Mommy Confession: I need a mom tribe

mom-tribeA friend posted another blogger’s post about finding a mom tribe, and it really resonated with me–and numerous others judging by the comments her share received.  You see, I didn’t realize how isolating being a mom can be, nor did I realize how much I would wish for my own mom tribe.

With the birth of BK, our social calendar completely changed.  I didn’t think it would; I underestimated my desire to keep the baby on schedule and to actually get some sleep at night!

Even now when the children are 5 & 3 and their grandparents keep them overnight, my social life is far from what is was pre-children.  Sure, we take the opportunity to get together with friends who don’t have children, but I’m ready to go home and go to bed by 10:00 now!  After 5 years of motherhood, I just want to catch up on some of that sleep those darling Keller Kids have cost me!

For some reason, I also thought that motherhood would instantly unite me with other mothers of children the same age as my children.  I envisioned play dates with several other moms and their children; the children happily playing or crafting away while the we moms sat back, chatted, and proudly watched our little people.  Somehow, that hasn’t been my reality.  For this, I mostly blame my job.  You see, the mom groups in the area that I’ve looked at joining meet during the week–while I’m at work.  So, no magic mom tribe happening there.

Ultimately, I think my lack of mom tribe is my own fault.  I’ve let the treadmill of life get in the way:  we work and run a few errands during the week, and I clean and try to catch up with the household items like a mad lady on the weekends.  Friendships take work, and I’ve completely failed at reaching out to other moms and arranging events.

Some might be wondering what exactly a mom tribe is.  Shoot, I guess I’m kind of wondering that, too, since I don’t actually belong to one!  To me, it’s a group of friends who can bounce parenting ideas off of one another, feel safe that their personal discussions won’t turn into gossip, and who can just get together and have fun!  Ladies who drop by and don’t care that your coffee table is dusty and fingerprint smeared.  Ladies whose children can be just as wild as my own!

I have friends, obviously, but I’ve let those bonds weaken.  That’s on me.  I used to be the planner, and I’ve not been planning too many social events lately.

Of course, I have Mr. Keller, but husbands aren’t really meant to be best friends.  They’re husbands:  a relationship with its own level of emotional intimacy.

I’m developing a plan of attack!  I’m setting up lunch dates with friends.  I’m going to put myself out there and talk to more moms at my children’s events.  I am going to start making more effort, and I sure hope it pays off!  If you feel like me, know that I’m cheering you on, too!  Shoot, if you feel the same way I do, let me know!  We could do lunch or set up a play date with kids!

Finding Common Ground

Mr. Keller and I don’t have a whole lot in common:

  1.  He’s an extrovert; I’m an introvert
  2. He loves to farm; I find the farm equipment a little intimidating
  3. I work a desk job; he enjoys his outside job
  4. I have a master’s degree and professional license; he has an associate’s degree
  5. I love spreadsheets & budgeting; he does not
  6. He is patient and a great father; I struggle daily with maintaining my calm
  7. He’s the last one to leave a party; I just want to be at home in my pajamas

You get the point.  The list is a thousand times longer than that.  We are different people, and sometimes we struggle to understand one another.  At this point, we’re used to one another; we know what to expect, but that doesn’t make our differences go away.perfect-couples

We have to find common ground.  For Mr. Keller and I, that means semi-regular date nights, and allowing ourselves the opportunity to concentrate on just one another.

We recently purchased Chicago Bears season tickets.  Although they certainly were not inexpensive, they were really easy to rationalize.  First, we both love football so it gives us an opportunity to connect over something that we have in common.  Second, it’s a nearly 3 hour drive to the stadium.  That’s 6 hours round trip where we are actually together in one space without any little ones to interrupt.

We went to our first game this past Sunday, and it was a success!  First, we managed to get there without killing one another.  He was driving, and I was navigating (or trying to, anyway).  At first, Mr. Keller was completely uninterested in my suggestions on directions, and then, when he needed to listen to directions, I was pretty uninterested in providing them!  Actually, the drive was fine.  We hit very little traffic until we were nearly at the stadium.  We took one wrong turn, but it wasn’t really wrong.  It was just a little early, and we had no issues finding our destination.  It was the giant stadium that every other car was trying to get to.

Mr. Keller and I didn’t have any earth shattering conversations.  They weren’t necessary.  We simply enjoyed one another’s company.  We talked about the upcoming game, our fantasy football teams, and our NFL game picks (unfortunately, after totally dominating the last season, I’m not doing so well in either fantasy or game picks–hopefully, I can pull out of my slump!).  The conversation topics were light, but they reflected where we are at right now.  We’re both pretty content with life, and neither of us have any great concerns.  We’re on the same page where it counts.

To really top off a great day, the Chicago Bears even won!  They defeated the Detroit Lions, and earned their first win of the season (there’s a reason that the season tickets were affordable…).

Here’s to more Sundays in the future spent together!

BK and Kindergarten

BK has completed his first full week of kindergarten.  Honestly, it’s been challenging for all of us.  This kid does not like change, and he wants us all to know it.

