Tag Archives: family

On Choices and Sacrifice

10 Feb

Over the last couple of years I have had several conversations with women around my own age about how to maintain a sense of “self” amidst jobs, husbands, kids, friends, etc. The fact that this topic came up more than once in completely isolated and unrelated incidents speaks to the ubiquity of this quandary. (Side note: I don’t think that this issue is necessarily unique to women my own age, or even just women, but that’s another topic to explore entirely.) In each and every one of these conversations I maintained, adamantly, that a woman does not have to give up her self for the sake of her family, her job, or any other outside force. It is, I said, essential to a woman’s happiness that she does not do this, or it will be felt by those that she’s those she’s sacrificing for, thus rendering the self-sacrifice useless. I said these things, and I meant them. But then I thought about myself, about my life, and I wondered if I at all practiced what I was preaching.

In my mind I am an intelligent and cultured individual who spends her free time playing the violin and learning world languages, when I’m not working on my newest novel or catching up on my literature, all the while keeping up with the latest and greatest on this Golden Age of Television. That is the person that I want to be. In reality, I am a working mother of three who has maybe an hour of time each evening to not only have “me time” but also spend time with my husband, catch up on emails, schedule doctor appointments, and the list goes on and on. The truth is that on most nights I choose to just sit and watch TV because it’s nice to relax and just be.

So, does that make me a hypocrite? Have I actually been sacrificing for my family all along without actually intending to? I spent a lot of time thinking long and hard about this, and ultimately I decided that the answer is no. I don’t feel like I’m making self-sacrifices for my family. I chose to have my family, and spending time doing things with them and for them isn’t a sacrifice. My family is my favorite part of my life. My sense of self hasn’t been lost because of my family; my sense of self has grown because of them.

That being said, when it comes down to it, there are only so many hours in a day to realistically do the things I want to do. Choices do have to be made, and I have to admit, the choices I was making weren’t doing much to turn me into the cultured person I wanted to be. So I made a conscious choice in 2017 to change this and add some variety to what I did in the hours of free time I did have. Specifically, I decided to read more. Books were my first love, and I never feel more like myself than when I’m reading.

I read thirteen books in 2017. Twelve of them were new to me, and one was an old friend. I didn’t quite meet my reading goal, and thirteen is nowhere near where I once was, but it’s a step in the right direction.


In 2018 my plan is to keep on with this progress. I was recently interviewed by my school’s newspaper and they asked me my New Year’s Resolution. I told them I wanted to read and write more. It’s taken me a month to actually get around to finishing this blog post, so I’m not sure how I’ll do overall on the writing front. But, I’m trying, which for me is the best choice I could possibly make.




Mom Guilt

12 Oct

This past Sunday when bestie was over we somehow got on the topic of Mom Guilt.

Mom Guilt is a special brand of guilt reserved for mothers who are doing their best to do it all. It’s feeling guilty when you tell your toddler he can’t play outside because you have to stay inside and feed the baby. It’s feeling guilty when you let your baby cry for ten minutes while you finish your shower. It’s feeling guilty when you let your children watch more television than you know is good for them so that you can do the dishes. It’s feeling guilty when you neglect the dishes so that you can take the time to write for the first time in months.

Now, I don’t presume to speak on behalf of all mothers, but I have spoken to enough of my mom friends to know that most experience at least some Mom Guilt on a semi-regular basis.

I’ve been experiencing higher than average levels of Mom Guilt these past few weeks. I know that logically this is to be expected given the recent addition of Child #3 to our family. I keep telling myself that it’s normal for things to fall behind and priorities to shift while we adjust to life as a family of five. I tell myself this, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.

I’m doing my best to turn my life into a spinoff of an improv game I once played. Instead of adding, “yes, and…” to the end of each of my sentences, though, I’m adding an, “and that’s okay” to the end of each of my admissions of guilt.

Yes, Child #2 hasn’t had a ton of Vitamin D lately, and that’s okay. Yes, Child #3 had to scream bloody murder in order for me to shave my armpits, and that’s okay. You get the idea.

