Personal space invader

Being a mom is something that I believe changes you to the core.  It is not just physical changes, but character and personality changes emerge as well.  You are no longer the same on so many levels.  These changes are both fantastic and severely challenging for me.

Some years back, I took a Myers Briggs personality test in a effort to better understand my tendencies.   According to the test, I am an ENFP personality type.

“ENFPs are initiators of change, keenly perceptive of possibilities. They energize and stimulate others through their contagious enthusiasm. They prefer the start-up phase of a project or relationship, and are tireless in the pursuit of new-found interests. ENFPs are able to anticipate the needs of others and to offer them needed help and appreciation. They bring zest, joy, liveliness, and fun to all aspects of their lives. They are at their best in fluid situations that allow them to express their creativity and use their charisma. They tend to idealize people, and can be disappointed when reality fails to fulfill their expectations. They are easily frustrated if a project requires a great deal of follow-up or attention to detail.”

That description is SO me, but I contest the E in ENFP.  It stands for “extrovert”.  While I am outgoing in familiar social circles, I cringe at the thought of making new friends, or really any unfamiliar environment.  Always have.  Extroverts are said to get energy from others, while introverts get their energy from being alone.  I feel like I get more energy from being alone.

Alone time.  What is that? As a mom of two tinys, personal space and alone time is limited.  Even when they are asleep or when I am physically away from them, I lack sufficient time to reboot.  I am constantly in a “prepare and do” mindset.  Dishes, food prep, laundry, budget, shopping, and don’t forget my actual job duties.  I long to sit alone and read a book (that is not about cooking or parenting), or to get a massage, or just stare at nature.  With no agenda.

One sweet bastion of sacred alone time has always been the shower.  It is a place where I can literally stand under the water until it runs cold and just release thoughts.  It is not uncommon for me to emerge from the shower with my back looking very much like I spent too much time in the sun.   It is loud enough to drown out crying (sometimes) and time often stands still.  When serving for a week in Mexico on a mission trip, my one mid-week shower honestly kept me sane.  I cannot even talk about the value of my two, post c-cection showers.

Of late, my sacred space has been invaded.  This invasion may happen for other parents much earlier than two and a half, but I have tightly guarded this arena, and not allowed Trevor to enter my space.  Last week, in a momentary lapse of judgement, I gave in to his clambering to get “IN IN IN IN” while he tugs on his jammies to come “OFF OFF OFF OFF OFF OFF”.  In an attempt to silence the incessant requests…it began.

spaceinvader

I can no longer turn on the shower without tiny footsteps running down the hall.  What if this lasts for years?!?!?!

Is it possible that I long for alone time because it is non-existent, or is it because I have fundamentally been altered and am now truly an introvert?  Did I get my energy from people in my younger years simply because I was not as comfortable in my own skin?  It would be interesting for me to take the Myers Briggs test again to compare results.  Would I still test the same in this phase of life?  I doubt it highly.

This motherhood thing is an adjustment.  A wonderful, fascinating and hard adjustment.  It splinters us.  The portion that is left for me is smaller, and that is OK.  It is my current challenge to maximize that portion, and allow it to be used for renewal to fuel the other portions.  It will level out I hope as the weeds keep getting shorter.

How do you carve out time to fuel your portion?

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Fear

After Lucas was born, I was plagued by anxiety.   New baby, new house, new job role, challenges with Trevor.  No shortage of things that caused worry, or fear.

I described it as “noise.”  Lack of sleep significantly contributed to the noise.  When I did get a chance to sleep, it was hard to drift away from all of the noise.  Even clutter in my house/car/purse/email in box was noise since I could not focus on what to tackle first.  I could not quiet my mind down enough to be productive.

Luckily, babies grow and progress beyond the really needy stage, and they eventually figure out how to sleep.  Ish.  The noise is not as loud, but many of my fears are still present.   Here are some…

  1. I fear missing milestones, and sweet moments with my kids because I work.
  2. I fear receiving a cancer diagnosis.  Again.
  3. I fear outliving one/both of my kids.
  4. In my business, I fear that people will not take me seriously, or even take the time to hear about what I am doing because they think it is another “one of those businesses”.  This is paralyzing.
  5. I fear Spiders.  I am an equal opportunity arachnophobe,and loathe all kinds.   I appreciate individuals that feel the need to scoop them up and save them by setting them free outside, but in my home…”he gone.” Spiders are a main reason why I do not camp. Well, dirt also.
  6. I fear social situations that stretch my comfort zone.  Like…those ladies at the park.
  7. I fear the effects of chemicals in our air/homes, in products we put on our bodies, and in our food.  This fuels fear #2.
  8. I fear change.  My cheese has been moved both at home and at work several times in the last year.  Grumble.
  9. I fear that something I get rid of will be something that I NEEEEEED in the future.  Minor hoarding issue.  Not the intervention kind of hoarding (yet), but I could certainly account for a forest of trees with all of the mail, and paper, and WHY.DO.I.STILL.HAVE.THAT piles that are around.  My mother comes to hang with my kids on Thursdays, and she is constantly sorting/relocating my piles.  It is a problem.
  10. I fear my competency as a mom.  There are several things that contribute to this, but most of them are unfounded.  I know I need to be realistic and stop comparing.  I have come to know that being a mom is both the most rewarding, and the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.

