Tuesday, April 1, 2014

When I Can't Worry

Eliminating fear (I gave up worry for Lent and this has led to not engaging fear nearly as much) as motivation is clearing out some space in my head. I have felt for far too long that I suck at a lot of things.

Feeling incompetent is a disease inside you. It starts to spread from the one thing you think you suck at to all the things. And then you sit in it and feel gross and defeated.

One of my friends at book club made an off hand comment when I said I wasn't sure what else I could do (job-wise). She said "You're one of the smartest people I know!"

That stuck in my head because I haven't felt smart since high school, when there were classes and gpa's and class ranks to prove to me and anyone else that I am smart.

Thinking that someone else thinks you can do something gives you this extra push. It's not just all in your head anymore.

And once fear doesn't get to be in your head as much, there's room for these thoughts, these ideas, these realizations that hey, you can do things, you are not incompetent, you don't suck. If something isn't working, that doesn't always fall on you because you suck. Maybe the thing that doesn't work sucks. Or at least maybe it's sucks for you because it's not for you.

Anyways, denying fear and worry the option to constantly occupy my head has been weird. I don't think I realized how much I thought I was doing something when I was just worrying and being afraid and actually not doing anything at all except falling farther into the pit of it.

Fear is such a liar, you know. It tricks you into shutting down when you most need to open up. Or at least that's been my experience. It's suffocating and it's depleting. It's a thief. Fear is a liar and a thief. And it leads you to worry and convinces you that worry is doing something and worry is necessary and important and that you should stop whatever it is that you are doing so that you can worry.

People who don't waste energy on worry have so much more power, so much more peace, so much more passion. To not worry though, you have to have faith and belief in something (or be constantly inebriated or just not care at all about anything).

So denying myself the temptation of worry is leaving this open space for breathing and for just being and for believing. Because I have to. If I can't worry, I have to believe.

Maybe believing feels like doing nothing because it is releasing the responsibility of making it all work out to God where worry feels like doing something because it is trying to manufacture my own solutions. Which don't generally work out. But worry is a liar, so that makes perfect sense. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

So I chose the wrong sun(s)

I don't know anymore, how to write about my life, my thoughts, my desires, my fears, my hopes.

I realize I have chosen the wrong sun(s). I have been orbiting around the wrong things. And so, my light has been false and in turn, my darkness has been too.

My moons are not my moons. My tides are liars, flooding and washing over the wrong places at the wrong times.

The gravity on me has been wrong for so long and that's why I've been drowning, suffocating, breaking in all the wrong ways.


I stand under the small ledge while it rains, drinking malt beer out of my favorite blue wineglass, and willing my dog to hurry up so we can go back inside.

There are times I don't recognize myself or my life, as ordinary as it all is. I know the truth and I know there's something off. It was the wrong sun(s).


My daughter's school was locked down this morning. Someone too close for comfort was homicidal/suicidal. They took precautions. Some will say "It's too close to home" but I know what I've always known: everything is too close to home. Everything is everywhere. The good, the bad - there is no separation by county or country, by highways or cornfields, by gross wages per family, by race or religion or age or gender. I wonder why everyone doesn't already know that all the things are everywhere. I wonder why I already knew that.


I forget sometimes, most of the time, that I am smart, probably too smart for my own good. They say that about people when they can't assimilate. They say that when they can't nod and smile and just do what everyone else does without being difficult or making things difficult or having difficulties. All my existential crises. All the times I am frustrated, incensed, outraged, annoyed, bored all because of what's in my head, what I just know, the standards I hold the world to in my own strange little world. And I mean, how can you even talk about the trouble with being smart without sounding like an absolute idiot? But being humble is not about pretending you are something you aren't - or that you're not something you are. Still, it's a weird thing to talk about. And I understood a long time ago that playing the game of not being too weird has it's benefits. And I was well set up to play the game. I'm pretty and personable enough. I'm not lacking social intelligence and so I can usually navigate those paths enough to make it work. Why does any of that matter? Because I messed something up. It works to make things work until-

Until it doesn't work. Until I got lost.

