RBG’s 7 tips for raising a trail-blazing daughter

rbgI read a lot of things about raising children: books, blogs, articles, forums, scriptures, and on and on. Like I’ve previously mentioned, being a parent is daunting and pretty much impossible. We are all doing our very best and all imperfect.

Recently, I’ve been reading the book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. Have you read it? What did you think? I’m still in the process.

Today, I read this article: Want to Raise a Trail-Blazing Daughter? ‘The Notorious RBG’ Says Do These 7 Things. I thought I’d check it out and see what the list was like, whether it applied to my daughter (and my son, too), and whether I wanted it to apply.

Here’s here list, followed by my thoughts:

  1. Foster a love of reading. Absolutely. We know this. We know about the huge impact of early childhood development and how much that sets your kids (sons or daughters) up for success. I loved reading. I know not all of my siblings did and I remember hiding in my closet to read because I thought my brothers might tease me about it. I want my kids to love reading, too. So far, they do. But having a love for your favorite book about trains is different than sneaking away to read The Screwtape Letters.
  2. Teach them to be independent. My four-year old can dress himself, make his own snack of melted-cheese Ritz crackers, and manage himself in the bathroom. (Is that the most polite way to put that? I’m always so polite. Especially on the internet.) My one-year old can walk. So she’s got that going for her. This took me years and years to learn. I wanted so bad to be in the popular group of friends in high school. I look back now and wonder, who really was the popular group? The football players? The cheerleaders? The school president? The choir president? Why did I care? Eventually, I learned that it matters more how you treat others than it does how many party invitations you get. And I think this is something that parents have to kind of get out of the way and let kids figure out, eventually.
  3. Encourage them to seek out great teachers. When I would tell people I was getting an English degree, 92.6% then asked me if I was doing that to be a teacher. No. Certainly not. Why? Because I knew I couldn’t be the kind of teacher that my great teachers had been for me. I had great teachers, both in school, in sports, in church, at work, and in friends. I wrote previously about how I hope that my children find great teachers as well.
  4. Encourage them to turn a deaf ear when needed. To quote Ginsburg here, “When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.” One of my great teachers, my Grandma DeeDee, is the first example I can think of that lived her life like this. Here’s one I can definitely work on myself! And maybe if I tell my kiddos about how I am working on it and when I succeed or fail, they will learn from my example.
  5. Encourage them to set aside their worriesand simply achieve. I remember sitting down in the office of an English professor when I was on academic probation. She found out that the both of us were taking the same meds to treat depression. I was STUNNED. Why? Because successful moms with loving husbands, four grown boys, a successful career as a professor, and award-winning books, didn’t have depression. You can’t be depressed and succeed. She helped teach me not to listen to THAT voice in my head. What a lesson to learn. Now, if only I can think of a way to pass this lesson on!
  6. Teach them that they can make their own luck. My dad has told me before that I have more confidence than competence. I take it as a compliment. And in my previous career working in software, I needed that to track down the bug, database issue, what have you. As a parent, I am constantly incompetent so I’m glad that my confidence is not based on my success but precedes my successes (and my failures, from which I try so hard to learn). So hey, kids of mine: be confident in yourselves. You can figure it out. I say that to Dom often: “Wow, good figuring!” Seriously. I do. That phrase. Well, to be more exact, I say it like this: “Dom, good figgerrin’!”
  7. Pray that they marry the right person. This was the most surprising item on her list. Did it surprise you? Did you know that Ginsburg’s husband did all of the cooking? Excellent! I hope that my kids learn this simply by watching me and Nathan. We are two very different people and, yes, that causes conflict. But I hope that it complements more often and I hope that they see that. I hope that they think of their mom and dad as a team loving and supporting each other. Nathan supports me in a ton of ways, most importantly in helping me to continue to take care of me so I can be a whole person and the mom that my kids need and deserve.

What’s your favorite item on the list?

The steepness of the mom learning curve

doALLthethingsAs I sit here at the computer, one of the nicest things is that my back is to everything else in my home. By staring at my monitor, I can’t see the toys littering the floor, the unmade beds, the Amazon shipping boxes strewn across the living room, the decorations and presents piled on my kitchen table for a church Christmas dinner, or the precariously perched boxes in the garage where the ornaments and lights wait for me to pull them out and decorate.

