Thursday, January 18, 2018

Why I'm NOT Going To "Do It All"

A year ago today I published a post on the question of "Where do you see yourself?"  In that post, I essentially detailed my vocation - to be a wife and mother - and how so many people, including persons I know personally and respect, fail to understand why I can't "do it all."  They may applaud my goal to have as many children as possible, but they raise doubts about the economic feasibility or my own personal level of fulfillment if I don't have a career plus children.  And some of their points may be valid.  Economic feasibility is definitely a concern for anyone in this day and age, but my husband and I trust that God will provide as we need so long as we are following His plan.  When we were preparing for marriage, our priest asked if we would have children, even if money was tight.  And the answer was a resounding yes.  Any children that God sends our way are an immense blessing, and as long as we accept that blessing with joy, gratitude, and responsibility, He's not going to let them starve.  Sure, we might have to cut back on other things - dates; movies; organic food; etc.  But never do we want to let our personal financial habits and lifestyle to be something that stands between us and another child.

Over the past year, my husband and I have faced struggles of various sorts, as every couple does, but I firmly believe that our marriage is stronger and grows stronger each day because we work together.  We communicate our thoughts, our needs, our goals, and our dreams.  We tackle major decisions with discussion, reason, and compromise.  And most importantly, we support each other.  16 months of marriage isn't a long time in the grand scheme of things, and I look forward to many, many, many years to come; however, in those 16 months, we've repeatedly been blessed with God's grace, love, and guidance as we tackled each seemingly insurmountable issue that came our way.  By no means are we perfect, but I have full faith and trust that together we will follow God's path and build a fulfilling, successful marriage, one that will hopefully be a testament and model to our children.

And speaking of children, here's the main reason for today's post's title - our daughter is due in a few short months.  Every day we get closer to seeing her face and holding her in our arms, and I grow more confident that my decision to stay home and raise her (and our future children) is the right one.  I am not here to disparage the families where both spouses need to work, for whatever reason.  I realize that economic circumstances are not always within our control.  And that every family is different.  But I do know that for me and my sisters, my mom's decision to stay home full time and homeschool when I was just finishing 2nd grade was one of the BEST decisions she and my dad ever made.  

I want to give my daughter everything that she really needs.  And she doesn't need the best clothes or all the toys or fancy vacations.  She needs my love and attention.  She needs my example, and that of my husband, in how to act, how to love God, and how to pursue her relationship with God.  She needs our love and support and encouragement on a daily basis.  She doesn't need to be raised by strangers because her parents don't feel like staying home.  We are truly blessed that we can afford to live on a single income - a tight budget, most definitely, but the sacrifices to that budget pale in comparison to the reward of giving our daughter what she really needs.

And that is why I'm not going to "do it all."  I don't need a career to be fulfilled.  I have one already.  I'm a wife and a mother.  Sure, maybe I'll work from home part time - especially if it's a flexible schedule that works around what my family's immediate needs are.  Extra income for the future is always nice.  But it's not necessary.  My responsibility and obligation are to my family, to my vocation, to my husband, and to my daughter.  They come first.  Not some career.  They deserve my full attention and energy and love.  And if I stretch myself too thin by trying to "do it all", they are the ones that will truly suffer.

So yeah, society doesn't really understand my decision at all.  Several of my old professors and employers don't really understand it either - they support it, which is nice . . . but even now, they still question "Why can't you do it all?"  They say, "You've got a great job.  It's an easy job.  We can make accommodations for your daughter."  And my response is that it may be an easy job.  The work itself is enjoyable.  But the strain of a full-time career is already wearing on me, and I'm just pregnant.  I spend the first 11-12 hours of my day on this career, and my vocation as a wife and mother suffers.  Because then I have 4 hours in the evening to do everything else that I want to be doing as the wife, the mother, the heart of the household - cooking; cleaning; laundry; shopping.  And taking care of my husband.  Making sure that his needs are met.  And that I'm doing what I should for my growing child - which is insanely difficult when I'm out of the house 12 hours of the day.  And the only reason I am sacrificing my time and energy for my husband and child right now is because we discussed it and decided that it is what's best for our family in this moment.  To work and save towards the future as much as possible until our darling daughter is born.

I may be physically capable of "doing it all," but I cannot do it all well.  And I refuse to sacrifice my family for a career.

Monday, December 18, 2017

O Baby!

