Saturday, August 24, 2013
In a conversation today with a friend, I said something out loud that I have never, and I do mean never, said out loud to anyone, even myself, before. When asked what I would do differently if I could go back I said "Everything." And this wasn't even the part that shocked me, but more on that in a minute. I know how it must sound to say that I would change everything. I know you must be thinking "What about these beautiful girls, and your family, and church and friends? What about all the lessons you've learned and the memories you've made?" But you must understand the original inquiry, IF you could go back and do it all over... is not the same as, Give back all those precious glimpses of joy, Give back the girls and all of your friends and accomplishments. No, when someone says "If I had only known then what I know now" I 'm not sure they're thinking of having to give up all the wonderful things you currently have within your grasp. I think the statement alludes to the thought that we would go back in time and start over with a certain amount of wisdom we've gained. It's the reverse crystal ball. And there are some days that I'm buying.
The thing is, I'm not good enough for the good in my life. No one really is, but I'm a special case. I really just don't deserve to be here surrounded by such precious creatures. The more I get to know myself, the more I see what a wanderer I really might have been. A long time ago I subscribed to the thought that my life's work would be wife and mother. It's a great job if it's where you're talent lies. But I'm not convinced it's what I really should have done. I'm just not the natural I'd convinced myself I would be. Oh, I could never give them back, any of them. I could never voluntarily take the Exit door and leave it all behind.
Except then today, I shocked myself by saying "I am always on the brink, on that edge of being the mother that just never comes back." I couldn't believe I said it! Partially because it was so painfully true and partially because it just sounds so terrible. What mother says something like that?!? This one, I suppose. And the more I thought about that statement, the more I understood what I was trying to say. A large part of my heart and spirit cry out to be free on a daily basis.
In college (the first time over 13 years ago) I had a friend that really embraced the free spirit side of me. We rode motorcycles, fished, drove for hours, sat on back roads saying nothing and just gazing at the stars. It was a wonderful time, not a single worry in my life. Seriously, half the time I didn't even bother with class. I had no definite goals, I just knew that I wanted to travel, to soak up people and places. I knew I wanted to be free of any responsibilities and worries. I knew this to my very core, I could not wait for the next adventure. But somehow, at some point, I grew up, I became the person I thought I should be. I haven't always done the growing up bit successfully. I have to admit there has been quite the learning curve. It's safe to say that I'm still figuring it out.
But in my statement today I realized how much of my original self I have pushed away. It's not my girls' fault. I made the decision, believe me, I begged and cried and pleaded for their arrival, it was a conscious decision. But I look at my friends around me that just find so much joy in being with their children all the time. I see some of them homeschool their children and then take them with them everywhere they go. Don't misunderstand me, I love that Wrecking Crew so much that it hurts sometimes. At night, I stand in their doorways and pray and cry to God to keep evil away from them and bring joy and peace to their lives. I am forever praying for the people that are with them on a daily basis. I can actually feel my heart break a little each time they reach a milestone that says "I'm growing up!" I love them more than I thought possible. I love them more everyday. But when I get in the Mommy Bus by myself, I breathe a sigh of relief. When I lay in bed at night and think about the things I want to do, places I want to go, it often involves no one other than myself.
I worry about this a bit. Most days I'm just too busy with the business of being a wife, mother and full time student to even think about going anywhere other than what is on that day's perfectly timed schedule. The majority of the time, I have to schedule myself a potty break. There is no time for a jaunt off by myself into the great unknown. But I do worry, that maybe I'm not showing my girls all that there is possible in this life. Am I showing them what adventures await? I am pushing them to a husband, house and 2.5 kids? I don't know what the correct answer is, I find myself at a loss. I want to be good to them. I want them to feel invincible in their goals, hopes and dreams. I want them to have a realization of the fragility of life. And I certainly don't ever want them to think that their mom was just raising inconveniences. If I never get back to that wandering part of myself, I don't ever want them to think that I regretted my choice to mother them.
