The First Day of the Rest of My Road

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1,000 decisions, properly made -Specialized Sequoia

The day has come! Today is the first day of the rest of my bike commuting journey. After writing a recent post about finding a new balance, moving into my second year of full time work, I realized that it was going to take even more focused planning to realize some of the goals and balance points I set for myself. An even more deliberate change of lifestyle was necessary if I wanted to reincorporate exercise, healthy movement, and cycling miles into my life. Here are a few factors motivating me to bike commute:

  1. I haven’t been to the gym even one time since my posting about balance.
  2. Time is my most precious resource at this point.
  3. I haven’t changed my position about seeing my boys each morning before work.
  4. I need a way to incorporate movement and exercise into daily life more closely aligned with my every day activities.
  5. I happen to be married to a bike guru who I knew could bring it all together (that’s just what he did). He has become my biggest link to bike commuting success!

Bike Commuting Is the Cat’s Pajamas

Bike commuting will be an entirely new world for me, but I’ve seen its benefits firsthand. When we lived in Alexandria, Virginia, right outside of D.C., my husband commuted by metro for the first year of his job. I could write an entire article about the reasons that he started bike commuting, but the number one reason was that his commute to and from the city generally put him in a terrible state of mind.

He’d come home bummed out, tired beyond belief, and full of depressing tales from his mass transit commute. (Let me state here that metro, subway, bus, and train– all of these are superior to one human getting into one vehicle and burning mass amounts of fuel on their hour-long commute each day.)

There came a moment one Wednesday when Perry showed me a Surly Long Haul Trucker on Craigslist. He said, “I’m going to start bike commuting.” I have vivid memories of that gorgeous green Surly still. Sweet moments when our little P would call down to his daddy from our second story condo window, “Love you daddy! Be safe!” are forever logged in my memory. Off my husband would go on his bi-pedal hoss. I remember thinking then what a great example he was for our son, and how I hoped that we would always honor biking as an important transportation reality.

The change in Perry’s demeanor was dramatic and nearly instantaneous. He had more energy, not less. He looked forward to heading in to work. He loved the challenge of pedaling to his place of employment regardless of the weather. He has plenty of stories that involve snow up to his free hub, being cut off by cars, particularly one crazy taxi cab, near the Jefferson Memorial, and spinning through ankle deep water. Even a less-than-happy story about confronting someone at a stop light who had almost ended his life at a traffic circle was part of his daily bike commuting experience.

On the whole, the entire affair was wonderful for Perry. Plus, the other people in our family who have been consistently bike commuting are my two boys. After our move this summer, we switched elementary schools and the boys have been commuting by bike since school began. I have to be honest that those first few afternoons I waited for them at the top of the driveway– excited and a little nervous. But they have cruised up our road safely every day, and it’s given me an even stronger desire to ride out on my own commute.

Of course, I hope that my commute won’t be fraught with danger. Part of my ride will be on bike path, and the other piece on less-traveled town streets. But I will be commuting in the early-morning half light, and I plan on subbing out my current tires for studded snow tires this winter. I hope I’ll have the presence of mind to stay safe and be aware of motorists and fellow cyclists alike. But beyond some of the cautionary tales I’ve heard, I am more than excited to take on this new mode of daily transportation. With my new transportation adventure happening real-time, there is a chance to talk about some bike commuting essentials.

Here’s the gear that will go with me as I set out on my new adventure:

First, The BIKE

This Specialized Sequoia will be my daily commuter. I really enjoyed reading this review of the Sequoia, though these folks took this gal out for a real, true gravel grinding tour. One aspect of the Sequoia I am looking forward to self-testing is what Sarah Swallows describes, “It feels equally capable with or without a load.” I’m not only planning to use this bike on my commute, but as my weekend pleasure cruiser.

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Wear a Helmet, for Cranium’s Sake

This may seem to go without saying. But I’ve seen plenty of commuters who roll on sans skull protector. It only takes one story like the following to change your mind about helmets.

