Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pre-Baby Navel Gazing

Tonight I was casually futzing about on facebook when I found myself scrolling through a friend's profile pictures, which were filled with adorable shots of her two kids, who got younger with each click through. Looking at them made me wonder about what my profile picture choices would show me about Stella. So I started looking. And being the nerd/professoinal evaluator I am, I started categorizing and summarizing the data:

  • 100% of my pictures include me
  • 69% include Stella (not terribly surprising, and often when we were headed out on our Friday adventures together)
  • In 34%, I'm wearing green (my favorite color)
  • In 29%, I'm travelling (in another country except for one shot from Hawaii)
  • In 23%, I'm in side profile (which is only interesting because at one point in my life I thought my nose looked too big that way, but apparently I have come around on that point)
  • And, sadly, only 9% include Tyler (which I think says more about how many photos there are of either the two of us or all three of us) or are from a camping trip (that might have something to do with fewer trips and the generally grubbier photographic evidence)

What can I say--I'm well-suited for my job. And, yes, I busted out Excel to be precise.

As I went through the ways to categorize my photos, I was reminded of an exercise Tyler and I went through this spring. We spent a day taking a workshop based on the work of John Gottman, a nationally known (but locally based, go Seattle!) researcher on relationships. In the course of his research, he found that many couples experience significant decreases in marital satisfaction after having children, so he studied them and created a workshop on ways to maintain a strong relationship post-kids. We did the first workshop shortly after Stella was born (one of my big takeaways was that Tyler and I are both conflict-avoiders, which means we don't really fight and are both happier that way) and found it really valuable. So in preparation for Baby Number 2, we decided to try a new follow-up workshop. While I think we do a pretty good job of keeping our relationship strong and healthy, we figured a little "tune-up" could only help.

One of the exercises toward the end of the workshop was to create a shared family philosophy. So we decided to think about how we like to spend our time and what those choices reflect about how we want our life to be.

When time, energy and resources allow, we'd like to prioritize travel, the outdoors, cooking/eating/wine, reading/drawing/cultural stuff and generally doing things together. Then we thought about what we thought really undergirded those choices, things like having fun ways to spend time together, trying new things, seeing everyday things in new ways, being creative, creating opportunities for meaningful conversations and experiences, appreciating culture and diversity.

Our brainstorm of priorities, what they mean, and how they are related

It was fascinating how intertwined these seemingly disparate interests were. For example, we found travelling, reading, drawing, cooking and spending time outdoors all provide opportunities to be reflective, which we valued. So while on the surface it sounded like a slightly woo-woo/west coast kind of activity, it led us to have a really interesting and useful conversation.

I guess the reason I'm navel-gazing about all of this now is in thinking about how life is going to change in just a few short weeks. I don't want to lose sight of what's most important to us and what kind of values we want to pass down to Stella and the baby-who-has-yet-to-be-named. And I just realized we've spent most of May and the first half of June cramming in exactly these kinds of things: a trip to Mexico, a camping trip, BBQs with friends, date nights and delicious meals. I know Stella's first three months, six months, possibly first year were just a bit of a blur. It's going to take awhile to find our sure footing as a family of four instead of three (particularly when you consider that the current youngest member is getting significantly more self-sufficient as of late) and figure out how to do all these things as a new and expanded unit.

I know it will happen. I also know it will take some time. Any suggestions for easing the transition?

All of us on a hike--in keeping with our spending time outdoors theme!


Emily said...

First off, you crack me up - love your stats! And I'm impressed you and Tyler are being proactive and doing everything you can to identify your values and keep your relationship and family strong and happy! You two are amazing - love everything you do! xoxo

Emily said...

PS. Since you're ahead of us in this next step in life, will love to hear what worked for you - we'll take any advice we can get once we reach that point!