Maybe I'm alone in these thoughts. Maybe I'm the only mother out there that thinks if she left that things would be chaotic only for a few days, and then life would go on. The things is, I know it would. My girls are clever and strong and precious. They would be fine. It's me that would inevitably fall apart.
I am working on this, I am further evolving as a person, mother and upstanding member of society. I mean c'mon, I currently deal with poop from 5 different species on a daily basis. And that's just when I'm home. I am pushing myself to be better, more focused, and more conscientious of how my children perceive my feelings towards them. And as of today I'm scheduling a time to feed my wild side on a more consistent basis in a well controlled environment.
As for the friend, my magnificent friend, thank you for listening with such rapt attention and pretending not to think the worst of me. You are definitely a favorite.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
So if you’re thinking that this post is about my husband, then you’re wrong. Not because the title wouldn’t apply to him, but because I doubt I will ever write about my hubby. He’s a complicated one in that he’s not that complicated. Most men aren’t and while we women would take that as a bit of an insult, my husband definitely would not. He delights in being as simple and easy to read as possible. It’s one of the many things that drive me crazy about him and make me appreciate him all the same. Therefore, there’s not a ton to write about, thus saving us all the agony of having to read about my beloved.
No, this post is about a guy we all “know.” I use the term lightly (hence the “ “ marks) because there are so many times we think we “know” someone. I mean they could be our best friend and we spend an inordinate amount of time with them and then one day WHAM! They do something or say something that is the proverbial equivalent to being hit by a Wal-Mart truck. We never saw it coming and can’t believe that our closest confidant just said or did that outrageous thing. The harsh truth is, we can never really know someone inside out. We are living, breathing beings and therefore also changing, evolving, and freaking our friends out by our off the wall choices when they thought they knew us so well. You may think you know your husband, your momma, your best friend of 25 years, and don’t get me wrong you probably do know a lot of facts about them. You could probably take yourself down to the mall and get them something that they would just love because you know them so well. You could plan a big surprise party for them and know the people they would definitely want to attend and those invitations that should get “lost in the mail.” These are the people that when they die, you could pick out the clothes they would want to be buried in and that special song that they would want played that would make everyone cry every time they heard it from then on. I know we all know people that know us best. It is good to have those relationships in our life. We were created to make bonds through marriage, blood and common denominators. But, no matter how deep your knowledge is of someone, you can never really know what is going on in their mind. You can never really know what it is that they think of as they are laying in bed at night. We all have the secret rooms in our heart and mind that we just don’t share with anyone. I don’t think we always mean to keep things from people. Believe me, I am one of the most transparent people you’ll find. Partially because I believe in being honest (see previous posts) but mostly because I have a big mouth and my filter between my brain and said constantly moving hole in my face rarely connect. And even though I’m talking all the time and am going to tell you exactly what I think, I just have parts of me I tell no one. And whether you want to think that about your spouse, sister or bestie, it’s the truth.
But just when I think I can keep a part of me hidden, I realize that I really do want to share it with someone.
As you have read, the past year has been a hard one for this family and it isn’t getting any easier around here. I try to be positive and keep the mantras “It could always be worse” and “So many people are less fortunate than I.” Those are great mantras, not only because they are true but because they help me keep things in perspective. If I didn’t say those to myself and others on a daily basis (and sometimes 15 times a day) I would complain all of the time. It’s not that I don’t believe I can’t complain. I do complain and cry and doubt and feel sorry for myself almost at some point everyday. But if I didn’t keep a little perspective on just how damn good I have it, I would be a real Negative Nellie.
So while sitting in my seat at the last Ewomen conference(http://www.ewomen.net/) a few weeks ago, I was really having a hard time keeping it together. You know those times when you are listening to a sermon or a lesson and you can feel the Holy Spirit bearing down on you. That voice telling you to listen up because the things being said are for your benefit. Yeah, you know the one. Sometimes I really want to give that voice a good pinch and say “Stop it, I’m trying to keep my composure and really not ruin my makeup by balling in the middle of all these people right now.” Well, it was one of those moments.
