My children come home from school and tell me about the kids in their classes. Sometimes they are appalled at their actions. Shocked at the things they say and the experiences they share. Confused by the way they treat others or the language they use.
Sometimes they tell me things that hurt my ears and my heart.
I don't want their friends telling them about their creepy uncle that's in jail because he likes to touch little girls. I don't want them to hear about the older sister that was murdered by her boyfriend. I don't want them to hear the bad words, or summaries of horror movies watched. I don't want them to be pressured into playing possessed doll or murder games at recess.
I don't want their ears and their hearts to hurt.
I could tell them to avoid those kids. To not be friends with them. To not talk to them. To turn away.
Sometimes I want to.
I want to protect those little ears and hearts, I want to protect their peace.
But I know that's not right.
I want my kids to be better than that. I want their peace to come from a deeper source than ignorance.
So we talk. We sit and discuss what they saw or heard.
We think of what appropriate actions are necessary, if any. We morn for the kids that have experienced horrors. That intimately know awful things happen. We talk about those awful things and answer the critical questions hearing about them creates.
We practice benefit of the doubt. We question the rumors. We practice grace. We think about how they may be treated at home, we imagine being in their shoes. We wonder if they are happy, if they are hungry, if they are loved. We talk about disorders and differences and acknowledge our own.
We pray for them. And then we make a plan.
We decide to be kind. We muster up our patience, or understanding, our love, and our courage.
I teach them that they don't have to play with people that make them uncomfortable. We set good boundaries and role play scenarios so we know how to stand up and protect ourselves, and others. We learn that we can walk away from situations or stories or games. We learn we can do this with love and kindness.
We choose to be good examples not by being BETTER THAN but by trying to be BETTER.
I have friends that say and do things that appall me. I have friends that share experiences that shock me. I get confused by some of my friends beliefs.
Sometimes I want to turn away. I want to protect my peace. Sometimes the things they say hurts my heart.
I don't want to hear my friends tell me that if I vote a certain way I am a garbage human, or selfish, or a liar. I don't want to hear my friends tell me I'm not a true Christian if... or that if I vote for so and so they are sickened by me. If I vote for candidate _____ I'm voting for human sacrifice or murder or rape etc. etc. etc.
I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT. I DON'T WANT MY HEART TO HURT. I want to turn away.
But I know that's not right.
So I listen. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I practice grace. I think of all the good they are, all the good they do. I ask the hard questions. I listen to their views and beliefs.
I pray for them. I muster up my patience, my understanding, my love. I decide to be kind.
I recognize they are doing what they feel is right. I imagine their lives, their experiences, I try to place myself in their shoes.
And 90% of the time I realize our goals and hopes are the same.
Even if our choice of path to get there is different.
I want a deeper peace than the peace ignorance brings.
So, to my Facebook friends that keep asking me to leave: I'm not going anywhere.
I won't always vote the same as you, but I will value your vote.
I won't always agree with you, but I will be kind.
I won't always like what you say, but I will listen.
I won't even always like you, but I will still be your friend.
And even if you call me a garbage human, even if you think I'm selfish, even if you put me in a political stereotype, I will be at peace.
I will have deeper peace not because I'm trying to be BETTER THAN YOU, but because I'm trying to be BETTER.
Namaste my Facebook friend.
I'm tediously typing this with one hand.
I cut myself a few nights ago with an extremely sharp knife my husband made. I thought about blaming him, or just the year 2020 but it's undeniably my fault.
I was trying to pry two frozen burritos apart. Yes, frozen bean burritos. Of course it had to be something completely lame.
I knew it was stupid, dangerous even, so I was trying to be careful. I was trying to go slow.
(How often do we continue to do stupid things even though we know they're stupid???! Just me?)
But it didn't matter. The burritos popped apart and the knife sliced deep into my left middle finger.
I knew I needed to go to the hospital immediately, mostly because I saw my tendons, but I wasn't freaking out. Not even with all the blood. Just a cut. Just some stitches. I was more worried about leaving the baby for that long.
After an hour in the ER, several stitches later, and the accompanying examination I learned I severed at least one tendon and would need surgery.
Ok. I knew I needed surgery but I wasn't freaking out. Just a simple surgery. Just a little hiccup. There are smart people for this. After Monday I'd start healing and get back to life.