It was time to write out a few of my fears to get them out of the dark.  It is the beginning of taking steps to reclaim a bit of quiet.

Baggage

Life is a series of experiences.  Some more memorable than others.

In the recent weeks, my teeny L has made some fabulous strides.  He sprouted teeth, he crawls SO fast both to me, and away from me.  He stands up on everything, and is cruising the furniture.  He is in to stuff!  Baby books, instagram and facebook feeds are not enough to record these events. These milestones are memories I want to keep readily accessible in my brain.  I want to be able to recall them in years to come and have them be as clear as they are now.  Like a mental picture.

L

My mind does not work that way.  Things get muddled and noisy.  It is almost as though my mind is a daisy chain of suitcases that I drag behind.  They are filled with my life experiences.   Memories from childhood, and today.  Thirty some years of life is not long, I am aware, though my chain is long.  The chain is full of memories both good and bad; truth and lies.

The heavy items, the baggage, keep me from moving forward at my desired pace.  They pop open on my life journey, spilling their contents into the forefront of my memory.  They surface lies told in years past that I have accepted as truth.  Wounds are reopened as I struggle to close the lid on them.  Like gremlins, the lies multiply.  “You are not appreciated” they scream….”You are not valued!”

In addition to dragging items behind, it feels like I often have glasses on that change my view of a situation or interaction.  I see something different through these lenses of regret or hurt that makes me behave in a way that is not warranted.  I lack patience and grace believing that I know how things will turn out.  I do not take risks because the effort of pulling any more items is too daunting.

The process of unpacking, and choosing to let go of baggage is just as overwhelming.  Some items can just be unhooked from the chain, and allowed to drift away.  Others require that they come out of their case and get washed with truth.  Who has time to do all of that laundry?!?!

I need space in my cases for the good stuff that is worth keeping.  The valuable daily little milestones and victories.  The sweet laughs of my boys, that tell me I am doing some things well.  I need to lighten the load to be a better mom, and a better wife.  One that does not look behind at the road traveled and make decisions based on fear.

Bottom line…

I am loved and VALUED by God.  My life, my family and my outlook would be different if I chose to carry this truth with me on my journey.

Values

Over dinner in May of 2011, on our second anniversary, Dave and I discussed family values. We both came to the table with our own ideas, and after much deliberation, we decided on 5 core values for our family.

Love
Determination
Curiosity
Honesty
Consideration

More than a year went by, and while this discussion was not forgotten, it was something that took a back seat to life.

Fast forward to the summer of 2012. Baby boy number two joined us in April, and we moved (again) in June. Life in the THICK weeds. Unpacking and decorating commenced, and so came an opportunity to display our family values.

I searched on Esty and found numerous artists that customized word art. In my hunt for the perfect design, I came across several options. We decided to make the values actionable by including “BE” in the middle, and also decided to add just a few more. The result is this sign…

values

Displaying this in our home has caused a bit of a crisis of conscience for me. Do I emulate these values in my own life enough to expect them in my children (and husband for that matter)? My goal is to find a way to parent that incorporates love, determination, curiosity, honesty and consideration into daily life. With awareness, (and more sleep) I am sure that it is possible.

I was very fortunate to have grown up in a family full of love. I have fond childhood memories of parents that modeled a loving marriage. I fully realize that this was a fabulous and rare gift that they gave to their children. Yes, every parent has flaws, but we were verbally told that we were loved often, we felt safe, and we received affection. Dave and I will/are doing our best to model love for our tiny men. I also know love because of God, who sees the depths of my heart, and loves me the same (to quote Chris Tomlin). It is my heart’s greatest longing that my boys will know the love of Jesus, and that they would love people openly and without reservation.

I get distracted easily. I wander to places of doubt and worry when trouble hits.  I need reminders of where I am going and redirection in times when I lose my way. Determination for me means staying the course; riding out the storms and challenges without giving up or wavering.  I already see glimmers of determination in both T and L who are both quite persistent. Of note: I am choosing to see their behavior as being determined instead of stubborn.

In our boys I want to foster curiosity in such a way that their minds are creative and challenged. I want them to ask questions about their world and their place in it. Dave would really love for me personally to be more curious about new tastes and ethnic foods specifically. I have never had a very expansive palate sadly. Can you say garlic salt and lemon pepper?

I feel like I need to go on the hunt for a book on how to raise honest kids. (Suggestions welcome) We are not in the age of fibbing yet…but it is coming for us. Unfortunately, kids do not have to be taught to lie. As for me, I will model honesty by letting my YESes be YESes, and my NOs be NOs both at home and at work.

Consideration was one of the last items added at our anniversary dinner in 2011. We talked and dreamed about serving our community as a family, and putting others before ourselves. In the minutia of the day to day, this has gotten a bit lost. It is an item I intend to focus on in 2013.