And so now I have to talk about it, as uncomfortable as it is. My giftedness, my intelligence, my smarts - they are stunted by the life I'm pretending. Not the whole of it. Not most of the external stuff. That's what people think of when you say things like that. They think you're talking about your family or your marriage or your career. People forget how vast the world inside us is and how much can go off track there.

Everyone loves a genius when they become successful. When they create something that makes the lives of other's easier, when they make a lot of money or win a lot of awards - when they have something to show for it that is impressive to the world around them, when they become noteworthy. And then their eccentricity is acceptable and their genius is confirmed. If they measure up. Everyone else slips through the cracks. There are cracks for smart people too and we slip just the same as anyone else.

I don't think I'm a genius. But I am something.  


I won't blame the world around me for my choosing of the wrong sun(s). That was my own cowardice. My own insecurity. My own doubt. My own doing. I got sucked into the orbit of the wrong sun(s) because I got lazy. I pretend that I took the hard road, but I still chose acceptable things, understandable things, noble things that people in the world around me confirmed as good. I did that for safety's sake. I'm not much of a risk taker. Even my risks are often well measured. I like being the peacemaker. Many of those things may have not been the wrong choices, but they may have been made the wrong way, with the wrong intentions and so I have been spinning around the wrong sun(s).

I used to think I could straddle the world in my mind and the one "out there", but I'm having my doubts about that now.

The hard thing is not to pick up and start a new life. The hard thing is not to throw off all the old and start fresh. Well, those are not my hard things. For me, what will be the hard thing will living authentically right smack dab in the middle of the place I am now. To face the resistance and the push-back, the doubts and fears and uneasiness of what I know it would be to be wholly who I am right here, where I am. And I know that I am likely to get in my own way more than anyone or anything else. That's usually how it goes. All of it.


I gave up worry for Lent this year. I've never practiced Lent before. I think actively not worrying freed me up to face the way I don't have words for things anymore. I've been dumbing myself down, numbing myself out, hiding in the shadows cast upon me by the wrong sun(s).

I'm surprised things are not much worse. Everything could have turned to ash. I know some things did. I can be grateful for that. Beauty from ashes. I believe in that.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Heaven Isn't Holding Back

It's not Heaven that holds us to a standard we can't possibly reach - it's the world. Heaven, though a lofty place, offers us access, immediate and unconditional access, through our belief. It isn't Heaven that keeps moving the bar a little higher. It's us. It's our employers or our culture or our church or our parents or our peers or our spouses or our siblings or our children or our selves. Whoever and whatever it is, it's not Heaven. And that's where we get all mixed up.

We think an obstacle is a punishment because we aren't "good enough" instead of seeing it as an opportunity to watch the divine work in our life to overcome the world. We worry and beg God for what God is already offering us, openly. We want peace and love and hope and joy and mercy and comfort and grace. We want provision and proof that we are loved and that we are cared for and that we are accepted. We seek and plead for those things and those things are already ours and yet, so often, we can't see them or tap into them.

But it is not Heaven that withholds those things from us, dangling them before us until we can get it right. It is the world that blocks the way. It is thinking the way the world thinks that wrecks our hearts and minds and eyes so that we can't see what is right before us. The desires of our flesh are not always dark and sinister upfront. Sometimes, upfront, they are innocent and well-intentioned, but they can still be keeping us from really seeing Heaven at work all around us. In fact, these are the things that dig in, take root, and become the our biggest obstacles. Like sometimes we forget that regularly indulging in things like worry or pride can hold us back more than a moment of weakness related to sex or substances. The obvious sins are the ones we most easily repent and can most readily avoid when we decide to. It's often the "acceptable" misuses of our hearts and minds like the glorification of striving and of self-sufficiency that trip us up the most out here in the real world.

We buy the ideas we're sold. Maybe we don't buy them all. We renounce a few. The ones that really stand out as "wrong", but there are plenty that we let slip in. And we justify them. We find the right verses, the right leaders, the right defenses. We make our religious convictions line up with an "appropriate and acceptable" life out here and we are missing it. We are missing the power of Heaven on earth. We are missing what it would be like to really live with divinity actively coursing over us and through us.

