Every Year Aint Your Year

In 2012 I got engaged, bought a house, got married and had a baby. It was my year.  Everything that could go right, did go right and I was so excited. I got hundreds of likes on my Facebook page (that’s how success is defined amongst the millenniums) and despite the minor bumps along the way, I had very little to complain about.  I have always been blessed, but I have been through some tough times along the road, but 2012 was different. The year 2012 gave me things I never dreamed of and brought me so much joy and happiness.  It was MY year.

I did not start off 2012 feeling particularly blessed.  I had just found out I was pregnant a few weeks earlier, halfway through my first year of law school.  I had not planned this, but I did not resent the idea of having a child.  I felt that I was not ready at that moment and that I had not done everything I wanted to do prior to settling down.  I was also super sick and extremely tired.  The beginning of my pregnancy took a toll on my body that was not conducive to being in law school.  But through it all I had a great support system, great friends, and a great partner.

I did not know what 2012 was going to bring, but I knew that I had to prepare myself for what was to come.  After we planned to stay in our apartment another year, our landlord suddenly decided that he wanted to reclaim his apartment for his personal use.  This surprise left us scrambling trying to find an affordable and safe space in DC.  Anyone who has ever looked for an apartment in a rush, in an expensive city knows that is no easy task.  We weighed many options and decided to test the housing market.

We had a great realtor and everything seemed to fall perfectly in place.  We found a home, had a settlement date, and moved in  within 2 months of beginning our search.  We decided to get married before we had the baby and then awaited his arrival in our new home as newly weds.  No one could have predicted how my year would turn out and I basked in its glory.  I did not claim 2012 as my year but everything I had worked for up until that day seemed to perfectly work together for my good.

I went into the following year and went back to work, building on my foundation and preparing for my future.  I came into 2014 with a plan and goals.  I had a vision and it did not involve anything but being in a better place at the end of 2014 than I was in the beginning of 2014.  I expected that this year would be tough.  I did not expect to still be searching for a job this late into the year, but here I am.  Despite my minimal expectations, I am still content with knowing that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing.  My next full-time position will hopefully be the position that I want or one that will lead to greater opportunities.

Many churches and pastors proclaim that “This is your year!”  They say this every year and people are let down many times because every year aint your year.  Some years you have to go through some things to grow.  Some years you have to learn patience.  Some years you have to prepare for what is to come.  After another few seasons, after you have gone through some things, you finally hit your geyser moment and everything you have endured, prepared for and prayed through finally culminates and your season of harvest arrives.  The window of heaven opens up and floods you with blessings.  This season may last a week, a month or even years.  Through all of this you still may go through some tough moments and the next year may bring tragedy or heartache because that is life.  You just have to believe that greater is coming.

Our expectations of only great things does not help us prepare for those moments when things are not so great.  We are here praising instead of preparing.  Sometimes we have to learn to listen, to meditate or to just keep pushing.  We have to learn that pain and pressure will come and we have to have appropriate coping mechanisms to work through those moments.  I believe in dreaming the unimaginable but I also believe in being firmly being grounded in your truth.  You know how hard you have worked, how much you have prepared and how much you have endured.  The road to success is not a straight line of nothing but great moments, but one riddled with failure, loss of support and dreams deferred.  The payoff is worth sticking with the process.

Dream big dreams.  Live life out loud.  Be great in everything you do.  Know that today may not be your day, this month may not be your month, or this year may not be your year but YOUR moment is coming.  Until that moment comes, you have to do everything that you can to be prepared.  You can miss out on your blessing by not being where you are supposed to be.

Every year aint your year.  But when it is, know that we will celebrate with you as you have celebrated with others.  Proclaim it.  But more importantly prepare for it.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

To Do List: For Parents Looking for Things to Do with Children Under 2 (DMV Edition)

In a few days I will transition into being a full-time stay at home mom while I continue my search for a job.  Despite this being one of my biggest fears and something I did not expect, I am welcoming this opportunity with open arms! I will finally be able to spend guilt free moments with my son, without work, school or any other major responsibility looming over my head.  Although I hope this is only temporary, I want to make sure I make the most of this hopefully rare moment in our lives!