When you’re busy, everything demands your time at once, right? For my personal record, when I look back at this day, here’s what I’ve been attempting to accomplish:

  1. Writing social media content for some small businesses
  2. Editing a personal essay/memoir for a writing contest due tomorrow
  3. Planning and prepping for the Christmas Relief Society dinner tomorrow
  4. Sending checks to musicians that played for the Trans Siberian Orchestra pit stop in Salt Lake
  5. Skyping with a writer for another contract doing technical writing work
  6. Writing on this blog and finishing a short piece for my website
  7. Changing diapers
  8. Loving children
  9. Playing in the snow
  10. Feeding
  11. Piano lessons with Dom (he asked for it!)
  12. Potty training with Gabbi (she told me today she had pooped, one step in the right direction of communicating it, even if after the fact!!)
  13. Washing diapers
  14. Ignoring it all by turning on Christmas music and dancing amidst the empty shipping boxes

When I was working full time, I envisioned my future as a SAHM and it included joyful play dates, trips to the gym, a clean house, and some extra cash from a little writing here and there during naps.


Turns out, this full-time mom gig is killer. And I only have two lives to protect and serve!

Years ago, I had started a new job and felt nervous about the impending learning curve. A friend with a successful career counseled me not to worry about it because good coworkers and bosses understand that challenging positions require a 6-12 month learning curve. I needed that curve for the position I had just started.

I am here to tell you, people, that the mom learning curve is EXTREME! My goodness. As soon as I think that I may be getting good at something, my kid changes on me. And then there’s the sleep. Listen, child of mine: I have no clue why you’re crying in the middle of the night. Of course, if I go in to your room, you will sit up and instantly ask for milk. Okay. So you’re awake because you think you need milk. Well, what about my needs, little miss? Maybe I need some milk, but I swear, when I ingest excessive amounts of creamy, delicious dairy, my face will get angry with me and respond with red, bumpy fury. And now, I’ve gone off on a tangent about adult acne. I really just wanted to tell you about how this mom job I do is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every day, I am challenged and rarely do I feel like I succeed. It’s easy to picture other mom friends sitting at home in spotless homes where their cupboards are organized and alphabetized, with the bulgur wheat on the shelf above the quinoa; the laundry sits folded in each drawer; there aren’t crayon marks on the TV; the only thing on their piano is one piece of music (not torn); their kitchens floors aren’t crumby; and they already have their stunning Christmas decorations up. Right? Isn’t that what your homes are like, my mom friends?

I totally succeeded today, though. Here’s why:

  1. Dom smiled the ENTIRE time he was at the pool for swimming lessons.
  2. I accurately tracked my writing time for my hourly contract.
  3. Gabbi took two naps and both were in her crib.
  4. Gabbi told me the coh (coat), pa (pants), and shoooo (shoes) she wanted to wear.
  5. I put them on her even though they didn’t match.
  6. We bundled up and went for a walk outside in the snow.
  7. We ate enchiladas, rice and beans for dinner.
  8. We finished that with a variety of cookies from Cutler’s.
  9. I sat down and finished this blog.

When an Archbishop wonders about God, it’s the doubt of the century

I am a professional writer.

There. I said it. I really, truly, am paid for my writing. You may be stunned, too, because who gets paid for their hobby? This girl!

I remember, years ago, telling a boss at work that getting a degree in technical writing was hopefully setting me up for one day being a freelance writer around the schedules of small kids. That was an idea, but when Dom was born, the thought of ditching the well-paid, full-time job, while Nathan was in school, was far too risky. Turns out, writing isn’t lucrative. Unless you’re the next Stephenie Meyer.

I’m not.

I get excited about any of the times where I successfully land a contract with somebody or some company that will pay me real money for my writing. Many of the contracts I’ve had have been for more technical work so a few months ago, it was the first time that I scored some work where I was truly excited about the writing.

I was over the moon.

I had the chance to write whatever I wanted to about: faith and doubt.

That’s a pretty open topic. I mean, if your Mormon Bishop assigned that to you as your church talk, where would you go with it? What apostle would you quote?

This wasn’t a church talk assignment, though, but writing for a faith-based website. I started writing up my ideas on some graph paper one day and there was so much good stuff! As I was writing (with a pen, oooo), my thoughts and ideas took me down a specific direction that I had NEVER thought about before. It was a different angle, another perspective for me, from the familiar story of Peter walking on the water.

So I worked on this blog post for several weeks. I submitted it. They approved it. They paid me. They posted it.

This. This is one of those posts that shows a little bit about my thoughts in regards to my spiritual life. Read it. Share it. (Because, if they see that my post is read by lots of folks, maybe they’ll pay me to write again!)

I’m a professional writer.

And sometimes, I get to write about something that really resonates with my soul.

Dear 4YO son: be happy. Love, mom.

