Search

mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

Month

May 2012

Carry On

Today I pray for all the Moms that have had to sit their children down and tell them that it was time to say the long goodbye to their Dad.. and then figure out how to carry on in her motherhood on her own. Honoring and remembering those who have given their lives – and especially those who have had to carry on..Image

Image

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall (from the Huff Post)

I just read an article on the Huffington Post Life & Style Blog, and it really hit home with me.

Kudos to this list! It’s spot-on in terms of what I strive for in my motherhood. (And it supports my blog premise perfectly, so that’s a bonus.)

And if you only read the bold parts of the lists, you’re missing out on the real meat of it.

Read the list here: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

#1 – Find things outside of your motherhood that help make you happy.  (The MORES)

#2 – (THIS is a HARD one) Learn to say no to some things. Find your stress threshold and accept that yours may not be the same as the Supermom on the PTO, and that’s ok. Your kids need you happy, not winning awards and stressed out.

#3 – Make time for yourself and your spouse (significant other). Find a good sitter and don’t feel bad about leaving the kids behind to focus on your relationship. It’s better for the kids!

#4 – (THIS is an even HARDER one) I love the quote she uses here. I’m practicing so I can become more like this, but I admit it: I yell first and apologize second sometimes. I think it’s equally as important to admit when you lose your cool and explain to your kids that it happens, because I’m human, too. But the important part is to come back and do it again with a level head, so they realize that (though my response may not have been ideal) what ever behavior set me off needs to be corrected (just like I had to make my overly emotional response right.)

#5 – I’ll be their friend when they’re adults. Right now I have to get them successfully to adulthood. No, I’m not letting you have a Facebook page when you’re 9 and then posting pictures of you posing in the mirror like a seductress and tagging you in them.  You’re the kid. I’m the parent.

#6 – Two of my favorite quotes:  “I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.”  and  ” If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”  — I’d much rather that my little birds make the mistakes (THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE) now, while they are young and under our guidance and love… learn from those mistakes and put what they learn into practice as they move out of my tutelage.  Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

#7 – This one gets easier as they get older.. but I still struggle with it. I keep reminding myself that if I want them to be good decision makers (just like anything else), I have to give them the opportunity to practice making decisions.  Sometimes this means I have to stuff the urge to stop my 8-year-old from walking out of the house like this:

#8 – Again, I remind you.. this list doesn’t mean to say we have to be perfect, but these should be our goals. I hope my children don’t one day judge me based on the tone of our mornings, because I’m not a morning person and getting ready for school is a tricky one for us. None the less, I keep trying to improve on it.. and then we always end the day with our “BESTS” – Gratitude for the day. Sometimes I follow-up by praying for a little more patience in the morning. They pray with me and know I’m trying. (But the likelihood is that when they are adults, they’ll be telling their therapists horror stories about their childhood mornings..)

#9 – My kids get rewarded based on effort rather than results.  Performance evaluations and performance-based bonuses will soon be implemented in my house. (No, I’m not kidding at all, and there will be a blog post about that in the near future.)

#10 – Well, on this one, if you’ve only read the bold print, you’re covered.  Real isn’t perfect, and perfect isn’t real.

Ice Cream Scoops and Buckets of Frozen Margarita (The Liquid Store Chronicles – Part 1)

 

Motherhood can make you do some crazy stuff.

We all have that list of things we have done as a mom that we NEVER would have imagined ourselves doing pre-motherhood.

We’ve all been vomited on, seen things come out of our children that are either all too recognizable or completely, unimaginably, unrecognizable.  Our once pretty/clean cars now look like a crime scene. We have watched our bodies pay the price: sagging and bulging and stretching and wrinkling.. and on and on. And while those things can drive a person pretty crazy, those aren’t quite what I’m talking about in this post.

I’m talking about those times when you’re on completely exhausted, sleep-deprived, auto pilot and before you know it, you have  done ( or said) something that never would have happened before entering your motherhood.

We’re talking about the things that would have mortified us in our previous lives.