One sunny day last summer, I was riding to work without a helmet. I’d been riding this way for a few weeks, after I got a new bike for my birthday. I was turning off my street, where there is a gas station and a car pulled out of that lot , into the street, without looking. The guy didn’t see me, but I saw he wasn’t stopping with enough time so I swerved. He pulled out far enough that his front bumper knocked me further into the street, but I’d swerved enough that it didn’t knock me over. At 5 mph or less, the force of his car, not to mention his sheer stupidity, were enough to scare the ever living sh*t out of me.
I turned around and grabbed my roommate’s helmet and wore one from that day forward. Two weeks later on that same corner, no less, I took a spill and landed square on my face. Broke my right wrist, dislocated my left shoulder and lost my two front teeth, among others. It was awful, but that helmet saved my life. To anyone getting on a bike, no matter how experienced, please pick up a helmet first. I’d be eating through a tube or worse were it not for that helmet. -wordwithsam from “Gear You Need to Commute By Bike,” Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

Here’s to not breaking a wrist or especially losing any teeth on my commute (this is actually one of my most longstanding fears– toothless glory). But it should go without saying that a helmet is non-negotiable gear.

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Light Your Bike, Like a Diamond

My sweet hubby tricked out my bike with two lights– a headlight in the front, and a Specialized Stix taillight in the back. Technology has advanced in every realm, and bike lights are no exception. Once I’ve reached my destination, I simply plug my lights into my USB to charge them for the next day. Genius!!

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Under-seat Pack, a Must

No one wants a flat tire, but it’s bound to happen. This reality is one I must face, and I must sheepishly admit that I’ve been taught to change a flat time more times than I have fingers. I haven’t mastered this skill in all my years as a roadie. Now’s the time to figure it out!! (I also secretly hope my hubby will be within phone’s reach.) This under-seat pack holds everything you need to change a tire successfully.

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Multi-tool, Oh My!

Along with changing a flat, a multi-tool will always come in handy. Seat adjustments, chain/cable problems, I got this! Below, the Specialized EMT multi-tool, is a good option for most commuting scenarios.

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Fenders, Why Yes

When it comes to all-weather commuting (yes, this is my intention and I’ll keep you posted!) fenders are a must. Rain, snow, mud, you’re going to see it all. If you want to make it to work without having to hose off before beginning your day, you should invest in fenders. Leave it to my partner to source the best-of-the-best. Woody’s Fenders are custom, handmade in Bend, Oregon. You check them out HERE, and HERE.

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Panniers, for All Weather

I tend to have a lot of STUFF when I head to work. Depending on the day I may have my laptop, two class texts, a set of student papers I’ve graded, my daily planner, a change of clothes, shoes for work, and breakfast and lunch for the day. I knew that I’d need some roomy panniers and these Ortleib Commuter QL 2.1 bags are a good match for my commuting needs. Water-proof, professional, without screaming bike nerd, I’m excited to pack the crap out of these and roll.

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Clothier

Leave it to me to look into stylish clothes for my bike commute. At this point I plan on alternating between these carpi length Ibex bike shorts, and my Specialized long leggings. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my eye on some new bike bottoms. I’ll keep you posted as update my clothing. For now I really do plan to stick to the standards I listed above. I am also wearing the brightest jacket/topper I could find for greater visibility, the Specialized Women’s Deflect Jacket. It’s light, bright, and sure to catch the eye of motorist and fellow trail blazer alike.

I hope you all have an wonderful Monday. I’d love to hear any of your ideas or experiences bike commuting. I’m completely new to this realm, but really looking forward to the ride!

XX, Megan

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New Balance: Five Things I’m Doing To Renew Daily Equilibrium

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Here are five things I’m doing to renew balance in the eternal quest for equilibrium.

  1. Working out in smaller chunks
  2. Contacting one of my friends every week
  3. Maintaining some of the positive changes I’ve made to my schedule this past year
  4. Scheduling chores and cleanup in a set timeframe
  5. Meditating

(If you need the quick details, scroll down to the bottom of the post!)

With the beginning of my second year of teaching I’ve encountered the reoccurring matter of balance. We have on-boarded a lot of activities and obligations to our family life. In addition to working full-time I will also be taking college courses as part of professional development for my teaching licensure over the next two years.

We are involved in soccer, cycling, and a host of other activities associated with work, school and community. We are still recovering from our move. For some, it sounds ridiculous to say that a return to normalcy would be so hard to achieve after moving. In all honesty, moving really threw me out of my groove. Maybe many of these feelings of precariousness come from that uproar. It was a big life change. But I think there is more to this moment in my life than moving, career focus, or realigning my goals.

I need another reset, a re-centering, a restoration of balance and order, in my entire existence. It would be foolish for me to say that simply because I recognize this, I’ve achieved my balance. I feel as though I am entering a new time in my life. I have lived my childhood, my young adulthood, my child bearing years, and we’re into the real thick of the child rearing years, and it has always taken me a while to find my equilibrium.

