Where Whine Meets Wine

I do not like you, selfish I am

Sooo…. I said I was doing that “Love Dare.” Did I happen to mention practicing patience and kindness is hard? (versus just saying you’d like to acquire those attributes) I’m a few days behind, but I’m trudging my way through it. And because just like using a recipe verbatim would probably kill me, I had to tweak a few of my daily challenges. Like the day the challenge was to buy my spouse a gift. There are a couple reasons I did not do this: 1)I’m trying to do the challenge on my whole family and 2) trust me when I say that hubbyman would think it a better gift that I DIDN’T spend the money than if I’d boughten him something. I did, however, make him a big batch of Snickerdoodle cookies- enough to share with coworkers! Which meant I stayed up until 2 am because I had to make them after getting the kids to bed. And cleaned up afterwards so he didn’t awaken to a kitchen that looks like a bomb may have exploded inside a vat of flour.

Back to “the dare” that I seem to be dragging my feet through: I have a confession… while in general, I love big, give freely, and have so much empathy that it’s almost a problem… sometimes I get spent.I forget to do things just for me, or to at least take a “time out” myself. And then I become…selfish. (*insert collective gasp here*) I know, right?! It’s awful and I’m not proud of it. It is, however, true. I start to feel taken for granted which leads to feelings of discontentment. And discontentment (for me) breeds anger. In the midst of my feelings I get so caught up in how things are affecting me that I fail to see the effect I’m having on my family. And lately I’ve been a bit caught up in this cycle. Because my daily life is so entirely about “the little things,” My days pretty much revolve around the dishes, the laundry, the meals…and I can very easily get caught up in the feelings of I do it all and nobody cares. Which if I were to be introspective at all, would leave me admitting that I’m really feeling inconsequential. Instead, I stick with anger. Like a long lost friend, there is some strange sort of comfort in being angry. It’s such a familial-feeling friend to fall in with. It whispers in your ear, “You deserve some appreciation, way more than you’re getting. Nobody else does what you want. You’re always doing what they want…” You know anger and anger knows you. This cycle has a lot to do with why I started the Love Dare to begin with. As old of a friend as anger is, I’d like to get reacquainted with some others, like the patience and kindness I’ve been saying I’m working on.

And so the dare continues and I read and I do what it says, but I’m not sure I’ve actually been working on my patience…or my kindness. Maybe on the surface, but not so much in the heart. In fact, I found myself growing MORE angry. And the more I read and the more the lessons said, “you may be feeling this way… try choosing to behave like this…” the more angry I felt. What if my anger is valid? (insert thought bubble: of course my anger is valid!) What if I had some major injustice done to me? (insert thought bubble: of course I’m justified in my feelings!) Surely this justifies some anger and discontent. Nonetheless, I kept reading and then came…maybe day 8? It talked about two rooms. One is where we put the praises of those we care for (spouse, children, friends, etc and the wonderful things they’ve done and said to/for/about us and our positive feelings about them) and the other is where we put the negatives (he said, “blah, blah, blah…” she said, “blah, blah, blah…” they did this to me, they said that to me…) And while compartmentalizing some things can be healthy…moving into a room of discontentment, of course, isn’t. The day’s pages were filled with things like, when you spend a lot of time in this room you may go there to pick your fights, to be reminded of why you’re mad, even to prepare yourself for battle. And I have to admit, I do this. I go over the list of transgressions that I’m so worked up over and prepare what I would say, or what I think I should say, or what I feel is deserved to be said… over and over. It can become compulsive, even. Yuck. And can I just say it’s a little bit maddening when the very thing (the day’s love dare lesson) that’s making me mad, totally has me pegged. Crap. But just to show it who’s boss I thought I’d wait a couple days before acknowledging that the words on the pages were real in my heart. Ridiculous, right?! Of course it is, but it’s honest.

