Archive for the ‘just me~’ Category

Survival Mode

I have been avoiding my life lately.  Well…not avoiding life, exactly, but avoiding myself might be a better description.  My husband has been working and traveling in non-stop fashion for the past month, leaving me to handle five children in three different sports, and a demanding house and yard to maintain…

by myself.

Thankfully I have much help and love and support from family and friends. 

When my life and schedule get harried and overwhelming like this past month, I have a tendency to “batten down the hatches” and shift into “survival mode.”  Survival mode means looking at my very full, event-overlapping calendar several times a day.  It means using reading as a means to escape the stress of my life.  It means avoiding anything too emotional, too vulnerable, too revealing of my true emotions I’ve stuffed down into my soul. 

It means eating rice krispie treats when I don’t even like them.

It means avoiding this blog (which I love) because there is not time for me.  There is only time for what must be done.

I know the lies inherent in all of this.  Even as I’m avoiding and stressing and escaping, I know the lies that are there.  But sometimes it’s easier to wallow in the mudpit than fight my way out.  After all, I’m familiar with the mudpit.  I know the lies; I’ve heard them a million times before…I sing them to myself in a shameful lullaby.

It comes down to balance and grace – both difficult for me to maneuver on my own.  There are so many pulls on me from every direction.   I feel as though I waver between self-sacrificing martyr and selfishness.  I have yet to find the happy medium, if such a thing truly exists.  But I tell myself it exists…and I berate myself for not finding it.  More lies.

It’s a good, happy, fulfilling, albeit challenging life.  I am not complaining.  I am just treading water when I wish I could be swimming. 

I choose to find the joy – and there are moments of it everywhere.  But they tend to filter in and out of my consciousness as quickly as little silver minnows flitting through the water.  I wish I could catch them, hold them for a bit, live on them…but they escape through my outstretched fingers. 

My avoider-self says not to blog.  “Don’t share these shameful thoughts.  People have it much worse than you; quit complaining.  You are reaping the consequences of your own choices.  Quit whining.  You should be putting the laundry away; doing the dishes; weeding the garden; painting the pantry; organizing…something; sewing new pillow covers; etc.” 

And so today I am fighting the mudpit.  I am dogpaddling.  I am avoiding the rice krispie treats instead of this blog.  After all, it’s Mother’s Day.  And what better gift for my children than a Mom who loves herself?

Posted on May 13th, 2012 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

confidence (?)

I’ve been contemplating this word “confidence” for  the last few weeks.    It struck me recently how my self-confidence has evolved and changed in my lifetime.

When I was a child, all I knew was love.  My mom, dad, and sisters loved me.  They seemed to think I was pretty great, as a matter of fact.  (Well, except when I lied about feeding the cat, or forced my sister to give me her money so I could buy an enormous secondhand stuffed animal at the school festival) – but even then, I was confident I was loved and pretty awesome.

And then came school and friends.  I was a pretty good student (okay, I was pretty much Miss Goody Two-Shoes) so the teachers loved me and that gave me confidence. 

At an early age, though, I remember feeling like I needed to get attention from my classmates.  I would act silly, or exaggerate an injury, or later even make up stories about some fantastic boy that loved me.  I think that I felt like my “boring” ordinary life wasn’t enough to impress my friends and make them like me.  I’m not sure where that idea came from exactly, but I was an avid early reader so maybe it’s something I picked up from an overactive imagination combined with a tween-hood filled with stories of fantastic lives and amazing experiences.  I don’t know. 

But the result was a very low self-confidence.  Of course my classmates tired of my antics, and as junior high students will do, poked fun.  And 8th grade graduation was the highlight of my young life.  After spending 8 years with the same group (more or less) of 30 kids, it was my chance for a fresh start.

In high school, almost no one knew me.  So I decided to act like the me I thought I’d like to be.  And thus started my “acting” career.  No, I didn’t join the drama club or act in school plays, but I started to put on the greatest performance ever, “Here comes confident Becky!”  But in high school, my confidence quickly became connected to my new great love…boys.  My sophomore year I started dating a very nice young man whom I dated for the rest of high school.  My confidence came from the fact that he thought I was funny, he thought I was pretty, and he thought I was worthy to spend time with and…to love.

I felt confident in my school abilities still.  I was still a good student and well-liked by teachers.  (I think, in hindsight, that was more of the “true me” shining through the bs.)  And I had several good friends who found me likable and funny, albeit a bit “perky.”  

By college I had created a confident Becky.  I was funny and sarcastic.  I was flirty and always optimistic.  I was smart but still silly.  What can I say?  It worked for me.  But as much as I thought people were drawn to the me I’d created, I think the true friends – the ones I still call friends to this day – probably saw through the charade and saw me (and loved me anyway).

I was by no means a tortured soul.  Probably mostly due to the fact that I just avoided any serious doubts I had about my behavior.  I walked a fine line between “created Becky” and real Becky.  I still found confidence in the young men I dated, the good grades I received, and now the fun, college experiences I was collecting.

