Being a Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  I hope that this day finds you relaxing and taking a few moments for yourself.  My morning has started out wonderfully – sleeping in as much as possible (almost made 8am!), coffee in bed, time to write and my cute littles helping Jon with breakfast.  

I became a mom in 2009 when Katharine came into this world.  It seemed like a long time coming with a miscarriage along the way.  My mind was blown away by this little package of joy (and tears) that we had created.  Jon and I lived in Phoenix and brought this little bundle home to our small apartment, not knowing what we had gotten into.


Today, we are blessed with a caring, intelligent, strong, opinioned little 7 1/2 year old who is out to take on the world.  She makes me smile every day.  Posed below helping with Mother’s Day brunch preparation.  


Two years and 4 months later, our family became complete when Matthew was born.  By this time, we had settled back into Park City and I thought I had this mom thing down.  1 + 1 definitely equaled way more than 2.  Matthew was a calm little one, just rolling with it when his two year old sister gave him aggressive hugs and tried to “help.”

Matthew just turned five years old, and has fully lived up to his nickname (#shifty), so pictures of him not moving are hard to find.  He is one of the most kind, earnest kids I have ever met.  He loves life and makes us laugh daily.  I have never met a five year old who builds Legos like he can, and he still snuggles me every morning.  Posed below at his first ever t-ball game.  


Being a mother is more than I ever imagined.  It has challenged me to slow down and take it in, with the knowledge that these days won’t last forever.  Here are a few things that I have learned in the last seven years that in reflection have helped me to become a better person.  

  • Being a mom means being comfortable with constant change.  Early in Katharine’s life I remember thinking, I have finally figured this thing out (happened to be relative to her sleeping).  The next day maybe even the next hour, things changed.  Before kids, I thought I had life figured out.  I had a plan, and overall things seemed to go according to the plan.  Now, that just doesn’t work (it probably wasn’t working before either).  Having kids makes it incredibly obvious that you have to be flexible.  
  • Being a mom has helped me enjoy the journey so much more.  Often times before kids, I would set a goal and celebrate when I reached it.  Not a bad thing, but what I missed in that process was enjoying the actual journey.  With my kids, the journey is the fun.  Matthew is learning t-ball right now, and last week I went to his game and just giggled the whole time as they ran all over the field doing about everything but playing t-ball.  
  • Being a mom means you have to understand your values.  The clearer that I have been on what matters to me, what I value, the better I am for my kids.  One of the strongest examples of this for me has been with working out.  I have had an on and off love affair with fitness my entire life.  The last four years I have refocused myself on being strong and fit in order to live the healthiest life I can.  I value this and now so do my kids.
  • Being a mom means little eyes are always watching.  I want to role model for Katharine and Matthew that you can be a confident, smart, caring mom and worker at the same time.  I hope that this helps them to know that anything is possible. 
  • Being a mom is about helping my kids make their own dreams come true.  We talk about this a lot with together.  We can’t do it for them, it is about them identifying what their dreams are, working hard to make them happen and enjoying their own journey.  

I am humbled by how lucky I feel on this Mother’s Day.  Being a mom is the best.

There Should Be More Girls

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Tonight when putting Katharine (6 1/2) to bed and talking about her day, she asked me an important and hard to answer question.  “Mom, why aren’t there more girls in my mountain biking camp?”  First of all, mountain biking camp!  I know, only in Park City does a 6 1/2 year old have a bike nicer than I did at age 25, and get to go to a camp to learn to ride trails that I only got brave enough to take on 15 years ago.

She proceeded to say, “Having more girls would be more fun.  Plus mom, we can do anything that boys can do.”  Proud mommy moment.  After a few minutes, I realized that I had never answered her question.  Why aren’t there more girls?  I proceeded to tell her that at my work, I often times am the only girl so I know how she feels.  I shared with her that it would be more fun if there were more of us (not stated to her…and more productive, and more diverse in opinions, and better for business).  I told her that the good news is that I work with a ton of girls.  In fact, at my company, there are more girls than boys (we are over 60% female).  She gave me a bright-eyed smile.  I told her that in my office there are actually about 600 girls.  She proceeded to ask me if there were only a few boys because that would be “cool”, to which I said nope, about 500.  She was pretty jazzed that at my work the girls outnumbered the boys.  We talked about it more and I told her that it was actually really great that there were all kinds of people at my work…boys, girls, young people, old people, white people, black people (I know in Utah!).  She thought that it would be “better if in her mountain biking class there could be all kinds of people too.”

But, I never answered her question.  Why aren’t there more girls?  I want to protect her from some of the truths that are probably behind that question.  Maybe more parents believe their boys should be mountain bikers than girls?  Maybe society teaches little girls to choose ballet camp instead (trust me Katharine wants to do that too, and Matthew has never asked).  I avoided the question, hoped to teach her that girls can do anything boys can do, and vice versa, and hoped that what she remembers is that having all kinds of people in all things makes everything better.