I realize it's been quite a while since my last post, and I haven't been keeping up with my resolution to post at least once a week . . . for oh, the last six months or so.  But here's why . . . you see, pregnant.  With a beautiful baby girl, who we'll call Calamity Jane in these posts.  And between pregnancy and work and all the other things in life that keep marching on, this blog has taken a back burner.  And will likely continue to do so for quite a while.
But I wanted to take a moment and comment on the beauty of God's grace and how I would not be this far along with this pregnancy and this peaceful about ALL THE THINGS if it wasn't for His grace working in me and through the people around me.  I have always known (or at least for the past twenty years or so) that my vocation is a wife and mother.  The first year of marriage (which was incredible, full of growth and love) was also met with some impatience and disappointment . . . because as much as I wanted to, we didn't get pregnant immediately.  It took a good ten months, but thank goodness for God's timing.  He really does know EXACTLY what we need and when, regardless of what we may have in mind.  Turns out those ten months were a Godsend for many reasons, and I know my marriage is a million times stronger facing this new change in our lives than if we'd gotten pregnant right away.
And then in July we found out we were pregnant with our little bundle of joy, and we couldn't have been more thrilled!  Sure, there were stresses and new things to consider . . . bills; work; doctors; delivery; baby stuff.  You know . . . life with a baby on the way.  And every day I thank God for my amazing husband who has been so incredible these past six months, comforting me when I'm freaking out about anything and everything, soothing away the nightmares, supporting me and reassuring me that everything will work out when insurance and money seem to be acting against me, and just being there as an incredible rock.  I am so very blessed, and so is Calamity, to have this man in my life.  And I know he's going to make an incredible father.
And then God works through our family and their support, encouragement, and excitement.  When I'm feeling exhausted, or sore, or just so ready to be done being pregnant, I remember how excited my sisters are about being aunts or how the grandparents were overjoyed (and still are) at the thought of a new baby!  And the first grandbaby on either side . . . lots of pressure, right? ;)  But honestly, I am eternally grateful for their love and support.  And advice.  Lots of advice.  But all given with love and taken gladly.  And my friends, my dearest, closest friends who have been there for me through thick and thin.  They have been a Godsend as well . . . truly angels on earth for me.  Whether I'm super excited, or anxious, or nervous, or scared, or done with the day, or impatient, or happy . . . they always know what to say.  And I know God's grace is what brought these wonderful people into my life.
And so it's by God's grace that I pray to be a good mother and wife, to fulfill my duties and obligations well, to shower love upon this child and many more to come, and to raise them in the Catholic faith with the help of my husband as we solemnly take on the duty of leading their souls to Heaven.  What an awesome responsibility, and with God's help, we will do our very best.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Women Always Have To Remember

Wow . . . three weeks since my last post . . . and today's topic perfectly explains WHY it's taken three weeks for me to write another post.  Because I've been completely and utterly burnt out the last three weeks doing ALL the things (and please note, this is NOT a complaint . . . just an observation).  Anyway, a friend of mine shared this article with me (You Should've Asked), and a lot of it summarized perfectly how I've been feeling.  However, because I don't agree with all of the article, I'm going to write my own post drawing from it.

Image result for householdFirst, "You should've asked."  Now, this question is not something I ask . . . I don't tend to ask for help.  I tend to take care of ALL the things myself until I burn out and explode . . . like the pot of food on the stove.  And granted, there is a part of me that wishes people would just help out without my asking.  So women tend to be the managers of the household . . . as is their rightful place.  After all, that's our role - to raise the family and keep things running while our husbands are out providing for us.  And it is a beautiful role.  (So here's my first disagreement . . . men are not underlings in the household.  They are members and partners.  They just have a different role in the household.)  Besides, the managing role tends to come naturally to the wife in matters of the household . . . groceries; chores; bills; etc.  

Now, this article implies that men should just know what to do without being told . . . which completely disregards the fact that men and women think and process things VERY differently.  Women tend to think like a ball of string . . . ALL the things are connected . . . while men tend to think in boxes, i.e. one thing at a time.  This means that if you ask your husband to get something out of the dishwasher, he'll get it out . . . but he won't necessarily think that this also implies he should empty and load the dishwasher.  So women, we need to get better at vocalizing exactly what we'd like help with.  And men, it would help if you would take notice of those things that we do ask for help so that you can do more without us asking.

You should've asked_013Anyways, the fact that women of the household are constantly managing and thinking of all the things means that we have a mental load that never disappears . . . we ALWAYS have to remember.  Men, this post is NOT intended to shame you or make you feel like you're not doing everything you're supposed to.  Rather, it's meant to explain (hopefully) a little more clearly why your wives may be more exhausted than you expect when you get home.  And also to keep you from showing up and asking why we're so tired when all we did was stay home all day.  Don't say that.  

We want your help, and sometimes we want you to pitch in and help with the chores.  And I'll admit that it can be rather exhausting to come up with ALL the things I need help with rather than just doing it myself.  But then I remember that I won't get any help if I don't ask.  And if I don't ask, then I'll burn out.  And my husband is very good at asking if I need help . . . although I don't tend to be very good at coming up with things that he can help with.  

