Take care of yourself
Move Forward with Great Expectancy
Let Go of Control
I’m an idealist. When I looked up the definition of idealist, this is what it said: a person who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations. Yep. Definitely an idealist. Especially when it comes to the things I want to do for my kids.
When I first found Pinterest I instantly became obsessed. I had my whole house redecorated in my head, I used Dawn dish soap and hydrogen peroxide on EVERYTHING, and I might as well have stock in the mason jar industry.
When my son was in the first grade I signed up to bring snacks to his Halloween party. Because I had Pinterest, I went to work right away on coming up with the best, most creative snacks that would be sure to impress. I came up with cutting apples into wedges, made to look like lips with almonds stuck in them to look like jagged teeth (definitely Google it). GREAT, right? I thought so…
I literally spent about two hours on party day, assembling this snack. I’m thrilled with the way they look. I mean, they REALLY looked like scary mouths. I walk into the school with my little mouths on a platter, parading them through the hallway so that everyone could see how creative I was. I think one teacher saw and said, ‘how nice!’ Thanks, teacher, I did it myself! And look, they’re MOUTHS…with TEETH!
When I get to the classroom I ceremoniously place the platter down on the short table. We called the students over.
This was it. This was my moment. I was going to be my son’s hero because I had made such a delicious, healthy, scary (but not TOO scary) looking snack. The students approached. At this point I’m humming the theme from “Rocky” in my head and already giving myself a mental trophy for “Snack of the Year” award.
But the thing is, kids – especially 7 year old boys – don’t care if your snacks are creative. They’re just hungry. They grab the things and eat them.
“But wait! Didn’t you see the teeth? They’re like Dracula teeth!” I exclaim in my head. Okay, under my breath. And if I’m honest with myself, I’m feeling a little offended that these first graders didn’t instantly notice my snack time genius.
Maybe I should have added the marshmallow eyes or made it look more like something from Monsters, Inc.
I can’t say that was the end of my Pinterest days. I still love finding amazing recipes, activities for the kids, I can spat off 20 uses for epsom salt or apple cider vinegar like a BOSS, and none of those things are bad! But this story makes me think now about the kind of pressure we’re putting on ourselves to outperform…what? Ourselves? Each other?
Recently I was at lunch with a fellow mom who said, ‘You’re turning grapes into magical fairies and I’m over here just trying to get my kid to stop pooping his pants! I can’t keep up with the Pinterest snacks!’
I understand that many people have that crafty gene and it’s a relaxing outlet to create things for the sake of creating them and you are fulfilled just by the process. For that, I salute you.
For the rest of us, we try keep up with all of these things we think will somehow impress our kids or other moms or make us worthy in some way; whether it’s a Pinterest project or an elaborate birthday party, or in my case the snacks with the Dracula teeth, and we tell ourselves, “If I’m the coolest mom at the party, my kid will love me,” or, “If I do this one thing in this specific way, my kid will know I love him.”
Hey, I’m not beyond doing any these things. I love creating fun memories and making cool snacks and over-the-top, themed birthday parties, and would love to party with you on Pinterest. And let’s face it, I love receiving compliments from the other moms about all of them (as I give myself a high-five).
But when we place our value as parents into these things, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Our kids don’t care about impressive snacks as much as they care about our presence. They care less about the time spent on a special gift than they care about the time we spend with THEM.
So, two words that I believe make every mother’s life easier:
Go get you some Twinkies and walk proud, girl.
If you’re one of the exclusive, select few in the know about this little thing called the Solar Eclipse that’s happening on Monday, you might have big plans to watch it in a unique way. Maybe you’re gathering with your family and taking the kids out of school. Perhaps you’re having a “Sun and Moon Party” with your coworkers. Maybe you’re going all out and traveling to a special city to catch the action. Whatever the case, I can tell you that those special, protective sunglasses are at a premium right now. We’re talking Tickle Me Elmo magnitude, here.
Today, we have been married for 14 years and I’m sitting here, crying. All I can do is thank God for bringing us this far.
I could caption this photo, “14 years strong,” or, “The love of my life for 14 years,” but please believe me when I say that this photo is only part of the story.
Please believe me when I tell you that we have fought hard. We’ve had to fight harder than I think either of us planned at the beginning; harder than either of us knew we were capable of.
Please believe me when I say that just about every marriage statistic known to man has been against us from the beginning.
