Memorial Day

Memorial Day

As I sat around the dining room table today with my family, just after blessing the meal, my dad asks for a moment of silence for those who have fallen.

This was absolutely not a quiet moment, as my children have never experienced “silence”, especially not on purpose. So they proceeded to screech and make other inappropriate noises as I gave them The Mom Eyes and whispered for them to be very quiet or else you can leave the table right this second. The moment ended, and as I looked around the table, the eyes of the soldiers at the table were ringed with red.
We all look at the world through our own eyes, through our perspectives. We tend to have empathy where we can see it, feel it, understand it. Therefore, I have thus far looked at Memorial Day through the eyes of a wife. It breaks my heart to think of what they go through, from the moment that the one they love most in the world is cut off from them, to when the soldier arrives at their door with a somber knock. I think they must know, the moment they open that door. Then to carry on, through the first weeks, being unable to fathom what life could possibly look like without your pillar of strength, walking your children through the explanations and the well wishers. Life is never the same.
Today I saw Memorial Day through the eyes of a soldier, for just a brief moment. These men and women who leave us, and experience things that we can only picture and imagine, as from this side of the world we skype and email, cook spaghetti and take the kids to playgroups, talking on the phone with our soldiers at odd times of the day. We count the days, we pray, we wait.

For the soldiers, it is a complete culture shift. They work with people from other countries, live in unusual conditions, carry weapons with them, literally watchful and alert at all times. Alarms wake them in the middle of the night, warning them to seek shelter from potential attack. They hear the horrific details of deaths of the men and women they know, maybe someone they had lunch with. Maybe someone they were standing right next to. Not every death is from enemy fire. Some of the worst ones I heard about were just accidents.
But now, here they sit, surrounded by their families, eating burgers and chips, while they know by name and face, good men and women who didn’t come home. How that must be a weight on them, I think. I wonder if they feel guilty that they get to be with their families while others don’t. I will never know, because I have never experienced that. To see that emotion, ever how brief, cross the faces of these strong men I love, that was Memorial Day for me. To remember those who have fallen.

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Failure.

Failure.

I walked into the kitchen to find my husband putting away dishes from the dishwasher. (I’m a lucky girl, I know!).

“You’re so domestic.” I said. “The kitchen hasn’t been this clean in a long time.” He is off of work, and has been keeping up with the steady flow of loading and unloading the dishwasher, even wiping our countertops to a shiny gleam.

“I’m so domestic, until it’s time to cook. Hamburger and mac n cheese!” he scoffs, referring to his recent kitchen escapade. Upon seeing he had added meat to their beloved mac and cheese, the kids protested. Then they cheered and dove heartily when I…. opened a bag of sugar snap peas and poured ranch dressing into a bowl.

I suggested he would do better with a plan, a recipe, like my mom does. He comments that he could do that… if that is the only thing he did. As in, that sounds like a lot of effort to him.

“So you’re saying you appreciate my mad skills then?” I said, coming to hug him from behind.

As he affirms me, my eyes well with tears. “That’s nice to hear, because I feel like a failure most of the time.” I’m almost shocked to hear it come out of my mouth, but there it is.

I make a little mental note of my failure multiple times a day.

-When we eat out instead of eating at home

-When I have avoided going to the grocery store (again).

-When I yell at the kids (again).

-When the house gets out of control and I feel overwhelmed.

You all know. The list goes on and on. Sometimes it is silly things, like seeing my daughter’s fingernails, needing to be trimmed and filled with dirt. I have to remind myself that the dirt is a good thing, she has gotten the gift of playing outside (but still, I should really trim her nails, I’ll think).

I have realized that I think I harp on my husband and pick on him (sometimes intentionally but often not) because I feel a need to correct him and remind him of the ways that he is not me. He isn’t the best at doing the things I do. He isn’t doing things “the right way”. I even feel a little smug if the kids point out to him, “Mom doesn’t do it like that.”

Whether he has put our daughter in mismatched clothes, explained a little too deeply the intricacies of life and death to our 3 and 5 year old boys, or bought the “vanilla” cashew milk and then put it in our mac n cheese, causing our savory dinner to be sweeter than we intended.

I think that I pick at him and remind him of these things because I truly don’t ever feel adequate in what I do.

We are constantly doing everything we can to be the best mothers we can be, but I don’t think we ever really feel like we measure up.

We don’t get promotions or kudos in this sometimes very mundane work of raising children and keeping a home. The truth is I think what we want, is for someone to see us as we are, our flaws and our failures, our inadequacies all laid bare, and to still say, “I see you, and I see your benefit to the world, to your husband, and to your children.

I think we all know our weaknesses. What we want to know is, am I enough? Even with everything you know about me, am I enough?