I started to get excited and started looking for things to do with my soon to be two-year old.  I began at the local recreation center, but they did not have anything for his age group.  I know of a few other child friendly places, but they were pretty expensive, and we are trying to have the most fun, using the least amount of money possible.  So, I did a little research and found plenty of inexpensive things to do in the DMV area with children 2 or around that age.

1. Your Local Library

Many of us remember going to the library as a kid, but as we grew up and the information age expanded to in home computers, iPads and endless cable channels, we forgot about this FREE gem that is the center of many communities.  Check your local library for age appropriate weekly events for your child and some may have special events that make spending time at the library even more fun.

We will be attending Toddler Story Time and a special event with a magic show and balloonery coming up in early August!

2. The National Children’s Museum at the National Harbor

The National Harbor is a work in progress, but one thing that they already have that is perfect for young children is the National Children’s Museum.  This museum focuses on engaging and educating children 8 and under through activities and programs that spark the imagination.  Although it is not free, it is moderately inexpensive with $10.00 tickets per child and adult.  For those who are local and may find themselves there a few times a year, a yearly membership for one adult and one child is $75 and $155 for a family of 6.

Thinking of investing in a yearly membership to get the most out of all the events that they have to offer.

Link: http://www.ccm.org

3. The Carousel and Playground at the National Harbor

There is more fun to be had at the Carousel and Playground at the National Harbor.  This activity is only $5 for your child and free for the accompanying adult.  Your child can enjoy unlimited time on the carousel and even more fun at the newly built playground that is bound to wear them out.  This site also has a nice set of picnic tables, if you want to pack a lunch and make it a full day at the Harbor.

This is high on the list of things to do when I need him to take a good nap for the day, so that I can get a few things done around the house!

Link: http://nationalharbor.com/things-to-do-in-dc/carousel/

4. To Be With Me Playseum

This amazing and interactive place was created by a mom who could not find places to go with her young children where she could stay and be involved.  Out of her void came a unique place where children can create, play or read and parents can connect or read books while their children are nearby.  General admission is only $7 per person, but they have a daily happy hour full of deals that fall within everyone’s budget! There are two locations, one in Barracks Row and another in Bethesda.

We will be frequenting this place with our DC friends and saving money by using a Happy Hour special!

Link: http://www.playseum.com/calendar.html

5. Great Waves at Cameron Run Regional Park

Who knew that there was a water park in the metro area?! I have never heard of this place, but I am super excited to get in at least one day at a fun water park with the kid! Especially since I heard he was uncomfortable this summer when our family took him to one down south.  Well, here is my chance to introduce him to the fun in the sun and water at Cameron Run! They have an age appropriate Kid Zone and the prices are not out of this world, $11.50-$15 for weekday or weekend passes.

We have to get one day in here just to say we went!

Link: http://www.greatwaveswaterpark.com/features-attractions/the-lagoon/

6. Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake

Annapolis is a unchartered territory for many of us DMV transplants.  Even with a car, we can’t seem to find a reason to go “all the way” to Annapolis for anything.  But from what I hear, the food is amazing, the views are priceless and they even have fun things for the kiddies.  Jake and the Neverland Pirates is one of my son’s favorite shows and this would be an awesome adventure for him to experience.  Although I would love to say I went to Annapolis this summer with him, I think I am going to save this experience for his 3rd birthday party! Great location,  decorations provided, perfect theme and a moment he will hopefully cherish through memories or pictures.  (I will take it either way!)  This activity is a little more on the pricey side, but not completely out of reach.  General admission is $20 and $12 for children under 3.

Link: http://www.chesapeakepirates.com/party-room-update/

7. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The Zoo is an interesting place, but I am not sure how well a 2 or 3-year-old will do in such large crowds, mostly outside and around animals they may have not been introduced to yet.  Some parents may think this is a great idea, but I am going to lean towards waiting a little while longer before we experience the Zoo.  The admission into the Zoo is FREE but the parking costs $22.  There are two metro locations that are within a 1/2 mile but taking the metro with a child in a stroller is an adventure.  An adventure worth taking is up to you to decide.

