Life Lessons

I did it.

Our spunky two year old Cora has learned the art of the blame game. You know how it goes—

Caroline did it! (If Caroline simply touches her face and it apparently really *hurt*.)

Daddy did it! (When Tyler puts her to bed at her regular bedtime but she isn’t ready.)

Mommy did it! (When I brush the tangles out of her hair very carefully but she wasn’t having it to begin with.)

Just the other day, Cora bit her tongue while snacking and talking at the same time (I feel your pain, sweet Co). And after the tears were dried and she processed what happened, she proclaimed-- ‘Cora did it!’

I had to keep myself from laughing, of course. But what an example of owning up to a problem! The mind of a child is often a refreshing reminder to us all, and this was a great example.

How many times would it be easier to say—he did it, she did it—rather than

I did it. My bad.

A two year old can remind us all that one of the most powerful statements can be—it’s my fault. I own this. Although that can be very difficult and go against our pride, it is fundamental for leadership and for all relationships in life.

So the next time you blub up at work, are at fault in a relationship, or even if you bite your tongue, please proclaim '(insert your name) did it.'

Thanks for the life lesson, Cora!

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How is it with two?

A question I get quite often now-a-days is:

“How is it with two?”

You see, in September we welcomed our second daughter into the family. I’m not sure what all has happened over the past three months (aka lack of sleep), but it has all been wonderful and evidence of the Lord’s infinite love and grace in my life. Sweet girls, they are! (Except the diapers…. Those aren’t so sweet.)

Photo by Danielle Hayden, Two Arrows Photography

Photo by Danielle Hayden, Two Arrows Photography

 

So to answer the question, as a working mom of two under two (C just turned two in December), I’ll share a bit of what I’ve learned:

1.       I’m getting used to being late

To church, work, you name it. But I’m not letting that become my excuse to lean on, either. I really try to get all bags in the truck the night before—literally everything packed except milk. And then if crap literally hits the fan, (which it will, right mommas? Sometimes LITERALLY) you can be somewhat prepared. Fortunately I have a great manager, great team mates, and great customers that have been there, done that. Heck, sometimes they even give me a paper towel to wipe the spit up off my shirt. Some of you just made a “that’s gross” face.

2.       Speaking of milk…..

It’s literally all about milk at our house. I’m either pumping all day between meetings for the baby or running to the grocery (aka Dollar Store in rural Thruston, KY) to get milk for the two year old. Got milk? Yes, all the time. Because two little ladies might have their world fall apart if we don’t. Working mommas that want to keep nursing when you go back to work—you can do it! I’m happy to give some practical advice to anyone interested.

3.       Rock solid immune systems, expected arrival: Kindergarten

I’m convinced that the girls are going to have rock solid immune systems by age 5-6. Sickness found itself in our house all of December. If anyone reads this from our daycare, they are laughing because every time I see their name pop up on my phone, I’m thinking and sometimes answer, “Who’s sick today?” Working mommas know that they then have to take off work or have someone cover at home for at least the next two days—and that’s like orchestrating a military operation, it seems.

4.       Lastly, baby + toddler= weightlifting

For moms that have twins, how did/do you do it?! Seriously, carrying a toddler on one side, baby on the other feels like I’m in extreme weight lifting.  

All of the comments with “working mom” aren’t meant to say moms that work inside or outside of the home have it more difficult or easier than the other. Actually, they both come with sacrifices that look quite different and some that are the exact same. Which leads me to the entire point of writing this post…… Everything in life comes with trade-off’s. Everything.

If anything, the biggest thing I’ve learned with two under two is how valuable all of my momma friends are—not just in giving advice but their influence in my life. I respect them all and know they all sacrifice in different ways. But the one common thing among them all, they all sacrifice big for their families.

So the same moment I’m packing bags at 11 pm in my truck for the next day since we have to be out the door by a specific time, another mom is working a late night shift that allows her to be home three days straight. Another mom is enjoying quiet time on Pinterest because she gets NO QUIET TIME ALL DAY LONG. And another is grading papers of her students and looking forward to the summer break with her kiddos.