The second part of the "You Should've Asked" article that I disagree with is that men are refusing to take on their share of the mental load when they say "let me know if you need help."  I think they just don't know what the mental load is like . . . they're programmed to handle things at work or in the office.  That's their sphere.  That's their role.  And it is a good thing.  Because that way we, the wives, don't have to handle all the work things.  And managing all the household things comes naturally to us . . . after all, we are the ones at home.  So rather than looking at this as a negative, look at the fact that they ask if they can help you out as a blessing.  And be prepared with a few things they can do.

You should've asked_027Third, I completely and utterly disagree with the insinuation that conditioning society to view women as mothers and wives and men as heroes, aka workers, is wrong.  This is the way it SHOULD BE.  Rather, our society today is conditioned to think that women should do it ALL . . . career; family; household.  And that's where the discrepancy and frustration comes from.  Because women are essentially asked to handle two full-time jobs (career and home) while men still only have the one.  Now, if you choose (or need) to have a dual-income home, then you and your spouse should communicate, discuss, and adapt as need be to alleviate stress.  But essentially, the solution to this "mind load" issue is about both parties gaining a better understanding of the demands laid upon each other and how they can help each other.  After all, marriage is a partnership . . . and it will only succeed if both parties work together.

So I'm not sure if all of that makes sense . . . or connects properly.  Essentially, the wife and mother manages ALL the things at home, and it's a never-ending list that keeps repeating in her head.  And this is exhausting, in and of itself.  Then you add actually DOING all the things on that list . . . and yeah, it's no wonder women are so exhausted all the time.  So husbands, please understand the load placed upon your wives.  Give them the gift of patience and understanding when dinner is late or the kids are screaming.  Give them the gift of offering to help with a particular chore or asking if there's anything you can do.  Give them the gift of a bouquet to brighten their day or a moment of peace as you wrangle the kids after dinner.  And wives, ASK for help.  While the household is your burden, it is not yours to bear alone.  We've shifted away from a society where women had a support system in their small village.  Now we must create that support for ourselves, so don't knock yourself down when you don't get everything done.  Rejoice in the things you accomplish and move on.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Solemn Oath

As some of you may know, I was admitted to the Florida Bar this past week.  After law school and the bar exam, the professional responsibility test and passing character & fitness, I was deemed a worthy candidate for the practice of law in the State of Florida.  While I may or may not actively practice, the Oath of Admittance is a solemn one:

I do solemnly swear:
I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida.
I will maintain the respect due to Courts of Justice and Judicial Officers.
I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceedings which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land.
I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the Judge or Jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law.
I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my clients, and will accept no compensation in connection with their business except from from them or with their knowledge and approval.
To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications.
I will abstain from all offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged.
I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone's cause for lucre or malice.  So help me God.
Reading through it again gives me chills . . . the good kind.  It's a weighty task with which lawyers are charged.  And yes, there are definitely those of the profession who serve less than satisfactorily.  But this oath embodies the ideal to which we should strive.  And the conduct which it prescribes has a broader application - to all aspects of our lives and all interactions.  We should act with truth and honor.  We should keep the secrets entrusted to us (with exceptions).  We should act fairly and civilly with integrity and strength of conviction.  We should be kind and refrain from offensive personality.  And we should champion the defenseless and oppressed!  So help me God!  

Just ponder the words and think for a moment about how they could apply in your life.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Oh the Places You'll Go

Look at that sass - age 4.
This coming weekend is bittersweet.  My baby sister (ok, not the baby . . . actually, 2nd oldest in our family, but still) is graduating from college!  And my middle sister is about to graduate from high school and start college in the fall.  And the next two aren't far behind.  With my sister's graduation from college comes her moving back home, 1000+ miles away from me.  It has been amazing to have her down here, and I'm going to miss her terribly!  But I know God has great plans in store for her, and I can't wait to see where He leads her next!  So this post is for her.  
Rachel & Rebekah - 1995

Rachel, I have watched you grow up from the moment you were born.  I was so excited to finally have a little sister!  And I also thought your baby clothes were particularly adorable . . . and was rather adamant that they still fit me . . . even though I was almost 5 years old when you were born.  Over the years, I know I haven't been the bestest friend big sister I could have been . . . I distinctly remember many years of "playing" where I was more interested in setting up the Playmobile than in actually playing with it . . . sorry about that.

Summer 2009 - the middle one is starting college this fall!
And then I went to college, and you were suddenly the eldest at home.  And how I missed you all so much!  I didn't get to see you grow up and blossom into a beautiful young lady.  I didn't get to see our younger sisters grow from toddlers to teenagers.  But I got to see you on holidays and hopefully make up for some of the lost time.

