This Bird Does It

Librarian Wannabe ramblings

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Screenshot 2015-11-22 at 10.00.36 PM - EditedI attended my first library conference on Friday! I’d like to tell you all about it, but I’m not sure anyone who wasn’t there wants to read that. Let me just sum it up for you.

I have found my people. There were all sorts of different kinds of people at the conference, but there was something the same. Something I can’t quite articulate. People were friendly and welcoming, and that was lovely, but it wasn’t that. There was just some intangible thing that made me feel totally at home. Confidently at home. Empoweringly at home. (Did I just make up a word? Maybe. But I needed it.)

I helped with the registration table, calling like a carnival barker, “A through L over here, M through Z over there. Did you download the program in advance? Step right up and find your nametag. Would you like a free lanyard? Please see Megan for you packet.” Most validating part of the whole day? Watching all these librarians say the alphabet out loud as they searched for their own name tags. Sometimes they even got confused and started over or realized they were in the wrong line, skipping back over to the A through L side. It wasn’t just me! It happens to long time librarians, too!

I was a student volunteer, so I got to go for free. What a deal. I collected evaluation forms at the end of each session, and got to attend. I learned about managing student workers, creating hybrid lessons, teaching information literacy to students and employees, and creating programs for students to act autonomously at the reference desk. I met about a million other academic librarians and other support staff. I gathered a ton of vendor loot. I ate a couple rather tasty meals. Just a lovely experience.

Perhaps most importantly, I left with a feeling of elation. I think that maybe I didn’t pick a career in my first four decades because I couldn’t stand the thought of choosing wrong. The ultimate in commitment phobic, I guess. Once I applied for library school, I was pretty sure I’d chosen wisely, and I think I’ve gotten more confident with each term, each class. But on Friday, it was official. It was real. It was CERTAIN. I am so doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve found exactly the career for me.

Now I just have to find myself some gainful employment. Stay tuned.

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#FightTheNegative, a campaign of positive

I’m still fighting the urge to rant. Here’s my non-rant for today:

I fight my judgemental tendencies every single day. If I see you in the grocery wearing pajama pants and flip flops when it’s 35 degrees and rainy, I do think, “What gives? Have you no pride. You don’t have sense to put closed toe shoes in this weather?” Then my brain snaps back, and I remember that it’s none of my concern if you choose to wear flip flops in November. I have no idea what’s going on at your house, and frankly, it’s none of my concern.

Most of the time I’m winning the battle. Most of the time, I have no problem remembering that everyone is fighting their own battles and just like me, they’re probably doing the best they can. I don’t jump to the conclusion that you’re a terrible mother when I see you doing the opposite of what I’d do. I don’t assume you don’t care about the environment if you’re using plastic bags. Most of the time I am able to remind my overly critical self that I’m not in any position to judge! I’m not getting any parenting awards, I’ve been to the store twice this week when I should have showered first.

But here’s the thing, see, sometimes you ASK me to judge you. Yeah. Sometimes you put something out there, or actually a lot of things, that you know you want me to use when forming an opinion of you. I’m talking about social media, of course. I’m NOT talking about that one picture of Bernie Sanders you posted last week. I’m not talking about that one FoxNews clip you reposted this morning. I’m not talking about how you changed your profile pic to a French flag. I’m AM talking about all of it. When you repost three, four, ten, twenty memes a day, and all of them are extreme, on either side, you are BEGGING me to judge you.

The problem is that whether you are convinced that George W. created ISIS, or Obama did, whether you think we should deport every muslim in the country or bring every Syrian refugee to our shores, if you are so adamant about your position that you need to post so often and so hateful, I GET to judge you. I HAVE to! Humans can’t really help it. Our brains are wired to put things into categories.

So, will your social media audience put you in the category of “lover” or the category of “hater?” Choose your political beliefs however you like, I’ll keep working on withholding my judgement on all of that. But when you express them, be careful.