4yo-birthdayDear Son:

You recently celebrated your fourth birthday in which you told your friends at school a list of your favorite things:

  • Food: bacon
  • Color: ALL the colors!
  • Snack: applesauce and fruit snacks
  • Movie: Cars
  • Toy: cars
  • Place to visit: Discovery Gateway
  • Animal: tiger
  • Book: Put Me In The Zoo
  • Game: Robot Turtles

Good list, my boy.

I have a list for you:

  • Be happy

This is my biggest wish for you. I want you to be a happy person who brings happiness to others as well. When your dad blessed you as a baby, he blessed you to be happy. He didn’t know that this was what was constantly on my mind.

No one can force you to be happy. I can’t make you happy, either. You have to learn for yourself. Learn to smile and laugh often. Learn to joke with others. Learn to make friends. Learn to be kind. Learn to love your sister. Learn to serve others. Learn to hug (when it’s okay with you, of course!). Learn what makes you happy then go and do it.

Love, Mom.

To President-elect Trump – from a mom

trump-caricatureDear President-elect Trump:

I am a Mormon.

I believe in prayer. I believe in God. I believe in this country. I believe that God watches over this country.

Today, I pray for you. I pray for things that I am hoping for…

  • I hope that you put some of the best people around you in your administration.
  • I hope the inflammatory rhetoric is buried. Deep. Mariana Trench deep.
  • I hope that President Trump is different than Celebrity Apprentice Trump or New York Military Academy Trump or Campaign Trump.
  • I hope that you are fully committed to making America great because we have a lot of wounds, divisiveness, anger, and somewhere along the way, we lost our middle class.
  • I hope that you, too, pray to God for help.


A Mormon Mom

P.S. You’re rather entertaining to draw, sir.

To Hillary Clinton – From a mom

hillary-transparentDear Hillary,

I had this idea several weeks ago: when you won, I was going to write you a letter and post it on my blog. And then you lost. Huh.

I considered writing a letter to Trump today, but guess what: I didn’t.

I’m writing to you because of this statement from your concession speech:

“And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams.”

I am not a Democrat.

I am not a Republican.

I AM a believer of my daughter’s potential.

I can get behind your statement with absolute commitment.

I want my little girl to grow up feeling this way about herself. My parents instilled in me the same confidence and with it, I’ve pursued multiple college degrees, a successful career, and made my decisive choice to stay home with my children.

Today, I think more and more about how I can be involved in serving my country, because of your campaign. I truly thought that today we would be hearing about our country electing the first woman president in our history. Huh.

I will tell my little girl that she is valuable. She is powerful. She is deserving. She should pursue her dreams.

And I will tell my little boy that he is loving. He is kind. He is a gentleman.

Because women’s rights and chivalry can exist together.


A Mom

Today’s win over anxiety

Dom is a Sunbeam: the youngest class of kids in Primary at church. He’s had the opportunity to share a scripture and a turn to say a prayer. All the kids take turns with these things and the adults sitting with the classes quietly laugh when the little kids muddle up words like the time a Sunbeam named Conrad loudly stated into the microphone: “The church of Jesus Christ has been destroyed!”

Restoration, be damned.

Anyway, Dom collapsed into tears the Sunday when Nathan tried to help him say the prayer. Nathan said it instead. When the turn to say a scripture came up, a few months later, I tried to prep him. If he’s like me, he hates saying prayers in front of others anyway. The stress of being on the spot for saying the right words while speaking to God on behalf of those around: GAH!

So I’ll help him to memorize the scripture. Arm him with confidence so he’s not as scared.

I sat with him in Primary that Sunday afternoon waiting for the scripture recitation part of the church routine. We stood up, took one step towards the microphone, and he melted into tears. Too scared.

Today was the first day of the Primary program practice. All year, the kids have learned the songs, last week they each got parts to say, and now they practice their performance in the chapel leading up to their sacrament meeting.

I read Dom’s part with him this morning while we sat at the table with Gabbi, eating out gourmet hot dog lunch. We repeated it over and over. We pretended to say it into microphones, shouting because our voices are amplified, duh. Gabbi joined in and shouted into her fist. Then we practiced saying the part with our eyes squeezed shut in case we felt scared.

Then it was off to church. Dom was nervous. He told me he was scared. He didn’t want people to see him. Or to laugh at him. I didn’t blame him. I still get stupid nervous when asked to speak in church. Currently, I lead the music in sacrament meeting and, really, I DISLIKE being in front of the entire congregation.

At the end of church, I asked Dom how their practice went.

He proudly stated, “I did my part without help!”

“You did? In the microphone?”

“Yes.” Big grin.

Wow. We high fived.

If my little three-year old can be brave like that, I can, too. Next time someone asks me to pray, I’ll say okay. At least I can do it with my eyes shut.