But alas, here we are in the motherhood with a resume that is full of embarrassing, disgusting, and down right terrifying job requirements. Still worse are those instances – oh goodness, all the instances – where level-headed, well-educated, socially adjusted, rationale was simply lost to the motherhood… in retrospect I wonder how we (me and my 3 little birds) made it this far.

~And so it is… M.O.M.-fession Time~

My list of horrifying moments includes the fact that I have taken a picture of my child’s, well… fecal matter… that was on the floor outside of the bathroom and emailed it to one of my best mom-friends in a fit of frustration over potty training.  – I plead “potty-training insanity” on this and therefore you cannot judge me for it.

{Insert pause so you can process what you’ve just read.}

I know, it’s gross.  I can’t fathom doing such a thing now, but honestly I was in a toddler-induced haze. You can’t think straight when you’re dealing with potty training, because honestly, whose brain really can deal with the fact that all those years of education are being put to use by trying to get a kid to rid him or herself of their waste in a toilet instead of having them sit in it?! The brain’s only option is to completely shut down and process nothing. It’s a self-defense mechanism, really.

Somewhere during that same time-frame (go ahead and wrap your head around it.. I had a ~ kindergartner, a ~3 year old and a one year old.. oh, and a traveling husband) I realized that things like sending disgusting pictures to friends weren’t the best way to deal with my stress and mommy-frustration.  Nor was the giant bowl of ice cream I was eating each night.  (Again.. given the circumstances, there was no such thing as a “work out” at this point in my motherhood, unless it involved chasing a naked kid who just got out of the tub and wouldn’t let me get them dressed.)  But we all have to have our motherhood survival tools.

Though, I could entertain the idea of cutting back on the ice cream a bit (but would not retire my ice cream scoop, instead re-purposing it), I was still leaning heavily on venting, prayer and a big cup of “Mommy-juice” after the kids went to bed each night.

Yes. Prayer and alcohol.  Jesus turned water into wine.  And He knows what He’s doing. It’s a good combination.  But the prayer comes first. Always.

Add it to the list of MOM-fessions.

Even better ones are coming.

Now that my kids are a bit older, I look back and think of those days (and how much fewer the MOM-fession instances are now that they are older), I am reminded of how many of my mortifying moments stemmed from having to take them all grocery shopping with me.  I was doing all of my shopping – groceries and otherwise – with all three kids (and oh how much less stressful life is now that I am not forced to do so).  You all remember how that routine goes. Something a bit like this:

(The only thing wrong with the illustrations here is that in the right column, my hair would have been in a pony tail, I would be in yoga pants – though not having done a lick of exercise – and my clothes would have spit up and Cheetos stains on them.)  Ugh. Doing the grocery store with kids is the stuff Mommy-nightmares are made of. Especially considering the following facts surrounding my particular situation:

I had a rambunctious and inquisitive 5-year-old boy, an almost-3 year old who was still potty training and did NOT stay still unless she was sleeping, and the piece de la resistance: an almost 1-year-old who was crying screaming if I wasn’t holding her and in complete protest of being weaned.*

I’ve mentioned that the child was blessed with an insane amount of cuteness. which saves her now, but then?  Well, at that age – it drew a lot of attention from strangers everywhere we went. Especially the grocery store. Every stranger that walked by felt the need to lean over into her cute little face and tell her how adorable she was. Little did they know that she was opposed to any one existing on the planet other than me.. which resulted in her rejecting their compliments with a hateful grimace, a good loud “NO!”, and a good solid swing of her hand. Yep. My kid beat up strangers in the grocery store – even before her first birthday. I would just walk around mindlessly saying, “I’m Sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.” over and over like those were the only words I knew. — Except maybe for the interjected “NO! Put that down!” and “Sit down in the cart!” to the other two, in between apologies.***

(Oh, and have I mentioned that my WAPI husband was traveling for work 4 – 5 days a week?)