I had been thinking about how hard I have been praying, begging God to move in my life. I mean seriously move. Like find my husband an awesome job and put our life back to where it used to be, but like, a thousand times better. And yes, there were several times when I would look at my prayer list and say to Him “God you know what is on this list and all the people that I want to offer up to you, so I’m just going to blanket pray for them and move on to praying for what I know you need to do for me.” It’s the truth, I was spending a lot of time talking and very little time listening. So while at this conference I was listening to a woman talk about how she was begging God for a sign. She was holding on to the end of her rapidly fraying rope and she couldn’t understand why God was not speaking to her. And then she said something that really just bowled me over. I mean I sat in shock for like five minutes after she said this. She said “If you are begging God to speak to you but you can’t hear Him, maybe you don’t know Him well enough to recognize His voice.” She probably said it much more eloquently that that, hence the reason she gets paid to speak to thousands and I write this blog for myself and the two other people that skim it. But I digress… She was saying, if you are spending all this time praying and begging God for direction, for Him to speak to you and give you a sign, then you need to know Him well enough to recognize His voice. And how do we get to know Him? By reading His word of course.
Now I have a dear friend that doesn’t put his faith in the word much. He says something to the effect that if God’s only communication to us is a book written by a bunch of sinners, then how are we supposed to believe in the things written. And since my mind is simple and I have no problem accepting that the Bible is inspired word and that if God wanted it in there, He would have put it in there, I have a difficult time grasping the argument my friend makes. I’m sure that there is a whole community of scholars that argue this point my friend makes all day long, but that falls on deaf ears with me. Like I said, simple mind equals simple faith with me. And since God calls us to have faith like that of little children, I am going to err of the side of the Bible being all I need to truly know my God.
The Bible is an amazing book to me. A little confusing, a little mixed up if you read it in the order most Bibles are sold (try the Chronological Bible, it’s spliced up into an orderly timeline that walks you through when things actually happened.) But it’s also a great read. I mean c’mon, how many other books can you read about creation, love, murder, deceit, hate, adultery, war, sacrifice and even an “alien” encounter? It’s seriously full of stupid men, conniving women, whiny cultures and a hero that keeps saving them all. It has natural disasters, unexplainable phenomenon, plagues, and best of all a truly “happily ever after.” And even after all of this, I don’t spend time reading it like I should. And I don’t have the excuse of “I’m not really a reader.” I can finish a book in one day. I am a voracious reader. There are some authors that release a new book and I have it that day, neglecting my children and family so that I can read. It’s sad to say then, that I have never done this so that I may read my Bible.
How am I supposed to get to know God, the one I’m pleading for help, if I’m not even going to read a book He wrote? I mean seriously, if your husband, momma or best friend wrote a book, wouldn’t you read it?!? After the speaker was done, I just could not get this thought out of my head. I grew up in the church, going 3 times a week. I went to a Christian High School and Christian College where Bible classes are mandatory, so I know the Bible fairly well. But in all honesty, I can’t say that I know God very well. I do know He is by my side, and I do know He keeps His promises. But I also know that for someone that has been calling myself a Christian for years, I don’t know my Savior as well as I should. And while I want to get better at this relationship, I do have the security in knowing that God knows me better than I know myself. And regardless of how short I fall in my portion, He will never leave me.
A part of me is worried that I will not like what I find when I delve deeper into the word. A part of me is scared that the prayers I have been praying are receiving answers and I’m not educated enough to see it. I feel like I have found a missing puzzle piece, and I can’t wait to put it in the very middle and finally get the big picture. Maybe you have had the same problem. Maybe you love God and want your family to grow in the Lord. Maybe you know the facts of the Bible, but haven’t taken the time to really study as to why God is who He is. I challenge you to the same challenge I’m giving myself. Make time everyday, to listen to Him. Get your Bible, (not your phone or computer, you need a real book to do this exercise) and pray that God will show you what to read. Open your Bible up and turn the pages until you feel God speaking to you. Read until you feel you found why that portion was purposeful. There may be times that you read and feel no real direction, those may be the days that what you read can bless someone else. How will you know until you try? Seek Him out, get to know our Creator and His voice will become clear to you.