This week has been brutal on social media! I have never experienced this level of hate and anger and fear, and I’ve been on social media since the early days of website message boards. This is different. And very concerning. I won’t rail against it, or try to tell anyone why they’re wrong. Instead, I’m launching my own campaign against it. Yesterday I pledged on Facebook to post one REALLY positive post every day. It might be original , or it might be a repost, but I will put as many positive things out there as I can.

So far the response has been lovely, but maybe because I made one other change. These positive posts will be public. And I’m a little overwhelmed by how far it’s spread. I want them to spread as far and wide as possible. Negatives spread farther and faster than anything positive, so it will take an army of positive posters. Repost mine, or make up your own, I don’t care, just spread some joy, or love, or happiness, or any other positive emotion you can dream up. Kittens, puppies, engagements, birth announcements, pretty cloud pictures, stories of people doing loving, accepting things. Any of it. Post it. Please. I need to see it!

Today, if you haven’t seen it, I reposted this story about a woman in an airport.  If it doesn’t make you smile, and maybe get a little teary, you should re-evaluate things.




I won’t rant, I’ll ramble

I’ve wanted to rant for days and days, but I haven’t gotten my thoughts in order. I want to rant about all sorts of things from politics to social injustices, to neighborhood crazies on Facebook and Mommy Wars. Every time I sit down to try and sort it all out, I just keep coming back to one main thought. So what? And not “so what” in the usual way that nobody wants to really hear what I have to rant about. I’m fully aware that I’ve got a pretty, um, well, a pretty limited audience. It’s different this time in that I know I’m just adding to the problem I’m most annoyed by. I don’t really know how to fix that. I want to jump in and share my indignation, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the world is full up to the tip top with all the righteous indignation it can hold, and most of it ain’t doing anybody any good whatsoever.

Instead of trying to distill my indignation, which I assure you is super duper righteous, into any kind of actual post, or even trying to figure out how to channel it into something of some use to somebody, I spent several hours on Friday on a project of no use to anyone. Absolutely nobody on this planet is better off for knowing what I figured out in the three hours or so I spent on this task. No one will eat, sleep, or breathe any easier because of this knowledge. Yet, somehow it helped me put some things into perspective.

Let me see if I can distill THAT for you. I’ve mentioned before that I discovered a few years ago my direct descent from Gov. William Bradford. That and a five dollar bill will get me a plain red cup of coffee these days, for sure. I’ve done the math. Some THIRTY FIVE million Americans can trace their lineage to one of the 24 males on the Mayflower who produced heirs. I just ain’t that special. The cool thing is that I know all the names. ALL of them, that directly connect me to the Mayflower, and the pilgrims, and the first Thanksgiving, and all that. Now, this isn’t the time to tell me about the down side of Puritanism. I’m well acquainted with the shortcomings of this favorite American myth, but that’s not the point I’m getting at, either.

The super cool thing about knowing all those names, is that they’re all wrapped up with all sorts of other cool things going on in the country over those generations. Think about it. There just weren’t that many families back then compared to now, and even fewer of them had the means to do more than subsist. And those that did do important things often didn’t have surviving records for us to peruse today. But having an ancestor like Gov. Bradford means there’s a good chance that many of the generations in between are also well documented. So, I’ve found out some other fun things over the last few years.

For instance, Maj. James Fitch, who married Alice Richards Bradford, granddaughter of Gov. Bradford, generously donated the farmland and all the glass and nails to build the first building for what would become Yale University. James and Alice’s daughter, Lucy married Henry Cleveland, a cousin of Moses Cleaveland, credited founder of Cleveland, Ohio. Maj. James Fitch’s maternal grandfather, Henry Whitfield, was the leader of another group of puritans. They founded Guilford, Connecticut and built the Henry Whitfield home. The stone house still stands, and is a state museum.

So, I knew about Lucy Fitch Cleveland. For no particular reason, about a year ago I came across Lucy Fitch Kilbourne, first wife of James Kilbourne, founder of Worthington, my adopted hometown. I just knew there had to be a connection, given the time period and the fact that the Scioto Company came here from Connecticut, too. I wrote a bit about it when I came across the name last year. It popped up in my Timehop, Facebook memories, blah, blah, and I’d forgotten all about it. Friday seemed a good day to waste some more time on this project. I reposted the blog post on Facebook, and a genealogy enthusiast friend jumped right on it! It took us less than an hour to track down the actual connection this time. I’ll spare you the begats and begots. Here’s a chart.