You see—all different scenarios, all sacrifices, all amazing moms.

Nothing new and profound here, just the way I’d like to answer when I get that question—How is it with two? 

Quiet Time

Approximately two years ago, I would get out of bed at 5:00/5:15 am, rested, and go down to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and quiet reading time in my Bible.

It was seriously the best way to start my day.

I would also let the dogs out for their morning bathroom break, feed them both, make myself breakfast, potentially tidy up the kitchen, and then have plenty of time to shower and get ready.

The routine of it all today makes my heart leap a bit! More so, the kick-start of Biblical truth to start my day was such a foundation in beginning a day with the right mindset.

Sometimes I would get up even earlier because 2-3 days a week I had sessions with a personal trainer. So throw a workout in that mix and give me a slice of humble pie. Because I felt awesome about myself.

Fast forward two years later and things are very different. No morning reading for any length over a cup of HOT coffee. I’ve now acquired a taste for cold coffee, seriously give it a try! (All the moms of littles are nodding, I think.) The dogs follow me around as soon as I wake up, still early but because Little Miss is an early-riser, as well. They seem to be saying, “We will follow you around to make sure you don’t forget about us and our bladders.” Workouts are when Little Miss is of the tolerant attitude to go on a walk or run in her stroller- some days she can’t even handle me pushing her around in a cushioned device, it’s rough for her I tell you.

All in all, take the routine two years ago and shift it around like a Rubik’s cube and wah-lah—you have the routine of today!

At first, I felt less—less Christian, less professional, less adult, less wife, less you name it. My morning routines were a very good and healthy routine to develop, but I had gotten to a point of idolizing them. I just checked every box and boy, it made me feel better because of that. But most of all, I think it was because I had “quiet time” before and this was just not the case anymore.

Church sermons, podcasts, leadership books, professional development seminars—they all tell me that a solid morning routine with quiet, reflective time is so significant. And although that has somewhat come back again, the truth is I just can’t have the quiet time like before. And that’s ok. I’m… We’re…. not less of anything because of that. I recently read in a book that each and every time a baby cries out in the dark of night, it is a sound reminder to Satan that precious, God-breathed life is in the dark of night. The noise-- early rising toddlers, beeping and buzzing emails, trailing-behind dogs, washing machine running at 4 am—it’s good and ok.

I can and will walk with the Lord in the noisiest of times. Actually, I walk closer because I feel less control and am reminded of all the life HE has created around me.

Young professionals, maybe you needed this reminder today? I do and did every day.

I want to be intentional about quiet time to read and think but sometimes, it just aint gonna happen.

So in that moment, join me in saying—

Quiet time? Not right now. I choose the noise and Lord give me this day my daily bread. Grace for the moment and just for that moment. You’ll meet me every hour, quiet or noisy. I’m not less of anything. (Except can you make me less sleepy, Lord?)  

Let me catch my breath here.

On Monday mornings, my team routinely has conference calls at 7 am. For those of you with little ones, you can picture the household at 7 am with a one and a half year old plus two dogs eager for breakfast (Well, we have a Great Dane so correction: one dog and one horse eager for breakfast), so my husband and I have tried to map things out for these Monday’s so I can take the call and chaos is minimized. And we normally do well…

This Monday was a little different.

I was preparing to be gone for the week for a work sales meeting. He also had some traveling in place and Little Miss was going to Grandma’s for the beginning of the week. Speaking of which, this is what happens when Little Miss goes to Grandma’s. Poor girl, she’s suffered through Rice Krispies and this all week.

I had just finished chasing the little one around the house, up the stairs, into the toy room while carrying her luggage (why does a one and a half year old require more luggage than Mom and Dad combined?!) and my time frame rolled around on the call. Perfect timing! This pregnant lady was literally panting. Like breathing into the phone, sounding like a Derby horse that had just ran the race. Panting.

I tried to smooth it over—jumping straight into my piece for the day but I just could not catch my breath. I tried shortening my sentences, choosing the quickest way to say whatever needed to be said to get through my report. I’m sure it was so obvious (and awkward) to my team mates that I couldn’t talk and breathe that morning.