Confidence is attractive.  I remember one particular time during my senior year of college.  I had been dumped by a longtime love so I did the normal things many girls do…I lost 5 pounds, cut all my hair off, and started flirting mercilessly with every guy in the student center.  It was a TOTAL act, but by then I was a pro.  I was even nominated Homecoming Queen that year.  And won.  NOT because I was the prettiest, or most involved, or most deserving…but because I was acting confident.

“Here I am, guys!  I don’t need you!  I’m funny and smart and sexy, and I believe in myself, and I’m a good girl, and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to…”  But even as I was saying it, it became more and more evident to myself that it was a big fat lie. 

So now I am in my late 30’s .  (I think 38, although I keep forgetting and have to do the math, and I’m just not that good at math anymore.)  I’ve been married for 13 years, have had 6 children, and am a stay-at-home mom.  I can no longer get my self-confidence from my grades or job performance.  (My children explain to me all the time how I am the “worst mom ever!.”  )  And while I know I am loved and cherished by my husband, his love makes me feel valuable and secure, but it’s not where I derive self-confidence.

It’s SELF confidence.  I finally am starting to see that I’m supposed to be feeling confident because of my own abilities and powers…not because of anyone else’s belief (or lack of belief) in me.  So what are my own abilities and powers? 

  • I am a good wife.  I am not the “super” wife I thought I’d be.  I don’t fill his car with balloons that list the ways I love him, I often forget to buy his favorite foods at the store, and he is often last on my list of hugs and attention.  But I am kind, and I try to appreciate him and give him room to grow and be his wonderful self.  (Oh, and to accept him for all his faults and love him anyway..yada, yada, yada.)

  • I am a good mom.  I am not perfect, but I don’t think a good mom should be.  I think I’m teaching my kids what is important (at least in mine and my husband’s eyes), and loving them along the way. 

  • I am a grace-giver.  I am accepting of people, and able to love them where they are.  I see things in gray instead of black/white, and I think this enables me to give grace where others may not.

  • I love to create beauty.  Whether it’s a Christmas card-holder made from a re-purposed slinky, a mantle filled with lovely trinkets, a story full of honest expression and humor, or a garden full of flowers, I have – and deeply appreciate – the power to create and make something beautiful.

The last 13 years of marriage, motherhood, losing a child, and growing older have forced me to shed much of the “confident Becky” image I created.  But when I have those moments now – when I am funny and witty and sarcastic – I know it comes from a true-r place; a more honest place within me.  And even though I am NOT a “big picture person,”  I know that there is a bigger picture of which I only play a small role. 

It’s an important role, but not one where it’s “all about me.”  Ultimately, I feel my worth as a child of God.  Through my self-absorbed, play-acting  adolescence, AND teenage years, AND college years, AND early adult years, God has remained the same.  I am sure I have given him heartache and made him laugh.  And I hope I can take this next phase of my life and give him honor. 

I feel God’s presence in a very tangible way, ironically, when I act out of those “self” powers and abilities I have listed.  When I can love my husband in a very simple yet meaningful manner.  When I can parent my children in a loving and firm demeanor.   When I can give grace to a person or situation undeserving or unexpectedly, and create acceptance and authenticity.  When I sit in my garden, surrounded by beautiful blooms and never-ending weeds, butterflies, worms,bees…and feel at peace. 

My journey is ongoing, of course.  2 steps forward, 1 step back.  But I’m learning to give myself grace in this process and to recognize that this is just who I am.  Sometimes silly, often forgetful, occasionally witty, surprisingly self-effacing, frequently clueless, always with…

just a little bs.   And that’s okay.

Can you relate?

Posted on January 13th, 2012 by LilBS  |  6 Comments »

new year? new me?

It’s that time of year again.  January 1.  A day when everyone starts talking about their resolutions for the new year.  Gyms, fitness centers, organization, new hobbies, new goals…new us? 

I am not a planner.  Some of that is by nature, some by nurture.  Some of it is simply the life I lead.  I am married to a dreamer, an entrepreneur.  Since I met, fell in love, married, and bore him 6 children, he has had at least 8 jobs.  He is a responsible, hard-working, man of integrity, but he will always be searching and dreaming.

If I was a planner, how would that work?

Because of who I am, I am able to be who he needs.  And I trust him and this journey that I’m on with him with every breath I take.

I also have 5 kids.  Because they are active little suckers (I mean, sweethearts), there is a necessary amount of scheduling and planning that must occur.  Or else I would end up lying in the middle of my kitchen floor sucking my thumb and twirling my hair to the tune of Barney.

But I try to be as flexible as I can get away with.  Some of our favorite times together are spontaneous dinners at the playground, baking experiments at 8 pm, or making flubber together an hour before Christmas Eve gifting. 

If I was too focused on my schedule, would I be there when they really needed me?