When truly, our life should be torn down to the ground and rebuilt with faith and faith alone. And sometimes, when we don't know why our worlds keep falling apart, maybe we can believe that especially in those needy moments that Heaven is calling us closer, drawing us in and encouraging us to cling to the hope of Heaven, and regardless of what we believe about the purpose of things we can maybe believe that in every moment of brokenness there is a heavenly offering of an opportunity to  really summon the divine and really experience the Spirit in our lives. And living like that, on faith, we should probably look and sound a little crazy. Our faith should radically change the way we interact with the world (even the religious world). And that should maybe make some people a little uncomfortable if they aren't living the same (and maybe even if they are).

But that can't become an idol (to be called crazy and to make people uncomfortable does not inherently mean you are "doing it right") and it shouldn't build a wall. It shouldn't draw a line in the sand - an "us" and "them". It shouldn't point a finger or build a pedestal from which we can observe and shake our heads at those who "don't get it".

It should keep us on the ground, hands dirty and hearts broken, constantly crying out to Heaven, constantly needing God and constantly finding the miracles of provision and peace and joy and hope and love and grace and mercy and comfort in the midst of the mess. That is Heaven come down to us. That is communion with the Holy Spirit. That is living like Christ. To be broken, in the thick of it, and to be just fine, to know all is well. To rely not on the promises of the world and the false security it offers, but on the supernatural, the divine. To know that we are already chosen, redeemed, good enough, beautiful, healed, treasured, cherished, forgiven, loved and held by the Most High. To know that all our missteps are not enough to separate us from the love of Christ and in fact are already covered and so, we are free and there is divine, supernatural power in that freedom. We are free to live and to love and to feel and to be human. We are free to fail and free to try and free to rest. We are free to give and free to forget and free to come back over and over and over. We are loved and we are enough and we are free.

That is what the world wants us to forget and it will use any and all means necessary to create a divide. But this is what Heaven wants us to remember - the divide has already been crossed for us. All we have to do is believe it.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

It's Not Just About The Shirt

I bought this shirt for Natalie the other day:

Ignore the "been in a bag a few days" wrinkles.
It seemed right up her alley - it's basically just a regular t-shirt, but with enough embellishment to look nice and make me happy. I thought the cuffed sleeves made it look like a muscle tee (which she likes) and the rhinestones are more "rocker chick" than "princess".

She tried it on and it fit well. The jeans I had bought with the shirt were too small (serves me right for not measuring her before I ordered) so I put the jeans back in the bag to return. She asked if I was going to return the shirt too and I said no. It fit well and didn't she like it?

She hesitated and said "Yea, I guess, but I get made fun of when I wear stuff like that." I tried to get her to elaborate on what "made fun of" entailed and what "stuff like that" is, even though I had a clue.

Natalie has declared herself a tomboy for the past few years at school and I suspect that when she wears something more "girly", kids notice and talk about it and even if it's not mean, it probably makes her uncomfortable and likely makes her feel like she's going to lose her "tough girl" reputation. And then who will she be? Will her guy friends still let her play with them?

I shelved the convo last night since we were tired and brought it up again this morning. Mother's intuition was right.

She has a role that she actively defined for herself  as "tomboy" and any time she steps out of that box now, she's called on it. Because who we are gets away from us. It gets into the hands of the public - the people who know us and the people that don't and it becomes our definer, even if it's a shallow definer (we're all more than just one label). And she didn't say this, but she feels required to be who people say she is now.

It happens to the best of us, baby girl.

I asked her - separate from what anyone else thinks - does she like the shirt?


I described for her why I thought she would like it, why I picked it out for her. The details that made it scream "Natalie" to me. I wasn't going to guilt her into keeping it, but since she did like it, I wanted her to know why I liked it too. Why I thought it was a nice fit for her, as someone who knows her well.

Then I told her this: "You are going to have to decide for yourself what you like and don't like and you are going to have to not let what other people think you should be affect your decisions. Otherwise, you're going to spend your whole life being who other people think you should be and never being yourself. And that feels bad."

I told her that she can wear what she wants to wear, who cares what anyone else thinks? (Then I had to remind her that it still had to pass mom and dad's approval because Lord knows she would run with that)!