The important thing to note here is that just next door to our local grocery store that year – was the Liquor Store. {YES!!}

Wine = Mommy’s Little Helper. (Or instead of my now-preferred wine, buckets of margaritas at the time – yes the big buckets that you put in the freezer. – When I decided to cut back on the ice cream, I would use the ice cream scoop in the bucket of frozen margarita, just like had with the Mint Chocolate Chip.)

After reading the last few paragraphs maybe you’ll understand WHY I was crazy enough to feel the need to take three kids in the liquor store.

And I did. All three of them.

The first time I braved the Liquor Store with the kids I felt some apprehension and guilt for doing so… I wondered if people walking by would judge me for dragging my littles in there with me. I wondered if the people who worked there would even let me in with the kids. That would have been much worse than the judgement from others, to be quite frank. My fear didn’t last long, though, because as soon as we got through the door my soon-to-be-friend behind the counter reached down and pulled out the BIGGEST glass jar full of suckers** to give to the kids.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only Mom in the neighborhood who strapped the toddler in a stroller (so as not to let her pull the shelves over), hid in sunglasses and a hat and snuck into the Liquor Store with her brood of children – all the while hoping that the establishment wouldn’t tell me, “You can’t have kids in here.” (Because then I would have been faced with the temptation to leave them outside the door of the Liquor Store while I got what I needed. What? It was a strip mall and the wall/door were entirely made of glass. I could have seen them the whole time. — OK, I’m just exaggerating here. I was WAY too much of a paranoid, over-protective Mom at the time to EVER actually do that.)

And that jar of suckers was all it took for this to become part of my new routine. Grocery store, then Liquor Store.  And sometimes, Liquor Store then Grocery Store. I traded in my 5 minutes in the freezer section by the 1000 cartons of ice cream, for 5 minutes in the Liquor Store.

Here’s the thing: my oldest, The Owl, was around kindergarten-age about this time in my motherhood. And by the end of kindergarten he could read. I mean REALLY read. Almost anything you put in front of him.**** He would have read through the entire Magic Tree House Series by the end of that year and would wait with great anticipation for Mary Pope Osborne to release each new one in the series. We pretty much lived at Barnes and Noble.

I had worked with him for a long time on his letters and phonics, so I’m not sure why I didn’t see the next piece coming. But I didn’t  (I blame that on potty training brain, too).  One particular errand running day (before he started kindergarten) we went to the grocery store, but instead of going into the Liquor Store, we left and began the drive home. It was then that (from the back seat) the 5-year-old Owl yells, “Mommy, wait! Don’t you need to go to the Liquid Store?!”

WAIT-WHAT??!?! How do you know what it’s called?! Did you read that?! And oh crap, are you telling your teacher and friends that your mommy takes you to the grocery store and then the Liquid Store for suckers?!  

I wasn’t sure whether to be mortified that I had conditioned him to this liquor store routine or amazed that he had actually gotten the “qui” put together  from reading the sign out front or laugh at his very literal interpretation of the word he was reading.

So, I defaulted to another one of my motherhood survival tools: venting/sharing… and I called my mom, dad, sister and brother to share with them that their grand-son/nephew was a genius..  and that child protective services may be contacting them soon to take my children and check me into Betty Ford.

Yep..add this to the list of mortifying, I-can’t-believe-I-did-that MOM-fessions:  I’m the mom who taught her kid to read via the Liquor (Liquid) Store sign.

And yes, when my kid asks me what word did he first read, I will have to tell him that – technically – it was Liquor. To this very day, our entire family no longer uses the word “liquor”, but instead, it is always “The Liquid Store.”

Now, don’t worry. This isn’t the end of the Liquid Store stories..  by any stretch of the imagination.  Stay tuned for the next installment. It gets even better. And more mortifying. I may actually need to have a drink and say a prayer before I confess the next edition of the Liquid Store Chronicles…

(To be continued…)

* I’m not sure which thing has produced more nightmares in  my motherhood: Grocery shopping, Potty Training, or Weaning!

** I was just informed by a friend from the Northeast that some of you don’t know what I mean when I say “sucker”.. but that’s the Southern way of saying lollipop.