Ask, Seek, Knock
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Life has not exactly panned out these past few months and there are days when I think nothing of it. Then there are days when I am hanging on to my rapidly fraying rope (yes, I did steal that from Julia Roberts in 'My Best Friend's Wedding') and screaming my head off. But I have yet to really wallow in that aforementioned murky swamp that is quite deceiving in its depth and density. I have had my moments. There have been a few days that I am sad to say I have been quite snippy. I have snapped at a few friends and coveted even more than I care to share. I am not proud of those moments. But, for the most part, I have tried to hold my head up and keep my nose down and push forward while sliding backwards into the big mess that this life has afforded us.
Yet, the hardest thing I have given up in all of this is not a thing. I absolutely do miss the small pleasures that a paycheck did afford. My Sonic happy hour trips and Target shopping splurges are a thing of the past. Heck, I can't even buy an I tunes download without having to calculate the next week's purchases to see if there is a small fissure in the budget. No the hardest thing I have had to forgo is my pride.
I grew up in the path of a proud family. And while I never thought of that as a bad thing, simply because they were hard workers and earned every bit they had, it sometimes shocked me how I could hear that "Holier Than Thou" tone in some of things said around the table. I remember so many times feeling that good ole fashioned shame of my sinful and rebellious nature, hanging my head in shame knowing I was worthless, and my grandmother would lean over and say "Hold your head up, girl. God is proud of you." It always did me good to hear it. Until, I over analyzed and wondered "Is He the only one?"
It has taken me years of painful self discovery to realize that I'm not all that special. That pride in myself is really something that I don't need. That I am nothing but for the grace of God. And while I don't always want to believe it simply because I am a prideful creature, it is enough that God is proud of me.
I have had to swallow my pride and ask my parents for money. That sucks. (Forgive me, but I just could not think of a better way to say it.) It has never been something I have wanted to do. My parents made it clear while I was growing up that they struggled all on their own, that they made do with what they had. And in not so many words "Don't come here looking for a handout." Imagine what fear I felt when I had to ask for gas money, for them to buy a box of diapers, or for them to pay for an oil change. I was paralyzed! And the answer was as if it were no big deal. In love, they have been giving more than I ever thought they would have to give. And while they haven't acted upset about helping us out, each time I spend hours weighing the need that I have. Is it really worth that inner turmoil when they are my parents? Not at all. Have I convinced myself of this fact? Not at all.
Everyday I am learning what a large sense of pride I have. Everyday I am learning that this trial has so many layers, and that God is using this to show me a part of myself of which I was not fully aware.
Does this mean that all pride is to be condemned? Most certainly not. Pride gets us up and showered and presentable and out to face the day. Be proud of your spouse and children. Tell them how proud you are and be specific in what it is about them that gives you pride. (If you can not say it, then write it, everyone needs to hear this from their family.) Be proud of your intelligence. If you feel you are not intelligent, then educate yourself. Find something that fascinates you and run with it! Be proud of your country. Regardless of its faults and governments this country is a fantastic place to live and you are beyond blessed to live here. (If you aren't proud, then please move.) Be proud to be in a position to help people. Regardless of how little you have, there is always someone with less. Be proud to be a child of God. If you aren't a child of God, seek Him out. There is no greater sense of pride than knowing you are the child of a King.
I say all of this not to ask for money or gift cards that some of you have sent. Believe me, I had to stomp all over my self worth to use those gifts. I am beyond appreciative, but I am not fishing.