I am humbled by Dave’s willingness to endure my faults, and for his encouragement and companionship on this journey.  Bottom line…I am flawed, and I need to remember that it is all a process.  Most days, of all of the words on our wall, it seems like the only thing we do well is being silly. Silly lives at our home, and it makes the seriousness of life melt away.

So very grateful.

Back in high school…at the park

Crushing confession: I am not overly friendly unless we are friends. This is an ugly, do-not-shine-the-light-on-this-area, kind of confession. I avoid eye contact, do not initiate conversation, and certainly do not frequent situations that push the boundaries of my comfort zone. Somehow I feel like this is out of my control. Old anxiety tapes play in my head, and it just makes me so dang uncomfortable. Did I just say something DUM? Do I have food on my face? Did I remember to brush my teeth? Wait…do I have a bird in the sky!?!? My heart races and it envokes a flight response. Hurry…make an excuse…get out.

My dilema becomes a painful reality when I take my kids to the park. I scan the area almost as soon as I arrive. Where are the other moms in dirty yoga pants and a baseball hat? (My go-to staples) Where are the frazzled, clearly did not get a shower, looks like she got maybe 40 minutes of sleep kind of moms? I might stay longer if I found a park full of these moms. I want to relate to the ones that are all showered with their knee-high boots and long super cute sweaters with chunky scarfs. They are usually chatting with other a-dorable fashionistas, and there is ZERO chance that I would muster the courage. Ugh…Why do I feel like I am back in highschool when I take my kids to the park?!?!

The time is coming when T will make friends. I will be forced to talk to moms that I do not know. Maybe I will make new friends. Maybe I will find a community. Maybe if I look up from my little world view I will find other moms that are looking for the same thing. Maybe.

The Return

2012 was hard. I understand that it is relative, but for me, it was hard. New baby, new address, new job, new financial challenges.

I am not a person that makes resolutions at the beginning of a new year. Mainly because they typically last about 4 days. This year, however, I am finding myself re-evaluating, and desiring a simplification of sorts. I am uncomfortable with my current state of complacency. I am hungry, and unsettled. After much thought, and a few circumstances, I need 2013 to be the year that I “return” to…

Sanity. I became acutely aware of the difference between the baby-blues and post-partum depression following baby number two. Before this experience, I naively thought PPD was something you could choose to smile your way through. I mean, you just had a baby…shouldn’t that make you insanely happy?!? While I will leave the details for another post, L is 9 months today, and the weeds are getting shorter every day. My plan is to sleep more, to write out my thoughts, and to find some quiet amidst the noise.

Sensibility. At the end of 2012, we determined that our first son T would require some developmental assessments and possible therapy. (They no longer call them “late bloomers” btw) The Google machine led me in many directions, but one that particularly resonated with me was environmental toxins. What role are toxins playing in the development/behavior of my son? Could I be exposing him unknowingly to dangerous items which manifest in these delays? There was no way to be sure, but just in case, we did a home detox. We said goodbye to ALL chemical cleaning products, all personal care/beauty products containing questionable ingredients, and we committed to knowing exactly what is going in our mouths. In our home, I can and WILL control what we breathe, what we put on our skin, and what we eat. I am also learning to control our budget. By learning I mean the elementary school, possibly kindergarten, kind of learning. Like…the “let’s practice our letters” kind of learning. Yeah, I am thirty-some, and have never lived on a budget. This B word has led me to go on the hunt for value. At what store can I find the cheapest (fill in the blank) and still not sacrifice food/product quality. I am finding both areas of sensibility exhausting in the read-every-label and bust-out-the-calculator-to-find-the-per-ounce-price kind of way, but I am unwilling to drop either cause.

Service. Before I was married, I gave much of my time to our church’s high school ministry. I cherished this time, and made some of my favorite memories with this wonderfully amazing group of young people. After my PPD adventures, in a way that I cannot really describe, I felt connected to other new moms. Not just moms with multiple kids, but any mom with a new little tiny. Most new moms go through feelings of inadequacy, but not many speak up about needing help. I am still sorting through how this will play out this year, but I want to help. I will find a tangible way to help. Given my paralyzing inability to talk to people I do not know, this will stretch me. Bring it.

Lastly, I will return to my God. Roughly five years ago, I went on a women’s retreat to Montery, Ca. In one particular exercise, they had us take a rock from baskets on stage, and write a word on the rock. The details of the whole process get a bit fuzzy, but I came home with a rock that was promptly stuffed into my sock drawer. You know, I wanted to keep it and all, but it was not really a convenient time for me to follow through on any kind of promise I had made to myself at this conference. Rewind even farther back in time, and a tough broken engagement shook my faith. Hindsight is perfect, and I can now see how choices I made had consequences. So…shaken faith, selfish attitude, but persistent God. In June of 2012, our family moved to a new home. When putting our bedroom together, what did I find in my sock drawer? Oh how I needed this…

return

It is quite clear that I am not capable of much without God. He has been calling me back to him for several years, but the mud is THICK, and I have so.much.baggage. He is patient, and very very gracious. It is time that I return. I need community. I need accountability. I need study. I need grace. I know I will find all of these things when I return.

So 2013, be good and gentle with me and my family, and may I be met with constant reminders of my declaration to return.