The World’s Okayest Mom

Maybe it’s because I’m a brat, or have a little rebellious streak or whatever, but I don’t like contrived holidays, AKA Forced Celebrations.  And none is more forced than Mother’s Day (except maybe Valentine’s Day).

Mothering is hard work and isn’t treacly eighty percent of the time.  Neither is marriage.  Hallmark doesn’t seem to understand this.  Or maybe it does, but has figured out a way to make money off of our collective sentimentality/guilt/ideals.  I don’t know.

Anyway, I think holidays like Mother’s Day make it harder to live up to our own expectations of what motherhood should feel like.  We think it should feel like puppies and snuggles but it actually feels like peanut butter sandwiches and bedtimes.  With some hugs thrown in, yes, obviously.

Having said that, I’m all about the pursuit of excellence in our mothering journeys.  It’s just that I suspect excellence doesn’t look like a promo for a made-for-TV movie (at least I’m hoping against hope it doesn’t because I demand better acting in my life-script).  And I think that we all need to keep our eyes fixed not on some blurred-at-the-edges ideal of the The Mother Life but on Truth and Mercy.

Still, my kids better make or buy me cards because all the other moms are getting them.  It’s just that it would be alright with me if they said something like this:

images-2Because, honestly, of all the OK moms out there, I really am one of the okayest.

Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms (celebrate, or else)!

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Going On An (Information) Diet–Starving Distraction to Gain Peace

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I’ve been thinking a lot about peace these days, what it means to me and my family, how to hang on to it over the long-haul.  I’m a Christian, so I understand peace to be, ultimately, about the Prince of Peace, Jesus.  He’s who we’re singing about in all those carols this time of year, and remembering that helps me to breathe in the midst of the season’s festivities.  Entering into and nurturing a relationship with him is, I’ve discovered, the starting point to a fundamentally different kind of (peace-filled) existence.

Still, we all do things–year round–that sabotage our personal peace, things that end up affecting not just ourselves but our families and friends as well.  The number one way I work against myself in my quest to maintain a peaceful heart and home?

I consume too much media. 

We’ve all heard it; the human brain can store only so much information.  Yet never before have we humans had the ability to access as many important facts, hybrid lies, complete lies, and useless info-bits at the click of a button.  And I have a confession:  I love it.  Even if I can see that some Internet “fact” is a lie, it’s all good.  In that case, I can bookmark it, text it to my sister, and get the particular pleasure of discussing just how much of a lie said fact is.

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But a funny thing happens to me after too much engagement online, whether it’s social media, news websites, or blogs–I find that I can’t concentrate on my real life, and I get anxious.  The actual goings-on of my day get upstaged by the vague chatter in my brain as it tries to process enough (mostly mindless) info to last me a month, maybe a year.  I lose patience when my son tries to tell me about some world he discovered in Minecraft because I don’t have the mental space to receive One More Piece of Info.  This is sad because often he uses the sharing of factoids to jump-start deeper, more meaningful conversations with me.  I know all this.  Still, when he starts in, my brain screams no mas.

And then, when it’s dark news stories I’ve been consuming, I find myself replaying horrifying scenes in my mind, ad infinitum.  Even though I know that most of the time, a). I don’t have all the facts in order to ascertain the complete truth in a news story, and, b). I can’t help the situation, other than to pray, still I can’t shut the fretting off.  Then, as I worry about things I can’t change, I’m rendered useless to effect change in the ways I can.

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Now, since I have no plans to go permanently dark on the Internet (I work from home, after all), I’ve had to come up with other ways to mitigate the effects of media on my mind and in my home.  I’m not always faithful to stick to my resolution since information is to me like molten lava cake is to others.  Still, these things have helped:

I limit my exposure to social media.  I’m not a member of 50 different sites so I don’t have a ton of checking to do anyway.  When I do want to check a social site, I give myself two minutes or less on it if I don’t have any notifications that indicate something’s changed.  And if something has changed, I try to limit myself to ten minutes, tops.

I consume very little news.  Virtually none, to be honest.  It’s impossible to avoid headlines and I find that I can sort-of stay up on major events that way.  But any more info than a casual glance affords is too much for my anxious heart.  I try to pray for local, national, and world issues as they come to my mind but I do not spend time thinking about things over which I have no control.  This is a biggie for me.

Is my heart a perfect oasis of peace these days?  No.  Do I spend too much time thinking about things that have no real bearing on my actual life?  Sometimes.  But I’m working on it and it’s making a difference.

Is there any chance that cutting back on media consumption might help you too?

Winter Feet

The current state of this blog reminds me of an ongoing predicament I have around this time of year, a little something I call Winter FeetWinter Feet are those that go from early morning thermal socks (because it’s cold), to black dress socks (because, black boots), to gym socks (because you can’t exercise barefoot, I don’t think.  Can you?), back to thermal socks (because, cold).  And since WF aren’t regularly viewed by people other than one’s (unfortunate) spouse and oneself, they get neglected.  And by neglected I mean this.

Anyway, the thing about Winter Feet is that, if you pull off your socks and really look at them, they make you feel like something has gone deeply wrong with your self-care.  And while that might be true, it could just mean that you’re working on other things, things that seem more important (although I submit that something needs to change if, when tugging on tights, your heels and/or toenails end up ripping them.  In that case, intervention time).

But about this blog.  I realized the other day that this blog is like WF.  It’s getting neglected in favor of other things because, right now, those things seem more important.  However, like my poor WF, I can’t just keep ignoring it or I’m going to have to deal with ingrown toenails.  Or, you know, something.

So while I will be holidaying my little heart out in the next couple of months, and eating, and writing tons of other things, and sitting too close to the fire, I’m also going to try to keep up around here.  Consider this post as me trimming my toenails so things don’t get gross.