Raising Girls

Raising Girls

Raising girls and being a female has been like watching my own reflection. Therefore I am very aware of the experiences I expose them too. Not only because they are my children, but because I once remember being just like them. Raising girls comes with its own challenges. I don't like to pick apart children based on gender, but realistically there are just biological components that make both species very different. I know in my family there are sayings that boys are more easy when raising, but harder to carry prenatal. And that girls are very challenging as they age, but seem to excel more academically. Blah, blah, blah. Although I believe those stories have derived from personal experiences, it is hard to pin point. All I can do is speak about my personal experience raising my children and why I don't place labels.

The gender roles that society likes to prescribe to certain sexes are the natural way we begin to shape and raise our children. We tell boys not to play with dolls, and tell girls not to play too rough. It's natural to adapt to those same gender roles because it makes us feel safe, but what does that teach our children? Are they only allowed to be or feel a certain way, and if not they should feel isolated? I have decided to go against the grain when raising my girls with the understanding that they are capable of doing whatever they choose to do, not because they are females but because they can actually do it.

Kennedy is my flower child. A girl of many wanders. I remember when she began to walk, how she gravitated towards art. Her security was not in a blanket, it was holding a book. She would always need to use her hands, if it was trying to write letters and words, coloring on our walls, or just having a crayon, that girl had things that she needed to come across expressively. So what did I do? I placed her in art classes. I believe as a parent we should allow our children to gravitate towards the things they are interested in. Not saying that we shouldn't give them choices. But there are particular "talents and gifts", as a parent you begin to notice early on and we should take those as signs. She blossomed so well in art it transpired into her excelling in literature because she was so expressive. Now she is a gymnast, a genius in math, and enjoys everything crafty. I never try to corner her into activities, instead I make them available for her to explore. Now that she is older, I allow her to choose all while I still challenge her to expand her interest. I never want my girls to be boxed in, or written out...if you know what I mean.

 

She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. “Time” for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.
— Roman Payne

Now Karter is my fire cracker. Her spirit is not so calm. Half of that is attributed to her being 2, the other half is her will power she has displayed since birth. I say this because even when birthing her she came super-fast. I went into the hospital and the Doctor told me she was coming now. She pushed herself in this world, and continues to keep pushing. She is a ball of energy, jumps off couches, and brave enough to take a leap off the diving board while daddy holds his hands out. Every experience is new to her and she holds no fear. This week she started swim classes, and not only did she show up, she showed out! I blame her drive on her sister being 7 years older. Since being born she has always seen herself in light of her sister. If Kennedy jumps high, she wants to jump higher. As I was holding her in the water, she looked up at her sister and said "see mom, I do it too". Reminded me that although we attend a million gymnastic meets, she also can do well in class. It was amazing to witness her sense of accomplishment.

Don't allow the world to box your children in. Let them be free and allow them to be little. Provide your children with the opportunities to explore. Don't believe stereotypes that keep our children hidden . Yes they will have differences, yes they may be opposites. But that's the joy of our seeds multiplying. My children are not just me reflected. They are pieces of me with a whole lot of them. And although I believe my girls drive me crazy because they are girls, I begin to dispel those myths and allow them to just be them. But always aware I'm raising queens (prayer hands).

 

Balance In All Things

Daddy writing a paper but keeping his girls close.

Daddy writing a paper but keeping his girls close.

With a full time career, journeying to entrepreneurship, being a mother of 2, and having a husband who is a full time law student, I often wonder how I haven’t gone mad. I believe this is a true testament to women's character in general. We wear so many hats, carry all our bags, and still wear our crowns gracefully. A title of a queen might not encompass all that we endure, because this here is no magic carpet ride. Maintaining some sort of household balance is key to keeping me sane. Household balance can hold true to single parents as well as those who are in committed relationships. My motto is “keeping balance in all things”.  Balance within ourselves, our families, our jobs, and whatever role you play. Balance is making sure you purposely plan to be present in all areas of your life. Have you ever been so overwhelmed at work you forget to work out, and then you felt awful? Or what about the moment you feel so terrible because you are dead tired and haven’t spent quality time with the kids? We all get those days. Days where we feel neglectful as a friend, parent, spouse, and most importantly to ourselves.   I am here to tell you that if you commit to being more balanced, than those days will be easier. This doesn’t mean that we never have crummy days, this means that you have decided to take control to create a better mental state to handle challenging days with a more balanced perspective.

