She Runs A Good Race

mothering is a marathon

Jen Hatmaker Is My New Imaginary Friend

I have a crush on Jen Hatmaker.

She is a new discovery to me.  Writer, blogger, speaker, mother to 5 (she wins!), including two she adopted from Africa, and wife to Brandon Hatmaker.  She lives in a city I would love to live in, Austin, Texas.

Anyway, after reading her blog post that went completely and insanely viral, “The Worst End of School Year Mom Ever,” I was hooked.

Because she’s my kind of girl.  With her unbridled and unfiltered way of writing, she engages you quickly.  She is hysterical on top of that.  She says how she thinks and feels.  REALLY thinks and feels, not what she wants you to think of her.  She’s not trying to win our approval or favor.  Yet, she is not abrasive.  Some people find sarcasm abrasive; I do not.

She’s not writing to make herself sound like The Perfect Mom, The Organized Mom, or The I Have It All Together All The Time Mom.

She’s honest.  And imperfect.  Honest about her imperfections.  So you relate to her, like her, love her, want to high-five her and buy her a drink.  (I actually tweeted that to her, but I’m so tech-challenged, it probably did not reach her.)

If you’ve followed my blog or me around long enough, you know I don’t mince words.  I’m painfully honest about life as both a mother and special needs mother, and totally full of a zillion imperfections.  I am not afraid to admit Major Mommy Failures.

Jen Hatmaker, if I had my wish, would be my next door neighbor.  And running partner.  (I don’t know if she runs.)  And prayer partner.  Oh, and of course, my writing coach.  I imagine us throwing back a glass of wine and sharing war stories and encouraging each other forward.  My stomach muscles would ache from all the laughter.  Did I already say she is hilarious?    She’s the type who would never judge me for pulling one of my kid’s hair (once!)   She would remind me to have new mercies each day for my kids and remind me how deep breaths and Twizzlers help when you are pushed to the brink in Mommy Land.  She would pray for me, in a caring humble way, not in a “Lawd, HELP HER!!” way.

My other pretend next-door neighbor would be Glennon Doyle Melton.  Because I know that if she heard me raise my voice at my kids, she would probably knock on my door, and give me a wink and a hug.  And again, not judge me, but say, “Carry on warrior mama.  You can do hard.”

Glennon, creator of Momastery.com, writer, speaker, blogger, is another new fave.  She is so gutfully honest about her own struggles, and is passionate about “making the unknown known.”  Her heart and vision is to help others unmask and take off their superhero capes they hide behind.  To help others be vulnerable and truthful about who they are.  She is so snarky and smoke-and-joke in her writing that I feel she gets me and the snarky way I sometimes feel.  Yet she is so sensitive and deeply profound, and writes provocative posts.  She was born an old soul.

One more shout out I must must give is to Rebekah Lyons, author of Freefall to Fly—A Breathtaking Journey Toward  A Life Of Meaning.  (I have actually met Rebekah in person and she is lovely, I might add.) She writes like Jen and Glennon, from her heart.  She writes her own story, authentically and transparently.  She blows open the topic of depression and anxiety women face.  She bares it all and in the meantime blesses us to our souls and we are changed for the better.

What all three women offer to us in their writing is validation, encouragement, wisdom and feeling completely understood.  They offer themselves.  And if we lived next door to them, I’m sure it would come out of their pores and smiles.

What is speaking to me these days in my life as a mother, is—IT IS HARD TO BE A MOTHER.  A GOOD ONE, that is.  It’s definitely easier to be unintentional, lazy, emotionally-reactive, and neglectful.  I don’t want to be that.  God, no.

It’s HARD to do it all, wear 17 hats, and keep the Pottery Barn plates spinning and do it gracefully without ever becoming frustrated, tired, or just unglued.  NOBODY CAN, I remind myself, but not enough.  As my friend Kristin says, “NO ONE lives the Pottery barn life, and its time we all started talking about it!”

If “they” say they do, and, with a smile on their face, then they are inauthentic. And I cannot be friends with them.

–I love being a mother and then I don’t.

–I try and I fail.

–I do good and I do bad.

–I hug and I holler.

–I cuddle and I cuss (not in front of them).

–I love-on my littles, and then I’m a total lame-ass.

–I’m emotionally present, and then I’m aloof.

–I’m all fun-goofy-and-dance-party mom, then I’m somber and

preoccupied.

–Like Katy Perry sings, I’m hot and I’m cold.

–I embrace the chaos and clutter and a minute later I curse it.

–I question whether I should have become a mother—and then I have THE BEST MOMMY MOMENT EVER, and I recoil at the thought.

–I make special dates with my kids, and then I dream about special dates for me, all alone, in a beautiful hotel by the beach.  Alone.

I’m human.

I’m embracing my humanity, my feelings, my thoughts, my strengths, my weaknesses, my sins, and my angst.  I am trying to let go of the guilt I feel all of the time about the mistakes I make 23 times a day.  This is a real challenge…the mommy guilt.