I want you to think about yourself in my situation. Would you be too proud to ask for help? Would you drive down to DHS and ask for Government assistance? Would you be honest with your family, whether by DNA or blood of Christ, as to how you are struggling to fill your needs? Would you be honest with your children as to why so many extracurricular activities have gone by the wayside?
Sometimes the high and mighty feeling you have, that feeling that you don't need help, that "You Got This," sometimes your lack of willingness to be served, is crushing the spirit of those that love you. Sometimes God needs not only to show you how short sighted you have been in your own life, but also in the lives of others.
Maybe your pride isn't as strong as mine when asking for help. Maybe yours is about forgiveness you've been denying because you had the right to be upset. Maybe your pride is in your appearance and possessions. Maybe you put too much pride into your child and have made yourself too busy in their accomplishments to see others in need of an ego boost. It's possible your pride is your knowledge of and relationship with God, and you can't see those drowning for your own narrow mindedness of faith.
Do not be surprised when God answers a prayer with "I'm doing fabulous things, but your big head is in the way." Do not lose sight of the grace God has given us. Above all else we are called to be His.
I have a lot of work to do on this hubris. I am not going to do it by myself. In fact, mostly, I am going to pray that God continues to refine me. I am going to continue to have faith that He knows exactly what He is doing and that I need to focus on being used along the way and not being in the way.
If I fall, at least I know God has a destination planned for the landing. With Him, falling is just that. With Him, falling and failing are not one in the same.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Thursday, August 16, 2012
I only partially write this for myself.
The title of this blog should be an indication of its purpose.
I ask my mother all the time things about when I was young. Did I do this? Was I this crazy? Did you ever feel like your life was spinning out of control? And 99.9% of the time her answer is "I don't know, Brandy, I'm sure you did/you were/I did." She can't remember! And why should she? I'm 32 years old and she's had a lot going on in that time.
I want to learn from the feeling I have every time I ask these questions. I am a little disappointed. I want to know that my girls are on the same path as I was at this point in life. I want to have my feelings of complete inadequacy validated. But her mind (nor mine) is not the World Wide Web. Where nothing goes to die.
So, I put my thoughts and my musings here. You may think I'm ridiculous. You are probably right. But I want to be able to go back and remember what my state of mind was during these formative years of my "Mommy" career. And I will probably call myself a fool in the future. I will probably be embarrassed about a post or two. I will probably forbid my children to read it until they have children of their own. Nevertheless, I will not apologize for being my original self. I will not beg your forgiveness for my diarrhea of the mouth as one of my English teachers so eloquently stated. I want my children to know their mother. I want the version that they love be the true version. I do not want to be tempted by naysayers to tarnish the person that I am, flaws and all. No censorship on this page. B
I write this for my girls. My hope is that you find a way to immortalize yourself for your children. I do caution you however, to be true and steadfast in your work. The beauty of the person that God made is the evolution of our mind and soul.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
You may be wondering when these certain times are or why it is important to keep your fat mouth shut. Let me enlighten you with a few anecdotes to illustrate my point.
*Struggling with my 3 kids ages 5 and under out the door of church one day, someone remarked "You really have your hands full." And since I hate that remark and all things that blatantly state the obvious, I opened my mouth and said something comical right back. Laughing at myself and my frustrations in front of everyone, so they all would know that I am fully aware that I do not have it all together. And a person I value dearly said "This is the life you wanted." And while she knows that I don't hold it against her at all, it still sort of stings, doesn't it? Just because you wanted something, doesn't make it any more difficult to bear. Don't we as humans just love to tell someone "I told you so." It may very well be the truth, but don't say it. Saying those 4 little words isn't going to make that other person feel better. And if you are hoping to squish that person further down into their struggles, just say exactly that. So that they will then be aware that you are no friend of which to consort. No one needs to be reminded that what may be their biggest endeavor is kicking their ass. They are aware, don't state the obvious no matter how truthful.
