Saturday, April 27, 2013

mommy has a mustache! ...and other weird things about motherhood

i remember certain things about my childhood.  i remember summers spent at the lake with grandma and grandpa.  i remember weird games that Seester and i would invent and play in the yard.  i remember the baseball diamonds, the smell of the dirt and grass and popcorn.  i remember swimming and sneaking inside for cookies.  i remember watching cartoons on mom and dad's bed.  i remember the aroma of pot roast in the crock pot.  i remember waving to dad as he drove down the street on his way to work on summer nights.

i remember mom grooming herself, tugging and plucking unwanted, and unseen by me, stray eyebrow hairs and "whiskers" on her chin.  and i remember thinking to myself....i don't see what she's tugging at, and that will never happen to me.

well, IT DID.

this is not okay.  plucking eyebrows, sure.  that, i am fine with.  i actually don't mind doing that.  it appeals to my OCD nature.  it's kind of a time when i'm all by myself for ten minutes, i can harness my chi, and i feel so put-together when i'm done.  isn't that weird?  that one small maintenance measure can make me feel so much better after a crappy crappy day?  okay fine. 

but i VIVIDLY remember seeing my first "whisker" on my chin.  dark brown, coarse feeling, and just THERE.  where the hell did that come from?!?  i remember plucking it as fast as humanly possible, and examining it, thinking, "you filthy little INVADER! how dare you make me look like a man!

and then, i was almost peeved because why, on earth, would my husband not tell me that i was becoming a grotesque specimen of a woman?  how could he not say, "sweetheart, you're getting a little masculine.  you may want to trim that up a bit." 

i think the truth is, however, that all of us ladies examine ourselves way too intensely, way too closely.  we hold ourselves to this impossible image, that our faces, our arms, our abs, our legs need to look like we're airbrushed all the time.  well, i'm here to tell you, that i don't look like a victoria's secret model.  shocked?  i have stray hairs that i must contain.  i eat ice cream way too often.  i have lumps on my thighs that i can't even begin to figure where or when they arose.  i have stretch marks that i wish i could erase. 

and why do i wish i could erase these things?  these imperfections that come from being a mommy, or a hard-working, usually distracted woman....why do i wish to erase these battle scars of a life lived fulfilled, thus far?  i'm not going to blame the media.  that's such a scapegoat.  well, look at HER in that magazine!  she looks so perfect, i'm going to starve myself to look like HER.  no, that's a copout.  because i believe that even without magazines, billboards, the internet, we women would still compare ourselves to our friends, our enemies, our mothers.  and i think we'd do it in a self-malicious manner.  we would do it regardless.  we'd tear down our parenting beliefs, our bodies, our jobs, our houses, our faith.  and we'd compare it to those of women around us, without help of the media.

why do we do this?  is it innate in our double-x chromosomes?  is it something we're taught?  is it our inborn nature to be better, faster, stronger....almost bionic? 

there is a very fine line between wanting to better yourself, in whatever way is en vogue at the moment, and driving yourself crazy with it.  i think we all want to be prettier, stronger, more faithful, less emotionally unstable, more productive, more loving, more independent.  but we have to learn to balance it.  to compare ourselves to ourselves.  Seester is living a completely different life than i am, and i shouldn't compare myself to her.  can i learn from her?  of course!  but i shouldn't think to myself that i should be more like her.  should i be judgemental of other women and their parenting style/hairstyle/body type/clothing choices?  no, i should not.  i should praise them for their whatever, because whatever their choice in handbag/religion/daycare/discipline/hygiene regimen, they've arrived at that while comparing themselves to others, or through financial constraints, or God's blessings.  and God bless them for that.

we are all God's creatures.  we are all in this together.  so what if i have a whisker or two that i haven't plucked in a few days?  i'll get to it.  so what if i have a few carpet stains from our new puppy learning to pee outside?  she'll understand it.  it won't last forever, and i'll fix it.