It’s okay because I’m doing the best I can. As much as I’ve prayed to the gods for superpowers or, even better, my very-belated Hogwarts letter, I sadly remain a mere human, and a muggle at that.

I’m not perfect. Even on my best days, there are still going to be dirty bottles on the counter and unfolded laundry in the dryer. There are going to be times when my household obligations don’t get my attention because of time spent with my children and vice versa. This doesn’t make me a failure as a mother, or as a spouse (side note: Spouse Guilt is another beast, entirely). It makes me normal.

I need to do better at reminding myself that at the end of each exhausting day [How long until babies sleep through the night, again? No, seriously, I can’t remember.] my children go to bed with all their basic needs met. Even better, they are (usually) happy, and at least somewhat clean. Most importantly, they are loved, and that is more than okay.

An Intentional Disengagement

12 Dec

Husband asked me the other day if I remembered life before I had an iPhone (which was, in my case, my first smart phone). An only-slightly-exaggerated answer? Not really. It’s hard to remember a time when I couldn’t use my phone to look up movie show times, check for directions while driving, do my Christmas shopping, and keep constant tabs on what’s what on Twitter.

I would say wholeheartedly that these things have definitely made life more convenient. I would probably stop buying groceries before I’d give it up. I would say without hesitation that these things have made my life better. But, I cannot honestly say that it has made me better.

It is with embarrassment that I reluctantly admit that my attachment to my iPhone might not be particularly healthy. I am, perhaps, unnaturally attached to it. You can usually find it within a 10-foot radius of my person. Furthermore, the once or twice when I’ve left my house without my iPhone left me with a strange sense of unease. I’m normally an optimistic person, but I couldn’t help but think, What if this is the time my car breaks down? What if no one stops to help me because they just assume I have a cell phone? What if I get lost in the middle of nowhere and no one knows where to find me? What if a new trailer for Game of Thrones comes out and I don’t have a way to immediately watch it?

You see my point?

I sometimes have to remind myself that there was a time before smart phones. Before cell phones, even. And yes, I am old enough to remember those times. When my mom would tell me she’d be running errands, she was basically just off the grid. I didn’t know which stores she would be at and for how long. If I wanted to get ahold of her, for whatever reason, I was SOL.

Now, technology has made it so that there’s no such thing as being unreachable. When I call someone, it’s with the expectation that they will answer. When I text someone, it’s with the expectation that they will respond. When I post something on Facebook or Twitter, I find myself checking for responses within minutes. It’s assumed that we are connected, always. Working and sleeping are pretty much the only excuses for not engaging with someone via technology, and sometimes not even then. Gone are the days of I-just-don’t-feel-like-answering. After all, what’s the point in having a cell phone if you don’t answer?

At least that’s what we say in the off chance that we get someone’s voicemail.

Most of the time I am happy for this ubiquitous connectedness. I like engaging in social media. I love my Twitter family. I love my blog. I love the engaging in witty banter entirely through gifs and emoticons.

But again, I wouldn’t say it’s made me better.

There are times when I’ll be watching a television show and I’ll find myself Tweeting/Pinning/Facebooking and realize that I’ve missed an entire chunk of dialogue. Sometimes I feel like I am actually physically incapable of doing just one thing. If my phone is there (which it always is), I must be on it. Is that what technology has done to me?

At least when it comes to television, it’s not that big of a deal. There’s a rewind button on my TiVo remote, after all. The issue is that it’s not just television.

True Mom Confession: Every now and then it’s my children. I feel like a horrible mother even admitting it, but there will be times when I’m on the ground playing cars with my kids, and my hand will gravitate toward my phone. Let me just state for the record that there is nothing in this world more important to me than my children. I know that these moments with them are literally once-in-a-lifetime, and that time spent playing with them will be over all too quickly. There is not a rewind button for these moments.