*In a conversation with one of my closest friends I asked how her fertility battles (yes, when concerning fertility it's plural) were faring. She gave me a quick run down of the latest disappointments. I expressed how terrible I felt for her and that I was still praying for her. She (mother of 1 very dynamic 3 year old) said in automatic response "I am very blessed." Yes, she is. She has a nice home, a good job, a great family and a beautiful healthy child. But she still wants a baby. And when she talks about this, people sigh and pat her on the back and say "But you are so blessed." It's the absolute truth. What is also the truth is that those words don't make her feel even fractionally better. That just because she has 1 child doesn't mean that she shouldn't want 2 or 3 more. Do not let words slip past your lips that may ever make anyone feel that they aren't grateful for what they already have. Believe me, if you're talking to a mother, she is aware. She is acutely aware of the blessings that have been so richly bestowed upon her. She is not wrong for wanting more.
*A few weeks ago my husband and I were on our way home from a trip out of town. I love to take these opportunities to get to know each other better or to work out the kinks in our relationship. My husband does not. I always ask him questions trying to get him to open up about how he feels about our relationship, how I'm doing as a wife and mother, and what I can do to improve. I always do this, saying to myself, that whatever he says I will not cry or sulk and I will try to take his words as constructive criticism. This mantra rarely works. As he is telling me honestly what he wishes I were better at or how I could improve, I am seething in anger. I am thinking about all the times he has let me down, all the promises he hasn't kept and the things that he should be doing better. I open my mouth to shoot back these facts in rapid fire so that my shortcomings pale in light of his and I quickly shut it. Simply put, I asked his opinion of me. He never asked for me to give his job as a husband and father a performance review. And he most definitely didn't ask for me to bring up things of the past, things he had apologized for. For while those thoughts buzzing around in my mind were absolute truths, they would not have strengthened my relationship at all. If you can't find a way to present faults of someone that you love without voicing their attributes two fold, then don't. Does your side need to be heard? Absolutely. But if you are so busy thinking of the truths that apply to your spouse in a negative light, you can't possibly focus on a way to better yourself. Don't say hurtful truths on the defense. Don't bring up the truths of the past that are supposed to be buried and gone.
*"I'm praying for you." You may be praying for me and I sincerely hope that you are. I could use all the ear time with God as possible. In fact, I covet your prayers. But if in fact you aren't going to take a moment of your day to pray for me, then don't say it. Do not say it. No matter how at a loss for words you are or how well you mean, in that nanosecond before you blurt out that overused phrase you know that you won't pray for me, then don't say it.
And this one folks, is never true.
*My sister died when I was 11, in the fall of my 6th grade year. She was sick for 3 years and we knew the inevitable was just around the corner. I remember some awful things from the day she died and the days that follow. But probably the most terrible thing I remember is the day I returned to school. Everyone knew of course, and most just kept their distance. But one of my classmates came up to me and asked me some pretty graphic questions about my sister's death. I tried to answer and really just was overcome with emotion. It was at that point, seeing my grief, that this classmate said to me "I know exactly how you feel." And honestly, I was so flabbergasted. How could I have missed that I was in school with someone that had also lost her sister to rare adult form of leukemia? So, in earnest, I replied "Really, your sister died too?" And realization struck that girl and then myself as she said "Oh, no, I don't have a sister, I was just saying that." Imagine the anger I felt. Because the truth was she had no idea and never would. No one did and ever would. The truth is, no one, except our Heavenly Father above, knows just how you feel. So if you find yourself at a loss for what to say when tragedy hits, even if you have been in that exact same situation with the exact same circumstances, don't say it. "I know just how you feel" will want to pop out of that well meaning mouth of yours, don't do it. Look that person filled with grief in the eyes and say "I love you." Hug them, give them a simple nod, cry for their broken heart. But never say that you know their innermost feelings. It is truly impossible and it will do much more harm than good.
I am fully aware that this is the pot calling the kettle black. I would not have said it if it were not true...