I reminded her that she can be tough and like to get dirty and like dresses too. It doesn't have to be one or the other. It's up to her to decide what she likes and who she is. She doesn't have to fall into a box. There aren't rules to it. 

I told her that if she really wanted to wear something but felt unsure, she could blame me and say "Yea, my mom made me wear it" if anyone said anything to her, but then I told her it would be much better to just say "Yea, I like it, so what? I don't care what you think about it." Eight year olds are already so sassy, I felt I had to follow that up with this: 'I don't want you to be rude or disrespectful to someone, but I do what you to stand up for yourself and have confidence in who you are."

And then, I ate my words because just like a 1990's sitcom, these words of wisdom apply to my current situation as well. (Someone cue the sappy music).

Haven't I been feeling this way too? Haven't I let my persona get away from me? Haven't I felt like I have to live up to the person, the role, that I have now been assigned so that I don't catch any flak or push-back or just weird uncomfortable moments of people questioning if I can authentically be both this and that or am I just a faker all around? Doesn't this line of thought affect me too often? Or maybe, all the time? Since about age 17 or so, really.

It's the way we make sense of our world - to put people into categories, to put ourselves into categories. It's not wholly bad, if we allow for flexibility in ourselves and others. If we understand it's sort of fluid - this being a real person thing. We may fit dozens of labels and categories at any given time, or maybe we fit none. We have different sides to us, we play different roles. We have layers. It's okay to sort ourselves out, but we really shouldn't box ourselves (or others) in quite so much as we do. And we surely shouldn't get so bent out of shape when someone decides for themselves that they would like to do or be a little different than they have been. We have to allow for change, in ourselves and others. Sometimes, it takes a series of changes for us to find our sweet spot in life. Sometimes our sweet spot changes. That's life, right - change and growth? And generally, if we hang in there, I think we can find that the essence of a person holds pretty solid. But we have to be willing to dig in a little, past the labels and boxes, right?

It's been on my mind and heart lately, to tap back into that person I was when I knew who I was. Sure, I've gained some insight and wisdom along the way, but I've also lost some clarity and confidence. I've got to get a better filter, really. It's not about ignoring the world around me, the people around me, the social expectations and nuances of the world around me, it's just about filtering it better. So that I can make my decisions with all those things in mind, but based on who I really am and who I was designed to be - not who someone else says I am or thinks I am or wants me to be or even needs me to be. That never really works as well as being true to yourself and your unique and innate design. It's not so much about seeking a specific version of yourself as it is about seeking wisdom in regards to yourself. Not so much about self-fulfillment as it about making peace with, and finding acceptance in yourself, with yourself, Because doesn't that inner sanctuary that you learn to clear out and settle into - doesn't that become the place from which you can pour out those things to others? The patience and grace and love and sense of purpose and hope that you learn to have with yourself and with your life becomes abundant and can be shared. It starts to radiate from you. No matter how it starts, it becomes a spiritual journey. Isn't that what all the important things are? It all gets kind of holy when we really get into the thick of it, doesn't it?

I didn't think this day would come so soon. This figuring out who you are versus who they think you are and figuring out who you want to be versus who they want you to be thing. I really thought there'd be more time before we got to here. But as Providence would have it, it turns out that we might just be navigating the same waters at the same time - a couple decades apart - but I suppose we'll learn together. That is the best motivation I can have to commit to this - this being who I am, this better filter, this confidence building, this cleaning out of my inner sanctuary. This holy journey of remembering./discovering. It isn't shallow and it isn't selfish. It is the foundation of everything - this "self" stuff - because we were fearfully and wonderfully made. We are children of the Most High and so it is not something to toss into the corner - this identify crisis. It is the center and root of living a life that can be fruitful - to know who you are and where you are from and what you are to do with it all. It's not just about the shirt. And it's not just about me.

And the stakes feel so much higher when you realize it's not all about you anymore.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A brand new blaze

Burn-out. A light that has died. An energy that can no longer find a way to spark. People talk about recovering from burn-out, but being burned out requires new fuel. The recovery effort can not just be taking a break, stepping back for a while, distracting yourself. The recovery effort requires acquiring new fuel. And creating new fire.

