She Runs A Good Race

mothering is a marathon

Mom On Trial Acquitted

I am set free! FREE.

From “mother guilt,” and all the criticisms I constantly heap upon myself.  At least I found the key to the jail cell.

I am so done chastising myself and thinking that everything I do or don’t do for my kids will leave eternal marks on their souls.

Now I am NOT SAYING that I am throwing up my hands and singing, “Que Sera, Whatever Will Be.”  I’m just coming to terms with truth:  That I am not the only force at work in my child’s life.  I am not the only factor in how my child turns out as a teenager or grown-up.  I have known this, but I have not ACCEPTED this truth, deep down.

Author and psychologist John Rosemond has set me free.  He calls himself “a heretic, one of the few psychologists in the USA who thinks psychologists have done more harm than good to the rearing of children.”

He writes in Teen-Proofing how in the 1950’s “an epidemic of God Almighty Syndrome (GAS) swept through America’s parents.”

I did not realize till now that I have been suffering from GAS.  This syndrome is:

“characterized by the belief that everything your child does is a consequence of something you have done.  In effect, the parent afflicted with GAS believes he or she has God-like power in his or her child’s life.”

We mothers joke casually about savings funds for the therapy our children will most definitely need when they grow up.  Because WE screwed them up.  We are racked with guilt, obsessiveness, and worry.  We are constantly putting ourselves on trial.  Every time our kid misbehaves, acts defiant, or disobeys, we go into autopilot guilt mode.

The voice in my head screams ruthlessly at me:

  • You are a terrible mother.
  • You must be doing something SO WRONG if she wont listen to you THE FIRST TIME you ask her to…
  • If he talks to you like that, you must be modeling a bad mouth, it must be your fault.
  • You lost your cool again, so now your kids are going to grow up angry people with short fuses.
  • You better hope your prayers outweigh the damage you’ve done and the mistakes you’ve made.

It is quite sick that we (or maybe just me) do this to ourselves!  ENOUGH of this!

I need to break this agreement I’ve made that I am not a good mother.  I discount all the time, energy, and intention I put into mothering.  I discount the books I have digested and applied, and the parenting classes I have attended.  I easily forget all the genuine positive praise I dole out, the hugs, kisses, the one-on-one time, the love-tank-filling I have done.  I throw out ALL THE SOLID, loving parenting I’ve done in a blink, and so quickly allow the mommy guilt to come in like a vice to squeeze my heart.

How my children turn out is not all up to me. How Luke acts as a teenager is not all up to me.  Or to me and Chris.  We are not God.  We cannot control every factor in our children’s lives.  They have a personality, a temperament, a will, extra-family experiences, other adult influences, and peer influences.  Rosemond says that good parenting does not guarantee a good outcome.  I can do all the right things and things can still go wrong!

Certain things will go wrong.  And I don’t have to feel guilty about it, like I could ever attain perfection as a parent and prevent it.

“IF you think you can parent well enough to prevent a child from ever doing something outrageous, then I am moved to ask you, “Who do you think you are?”

If I can just breathe in these truths, I could be more joyful in my mothering.  Less preoccupied with worry.

And lets be honest, I will be less critical of other mothers and their kids.  Less judgmental and more compassionate about what other parents go through, especially in the teen years.

Mommy guilt be thou gone.

 

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On Having 7 Years Left To Teach Luke EVERYTHING

Seven years ago Luke started DK at Cornerstone Elementary School.

And in seven years from now he will start college.  COLLEGE!!

As my young boy started his new life in dreaded middle school (me dreading it…), it hit me. HARD.  We have only 7 years left with him.

Then we, too, will be standing at the gate at the airport like Adam and Christina Braverman in this season’s first episode of Parenthood, waving goodbye to their firstborn child, and holding back an avalanche of salty tears.

Seven. 7. Seven. 7. Seven.  Dancing 7’s in my head.  Is that enough time to reverse any psychological damage done by snarky comments and impatient-stressed-out-mommy moments??