The awesome truth is, God sees everything (oh my goodness, even that) and He still loves us fully. Our value is not in what we do. It isn’t even in how hard we tried. Our value lies in the fact that we are His. Warts and all.

Frenzy

Frenzy

Write, you say.

So I put pen to paper, ink flowing across the lines.

I type in a document, blank and white. Cursor blinking, waiting.

I send words out into this cyberspace place,

wondering if they ever land.

I spin myself into a frenzy,

my mind on a gluttonous binge for information,

consuming as many books as I can,

reading everything in sight.

I seek perfection,

I seek control

through human understanding

when what I need to do

is be quiet

and listen

to that still. small. voice.

Push and pull

Push and pull

It’s a strange juxtaposition, the feelings I have toward my children.

As a stay at home mom, most days are a buildup of pressure. The frustration and irritation as they fight, yell and say words that grate on my nerves. Babytalk is prevalent in my house right now, as my big boys say words like their little sister.

I rarely get the time alone that I need.

My husband and I have finally hit that stretch of life that we didn’t understand before we got married. We didn’t understand how married couples could say they never saw each other.

And yet, here we are, and it turns out that constantly doling out attention to 3 little ones doesn’t leave time for much more than amused glances at each other across the table.

It’s time for a date. An actual date.

And yet, as we go about our daily life, sometimes I stop, in awe of them. In awe of the magnitude of the task before me. Their little souls are in my hands. It is not black and white, obedience vs disobedience. I am cultivating their interests, their values, how they see the world.

Sometimes I feel the weight of it drop on me suddenly and my eyes mist over as I think, please God, don’t let me mess this up.

I hope they know how much we love them. 

My days are so torn between wanting them near me,  wanting to nurture them and guide them…

And really really just wanting some space.

So today, I hope to lay down myself a little at a time, reading them a book even when I don’t feel like it, lowering my posture and my voice instead of yelling, and caressing their back as they crowd me, even though sometimes I feel like saying Go Away.

I will also practice my favorite form of self care: reading. Fiction, nonetheless! It took me almost 5 years of mothering to remember how deeply fiction is a part of me. I also do other creative things that give me life, like decorating my home and knitting. And now God has put it on my heart to write, so I dabble in that, both in bursts here and in my yellow legal pad where I attempt my first fiction novel.

Some moms tell me they can’t read with their children around. I can’t not read.

 

Staying through the hard things.

Staying through the hard things.

I realized today that I have a hard time maintaining friendships.

Not making them…That’s easy! That’s fun!

But maintaining them? After about oh, a year or two, if things get hard with your friends, don’t worry! You will probably get orders soon. Then you can enjoy your last 3 or 4 months with the friends you have, gradually pulling yourself away as you mentally prepare to go to a new place, and they are fine with that, because now they have to pull themselves away from you so they won’t miss you as much when it is time to leave.

Maintaining friendships is hard and awkward. The army is always moving people around to keep you well-balanced and skilled in many different areas.

Just this once I hope that they keep us here long enough to learn the skill of staying put, and doing the hard thing. Doing real life together, forgiving each other, and learning to love each other through our flaws, quirks, and weird habits.

HOOAH.

 

I am a facebook delete-er

I am a facebook delete-er

I’m one of those people that is weird about getting rid of things.

Like the anti-hoarder.

“Yay! I found something to put in my thrift store donation box! Ooh, what else is in this closet I can get rid of?”

I feel the same way about facebook friends. I will often go through my newsfeed and delete “friends”, unfollow pages, “unlike” things that are putting a lot of content on my newsfeed and generally tidy it up.

GASP. I know.

My name is Adrienne, and I’m a delete-er. (Hi, Adrienne)

Let me explain why. Facebook has many uses…

  • Networking
  • Socializing
  • Flirting
  • Making new friends
  • Reconnecting with old friends
  • Keeping in touch with social groups and events
  • Etc.

Everybody has a different reason for having facebook, and who they add, and why.

My facebook is very personal. I don’t use facebook to “make new friends”. I often am tempted to delete it all together, but I keep it because we have friends all over the place. We also don’t get to see some family members as often as we’d like, and it is a great way for them to see pictures of the kids.

I want to be able to rant about rashes, or personal issues I’m struggling with, or share intimate details or trivial things without wondering who is really looking at that private information. If I don’t know you, there’s a good chance you aren’t my facebook friend (or you are getting ready to be deleted!).

Oftentimes, I will meet someone that I really like or connect with at say, a function, or hanging out with a mutual friend, and so we each go home and “add” each other right away….

Then I never see them again. We don’t initiate any further hanging out. Maybe we have barely ever said 2 words to each other.  I don’t delete people right away….Sometimes I wait and see if anything is going to come of the friendship.