Eventually I had to stop and say,

“I’m sorry. I’m out of breath here.”
“I just ran up the stairs after the little one.”

(Embarrassing that’s what did it)

And with that statement, my breath came back to me. Amazing, huh? Pausing for a few seconds gave my lungs time to settle.

Lesson learned.

The days are sometimes long and tough. It is ok to say “I’m out of breath here” rather than go on, doing a sloppy job just to get through something. Literally and figuratively, we will run out of breath from time to time. It is actually quite freeing to admit you can’t keep up, take the pause you need to re-group, and then get back to work.

Daily retreats, if you will, can look different for all of us. But they are so important. Trust me, my team mates could hear me suffering on the other line; folks in our lives can tell when we’re struggling and need a moment. Don’t be afraid to admit it—don’t be like me and try to “fake it till you make it”. I was on track to a sloppy update which wasn’t fair to anyone who had given up time to be on the call.

Young Professionals: we must be willing to admit when we’re out of breath. This will only serve us and those around us better as we admit we have reached a limit. But, take a moment and be willing to get back to work, not using it as excuse to cut out. 

Oh and note to self: DO NOT TAKE THE STAIRS during a conference call for the next three months. 

Rich Friendships

Now, more than ever, I have realized the value of good, adult friendships. Now-- meaning after spending this past weekend with two of my best girl friends in life.

We stayed up late each night talking about our dreams, life struggles, and everything else in between. Now don’t picture an episode of the Gossip Girls in action—these ladies HATE gossip (An attribute of them being great adult friends). If your adult friends love gossip, you need new adult friends. End of story. 

Adult friendships are one thing that I think makes life so rich. And it saddens me when I hear other adults say they feel alone in life without deep, meaningful friendships. I know just how important these are in my life, day in and day out.

And although I’ve only done the adult friendship thing for just a bit here, I’ve learned:

A.      You can only go deep with just a few:

In adulthood, not everyone is going to be your best friend nor is that a healthy goal. To really go deep in conversation and life together, only a few friendships, true friendships, will develop.

B.      Maintain and Invest:

It is SO DIFFICULT to have adult friends, especially when those people live across the globe/country. It takes investing our resources and energy into these people to maintain that quality of living life together as best we can. I am so thankful for friends that have spent time and money to travel to see me post-college, and I will always view a flight to have face-to-face interaction with my friends as a valuable investment. But hear me now, it takes intentionality and it is SO WORTH IT.

C.      They won’t tell you what you want to hear:

“I think you’re just being selfish.”

“You need to keep a check on your heart with this situation…”

I have had those exact statements and many more versions spoken to me by my true friends. They know they won’t hurt my feelings because their truthfulness and perspective is too important to leave out of the conversation. I am so thankful for their willingness to be a voice and not side-step things in life. 

The weekend before Mother's Day

Churches, schools, offices, and more will be celebrating their mothers this next week. As we should! I can easily look to my own Mom—a farmer’s wife, full time employee with essentially 3 full time jobs (wife/mother, banking, farm bookkeeping and farm work). And I think of my mother-in-law—a woman who worked full time and for many years raised two boys as a single mom and served in many leadership capacities for her community.

My Mom and I: no caption does her justice! She is the most selfless person I know. 

My Mom and I: no caption does her justice! She is the most selfless person I know. 

Let’s celebrate these moms-- And moms with different stories all day long!

My MIL Sharon and I: so thankful she was the one who raised my husband into the man he is today!

My MIL Sharon and I: so thankful she was the one who raised my husband into the man he is today!

But we’ve got a week now and need to tap into our hearts. We need to celebrate our moms, as well as several other women in our lives:

A)     Women who mother

My EDGE mentor Valerie and her daughter came to visit Cora and I shortly after she was born. She is a woman who mothers so many other young women, along with her own children. 

My EDGE mentor Valerie and her daughter came to visit Cora and I shortly after she was born. She is a woman who mothers so many other young women, along with her own children. 

I’m not talking about your “Mom-Mom”. But let’s think about the other women in our lives who mother us with selflessness and sacrifice. Do you have a professional mentor? A teacher?  A Bible study leader? A neighbor? A peer?  Think about it. Write their names down and let them know those motherly attributes that mean so much to you and others.