Because of this, I have started making a concentrated effort to disengage. To not be so connected, all the time. That’s not to say that I won’t ever Tweet or blog (clearly). I’ll still take my iPhone with me to work and I’ll have it with me when I’m driving. But, when it’s during my children’s waking hours, don’t be surprised if I don’t answer that text immediately. I won’t like that status immediately.

It won’t be because I don’t care. It’ll be because my phone is in a different room. It will be because I’m playing with my children, the way my parents played with me, before iPhones. Because life before iPhones wasn’t half bad.

Much to Be Thankful For

27 Nov

I have been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately. Something about this time of year and the comfort food that goes along with it makes me yearn for the smells and warmth of her kitchen. I rang in the cold season by making her hotdish just a couple of weeks ago. As I watched Child #2 eat it for the first time, I could feel her presence with us in the room.

I felt the same way last night, as I was making her classic Orange Jello Salad in preparation for our Thanksgiving feast. My grandma’s foods are such a staple in our holiday gatherings. Even though this is not our first round of holidays without her, it still feels unreal that she won’t be there with her nylons and holiday brooches on, ready to feed an army of 100.

The acute ache of missing my grandmother brings into sharp focus how very lucky I am to have the people in my life. I have the best family and friends a girl could ever ask for. I’ve come frighteningly close to losing some of them, so I do not take any day that they are in my life for granted. There are too many of these people to call out by name (another blessing), but you know who you are. I love you, and I am thankful for you all.

The path that Life takes us on may not always be as we planned. There will be unexpected losses, and tests of our limits. There will be struggles. It is not always easy to remember how very lucky I am. Today serves as a reminder of just that. Today as I watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade with my beautiful boys and watch them eat Grandma’s Jello, I know that I have much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.


A Mother’s Day Post

13 May

Relationships with mothers (in my experience) are complicated. When I think about it objectively, I guess that’s rightfully so. From the second we’re born, mothers are fighting for our well-being. They want us to be safe, healthy, successful and happy. They put their every waking second into making sure that those things come to fruition and then, when we’re older, they’re forced to step to the side and watch us do things that are dangerous, bad for our health, that don’t better our lives and that often lead to heartbreak. Everything their mother’s intuition has screamed at them to keep us away from, we rush toward in our stubborn and naive efforts to be independent and self-sufficient. Eventually, hopefully, we reach a middle ground. We mature and realize that usually always our mother’s were right. Our mothers shake their heads and acknowledge that yes, sometimes, we have to learn things the hard way. We become more than a parent and a child, we become friends and mutual adults. Despite all this, there is one constant: our mothers never stop wanting us to be safe, healthy, successful and happy.

To say that my own mother has been on a journey the past couple of years is a pitiful understatement. She’s been put through the wringer more times than I can count, and the hell she’s dealt with is not one that I’d wish upon my worst enemies (that is, of course, assuming I had enemies). The fact that she’s still with us today, and that she’s as strong, inspiring and fabulous as she is, is nothing short of a miracle. Though our relationship has had its ups and downs, there’s never been an instant where I have doubted that she’d do anything for me. She is my mother, and I love her.

Today is my third mother’s day that I get to celebrate with the “new” perspective of being a mother myself. Like my own mother, I would do absolutely anything to keep my son safe, healthy, successful and happy. It’s an overwhelming and joyous feeling, and I plan on savoring every moment of it.

Happy mother’s day, to all the mothers out there.

On Life, Harry Potter and My First Love

17 Jul

I am a fan of routine. I love planning, making lists, checking things off the lists and having things go according to the aforementioned plan. I am, essentially, Rory Gilmore’s soulmate. This is why weeks like the one I have just experienced, while amazingly awesome and fun, always make me feel slightly disoriented and overwhelmed. Allow me to explain…

This past week the state of Minnesota was visited by my brother-in-law Andy, his wife Amber and their two adorable children Aiden and Avery. Marrying into another family can be a tricky business. You’re essentially saying “Yes, now I am one of you! Though I did not grow up with you, I am going to participate in your family traditions and navigate through your family’s complexities, hierarchies and drama. I will do my best not to overstep my boundaries and stomp on toes, but no promises…” Amber played a HUGE role in helping me adjust to life as a Nelson, and I do think of her as an actual sister. [Note: At the time that Dan and I got married, she was my only sister-in-law; since then I have now been blessed with another “sister” whom I also love dearly] Because of this, I am always SUPER excited when she and her family come into town and their visits are always far too short. This particular visit included a giant family gathering and a mid-week cabin trip, which contributed greatly to me feeling thrown-off my game. Who knew the lake was so quiet on Wednesday afternoons?

