The Hard Days

We all have them

An Introverted Girl’s Best Friend

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I’m an introvert. I often tell my husband I would be content on a deserted island with some good food and a stack of books for a long, long time. I have an event coming up that is weighing on my mind. I will know absolutely no one there. I will be forced to socialize, network and chit-chat, things I’m not comfortable with and don’t enjoy. But thank God for Steve Jobs because I can take my iPhone or iPad with me and disappear into the crowd.

It’s socially acceptable to be on your smartphone now in certain situations. I’m not talking about at the dinner table or while you’re having face to face conversations with people. That’s just rude and annoying. But in a crowded room, with people wandering around, small groups of people sectioned off into their cliques, only talking to the people they know, I don’t sweat it, I just pull out my distraction tool.

Looking at me, no one knows if I’m texting, tweeting, blogging, tumbling, googling, emailing, pinning, on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, checking in or just pretending to do one of these things to avoid idle conversation. Maybe I’m doing a couple at once. Maybe I’m eavesdropping, hoping for an “in” to the conversation. Maybe I’m simply relieved to not look so out of place, to not have a spotlight shined on my introversion. Some people misconstrue my quiet, reserved nature for snobbery. Only those who know me well know that is the farthest thing from the truth.

So for all my fellow introverts, take along your smartphone/pad/whatever and get lost in the crowd. Maybe you will meet another kindred soul pretending to text in the corner. It might be me. ūüôā

If You Can Laugh At Yourself, I Like You Already

A successful friend of mine, who had self-esteem issues growing up, told me her parents never focused on her outward appearance, instead they reminded her of all the positive things she was good at like dance and art. This is sound advice.  I needed to hear it.

My daughter was 7 years old when her best friend told her she thought she was really fat.¬† I was there to hear it.¬† I witnessed the stunned look on my daughter’s face as she absorbed her friend’s stinging words.¬† I don’t know who was more devastated; my daughter or me.

As a family we talk about the importance of being healthy, no matter what shape or size your body is.¬† God made us all different for a reason.¬† If we all looked like Heidi Klum life would be boring.¬† We stress the importance of being active and having fun, all the while knowing someday she is going to find out we are not telling her the truth.¬† All of these things sound good in theory, but we all know, especially mothers¬†of daughters, that in our society size does matter.¬† People will judge you and make you feel less than and it’s going to hurt like hell.

As a mother, I can only hope to teach my children resilience, give them the tools to remain tenacious, not to be beat down by the cruel words of others, to remain steadfast in the knowledge that they are smart and beautiful and important.

In passing one day, my husband casually mentioned a woman who had been rude to him, adding¬†“I don’t think she likes me very much.”¬† My daughter immediately said, ‘That sounds like her problem.”¬† Yes!¬† Maybe it’s sinking in after all.

As for my friend, she said her parents’ advice saved her life.¬† People¬†were still¬†judgemental, but she was able to laugh at herself.¬† And if you can laugh at yourself, you’ve already won.

3 Crappy Things

I really wanted to write a happy, uplifting post, but that’s not always real life. I’m bummed because three crappy things happened today:

1. An essay I submitted was rejected. Boo.

2. I sent my children away to the park at dinner time with their father because I couldn’t stand to be around them for one more minute.

3. A sweet puppy we fostered for a week was just adopted by a family of four, with daughters the same age as my own. We did not keep the puppy because I couldn’t handle him and a toddler peeing all over the floor.

Here’s hoping tomorrow I’ll have three fantastic things to post about to make up for this sorry excuse of a venting session disguised as a post. Thanks for listening.

Sweet Failures

Last night, as I was sleeping

I dreamt — marvelous error! —

that I had a beehive

here inside my heart.

And the golden bees

were making white combs

and sweet honey

from my old failures.

                    ~ Antonio Machado

                                translated by Robert Bly

Do you ever have one of those days when you can’t stop thinking about your past and all the mistakes you’ve made? ¬†I used to get depressed about it all, but I found the regret time-consuming and pointless. ¬†Now I remember where all those failures have brought me, to the place I am today, with the friends I admire, the people I love, with the husband and children I am lucky enough to be blessed with.