And so I confessed some of the feelings of my heart to my husband. And instead of the dialogue I’d perfected in my head, back in that room, I found the opposite taking place. Instead of my anger spewing forth, my insecurities, my fears, and my real emotions came out in a way that was open, honest, and non-accusatory (maybe some of those lessons were sinking in after all!). And my husband…instead of the words my head had heard him responding with, well, he responded in…SHOCK. He had NO IDEA that I was feeling the way I was feeling. It turns out the anger I’d been carefully polishing and protecting, like a prized trophy, is hard to hold on to when someone is so surprised by the fact that you don’t think everything is wonderful, because THEY are really thinking things are (truly) wonderful, and that I knew how wonderful he thought it all was. I mean, it’s almost laughable. Here I was, stewing in discontentment that I was sewing into my own life… and there was my husband, looking at me with eyes that spoke volumes of love, compassion, and concern…along with some confusion. And of course, the negativity began to fall away… and so here I am sitting in another room. A room with warm, compassionate, thankful words on the walls. Walls that show examples of my children having patience with me. Words that show my husband making an effort to let me know he appreciate all the little things he does. Words and memories of all the wonderful, thoughtful things my family and friends do and have done. Some, even on a regular basis. So while I’m fighting the urge to roll my eyes at the sappy, corniness of some of the things this room has to say… I am humbled and appreciative that I have all these things to say about those that are closest to my heart. And I’m reminded of a phrase I was often told growing up, and have often repeated, “You cannot change others, you can only change yourself.” And while any life is going to have ups and downs and cycles that are forever repeated, today I am CHOOSING to think positive thoughts about those around me along with myself. I work hard to keep everyone clean, clothed, fed, and happy. Erik works hard to provide the means for all of that. And the kids work hard to be…kids! Learning and living, and really, trying to be good. And while it may not be true of everyone, today I am going to CHOSE to be motivated with kindness and patience towards everyone I come in contact with. (insert thought bubble: Can I spent the rest of the day in bed with the door locked?)

today’s mantra: My feelings, thoughts, and desires are not more important than yours.


A stay at home feminist?

So, I love the books (well, her latest books anyhow) by Elizabeth Gilbert. I don’t always agree with all of her viewpoints and beliefs, but something in the way she writes strikes me, in way that kind of makes me want to be her friend. Well, her latest book: Commited, leaves me thinking a variety of things. She is so feministic that she has a hard time admitting aloud that her mother made her life BETTER by being a stay at home mom. And really the way she classifies ALL stay at home moms, leaves me… shaken. Maybe shaken isn’t the right word, maybe scattered is. While I do know that many women have sacrificed their careers for their families; I cannot accept that all of them have done it unwillingly and regretfully. I am fully aware we are all different creatures. Some women have no desire for marriage, some no desire for children… why is it then so surprising that there could be women who’s greatest desire is to have and raise children? Without assuming them devoid of all want of life and/or any other desire. As if they tried to muster up the courage for some world-changing, life altering passion and the most they could come up with was children. What repressed women they must be?! (insert dramatic eye roll here)

I support my “sisters.” My single sisters that just want to do it on their own and have no matrimonial desires- I support them! My married sisters who have decided that a husband and career are the life for them- I support them! My married, working mama sisters, who feel like their work gives them validation they’d never find at home- I support them! Encourage them! Without judgement (or pity! No thoughts that because they’re not doing it “my way” that they’re somehow devoid of the basic desires of a woman heart.)! Because I, in all my feminist form, believe that we are all different, have different desires, different cores of what we find fulfilling- and shouldn’t we all be able to live our lives accordingly, judgement free? Why is that favor not returned? I’m hoping that it’s just their way of protecting their validation towards their life choices, instead of an attack on mine. (we do seem to always want public validation for our choices, don’t we?)

