We are in the middle of a relaxing beach vacation with our kids for the very first time. Sunday was both of the kids first time playing at the beach. Katharine was beyond excited. As she played in the surf, giggles, an occasional squeal and moments of “this is amazing,” were what filled the air. What a moment this was for her! Her happiness filled our faces with joy just being around her.
I sit here while the kids are napping after another fun filled morning thinking about my list of things to do both back at home and at work. How in the world did my to-do list begin to creep back in my head? Instead of heading upstairs to relax, or reading a book, I pull out my computer and begin down a path of checking email…almost out of habit. Has my busy lifestyle made me incapable of just relaxing? What the hell am I doing.
Today, I am confessing. In hopes to not make this my path for the afternoon, I am writing this blog instead of doing my work email (oh damn- the notification of another email just popped up….hold strong). I am choosing that a “to-do” list shouldn’t run my life, despite how busy I am. I am choosing that by confessing, I am taking back control. Working too much is not a forgone conclusion. I refuse to accept that my email and my work list can control my life. It starts today.
My commitment for this week is to get back on vacation, and stay there; to start squealing with my kids on the beach when the surf touches my toes; to a margarita (or two) for lunch; and to a nap snuggling with my beautiful little kids. I will be back next week!
Christmas morning in State College with the Snavely’s. Katharine is such a big girl (4 in this picture, but five days to her 5th birthday). This holiday Katharine seems like such a grown up little girl. Between her snuggling with Gigi and Gaga in their bed, giving hugs to Matthew with “I love you” whispered in his ear, and doing her projects (learning to knit, making bracelets, sticker mosaics and her butterfly pillow), she is no longer just tearing into the gifts and not enjoying them. Her enthusiasm to live in the moment is motivating to all around her. More than once this vacation, someone has said to me, “Katharine has such a positive outlook on life.” This is one of the most important things that I hope that she learns in life. The pure joy in her eyes when she is excited melts my heart and most around her. It is wonderful to get to spend two weeks off with my sweetheart.
The other day when Katharine was working on a puzzle she leaned over to me and said, “Mom, this is a hard one.” She continued to stay determined to accomplish the puzzle as a good Stock/Snavely would. A few minutes later…”Mom, we never give up do we?” Proud mommy moment. She knew it was hard, but was willing to put the effort in to learn and accomplish what she set out to do. Jon and I pride ourselves in building a life based on working hard and not giving up on our goals. This moment of hearing her echo our behavior in her words helped me to appreciate how early we either learn or don’t learn this in our lives.
Then, I start to freak out. Am I being too ambitious as a parent? All I want to do is to teach our kids that they are in control of their lives. I hope for their ability to be determined, positive and committed to what they want in their lives. I hope that they can solve the problems that they encounter. I also want them to know that trying is all we ask of them, not necessarily succeeding and delivering a perfect outcome.
As I reflect on what made me a “never give up” person, I do worry about the downside of being determined. Much of my determination came from a desire to be perfect. This desire to be perfect, whether it was because I wanted to please others or just for myself, often times turned my determination into stress. Today, this drive for perfection has diminished a great deal – mostly due to the fact that I know it isn’t possible. That said, the perfectionist behavior rears its ugly head frequently. When it does, I generally try to turn the perfectionist behavior into the problem and work to channel my “never give up” skills into solving that problem.
So, although I am proud of what Katharine (and Matthew) are learning, I certainly hope their journey as determined kiddos and ultimately adults is also met with an acceptance and enjoyment of the moments in which they live. For them to learn this, Jon and I have to show them it is possible. Whether it be taking a random afternoon nap, having an evening dance party together, playing hooky from school every so often, or just reading a book on a snowy weekend morning, I am going to teach them through how I live how having the determination to meet your goals and living in the moment are not opposites of each other.