3 ways you can start:

1. Self-care- Do things for yourself. Don’t feel bad for putting “you” first. If you aren’t the best you for yourself, there is no way you can be present for those around you. Self-care is about spending time to self-reflect, self-examine, and center yourself. This can be as simple as reading a chapter every night in that book you didn’t finish, exercising, taking yourself to see that movie you’ve been waiting to see, etc. If you truly don’t have the time to do any of that, spend time in meditation for the last 15mins before going to bed. This time is for you to be with yourself without guilt.

Create safe spaces for yourself. Wrap yourself in goodness and warmth and love. Stay surrounded by people who are genuine—think twice if you can’t trust them with your heart. You are allowed to protect your peace. Be mindful and aware of all energy that you allow into your life.
— Alex Elle

 

2. Plan out your days- I admit I suffer from self diagnosed OCD; I live by planners, planning, and hoping to stay on schedule. Planning your days could be making a day dedicated to family, cleaning, studying, dating, etc. Within my own family I have started traditions to make sure I am purposeful with having balance. My Friday is dedicated to my family, always. We usually eat out, or order in, and spend quality time with one another. Sunday is our cleanup day. Everyone in the family is required to clean up a space, and put our home back in order for the next week. I plan a date night each month with my husband to allow for us to reconnect on a more intimate level. I also schedule time before picking up my children to call at least one friend to check up on them. Planning your day is about creating a time for you to be present in all areas of your life so you aren’t overwhelmed all at once. As adults we often forget some of the little things. Just like children, once we can create routines to our lives, they suddenly become habits. No more feeling guilty about what you forgot, only relief that you got it done. My advice is to use some sort of calendar, planner, and reminder system in your phone. Literally book yourself for things. Don’t overbook, look at those moments of free time, and place some of the items you have neglected. Post them up, to remind yourself to get it done. The hardest part is just doing it. Be committed to being balanced for mental freedom.

3. Use your support- You are better with the people around you. You can get further with your goals when you have healthy adults who understand your mission. It takes a village. In no way I own my accomplishments alone. Build your team, by finding those who want the best for you. The first step of support is always family. My mother is my life line, without her some of the areas I need to be present for they would be neglected. I know several people I have encountered who state they have no support. I always advise them to find support.  This is another area you have to be creative and intentional. Join groups on Facebook, a reading club, connect with parents in your child’s classroom. The person you talk to at work, go out for happy hour. If you go to church, join bible study, or programming. You have to find people, and create relationships. The point is to get to know people to help you, help YOU. We are humans, it’s necessary for us to me intermingled. That’s how we thrive, and become more powerful. I like to use my village to give me breaks, help me when I am sick, or to tag in when I have completely checked out.

My husband and I have a tight system and team. We have been together for 10 years, and we can literally tell when one of us is out of balance. I am so blessed to have a team mate who is just as committed to the productivity of our family as I am. Here he is, 2nd year of law school, he still cooks 4 times a week, places kisses nightly on the girls, spends every Friday with us, and creates free time purposely to make sure he is present. He is the real MVP! And as his wife I make sure he has moments for himself, to perfect his craft and re-center his drive.

I have to say household balance is the engine to my family. I have realized when I neglect one thing; it often has a domino effect on other areas of my life, and in return makes me feel awful. Provide balance and a system to your family that works for you. Allow this balance to provide you mental freedom. In a world where we are often over-consumed in things that don’t provide us with full satisfaction, create your own by creating balance.