A lot to learn about myself

I have a lot to learn about myself...or maybe I know a lot about myself and I have a lot to learn in the way of implementing solutions or trying knew things or addressing my weaknesses. Alexis and Tim and I, after making the comment that we were tired and had no intentions of staying up late last night, sat at the kitchen table and talked until 2 am. We talked about a lot of things, but i think it kind of turned into a therapy session for me. I don't even remember what we talked about. This could quite possibly be one of those blog entries that turns into a big unorganized blur of random thoughts.

Before the thought leaves me, I think that the biggest thing that I've come to realize even in the last 24 hours is that it has been important to me to be given permission by someone whose opinion I value to "not care what other people think". That is always so easy to say that, but so hard to not really care. That's part of who I am...I am a people pleaser. I want to be acknowledged for doing something well. Many things come easy to me, so I think over the years that when I played a sport well, or got good grades or created something well, I could see it. The results were evident in the stats, the report card, the finished project. Everyone knew I had done well...even if it wasn't my best, it was done well because it was something I was good at. Parenting is so subjective, and with each year there seems to be more things that I do and not as many that I know I'm good at, and definitely not as many that have evident results of success.

I have ideas of how I should do things, mostly based on what other people think. Alexis asked me who has given me that idea...who has told me that having help with my kids so that I can do something for myself means I'm not doing my job of "mom" well. I guess no one has really told me that directly. No one has really ever walked in my house and said, "Your house is a mess...you are not a good housekeeper", or "Your kids are having a meltdown because you're not a good mom." On the flip side, I think that I want so badly NOT to be talked about poorly that when someone else is, I take that as an expectation of me too. So, I've heard how messy someone's house is, how little someone does to help at school, how someone's kids have too many toys, how someone is too lazy and doesn't do anything, how someone is spending too much money on the wrong things, someone's kids are spoiled brats, someone shouldn't have had these kids if they couldn't take care of them and always needs help...I hear from others the criticisms of the weaknesses of those they know, and I don't want to ever be the one that gets talked about like that. If I lived in a cave with my family, I wouldn't have to worry about what other people think, especially when I'm doing the best that I can. I wouldn't have to justify that to anyone if we just lived in isolation. Tim reminds me all the time that is not what God intended for us to do when He blessed us with six kids!

It was nice to hear from Alexis that it is ok to stand up for myself, to take care of myself and to do what I think is best for my family no matter what people think. I guess it really could be about me convincing people that a big family is what I want, and the chaos and messiness goes with that. It doesn't make me incapable of being a good mom because my kitchen is always a mess. I doesn't even make me a poor housekeeper. You know, the only people who I feel don't condemn me for my messiness or chaos are those that have big, young families. They too are the ones that don't condemn us for having a big family or wanting to have a bigger one. When something is tough here, to them it is just part of our current season of life. To others, we're in over our heads. It is terribly hard to not care what those people think, because I feel like I have something to prove..."You don't think I can do it? Watch me!"That's not working out so well in this case.

When I was pregnant with Jakob, my employer told me that there is no way I could deliver a baby without drugs! Six babies later, and I'm pretty sure that I won't ever use a pain-relieving drug during labor and delivery because I initially needed to say "I told you I could...you were wrong!" I am determined, that is for sure, the question is why can't I be determined enough to not care what others think? I guess I need to determine the difference between criticism and concern. Concern is not always so bad. My husband tells me that I'm a good mom. I know he's right and his opinion matters to me, but I need to hear it from others. I hear all the time..."wow, you're a busy person. How do you do it? You're so organized, you're so creative, you've got it all together, your kids are so cute. No one ever says to me, "wow, you're doing such a great job being a mom. That's a tough job and you're doing well." So, I base my success on how many things I can do at once, how clean my house is, how well-dressed my kids are, how many things I know how to do.

I'm pretty sure when I look back at this and read it, I will see the rambling. I'm not sure if my thoughts even go together. My mom has recently said that she has learned that when I vent to her, it is because i need to vent, not because I need her to fix something, so maybe she'll worry less that I'm in over my head. My sister has given me permission to not care what others think and that she thinks my house actually should be chaotic and messy because I have six kids, and maybe it's not normal if it is always clean and organized. My brother is usually great at compliments, although I must admit that one comment he made sticks in my mind...he was tidying up my kitchen and trying to "fix" the mess because my house needed more ambiance. He thinks I look great for having six kids and he freely admits that he admires some of my qualities. And of course my husband compliments me all the time and reminds me I need to do things for me and defends me to anyone who is willing to even try to criticize me. I guess all that is left for me to do is accept it and be comfortable being me. I will do the best that I can for my family regardless of what other people have to say about it. It would still be much easier to live in a cave. I can only do what I can do and control what I can control. I want to be a great mom and wife and sister and friend. I need to assume that unless someone is telling me to my face that I'm not doing so well, that I am.

It doesn't stop me from wanting to say, "Be my guest to fill my shoes and do a better job, but you have to do it all. You can't just do it for a day, you can't just have half of the kids, you can't neglect the house, laundry, meals, bills, etc." It will be interesting to look back on these struggles 5-10 years from now. It may even be a great thing to look back on when I have a child who is struggling as a parent and be able to share. Without having it in print, I'm sure I'll think back and not remember how hard it was...

All this being said, I took Alexis to the airport this morning. After a good cry last night in the midst of telling her (and sometimes Tim having to speak for me because I couldn't do it without crying) that I love her, I miss her, I want her to be an important part of my kids' lives, I wished that she was closer, but not because I don't respect who she is and what she wants, I was able to say goodbye to her today, still wishing I didn't have to, but without crying, and knowing that she loves me for who I am and respects what I want.