Commitments: Make The Next Half Even Better (and Longer)

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I am 38 years old with two adorable kids and a wonderful husband.  2 working parents with travel schedules, building a new house, trying to be involved in our community, and trying to be great parents.  Living life in a place I love, with the people that I love.  Pretty much the luckiest woman around.  You could also read this as overly busy but trying to have it all.

For the last few weeks, as I have been working on planning for my husbands 40th birthday which is coming this fall, I have been coming to grips with how short life seems.  I know that this may sound melodramatic.  What hit me in talking with Jon about turning 40, is that mathmatically, given the average life expectancy, we are about half way through our life (or a little past that).  This can either scare me or make me celebrate what lies ahead.  What it actually has caused me to do, as I start thinking about it, is to wonder if it is true.  We have a number of family friends or relatives that are dealing with serious cancer, and I have a coworker who is 48 who has recently been diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer.  All of it is shocking, and sad.  In particular those who are so young, and haven’t lived the life that they have claimed to have wanted.  It is a morbid thought, but my worry-meter has been rising.  This worry was capped off this week when I attended the “Go Red for Women” luncheon hosted by the American Heart Association.  One of the speakers was a 38 year old mother of two boys who had a major heart incident at the age of 31.  Yikes!  A little too close to home.

But, the worst thing I can do is to worry.  Worry fills my head and my time with ideas and thoughts that have no fruit. So yesterday, as I sat writing this at the salon while getting my nails done during “girls day out” with my lovely Katharine, I have a renewed commitment to enjoying the moments of my life (even the stressful and busy ones).  A commitment to making choices in my life and our families life (our food, our exercise, our habits) that create a long healthy life together.  And, a commitment to make what I hope is a longer second half of my life even better than the first.

Commitments: The Pursuit of Clarity

The power of clear thoughts, words and writing.  As a marketer,  I have built my life’s work about making words (amongst other things) work to drive a purchase or a response.  That said, almost every day I feel as if I learn about how to make my words more effective.  Much of this learning comes through the pursuit of clarity.  In every facet of my life, clarity is critical and difficult to achieve.  As a constant learner, I feel like it is something at which the learning will never end.

In marketing:  Often times when we are working hard so create the most effective marketing, we miss the obvious.  You can get too close to the work, review the copy too many times, overthink the headline, or forget to look at the marketing exection with your customer in mind.  Just this week, I was looking at an email campaig where we were trying to be too cute with a headline, and it just wasn’t clear.  A lack of clarity is often driven by not stepping back and looking at your work with fresh eyes.

In leadership:  My most difficult work experiences have been times where I wasn’t being clear to my employees.  The worst of these has typically been whe an employee is underperforming, and I needed to let them go.  This is never a situation you want to find yourself in, as either a leader or employee, but it happens.  The first time I had to do this, I thought I had been explicitly clear with the employee both verbally and in writing of the gaps in their performance.  The day came that I was going to fire them.  They were shocked, angry and sad.  Angry and sad were to be expected, but SHOCKED?!?  We had been having conversations for going on six months about their lack of performace.  I was taken aback, and decided to just ask why they felt so surprised.  Verbatim…”You never told me that wasn’t doing what you wanted me to.  Isn’t that unfair?”  Ugh.  Despite my best attempts, and even a belief that been clear, I hadn’t.  A lack of clarity is often driven by not confirming that what you think you said was heard.

In being a mom:  The power of words.  In no place in my life is this more apparent than with my two year old Matthew (and prior to him, Katharine).  Matthew is learning words everyday, and it is so refreshing to be able to communicate with him.  Only a short 3 months ago, he was getting frustrated all the time because despite what he was thinking, he couldn’t form the words to tell us what he wanted.  Now, the smille on his face when he tells a little joke, or can tell us he loves us.  Priceless.  A lack of clarity is often driven by not understading each other.

In being a wife:  In my life, everything seems to be planned.  So, a moment without a plan typically means something is wrong (unfortunately!).  One morning as I was running out of the house to work, I yelled back to my husband, “You are picking up the kids from school, right?”  To which he responded with, “I can’t, I have an appointment.”  Unfortunately, I didn’t hear him.  I had asked a question without listening for the answer, and thus our kids were awaiting a pick up at daycare with no parent headed that direction.  After a few calls from the teacher, we got it figured out.  But, a lack of clarity is often driven by not listening.  Particularly detrimental if you were the one who asked the question to gain clarity (and when your kids end up stuck at daycare!).

So, the pursuit of clarity is my commitment for the week.  In the way that I communicate and in the way those around me commuicate with me.