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Clear as mud, right? Well, Paula and I were pretty psyched to figure it out. It was a lovely little diversion. Of course, I couldn’t just say MYSTERY SOLVED and go on about my productive day. That would be ludicrous. I spent another couple hours poking around the internet reading random things about the Fitches and the Kilbournes. Turns out, one of James and Lucy’s sons was Byron Kilbourne, who was one of three founders of Milwaukee, WI.

I found a few more tidbits, but they’re too convoluted to spell out. Let’s just say there’s a link to the Fitch in Abercrombie & Fitch. That doesn’t even get me a family discount, so whatever.

This is what I know now. I have even more connection to this place, Worthington, than I thought. It didn’t matter when I thought I had no ancestral connection to this town, and it doesn’t matter that I found one now. Still, for all that it doesn’t matter, or change a thing, I’ll still go visit Lucy’s grave this week. Lucy Fitch Kilbourne died in 1807 during childbirth. She and the unnamed baby girl, her eighth child, are buried together in St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery just a mile and a half up the road.

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I was so looking forward to these weeks between the kids going back to school and the start of my fall (and final) class. I was going to get so much done. I love fall, and when would it be better to tap my productive side than when the weather is changing and the leaves are turning? Maybe I still will, but the kids have been back in school for two weeks now, and I’m just not feeling it.

I get up every day and bust my butt getting three kids ready and out the door. The husband gets off to work and I start my day. I move all day. I do laundry, I cook meals, I shop for groceries, I run errands, but at the end of the day, it never feels like I got anything done. And to add insult to injury, it’s HOT! So, freakin’ hot! If you know me at all, you know, I don’t do hot. There are NINETIES in the seven day forecast. This is not FALL! There is no autumn here.

Okay, to be fair, it’s only September 3rd. I get it. And my Southern friends will be waiting a lot longer to find a nip in the air. Still, I’m ready. I’m SO ready. The highs are forecast in the low 90s and high 80s for at least another week. I know I can hang in there, but my few weeks as a stay-at-home mom with no job and no classes are slipping away. I need my FALL NOW!

Hopefully, this weekend is my last Labor Day weekend before I actually reenter the labor force. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I have every reason to believe I’ll be employed in some manner by next Labor Day. That seems like a milestone, right?

So, the push of grad school and internship is sort of past, and the push of finding a job has not fully kicked in. I want to give my all to this whole Homemaker thing, but eh, it’s hot, I’m tired, and I’m just not finding the motivation. I will. There are still a couple weeks before my class starts, and even when it does, it’s just one class. Just not feelin’ it this weekend.

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Because it wasn’t going fast enough already?

Maybe my longest break in posting! It’s been a crazy summer, but it’s flown by. You probably know I did my internship this summer, at Hamma Library, Trinity Lutheran Seminary. I can’t even begin to tell you the things I learned there, but a lot of it is recorded in my e-portfolio. You can read about it there, if you like, and maybe down the road, I’ll write about some of the wonderful things I got out of the experience that didn’t fit in the portfolio.

So, the thing with doing an internship instead of taking a class or two online, is that it’s OUTSIDE THE HOUSE! I was committed to be somewhere other than at home for fifteen hours a week. Every week. All summer! And for FREE! The first problem this raises is that those three young humans living here had to be cared for. Also for FREE! Another mom in the neighborhood agreed to take my kids two days a week, while I took hers two days, and then they went with my parents on Fridays. A mostly winning arrangement for most involved. Mostly. It meant the kids spent time everyday with friends or their grandparents, even if they didn’t have the freedom to roam the neighborhood they might have hoped for. It meant I had extra kids here on the days I wasn’t “working” just like the other mom I was swapping with did. It meant everyday was a busy day. All summer. So, I dipped my toe, or my whole foot, into the world of the working mom.

