Parent’s Accomplishments and Failures: Why We Should Celebrate Both

Growing up, and even now, I knew how lucky I was to have my mother. She always put me and my brother first. Her patience was vast, but it was not limitless.

Sometimes when I have a “bad parent day” and I snap, yell, show my teeth and scream into a pillow, I think about my mother. Her ocean of patience. How she would help me solve all of  my little-kid problems. She was gentle, thoughtful, and loving.

Instead of this comforting me, or pushing me to do better, I feel worst about my own parenting failures. When I think of my mother’s near saint-hood I begin to wonder why I didn’t inherit those motherly genes. But the other day, I flashed on a vivid memory:

My mother slamming the front door hard enough to make the windows shutter. Her stomping down our front porch to go to the laundry room. (Our laundry room had a separate, outdoor entrance.) Throughout her mad march, she would swear and mumble things like, “Ungrateful, spoiled, frustrating.”. I would scream through my window as she walked by, “I can hear you!” She didn’t care and she didn’t stop, she just kept right on with her mumbling madness. The laundry room was on the other side of my room and I could hear her swear and pound on the washer and dryer with her fists, until eventually she would begin to sob.

I realized upon reflection that I relate to her most through her imperfections.

Her outbursts that at the time offended my seven-year-old-self, actually brings great comfort now that I too understand the stress of parenthood.

After her laundry room breakdowns, she would always come back inside and apologize. She would explain why she was mad and frustrated and we would talk about our fight.

Our reconciliations were perhaps the greatest lessons she could bestow upon me as a child. I appreciate them more as a stressed-out adult.

None of us are perfect and we all lose our minds at times. To pretend that we don’t would be a disservice to our own children. The most important lesson she taught me was to own up to my mistakes and show myself grace when I fall.

Her parenting techniques have stuck with me and are reflected in the care of my own children. I hope my children see the patience in me that my own mother wore like a shawl around her strong shoulders, but when I slip, as she did too, I hope I recover with grace and love.

Rachel McKee

My Life in Numbers

2,255 unread emails.

3 cups of tea.

4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. (A huge win.)

0 books read since August.

1 surgery. (Wisdom teeth removed.)

1 four-month old.

1 two-year-old.

1 over-worked, amazing husband.

Overall, I’m tired, happy, sad, tired, lucky, crazy, exhausted, guilt-ridden, tired, scary, blessed.

-Rachel

My Journey With God: The Abridged Version

I didn’t have a lot of exposure to organized religion as a child, and not much has changed in that regard since.

I was baptized Catholic and attended mass with my Grandmother on occasion. Nobody talked to me at mass although many attendees knew my Grandmother. I was a small child with not much to say anyway. I liked to close my eyes and listen to the choir and sing along when it was encouraged.

I didn’t know much about the bible. I knew the Christmas and the Easter story from the beautifully illustrated books that my mother read to me during the season of these celebrations.

Mostly I found God in nature. I was a student of John Muir and Ralph Waldo Emerson before I knew who they were. When it came to religion, in many ways I was a young transcendentalist at heart.

I would talk to God while I played in the river. Swallowing the icy, glacier water, I felt alive and awake in every aspect of my life. I felt clean. I opened my mouth and drank thirstily the holy water.  I thanked Him, I laughed with Him, I sang to Him the songs I remembered from church and a few I made up just for Him. I climbed onto the largest rock that over looked the riverbed below and sang Happy Birthday to Him every Christmas. It was our thing.

I ran along the riverbank. The hot, uneven stones beneath my feet were smooth and slick, but I never fell. I put all my faith in Him and He carried me over those stones, the wind beneath my outstretched arms. We laughed with pure joy and I felt Him living inside me and all around me. When I think back on our relationship then, I am awed by the power and sheer innocence.

Then Christian camp happened and that’s when I learned my worship style was “wrong”.

It all started when my parents announced they were getting divorced. Being the thoughtful parents that they are, they wanted to do something fun for me after the blow of the divorce announcement. So, they sat me down and explained that I would be going to “horse camp”. (With a little sprinkle of Protestant influence and activities.)

Cool… horse camp, new friends, learn more about God. Yay!  I thought it would be great, but I didn’t know that I would be a tadpole in a sea of well-versed Christian fish.

My parents dropped me off with my shiny new bible, a shirt that was an inch too short, and a bikini instead of a one-piece, condeming me as the next Delilah. A note on the shirt: I have a very long torso and this was the early 2000’s before longer shirts were made fashionable. (Finally.) My parents DID NOT drop me off in a tube-top and Daisy Dukes. Although with the looks the counselors gave me you would think I was about to do a strip tease on the hood of the General Lee.

