Monday, July 27, 2015

I Want to be THAT Girl

My lack of confidence is a huge weak point.

For me, it's not really a huge deal to admit that.  I already know everyone who knows me semi-well knows I struggle with self-confidence.  It's not a surprise or a shock factor.  Or at least it shouldn't be.

  The people who say, "Just let it roll off your shoulders."  "Don't worry about it."  "There's no need to be upset."  "You shouldn't feel that way."  "God loves you no matter what."  "Why does it matter what other people think?"

I recently ordered a book written by a Christian author named Jen Hatmaker.  It's a book about seeking grace in a world with impossible standards.  Whether you're a Christian or not, it's impossible not to agree that life is hard.  Living a good life is hard!  So many double triple quadruple standards out there that make it difficult to ever feel like you're doing it right.  If you are naturally thin you get scorned for being "too skinny".  If you are overweight you get shamed and called fat.  If you're skinny you get praised for looking so good and get all this extra attention.  If you are overweight you get praised for being brave and not afraid to live in your own skin.  If you breastfeed your baby, you get called a hero and that you're "doing it the natural way."  If you formula feed you're lazy and not giving your baby the nutrition it needs.  If you breastfeed you are enabling your child and spoiling him/her and making them too dependent.  If you formula feed you are making a better decision and making it much easier on yourself.  If you post a Facebook status about how tired you are you get a string of comments that tell you to "just be thankful for another day of life".  If you post about how thankful you are to be alive, people block your news feed for being annoying and posting too many pointless things.  When you perform well at your job and get recognized, people call you a brown-noser and over-achiever.  When you get in trouble at your job, you're a slacker and don't have business being in that career field.  Or you're a victim of unfair treatment.

Sometimes I feel like I am so buried in the middle of a heap of impossible standards that my head is just spinning.  Trying to be a perfect mother/wife/daughter/daughter-in-law/sister/friend is just too much to handle.  And even though it's easy to say, "All that shouldn't matter.  You don't have to be perfect."  Fine...Watch what happens the moment I stop caring and stop trying.  That is what I simply don't understand.  People tell you not to care, not to worry, not to try so hard.   What does that look like?  What if I just stopped being polite?  What if I just said the first thing that comes to my mind all the time because "it doesn't matter anyway"?

Sometimes I want to be someone else.  No, not another separate person.  I love my life and would NEVER trade anything for my husband and son.  But just another version of me.  That version of me that I sometimes think I am is a pretty amazing person.  And I want to be that girl all the time.

I want to be the girl who I see as pretty.  Not perfect.  But pretty.  No matter how much prettier other people in my life may be.  But I want to be pretty too.  Seen as pretty by others and by myself.  And not because someone tells me I am, although that helps.  I look in the mirror and I think, "Hey, I look good!  I'm pretty!"  Sometimes I AM that girl.

I want to be the girl who I see as fun to be around.  I know my friends think I'm funny.  My husband always tells me I'm funny.  The amount of laughs I get from him are an extra reassurance.  I like to be the goofball in almost any situation.  My family knows this too.  I am that girl who isn't afraid to make a fool of herself in front of a crowd.  Sometimes I AM that girl.

I want to be the girl who I see as a good teacher--actually who is good at most things she does!  I work hard and am successful and I get recognized for my work.  I am humble, but proud of my accomplishments.  I accept compliments with grace and humility instead of feeling embarrassed or as though I need to apologize for my success.  Sometimes I AM that girl.

I want to be the girl who I see as an excellent wife and mommy.  I know I make mistakes, but I'm really good at admitting when I am wrong.  I love my son more than words can say and he thinks I'm pretty awesome.  I sing to him, dance with him, play with him, and I can make him laugh harder than anyone.  My husband thinks I am pretty awesome too.  He loves me to the  moon and there is nothing he wouldn't do for me.  He doesn't ever wish I were like anyone else or acted differently.  He doesn't care if others might feel that he made the wrong choice in marrying me.  He thinks the world of me.  Sometimes I AM that girl.

Many days, unfortunately, I see myself as none of those things.  All the outside standards and influences creep in and I see myself as someone who is annoying, high-strung, too sensitive, too polite, controlling, over-bearing, not pretty enough, inferior, and not the best mom/wife.  I just wish these influences weren't so much louder than my own little voice.  That voice is the one I need to hang onto.  That voice is the one that tells me I am good enough.  I'm pretty enough.  I'm smart enough.