20150819_074448Three days a week I got up and got ready for “work” took my kids to “dayare” and headed out. Two days a week slept a little later, took in a couple extra kids, and went to the library, the pool, or the grocery, broke up fights, monitored screen time, and served grilled cheese sandwiches. It was busy, and exhausting, and totally doable! That might have been the most shocking part. My house is a wreck, but the essentials got done. The laundry wasn’t always up to date, but nobody went more than a day or so without clean socks. Socks are totally overrated in the summer anyway.

And after I survived the internship summer, I turned around and realized school is starting and I’ve got a kindergartener, a fifth grader, and a sixth grader! How’d that happen? So, I think I can survive this working parent thing. I’m even excited about it. I don’t know what I’ll end up doing or where or what hours, but I can live. And now I know I’m going to have to be prepared for life to speed up a little more.

And THEN, I applied for graduation. For real.

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The Log, to date

I should have been writing up what I’m doing each day at my internship all along. Instead, I’m just making daily notes to keep up with the log. Here is what we have so far. I’ll try to write up a more detailed account of each type of activity in the next week or so . I am nearing the halfway point of the needed hours! How is that possible?

Date Actual hours total hours activities
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 5.5 71.25 9:30-11, worked on withdrawals. 11-12, met with Ray about scheduling, 12-12:15 ate lunch, 12:15-1:15 focus group, 1:15-3:00 finished withdrawals
Thursday, May 7, 2015 2.5 12-2:30, coverage of front desk, general circulation duties. Answered one reference question for Director of MACM program regarding online periodical search.
Friday, May 8, 2015 2.5 9:30-12, Prepared periodicals for shipment to bindery.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 5.25 9:30-10, practice with seminary choir. 10-11:15 Eucharist service, sang with choir. 11:20-12:30 Met with Ray about LibGuide building, discussed future meetings and how we will manage this project between schedules of myself and part-time emplyees who don’t cross paths much 12:30-1 lunch. 1-2:45, Pre-class introduction and then attended Church History II class taught by Dr. Huber. Enjoyed lecture about the church in North America from the mid-19th century through the early 21st century.
Thursday, May 14, 2015 5 9:30-10 Met with Ray, discussed plan for the day and future projects. 10-10:30 Chapel service. 10:40-12:00 Attended New Testament II class taught by Dr. Walter Taylor. Interesting lecture about the formation of the canon and the book of Revelation. Obtained full set of class docuements and lecture notes from Dr. Taylor. May be useful in thinking about library services necessary for these students. 12-12:30 lunch. 12:30-2:30 Met with Aija to determine plan for future book repair projects. Checked catalog status for those books determined to be in need of repair or rebinding. Pulled several books from reference for repair, primarily respining.
Friday, May 15, 2015 5 9:30-10:45 Met with Ray and then began gathering materials by speakers committed for the conference in June regarding peace in the Mid East. 10:45-12:00 Met with Carla and Ray to begin getting up to speed on LibGuide building. Got account set up, poked around, discussed plans for guides Ray would like to see built and timelines for such. 12:12:30 lunch. 12:30-2:30 Met with Ray and Kailee regarding LibGuides. Kailee is the resident expert on building these, and offered excellent advice. Spent some time poking around the system and also looking at other guides that might be “borrowed” or built upon to get what we want completed.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 5 9:30-12 Withdrawals – removed books from OPAL and OCLC catalogs. 12-12:20 lunch 12:20-2:30 respined on volume, repaired several minor spine tears with book tape.
Thursday, May 21, 2015 5 9:30-12 Experimented with setting up a LibGuide, gathering experience. Successfully brought in RSS feeds for Twitter and my blog 12-1:45 Staff meeting
Friday, May 22, 2015 5 9:30-11:30 Met with Ray to determine point persons for each day of the rest of internship. Plans are to get time with Kathy on periodicals and the ejournal systems, Joy and acquisitions, and Aija for cataloging, as well as some time spent working on the shelf read of the second floor. 11:30-12:30 Learned Inter-Library Loan system 12:30-2:30 Book repairs, respined three books
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 5 9:30-12 Met with Ray and Carla and discussed the webpage for Hamma Library, possible changes, and motivations for these changes. Much content to be moved to LibGuides as they are built over the next few weeks/months. 12-12:30 Lunch 12:30-2:30 met with Ray and Kailee to discuss webpage changes decided with Carla. Kailee being the one who can actually edit the webpage, collaborated on look of the page.
Friday, May 29, 2015 5 9:30-12/12:30-2:30 withdrew 95 volumes from OPAL and OCLC catalogs
Monday, June 1, 2015 5 9:30-11 researched and withdrew some old volumes that had been gifted but never fully cataloged and found in storage1, 11-2:30 withdrew 95 Long Playing albums weeded from the collection.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015 5 9:30-11:30 checked gift books for holdings in TLS and OPAL 11:30-12 lunch, 12:00-2:30 worked with Aija (cataloger) to catalog gift books
Friday, June 5, 2015 6 9:30-12:30 cataloged three more volumes unsupervised, processed ILL requests including one Article Exchange request for copies, and four books sent out. 1:00-3:30 Attended Rev. Emlyn Ott’s basic course on Healthy Congregations.
Monday, June 8, 2015 4.5 9:30-10 ILL requests and maintenance 10-11 Shelf read BS1-BS193 11-12:30 Worked with Aija to clean up cataloging attempts from Friday. 12:30-1, lunch, 1-2 :Worked with Aija to learn to import a record from OCLC to Sierra (OPAL) for an item that was not previously held in OPAL.