The counselors snickered at my shirt and some of the other campers joined in. That was how my first day beganme pulling my shirt down every 30 seconds. Avoiding eye contact with everyone.

The next day at bible study I learned that I brought the wrong type of bible. First, my bible should have been in a more “used” condition. The shiny crispness screamed “Never been read!”. Second, I should have had a bible that was more learning friendly, not one that was so traditional. Then we were told to reflect on all the ways we could make our relationship stronger with God. That last part seemed fair, although a bit negative to kick things off.

Anyway, while I was reflecting and our counselor walked away to give us some space, I started to eat some pink huckleberries that are indigenous to Washington State. One by one, my cabin-mates began eating the berries too. Suddenly I was Eve in the Garden of Eden, leading my fellow campers to the biblical fruit of sin. Our counselor came back and scolded us for eating wild berries. I explained to her that they grew in my yard back home and I’d been eating them my entire life. (The poor woman thought her girls were all about to be poisoned.) We were not poisoned. She was still furious. I was officially “the bad kid” at camp.

My transgressions continued. I made one bosom friend who I adore to this day. We left everyone out. Our friendship was easy and we didn’t have time for jealousy or judgment. We would rather talk about the camp horses rather than who wore too much makeup. We clicked, and just got each other. The same kids who judged me also complained that my friend and I ostracized them. It hurt their feelings that my friend and I didn’t include the other eight girls we were forced to share a cabin with. They also loved nothing more than to point out our flaws. One night, I held hands with a boy that I liked. One of my cabin-mates spit at me that it was disgraceful and may as well have called me a whore with the level of disgust in her eyes. I laughed in her face.

For the first time in my life I was an outsider. I wasn’t liked. The counselors didn’t know what to do with me.

In my hometown, I had many friends and my teachers adored me. At camp, I was the bad girl. My twelve-year-old-self didn’t know what to do with the new camp version of me. Then, for the remainder of my stay, I embraced it.

I went back to that same camp a few more times and with every visit my “screw you attitude” became stronger. I didn’t want to feel the sting of their rejection so I ignored it and acted like their judgement amused me.

I wasn’t completely upset about returning to camp the following year. There were many aspects of the camp that I loved. The ocean was a short walk away. I adored horseback riding and taking care of the horses. I liked sleeping outside in a tent. I liked Christian camp for all the wrong reasons.

Every time I returned home, I was a slightly different version of myself. I felt God move away from me as I walked by the river year after year.

I know now that it was I who distanced myself from Him. I began to feel unworthy of His love and attention. I went to a camp that praised Him, but I failed there. Our relationship became more complicated over the years. The pettiness I learned at camp was just the beginning of our challenges.

My late teens and early 20’s were the loud years in my life. I didn’t allow any quiet to sink in, I couldn’t hear Him. I was in string of challenging relationship. I partied hard.

Then I met my husband and we built a peaceful life together. I reached out to God again, but it was difficult to find Him, even after my life had calmed down. The years between us weighed heavy on my heart.

I became pregnant with our son. I learned that bringing a child into the world strips you of all vanity and arrogance. Birthing my son revealed a depth to my spirit that I previously thought was shallow. When I pushed my son into the world and held him to my chest for the first time, I was brought to my knees and humbled beyond measure. Childbirth was the greatest force of nature I’d ever experienced. I cried out to God in gratitude, I felt His presence in every corner of the delivery room.

When I look at my son I see such bliss, love, and curiosity in his eyes. I see a sacred innocence that shinesthe same light that once danced in my eyes as I raced along the river shore. There is a spiritual light that illuminates children, perhaps because their tender years make them closer to that side of heaven. 

I watch my son race across the grass in our yard, his toddler legs moving as fast as they can go and my own feet are light again. My spirit soars as I chase after my baby. A familiar, but long-lost smile breaks across my face when my son looks back at me. My arms rise like a bird in flight, a voice whispers in my heart, welcome home.

-Rachel McKee

Author’s Note: I don’t normally talk about religion, politics, or sex on this blog. (You know all the things you wouldn’t bring up at Thanksgiving dinner.) But this essay kept coming back to me and it wouldn’t let me go. I had to write it down. I hope none of you take offense from my journey with God. I also don’t want to give the impression that I am against organized religion because I know many people who attend church and have deepened their relationship with God this way. This is simply part of my story.