however, i do have someone lined up that, in case of a hospital stay where i'm incapacitated, they will come in and tidy up my eyebrows, my mustache, and my whiskers!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

the busy bee

yesterday may have been the busiest day i've had in awhile, and it was completely wonderful at the same time.

brings to mind the fact that i've got so many supportive people around me, and that they, always, are worth every ounce of my energy.

the last four weeks have been exhausting.  five babies delivered, getting the family healthy, preparing to transition my practice to electronic medical records, jay beginning a new job and quickly being promoted to full-time status.  all of these wonderful things that i'm so completely grateful for.  and all of these making the selfish part of me yearn for a day to relax and recuperate.

yesterday was not the day for that.  but it was a day that i've been looking forward to for a long, long time.

we finally had our family easter gathering.  every year, we gather at my stepbrother andy's house, and they throw out about 200 eggs for 15 kids to find.  some are quite obvious, mostly for the younger kids, and others are quite difficult to get to (hidden in trees, on the windmill in their yard, in downspouts on the house).  the age range of the kids is currently 8 months to 18 years old.  and it is always a ball.  we've seen our share of weather extremes, too, from yesterday's bone-chilling cold/wind/rain, to a couple of years ago where we all wore shorts.  we eat, we talk, we drink coffee, we hunt eggs, and above all, we all giggle.  as exhausting as i know that is for andy and shannon, and as exhausting as it is to corral all those children, it's a sense of family and belonging that draws us all back.  it's the laughter, the story-telling, the discussions, the common-ness that we all feel together with each other that draws us back, year after year.  yesterday was no different, and as much as i wanted to crawl back into bed after the last four weeks of bone-weary-ness, i looked forward to this for so long.

last evening, we were lucky enough to partake in a birthday celebration for the child of our closest friends.  bob and veronica are probably two of my favorite people on the planet that are not blood relation to us.  jay and bob have been friends for years....close to 15 years, i'd guess.  veronica is his wife, and they've been married for about 2 years or so.  they have a 7 year old son, jake, and when jake and piper are together, they are thick as thieves.  it was his birthday we were celebrating.  they also have a son, lucas, who is two years to-the-day younger than dade.  bob and veronica planned a birthday party including laser tag, which was the coolest thing i think we've ever done for a birthday party.  we had to tell a small lie, that dade was 5 years old instead of 4, so that he could partake.  but it was a blast!  we all played, and laughed, and giggled, and were utterly sweating and euphoric afterwards.  and piper stayed the night with them, her first sleepover with someone that wasn't family.  jay and i went over to bob and veronica's house for quite awhile, listening to the kids chaotic energy as they ran through the house and spread popcorn crumbs all over, and i think we all cherished the paths in our lives that have led us to this point.

i sort of look at it like this.....the Big Guy Upstairs truly knows what we all need to soften and fill our souls.  as selfish as i wanted to be yesterday, to curl up in sweatpants in front of the TV with my crochet project, it wasn't in the cards for yesterday.  instead, it was the camaraderie with family, friends that my soul craved.  it was everything i didn't know i really needed.  to see and talk and hug almost everyone in my life that means something to me, all in one day, was a reminder that it's the support of these people that makes life and everything in it worth all the work, the effort, the sacrifice.  just as the queen bee of a hive rules the roost, God guides us and directs toward the greater good, toward benefit that we'll all reap.  and all of us, the worker bees, work and strive to better the hive, always returning with our gifts and contributions toward the rest of the bees, our support.  the things we contribute make the entire hive a prosperous community, where we rely on each other for our skills, our gifts, our support.  and whilst we're working, we hopefully gather things that will support each other, smell some pretty sweet flowers along the way, and always have a safe place to return to with each other.  we're never alone, and the goal is always simple.  return to the place where you're safe, with each other, and remember that we're all in this together.