Positive Parenting: The Road to Transforming an Overthinking Control Freak

All parents should know that he who knows patience knows peace. Chinese Proverb

 

My friend’s mother gave my husband and I a book, “The Power of Positive Parenting,” a collection of bible verses, quotes and humorous statements about parenting.  When I first received the book, I read a few of the quotes and I immediately started to chuckle on the inside.  The quotes and statements reminded me that I am not the first parent to be driven crazy by a child who wouldn’t listen or the first to be so sleepy and delirious that my child ended up in the bed with me many more nights than not.  Parenting is a journey that will take you on a roller coaster higher and lower than any you can ever dream of. One of the lessons that I am learning as a fairly new parent is that this journey is not about just raising my son but transforming myself.

I am a very detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  I want things done a certain way, every time and I know that my way is best because I have thought or tried the alternatives and it has failed or looks like it will fail.  So when children come into your life and you are used to being hung up on the details, your entire method of daily living is derailed, in a good way. In the early days I have been dressed and ready to walk out the door and either my son would pee or release a poop that would seep out of his clothes and all the way up his back.  As he got older, I had to get him ready and then put him in a place that he wouldn’t move so that I could get ready.  That was the downside of him crawling, walking and then learning how to run!  And now we are at the point where we are tip toeing down the potty training road, so bathroom visits, extra pull ups and underwear are now our primary focus.  He understands now that when its time to go to get his shoes and backpack which helps but not having everything by the door causes me to run in and out and back in until finally I am exhausted and running too late to care about grabbing anything else.

Living in a city full of traffic, you have to be prepared at all times with snacks and planned places to stop to grab food if you are unable to get home before dinner time.  You have to leave early just in case there is an accident or a detour.  You have to know where to find the cheapest gas and when is the safest times to go.  You go from worrying about your own safety to protecting your child and their innocence at all times. For those without children, it may seem like I am being dramatic or over exaggerating, but in reality you cannot even put into words what it is to be a parent to a child, let alone more than one.  You get to watch this little being grow, learn and transform before your very eyes, but you also start to look in the mirror and see yourself changing into someone you weren’t a year or two ago.  You see yourself leaving baskets of laundry around the house because you don’t have the time to fold them perfectly and unmet edges are not going to cut it.  You see yourself scrapping tv time for outside play time and walks down the street to see your neighbors so your son can wave and make them smile.  You find yourself beating yourself up for raising your voice or getting upset, because now that you have calmed down you realized your child wasn’t being disobedient but just curious, as they should be.

You see yourself transforming from good to better.  I am a better person because I am a parent.  I am learning what is important in life and what is not worth the worry and the stress.  There is no perfect parent.  Successful children come from homes of varying socio-economic statuses, neighborhoods and parental make-ups.  Some parents are more hands on than others, some are great providers, while many others invest all of their time, attention and money into their child while putting their own dreams on hold.  Every parent can look back and think about things that they would have done differently, better or more.  In parenting, there is no beginning and there is no end.  There is a continuum of life and love that moves like the waves in the sea.  High tides and low tides.  Great moments and not so great moments.  But many lessons to be learned and shared with those around you, especially fairly new parents like me.

For me, my biggest challenge is to learn patience.  Over the years, God has tried to teach me in various ways, but I still reverted back to my impatient ways.  So one day he blessed me with a permanent lesson of patience.  I have failed many times at being that patient loving mom that I want to be, but I keep trying.  Every moment is a new test.  Every failure is a new lesson.  Positive parenting is not a task for me to use on my son, but for me to use on myself. Positive parenting is a journey to transform my mindset, myself, and my spirit.  God is working on me and he has already given me the reward for my future transformation.  My son is so sweet, smart and kind.  He is a loving child who is like most boys, busy and rambunctious.

My time away from him has given me time to review my parenting style and to cherish my job as a mother.  It is one of the most important and the one that pays the most. I always appreciate the wisdom of mothers who have been where I am.  Their words are affirming and encouraging.  I am placing my book on top of my dresser as a reminder and an outlet to look at when I am struggling with my patience.  We all have work to do.  Some work takes longer but I know this transformation won’t take a lifetime.  Soon I will be a more patient parent, detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  Because that is who I am.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.