Now I have reached another new juncture in my life. I am experiencing the need to return to some of the tried and true things that make me who I am, and I now have the opportunity to incorporate some of the good habits I’ve picked up on returning to the workplace. I am excited to see what this part of the journey holds for me and my little family, and I am committed to finding my balance in this new episode.

I have written about balance on the blog, HERE. Perhaps the first post should have covered it for me. When I wrote that first article, I talked mostly about balancing blogging and home-life. As my quest for balance continues, maybe yours does, too. When I say balance I mean the confluence between the things we prioritize in our daily schedules, and perhaps some of the things–activities, practices, time frames– we might want to bring into the daily stream.

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One of the hardest transitions for me in returning to work has been that I have really let go of working out. I’d like to say that “I had to let go” of working out, but there are plenty of people who are up at 4:30 am getting their physical activity on. Therefore, I have to place the responsibility for my physical fitness needs and desires solely on my choices.

One of the reasons this shift into zero work outs has been hard is that I find that physical practice has just as imporant mental impact as physical benefit. I truly believe in the mental cleansing that comes from working out.

This entire internal dialogue came to a head one night about a month ago around 8:45 p.m. I had recommitted myself to returning to the gym that very next morning. My intention was to make a morning work-outer of myself. (This has yet to happen in 37 years, but why not try again now when I really need it!!!!?!) My alarm was set for 5:00 a.m., my intention was to head to bed.

But it just didn’t happen. One of the boys got up with a tummy ache, I realized that I still needed to turn off all the lights downstairs and let the dogs out, my husband asked if we were ever going to hang out again. The pressure was on. The other reality is that I absolutely hate going to the gym in the mornings.

Leaving for the gym at 5 a.m. also means an insane amount of preparation: packing lunches, gym bag, work clothes, prepping breakfast, solidifying lesson plans– all things that I usually do in the morning before work. First world problems, I realize this. But stumbling blocks, nonetheless.

More importantly, if I am gone in the mornings I miss out on those precious moments right as I am heading off to work and my boys rise each day. We say our good mornings/goodbyes. I’m able to give squeezes, and kisses, and wishes for a wonderful day. This time is very important to me. So what am I to choose?

I’ve been looking at this problem from many sides for a few months now and it is time to make a change. Something’s gotta give. I understand that part of this conundrum is the “having it all” syndrome. The idea that you can balance the big five: family, work, sleep, working out, and friendships.

The night my plans to make a fresh start in the working out world crashed and burned for maybe the seventh time in as many months, I sat on the couch dejected. My phone buzzed with a text message from my husband upstairs. “Don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one who can’t have it all.” He wrote, with a link to an Inc.com interview by Jessica Stillman with Randi Zuckerberg (sister of Mark). Ms. Zuckerberg explains that if the five pillars of life are family, work, sleep, friends, and working out. A person who wants to be successful (in any of them, to any degree) should choose three.

Wa-wa-wahhhhh. I’m still not stoked on this paradigm. Though I have to admit that I’ve been living it for half-a-year or so. (Or if you ask my close friends, people who I loved, cherished, and treasured before I had a full-time job how I’m doing on the friend front [read POORLY] I’ve probably been struggling with this shift in balance from day one of full-time employment.)

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After parleying the merits of this approach– big five, choose three– for some time now I’ve come to believe that perhaps a more nuanced look into each of these– family, work, sleep, friends, working out– might yield more benefit. I read this article by Mallika Chopra, and it encouraged me to be more open to examining my balance, desires, and involvement in all aspects of my life in a more refined way.

Below are the five things I’m doing to realize more balance in my every day:

Working out in smaller chunks

In the past I had time to work out for 60 to 90 minutes a day, no problem. I have always enjoyed working out, so I knew that I wasn’t experiencing an apathy issue. I just simply didn’t/don’t have the luxury of devoting the same amount of time as I did in the past to physical fitness.

One of the mistakes I made was to mislabel the lack of time I had (of course my schedule is tighter) for NO time whatsoever. I DO have time. I simply need to realign my idea how much time a full work out really needs to be effective. My plan is to work out for 30 minutes a day.