Is that enough to teach him EVERYTHING that is left to teach him?

Lessons I want to teach him, from all things practical to deeply spiritual are swishing around my brain, making me yearn to STOP THE CLOCK. Please.

I love Luke at this age.  And he still loves me.  A lot.  He still hugs me. He still kisses me.  He still wants me to tuck him in at night.  He wants to have “private conversations”with me.  He says “sorry” very quickly after mouthing off or blowing it.  He wants to please.  He loves learning and exploring.  He is bright-eyed and happy.  I have witnessed only a few glimpses of adolescent edge and moodiness so far.

However, if you read my first blog post, I promised I would never act like my life is perfect or kids are perfect.  I have not been a perfect mommy.  And there were many days in the past I struggled with Luke. We have had our power struggles, our fights, our disagreements. I nag him to clean his room and close his drawers.  I get “push-back” from him.  Its not all daisies and roses, (with any child), but I love him to pieces and would jump in front of a car to save him. Yes, I would.

I’m savoring Luke at this age.  I’m watching him more closely and intentionally.  I’m studying him.  I want to be with him, not just be a passerby watching a movie of her child’s life. This requires slowwwwing down. Me slowing down and being more present, less to-do-oriented.

So with the “only 7 years left epiphany” I am feeling a sense of urgency to be EXTREMELY intentional. About our time together.  About HOW he spends his time.  About WHO he spends time with.  About how he spends or saves his money.  About what he watches or music he listens to.

AND about my being less sarcastic and more soft and full of grace.  About having talks with him.  More talks.  Not in a manufactured canned sort of way.  But, in tuning in to his words and day-to-day-life stories, and praying silently for wisdom along the way.  So that my words come out organically and not preachy. (Please God, help me with this!)

I have also experienced a little panic attack that we have only 7 years left to save up for college. Yikes!  But that is for another blog post.  Another day.

Today I will just hug, and love on, and breathe in my sweet Luke.

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God Speaks Through Matt Damon

 

God thinks and acts outside the proverbial box.  He always has.  That, among a trillion other things, makes Him God.

But sometimes I forget He wants to speak to my heart at all.

I forget He cares deeply about what I care deeply about.  And that He speaks in different ways.  Then He does, and I am blown away.  AGAIN.

Last Christmas break I took the kids to see, “We Bought a Zoo,” starring Matt Damon, and Scarlett Johannsen.  The kids really wanted to see the movie. So I relented and off we went in search of buttery popcorn and good seats.  We got there early so they did not miss anything.

I liked the movie, (and I even just ordered it), and some of the dramatic moments between the widowed father (Matt Damon) and his motherless, grieving son.  The kids were disappointed in that there were not enough animals to see, not enough action, lots of “boring” dialogue.  I was disappointed in Matt Damon’s hair, but that’s about it.

I love quotes and there was one in the movie that I particularly loved.  Matt Damon’s character, Benjamin Mee, was giving his young son some good advice:

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.  Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery.  And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

Right then in the Palos Verdes movie theater we frequent, I felt THAT FEELING.  From God.  Like He was saying that quote to me, for me, loud and clear, undeniably.

How do I explain that?

It comes from a deep inside place of knowing, something I have experienced time and again.   I know I sound like a crazy church lady.  But I am willing to take that risk right now.  I know that the Bible is clearly His main vehicle of communicating to us, but He also uses people, and circumstances and messages at church, and conversations with wise people, and well, Matt Damon.

Lets get back to that quote, and the moments after I heard it.

RIGHT AFTER Matt Damon said it, I heard, “Start your blog.”  And in the “20 seconds” following that I declared silently, “YES, I WILL.”   God was encouraging me to be brave enough, get some guts, and pursue my lifelong dream of being a WRITER.  A really wise and soulful writer who will hopefully touch and inspire others forward in their lives.  So….I committed to it, with courage, right then and there.