I read this poem recently and fell in love with the imagery of golden bees making sweet honey out of my missteps. ¬†It’s nice to feel like failing propels you forward to a more hopeful future rather than dragging you down. ¬†A mistake, a let down, a disappointment; it’s all pollen to a sweet little bee, waiting to spin magic from the dust. ¬†Just wait and see.

Procrastination Is A Bitch

I was recently approached by an editor asking me to submit a story. She thought her readers would be interested in what I had to say. Today my oldest is in school (I miss her) and my husband is off work, running errands with the other littles. I’m alone in this quiet house, sitting in front of the computer, coffee in hand and instead of writing the piece, I check Facebook, chat with a fellow mom from school, check email, download pictures, visit a few blog pages for inspiration and wonder if I should mop the floor while everyone is gone.

Get it done girl! This is your chance to take advantage of peace and quiet. But I’m terrified, to put it mildly. What if I suck? What if they laugh at what I submit? Who cares what I have to say? I don’t sound academic enough. The discouraging voice in my head goes on and on, spewing negative words, causing me to doubt myself at every turn.

So this post stands as my motivation. I’m going to finish the work, forcing myself to do what is uncomfortable and uneasy. I think of my daughter, so nervous about her first day of school today. She cried, she didn’t want to go, she wanted to stay home where it is safe and predictable. Today I will stand in solidarity with her, stepping out of the safe and predictable, off to my first day of school, looking over my shoulder with tears in my eyes, but when I walk in that building baby, I hold my head up high. It’s a new day. Let’s do this.

Don’t Lose Your Cool Mama

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I have days that I don’t like being a mom.  Days I’m tired and I want to stay in bed past 7:00 am.  Days I don’t feel like making lunch and dinner for anyone but me.  Days I don’t want to go to the park or drive anyone around or play nice.  Days I don’t want to share.  Days I just want to say “NO” to everything.  Days I’m a grouch and want to sit in front of the TV all day long eating chocolate cupcakes.  On those days I have to step back and remember how lucky I am.

I have a friend who doesn’t have any children.  She is physically unable to.  One day I was complaining to her about how hard I had it, lugging three kids around, feeding them, putting up with their screaming and tearing up the house.  She sat quietly and listened, not saying much, just nodding her head.  Then she said, “But it’s good, right?  It’s good to have them.”  Like a punch to the gut, I realized how selfish I was being.  How inconsiderate to complain about the very things my friend could never experience.  I saw the pain in her eyes.  I apologized immediately, but the damage had been done.  She was hurt and I was a fool.

So the next time you are having a foolish day, a hard day, a day you don’t feel like hosting another stupid playdate or thawing chicken for five people or cleaning up spilled milk for the FOURTH time in an hour, remember how lucky you are to have little people to complain about.  Then go find those little tots and hug them with all your might.  There are many people in the world who would love to be in our place, to hold what we hold, to feel a tiny, warm hand in theirs.

I come back to this poem by Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (aka SARK) again and again.  It helps me stay focused on the little things that mean the most and makes me feel a bit more forgiving when the milk gets spilled again.

The Significance of a White Duck

Sometimes I feel like

I can’t breathe

here,

in this prison

I’ve built around myself.

Then this;

seven white ducks

waddle into my yard,

dance around my feet,

snapping their bright orange bills,

searching,

like me,

for something more.

What I Do When I’m Lost

Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27

I’ve needed guidance lately. As a mother, some days I think I’ve got all the answers, I’m doing the right things, my world is chugging along at just the right pace, but then there are those days. Days I don’t know which way is up, whether to say yes or no, what to do about anything. On those days I pray. I give thanks for my many blessings, then I pray for guidance, for a sign to lead me in the right direction. My simple prayer goes a little something like this:

God, I’m struggling with what to do about (this is between me and God y’all) and I need your help. Please guide me in the direction I need to be headed. Lead me to the path and I will follow. I need a sign, loud and clear, to know what my decision should be. I’m your humble sheep, but I’m a humble sheep who wears glasses, so make your sign a big one.  Amen

I’m still waiting for my sign. But it’s coming. I just know it.