If I have more time, great. If not, I’ll take the 30 minutes I can get! I have also had to refresh some of my work out modes. For example, I set my bike up on my trainer at home. I can hop out of bed, into my clothes, and be on my bike in less than five minutes. I also downloaded several workout apps to my phone. This will make it easier to get SOME sort of workout in, no matter the days’ schedule.

Contacting one of my friends every week

I value all my friendships very highly. I may not be able to devote as much time and energy to each of my friends as I did in the past, but I can still make an effort to reach out with sincere love and care. I am going to call one of my friends once a week every week. This includes my sisters, and some of my friends that are very distant from me geographically. There’s no reason I can’t pick up the phone and simply let them know that I am thinking of them.

Maintaining some of the positive changes I’ve made to my schedule this past year

I have established some very good habits this past year, and I don’t want to forget that during this increasingly busy time in my life I have been able to dial in some habits that I want to keep forever.

One of those is a more balanced approach to sleep, i.e. the pure recognition that I am a human that works best if I have eight hours of sleep every night. I function better, I am happier, and I am more productive in every way if I pay attention to getting enough rest.

Another one of the healthy habits I felt stayed consistent during some of these life changes was my commitment to family dinners. A huge thank you to The Six O’clock Scramble, revolutionizing dinnertime one family meal at a time.

I have such a belief in and reverence for family dinner, and I was able to maintain a relatively consistent dinner schedule through the past year-and-a-half. Home cooked meals were and are happening, and I want to make sure that this continues.

Scheduling chores and cleanup in more organized and specific time frame

With the job, and the move, and the increased activity level the struggle to maintain home tidiness has been real! I have to say that we have tried our best to keep every aspect of life clean and good working order. But it is time, time for the chore chart, time for task delegation, and time to set up a rotating system or jobs that benefit our home environment.

We’re dialing in laundry by giving every one a wash day, and have made great strides (read my husband has worked miracles on our home to make it more sound, more pleasant, more functional, and more beautiful) to get this new home in functioning as well as orderly condition.

We’ll get there, so this week will include a long hard look at some of the chores that need to be address on the regular. My fear is that this will become a fight between the parents and other occupants of the household, my hope is that if we get into a true routine with our chores it will move along seamlessly (ha ha, I know). Cheers to trying for balance in chore land!!

Meditating

Meditation time may also fall under the category of ME TIME. When discussing some of my new approaches to balance with friends, many of them mentioned that it is important to have time for yourself. Time that is not devoted to a particular enterprise or even goal. This meditation time might be spent genuinely meditating. It might be spent reading. It might be spent painting my toenails.

The important thing is that I don’t lose sight of some of the little things that I might need to bring continuity and even free flow to my new practice of balance.

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the subject of maintaining personal balance. As for me, I need to quit this post so that I can start acting on the steps I’ve outlined!! Have a wonderful Monday, friends.

XX, Megan

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Garlic Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes

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This reciep posted last week, and I admit that it went to press completely unedited– no pictures, no commentary, nothing other than the recipe. I am updating it now because it really is SUCH a wonderful meal. I thought about taking the post down. I’ve never let anything publish on my blog that wasn’t written and edited before.

But this time I thought, “You know what, this is real life. Real time.” I.e. NO TIME! 🙂 And I let the article stay put. Now, a week later, I am showing up to add the appropriate photos, links, and this little blurb about my whoops!

This dinner was another Six O’clock Scramble* win? It was enjoyed by one and all. If I were to make it again, I might try it with the parmesan, as that would take it to a whole new delicious level. Beyond this dinner, thank you for reading, following, commenting, and supporting my little blog. I am still very much enjoying my tiny corner of the internet! Have a great Monday!!

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. large shrimp (preferably US or Canadian farmed or wild shrimp), peeled and deveined, thoroughly dried
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic, (4 – 6 cloves)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded (poke out seeds with your thumb after halving)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, or use basil
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
 Directions:

In a large heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the shrimp in a single layer and sauté them for about 2 minutes per side until they are pink and opaque throughout. (Meanwhile, prepare the green beans, if you are serving them.)

Add the garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook everything for 2 – 3 more minutes, until the tomatoes start to soften. Stir in the parsley (or basil), Parmesan cheese (optional), and toss until the shrimp and tomatoes are nicely coated. Serve immediately.

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*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Psycho Monkey Smoothie

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that we started the Whole30 this past Monday. My husband almost instantly hit his low, and has been on a steady crescendo back to energy, feeling fabulous, and taking on the Whole30 like never before (last time he lasted 24 hours, this time he is reading food labels and abstaining from all things Whole30 taboo).