Mackinac Island, 4th of July, 2011
And then I graduated from college and moved away from home . . . a good growing experience for me, but still too far from you.  And then I moved even farther away when God called me to law school in Florida.  And I went . . . no idea about what He was planning or where I was going.

Fall 2013 - your 1st semester
Which is why I was so incredibly happy that you decided to come to Florida for college . . . because it meant that you were only a short drive away instead of thousands of miles!  I got to see you!  And get to know you again!  And see what an amazing young woman you were becoming.  A woman of grace and faith, with that beautiful and warm smile and all the enthusiasm of a new college student.  And I know I didn't visit as often as I should have, but I loved every moment I got to spend with you!

Don't mess with Skiba Girls.
And we had fun.  Lots of outings and adventures, just you and me.  Exploring all that Naples had to offer.  I still want to go back to the Botanical Gardens some day with you for another awesome photo shoot.  You have no idea how much spending time with you helped ME get through law school and life in general.  You were there whenever I needed my sister, even though I'm the big sister.  The past four years have been incredible.

St. Augustine, FL - May 2015
And then it was my turn to graduate (again).  I graduated from law school, but thankfully I got to stay in Florida near you!  Enjoying the sunshine when we could and working through your last two years of college together.  And yes, by this time you were dating . . . an incredible young man.  :)  And I was dating.  And we were dating together.  And it was ALL the drama and ALL the fun and ALL the planning and dreaming.  And then you'd go home for the summer, and I'd miss you terribly.  

But then there was that one summer you stayed in Florida, and I got to see you more!  And we had more photo shoots.  :)  And I got to see you grow up into the amazing, beautiful, and talented young woman you are today!

SeaWorld November 2015
And I am forever grateful that I got to celebrate at least some of the hallmarks in your life thus far - like your 21st birthday!  Skiba girl style, of course.  That trip to SeaWorld with you was one of the best trips I've ever had!  I hope you look back on it with as much fondness as I do.  And the next time you're in Florida, maybe we can go again?

Orlando, FL - April 2016
And we continued to grow together.  There was that trip to the financial conference (and SeaWorld) where we saw in action everything our father has striven to teach us regarding finances and the future.  And more than I thought had stuck . . . and still sticks.

The Best Sisters EVER!
Wedding September 2016
And then you were there for me as I went through my engagement and preparing for my wedding and marriage.  You were the absolute BEST Maid of Honor I could have asked for.  You talked me through all my fears and frustrations.  You helped me find the perfect dress.  You kept everything running smoothly so that I didn't have to worry.  I want you to know how much I appreciate that!  I couldn't have done it without you.

And now, over the past 8 months, you've finished college.  You are taking the next steps in your adult life, and I know you're scared and excited and nervous and relieved.  You're ALL the things.  Just remember, sangria is best with a friend, phone calls are life lines, and I will ALWAYS be here for you . . . no matter what!  I love you so much, and I can't wait to see where God takes you next!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Time Capsule

Spring Formal 2009 - 8 Years Ago
Apologies for the rambling nature of this post.  My brain is still recovering from the inevitable lack of sleep from an incredible weekend visiting one of my best friends.  Those of you on Facebook, I'm sure, have noticed the "On This Day" feature . . . where it shows you back through the years what you were posting, doing, etc. on this day in years past.  Often, I look at the status updates and wonder what I was possibly doing . . . and other times they serve as a reminder of how far I've come in my faith and life journey.  And, more often than not, they remind me just how blessed my life has been and is.

VA Trip 2017
Take a moment today to think about the blessings in your life, both present and past.  Thank God for them.  And don't take them for granted! Today I am grateful for family and friends.  And especially the wonderful gift of modern technology and transportation - the things that allow me to keep close to my friends even when 1000s of miles separate us.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Recipe Corner - (Sweet) Potato Roses

This was my first year hosting Easter dinner, and I was excited to try out a new recipe I saw on Facebook:

I adapted the recipe somewhat - using sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes and no cheese.  But they were super easy AND super scrumptious!

Pre-baked roses looked so pretty!
I sliced the sweet potatoes using my handy mandoline (definitely a MUST HAVE for any kitchen).  Swirled the spices in the olive oil, layered the potato slices over a slice of bacon, spread the oil, and rolled them up.  Easy peasy.  I ended up using a mini muffin pan for baking . . . I'd advise toothpicks to hold them together if you're using a regular size muffin pan.

Turkey from Honey Baked Ham
Sweet Potato Roses from my kitchen!
Then I baked them, and they smelled delicious!  I am definitely making these again.  They were a huge hit at dinner, and my husband said I can make them any time I want.  

What are some of your favorite holiday dishes?