*** It wasn’t a big town.. it’s a wonder that word didn’t make its way around not to approach the crazy “I’m-sorry Lady” with the light-weight champ, disguised as a cute little toddler. (Can I call her a toddler if she wasn’t officially walking at age one?)

**** Oh how different each kid is.. one reads before kindergarten and another struggles to read in 2nd grade.

Not Quite Abbey Road (or Barefoot and Dis-shoveled Beach Play…On Wordless Wednesday)

{Joining in on Wordless Wednesday}

When Cathedrals Begin to Take Shape

They are rare. Sometimes you can’t remember the last time one happened. Yet, I’ve experienced them twice in less than 24 hours.

We’ll come back to this, but first you probably need a little background info to fully understand what I’m talking about.

Just like us Moms, each of our children has their strengths and weaknesses. They each struggle with some area of their life. And therefore, we, as their Moms (parents) struggle with some area of their lives. Sometimes that struggle with your kids feels all-consuming.

Watching your child struggle through the tough spots is just about as excruciating as it gets.

The last 2 years, really 3, have been quite a struggle (felt more like a full-on battle) – socially and educationally – for our youngest, The Starling. She is actually a very intelligent child. That is evident and always has been, however her behavior (even since she was a wee little one) has been less than promising at times. My mom and I have joked for years about whether she would use her powers for good or for evil.*  When she was little she was quite the demanding child, to say the least. When she was a toddler, I would refer to her as a little tornado. – Climbing and destroying everything in her path.

But goodness, she has always been cute. I’m not just talking about her big baby blues, precious (though sometimes quite mischievous) grin, or long blonde locks, but her personality is as funny and entertaining as they come. She could win over the Grinch in a split second. And you should see her dance. I can be angrier than you can imagine with her about one of her impulsive mishaps, but that will always be when she pulls out something absolutely hilarious or incredibly precious, making it all-together impossible for me not to laugh or smile.

I’ve been convinced for years that her extraordinary cuteness was a self-defense mechanism given to her by God, because it has saved her many times. Like when she flooded the house. But that’s another story for another time.

The Starling had always been the confident, strong-willed child. Full of passion for life, incredibly creative and out-going. Exuberant and funny, expressive and strong. Knows no stranger. Lives life out-loud – in the best way.

However, we have seen a change in her these last two years. The child who instantly knew everyone when we moved here 4 years ago was becoming somewhat of a loner.  The confident, self-assured child we once knew, had turned into a somewhat fearful, self-conscious shell of who she used to be.

In addition to her sudden lack of confidence, in these last couple of years all the “tornadic” (for lack of a better word) behaviors that used to seem like a lag in behavioral development didn’t go away. In fact, they got worse. And at age 6 she still wasn’t able to follow directions with more than 2 steps. Or recognize all the letters in the alphabet consistently. Or find her shoes. Ever. Or remember her friends’ names. Her BEST friends, mind you. She couldn’t sit and finish a meal. Not one. She would get frustrated to tears when trying to ask me a question, because she didn’t know how to verbalize what she wanted to know.

My nerves were shot by the 6th – 7th year.

At the time, I was convinced that she was making the choice to push the limits. That she just thought her cuteness and knowledge of when to use it would get her out of anything; therefore she didn’t have to work – you know, the typical last-born, “I’m the baby; gotta love me” syndrome in the birth order debate. And, I’ll admit it : there were times that part of the problem was that I was tired.  I wasn’t able to put in as much time and  consistent parenting with her, as I had been the first two.  My grandfather’s (who had 10 children) words came back to me on more than one occasion, as well: “Once you have three kids, it doesn’t matter how many you have. Once you’re out-numbered it’s chaos.”

Out-numbered. Husband traveling. Tired. Not enough of me to go around. Not enough consistency in my parenting. Birth-order. Her personality.

I didn’t really know what to blame it on, so I blamed it on a combination of all of it.  I hoped that with time, maturity and development  – and maybe if we could  get their WAPI Dad in a job where he wasn’t traveling.. well, maybe then I’d have more energy to invest in being more consistent, and maybe then it might get better.