Top: Sister-in-Law Erika, Brother-in-Law Marty, Me, Dan, Andy
Bottom: Father-in-Law Jeff, Jack, Mother-in-Law DeDe, Aiden, Amber, Avery

While the majority of the Nelson clan stayed up at the cabin until Friday morning, I came home on Thursday for one VERY important reason: Harry Potter. I went with Husband and one of my besties (Brook) to the midnight showing of the final Harry Potter movie. There are not words to describe my love for Harry Potter. They (whoever “they” are), say that the Harry Potter book series got children interested in reading. It would not be wrong to say that it also renewed my own love for reading. I’ve loved reading ever since I knew how to hold a book, but somehow high school and the drama that accompanies high school caused me to put reading on the back burner.

I remember my first encounter with Harry Potter. It wasn’t the book series that first drew my attention, but rather a selfish cry of injustice. My mother had agreed to pull my brother out of school to see the first movie in the theatre (because he and her had, actually, read the book), and there was no way in hell my brother was going to get a “Get Out of School Free” card if I couldn’t have one too. So, my mom agreed to take me to the movie as well. I walked into the theatre that day having no idea what the series was even about. By the time the movie was over, I was spellbound (pun intended). I saw that movie in the theatre five times and began reading the books immediately. Since then, I have been to two midnight book release parties and numerous midnight showings of movies. I even brought Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with me on my honeymoon.

Watching the last movie unfold was bittersweet for me. I absolutely loved the movie and I don’t think it could have been any more perfect and true to both the book and movie franchises. But my tears throughout the movie weren’t just caused by the sadness unfolding on the screen. It was because something I had taken part in, something larger than myself, was ending. Harry Potter was what made me realize how much I missed reading. Without it, who knows when I would have realized what the empty hole in my heart was caused by? I owe Harry Potter a great debt, and I’ll never forget it. And seriously, see the movie. It kicks major ass.

I attended the 12:05 a.m. showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two on Friday, July 15th. That night, at 7:30 p.m., I was reunited with another love of mine, and my First Love: Nick Carter. That’s right folks, Friday night was my NKOTBSB concert. It was, in a word, incredible. Both groups sang all the old songs, did some of the old dance moves, and reminded me that First Love lasts a lifetime. For one night, I was 16 again. I am a Backstreet Girl, for now and always, and I’m damn proud of it. I might also, now, be a New Kids fan. I think I have to be now that Donnie Wahlberg touched my finger; it’s like an unspoken boy band law.

Thankfully, after the whirlwind week I’ve had, I’ve slowly caught up on sleep and once again adjusted to a natural circadian rhythm. I’m looking forward to reclaiming more of my routine this upcoming week, mainly in regards to my writing and workout schedule. I haven’t written a word all week, nor have a lifted a hand-weight. Jillian Michaels would not be happy, but as much as it pains me, sometimes the routine just has to be adjusted. This week was one of those weeks, but it was totally worth it.

Good Learning

27 May

I write this entry from the front passenger seat of my car en route to the cabin, and it’s my first time using the WordPress app on my phone, so I apologize if the formatting on this one is off.

Anywho, a bit ago Jack was being uncharacteristically quiet in his carseat so I turned around to see what he was doing. Lo and behold, my darling son was contentedly smacking himself on the head with a book.

Upon reporting this news to Husband, he said “Jack’s like, ‘I’m trying to learn this!'” A new way to transfer knowledge? My son’s a genius!