The Goal That Keeps on Going…

If you have been following along, you know that I recently set a new goal for myself, and while it was uncomfortable as hell, I made this goal actually happen! Since the article went straight to publication, it hasn’t been posted here until now and I could not be more proud to share this piece with you. It made its big debut on Scary Mommy, then was published by Parent.Co, by Red Tricycle, and also published by The Natural Parent Magazine, a publication in NEW ZEALAND! All of that and I’m not sure it has ended its run just yet. I’ll keep you posted! So without further ado…

I Decided to Redshirt My Son, But Not for the Reasons You Might Think.

Our bodies are amazing. When pregnant, I’d say they are miraculous. Less than 72-hours after one romp of unprotected make-up sex, I knew I was pregnant for our second child. Highly unlikely considering I was 36 years old and it was only one time, but I knew I was pregnant. Even before the stick was positive, I began counting. Always a planner, I began counting the weeks and months figuring in my head an estimate of a due date. It was early December which meant only one thing: a September baby.

Things are so different today. Like it or not, being a September baby is a thing so it became a tiny, lingering thought tucked into the back of my mind. Then I found out I was having a boy.

A September Boy. I was having a September Boy. I was already thinking way far down the road and clearly so was everyone else. As the years went by and the date grew closer, I could feel the other mothers shift uncomfortably when they would ask me the question, “What are you going to do about school?”

All of the moms I spoke with who held their late boys back, all were overwhelmingly happy with the decision. Several who didn’t, and whose sons had to repeat a grade, regretted having to go through that; as the social pressure was difficult. They specifically told me that if they had to do it all over again, they would have held him back. They all encouraged me to think about holding him back because of the advantages he will have in the future. There were many reasons to consider: fine motor skills, ability to follow directions, maturity, and more. For some, the common theme had to do with the physicality of boys. They echoed the same sentiment: he will be older, bigger, faster, and taller; which will be way better than being younger, smaller, slower, and shorter.

Full disclosure, I am an educator. I was a classroom teacher for years and now I am at the university level preparing students to become teachers. I hold a Doctorate in Special Education, which, by the way, has proven to be utterly useless when it comes to actual mothering. I know teaching, best practices, milestones, progress, and developmental appropriateness. I also know that today, Kindergarten is the new first grade. I also know our school. I also know what will be required of my September Boy. Just because I knew all of this, didn’t mean I knew what to do.

I decided to red shirt my September Boy but not for the reasons you may think.

Our school registration process starts in January and for months leading up to that date I was in a constant state of, Should I? or Should I not? If I start him too early there could be consequences. If I start him too late there could be consequences. Some days I was hoping for a third option. I knew I would have to rely on a solid mix of my professional knowledge coupled with what my September Boy was telling me. I would ultimately let him be my guide.

My September Boy is smart and very able, and certainly could have managed through the year starting Kindergarten at 4 years old. But in the months leading up to registration day, I realized that while he certainly could manage, I wasn’t totally sure that he really had to manage. I watched him one particular morning, in his pajamas with the side of his head planted flatly against the hard floor, investigating the structural integrity of his Lego suspension bridge. He had a laser-like focus, studying his structure, thinking and strategizing his next block. He would test his engineering prowess with a line of 13 tanker cars pulled by his favorite powerful steam engine.

In that moment, I saw it. This was no longer a decision that I had to make, instead, it was a decision that I could make. I saw that my September Boy had the gift of time, and I was determined to give it to him.

For the next year, we gave him the gift of time. He had one more glorious year to be little.

He could have started on-time and left the house every morning by 7:15am. Instead, he and I lingered in our PJs until about 8:15am and leisurely drove to preschool. (The long way, of course.) He could have started on-time and faced more seat time and less play time. Instead, he enjoyed another year of unstructured play, lots of dress-up, and most Fridays at home. He could have started on-time and figured out bathroom stalls, long hallways, and how to balance a full cafeteria tray. Instead, he enjoyed lunches and snacks delivered to his classroom and learning how to pour his own milk.

Like it or not, there are certain demands placed upon our school-aged children. These demands are exactly what made being born in September way more than just being born in September.  While I am not necessarily ready to fight the status-quo, I can certainly do what it takes to protect my child from the effects of it.

I decided to red shirt my September Boy and it was absolutely the right thing for us. As our school year is approaching the end, I see that giving him the gift of time was the best gift we could have given him. He started school when he was ready, which translated into being confident, happy, and excited about learning. He loves school in a way that I doubt he would have felt without having the extra time. I definitely gave him an advantage, but not one that had anything to do with his future physical abilities. I have no idea if he will be bigger, taller, or faster than the other boys in his class, and quite frankly, I’m not sure that I care. What matters to me now is that he is a happy, vibrant, little boy who adores school and I’ll take happy over fast any day.

xoxo

Gotta Get a Goal.

The start of 2017 was epic. I was so ready to leave the past of 2016 and focus fully on the potential and promise of a new year, I set my sights on the year and made it my bitch. Within the first few weeks, I landed my first ever big publication on Scary Mommy which was quickly followed up by two more on that site. I was picked up by Red Tricycle and then Post40Bloggers. Sammiches & Psych Meds soon followed. Other bloggers scheduled and shared my articles and posts. I was networking within the writer/publisher sphere of the interwebs. I was on a writer’s high for three solid months. Then, life got busy and I got comfortable.