That night I told Chris that I was going to start my blog in 2012.  That I was going to dedicate Monday mornings weekly to write, research, read others’ blogs, and study the business of blogging.  (Who invented that word anyway?)  Chris is my biggest fan and supporter, and always comes alongside my dreams, whispering confidence and love into my perfectionist, fearful self.

God speaks through my husband, too.  And Chris is a LOT cuter than Matt Damon.

 PHOTO BY tvtropes.com

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Inspiration Oozing Out of Me

I am so high I feel like I’m in the purple and orange hues of a Los Angeles sunset.

I just returned from a retreat. (Now, please don’t run away and click off.)

It was a different sort of retreat.  We called it a “Girlfriends’ Retreat,” a mix between a “girls’ weekend” and a traditional churchy women’s retreat.

My BFF in New York City, Kim, and I were in cahoots on this. Being on opposite coasts since our college days we had talked and dreamed about meeting in the middle of the US of A with our besties.  Then our other BFFs would bring more BFFs, and so, you get the idea.  Lots of estrogen coming together for rich Girltime. Which I am an addict of and strong advocate for.

Austin, Texas was the destination, and 16 girls were set to meet up and breathe in the heat, eat BBQ, and learn to do the 2-step at The Broken Spoke.

But that is not all.  We wanted something deeper and richer as well as good old-fashioned girly-girl times of TALKING,  shopping, TALKING, pampering, eating, and more TALKING.

Before our plan was on paper, I called NYC Kim and said, “What if we contacted Kristin Armstrong to come and speak at the retreat? She lives in Austin, Texas! It’s a crazy idea that she would say yes (to us strangers), but why not try?”   We both agreed to go for it.

Both Kim and I (and everyone who would take the books we handed out) had recently read Kristin’s book Mile Markers, and fell in fan-love with her.  Given that we, too, were mothers, runners, and writers, we felt a kinship to her.

We loved her honesty and transparency, her style of writing, and her intentionality in life and in motherhood.  What we also felt extremely like-minded about was how she cherished her girlfriends, and that she called them “sacred and mandatory.”

We were drawn to her.  And God authored the idea of bravely asking her to come and share her wisdom with our precious friends.

The short story is well I wrote to her…and SHE SAID YES!!

Kristin said in front of everyone that she receives many letters, but that with mine, it was compelling, and she could hear my voice coming through.  (What every wanna-be writer wants to hear!!) It was like God hugged me through her and told me to keep writing.

And I’m still dizzy from the weekend away.  And not from hitting 6th Street college-town-craziness on Saturday night.

My head and heart are just spinning around with all the one-on-one talks I had with UH-MAZING women who inspired me in an incomprehensible way.

I’m gushing even more about Kristin Armstrong, and what she brought TO US.  That she cared deeply about being there.  We were not just another speaking engagement and honorarium to collect.  She had been praying for our group, and even had her friends praying for our group.  She came in to share her heart and wisdom, but NOT TO BE ELEVATED in any way.  And she was gifted.  She is gifted by God.  In “getting” women, how we are, what we need, what our souls long for.  She was genuine and honest and funny, and so wise for being so young.

AND despite any hardships she may have been through in her life, she had no edge to her.  She was soft, full of grace and composure.  A breath of peaceful, fresh air.  This left me inspired to be SOFTER, and less sarcastic, in my home life, especially.

I left with many points of inspiration:

  • To be intentional about my time and my kids’ time (that I might BE WITH THEM, not just watch them grow up)
  • To continue to write, write, write
  • To be full of grace with my kids
  • To not be so irritable with my kids or Chris
  • To be more in prayer
  • To remember always that girlfriends are sacred and mandatory, for life
  • To plan more events like this one where women connect openly, spiritually, and beautifully, AND have some girly-fun!

When God authors a dream, it does come true.  So now I ask and pray, what’s the next one, Lord??  (I think I have a few ideas…)

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