Bunny’s Birthday

Last Tuesday was my Bunny’s birthday. She would have been 96. Gone only 6 months, it seems like both a flash and an eternity. So much has happened since her home going that I’ve wished she could know, wished I could tell her. Funny things, redemption stories, new life, etc. Life goes on. And I miss her, still.

As I chased around littles in this season of fast-slow on Tuesday, I thought of her from the moment I woke up til the moment I went to sleep. My plans were to commemorate her day here, but I think she would’ve rather I spent my time doing what I did: chatting with my sister while our children wove in and out of the living room, making food for my family, taking my oldest to dance, being in community. In the end, it’s not the big things that leave the legacy. It’s not the money or the big vacations or the flashy clothes that we so often revere in 2016. It’s the little things.

It’s enjoying a good meal or dessert around a table with those you love.

It’s taking the time to listen and ask questions, undistracted by media.

Its choosing vulnerable and real over maintaining appearances.

It’s loving people well.

It’s chasing relationships.

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My grandmother wasn’t famous, she didn’t have a slew of people at her funeral, and the world did not publicly mourn when she breathed her last. But she touched more lives that she ever knew. She was more wonderful than she realized. And her influence continues to spread and will. That’s the amazing thing about legacy. When you leave one, it doesn’t die. It trickles down and reaches beyond our comprehension.

guilt monster

Good morning, Mama. Did you know that there’s an invisible monster sitting next to you while you drink your morning joe? He’s called the Guilt Monster. He’s a first cousin of the control monster (we can talk about him later, he’s a bad dude). And we need to fight him.

guilt monster

So here’s what happened. Before baby, we were flitting through life, drinking our Happy Hour Sonic drinks at pools with our pals, having a good ole time. Saturdays were spent eating bagels and watching back-to-back episodes of fluff TV. Life was good. Life was carefree. We decorated with stuff we found at TJ Maxx and called it a day.

Then we got pregnant, and all of that guilt free business came to a screeching halt.

Suddenly the urge to be perfect in every possible way began to plague many of us. This is when the Guilt Monster makes his move.

I asked my friends, what they’ve felt guilty about this week, and here are some of their answers:

  • A toddler out of control at Target.
  • Losing your temper at your out of control toddler at Target.
  • Being a stay at home mom (feeling lazy/not productive).
  • Being a go to work mom/sending your child to daycare.
  • Feeling frustration toward one child over another child (feeling favoritism).
  • Spanking/not spanking.
  • Wanting alone time/needing a break.
  • Not being able to breastfeed/giving formula/diminished milk supply.
  • Having a new baby and not as much time with the old baby.
  • Bumping the current baby’s head into the hallway door.
  • Going through the drive-through for Chick Fil A 1 or 2+ times in one week.
  • Not having the perfect nursery.
  • Not losing your baby weight immediately/indulging in fast food/comfort eating at the end of the day.
  • Being jealous that your husband gets to go to work and you have to stay home.
  • Noticing your kid who you thought was next to you at a store…is not next to you, but actually wandering around aimlessly looking for soda that they aren’t allowed to have anyway.
  • Letting your kids play independently/using a play pen/having room time.
  • Not always enjoying motherhood.
  • Missing your freedom.
  • Missing your husband’s help more than him, when he’s gone.

How many can you identify with? This week? Today?

Mommy guilt seems to be a part of our psyche. But why and to what end?

Here’s a little quiz I have compiled. Just answer in your head…

I have felt guilty this week for:

I can go back and change the past. Yes or No

Dwelling on this guilt makes me feel better. Yes or No.

Feeling guilty helps me be a better mom. Yes or No. If yes, explain.

For a long time I’ve thought that there is a difference between guilt and conviction, and as moms we HAVE to understand that difference.

According to Webster:

Guilt: a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong.

Conviction:a strong belief or opinion, the feeling of being sure that what you believe or say is true.

If we examine our guilt, I think we will find that much of it is born out of preconceived notions about what we THINK or DEEM are bad or wrong. Conviction, on the other hand is a knowledge of truth.

Guilt is a dead end street. Conviction usually leads to action or a change of behavior.

Guilt tells us you’re a bad mom because your baby’s nursery isn’t a pinterest perfect dream haven. 

Conviction says I would like for my baby’s nursery to be a perfect pinterest dream haven, but life will not fall apart if it isn’t. My worth is not wrapped up in a nursery OR Stop watching Housewives, and go do the nursery.

Guilt says you shouldn’t be jealous of your husband’s career or miss your own. You are an ungrateful jerk-face. Feel LUCKY you GET to stay home. 