We haven’t beaten those statistics with only the warm and fuzzy feelings or just with snuggles, or even the feeling of being in love. Because love isn’t something you always feel, and when you do feel it, it doesn’t always feel good. Love is a choice, it’s an action. It’s saying, ‘your heart is important to me, regardless of how I’m feeling in this moment…’
An anniversary shouldn’t just be a day to mark the number of years. To me, an anniversary is a monument. It’s worth every couple – whether you’ve been married 2 years or 20 years – to stop and be thankful. Be thankful that each other committed; thankful that no one gave up.
Life and love and happiness are messy.
Love and marriage really are a fairy tale: with all the beautiful things, the villains, the adventure, the battles, the twists and turns that take you places you never really thought about going. And if you fight hard enough, it turns into the dancing, the magic, the long looks, and that feeling of being in love comes back, stronger, deeper, more beautiful than ever.
For years I was told that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have what it took to be anything great. I was told I was too fat, too short, not smart enough and that being extraordinary was for someone else. I heard that my main job in life was to please others, no matter the cost. Everyone else was more important than me, and any thought or action that said otherwise was completely selfish.
I was made to believe that if I took even one wrong step: had a bad day, made one mistake, disagreed with just one opinion or belief, that I would be an outcast for life. There was just nothing likeable about me if I didn’t think and act perfectly.
I was told I shouldn’t try to write or encourage people: someone else has already done it, and done it way better. I couldn’t be a good mom, I wasn’t a good wife, and I shouldn’t listen to music by Hanson because it wasn’t that cool.
It was me. That voice was my own head, my own thoughts about myself and I listened to it over everything else. No matter what I achieved, what compliments were thrown my way, I let that voice hold me hostage from dreaming, living, even loving well. It kept me from seeing anything beautiful inside of myself and eventually it kept me from seeing beauty in others, too.
I did this all in the name of thoughtfulness. I was helping others by putting myself aside. People needed a strong person to rely on and as long as it made them like this too-fat-too-short-not-smart-enough girl, I was going to do it…
…until one day I saw it for what it was. The voice I was listening to was fear. It’s the fear that knew what I was actually capable of, and it didn’t want me even trying.
What voice are you listening to? Is it the one that says, ‘You’ll never be worth anything or do anything great with your life?’ Does it tell you, ‘You’re too old, too young, or too late?’ Let me tell you, it’s not a voice worth listening to. When you listen to it you feed it, and feeding it will take you down a path to a lonely life, held by fear and failure just from not trying, not pursuing, not dreaming.
Here’s what you can tell yourself instead:
The things you’re passionate about are worth pursuing. Part of taking care of yourself is to go for the things you love. Those are gifts planted inside of you for a reason and I believe the worlds needs those gifts from YOU.
Forget perfect. Perfect is a unicorn. Perfect is never going to happen. We weren’t meant to be perfect. We weren’t designed that way and chasing perfect will only leave you feeling frustrated, discouraged and out of breath.
As a girl with high standards, this is a tough one for me that I have to work on almost daily. I’ve always wanted the perfect house, perfect family, perfect clothes and perfect bangs. There’s no such thing as the “perfect” any of those; especially the bangs (am I right?!) But there IS “good enough.” There is a happiness than can come from “good enough.” There is peace that comes with “good enough.” Good enough IS enough.
In her book, Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist says this:
The ache for perfection keeps us isolated and exhausted – we keep people at arm’s length, if that, and we keep hustling, trying trying trying to reach some sort of ideal that never comes.”
So, what that tells me is that chasing perfection keeps us from so many – if not all – the things we want most; like community, rest, peace…Don’t let “perfect” rob you of the joy that comes with “good enough.”
It’s good to think something through. It’s good to think ahead and plan. But when all the thinking-through and planning keeps you from doing the thing you actually wanted to do in the first place, that’s when it’s time to let go and trust. Just start. Just go. Just Do It (Nike really knew what they were doing with that one). Is it sometimes a risk? Probably. Will you make mistakes? You can be sure of it. But sometimes mistakes can be the start of the most beautiful things we’ll ever experience.
You don’t have to second guess your gut. You CAN know what’s best for YOU, regardless of the opinion of others.
If I want to be something great, I can. If I have dreams, I go right on dreaming and pursuing them. And you better believe that I still sometimes listen to Hanson, because if listening to MMMBop is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.