“Deleting”, for me, is not a drama thing.

I am the ruler of my little section of Facebook Land.

I also block all games, apps, and silly things that get on my nerves on facebook. Maybe that stuff doesn’t bother you. I’m glad you’re enjoying crushing your candy and farming your ville. I just don’t like it on my newsfeed. I feel like I’m choosing to waste time on facebook, knowing that it is taking my heart and attention away from my kids and my duties and all the other things I pretend facebook doesn’t distract me from…. So I try to be really selective about what comes on my newsfeed.

I want only things that bring me joy on my facebook newsfeed. That’s not to say it’s all hearts and ponies, but if our relationship makes me uncomfortable, I may delete you or hide you. No offense, I just don’t want that in my face everytime I click my Facebook app. If you are constantly selling things or having “parties” and things that I don’t want to go to, I may delete you. Not every time, but just when I feel like it is taking over my phone (and perhaps we are really not friends/don’t talk to each other and you just want to sell me things? hmm?)

Proverbs 25:17

17 Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house,
    lest he have his fill of you and hate you.

That’s how I feel about facebook sometimes. There is a reason “taking a facebook break” is totally a thing. Every time we click on it, we are inviting everybody’s stuff into our house. Into our day. Into our moments.

Please don’t hate me if I delete you. I’m in my metaphorical bathrobe here.

You do you.

You do you.

We compare ourselves to others; to their gifts and talents, and maybe even unknowingly to their dysfunctions.

In the meantime, we are busy pushing down the things that make up our very essence. The desires we have for ourselves, our dreams, our childhood pastimes. The things that we as adults have come to find frivolous or unnecessary.

Our favorite people, the people that we revere and look up to, are often the people that are just following hard after the thing that they enjoy most. The thing that are created for. Their desires and dreams. I’m not talking about Hollywood dreams, though those people are certainly revered for their passions.

I’m talking about the woman you know who can make an amazing dinner out of anything, or the woman who somehow always makes you feel at home no matter what. The one who makes things look beautiful.The one who effortlessly enjoys children and ministers to their mothers by caring for them. The one who adjusts your hairstyle just so and makes you feel like a princess. The woman who can draw your cares out of you with a simple question and nod of her head, leaving you feeling understood and loved on.

Let’s take three different vacuuming women, for an example.

Abby vacuums everyday. She has a dog and a baby who eats everything off the floor, and only one main living area. Keeping the living room vacuumed once or twice a day relaxes her, and assures that her crawling baby isn’t eating lots of dog hair.

Her friend Betsy vacuums everyday, multiple times a day. Betsy is obsessive about it. She vacuums constantly. She has no pets and older kids. She is constantly worried about what other people think about her home and doesn’t feel like she ever measures up.

Carla is friends with both Abby and Betsy. She knows that they vacuum multiple times a day. Carla has no pets, and kids who no longer eat off the floor. She has a large house with a lot of floor. Cleaning is not her favorite thing, and she would rather be doing almost anything else, though she tries to keep her house tidy enough to be healthy and comfortable.

Here’s the problem: Carla is going to feel the need to vacuum everyday because that is what her friends do. But she has different circumstances, different desires, and really doesn’t need to vacuum everyday. If she falls into the comparison game, she is going to do what a lot of us do: create for herself an expectation that will be difficult to meet, and is not life-giving for her or her family.

Maybe that isn’t a huge deal, after all… it’s only vacuuming. But now, Carla spends a large portion of her day doing something she doesn’t need to do, and feeling guilty on the days when she doesn’t do it (which is usually the case, let’s be honest). If she can instead choose to look at her own situation and stop comparing herself to her friends, she can use her day for things that will serve her family better.

Since we are women, we know this doesn’t just apply to vacuuming. It applies to how we dress, how we do our hair, how we exercise, how we eat, how we cook, how we school our children, how  we make every decision regarding things for our babies and pregnancies and births, bedtimes… oh my goodness. The list for how women compare themselves to each other would be a very long one. It is constant.

We automatically assume that “She” is doing things the same as we do them, but just a little better. Or we think that she is judging us for doing “xyz”, when in fact, she probably thinks you are judging her for “abc”.

Me. Me. Me. Me.

The good news is, we are all obsessed with ourselves. Whether it is how awesome we are or how horrible we are, how we keep house, whether or not we work, what our husband does for a living, what our dress size is.

So stop worrying what that other person thinks about you. We are all thinking about ourselves most of the time. What we need to be doing is finding the best version of ourselves and enjoying it. Using that to live our lives fully and inspire those we love to do the same. So many of us are living a half true version of ourselves. Trying to be someone else’s idea of perfect, trying to live out the perfect life, meanwhile missing it.