Then, my WAPI husband changed jobs and was home all the time – just as she began kindergarten.. and the year progressed, but she didn’t.  I began to get concerned that her challenges were something more.. something that maybe – just maybe – she and I didn’t have control over.

Now, if I were to go into detail about the events and examples and trials and tearful, sleepless nights we’ve had in the last couple of years since Kindergarten, I would officially be publishing a novel instead of a blog post, so I will skip it and just say this: It’s been a difficult road. With potholes that seemed to be bottomless and speed bumps that you couldn’t possibly see over. I’ve cried a lot. And so has she. And I’ve been so frustrated that I thought I might stroke out. And so has she. — Same goes for my WAPI husband. And her siblings have paid quite the price for her all-consuming needs. When you have three kids and one needs at least 75% of your time, the other two aren’t left with much.

(And try though you may, you can ONLY give 100% of your being. All that crap you hear about “giving 110%”? Well, that’s just the biggest load of B.S. ever. No one has more than 100% to give. No one.)

Teaching her to read (and actually retain what she was learning) has proven to be more difficult than weaning, potty training, and sleep training combined – times 1000.

In addition to severe reading challenges, her particular learning issues have caused very atrocious hand-writing – to the point that it was often illegible.

BUT. Thanks to a lot of exploring, hard work, testing, diagnosing, commitment on our part, some bi-focal glasses, and one pretty spectacular teacher, we have begun to make headway.

Finally. (When I put it this way, it seems so simple. But trust me, it wasn’t.)

Not that the bumpy road will ever be completely smooth for her, but it’s getting better.

Now, at the end of 2nd grade. The work is finally beginning to take shape.

Last night I watched my once-struggling reader lie in her bed tucked into her daddy’s chest while she read to him by Kindle-light.  The reading was good. Really good. She flowed through the pages.  No help required. When she hit a word that stumped her she remained confident and stayed with it until she figured it out on her own. And it never took long. REAL second grade words and all. And she was happy.

There was something about the moment – with her precious little face framed in her reading glasses (it’s hard to learn to read when you can’t see the book OR the board) and lit by the blueish-white glow of her newly purchased Kindle Fire – I stopped and took a mental picture. So relieved that we were finally at this point, where she could confidently read and really fully enjoy her love of books, that I couldn’t even step away to get my camera** for fear that I’d miss the moment all-together.

It was a moment that made me smile so big that my face hurt, and my throat burned from trying to hold back the tears of joy.

As if that reading break-through weren’t enough, there’s more. Until today, I can’t remember an instance where I could read an entire piece of my daughter’s writing without having to ask her to translate a good portion of the words … or skip them and pretend that I knew what I just read, because she needed a confidence boost.

But here it is.  A Mother’s day gift that’s two-fold. I’m not sure what moved me more: the message.. or the fact that I could read it. All. By myself.

And this is what I meant up there in that first line.

Every once in a while in our motherhood, a moment happens where you can see a glimmer of the fruits of your labors. A moment when the endless laundry and meals and sleepless nights and cleaning up stomach viruses and all that other crap just disappears and you actually get to see the worth in what you are really doing. Where you realize that in between all the crap-jobs that are the major daily work of motherhood, you really are doing good work. Really good work. Important work.

Something makes you step back and get a preview of what it is going to look like in the end.. before you throw yourself back in to the work so closely that you can’t see it in your line of sight. The foundation is being laid and suddenly something makes you see the form of the cathedral beginning to take shape.

The reading by the kindle-light and the writing of a Mother’s day note. Twice in 24 hours I got a glimpse of the beauty that is The Starling’s Cathedral.

Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.

And if you haven’t had one of these moments in a long while  — hang in there.. your Cathedrals ARE taking shape. Even if you’re a little too close to see it yet.

* I typically inject some humor into difficult situations, not to belittle them or make fun of my kids or myself, but because it helps me gain some perspective.

** Those that know me know how huge a moment has to be for me sacrifice taking a picture of it, because I don’t want to miss it in person.

