OHBD 2015

OHBD 2015

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Two Sons! Today I am the Mom of TWO Teenagers; How Did this Happen?

In my blogs I more often write about my youngest, our only girl.  Writing about teenagers is complex and wrought with peril of all kinds.  So out of respect for my boys’ wishes and our relationships, they generally don’t appear frequently and when they do, it involves a younger version.  I am making a mom exception for this post. 

My boys share a birthday which is a special thing.  They were both born on the same day in February four years apart.  My husband was still a full time basketball coach and teacher then.  I didn’t see him much from November through February.  So I wanted my first child born in March.  And I did the math and was delighted when his due date was March 3.  But he had the bad grace to come two weeks early making his birthday in the middle of play-offs.  

When we were ready to have baby number two, I did the math again and was hoping for a more cooperative child.  This one too had a March 3 due date but like his brother decided on an early rather than on time arrival.  He managed to join our family just 45 minutes after his brother’s birthday began which allowed his dad to finish coaching his basketball game.

Looking back I am amazed that 17 and 13 years have passed already.  I remember them both vividly as infants as if they were in my arms yesterday: my eldest as a tiny baby with a shock of black hair that disappeared to reveal a beautiful bald head until his brown hair grew in; my second as a large infant with no hair but early teeth who was constantly consumed by his voracious appetite.
As they are now no longer those sweet babies, or the little boys that followed so quickly after, but rather young men, I find it harder to fully convey how much I love them, how proud I am of who they are becoming and how big my dreams are for their future.  I am also painfully aware that each year that passes means they hold back a little bit more for themselves and there is a little less we share.  I know our time together is numbered.  So it is with bittersweet tears, I want to share my wish for each of them in a way that conveys my heart without totally embarrassing teen sensibilities (fingers crossed).

My first born, my Dimitri, you made me a mom 17 years ago today and that day changed the course of my life and priorities forever.  You are your father’s son in a number of ways with your competitive spirit and mercurial nature.  However, many of your interests and pursuits are ones we share.  You have a heart of gold and loyalty that runs through your core.  You are a creative free spirit who is comfortable in your own skin in a manner many adults would envy.  You know your mind and provide flashes of depth of thought and ideas that make me want to learn more.  You are a big brother your siblings adore even though having a pre-teen, now teen, brother hasn’t been easy for you (or him).  Your brother still uses you as a yardstick for what he wants to accomplish.  Your sister views you as her port in a storm; the one she can count on when she is afraid or the world doesn’t make sense.  You have a way with creatures of all kinds that always amazed me.  Your talents and gifts are many and varied although I know you find the way ahead murky.  I want you to take all your best qualities and carve a path for yourself that makes you excited to wake up every morning and gives your life joy and meaning.
Dimitri Orestes Angelidis – I love you with my whole heart and wish the best for you in this last year before you officially become a young adult.  May you find at least some of the answers you seek.

My second born, my Damian, you made me want to have more kids after your sunny nature graced our family.  You challenged my ability to survive without a good night’s sleep for two years and made me discover things about myself I never knew.  You march to the beat of your own drum and live in a different world from the physical one most of us inhabit.  Yours is a happy place full of laughter and music and movement.   I watch you and wonder what goes on in your mind.  You make people smile just by being you and your bear hugs cocoon the lucky recipient in a blanket of warmth.  You are my child in many ways including your private nature for the deepest parts of you and for your stubbornness in things you view as right.  However, you live in the moment and enjoy the ordinary as I wish I could more freely.  Your thoughtfulness and ability to use poetry to connect is enviable.  As a middle child, you are both an adoring younger brother and an entertaining older one.  You are a conundrum combining math skills and writing as well as the ability to lose anything you touch.  Although you feel things acutely, you aren’t always comfortable sharing.  I want you to see all the power and good in yourself and in those around you; then take both and rock the world.
Damian Michael Angelidis – I love you to the moon and back and wish you peace and courage as you enter your teen years.  May you make the most of this intense journey of self-discovery.

You both blessed my life in ways I cannot find words to adequately express and it chokes me up to even try.  I am a lucky, lucky person to be your mom!  Happy Birthday my two awesome sons!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Choosing Who You Spend Time with When You Are Away From Your Children

I recall listening raptly to a speech by a prominent senior female executive early in my career. One statement she made stuck with me over the years. “If you are going to spend time away from your kids, make sure it is doing something you love with people you care about.” I also heard a related comment later, “We spend much time selecting who we will date or marry. But we rarely dedicate time to choose who we work with, even though we often spend more time with them.”

I admit I generally was more focused on my role versus the team I was joining until the last decade. I was asked recently to describe the best team I had ever been on and what made it great. Each meeting participant was asked to do the same. As we went around the table, I heard common themes emerge. For me, my best team was one where I hired every member of the team. A number of years back, I was asked to take on a role which required crafting a strategy and building a team from scratch for a key effort.

What was it that makes that team special? I wanted to understand as an intellectual exercise. But I also want to know for the very practical reason that I wanted to recreate the magic of a synergistic group as I move to other roles. I was amazed at how much could be accomplished with joy in the process and the people. I came away with a list of traits I now seek when I choose those to spend time with when I am not with my beloved family:

Top Five Individual Qualities
First, they are irrational optimistic. They believe it can be done. In the face of obstacles, they persevere because they know the solution is out there.

Second, they are secure individuals who enjoy collaboration. They understand much more can be done together when credit is not an issue. They work to bring out the best in and learn from each other.

Third, they are a good balance of the analytical left brain and creative right brain. They can dig into the details and measure success. But they can also create a compelling vision that inspires, and sell it.

Fourth, they are hungry and impatient. They never think we are moving fast enough. They are owners, willing to do whatever it takes, with no ego involved.

Fifth, they embrace that what they are doing matters and want to make a positive impact. They look at their role as a type of calling rather than a job.

Top Five Team Qualifications:
First, the group is bonded and cheer each individual as well as team success. They share trust and support each other's priorities outside the office, especially ones related to family.

Second, the group allows everyone to work in the way that suits them; no judgment. They do it with consideration for what is ultimately best for each member and the whole.

Third, thegroup celebrates diversity and has a lot of it in all forms: male and female, ages, backgrounds, cultures, experience, views, abilities and strengths.

Fourth, a sense of joint ownership runs through the group. They embrace the ideal they only win as a team and any failure is shared. They have a single minded focus on achieving a common vision.

Fifth, the group knows how to have fun, and to enjoy the process and each other. They take pressure off as well as share the load and laughs frequently.

Thank you to this amazing team for teaching me some powerful lessons and for joining me on this journey. I hope some of us find ourselves on another team together down the road.  Thank you to the teams since that have shared many of these qualities. 

And I hope those reading, and my kids when it is their turn, get a chance to participate in this type of synergy in action.