"many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
proverbs 19:21

Thursday, April 11, 2013

healing the unbroken

I will never know myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything till I break away from me
I will break away, I'll find myself today
five years ago,  we went to court for custody of piper.  it was the day that we told our families that we were pregnant with dade.  and it was a day that i remember finally having some way to heal.
somehow, over the last five years, i've grown, and i've learned, and i've let go.
when piper was first born, the problems that were facing me had to be faced by me.  really.  it was a physical representation of the things that i had to either hold onto or put away or let go of.
i first found out that piper was conceived three weeks after my 25th birthday.  and i found out later a lot more.  i still carry some guilt about the hoops i made jay jump through in order to prove his dedication to me.

but here's the thing.  i've finally learned to forgive myself for what he did.  doesn't that sound stupid?  why should i have to forgive myself for what he did?  that doesn't make any sense.  a blog that i read talks about "mommy guilt," and how that can lead to us shaming ourselves and letting ourselves implode with horrible thoughts of how we're not good enough, no matter what it is that we're doing.

the writer of the blog also talks, in her book, about how there are many people that we see from the outside and think, "boy, they've really got it all together."

sometimes i feel like that.  and a huge part of it is that i know i've been incredibly blessed.  i have a career that a woman wouldn't have had 150 years ago.  i am a strong, independent woman.  i'm a mother.  i'm a wife.  i'm someone's constant, being all of those things.  i'm a sister, a daughter, a friend.  and sometimes it's just exhausting to try to be perceived as having it all together.

the truth of the matter is that i don't have it all together.  not at all.  not even close.  not even a little bit.  well, maybe a little bit.  i have friends ask me how it is that i can work/spend time with the kids/crochet/craft/deliver babies/work out/train for a 5K, etc, and still do all the other things.

my favorite thing to say is a quote from empire records..."there are 24 usable hours in every day."

the truth is, though, some days, those 24 hours are just not enough.  and they are too long at the same time.  and every hour is filled with something....all blessings, really.  but they're all filled.  and it's exhausting.

the thing is....that i have to remember....there are so many teeny things hidden in those hours, that if i don't slow down once in awhile and just lay on the couch, i wouldn't hear the way my kids play together.  i wouldn't remember the way that my dog's tags jingle when she runs up the stairs.  i wouldn't remember the smell of my son's hair after a shower when he collapses on me on that couch.  i wouldn't remember the way my daughter says the lord's prayer.  i wouldn't remember the sound of my husband's peaceful breathing when he's sleeping.  and i wouldn't remember the feel of my heartbeat, thinking of these blessings.

i know now, versus five years ago, that i'm never going to be completely happy unless i'm going 500 miles an hour with my hair on fire.  but the slowing down, the quiet in between the chaos, is my healing. 

the healing i've done to this point has taught me not only about myself, but about what it means to be a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a Christian.  every minute is full of things i should be grateful for, and i shouldn't let mommy guilt get in the way.  mommy guilt, wife guilt, doctor guilt, sister all comes from the same place.  it comes from an insecurity in myself.  an insecurity that should be let go of, and that truly shouldn't be dreaded but should be celebrated.  i am what i am...i am what God made me.  with all my imperfections, my quirks, my strengths, my weaknesses, my love of trashy magazines and linkin park, my obsession with skin care products and nail polish, and my comfort in sweatshirts and yoga pants.

the point to this whole thing is this:  in whatever way i thought i was broken before, i think, it's a lie.  i don't know that i was ever really broken.  i lost a part of myself for awhile, but i think it's still in there.  i think it's still inside me.  i don't think i'm healing anymore, because i don't think i was completely broken to begin with.  i was beaten, and weakened, but i never lost.  the Big Guy didn't let me get that far gone. 

and in the end, whilst not having it all together, i really do have it all.  and i'm thankful for all that i've been blessed with.  i feel my value in the kiss of my husband, the deviousness of my daughter's grin, and in the dimples of my son's smile.  at the end of every day, it's us, holding hands, reminding each other that we'll never have to face things alone, the way i thought i had to do long ago.