Conviction says It’s ok to feel your feelings. It’s ok to miss adult interaction and work related praise. It’s ok to grieve. Now go find some mom friends to enjoy this season of slow with.

Guilt says You never should have yelled at your 2 year old. You have ruined them forever and they will probably 100% become a heroine addict.

Conviction reminds us We ALL mess up. Learn from it, grow from it. Teach your child what repentance looks like. You can do this, mama. There is grace.

In my life, the difference between guilt and conviction can be seen in the outcome.

Guilt condemns.

Conviction empowers.

Guilt diminishes self worth.

Conviction enables it.

In many ways, guilt has become an unconscious way of life. Think how much more positively conviction could work in our favor, if we chose it consciously OVER guilt. Additionally, think how conviction can pull us together.

When I posed the guilt question to my girl friends on a private Facebook page, a beautiful thing happened-encouragement, conversation, love, and grace. Guilt isolates, but conviction pulls us together.

It takes a Village not just for a child to be raised, but for a life to be lived. Mommies, let’s lean in on eachtother, let’s tackle the guilt monster together. I think we can take him!

To my Children in 2030

To my precious children,

As I write this letter we live in the house you grew up in, which is in a neighborhood of mostly young families and a few college kids. Usually its a quiet neighborhood, but this afternoon, the party next door is raging.

Some girls are bikini clad and sliding down a huge bounce house slide (you are all jealous), while the young men (mostly clothed) cheer for them. There is loud music, lots of yelling, kids walking in our yard, lots of drinking, and hopefully in several hours, lots of designated drivers and Uber rides.

Three of you are ignoring the shenanigans, while your fearless leader and oldest sister is channeling my quiet frustration. She’s pacing and saying things like, “I can’t take this anymore. They are being so loud.” I sincerely hope this is an indication of your future selves, but just in case you find yourselves being normal college kids in the future (which once again, I really hope you’ll be the nerdy ones hiding in the library and making straight A’s or baking cookies with your sweet roommates), here are some things to consider…

First of all. Don’t ever be in a situation in which you have less clothing on than your friends. This will lead only to humiliation, and if it doesn’t lead to humiliation, you need to think of my face in your head, you should be embarrassed. Keep your clothes on, unless you’re all swimming, then keep your suits on. Here’s a rule. In most cases, if a man is cheering for you and most of your skin is exposed, while his isn’t, you have been objectified.

Sweet daughters, I hope and pray that you know how beautiful you are (inside and out). I hope you know that and nothing can shake it. I hope you have enough confidence to wear clothing that flatters your body but doesn’t expose too much to random people. I hope you look in the mirror and realize that you are just gorgeous. Your sexuality is a part of you, and good part of you (a part of you I’d prefer to not think about…ever), but don’t give it away for free. Respect and love are not achieved with your sexuality, but rather with your mind and your confidence and likely your beauty. Your sexuality comes in later, once you have the love, not before. Please remember this.

My precious boy, I hope that you will be a young man who esteems women. You will no doubt, be taught by society that objectifying women is ok. For real. This is still a huge problem in 2016 and it probably will still be when you read this. Issues like this are so sticky and hard to nail down. On the one hand we as women, want to be able to celebrate who we are physically. We want to feel beautiful and confident in that. But on the other, it’s so easy for that celebration to be one-sided. And that is when the trouble starts. When enjoyment is not a two way street, be very wary. Be the man who loves your friends who are girls, enough to respect them for who they are and not only what they look like.  Don’t be that guy who cheers for girls in bikinis while you have your clothes on. Don’t be that guy. Put your swim trunks on and take a turn on the bounce house slide, too!

Kiddos, your dad treated me with so much respect when he met me. He told me how beautiful he thought I was but he also became my dear friend. He never ever once tried to take advantage of me. I always knew that he respected my body and my mind, and I his. Don’t settle for less, my little people.

To all of you, I hope that you are confident enough in yourself to have as much fun sober as you would have drunk. I hope you learn that while alcohol may taste good, it can also ruin your life if you let it control you. Find that balance. Eat, drink, and be merry. But don’t eat, drink, and be trashed. It’s just not even fun. For real. And I’m not saying that as your super conservative boring nerdy mom. I’m saying that because I used to be in college, too, and singing 1980s hairband songs into a microphone that is really just your hand is actually pretty lame. (That only happened one time, dad :):)).

Finally, um. Don’t walk in other peoples’ yards. That’s just rude. Be a respectful young adult, and maybe your friends will follow your good example.

I love you all to pieces and am pretty sure you are the four coolest kids in all the world.

Mom

P.S. Also, wear sunscreen. You won’t have perfect elastic skin forever. Pale is the new tan. Really.