Checking In

Well, you can tell that the pace of life has picked up since our Spring Break adventures, because I still haven’t finished and posted my follow up on my Amazing Easter gift. Or much of anything else for that matter.

Oh so many blog post ideas have popped into my head, been started in Word Documents and not yet finished. Story of my life. Great ideas and intentions, but not always the most timely execution. That’s me, though, and we each have strengths that out-weigh our weaknesses. Though that particular weakness may drive some of my “get it done” friends crazy, I’m glad they (and you) stick with me anyway.

I’ll be 40 in a few short months, and one thing I am growing to love about this age (you already know that there are things about it that frustrate me, as well) is that I have gotten to a place where I know my strengths and my weaknesses. And even better, I’m making friends with the things about myself that I used to dislike (saggy skin not included). It’s a much more peaceful life when I can name my weaknesses, laugh about them and not feel bad about myself in any way because of them. The more we are open about the areas where we may “slack”, the less of an issue they become. Now, that’s not to say we should throw our hands in the air and say “Oh well! That’s just me. I suck at being on time (or follow through).” But the more I talk about it, the more I’m aware of it — and that allows me to be constantly working on those areas – without beating myself up about them. Good stuff.

All that being said, the next few weeks (17 days of school left!!!) are a tad bit busy, and I may not be posting too much, but please check in with me anyway. I’ll do my best to get a few of my posts finished and up here in the next few weeks, and then I’ll be back and overly-wordy again before you know it!

P.S. (And on a completely NON-RELATED note) What makes me think I am capable of wearing white pants for an hour (where there is food or drink involved) without spilling something on them?

 

Making Friends with my Limitations

{Although it may appear so in the first few paragraphs, this blog post is not about my physical health and my love for yoga, so if the yoga mantras are corny to you or my rambling about my injuries gets on yours nerves, please hang with me anyway.. it moves beyond that.}

If you’ve been following along a while you know that I’ve been battling some injuries that make some of my “MORE” goals a little difficult. My last post about seeing the Ortho was followed by an MRI and some interesting news. My issues (this time) are because, well.. I’m getting old. The hip issues I thought I was having were actually caused by degeneration and arthritis in my back. I think the exact words they used were, “Have you been really active all your life, because your spine looks a lot older than it is?”  Me: “What do you mean?”  The PA: “Well, it doesn’t look like it’s 80 years old or anything that bad, but you do have more degeneration in your spine than you should at your age.”

—Just great. Because my saggy ass and boobs, wrinkly skinned stomach and knees; sudden mass of wiry grey hair, failing eyesight; joint issues, surgically repaired hip, stiffness; high cholesterol, early onset mental-pause, failing brain, and terrible memory weren’t enough to tell me that I’m old and just NOT what I used to be.   What I really needed was medical confirmation that not only am I getting old, but I’m doing it at an unusually increased pace.  (What I’d really love is if my run pace were increasing as well. Instead, it has completely halted.)  {Refocus, Jenny}  —

I’ve now been in physical therapy for a few weeks, and while my hip is better, the issues in my back are much more evident.  Each day it was slowing me down more and more. And I don’t do slow very well.  I keep reminding myself that this is a tiny little hiccup in my life and nothing – at all – major, so I should not complain. But the truth is I have given into the frustration here and there, too.

You may have also noticed in my blog writing that I mention yoga a good bit. I’ve come to really love it over the last 7 – 8 years. (WHEN I could manage to make it a priority.) Around the time that I went back to the ortho for hip (back) issues a few weeks ago, I also quit doing yoga. I’ll be honest, the whole “Don’t use your full range of Motion” directive from the doctor really took something away from the idea of my yoga practice. The part I loved was pushing myself to that full range of motions and beyond.. in order to get that super-stretch. Now, not able to do so, I figured I wouldn’t get what I needed from yoga. *

Realizing that quitting because I couldn’t do yoga “all the way” was really childish and stupid, I made the decision to go back last week.