I have a large house.  It is such a blessing.  I especially love it because we can host large gatherings for our friends and family.  AND I can send my children to separate areas where I (almost) can’t hear them.    But it is a BEAR to maintain.  (poor bears…get such a bum rap)  And while I really don’t mind cleaning, the rooms are never all clean at the same time.

To be that clean, which games would I have to give up with my boys?  Should I not play Super Mario with Ty who will be in school all day next year?  Should I not sit down with Colt and watch his 90 performances of the same Wiggles song over and over?  Should I not color with Ian?

So I will begin 2012 with the same attitude I ended 2011.  I will “go with the flow.”  I will schedule what I need to, plan for what I must, clean when I can, and somehow in the midst of all of that, live and laugh and love. 

A resolution is the “act or process of resolving.”  So in 2012 I resolve to continue to be “in process.”  I don’t know (I don’t even want to know) what that looks like for me.  But I trust the One who walks with me on this little journey.  And I’m learning to trust myself.

 

Posted on January 2nd, 2012 by LilBS  |  2 Comments »

perfectionism vs. laziness = cookies and spaghetti casserole

I am avoiding my Christmas decorations.  I’m not exactly sure why but rather than put them up, I’m going to blog about the possibilities of why this is true.

My husband loves live Christmas trees.  And for the first 9 years of our marriage, I gave into his wishes and we would get a live tree.  But I had to take care of it.  One more thing on my always crowded “to-do list.”  So inevitably there would be needles everywhere, dried out branches, etc.  And I hated that we could hardly hang ornaments on the weak, droopy branches.  And I REFUSED to spend what is necessary for a “stronger” tree.

 Charlie Brown Christmas...

So this is our second year with an artificial tree.  I asked my parents for it for my birthday and I am SO happy with it!  We can set it up whenever we want…I don’t have to worry about getting a rash on my arms when I decorate it (did I mention that always happened to me?!), it already has lights on it…it is awesome.  The tree is up and the kids already decorated it.  I love hearing their joyful exclamations over forgotten and beloved Christmas ornaments so much that I am willing to forgive that most of them end up on the bottom third of the tree.  Besides they go to bed eventually, right?  So there is the possibility for some “decoration correction.”   Hey, that kind of rhymes.

But after the tree is up, I get a little burned out.  It’s not that I don’t have decorations…we have a lot.  And it’s not that I don’t love my house when it’s decorated…I do.  And I know when I avoid things it is usually for 2 main reasons…either I tend toward perfectionism or laziness.  (I really would prefer to use the word “overwhelmed-ness” but since it’s not technically a word, I went with a close cousin.) 

I really don’t have high expectations for Christmas decorating…I don’t think.  But I do want it to look nice.  We have some traditions that I like – stockings on the mantel, specific wreaths for the front door.  But then I think about tweaking things or trying to remember how I did it the year before.  Where did I hang that garland?  Will it look good on the front door? Do I have a ladder tall enough?  How will I hang it?  Will this packing tape work?  Forget looking perfect; it may not even get finished!

 

 

And then there’s the cold, hard fact.  This will ALL have to be put away in one month.  PUT AWAY.  And no one else is going to do it.  My kids hate putting stuff away even more than I do.  I am feeling a bit “verklempt” just thinking about all the work involved.  And fitting all the decorations back in the same bins from which they came???  Never seems to work. I think I am starting to hyperventilate just a bit. 

With the advent of Pinterest (like that little play-on-words?!), I feel even more pressure.  There are just so many possibilities out there.  Instead of using my same, tired decorations, I could make them look new and fabulous or make completely new ones!  But there does not seem to be time to do all that AND make Christmas cookies…which is a non-negotiable.  Not to mention Christmas shopping and wrapping presents and writing my Christmas letter and…

*sigh*  I need to start in July.

So today instead of opening the bins in my basement that contain beloved Christmas memories, broken ornaments, and smushed Christmas crafts of years past, I am trying a new recipe for spaghetti casserole and baking cookies.  I expect to get inspired to actually decorate for Christmas here soon.  It will probably happen 30 minutes before I need to drive my children to a soccer game…because then there is no pressure for perfection and no time to be lazy.  There is merely pandemonium and chaos. 

Ahhh…that’s more like it.

Posted on November 26th, 2011 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

Who am I?

Of all my posts, this may be the hardest.  Isn’t that ridiculous?! 

I am just an ordinary woman. 

Wife to 1 crazy, beloved man. 

 Mother to 5 rambunctious, full-of-life children. 

Mother to 1 beautiful angel whom I can’t wait to meet again in heaven. 

 Friend to a few very patient, understanding men and women. 

Follower, believer, lover of Christ.

Creator, gardener, writer, reader, pinterest-er, occasional jogger.

Often insecure, borderline introvert, lovingly joyful avoider.

just me.  becky shadowens long. 

and this is “just a little bs.”

Welcome!

Posted on October 5th, 2011 by LilBS  |  No Comments »