Today and everyday I'm going to try to listen extra hard.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Letter to One-Year-Ago Me

Dear Me,

There are so many things I want to tell you and I don't know where to start.  First of all, you look tired.  I know...I know you HATE hearing that and it's the biggest insult ever, but let's be honest....

You're tired and you've sick of being tired and I know that.  I was there.  It's probably one of the most miserable feelings ever, next to complete loneliness.  (at least to you...and me too)  Being so tired that you feel like you have no thoughts of your own.  I know you're so tired that even your own body won't let you sleep.  It's like...you're too tired to sleep.  You lay awake, waiting for the baby to wake up, knowing it could be 10 minutes or 2 hours, and you just can't settle down.  Bless you.

But let me tell you...I am living proof that you will eventually  not feel quite so tired.  In fact, you'll get your energy back and then some.  Even better news, your little boy that never seems to sleep at the right time of the day...he WILL figure it out.  He does a pretty dang good job at figuring things out.  He's SO smart.  You should see him.  Yesterday, he took his first real steps.  But I'm jumping ahead a bit....Let's go back a little.

Now that you've been told you'll get sleep eventually I suspect you're feeling relieved.  I hope you can understand, or at least try to understand, that absolutely nothing about the situation you are in right now is permanent.  And that is exactly what makes it so amazing.  It's so fleeting and so precious that even though you don't want to soak it all up right now and you feel like you want to pull your hair out because you're an emotional basket-case 24/7, eventually it'll sink in.  You'll learn to love it and you'll take it all in stride because it's your life now.

Going back to work won't be as hard as you think it will be.  You'll be ready for a routine.  Little Man will do great.  He loves his Granny and she does an excellent job taking care of him.  You won't worry about him while you're at work.  In fact, you'll be too busy teaching to worry.  Sure, you'll send text messages now and then to check on him.  You might even ask for a picture or 2 just because you'll miss him.  And then you'll look forward to getting home each evening to see his little face.

The first few months of being back at work will be a little tough though.  You'll be tired and want to relax.  The baby will be grouchy and in need of an evening nap, but he'll be difficult to settle.  You and Shane will need to figure out a little routine.  And you will.  You guys are such a great team.  He really is the best, isn't he?  And eventually, Ellis won't need that evening nap anymore and he'll be content to stay up and play until bedtime.....

Bedtime, you ask?  Yes....there will be a bedtime.  And it will be consistent and it will happen ALMOST every single night.  You'll put him in his little crib, turn on his noisemaker, close the door, and that'll be it until morning.  Hard to believe, I know....But I'm telling you it's true.  You'll get to relax with your husband, watch TV, have adult conversation, drink wine, read a magazine, go to bed early, or stay up late, whatever you want to do!  For a few months, perhaps between 3-6 months, you might have to go comfort him a time or two in the evening.  After all, he's busy growing and changing and that can cause some sleeping troubles.  But you won't mind it.  It won't make you too tired and it won't get you down.  In fact, nothing can get you down now that you've finally gotten the hang of this whole Mom thing.  You're rocking it now, you will keep rocking it, and eventually it won't even seem like you're trying anymore.  It'll just happen naturally!  So, try to wipe those tears as best you can, smile, and remember....there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

More about Ellis.....Not to spoil anything for you, but seriously, he's an amazing little guy.  Right now he's so super tiny and fragile.  He'll stay little for some time.  But by about 5 months old, suddenly that boy will start filling out.  Oh...and unfortunately you'll need to keep bibs and extra clothes in stock because the spitting up won't stop for about another 8-9 months.  The boy is just a fountain.  But don't worry...it's nothing you're doing wrong.  He's healthy.  Just strap a burp rag to him and to you and you'll be fine.  Maybe layer his bibs too....

He'll try to crawl for awhile.  He's definitely a little fighter and stays busy!  Don't rush him.  It'll happen when it's supposed to.  I won't tell you when...especially since I already spoiled the walking thing for you.  Either way though, it'll be special and exciting and you'll want to share the moment with all your friends and family.  The best part about it is Shane will be with you for both moments.  Talk about priceless memories!  

Last but not least, I want to tell you about you....You're in a really dark place right now and I totally get it.  I was there.  But other people won't and don't get it.  And you absolutely cannot let that get to you.  Just take it one day at a time and don't let the opinions of others make you feel lower or like you aren't a good mom.  You are a good mom.  You just need a little boost.  And that's okay.