The first yoga session went OK.. I could do about half of the poses with no pain, and fought the urge to be frustrated by my limitations in the one place that I used to be able to let it all go and reach my fullest expression of a pose.. and of quiet prayer. Yes, I know that this place should be church, but my three little woodpeckers birds are always with me in church, and truthfully I’m a little distracted by my efforts to make sure that The Starling doesn’t lift up my skirt, pull down my shirt, or tear a bracelet off my arm – sending a hundred beads flinging across the entire place.. bouncing around and creating a serious hazard for the rest of the parishioners. (Did I describe this in too great of detail to pretend that I don’t have firsthand experience with any of these?) And if by some true miracle The Starling is behaving (read: my WAPI husband has saved me and wedged himself between her and me – despite her protests), The Pelican will surely be in a needy, passive-aggressive, I-need-attention mode, which always means she’s attached to my side like a leach and leaning her entire body weight on me.. while I’m wearing fun wedges or high kicks (because it’s the one time a week I get to forego my flip-flops or running shoes). It’s like having a defensive lineman coming full-on from the blind side on a quarter back wearing big pretty wedges… now, you know the wedge-wearing QB is going down.  – Much like The Owl, who ALWAYS, I mean always, mysteriously falls sick on Sunday morning and puts on a pitiful case of “the Sunday Virus” – complete with his attempts to sprawl his 13-year-old, 100+ pound, 5-foot-4 self across the pews in the middle of mass.  None of these scenarios are very conducive to me (with my child-induced ADD) to focus on prayer. I know God understands and is just happy to have me – and my attacking little birds – there.

{Apparently, this is going to be one of those blogs where I go off on tangents a lot and have to bring myself back to the point I’m trying to make. Back to yoga class we go…}

Yoga has no bracelet-flinging, tackling, or angry teenage birds coming at me from all directions, so you can see why it’s a lot easier for me to find prayer time there. When a pose is hard and I’m shaking, I just think of my Warrior-God and offer up the intentions of my friends and loved ones. When flowing through poses I pray the “Our Father” in my head. During those moments of stretching surrender, I rest in His Grace and listen to what He needs me to hear. So why didn’t I focus on those things instead of giving it up all-together when I was given some physical limitations?

The good news is that I went back for a second class on Thursday. And the yogi began this class with something new.  These words: “Lately there has been a lot of talk about yoga causing injuries. But yoga doesn’t cause injury. Injury occurs in yoga when a person ignores their body and listens to their ego. Ignore your ego. Dismiss your expectations. Embrace your limitations.”

Yeah. Ok. Talking right to me.

Her words struck a chord with me and reminded me of another yoga class I used to attend regularly – one that is actually a Christian-based alternative to traditional mind, body, spirit practice. Each and every class begins with the instructor reminding us that “Our bodies are the Temple of the Lord. Honor your body. If it hurts, don’t do it. Be still and allow God to speak. Let go of expectations. Let go of judgment. Let go of competition.”

Somewhere in that second “return to yoga” class I made friends with my limitations. I let go of the competition I had with my “old” self. I let go of the expectations I had of myself, and I opened myself up to what good could come from my limitations.

And guess what? Although I couldn’t do every pose, I felt better when I was done. Physically and mentally. The tension was gone from my shoulders/back and my mind was at peace.

No matter what your particular religious beliefs are OR what level of fitness is (or is not) part of your life, there is a good message to be found in this yoga-speak…. And one that not only applies to our aging Mommy bodies and minds. But one that even better applies to our motherhood. My personhood (for lack of a real word).  The realization hit me that the physical limitations are equaled in frustration by our personal limitations.

Making friends with my personal limitations is a little more daunting than making peace with my physical limitations.

In the last couple of years I have realized something important about myself.

My stress threshold may be a tad bit lower than a lot of other people.

In the past, I have found myself getting resentful of – or even angry with – others because I felt overwhelmed with the level of commitment or expectations that were required of me. Sometimes it happened in the work world (way back when), but even more so since I have been a SAHM.