HOW I MANAGE AS A WRITER AND MOTHER

 

I haven’t talked about my YA novel in a  LONG time. Mostly because I have prioritized other writing opportunities, and lets face it, writing time is precious and rare. A lot of my writing has been personal essays about motherhood because that has been the consumption of my life. It’s easy for me to write about funny, special, horrible moments about motherhood because they happen ALL OF THE TIME and I can complete a short essay while my son is sleeping.

While I want to continue writing about motherhood, I have also made my YA novel a priority again. With all of these writing goals and raising a son I have had to learn some time management and prioritization.

outlining

This is how I attempt to manage writing and motherhood:

CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT

This is what my average day looks like:

7AM-8AM

Wake up at 7am and build my social media platform i.e. IlluminatedLiteration (blog), Twitter: @Illuminate_Lit, Pinterest,  Facebook, and LinkedIn. I try to make my rounds as quickly as possible before my son wakes up around 7:30-8:00am.

8AM-11AM

Then I take care of my son (and clean house) until he goes to sleep around 11-11:30am.

11AM-1:30PM

Naps are PRIME writing time. I get two solid hours of uninterrupted writing when he takes a nap. I try to do a lot of my blog posts while he is napping, I also try to catch up on a lot of my blogs that I follow.

1:30-9pM

I’m on parent duty with my husband from 1:30pm- 9pm.

9pm-You can’t keep your eyes open any longer

So guess when most of my writing time happens… late evening and into the night. Sometimes I crawl into bed around midnight or later if I’m on a roll.

Don’t forget to make time to do your research.

If you want to be a successful writer you have to read A LOT. There are some evenings when I skip writing because my brain just can’t even because I know reading your target genre is crucial for a good artistic outcome. Sometimes, if I really need to multi-task I watch a movie adaptation (*gasp*!) and take care of my son. Honestly, the point of writing non-fiction is to tell a story, and watching the movie adaptation of a novel still teaches you structure.

Get Social

This is honestly my favorite part of writingmeeting other writers and professionals in the industry. Unfortunately, this is the step most writers struggle with because at the end of the day, they have to spend a ton of time on their own craft and when you are a mother you have other priorities that you need you RIGHT NOW! I try my best to read other blogger’s work and respond to comments between feedings and when my son is playing and really any time I can grasp a smidgen of time to interact with other writers.

Embrace Chaos And Accept That You Can’t Do It All

I have so many blog posts, stories, words, ideas floating around in my head. I also have a pair of hazel eyes that look to me for nutrition, exercise, learning, and loving. We CAN’T do it all, we can only do our best. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the things we want to do. I know that this blog post could have been 10x better if I had more time, but my son is going to wake up in 30 minutes and I really should eat SOMETHING today.

♥R♥

Six Comparisons Of Being A Stay-At-Home Mother VS. A”Real” Job

Hi Readers,

No, that’s not me in the cover image, that is the gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor. I know the resemblance is uncanny (I wish!!!!).

I wanted to share my latest article that xoNecole published. It’s about my life as a stay-at-home mother compared to my life in the workforce.

I hope you enjoy it.

http://xonecole.com/six-comparisons-of-being-a-stay-at-home-mother-vs-a-real-job/

Happy Friday.

♥R♥

Cover Image Found Here: http://womanbody-childemotions.tumblr.com/page/24

When You Wish Upon a Star and the Universe Answers

Last night after nursing my son I held him in my arms for a few extra minutes. The tension in my shoulders melted as he wrapped his arms around my neck. I breathed in the fresh baby smell that radiated from his warm body after his bath. The scent of banana bread baking wafted through his nursery door. Over the gentle clanging of my husband scrubbing pots and pans, an acoustic version of Disney’s When You Wish Upon a Star played on the radio. I gently began to sway with my son as his body melted into mine and he drifted off to sleep.

In that moment I felt gratitude more profound than at any other juncture in my life. I wished upon a star two years ago for a baby and the universe answered. At that precise moment I felt completely enveloped with the love that surrounded me. My incredible husband was cleaning up the muffin mess that I had made after he worked all day so that I could put our son to bed. One of the many ways he said, I love you throughout the day. My eight month old son told me he cherished me by resting his head on my shoulder; gently giving over to sleep in my trusted arms.

I knew I was experiencing a blessing.

One day when my son leaves the house or he takes a bride of his own, I will resurrect this dance and reflect on that one time I was his whole world. I will remember a time when I wished upon a star and the universe answered. When your dreams really do come true, rejoice.

♥R♥

Blogging the Senses

Cover Image Found @:http://hipster-lyrics.tumblr.com/page/17