Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chasing Joy

{Joining with my friend Mel for her first ever link up, Transparent Tuesday. Something all of us need from time to time! Check out her blog for more information and to link up!}

Sometimes I feel like I do many things, but none of them particularly well. A girl of many interests, when passion strikes - I'm sucked in. So I learn to knit and bake and sew and sing and manage to get to a mediocre level of ability before flitting off to the next thing I want to try. I've been this way my whole life. I remember telling my sister as a kid - "I truly believe I can do anything. But I'm really good at nothing."

I am blessed with a variety of friends. The type A types, with impeccably decorated homes and seemingly endless energy for and interest in new modes of organization. The creative types who always have one (or ten) projects going at once and seem immune to stress from the mess.  The active ones, who love pushing themselves to the limit and give every indication of leaping out of bed each day, thrilled with nothing more than running a half marathon before breakfast. The fun ones, with as many kids as possible running through their homes each day while they look on with relaxed enjoyment.

I love and am inspired by each one of them, but often I wonder where on earth I fall in those categories.

It all comes down to choices and priorities. Whether I'm being intentional or not, I'm making choices. The choice to stay up late reading keeps me in bed later into the morning, bumping my workout time out of the picture. The choice to have 6 children in a small home. The choice to knit, or catch up with a friend or watch my babies play. I fool no one but myself when I use my choices as excuses.

Occasionally I am so inspired by a friend that I give their priorities a try. "If she can do it, so can I!" I think, gritting my teeth and trying to shoehorn my multifaceted personality into just one area. It works, for a few days, and then I slip back into old patterns. Because really, this is me.  This is how I live. I'm a little undisciplined and a lot open to living my day as it presents itself. Sure, it could be tidier and quieter. I could be more toned and organized. But I'm a girl who loves falling into a book and emerging hours later. I can be creative when and only when the mood strikes, and when it does, I am helpless to resist. I adore handing out sticky popsicles to a long line of dirty summer kids and shrugging off the ensuing mess. I love long talks with my best friend even if it means that I don't get to the laundry or wind up ordering pizza for dinner.

The world needs all types of people. I'm so blessed by my many friends and their many strengths and abilities and personalities. They inspire, they encourage, they make my world more beautiful and intricate by being their amazing selves.

When I think about it, I realize - I'm a joy chaser. Wherever there is happiness and love and fun, that's where I want to be. I want to live in the center of all things good. Even if that means doing nothing particularly well.

I choose joy.

A little mess, a lot of mayhem, and a heaping dose of  (imperfect) joy.

Our Growing Roots

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Colds, Kindness, and Real Love #MindfulMotheringMondays

{Oh, is it still Monday? Just barely. A summer cold slammed right into me last night, rendering me sleepy and sneezy and a little fuzzy today. I tried (and failed) to complete a coherent post for you all, so this will have to do instead! A photo of my Fiona reading to Rosie (though I'm not sure how through that torrent of hair...) and a few links that sparked my interest today. Looking forward to sharing in this space tomorrow a fun new project my friend Mel and I are working on!}

Are you Raising Nice Kids?  Interesting thoughts here.

The Parent Trap - as a free range Mama, this sort of article is always of interest to me.

He Works And I Stay At Home And It's Not A Competition - I love this from my friend Nell from Whole Parenting guest posting at I Believe In Love on what it's like when you both are lawyers and one of you chooses to stay home with the kids.

That's all from me! See you tomorrow!

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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Thing To Know When You Think You're The Only One

"I know it's probably selfish and shallow and everything, but sometimes...sometimes I miss it."

Oh, how I love my weekly girls night. Those moments after babies are tucked into bed and husbands left with a kiss and a promise we'll return (albeit very late), when we slip out the door and take a few moments midweek to reconnect and revive ourselves. The very best part is the space to speak honestly, openly - and sometimes, brokenly. So when she admits it out loud, that those days before children when every day was an adventure and some days, some days she finds herself missing that carefree life, the rest of us are right there with her.

Because we all know she's not the only one. Sometimes looking out at the lives of other mothers, it can seem like, because they are keeping their noses to the grindstone and hunkering down to the work that is their lives, caring for their families - that they never wanted anything else. Never miss that feeling of being young and beautiful and free.  Never wonder what life would look like if things had shaken out differently. We feel guilty for admitting it, so usually we don't. It's only in those close relationships that we can whisper secret truths to each other and know we'll be held in understanding.

I find writing about motherhood to be difficult sometimes. On the one hand, I hold negativity at an arm's length because I find it to be so destructive in my own life. On the other, perfectly posed photographs and paragraphs full of nothing but the sweet stuff of life can sometimes make you feel a little sick. It can be every bit as damaging to portray motherhood as just one big Hallmark Moment - and leave out the doubts, sacrifices and dark moments that come along with. Because we all have them, even those of us who seem the very least likely.

The thing to know when you think you're the only one is that very thought is a lie, a trap meant to pin you down in guilt and keep you from living free. Admitting that sometimes life is hard and sometimes we find ourselves looking backward isn't an admission that we don't love our babies or aren't thankful that they are here. It's the admission that life isn't heaven, and even blessings here on earth come hand in hand with trials, beauty with pain, love with sacrifice.

It's been eleven years since I brought that first baby home, and with each passing year, my view of the women in my life who have answered the call to motherhood becomes a bit softer. My lofty judgments and strident opinions falling away as I see them all clearer - just people, after all. People who get up each day and love and work and strive to set themselves aside a little more than the day before. That inside every woman is that girl who loves beauty and adventure and freedom. Nurturing and self sacrifice requires daily practice and we're all just doing the best we can.

The thing is, making motherhood out to be nothing more than sugary sweetness misses the depth of what it truly means to give your life to another. Admitting it's hard doesn't mean you love your children any less - it means you love them enough to choose them anyway. It's when we take a balanced look of what it takes to be a Mom that we see how we're all held in tension - the tension of working out our humanity every day and choosing something more. The thing to know when you think you're the only one? Is that you're not alone.

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