It may require replacing the burned out thing completely. When a light bulb burns out, you can not just let it rest for a few days and try it again. It must be replaced. Same with a candle. Flashlights need new batteries. I mean, you may be able to shake them a little or switch them up once or twice and squeeze a little more out of them, but they don't last forever. Bulbs and wicks and batteries - they get all used up and they don't spontaneously regenerate if given enough time to rest.

When a fire dies out, you can either add fuel to the rubble of the old fire and re-light it, or you must clear out the ashes and debris, find new fuel, and light it. Either way, you are creating a brand new blaze. Then you must poke it a little, get it going really good. To keep it going, you have to stoke it, add fuel, keep your eye on it. Any fire unattended will eventually burn out. Of course, it could end up burning everything around it before it does, but, left alone, it will always, eventually, die.

Either way, the remedy for burn-out does not require a break alone. It requires a change.

So when I confess that I am burned out, I've got to stop pretending that a couple of hours of rest will "fix" that. Not even a week off can "fix" that.

I am burned out with work. We all know that now, don't we? I keep trying to "do my best" and sometimes I fool myself into forgetting that I am done with this. I just still do not know what else to do. Look for jobs. But what jobs? Where? Just look? Just randomly look?

The past two months have just been exhausting with change and unexpected expenses and situations and good things too, but you know, I'm lying to myself if I pretend that I am not kind of (or a lot?) busted up right now. I know everything will be okay. I really do. I mean, everything is okay, it's just, I'm tired. I know that a lot of these things are just temporary, momentary. I know that. I'm not lost in them, I'm just exhausted by them.

Admit your brokenness, that's what I was talking about last post, right?

I catch myself, over and over, falling back into the habit of trying to hold things together. But that's not my job.

I've been thinking about writing. About my poetry. About putting together another book. For no reason at all except that I have the material and I can. And maybe that I need to. When I was writing poetry more, reading it more, I was really messy, but I was better in the mess than I am trying to hold things together.

Something about authenticity. Something about being vulnerable and brave and willing. Something about faith. Something about grace. Something about indulging the crazy just a little bit...

I know who I am when I'm really writing. I love her, but I am maybe a little scared of her. She is a little bit of a liability, but she is also the root of me. I think she's tired of waiting for me to realize there's no way to re-light that old fire. A brand new blaze is in order.

Friday, February 21, 2014

It's All Battleground

It's been 14 years since I started truly struggling with fear. I was 16 and I was mugged and it shattered everything for a while. Or maybe forever. And maybe that's fine. Maybe, that's good. Maybe shattered is not the worst thing you can be. We mistake brokenness for darkness but you can be broken even when you are full of light. There are, I suppose, many ways to be broken.

It's strange, but the remembrance of the event no longer means anything to me. I have no feelings about it anymore, but I remember how it made me feel. I sometimes still find myself in the mental and spiritual fallout of my broken trust in people and God. And while that was not the first time I felt disappointed in people or in God, it was the most visceral, at least up to that point in my life.

 I spent a year lost in that. I prayed, I wrote, I read Psalms. I talked to people. I punched shower curtains. I avoided going places alone. I saw shadows. I felt sick inside and like I may never ever feel safe anywhere again and I kept that to myself. And then I got better. Not just better. I felt delivered. I felt redeemed. I didn't use those words for it then, but that's what it was. I was literally bursting with peace and joy. I was alive again and it was incredible.

And years went by and I didn't give any of it much thought.

Until my cracks were split wide open. And I found myself in the fallout again - distrusting God, people, and myself.

This time, it's been different. It's been off and on for years. 7 years.

That's a lot of years. That's a lot of fallout.

I'm constantly having to decide if I will choose to have faith or not. In people and in God and in myself.

The fear manifests itself in different ways, it finds my weak spots and digs into them. It screams at me to "be afraid" and in my fear and distrust, I scramble to find security that I can control, that I can be sure of. It's always a burden too great. It's an impossible feat. I am covered with the weight of the failure of it. Whatever I can build or buy or create for myself, on my own, will always fail me. It may not fail me immediately, but it will fail me.