You know how it goes, work commitments ramp up, the calendar gets cramped, we were juggling two soccer teams, one baseball team, scouts, and all things related to the end of the school year. I hadn’t written anything new except to lament my current inability to eat bread. I hadn’t had anything new published in several weeks and I was unsettled by how comfortable I was about it. So is this it? Are you done?

Hell no.

I said to myself, somewhat out loud, that I wanted to write something totally new – we’re talking just an idea and a blank Word document – and get it published. Brand new, baby. In the past, I have submitted work that I had already written and published here on my blog. Writing something new is important for two reasons – one, you can get paid for new, unpublished content, and two, it’s risky. Although I’m working on monetizing my writing, right now that’s not the top priority, but the risk is. Posting things here gives time for exposure and feedback. I can get an idea of what people think about my writing on a small-scale. It’s safe. Going straight to the general public, well, the thought truly takes my breath away, and yet I could not stop thinking about it.

Like, literally, I did not stop thinking about it and it was a total and complete pain in the ass. Like a small rock in my shoe, it was there, day in and day out, reminding me that I set this damn goal and now I have to work to achieve it. As long as there was a rock in my shoe, I could not get comfortable. This was problematic because I was suddenly faced with the worst case of writer’s block.

I thought of everything.

Maybe I need to write about the impossible set of expectations society sets for women. I was waiting in the doctor’s office recently and saw a blurb about quick and easy ways to make my Easter better. “For an extra special touch, fashion little containers out of bendable balsa wood, then personalize the outside with ribbon, homemade tags, and faux flowers!”  This is neither helpful, nor reasonable as I see zero place in my life for bendable balsa wood. Things like this do not help women in any way. It only has the potential to make us crazy.

Then I thought, maybe I need to write about how sometimes when we are miserable, it’s our own damn fault. Yes, you heard me, the truth is we are responsible for our own happiness. While I know this is true, the only things I could come up with were to get rid of all the bendable balsa wood in your life, have more sex, and go out with your friends more. It sputtered along then died a slow, painful death.

I could not rid my shoe of the rock.

Then one day, while pulling a blob of wet clothes out of the washer, it hit me. Yes! Yes! Of course! That’s it!

I did what I always do – started my writing process of organizing my thoughts in my head, mentally editing and arranging. Side notes, anecdotes, reflections, all maintained by the threads of my neurons. I hold it all in until I have the time to sit at my computer and dump it all out like a hamster emptying her food pouches.

I’m happy to report that my new, never-published-anywhere-before article has been accepted and will be published on national platform this Sunday. (By the way, family and friends, please don’t collectively lose your shit. I’m fully aware of my son’s birthday.) If I had not set that goal, if I had not made myself uncomfortable, I would not have reached this milestone.

While the rock in my shoe was a total pain in the ass, living in a state of discomfort had its benefits. I was certainly more aware, as I was always thinking and processing things in ways I normally wouldn’t. I thought about things more critically and dug deeper into my own personal reflections. It also kept the fire lit. It was oddly energizing. Living in a state of discomfort actually kept me going. Knowing that the only thing to rid me of this rock would be to finish the article and submit it is what kept me moving forward. I wasn’t comfortable, but I was moving.

I know that if I get too comfortable, I get stagnant. Believe me, I love nothing more than predictability and being comfortable. Just look in my underwear drawer. But there is nothing better than achieving your goals.

So remember, having a rock in your shoe may actually prove to be a good thing. A very good thing.

 

The Year of The Try.

With so much of 2016 that made it the year that couldn’t end fast enough; I am grateful to have had the year to live through. I have said over and over that 2017 will be my year; hell, it will be the year for all of us. I can happily report that so far so good! For a second time THIS MONTH, I have been published by Scary Mommy!

I have plans for this year. Big plans.

2017, I suggest you buckle up.

I am committed to a year of trying. The key, I have found, is in the try. The outcome doesn’t always matter. Whether I succeed or fail isn’t important. I want to be able to tell my children that I tried things; scary things, fun things, weird things and no matter the outcomes, I tried.

I am submitting my work like crazy. Trying weekly, daily, monthly, to get published again. I am trying out new things like joining blogger groups and actually participating; not just quietly reading other people’s comments. I am trying to speak up regularly and say things that might make me feel slightly uncomfortable. I am trying to limit my life’s activities to only those that bring me joy. I am trying to say ‘no’ when I really want to (and should) say it. I’m trying to wear the clothes I already have in my closet and paying less attention to fashion rules, because really, why should those rules even apply? I’m trying to focus my family time to more of the want-to’s and not so much of the have-to’s. I’m trying to remember that I don’t have to apologize for being me and I will raise my kids to feel the same way. I’m trying to remember that it’s OK to take breaks.

So move over Rooster, 2017 will be the Year of The Try!

 

#ICYMI

In case you missed it, I have some very exciting and humbling news! My work was accepted and published by Scary Mommy. You can read Raising Diamonds here.

Without risk, there is no reward. Remember that. Do things that scare you, too. I will.

Special thanks to YOU for following my blog. Be sure to find Is It Just Me? on Facebook and Instagram as well.

Cheers!

xoxo