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This Spring

I let all of March go by without a post. Not sure how that happened, but it probably had something to do with our even busier than usual schedule. My two hardest classes ever wrapped up in the middle of the month, a week after an extra workshop with one of my favorite professors. I was single parenting while the Daddy was traveling for work for a total of two weeks, and there are two more three-day trips to go. The kids had spring breaks (separately, since the preschool follows another district’s schedule), and then there was all the usual busy three-kid-household stuff going on.

So, there were big things and little things that happened in the last several weeks. Big things first, right?

The biggest news: Girlie took her First Communion on Thursday night. She was so excited. I was so proud of her. The instruction given at the church was pretty minimal, but she went through all the materials and then came to me with all her questions. She felt like the materials she was given were written for a bit younger audience, and I agreed, so we went right to the Luther’s Small Catechism. She read what Luther had to say and we discussed it at length. I am so proud of her blossoming faith. I am so thrilled to be able to share mine with her. She’s so smart and sweet. She works out her questions so carefully. Sometimes I can’t give her an answer, but she accepts that maybe sometimes the idea is to explore the question rather than find the definitive answer. When she stepped up and knelt at the Lord’s Table, surely no more humble or earnest heart has ever received the sacrament.

bThat Middle Kid is TEN! It’s astonishing to me how fast it’s going. Everyone said it would, you know it will, but there is no real preparation for the speed at which they grow. He was just a toddler and now he’s pushing his way toward teenhood. He makes me absolutely batty sometimes, but he’s the neatest ten-year-old I know and I can’t believe I get to be his mom.

Also of note, as mentioned above, I finished my hardest semester to date. Digital Preservation and Cataloging I. I knew they would both be rough, and that taking them together would be an enormous challenge, but waiting to take one of them might have postponed graduation up to a year. Had to be done. I got an A- in Cataloging, but the grades are still pending in Digital Preservation. I really have no idea how it’s going to turn out. There were a lot of points left to be awarded. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a B, though it would be disappointing. However it turns out, I made some good friends in the group project work, which I didn’t expect. I hate group projects with a passion, but I got lucky this time. All three other members worked hard and got along well together.

So, that leaves an internship this summer and just one class (Foundations of Archives) in the fall. If all goes well, I’ll graduate in the middle of December. It’s so odd to think of being done. It will have been a full three years of work, but it seems like it’s all I’ve ever done. The Baby Bird doesn’t remember a time when Mommy wasn’t in school. Then, of course, it will be time to get a job!