But thankfully, that's not how faith works.

Faith is releasing the burden of my safety and care to One who loves me. It is a sweet surrender. It's a constant choice.

I know this is almost over. This specific battle is winding down. I can feel it, I've heard it. Little voice has told me. And I know I'm on the right track when I start hearing little voice again and when I start believing little voice enough to write about it and sound a little crazy.

So, I know this wound is healing and that is an answer to so many prayers. I am so hopeful and excited for the future.

But I also know that the war will wage on for my time, my heart, my mind, my spirit, my talents, my gifts, my words. I know that I can't just take the healing and run. There is always more out there and I don't want to take this healing for granted, nor do I want to shelter my light under the guise of cherishing it or protecting it.

We are given armor, not to wear while we hide in safe rooms, but to protect us in the midst of battle.

Maybe we must be shattered, pieced back together, cracks filled with light and God, so that we recognize that we need the armor and then, in desperate need, reach for it -  hope and faith and love and mercy and grace. Maybe we must be open about our need so that we remember that we are always on a battlefield. Because we are always on a battlefield, but the thing that God does is this- gives us rest and water and joy in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death.

 It's never as much about changing the things around us as it is about changing the things inside us. And yes, we must be openly needy. We must recognize we are broken. We must announce it. But if we are choosing the light, we must do that in the belief that God is enough. We must do that in the seeking of God. And we must seek that God fulfill our need, and that God pour both into and out of our brokenness. In claiming it, we can surrender it and that surrender is our ultimate protection against the darkness. Because when we try to piece together our own armor, our own fortress, we think we are strong and we stop paying attention and the enemy strikes and we are crushed beneath it because we can never be prepared enough for the attack on our soul. It is a supernatural attack and we, alone, are not supernatural. The enemy will always find our weakness, our blind spot, and will, without fail and without mercy, go for it, unrelentingly. The enemy is real and I think we have to believe that as much as we believe that God is real.

In the end, the battle is always for our hearts and minds and souls. And if the enemy can get us to live in fear and anger and despair and greed, if the enemy can get us to doubt love and grace and mercy and hope and redemption and our worth and the worth of others, if the enemy can steal joy and contentment and belief from us, if the enemy can have us at one another's throats, then we are in hell on earth.

All the days, all the moments - good and bad and in-between - are all full of choices. Will I recognize my need and my brokenness and not despise it and not hide it, but surrender it to the One who loves me? Will I believe that I am loved? Will I believe that God is good? Will I trust? Or not? That's the great thing and the hard thing about it. While my salvation may already be sealed, this living with faith is not just a one time deal. I think, perhaps, we can be saved and miserable at the same time because the enemy wants to take from us everything that it can and because we don't always call upon the Lord and the Lord allows us the dignity of making our own choices, even poor ones, and allows us the consequences of those choices. The good news is that God can also redeem it all and renew it all and change it all. All is never lost. As long as I'm breathing, it is never too late.

So that's great when I make the wrong choice, to know that I can choose again, to know that there is redemption, that there is still joy and beauty that can be worked even in the most war-torn areas of my life and the lives of others. But it can be easy to get complacent when I make the right choice - not life choice, but faith choice. It's always about faith choices, about heart choices. It's not really about what job you took or didn't take, what you did or didn't do with your money, who you did or didn't spend time with - it's about the heart and faith behind why we do or don't do the things we do or don't do. God is big enough to cross the t's and dot the i's. But anyways, it can be easy, once making a habit of faith-filled choices, to maybe start to forget how real the enemy is and how much the enemy wants to destroy me. As nice as that would be to forget, I shouldn't. Because that too, can become a blind spot.

We must always remember we are broken, and that we need more than ourselves. We need divine forces on our side, because the battle is never really a flesh and blood battle and if we try to fight it that way, we will always wind up defeated. We may even be tricked into thinking we are not defeated for a while, but sometimes that is the worst trick of all. To believe I have done it all on my own, by my own power, of my own power, that I am my own salvation, or that anyone or anything less than the divine able is to save me is the sneakiest trick. It's only a matter of time before that kingdom falls into a vast darkness. Not knowing your need is worse than living with the ache of it. Because it becomes your biggest blind spot. And you never prepare for battle. Because you forget there is one.