While I have always wanted children, I truly never thought about whether I would stay home or have a job outside the home. It never crossed my mind. Not in high school, or even in college. In fact, in college, I’d probably have said I’d work outside the home, but just as an assumption, not because of a desire to put my life into my career.. Enter the year Big E was born… a neighbor ran a daycare for infants (and good ‘ol Navy housing had paper thin walls)- all I’d hear was those babies crying all day long! That’s when I knew that I WANTED to be the one at home with them. Trust me, if hubbyman could have been the one to stay home, he would have! (but also trust me on the fact that he’s now relieved it didn’t work out that way!) We believe it’s what’s best for OUR children. And really, it’s what’s best FOR ME. I want to do this. Not only does it afford me time to watch them grow, but I have really learned who I am and the things that I really want in life. That’s not to say my only ambition in life is to raise my children… I have other ambitions, and pursue them. And believe that if I felt like the desires of my heart were outside my home, that is where I would be. Were I in a career that I felt really completed the person I am, I would be investing my time in it.  It just happens that, for me, my GREATEST ambition, is raising my children. And today, I am frustrated that I feel the need to defend it. So sisters, as I am on the front lines with you for equality in every setting (not just the workplace), supporting that you have the right to be you, as equal to any other gender… please, be on the front lines with me- support that this is the best me I am. In my home, with my children. And it’s not any less valid and does not make me any less pro-woman to have made these choices. (Did I mention the need for public validation for choices…? apparently I am not immune either)

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In the past years I’ve given up a variety of things for Lent: certain food, pop, coffee, sugar, tv, radio… As I was thinking it over this last week, wondering what to give up this year, I came to this conclusion. Impatience. I am giving up impatience. I’m not sure it’s possible, but I’m attempting it. Go big, or go home, right?

You see, I have a just-turned-4 year old, a 2 1/2 year old… that’s a girl. Along with an 8 month old. (Can I add the 9 month old puppy to the list?) I have days where I feel like I wake up impatient. And I certainly wouldn’t want them under the care of an impatient person were they at a daycare. Why would I feel differently when they’re under my care? In fact, I’ve been trying to keep in mind that Big E and Miss E are at ages where they’ll be remembering things I do and say, maybe even for the rest of their lives. So I’ve been trying to live our days as if they’re going to be remembered forever. Which is essentially what brought me to my “Lent Challenge”…

Most people have probably heard of the movie, Fireproof. Well the “Love Dare” from the movie is also available to the masses. So I’m doin’ it! But not just on my husband, and not just on my children, but EVERYONE. Yes, it was written in the marriage format, but… it’s things you can apply to everyone you come in contact with. And from what I’ve gathered so far (and what I can remember of the movie) that it’s really about patience and kindness. And let me just say this… it’s gonna be tough. I mean, I consider myself a fairly patient person. I certainly am used to having my patience tested with three young children. But this is like REAL patience. Like controlling not only your reaction and words, but your thoughts kind of patience. Yesterday the dare was to not say anything negative. I believe I succeeded. But I do have to admit, I was kinda quiet yesterday! And it wasn’t because I was on the verge of saying negative things (at least most of the time)… I was just kind of afraid that once I started saying things, that I’d have a hard time NOT going there. I don’t know why this feels so hard. I think it’s the selfish thought that what if someone does or says something to me that makes me really mad? What if I have a valid reason for my anger? I’m supposed to just sit there in silence? Well the book says we are to speak all words in a “spirit of love,” even if hard words are necessary. It means the truth, but (and the book really says this):  “You bend over backwards…” to say things in kindness and not to say things just because I want to say them. Isn’t that why we say a lot of things, if we’re honest, because we want to say them.

Well, I’m a little tempted to just erase all this so no one has any record of it. So I always have an escape route! But I know that’s just my fear of failure. Because honestly, I’m probably going to have a day (or more) where I don’t complete the challenge, but it’s here in black and white and I can’t give up! I won’t give up! Positive thoughts. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. For 38 1/2 more days. After that it’s just the rest of my life…. but we’ll start with the next 38 1/2 days. Eh, how about we’ll just start with finishing today? *Sigh*

My new mantra: I want to be where patience and wisdom meet.