You also need to know that you are pretty special too.  Your husband knows you're a good mom and he will tell you that a lot.  You won't really listen or believe him, but he means it.  He still says it all the time even now.  And now things are completely different than they were a year ago.  So take heart....Things will get better.  Things will get great actually.  And you'll be happy.

Hug your baby tight.  Hold him and cuddle him.  Enjoy the moments.  Try not to get discouraged when he cries.  It's all a phase.  Nothing is forever.  And soon, he won't be little anymore and you'll be chasing him around like I was doing today.  As best you can, try to live each moment with the knowledge that there's going to be a "last time" for every single interaction you have with him.  He'll be grown and gone in the blink of an eye.

So give that boy a kiss.  And chin up.  You can do it!

Love,

A Year-Later-Me

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Things I've Learned Post-Baby....

It is 1 pm.  My (almost) 7-month-old is taking his afternoon nap.  I'm drinking an apple martini.  Keepin' it real over here...

So I've actually deleted and restarted this blog about 3 times since this morning.  I can't figure out the right way to start it.  I feel like I have a lot to say, but not sure how to put it.  I don't want to write a preachy blog or a "how-to" blog.  I don't want to get on a soapbox.  I just want to write some things I've experienced these last few months that might sound halfway original.  Bear with me.

Since becoming a mom not only have I learned that I am much more capable of anything I ever imagined (for instance, my child is still alive), I've learned that I definitely don't do well with change.  In fact, it flat-out depresses me.  I've learned that I still miss my old life in so many ways.  And I've also learned that my life is, in so many ways, better now than it ever has been or will be.  Other things I've learned...

1. People will judge you when you become a mom.  And you will judge other moms too.  I said I would never do it, but oh do I ever.  Let's face it, if it's not the way you would do it, you make a judgement.  It's not because you're a jerk.  It's because you're human.  Or, worse yet, you feel guilty because you don't do it the same way they do it.  "Is their way the right way?"  "Wait...is that the way I should be doing it too?"  are just a few of the many thoughts that will flood your mind on a daily basis.  It's maddening.  The only way to tune them out is just to stick to your guns.  Don't let the methods of other parents make you feel like your methods are wrong.

2. There are people out there who put their kids first and they will not understand when you tell them your kid(s) come second.  I think it's a controversial topic when it comes to the issue of whether or not your kids should come first before your spouse.  But my husband and I both firmly believe that we should put each other first.  We still go on dates without our child.  We have conversations that don't include our child.  We still sleep in the same bed.  We enjoy each other's company.

3. You will talk about poop more than you ever thought possible.  It's true.  You'll talk about how many times your child has pooped.  You'll talk about it when he doesn't poop.  You'll talk about the texture, the smell, and everything else pertaining to poop.  And it won't be weird.

4. There are people out there who think they have the duty to drop off the face of the earth once their child is born and you will either join them or not join them.  It's a choice you make and there are many who will try to tell you what choice you should make....Usually it's the ones who disappear that will tell you you have no choice but to join them.  You can choose whether your life stops after you have a baby or not.  There are a gazillion mommy blogs out there that go on and on about how life isn't the same and how you never have time to shower or put on makeup or sleep or complete a sentence.  I'm sure that's true for some, but it's because they're making a choice.  And it works for them.   If they didn't want a ton of kids they wouldn't have had them.  You can have kids and still have a life too.  You can drink a glass of wine.  You can take a shower.  You can put on makeup.  You can complete a sentence.  You can also have friendships too.  You can have girls' nights and couples' nights and double-dates and game nights.  It can be done!  I ran into a friend that I hadn't seen in years at a store.  I made a comment to them about how we never get together anymore and we needed to change that.  Their response was, "Well, we have kids now."  See what I mean?

5.If it works, it works.  I don't have a manual to refer to when it comes to figuring out how to handle my baby and neither does anyone else.  But once you find something that works, you should keep doing it.  No matter what anyone else tells you you should be doing.

And that's about all I can come up with right now.  Original?  Probably not.  But honest, yes.  For me to say which way is the right way is doing what I don't like being done to me.  However, if there is one thing I will preach it is this:  Don't let having a baby take over your life in such a way that you lose yourself.  It doesn't have to be that way.  You aren't "sacrificing" your identify when you become a mom.  I think many moms have a misconception that once they have a child they have to give up absolutely everything they did before in order to do what's best for their child.  NO!  Not true.  Trust me, don't do it.  Be yourself.  Let your child see who you are.  And you'll be all the better for it.