Little Miss Magic

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Tonight while putting Katharine to bed she wanted to listen to music.  My phone was in my pocket and I decided this would be a nice relaxing way to spend the next ten minutes despite my dread for “Let It Go”, “Do You Want to be a Snowman” and other Frozen songs I was certain she would select.  Jon is gone traveling and after a long day, even these tunes provide a welcome quiet moment while snuggling one of my favorite little people.

I turned my phone over to her and let her navigate through the music selection to pick what she wants.  These little four-year old fingers are amazingly agile at navigating through the iPhone music selection so I drifted into thought of my day and what else I still needed to do tonight before I could retire to bed myself.  Before I knew it, Little Miss Magic by Jimmy Buffett was playing and Katharine snuggled up tight to sing.

Momentarily, I forgot everything but the journey I have been on with this precious little one.  How her 4 1/2 years of life have helped me to realize how important things like the warm breeze on my not so gentle skin are things not to take for granted.  Katharine kept singing through the whole song, to my amazement, and as the song closed let me know that she picked it because she is daddy’s “Little Miss Magic” and that she knows while he is on his trip that he is thinking of her.

A moment I won’t forget.  Goodnight, Little Miss Magic.

Commitments: Reach for It

 

Yesterday, after a long day at work, as I was playing with my kids at the park, this quotation that I found a few months ago came to mind.  I found it on a particularly rough day….one where I had been dealing with crazy political issues at work which caused me to stay late and miss most of the evening with my kids.  It seemed like I was realizing in real-time that I just couldn’t do it all.  That night, I felt ready to fold, ready to give in.  I got them to bed and spent a bit of time reading and trying to get my head around what to do next to stop feeling this way.  And, I happened upon this quote.  One of my personal principles had always been to “reach for the stars”.  I have always believed that in doing so, I stretch myself to make the best things happen no matter what hand of cards I have been dealt. 

Reading this quote, this was the first time that I had thought about the impact my “reach for the stars” philosophy had on my kids.  It helped me to realize that the act of me stretching myself was helping them learn that they could too.  Often with our kids Jon and I use the saying “never give up, never give up” to cheer them on when they think that they can’t accomplish something.  It is a line straight from “Dora the Explorer”, the most quality television programming we seem to watch these days.  Ironic that we say this to our kids, but sometimes feel like we can’t live it ourselves. 

This quotation was helpful to remind me during the dark night that I found it, and again yesterday, to keep trying, to keep reaching – to prove to myself and my kids that it is possible to be a good mom, a good leader, a good marketer and a good wife.  It doesn’t mean that I am always perfect at any of them, but I promise to always keep “reaching.” 

Becoming a Mother

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One of the ultimate moments the pieces of my life intersected was in December of 2009.  And I mean literally intersected.  I was about 7 days out from the due date of our first little one (Katharine) and after a night late at work, I came home and started feeling like it was time for a baby.  Jon and I waited for a few hours and then headed nervously to the hospital with our bags packed.  The hospital sent us through triage and let me know that although things were close, I wasn’t in labor.  So, we headed home and tried to relax….anticipating what was to come.  During the night, I awoke to what was more “labor-like” pains.  As morning approached, things kept progressing but given the false alarm we had the evening before, I wasn’t convinced that it was for real.  So, what else to do but keep working (from home at least).  This was my pattern.  I had been on a tear of working 65 hours a week for at least a year so I didn’t even think twice about it.  I had so much to do before I had this baby!  So, I worked all day…writing market research plans, deploying marketing initiatives, cleaning up email….all the while, in labor.  As the day went on, my clock was ticking and I just kept working.  Time kept moving, labor pains kept increasing….and I kept on working.

Needless to say, the work had to stop at some point, and ultimately so did the labor.  About 36 hours after our first hospital trip, at about 10pm after a long-day working from home we headed to the hospital again.  Under seven hours later, little Katharine Elizabeth Snavely entered the world on 12/30/2009 at 4:56am.

This moment of becoming a mother was something like I had never experienced before.  A moment of true love with tears of joy and a purity in the moment that rarely, if ever, existed in my life before.  Since her birth, I have experienced my life more purely than I had ever been able to before.  It is amazing the perspective a little person can give you.  Katharine helped me to realize that life is about choices.  That the choices that I had made before, such as working through labor the last day of my pre-kid life, had often been determined by my historical patterns.  That instead of truly making an active choice, I had often times been letting my past experiences dictate my current reality.  In a sense, becoming a mother opened my life up to me again by enabling me to choose to enjoy it versus just live it.

There is so much more to becoming a mother than this story.  I hope to share stories of motherhood here, and how it has helped me to enjoy my life, to learn, and to love in a way I never imagined.  Our second, Matthew Thomas Snavely was born 2+ years later in Park City, Utah – the place we had moved to to when Katharine was just 3 weeks old.  He was born to a mom that was much more balanced than the woman who wrote market research surveys through active labor with her first child.  He was born to a woman who had let the pieces of her life intersect while not allowing any one of them dominate the other.