After my appointment with the surgeon the next day, I realized I hadn't even thought past surgery. A 10 week recovery, including physical therapy, waited for me after surgery. I was going to be one handed with a newborn baby for the next 10 weeks.
As this sunk in, my resolve quivered and I started to freak out.
You see, I feel like I've been sick for AGES. First, I had a breakdown and was diagnosed with severe high functioning depression. I put the breaks on anything extra and began focusing on my mental health.
I learned during this time that I held a deeply rooted belief that I couldn't be sick. I'll spare you the childhood trauma but I basically developed a belief that if I were sick and unable to be productive EVERYTHING WOULD FALL APART and it would all be my fault.
I simply couldn't have depression. But, I did.
Then, my mental health affected my physical health and I was diagnosed with a chronic bladder condition that was just waiting to flare up. I was in so much pain I could hardly walk some days.
I simply couldn't be sick. But, I was.
Slowly, things got better, medication, a small surgery, and a huge support system helped me heal.
Then, I got pregnant earlier than we planned. Like a year earlier.
And so commenced 5 months of severe morning sickness, some bed rest for a hemorrhage, and 4 hot summer months (is summer even that long?) of being really uncomfortably pregnant and paranoid of sending myself into pre-term labor like my last pregnancy.
During pregnancy I was so sick I didn't even have the ability to think "I can't be sick." But, I was.
Then, finally, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Ella. And began the following six weeks of healing.
I was feeling so excited about feeling healthy. Everything in life was going well. I started writing my novel again, my articles were getting picked up and READ by actual people, my little wreath making business was growing, our goats had babies, everyone was happy and healthy....
Then, the same day as my 6 week appointment with my midwife and my last almost 2 hour drive for said appointment, (halleluiah) I cut my finger and earned myself 10 weeks of weekly physical therapy appointments each with their own long drive.
And I'm learning all the things I can't do on my own anymore. I am literally mourning a loss of freedom.
I simply cannot have this injury, I thought.
On the way home from meeting my surgeon, winding through canyons, I kept telling my husband how beautiful the mountains were, how the fall colors were so stunning. His reply was that it looked dry. I mentioned it a few more times, confused as to why he wasn't as enthralled as I.
Finally he said "Maybe it's my sunglasses." which caused me to pull mine away from my eyes. Everything WAS dry. It wasn't pretty at all. I hadn't realized I was wearing rose colored glasses.
Realizing this was a bit depressing.
But, looking at the rose colored glasses in my hand, I decided to put them back on. Everything was pretty again.
And as I sat there enjoying the colors passing by my window, I realized that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. I can't change the trees but I can view them through rose colored glasses.
I can't change the fact that I injured myself. But I can be grateful it isn't too serious.
I can't change the fact that I am one handed for a while, but I can learn new ways to do things and grow in resilience.
I can't change the fact that things are harder but I can learn to ask for and accept help.
I can choose to wear rose colored glasses.
Now I see the blessings all around me. My children aren't hurt, nor my husband whose hands we rely on for our income.
This cut was an accident. Not self inflicted, as it could have been in darker times.
I'm more grateful for my body and all the functions we generally take for granted.
I have more empathy for those with disabilities and I'm grateful for their examples. I can't tell you how many times I thought "If they could do that, then I can do this..."
I have lots of opportunities to be proud of myself. For example: I learned how to dress my newborn baby (diaper, snaps, and all) one handed. Along with a million other things.
I am learning to let go. (Apparently I haven't learned this one well enough yet.) It's okay if daddy has a turn with bath time for a while, and it's okay if I get less done. My worth isn't found in my productivity.
I have given my older daughters an opportunity to serve and love extra and they have taken that opportunity. I get to watch them do more and be more. I get to witness them becoming. I get to see what they've been taught.
I'm sure that during this trial the glasses will come off occasionally and I'll feel the heaviness of all the things I can't change. I'll worry that the glasses are keeping me from reality.
But, I hope I'll remember to put them back on. Because how we view our reality is something we CAN change.
So, for the near future, I'll be rocking my rose colored glasses... and some sort of cast.
P.S. Microwave the burritos if they're stuck.
I am an introvert.
Basically, I like quiet. I like to be alone. I like peace.
And I'm a mom.
As you can imagine, being an introvert & being a mom doesn't always mix.
Introverts breathe in solace and breathe out society. Being around people, even little people, expends our energy. That doesn't mean we hate it, it's just tiring.