I lay it all out for you to read and peer into.

And I do sometimes wonder what my mom or mother-in-law would say if they were alive and reading my blog.  Would they applaud me or be horrified at what I spill out?

It’s cathartic for me, and by the lovely and kind responses I’ve received, it’s cathartic for you.

The angst I feel in motherhood fuels my writing.  Maybe that is why God has not healed me or released me from it, nor has He slapped me up side the head with a new perspective. (Not that He, in His goodness and mercy, would actually do that.)

So, I embrace you, Mothers of All Littles out there.  I embrace your gifts and talents and courage as a mom.  Whether you are a SAHM, or a working mom, both lifestyles are taxing and wonderful.  I embrace your failures, your fears, and your anger, that you never even knew you had, till you had children.

I do not and will not judge you.  I wont judge you if you “have it all together” or if you pretend to, or if you can never, ever, ever seem to get out the door on time.  I won’t judge you if you pull up to school in a sippy-cup-laden, messy minivan, or a pristine Prius.  We all try so very HARD to get it right.  As my friend, Kristin says, “NO ONE has a Pottery Barn life, and its time we all started talking about it!”

I just lied. 

I would be a little bummed about your pretending (or just jealous of your incredible organizational skills!).  Actually really bummed.  I understand the appropriate game face at certain times and situations.  I took Social Skills 101 and 102.  But a lifestyle of pretending, denying, and hiding does not equal joy or growth. Does not.

My new mantra is:

 HONESTY+VULNERABILITY+TRANSPARENCY= TRANSFORMATION

I want to grow.  Desperately.  And I want you to grow, too.  Into the most beautiful, loving, giving, compassionate person you can be.  As mothers, as wives, as daughters, sisters, and girlfriends.  All these parts of us are gifted and to be shared.  For the good and blessing of the world.

Even though Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle Melton are just my pretend BFFs, I am thankful I DO have women in my life (you know who you are dear girlfreinds) who accept me, who inspire me, and who push me (and sometimes) drag me towards a transformed life.

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Moms’ Night Out Junkie

I’m a group-y kind of girl. I always have been.  No, not that kind.

I love the village of my girlfriends that I get to live in from time to time.  Were it not for my girlfriends or fellow mom friends, I would not be as validated, or as encouraged, as I need to be.  In fact, you probably would not want to be around me.  Because my true girlfriends challenge me to be the best me, at the same time they accept and love me as I am…a flawed mother just trying to do the darn best I can.

And I must say—I have a fantastic-keeper-of-a-husband, but husbands are not girlfriends, and they are not meant to be.  It’s just not fair to expect that from them.  They are, well, different from us. (I may get in trouble for saying that…)

Women need women. Mothers need other mothers.  The friendship of fellow women and fellow moms, the camaraderie, and the i-get-you-and-you-get-me-ness is absolutely priceless.  There is a warm, friendly feeling when we girls commune and gab, gab, gab, uninterrupted by children screaming in the background, like when on a phone-call with a friend.  We feel understood and we offer validation to one another.  Not to judge or compare or criticize.  We do that enough to ourselves don’t we?

ESPECIALLY in the special needs game that I am in.

And in the same vein, couples need couples in their corner.  Families need other families.  I say this, again, especially as parents of children with special needs. We just “get” that all families with special needs kids have gone through some excruciating journey.  Without having to say much, there’s an instant bond, as “we’re fellow survivors.”   Like being in a foreign country and running into someone from our hometown, and there’s this huge moment of comfort and identity all wrapped together.

Although each of our journeys may be a little different, or a LOT different, there is a bond of compassion and empathy.  We all understand the cycles of grief, of blow-your-mind frustrations and stresses.  And oh, the victories in achieving milestones…how they mean so much, vastly more than in our “typical” children sometimes. (And we don’t want to admit it, but we feel it inside.)

I am eternally grateful for my two special needs moms groups—one within the PWS community and one within my school district.  Neither one is formal.  There are no dues required.  No rules.  Anyone is welcome.  We don’t have to ACCOMPLISH anything.  We schedule a dinner out periodically at a very yummy restaurant (this part required) and just be.  Together.  “Moms’ Night Out.”  (This goes for my “regular girlfriend moms” and “non-mom girlfriends” as well, by the way. You know who you are and how I treasure you so so so much!)

And maybe these nights out feel so good because they are nights OFF.  A break from the intensity, the demands, the needs, the food schedules, the questions, and the nighttime growth hormone shots.

We share laughs sometimes till our drinks come out our noses…then we share tear jerking stories till you know what comes out of same noses.   Venting, sharing, encouraging each other along.  We snort and make snarky comments…about the thousands of questions our children are ALWAYS asking.    We have drinks and delicious entrees.  I learn and grow so much from the other women and their savvy in getting what their child needs, through the school or the regional center.  I am inspired anew to be more calm, calm, CALM, and patient in my hectic hamster-wheel life.

Every time I drive away from a “Moms’ Night Out,” I relish in the feeling that I am not alone.  We are not alone.

 

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