The first day of kindergarten started off pretty well.  First, the kids actually get to take a little bit longer to get ready in the morning as BK gets on the bus about 30 minutes later than I used to drop them off at daycare.  I found myself able to get a lot more done in the mornings, and the kids are much more awake.

kindergartenWe must have all been a little bit excited and anxious for kindergarten!  I had BK and MK ready for school and outside waiting for the bus a good 20 minutes before it was due.  I wanted to be sure we got plenty of good pictures, and I knew that the bus would probably be running a little early on that first day.  It worked out fine!  I was able to get several good pictures of both of the kids, we listened to Pandora radio on my phone, and we just enjoyed the nice weather.

When the bus pulled up, BK was ready!  He had his book bag on, gave MK and I a hug, and he resolutely climbed the stairs.  In our house, he’s such a big boy, but he looked so tiny climbing on to that bus!  It made MK and I both a little sad to watch him go.kindergarten

Nevertheless, MK and I climbed into my car to continue our day.  She teared up a little bit when I took her into daycare without BK, and we talked about how it was okay to miss BK, but she was a big girl now.  She could do this on her own.  She gave a little sniff, a nod of her head, and then a tiny smile.  She liked being called a big girl!

I was anxious to get home at the end of the day to see my new kindergartener.  He, it turns out, was equally anxious to get home.  He was not too happy.  First, he didn’t have enough time to eat all of his lunch at school.  He had eaten hot lunch that day, but he informed me that he would only do cold lunch now.  Then, he told me that I forgot to pack an afternoon snack for him.  I didn’t even know I was supposed to do that!  The night before, at kindergarten orientation, we were given a huge stack of papers and few instructions.  On the last page of those papers, I found where it said we should pack a healthy snack.  Oops.

BK’s next complaint was about his lack of friends.  I knew that part would be hard for him, but I reminded him that school has just started.  He will make friends.  BK also complained about the bus.  He told me, “I thought it would be fun.  It’s not.”  I’m not sure what he imagined, but I guess reality didn’t align with his imagination.  Honestly, it was a little bit heart breaking.kindergarten

Since that first day, we’ve successfully packed lunch and a snack every day.  BK has also made two friends in his class, found several people that he knows on the bus, and found a couple of kids he knows from daycare in other kindergarten classes.  He’s still asking if he can go to daycare instead of kindergarten every day.

Poor BK is just not good at change.

In Loving Memory of Dorothy Keller

Dorothy_2 We laid to rest the beloved matriarch of the Keller Family today.  Mr. Keller’s grandmother, Dorothy Keller, passed away on August 10th, and to say that she will be missed is an understatement.

Dorothy was born on February 9th, 1918.  She was 98 years, 6 months, and 1 day old when she left us, and in those 98 years she truly touched a lot of lives.  She served as an inspiration to her family by being the first to continue beyond the 8th grade.  Not only did she graduate high school, she even attended and graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Rural Education.  She was an elementary classroom and music teacher for 20 years.  I have absolutely no doubt that in those 20 years, she instilled a love of learning in numerous children!

Dorothy Keller married Walt Keller of McNabb, Illinois, and started her greatest legacy:  her family.

Dorothy and Walt had 4 children:  Chuck, Julie, Randy, and Marty.  In them, Dorothy instilled a love of learning and, generally, a love of music.  In fact, three of the four even went on to earn college degrees with majors in education while the fourth carried on the family farm.  Those four children went on to bring nine babies into the world, including Mr. Keller.

Walt passed away in 1988, and from what I have gathered, Dorothy was a supportive, traditional farm wife to him.  In fact, that’s why one of Mr. Keller’s mom’s favorite stories about Dorothy is so striking.  One afternoon, Walt came in looking for his lunch.  He was surprised that Dorothy not only didn’t have lunch for him, she hadn’t even started it!  She informed him that she was busy playing with Mr. Keller (okay, she may have used his first name when she referred to him), and he would have to make his own lunch that day.

Dorothy and Mr. Keller had an incredible bond.  Not only did he spend hours at the family farm where Dorothy always lived, but she actually watched him while Mr. Keller’s parents worked.  This tiny matriarch spent hours sitting in a hot farm truck while Mr. Keller pretended to drive it down the road.  I can just hear him “vrooming” along while she indulgently watched.  She even wore out the knees of her pants sitting on the floor with Mr. Keller playing trucks and tractors.  Later, they watched Wheel of Fortune together, enjoyed reading the newspaper and sharing news of what was happening in town.

In the time that I knew her, Dorothy’s life revolved around family.  She loved living on the family farm with one son working the farm and another living just across the street.  She was surrounded by family, and I think, was well aware of how loved she was.  Dorothy was the epitome of a family matriarch.

I met Dorothy as she was becoming a great-grandmother.  She adored each new great-grandbaby.  You could just see it in her face as she held each one for the first time.  I know that Mr. Keller and I feel incredibly fortunate that our children were able to spend as much time with Dorothy as they did.  I just pray that both of them carry a few memories of her with them, always.  She certainly loved and cared for them!  She would just sit and watch them play.  When BK was little, she would even get on the floor and play trucks and tractors with him just as she did his daddy.