The littlest kid is all registered for all-day kindergarten. Here in Worthington, half-day kindergarten is free, but full-day is available for a pretty reasonable fee. The curriculum is not expanded, but they get more time to spend on each learning target. The fee is by far the best value in childcare around here, and having him at the school with his big brother and sister is well worth it. The idea is that I’ll have a little more flexibility to get a job and work out additional childcare with him in full-day. It’s awarded by lottery, though, so it wasn’t a done deal until they drew names but we made the cut.

In lesser news, both big kids read and loved Harry Potter this winter. The girl is off on the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon series) and trying to get me to read it. I want to, but discretionary reading hours are so precious, you know? And the Middle kid passed along a series he read in school, Brian’s Saga, that I never read. I’m most of the way through the first one and it is a quick read, but I almost never sit down. I will get through them all, kids. I promise. Having more reading given to you by your kids is a problem I’m happy to have.

So, tomorrow is Easter. I want to write about Good Friday. I’m so filled with emotion every Good Friday, and I always feel the need to write about it. It doesn’t seem right to tack it onto the end of a catch-up kind of post, though, and I haven’t really worked out exactly what I’m trying to say this year. I just read this post, a sermon by a friend of Nadia Boltz-Weber, and it’s good. It’s really good. I gasped several times at the sheer truth it contains. It’s painful. Good Friday must be painful.

For today, I’ll get back to deviling eggs and layering pudding and bananas. There are clothes to be ironed and kids to be bathed. We cut the Baby’s curls off yesterday. They can grow back, but for a while I’ve been thinking that he looked like a big boy with a baby’s haircut. No more. One haircut and he looks like he grew up by two years. I can’t wait to get everyone all dressed up tomorrow and take their picture.

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The Sweet Spot

It doesn’t feel like a sweet spot. I’m swamped with homework, and laundry, and meal prep, and more daily drudgery than pre-Mom me thought was possible. These days, with all of that, are still a bit of a sweet spot.

Today, in 2015, we have no babies, no teenagers, and no aging parents requiring our care.

I registered the Baby Bird for kindergarten today. It’s the end of an era. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, bit it’s still something to make me think. I’ve known it was coming, this whole Master’s Degree saga is a direct result of my knowing that it was coming. In the fall my baby will start school and I’ll complete my degree in December. Then I’ll have to get a real job.

So the last decade has been full of pregnancies and diapers, ABCs and 123s, learning to throw a ball and ride a bike, constant supervision, and minute-to-minute-in-the-trenches parenting. The next decade will bring a whole new set of challenges. Working mom life, learning to drive, teenagers, college choices, and more and more letting go. Our lives, our children’s lives, our parents’ lives will all look pretty different in the next decade.

But it’s all good. I wouldn’t change it. It’s going fast and I just want to take a minute to look around and take it in. I want to remember that this IS a sweet spot.


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A glimmer? Could it be? #LightAtTheEndOfTheTunnel #MLIS #KentState #LibrarySchool

Just coming up for air. This semester is going to be the hump. I was warned to take both these classes alone, but I can’t swing it. Taking them together means I might graduate at the end of the year, trying to take them separately means at least another year. So, together it is. Classes started on Monday. I’m not drowning, yet, but I’m swimming hard.

20150116_221111Digital Preservation. I thought I had some idea what that is. Not so much. But it IS fascinating. It’s almost as interesting to me as the more traditional forms of preservation and archival work. I am not going to be sorry I took this class. I am beginning to panic about my own digital stewardship of family files. There isn’t likely one among us who have done a good job with this. I thought that I had a handle on all of it. No, no I do not. The more I learn, the more I find out what I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of digital preservation projects lining up for when I finish this class.

Cataloging and Classification I. Yeah, I knew this one was going to be rough. Outside the library world, maybe folks don’t know how tough this one might be. Trust me, it’s a bear. It will likely be one of the most useful classes I take in the whole MLIS program. I’ve had almost no experience with the nitty gritty of this stuff, though. It’s pretty foreign. Wish me luck!

I’m actually pretty proud of myself for staying caught up this week. It’s just the first of ten, but I’m ON IT! I am beating my chest and feeling like I’ve GOT THIS. I’ll be panicking again tomorrow, but for tonight, I am in CHARGE!