On the other hand, I felt GREAT when I started Whole30, and then proceeded to tank a little bit at the end of the week. This could also be the result of a demanding schedule. I’m teaching two cycling classes right now. One indoor cycling class at the gym, and a class at our local bike shop Slim & Knobby’s.

All of this to celebrate the fact that we have found the perfect Whole30 approved treat! Now when I say treat, I mean this loosely. Because everything inside the Psycho Monkey Smoothie from The Scramble is Whole30 approved. I have made sure that I don’t use this delicious drink to cheat myself. The Whole30 recommends eating three set meals, and encourages participants to move away from snacking.

Thursday night after my spin class, however, I was severely in need of a pick-me-up. Something that would give me a little boost, but leave my sugar levels alone. This smoothie is it!!

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1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup filtered water, or use tap water
2 bananas, frozen
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter or other nut or seed butter
1/4 cup cocoa nibs (also called raw chocolate or cacao), or use 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. chia seeds

Blend!

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Only after seeing these pictures did I realize that I left out the unsweetened shredded coconut. I don’t recommend doing this, but our smoothie was delicious, nonetheless.

*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

The Greatest (Unlooked For) Endeavor of my Life

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Change. Change is not a concept I am ever fond of or comfortable with. I’d generalize and say that “no one likes change”, but my partner seems to thrive on the stuff so I can’t pen sweeping falsities as per a marriage to a living, breathing human who jams on just that– change. If I have learned anything from my time on planet earth it is that CHANGE is a near constant and there is no perfect, or un-messy, or manageable way to transition with every change.

We are about to experience some real CHANGE around these parts as I go to work full-time. This change has me feeling all of the feels– I’m up, I’m down, I’m excited, I’m sad. There are reasonable explanations and scenarios for every one of these emotions, and then there is the reality that this transition is simply emotional for me. I have spent the last eight years at home with my babies. It has been this golden, magical, building, difficult, taxing, head-tripping, sanity-questioning, constantly self-examining experience. In the end, it has been the hardest, best thing I have ever done.

I have wanted to write a magnum opus to motherhood, if you will, since realizing the enormity of the changecomingatuslikeafreighttrain. A celebration of the JOY, the LIGHT, the LOVE I have found in this job called Mom that I did not look for when I planned my life. A space and a time that I didn’t know I wanted, or needed, or would treasure so deeply. I have wanted to share the gift, the fulfillment, and the hardship of primary parenting for a while now on the blog. But I haven’t found a profound, or extraordinary way to do it.

Of course there are already beautiful things written about the goodness and the difficulty of trying to be a stay-at-home parent and juggle career and creativity. One of the best was penned by Rufi Thorpe for Vela Mag, “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid”. I could not say AMEN enough times as I read this piece. The struggle to create, to think, to ponder, to write, to reach into those deep wells of art and creativity– it seems almost impossible to tap those beautiful places as a mother and home-front warrior.

Let me rewind for a moment. If you had asked me 10 years ago what my life goals were– parenting, child rearing, mothering– would not, not have likely made the list or crossed my lips. Let me be clear that I did want to have children “someday”. I did want to get married “someday”. I always hoped to find another human who would journey this life with me, and that our love would bring children into that journey, that life.

But I felt as though wishing, and hoping, and dreaming of becoming a wife and mother was a waste of precious time. After all, I only had one life to live, I only had one opportunity to enrich and and educate and increase my understanding of the entire universe this ONE precious time– my life. And no one could give me a time, or a date, or a place, or description of how this would all happen or take place. And so I felt that I would do best to put goals that were tangible, concrete, and achievable in my scope. It doesn’t bode well in my book to put “Get Married” on a to-do list.

However, I was never closed to finding my person. I was never opposed to having children. I wasn’t numb to being in love. In fact, on the precipice of my transition to graduate school I met THE ONE. He was dark and dashing, and I fell hard. When my life story– my goals, and decisions, and career framework– met the river of my love story– my care, my heart, my deep desire for companionship, and the person I had hoped for– the confluence brought me such elation and excitement.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have found my husband, my partner. That confluence quickly brought us our fist child. The I, me, my became we, us, ours. I’ve often felt as though that meeting of my rivers, the joining of my two stories came at the PERFECT moment. Don’t misread, we were still young, broke, and clinging to finishing a master’s degree and finding gainful employment in economically hard times– it was the height of the housing and banking crises in 2008 when we said I do.