Dorothy Keller

Grandma Dorothy surrounded by her grand=babies

Dorothy was wise, gracious, and feisty all the way to the end.  I’m 100% positive that we all have a Dorothy Story that we will hold close.  In fact, I have several!  The first is from the very first time we met.  Mr. Keller had warned me that she could take some time to warm up to people who were dating members of her family.  She was a little bit on the protective side, I suppose.  Regardless, she surprised him when she declared that she “liked [me].  [I] was her height!”  I’ll also always carry with me how happy she was to be included in any get togethers at the Keller Tinker Farm.  She truly just loved to spend time with us and to be included in our lives.  I also loved her optimism!  Until the last year of her life, she constantly spoke of the future.  She was always planning for next year!  Keep in mind that she was already 86 when I had the pleasure of meeting her!

God gave us Dorothy for 98 great years.  She was able to live on the farm until nearly the very end, and then, was fortunate enough to be able to move into Cabin Livin’, an assisted living facility just a few miles away from the farm.  She really spent the majority of her years in great health, and she certainly maintained 100% of her mental faculties.  I was constantly amazed at her observations.

Selfishly, I wish we could have had Dorothy for a few more years.  BK and MK could have benefited so much from spending more time with her, and I could have, as well.

Dorothy KellerDorothy Keller left a strong legacy of love, music, and learning that will absolutely be carried on through her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  We miss her today and will continue to, but while we are sad that she’s no longer here with us, we can be confident that she’s in a better place with God and Our Savior.

Putting Marriage First

Mr. Keller and I just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary.  Six years of marriage, eleven years of togetherness and 2 kids later, we are putting marriage first.

Bottom line:  Mr. Keller was there before the children, and I want to be sure that he’s there after the children move out!

putting marriage first

While I totally understand that everyone has to do marriage their own way, for us, it works best when we put our marriage ahead of our kids.  We strongly believe that a happy, healthy marriage is the foundation upon which a family is built.

First, when BK and MK see their parents acting like loving, respectful adults, it reassures them that their family is on a solid ground.  It’s comforting to them, and it reinforces the idea that love and respect hold our family together.  Mr. Keller and I are modeling how we believe a marriage should look.  We are demonstrating to BK and MK that married couples spend time together and respect one another.

Second, spending time alone together helps to reinforce our relationship.  Mr. Keller and I try to have a date night at least once a month.  Just spending time together without the children is incredibly helpful to our marriage.  You see, during our typical evening with the children present, we have to concentrate on the children.  BK and MK demand a lot of attention!  Going out without them allows me to look at Mr. Keller and really see him.  I can actually hear every word he says without a little person suddenly needing a drink or assistance in the restroom.  I can focus on Mr. Keller.

Before MK was born, Mr. Keller and I would have a mini-date night every night.  BK went to bed early–around 7:00 or 7:30.  I would feed BK and bathe him before bedtime and then have a meal on the table for just Mr. Keller and I after BK went down for the night.  It was perfect!  MK’s birth put a kink in that.  First, newborn’s schedules are a little bit different from a toddler’s, and I just couldn’t quite get them aligned. Then, as MK became older, she also became a terrible sleeper.  By the time I get MK down for the evening, I am exhausted.

I’ll admit, during the week, it’s hard to put our marriage first.  We both work all day in jobs that can both be demanding and exhausting.  Then, at home I have chores around the house, dinner to prepare and children to care for.  Mr. Keller often has activities around our tinker farm to take care of (darned grass always needs mowed this time of year and hay constantly ready to be baled!).  By the time the children are finally settled in for the night, I’m tired and just don’t really want to talk, and Mr. Keller is either sound asleep in his recliner or caught up in watching a sporting event on the television.  If it weren’t for our date nights, I truly believe that our marriage would suffer

Mr. Keller and I have even purchased Chicago Bears season tickets this year as a way to guarantee that we spend time together.  Last year, we strongly considered it, but ultimately I backed out.  I was worried that we would be away from the children too much.  The truth is, we should have bought tickets last year, too!  The tickets are relatively inexpensive (the Bears haven’t had a winning record in years), and Mr. Keller and I will get to go and enjoy the games together.  The kids will be fine!

Putting Marriage First

Woohoo! Go Bears!

BK and MK usually stay with their grandparents when we go on our date nights.  It works out extremely well for all of us as it gives Mr. Keller and I an opportunity to focus on our relationship, and it helps the children build bonds with their grandparents.  We’re all benefiting!

In my view, focus on the family starts with focusing on your spouse.  Mr. Keller and I believe strongly that a healthy spousal relationship is the foundation of our family.  This means that we regularly schedule maintenance on that foundation (or date nights!).  We focus on putting marriage first and recognize that the children will be fine.  BK and MK certainly aren’t suffering!