those deep and difficult conversations married people have, I would vow to do better, and then I would dive right back into the same situation once again.

I’m not opposed to calling it postpartum depression, having a name helps launch the beginning stage of finding a resolution to the problem. Read more →

01 Aug

The Why and How on Dev Bootcamp

Posted by Jenna, Under Work

If you didn’t already see the post on Intagram announcing it – I was accepted in the Dev Bootcamp 19-week web developer education program this week!

For months I’ve been talking about my efforts to get into a coding bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area called Hackbright (*see below for a list of blog posts related to my bootcamp application process). I applied in February of 2015, was declined, and submitted another application in May. While I waited a very long two months to hear back from them, I signed up for a prep course from a different bootcamp program called Hack Reactor. I enjoyed the Hack Reactor prep experience, and I started to wonder if Hackbright might not be the best fit for me.

Currently there are hundreds of bootcamp programs in the Bay Area, with new ones popping up all the time. I wanted to keep things simple, and I really liked the idea of a program geared specifically toward women because I think it’s important to have supportive and safe environments for women to train in as they prepare to enter the often-hostile world of tech. I talked to several Hackbright alumna who were very happy with their bootcamp choice, but the amount of time it was taking to get to my application bothered me, and I talked to several people who urged me to reconsider an option that, in their opinion, would lead me to an internship but might not lead me to the sort of full-time work I would need to recoup my costs as quickly as I’m hoping.

San Francisco Abstraction

Canon AE-1, Fuji Superia 800s

The more I talked to the alumni and instructors from Hack Reactor, the more it sounded like something I wanted to go for. It’s somewhat known as “The Harvard” of the bootcamp programs and the admissions interview is very difficult, making their students some of the elite out there in the race to redefine the software engineering profession. I knew it would be an incredible commitment, with six days/week of in-person instruction instead of the usual five, but it felt like it would set me up for career options I might not have otherwise. Just as I was about to make my move and commit to the application I asked one more alum who responded to my query about what makes the program special with “You’re going to feel like you’re the least intelligent person there, and everyone status until almost-midnight every night.” I want to be challenged, yes, but that’s not the environment and mindset I’m looking for as a mother of two young children living an hour train-ride south of the city. I realized if I attended Hack Reactor I would never see my family. I would barely have time to sleep!

On Thursday morning, July 30th, I had my second interview with the Hackbright program. Read more →

29 Jul

Castellabate, Italy

Posted by Jenna, Under Photography

I’m sending my #Euroand15 film in slowly, savoring the way it feels to rediscover our trip through the lens of my camera. This is Castellabate, a teeny tiny town with the narrowest streets I’ve ever navigated via car, in the province of Salerno, located in the Campania region. We had several different interactions with the locals that proved them to be some of the friendliest, kindest people I’ve come across.

I’m thinking in particular of the woman working in a bait and tackle shop who listened patiently to me explaining in broken Italian that my film had broken off the spool and I needed some sort of black cloth to protect it from the light once I removed it from the camera. She pointed to a bag used for holding fishing poles and indicated I could have one for free, and then when I mentioned that I also need a pitch-black room to remove the film from the camera she allowed me to go into the back of the store all by myself to unwind my film and stuff it into the bag she had provided. To top all of that off, she offered me some free farm-fresh eggs as I left the store! I wouldn’t have this image if it wasn’t for her kindness and trust in a complete stranger.

Jenna Cole - Portra 800, Canon AE-1pPortra 800, Canon AE1-p, TheFINDlab

 

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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