The Ants Go Marching Two By Two

Our home has been invaded by tiny black ants. The kind you can squish with your fingertip only to find three more emerge in their place. They started innocently enough in the hall by our front door. I put down some diatomaceous earth, problem solved. Then they began trickling into the dining room, under the baseboards, then the countertops through the electric outlets and now I feel like our house is crawling with them!

I called in the big guns; pest control. I tried to avoid the chemical onslaught, but it’s the only way at this point. I’m turning my nightmare over to the professionals. I’m so stressed by these ants. They’re minuscule nuisances that multiply faster than a trunk load of rabbits. I hate them. I’m starting to feel itchy just thinking about them. Let’s move on.

Needless to say, the past few days have been trying. Today alone was a day filled with vacuuming the whole house, changing everyone’s bed sheets, helping M. make a fairy house out of a Keurig box, battling all those damn ants, running to the grocery store, school pickup, returning emails, hosting a play date, chasing the baby down after he opened the front door and wandered out alone, more ants, drank strong coffee, ate mini chocolate cupcakes leftover from the play date, worked on a heap of laundry that will never be caught up, listened to B. read her unicorn book, devoured more mini cupcakes, cursed at the toilet that won’t stop running, made homemade bubbles and sent the kids outside, more freaking ants, breakfast for dinner, cleanup, bedtime routine, and collapsed in bed with the baby ready for some downtime.

Overnight the temperature dropped quickly and we woke up to white lawns and snowy spring blooms. Mother Nature had mercy on me with the cold snap, providing a much needed reprieve from those little black beasts. Tomorrow the bug man will be here and I can get back to my normal craziness. Thank God.

Letter To My Daughters – My Messy Beautiful

Letter to my daughters

I have to say I’m sorry.¬† I feel like I’ve failed you as a mother.¬† I spread myself too thin.¬† I blinked too many times, was never looking at the right moment, turned away at the wrong time.¬† I cry tears of bittersweet now.

You are long-limbed and bubble gum, riding bikes with no training wheels, singing along to pop music.  In my mind you are still tiny enough to hold on my hip, eat smashed bananas, tuck in for naps.

You don’t ask me to cuddle anymore unless it’s bedtime.¬† Did I say no one too many times?¬† Why was I always so concerned with the damn dishes and dirty laundry?¬† In a minute, when I’m done with this, Mommy is busy right now, give me a second.¬† And you did.¬† You sat patiently and I never came.¬† I forgot.¬† Caught up in my chores; the sticky floor, the dried peas on the high chair.¬† Didn’t I know you’d soon stop asking?¬† How could I have been so blind?¬† So na√Įve to think you’d always want me in the same ways.

We cuddle now at night when I have the energy and patience left.¬† I hate feeling like I don’t always want to.¬† I want my own time, space, corner to just breathe and be.¬† Did I learn nothing from the past?¬† Will I regret these decisions the same way?¬† Judge myself so harshly in the same light?

How can I possibly love all three of you the same?¬† Divide my time, patience, hugs and kisses between you all fairly?¬† I feel like someone always gets less and there’s no way around it.¬† I’m doing the best I can.¬† And sometimes I suck at this thing called motherhood.¬†¬†But other times I really nail it.¬† Everyone is all smiles, bellies full, hearts content.¬† Whose criterion makes me a failure?¬† In (your) eyes I am the best mommy ever.¬† In my eyes I stumble at every turn.

My only hope, my only saving grace is that you remember this one thing; even if I’m not looking when you do your first handstand, or if I empty the dishwasher while you read to me, or I tell you Mommy will lay with you tomorrow night, I promise; just remember you are loved fiercely, beyond reason and even in my failing I have loved you endlessly.¬† If you remember¬†these four simple words, You Are Loved Unconditionally, then I know I did something right.

And yes, tonight I will sing you to sleep and cuddle in close.  Sweet dreams little ones.

Love,

Mommy

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project ‚ÄĒ To learn more and join us,¬†click here!¬†And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, click here!

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