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Monday, January 14, 2013

Time to Hang Up My Cape

When I was a teenager, I remember being disappointed by things I'd built up in my head....Things I expected that others were going to do and just how they were going to do them. I built them up to the point of being totally CRUSHED when those things didn't happen. I remember retreating to my bedroom, putting my face in my pillow and crying for hours.

From these experiences, I learned that the only person I can control and should be able to count on is myself.

Well, lately, I'm learning that that much isn't very true either.

image: hangingaroundforever.wordpress.com
There have been things, since I've been married and have had children--a household to care for--that I've built up for myself. Expectations for myself that I feel are my responsibility and no one else's. I grasp them selfishly. They are mine...mine...MINE. **Insert evil laugh here**

My kids do quite a bit around the house. They have assigned chores, but there are things that I've reserved for myself--those things that I think define me as a mother, a wife, and a homemaker. When I don't get those done, I am so disappointed in myself. I don't cry for hours over them, but maybe that would help. If only I had time to retreat to my bedroom.

It's funny, I don't have one of those husbands who comes in after a long day of work and says, "Where's my dinner?" or "Why isn't the house clean?" If I did, maybe, just maybe, I could blame these feelings on him. Boy, that'd make me feel better, but darn it! No, I have one who comes in after a long day of work and just gets to work all over again, in a different way. Here's the clincher....He does is HAPPILY! Ugh! I'm so grateful for this good man, but my guilt and disappointment in myself grows every time.

Life has been busy with added responsibilities that didn't used to be there, and I don't think the sleep apnea's helping at all. No, I don't have the device for the apnea yet--long story. I guess what it comes down to is that I don't have the energy I used to, but those aren't good excuses. I am cutting myself no slack here.

I've been really bothered by all of this....until early last week....

We were sitting at the dinner table. The Warden called on #7 to bless the food. As soon as he did so, this little voice in my head/heart said, "You don't have to give every prayer."

That may seem like a funny statement to anyone outside of my head, but these words made everything else click. It was the thought that I don't have to do it all. It's okay to delegate things. Everyone in my house can help, and it's all okay. Nothing defines me as a mother, a wife, and homemaker as much as my love for them. If those tasks are causing me undue stress, I need to let them go. They're not worth it. I need to stop defining myself by what I do and start appreciating how I feel. Yes, the things I do are an outward expression of what's in my heart, but service to my family comes in so many different packages.

I have a friend right now who is pregnant. She was the oldest child raised in a very large household. I guess I thought of anybody, she'd be up and doing it ALL for her family. I've heard of women who were nine months pregnant and out working in the fields. That's what I, at times, have aspired to. I thought that's how this woman would be.

In the past two weeks, I've been described as "tough" by my children first, and then by the Warden in front of my children. I've tried to prove to them that I can "fight through" anything. That I can take a licking and keep on ticking. I haven't wanted to be a marshmallow that backs down at the first sign of adversity. But, that all brings a big price with it. That price is called self-neglect.

I made arrangements to have one of this friend's children to come play at our house. The night before the playdate, I received a text from her stating that they wouldn't be ready because she wasn't sure she'd be up and about yet at that time of the morning. Could we arrange a little bit later so they could take their time?


It hit me, as I pondered her text, that in taking care of herself, she was really taking care of all in her household--even the not-yet born. She wasn't being tough. She was being tender and thoughtful and careful...of HERSELF! Wow, I want to be like that. I want to be able to say "I'm not going to be ready yet" and not feel guilt. I want to be able to cut myself some slack.

I've been married for 20 years. How do I train my family, after all of these years of martyrdom, that it's okay to take care of me? Oh, my goodness, and then, where do I begin?

My heart churns most of the time lately. I have no other way to describe it than that. Those must be my super powers trying to break out. Well, I think I need to quiet the powers and stop trying to be super woman everyday. It's the falling short that's disappointing me. Maybe I need to extinguish those feelings. Maybe that's where I need to begin. Maybe it's in the little things I do to quiet those churnings that I'll find what it takes to care for myself. Maybe I need to stop motivating myself with the guilt I've heaped upon myself in my attempt to be tough and super and everything I have expected a mom to be.

No, I don't say every prayer here in this madhouse, and there is no manual written that says if I don't do something, the world will fall apart. Maybe it's time to take care of me a little bit more. Maybe it's time to stop running the hamster wheel, let others help me flatten it out, and run forward together.

No, I'm not super woman, and I don't want to be. It's time to remove the expectations and be good enough because I love them.


Crazymamaof6 said...

You are an amazing wife and mother. I'm so glad you realized you don't have to do it all. You are inspiring and amazing and your family knows you love them. You don't have to kill yourself off trying to do it all. We had all these kids so they can share the work load, not kill us off early. Take time for you. Pamper yourself a little with no guilt. Hugs! I have faith you can do it.

Julia Shinkle said...

This was a great post! It is wonderful to "take care of yourself" and have those times of slack cutting! Thanks for writting this!

Deanna said...

Julie, I don't know how you do it, but so many of the things you write speak so directly to my heart, that it's as though we share the same heart. Maybe in a way, as mothers, we do? Thank you for this post. I needed it!

pioneerfamily said...

Well said. I finally have started telling people the truth that we get up late, we are messy, and if they don't like it, they can pitch in or not come look! As Kila says, if you came to see my house, I am sorry for any subsequent dissapointment!

Anonymous said...

It took me a Long time to accept this, myself. I had to do everything snd when i didn't, it wasn't done right.. Since my Fibromyalgia set in my whole life has changed. I do what i can And what does not get done can either be done by someone else or it can wait. It cant be that important that I kill myself in the process of getting it done. You will see a whole new YOU now that you have adopted this new attitude. Good for you, Julie. You deserve it¡

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