Being alone restores us.
But finding sufficient alone time isn't the only hard thing about being an introverted mother. I have a whole list:
I hate play dates. Having them isn't the issue, it's setting them up: coordinating, scheduling, remembering, driving... Even when someone invites my kids to their house it stresses me out. Ridiculous, I know. Especially because most of my children's friends are my friends. And I love my friends. But there we are.
Doing cool stuff with my kids, stresses me out. I mean, I can't even buy groceries without worrying my children will be kidnapped. (which unfortunately isn't an illogical fear anymore) So why would I subject myself to a zoo or museum? We have a small list of comfort zones: home, the farm, grandma's, the mountain, the ranch, and sometimes Hobby Lobby.
The idea of my child -let alone more than one- being in sports/dance/music lessons which requires me to consistently drive them somewhere, remember things, and interact with other adults gives me major anxiety.
I don't like to do my girls' hair. Yes, I have 4 daughters and I don't like doing their hair. Well, I like doing the baby's hair. But everyone else cries or complains or tries to run away and it all just becomes a fight. And I'm not really good at doing hair anyway so it never quite turns out how we imagine. Grandpa Todd started calling 3 year old Adeline "Tarzan" because she had long wild hair and is usually half naked. It's fine. Might as well be wild and half naked while you can.
And I especially hate bedtime. The whole to do list of bedtime. PJ's. Teeth. Homework. The "you said we could..." or "we forgot to..."s. UGH. The begging for snuggles and stories and heart to hearts while I'm exhausted and so DONE. All made worse by the anticipation of that quiet, peaceful, alone time I've been craving is enough to make me crazy.
I used to feel immense guilt for hating playdates and hair and bedtime. Over time I started to deeply believe that I wasn't a good mother.
Everyone else seemed to do these things easily so I thought that I should too. I should put my kids in every available sport/ class. I should have a play date for each child several times a week. I should learn how to do fancy hairdos. I should read to my kids before bed. I should snuggle with them. I should take them on dates. I should do more. I should be more.
The should list grew and so did the stress and anxiety. I became the awful mother I believed I was.
Then one night, I was in Vegas with my husband. We had hired a nanny to take care of our kids and made arrangements with family so I could join him last minute on this business trip. (We both knew I desperately needed to get away) We went to a movie while there, The Avengers End Game. It was late and I would have preferred sleeping but I fought to keep my eyes open (because how often do you go to a movie without kids?), and I'm so glad I did. Thor, the heavy, depressed, broken and aimless version of Thor, goes back in time and runs into his mother. She says something in that moment that hit me so hard it felt like a physical blow. "Everyone fails at who they are supposed to be."
EVERYONE FAILS AT WHO THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.
EVERYONE. FAILS. AT. WHO. THEY. ARE. SUPPOSED. TO. BE.
I was trying to be who I thought I was supposed to be. I thought I was supposed to have play dates like Ashley. I thought I was supposed to do amazing hairdos like Kristy. I thought I was supposed to put my kids in every sport available like Lisa. I thought I was supposed to gently love my children to sleep every night like Marissa. I thought I was supposed to do cool stuff with my kids like Kara.
I thought I was supposed to be something I'm not.
No wonder I felt like I was failing.
So now, I'm being brave and working on play dates, but we don't have them often and that's okay.
I've learned a few hairstyles, but we keep it pretty and simple. I'm teaching my older girls to brush their own hair so I don't have to. And that's okay.
We've signed our kids up for a few classes so they can learn what they like but we also recognize all the amazing unique things they already do and get to experience. And it's all okay.
And bedtime. I don't read bedtime stories, we read earlier. My older girls and I use a mommy & me journal to write down all those heart to hearts and we love sneaking them under each other's pillows. Each night we pray and kiss goodnight and that's it. And that's okay.
We do things differently than the Ashley's and Kristy's and Kara's and that's okay.
My kids are happy. They are fulfilled and loved and thriving. And now so am I.
I'm not failing because I'm learning to embrace myself, to be myself.
I am an introvert,
AND a great mom.
Hi! I'm Amy
I am a Christian wife and mother, a writer, and a recovering perfectionist who is tired of chasing happiness in all the wrong ways. I am now on a journey to find a deeper state of being. Join me on My Peace Project and we'll learn how to survive the chaos together!