The gift of our hardship, at the time, was that when we found out we were pregnant we knew we didn’t have the means to afford day care. If I had already been working rather than going to school, I am certain I would have stayed in the work-force as my children were born. Instead, because we lived in a very expensive area, it made sense for me to stay at home. Let me also be clear that I understand very clearly that financial hardship can cause a family and partnership to make the decision that BOTH parents MUST work. In other words. I also realize my relative privilege in staying home.

That gift– the gift of my being able to stay home– is one that has rolled forward into our home and family life for eight years now. My greatest endeavor, my greatest work has become this thing called family. If you could hear me weeping NOW at the opportunity to meal plan, and clean toilets, and BE with my children during their formative years, you’d think I had longed, and yearned, and KNOWN that I wanted to be a MOM for my entire existence.

Instead I can now sweetly, tenderly celebrate the opportunity to be a mother. I can see the greatness, the privilege, the importance and being with my children and family in this roll. I can say that it has been the greatest calling of my life.

However, as with all gifts there was a cost. The cost was the burden of our financial care and providing fell squarely and solely on the shoulders of my partner. My husband found a good job. He is the type of individual that poured time, and effort, and constant energy into making his work great. But that didn’t mean that every day he felt like smiling like Ward Cleaver as he went off to work. Our world looked very traditional, but there were costs that he bore directly.

The burden of providing is no small weight. It is stressful, and care-fraught, and tiresome, and endless. I know this because I have SEEN the gray hairs on my husband’s head multiply, I have sat in an emergency room while he vomited because of the skull crushing migraines he was afflicted with, I have watched as he has navigated and negotiated the corporate world for nearly 9 years now and it has proven to be unending, exhausting, often thankless, stress-filled work– day after day, year after year. I honor and reverence his sacrifice.

There were also these wildly frenzied moments of what-the-hell-have-I-done, I’ve thrown my career to the wind and I will never be able to recover it. There were flashes when I saw myself as the counter-feminist trope I so loathed: barefoot, pregnant, jobless, taken care of by my man. My mirror image did nothing to impress me, or convince me that I was undertaking greatness.

Here’s where the confluence of motherhood (or primary parenting because it is not always the woman who stays home with infant and toddler children) and career path hit some Class Five rapids for for me and for every other woman who has fought against the reality of a glass ceiling including unequal pay, lower promotional chances, and diminished leadership opportunities in the work force.

My sacrifice was also real. There is NO WAY to do both– to be at home with your children and continue to rise in your career. The two are almost completely conflicting goals. I hope there is no mistake that I am not advocating one way or another in this sacrifice. How could I choose for someone else what is right for them and for their family? I cannot.

And I have seen the reality of so many of these situations– both parents working full-time, single mother working two jobs, mother as the primary provider, families whose children are enrolled in all-day day care, couples who can afford a live-in caregiver, and so many more! But here, now, in this moment on the day I begin my job, I know that FOR US we did what we felt was right. It is that choice to stay home (that I also realize many people do not have) that I am deeply grateful for RIGHT NOW. I would not trade that time for the world.

Last night the tears flowed. Long and hard and sobbing, I mourned all that this change means for me. Maybe that was selfish but I am going to miss my boys SO MUCH. My husband held me, and told me that everything would be alright. I know it will. But there will be some things now that I won’t be a part of, some moments I will never have.

I will miss morning conversations over breakfast, and taking my baby to his first day of kindergarten. I will miss being a homeroom mom and volunteering at my boys’ school. I will miss being the one they need to call if a tooth is lost, or an owie needs tending, or one of them throws up at school. I will miss being the parent on point. I will miss being THE ONE.

My partner has never been on the outskirts of raising our boys, he is present and prepared. But he has been the sole provider for the past eight years and our roles were very firm. Now there will be more flexibility, now I pray to be malleable. I pray for life to delicately throw a bubble over my babies, but I know that doesn’t really happen. It will still be me.

I will still be their mother, no matter what. Maybe more tears will fall, but today I am ready to begin this new adventure as a working mom. I will still be their mom. I will still need to kiss their owie, and check on the status of their school day, and help out with homework, and pack lunches, and kiss cheeks, and be their mom. And I guess this change is teaching me that I really can do BOTH.

XX, Megan

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All images via Aubreigh Parks Photography