But I get to choose. And I have to choose. You don't have to choose the darkness to be damaged by it. You become collateral damage in the midst of spiritual warfare. There is no escaping this, for any of us. And so, I get to spend my whole life choosing how I want to live, and what a great privilege that is. And that great privilege has great power to do great things in my life and the lives of others. That would be daunting if it weren't for this - the choosing is the hardest part. Once I choose to believe, the Lord will fight for me. That may look different every day. My need, my belief, the way the battle wages, the way the Lord fights for me, the way I accept love, accept rest, accept armor. There may be a million ways to do this. I think there probably is. It's probably less about how to make sure we do it "right" and more about making sure the enemy isn't wreaking havoc and setting up shop.

And so, I claim my healing and I claim my brokenness all at once. It all goes together. May I move forward seeking that my armor be divine, not something I, or anyone else, designs.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I forgot I'm a toddler mom

Sometimes, I forget that I am the mom of a toddler and what that means for all the other things in my life.

How you forget something like this, I don't know. Maybe it's because Alexander came in the midst of so many other things and I took so long to even get used to idea of him that I didn't spend much time planning or anticipating him. Maybe it's because he's the second child. Maybe it's because there's a 7 year gap between my children.

I don't know. We just got into the elementary school phase with Natalie when Alexander came along and then it was baby and elementary school phase which has now turned in to toddler and elementary school phase and maybe I just never really dug into that split.

In all of that forgetting, you know what I forgot? Toddlers are consuming. Yes, all children are consuming in some way, but toddlers are climbing and chewing and throwing and breaking and unrolling everything. Life revolves around his schedule now much more than it did when he could sleep in his car seat where ever we went (I'm really not interested in missing nap time). He's still too young to really participate in something like a "snow day" but he's too old to be dragged along to something that isn't going to be kid-friendly.

I forgot about that. The summer trips we tried to take when Natalie was this age were not the best trips (aka they were pretty miserable). They were pretty miserable because I had yet to realize that when you take a trip with a toddler, it all must be about making the trip work for the toddler. That is the only way the trip will work for anyone else at all. This sort of carries on like forever, but it's really really important for the toddler stage. As they get older, it does get easier to take them places and everyone's idea of "fun" starts to look a little more similar (usually).

Anyways, all of this to say, I forgot about how I would probably not be spending much time enjoying the snow today because Alexander does not enjoy the snow. And he's in charge of that kind of thing right now.

So, while that is a little disappointing, I remember - that yes, I'm the mom of a toddler. My house can be toy-messy. My appearance can be a little forgiven. My phone conversations can be cut off or interrupted (with good cause, not just because people ignore the fact that I'm on the phone). Dinner can be eaten after toddler bedtime. It's okay. It's this season.

*deep breath*

Sometimes you have to remember the realities of your life at any given moment in regards to what works and what doesn't work. I truly haven't been doing that lately and while I don't at all think it's the greatest source of frustration, it's surely contributed.

Just because he's a second baby or because he caught me off guard or because he's so much younger than his sister is no reason to not pour some intentional effort into Alexander's current phase. Looking back, once I started working with what I had (instead of trying to work with what I didn't have) during this phase for Natalie, I really enjoyed it.

The trick for me though is getting the head space for it. As I've been talking about, that's really important for me to be able to do anything at all. I finally realized it's not so much time that I need, but space: in my head and my heart.

By next month we should be in a slightly different routine due to a new work schedule for my husband (and a new job - yay) and I am hoping to make that work for me by using some quiet time each night to clear out this desperately needed space and make room for these things I know I want in my life.

Right now - for now - in the midst of snow days and weird schedules, I guess my best option is being still, and working with what I have, as I have it. And I know there is enough for what I need. Even if I feel lacking. And I know I'm not alone in that. And I know that it won't always be like this - this phase, this feeling. So I can breathe, let it be, and see all the grace that covers all the cracks.