Now, if I can arrange a practicum for this summer, I can take Intro to Archives in the fall and GRADUATE IN DECEMBER!

Good grief! Is that light I see at the end of the tunnel?

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#DearGirlieBird #BirthdayGirl #TweenYears

Dear Girlie Bird,

Sweet girl, you are turning eleven. ELEVEN! It’s not typically thought of as a milestone year, but in these years, they all feel like milestones. Maybe even more so than in the 4-9 years. I look back on each birthday and the first few are so distinct, and though I can remember each one individually when I try, they run together for a few years, but the last couple are as distinct as the first few.

fall 19When you were born I remember praying every single minute that I could be an adequate mother for you. I prayed I could just be enough. Not because “just enough” was all I wanted to be. Like most new moms, I wanted to be Super Mom. I wanted to be perfect. But from the first second, I knew I wouldn’t be perfect. No parent is perfect, and I never harbored any illusion that I would be the exception. That’s not to say that I wasn’t certain I could do better than some other moms out there, but I knew I would screw up some things. But I kept praying, “Dear Lord, please let me get this right, or at least mostly right. Let me be the best mom I’m capable of being. Let me protect her safety, her spirit, her heart, and her intellect. Let me teach her about You, about herself, about the world. Let me be a little bit of the mother she deserves.”

It was nearly a panicked feeling. I was confident I could get through those newborn days. I knew I could clean up any blow out, power through breastfeeding or be okay with switching to bottles, tolerate the sleep deprivation. I was totally confident in my ability to get through those first few days, months, even years. I remember your grandmother and my aunts praising me for being “such a good mother” in those early days and I laughed. I had no trouble remembering to keep you in a t-shirt, make sure there was always extra socks in the bag, or researching car seats. That was the easy part! Diapers are nothing, but the hard part was out there. The hard part was a decade or so away. I would go to bed and say my prayers and break into cold sweats thinking about what was ahead. Babyhood was easy, but what about when she can talk, and think, and get into real trouble? What about when she starts asking questions, making her own friends, having opinions? What about when she isn’t pacified by a kiss and a popsicle?

And here we are. You are your own person. You are an amazing, beautiful, caring, sweet, brilliant, kind, courageous, awesome person! You blow me away with who you are. I can’t believe I know you, much less get to be your mother. I still feel so inadequate for the task, but I know that loving you, praying for both of us, and following my heart will get us through the next few years. I don’t know what those years will hold, but I know I’m just as committed to getting through them as the day your were born. And just as scared. I’m going to screw some of it up. You’re going to screw up. I will always forgive you, and I hope you can forgive me.

You have made me so much prouder than I ever imagined. I am proud of how you think, who you are, and the even the people you choose to spend your time with. I pray that you will always make such wonderful choices in friends. The group you have surrounded yourself with at school is as smart and funny as you are, and they appreciate your most wonderful qualities. I trust them to be loyal and solid friends to you for a long time. I’m proud of them, too.

These next few years are going to be so full of changes and challenges. So many things will change and develop. I am thrilled to be able to witness this transformation that has already begun. You are not a little girl anymore. You’re well on your way to becoming a wonderful young woman. Every day brings a little more maturity and a little less of that little girl. It is not going to be a smooth ride all the way. There are going to be times when you feel like the world is ending. You will hate me a little, probably more than a few times. I can take it. I promise that nothing I ever do will be motivated by anything but love for you and your brothers. I promise that every decision your dad and I make through the rest of your lives will be based on what’s best for you three, for our family. It’s an easy promise for me to make because we don’t know how to do anything else. Even when we get it wrong, and we will get it wrong sometimes, you can know that we will do what we really believe is best for our children.

I guess I’ve rambled on enough for now. You’re ELEVEN! Happy Birthday, sweet Girlie Bird. I love you so much. You are the baby that made me a mommy, you made us more than a couple but a family. You are my only daughter and I can’t imagine a more amazing one. You are the fourth generation of a first born daughter, and I have no idea what that means, but it’s pretty cool, right?

I love you, baby.

Your Mommy, Bird


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