B)      Women who are struggling with infertility

This is a really tough week/weekend for women who have struggled with infertility. I'm so thankful to see that this past week has been National Infertility Awareness Week and has been lifted up by men and women. Let us not be so quick to forget many women in our lives who desire to become mothers but have not yet. What’s her love language? A small gift, a card with sweet words, quality time together, or a big hug—think about it and follow through.

C)      Our friends who are mothers

I struggled to pick just one mom-friend photo because there so many wonderful ones in my life! But I just had to pick this gal- my best friend since we were babies. Betsy is a mom to TWO TWIN GIRLS who also works in our hometown's school system mothering other children along with supporting her husband's business. She has watched Cora for us during our move to KY and we share texts on diaper rashes and such. I admire her work ethic so much, along with her ability to be flexible (I guess you have to be with twins, huh?). 

I struggled to pick just one mom-friend photo because there so many wonderful ones in my life! But I just had to pick this gal- my best friend since we were babies. Betsy is a mom to TWO TWIN GIRLS who also works in our hometown's school system mothering other children along with supporting her husband's business. She has watched Cora for us during our move to KY and we share texts on diaper rashes and such. I admire her work ethic so much, along with her ability to be flexible (I guess you have to be with twins, huh?). 

I don’t know about you but the sweetest moments happen when another woman stops me in Wal-Mart and says—“Hey, you’re doing a great job there, Mom.” Or just the other day, my dear friend Katy was so encouraging to me regarding being a mom—and it was DAY. MADE. Katy is not a mother herself and I have no clue about the woman in Wal-Mart, but there’s something about that thoughtfulness from another lady that means so much. So if you’re a mother or if you are not, think about some friends who you can encourage because your words will be a sweet as honey.

All three of us girls: I feel such a privilege to be a mother to little girls that, I pray, become strong women. 

All three of us girls: I feel such a privilege to be a mother to little girls that, I pray, become strong women. 

Game Faces

The plan is always as follows:

With my game face on-- show up prepared and energized, ready to ask good questions, listen, work hard, and create positive change.

Every time. Game face on. That’s the goal.

As a young professional, we should go into each day with a game plan in order to give our people the best version of ourselves. Game faces are a good thing, hear me on this.

But the past few weeks my game face has gone from an attempt at the above description to two words: morning sickness. Shall I clarify: morning, afternoon, evening sickness. This time of year in my line of work is planting season and for me specifically, plot time! In short, I work with farmer cooperators to plant the newest genetics across my territory to get local data and observations so we have the best information for positioning our products for the year. It’s a crazy season for everyone in agriculture!

The orange stakes are used to mark a different product in the field. Certainly no selfies were taken this year during plots! 

The orange stakes are used to mark a different product in the field. Certainly no selfies were taken this year during plots! 

So plot time—game face should be on because it’s the farmers’ time at stake. And taking extra time that’s unnecessary is frustrating for all involved. You never know when the next rain shower is coming or when something is going to break—so it’s best to keep folks moving right along.

Then it hits: morning sickness. {or afternoon or evening} And the game face is long gone. People waiting for you, watching helplessly because it can’t be fixed like a planter or tractor. And while the empathy displayed is appreciated, I’m truly just ticked because I can’t keep it together long enough to get through one plot.

Anyone else nodding along? Young professionals that have something come along that wrecks their game face? All the prep and planning and then wah-lah. Oh, hello sickness in the middle of a corn field.

But then the magic happened and my mind was blown.

Conversations took place that would have never otherwise. Stories of the day their first child was born and the scare/joy/etc. Stories are shared about how someone's wife had the same struggles. We discuss things like adoption and the beauty of this. Highs and lows of life—this would have never happened with the game face on. Stepping back after plots are wrapping up, I can appreciate this more than ever.

And while, as young professionals, it is important to come equipped and ready to work, there are moments in life that change the gear. So stop, breathe, and remind yourself of how human you are—and the people around you. And maybe, true relationship building could take place as someone sees you struggle.