You already know my feelings about the way I think we overdo sports for kids. (The World Has Gone Mad) And there really are SAHMs out there who take everything they do to super levels.  (She Can Do It All..) I’ve been involved in PTO at multiple kids’ schools, and let me tell you, some of the PTO Moms could take over Major Corporations and take them to a WHOLE new level. In doing so, they commit themselves totally to the role in the PTO and forget that others may not be willing or able to do the same.

And I’ve been involved in other organizations recently that also expected serious – and very  specific levels of – commitment. Every time I would get overwhelmed and frustrated in any of these realms, I would automatically default to venting about how it was TOO MUCH or the expectations were RIDICULOUS.  My level of stress always became someone else’s fault.  And while it may be true in some cases that moms/parents have taken the levels of expected involvement (their kids’ and their own) to over-the-top levels, I realized that the real problem wasn’t always them. Sometimes it was me.

My stress threshold may be a tad bit lower than a lot of other people.  I get stressed OUT and require venting a lot quicker than a lot of other people (especially moms) that I know. The time, commitment and stress level involved that it takes to achieve an award-winning PTO is just simply a bit over of my acceptable threshold. (This is not meant to come across as me “bashing” myself.. I have my strengths, we all do. This is also not to say that I can’t handle a fairly big load of responsibility or stressful situations. I can. But I have come to recognize where my stress threshold is, and I know that it isn’t high enough to ever be the PTO President. Nor do I want to be. And I’m OK with that.)

As a Southern girl, I’m a pleaser. ~ A yes girl. ~  I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings or let anyone down. While I embrace that part of my character – and it serves me (and others) well in many circumstances, at times it takes its toll on me, too. The problem I have with myself in this scenario is that – in the past when I felt the pressure – my natural inclination was to resent the people around me who seem to be handling more than I can.. or that I want to handle.  At some point in my motherhood (much like my “a-ha” yoga moment), I realized that I could not control everyone else’s expectations of me or change how much anyone else is willing to do, but instead I could work on getting to know (and get comfortable with) my limits.  I can be OK with the fact that I’m not willing to sacrifice my life and sanity to my (or my kids’) extra curricular  activities **, while not being bitter that others around me may be hoping for me to join them in their trip to the loony bin. Figuring out how to be involved within the confines of my comfort zone (not theirs) is the tricky part, but I’m getting there.

So here’s another area of life where I’ve been striving to find some balance… between that giving, want-to-be-able-to-do-it-all, yes girl – and the girl who is well-adjusted and self-aware enough to know when to say no. And be OK with it.

I realized this fact last year, and I made the decision to be ok with giving only what I was comfortable with.. even if it wasn’t as much as someone else was able to do (or expected me to do). And yes, even when I that means I have to walk away and focus my efforts in other places.

So I resigned a couple of my positions. Without feeling anything negative at all.  I found that “place” inside myself where I realized I wasn’t doing anyone any good “helping” when it prevented me from doing any aspects of my life well.

I’m working on getting more comfortable with approaching projects and volunteer work with an attitude of “This is how much of my time and energy I am able/willing to give to this particular thing. If that works for others or is helpful to them, then I’m happy to be part of it. If they need/want more than I can give while maintaining a semi-sane state of motherhood, then I’m out.”

It’s that simple. Or, at least, it should be.

If it hurts, don’t do it. Let go of expectations. Let go of judgment. Let go of competition. Ignore your ego. Dismiss your expectations. Embrace your limitations.

Identifying and accepting each of our own personal limits WITHOUT resenting others for not conceding to our limits takes constant work – for me.  — And here I thought that the physical limits were the hard part of growing up.  My arthritic back, failing memory and saggy skin have nothing on my attempts to get to know and accept my personal limits. So, I guess the newest addition to my “MORES”  is: making friends with my physical AND personal limitations – getting comfortable with them, so they work FOR me, not against me .

Just to be clear – making friends with my saggy skin is my least favorite on the list. I really wish my “Saggy” would just move out of the neighborhood, so I wouldn’t have to work so hard to befriend her.

*  Ironically, my back has gotten worse since quitting yoga.. even WITH PT.

** And I owe my kids better than a stressed out, over-committed mom.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: