Over the past several months I’ve attempted to write and share posts on this blog, but just can’t seem to click on that Publish button. Why? I’m sure you couldn’t care less because there are so many other voices on the internet telling us how to live, eat, parent, decorate our homes, dress ourselves. (What did we do before we had the internet to tell us how to live? Shudder.) But that is the very reason why I couldn’t bring myself to add to the noise. Who needs another blog telling you all about their successes, leading you to think that they must also be successful in everything (which, when I’m reading blogs, usually translates into “everything I’m NOT”)?
I’ve debated the issue over and over in my head (and it gets pretty loud in there). I – and I’m assuming most other bloggers – want to share ideas that will inspire and encourage others. After all, that’s why we women go to the internet, to get inspired. (No one goes trolling on Pinterest to see someone’s brown bag with PB&J, chips and an apple.) But when us women find an inspiring post, our thought patterns go something like this:
Wow, what a great parenting idea! I should try that with my kids.
(Positive, right? Wait for it…)
Look at all those other posts on parenting. I bet she’s an awesome mom – I mean, look at those cute little shapes she cut her organic, non-GMO, kale and chia bread sandwiches into!
(Here it comes.)
I really should eat more healthy and stop feeding my kids spaghettios. That organic stuff is so expensive, but I just know I’m giving my kids cancer with all our Wal-Mart produce. I bet THAT mom doesn’t feed her kids spaghettios with a side of cancer salad.
(And now we have the knock out punch.)
And look at how clean her kids’ craft area is, with all those cute labels on her bins. I bet her kids clean up after every craft time. My house is such a pit. I suck.
Aaaaaaand that’s why the internet is sucking the joy from moms. We go looking for inspiration, but because we never get to see beyond the picture perfect image presented to us, we instead find condemnation. Because those “perfect” images are one-sided. And so we fill in the blanks, assuming that someone who’s good at one thing must also be good at everything. (When, in all likelihood, THAT mom probably spent all her energy that day cleaning the room where that picture was taken, served her kids spaghettios for dinner because all her energy went into staging her photos and blogging, and she’s probably too exhausted now to play with her kids who are being entertained by an endless loop of videos on Netflix.) Who among us is rockin’ it on all fronts at all times? Not me, that’s for sure! This is why I haven’t been able to write; I don’t ever want to be “THAT mom” to anyone.
So starting now, here’s my pledge to you: If I share a successful parenting strategy, homeschool solution, recipe, whatever, I will also share the flip side of that success. The flip side is what I didn’t do or had to sacrifice that week in order to achieve that success or create that experience. Because that’s how it works in the real world. We all make choices each day in how we spend our finite amount of time, money, and resources. Each decision we make affects future decisions.
For example, when I’m in a creative groove in the kitchen and spending lots of time cooking, that means I’m not spending lots of time cleaning or creating fun homeschool lesson plans. Likewise, when I’m in a creative lesson-planning season, my family is likely eating a lot of chili cheese fries for dinner. When the mess finally gets to me, or I decide to host a party, then everything gets put on hold while we focus on getting the house in order. I only have so much creativity and time, and I can’t do all things well at all times – and neither can you, by the way – but you and I can have seasons of creativity in a particular area. So when I share what I’ve learned or created in one of those seasons, I will do my best to also share what I was NOT doing, which allowed me the time and energy to create.
Seasons and Cycles and Hormones – Oh My!
In addition to seasons of creativity in particular areas, all women are subject to the effects of – ahem – monthly cycles. (Sorry, men, but if you want to understand your wife, hang in here with me.) If you’ve never charted your monthly cycle, you need to start. Now. It has been so helpful for me to realize how my energy level and creativity are tied to the ebb and flow of hormones each month. I am super creative and energetic in the first 2 weeks of my cycle. Knowing this, I try to leave space on my calendar for spontaneous field trips, parties, freezer cooking days, etc. However, what goes up must come down, and there is usually a week or two when I just. Don’t. Care. That party that seemed like such a good idea when I planned it during my peak of creativity, now feels like an albatross around my neck, as I grudgingly clean and kick myself for committing to a social event when I’d rather just watch a movie marathon while the kids eat peanut butter and crackers for the next few days. If I read a blog post with all kinds of creative ideas during the upswing of my cycle, I’m inspired to be my best self – yay me! If I read that same article when my hormones have left me in the dust, devoid of energy and creativity, I will beat myself up for not measuring up to “THAT mom” and not even giving a rip about it. Because I just. Don’t. Care.
I should also note that there are seasons of parenting, as well. The kinds of things I do with my middle school-aged kids I could not do when they were babies and toddlers (like putting the words into sentences making). For instance, I have trained them to clean which frees up time for me to focus on other things. When they were babies, I wasn’t planning gourmet meals. I was trying to make it through the “witching hour” as quickly as possible so I could get them to bed! Lord, keep us from idealizing someone else’s parenting season or thinking that we should be able to do all things well when we have babies who are sucking the brain cells out of our heads with every middle-of-the-night diaper change. Amen.
So there it is; the truth that you rarely find in the blog world. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. We all have our moments of glory/facebook-worthy status updates. And we all have our moments when we’d rather be hiding in the closet from our families, eating chocolate. Welcome to the wonderful world of moms. We’re gloriously messy and messed up at times, but we love our families fiercely and really want to get this mom thing right. So let’s encourage one another to be the best moms we can be – you being you, me being me, and Pinterest being a place where we tread lightly, aware of the false gods of perfection that loom there. And for the love of chocolate, please don’t go there when you’re PMS-ing!
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’m hoping to share with you in the coming months all the awesome things God’s been teaching me, my journey of healing on the Paleo diet for the last 6 months (a.k.a. “Please Tell Me I Never Have to Eat Another Salad As Long As I Live”), and our exciting transition in our home school to the Scholar phase (a.k.a. “Homeschooling on Steroids” or “Why I Won’t Be Sleeping Much For the Next 6 Years”). But if I don’t find time to write, you’ll know it’s because I’m too busy schooling my kids to write about it, and every “yes” to my family requires a flip side “no” to something else.
The Flip Side
In the meantime, let me leave you with this little gem. While I was being a “Mary” this summer and sitting at Jesus’ feet, having an awesome time learning about who God is and who I am in Christ, I was NOT cleaning out my garage, as I had planned. (Martha takes a lot of flack in sermons for complaining to Jesus that she needed some help in the kitchen, but somebody’s got to do the work at some point. Jesus isn’t calling us to sit at his feet all the livelong day – otherwise, sign me up for that gig!) So when I get around to sharing with you all I learned this summer, you’ll know that as a result, I get to look at this every day. Bless it.