Monday, October 13, 2014

Does the voice in your head berate you or affirm you? Start noticing the good.

Ever have a day where you catch yourself thinking you've failed? Do you ever go to bed at night running through all the things you failed to do and all the things you messed up or skipped?

Although I can say I love motherhood, I still grapple with the general cultural messages that parenting is some kind of lowly, unproductive waste of our time. I have a doer personality and the grind of parenting young children can make me lose sight of what's most precious.

This past week, I took on too many projects and said yes too many times to too many people. Unsurprisingly, my house is a mess and most of the projects are overdue or half done. Let's not even talk about the activity of my blog lol. (Thank the FB Gods for the ability to schedule links at least?)

I was really feeling a good pity party coming on when I decided I needed to calm down with some mental affirmations. I decided to go to bed thinking about all that I had done, and all that had gone right.
Here's what I worked out:

I didn't list my box of items to sell last week. The box is still sitting here, staring at me. Am I disorganized and inefficient? That's what I could call myself, sure. Instead, I choose to remember that I committed to going on not one but three playdates with a new mom group, meeting new moms and introducing the children to potential new friends. I choose to call myself friendly and open to new experiences instead.

I didn't finish redecorating the living room. I had a whole plan, including new furniture, securing the TV to a different wall, building a table top for the train table, hanging photo frames, and more. Am I just flighty, unable to finish what I start? Or, could it be that I was prudent and went over the finances carefully with DH, and decided to halt the project until a later time? I choose to say that I can moderate my desires and communicate honestly with my spouse instead.

Once again, I forgot to pull out the fancy paints I bought ages ago and to do special stenciling with the children. I was going to go through the alphabet with them, and their numbers, and incorporate rhyming songs, and be a superstar home educator! I failed. But, did I? Today, we ran around the woods for hours, and the children excitedly ASKED to learn about tree identification. And we found an orb spider and talked about building spider webs and spinning silk. And then we climbed a hill to see a beautiful view of the lake. Learning happened, just not in the perfect and fancy way I was trying to create.

Another day went by and I didn't write the articles I promised to write for some people. I felt embarrassed. Unreliable. An annoyance to others. But, I know I answered some heartfelt PMs today and worked with someone who was really feeling alone and scared. I choose to remember that I can be trusted when someone is in need.

I barely skimmed over the house before bedtime, wiping down surfaces, shoving toys into piles, sweeping pathways. I started a load of laundry, but there are 3 more behind it. I washed a load of dishes, making room in the sink for the dishes waiting on the countertop lol. I could wallow in the self-loathing hatred of not being a primadonna housewife. Or I could realize that we painted Hallowe'en photos while waiting for their daddy to get home, and laughed together, and talked about costumes and made plans. The kids didn't go to bed thinking about laundry and dishes, so why should I?

No, I'm not saying to justify weaknesses or ignore mistakes. The thing is, when it comes to mothering and wearing all the hats women tend to don in their lives, the issue is not denial or justification, but rather too much criticism and a focus on failure.

If that voice in your head isn't motivating you to be a better you the next day, then it's time to change that voice. If you don't feel uplifted and inspired when you're talking to yourself or about yourself, then it's time to change the wording. Go to bed remembering all the good things and see how it changes you the next morning.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Kids at play. Shoes not required. Why I choose the kids over your fears.

I've learned something, having helped my siblings from birth to adulthood.

You know how your child pulls his shoes off in the car? Someday, all on his own, he won't do that. Freaking out about it isn't going to make that time arrive any sooner, and only serves to stress you out and damage your relationship with him.

The same goes for the Christian audience and church. Take a look around the next time you go to church services. What do you see? Hundreds of adults standing, sitting, kneeling, hands folded, reading, singing, or being silent. ALL on their OWN. It will happen.

Neurotypical toddlers without underlying conditions grow into children who use underwear. You wouldn't believe it by the way your toddler screams at the toilet or hides behind a potted plant to poop, but soon enough, she will refuse to soil herself.

So, when my toddler is prancing with joy on the playground bench, I'm happy to oblige. When they throw off their shoes to better experience the park, I'll pull my shoes off and experience it with them.

When they get down on the ground to look at worms, I'll smile and remember what it was like to love insects instead of worrying about disease transmission, poison, stings, and the like. (Such as LYME LYME LYME! LOL).

An odd bug! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

You might give me the evil eye. You might call us uncivilized. You might suggest I'm a crappy parent. You might display stroke symptoms when my children run up the slide. You might loudly tell your children, "We don't do THAT" when mine all jump on each other, a huge pile of giggles and love.

Barefeet, breaking the posted rules, swinging AT ALL during infancy.
How will these kids survive?

We're busy exploring, learning, loving, and growing together. The thing is, when it comes down to choosing between a random stranger's approval or supporting my children in their joyful exploration, my children will ALWAYS win.

Soon enough, they will put on their shoes and leave them on for long periods. They will read the posted rules and (usually) abide by them. They will sit still in church and read the scriptures if they have the gift of faith. They will bake without throwing flour. They will walk quietly down a path instead of shrieking and throwing out cartwheels.

This time right now is ours. I will not threaten it for your emotional satisfaction.