Sunday, May 21, 2017

Being a Martyr, I mean a Mother

THIS article hit me like a freight train this week.
Go read it.
Then come back.

This is ME. 
Well, as my empathetic husband pointed out later when I made him read it, it's probably a lot of people. It's a weird obsession we have with spreading ourselves so thin and being "stressed out" so it looks like we are so productive and accomplished and hardworking because why else would we be so desperately busy? Here are some key phrases from the article that hit me hard:
“Typically, martyrs don’t know how to validate and love themselves very well.”
Yep! True.
“They feel that their value is in serving others—so if they stop doing that, they will have no value.”
Um. I would have told you that this is exactly my value! What else am I here for?
And THIS ONE sounded like an advertisement for martyrdom! -
“As a martyr, you don’t have to take personal responsibility. You can project your unhappiness and blame outward.”
Yes! My M.O. exactly!
And maybe most telling:
"You may be trying to cover up the fact that you have no clue how to get from where you are to where you want to be.”
That's the one.
That's exactly my problem.
The apparent "busy-ness" is totally a front. I'm a fraud. I'm not actually accomplishing anything, ever. I'm just mulling around wondering what to try to do next because I really don't know.
Anyway, this one reminded me of C.S. Lewis's "Mrs. Fidget" and some reflections I wrote about her over four years ago. I was sad to realize I haven't made much progress since then. I don't want to be the overbearing martyr mother who never gets anything but instead projects her frustration and blame on everyone around her.

I read this article before taking my kids to school for one of the last few days of the school year.
I don't have it all together right now and I'm kind of over it. My kids teachers are about at the same point, so I'm sure they totally get it when I send my kids to school wearing yesterday's hairstyle, or, in Troy's case, his favorite orange pumpkin Halloween shirt... for the second time in a week...
At least I hope they do.
Anyway, on this particular morning, we were all rather sluggish and weren't ready to go by the time our "Leave for bus" alarm went off. I had errands to run anyway (I had planned an elaborate piano recital for that evening and needed supplies), so I figured I'd drop them off at school on my way.

I pulled up in front of their school in the line of other cars dispersing elementary school children of various ages. I was suddenly acutely aware of how I looked to the other moms in their cars, as my many children climbed out as if out of a clown car. For just a moment I saw them like a stranger would. The tallest one leading the group, already looking too old to belong in an elementary school. The smallest boy running behind to catch up, looking too tall to be a kindergartner anymore.
And the middle one with a pair of golden braids that flipped over her shoulder as she tossed her head back to give me a wide grin just before she disappeared into the school.
And the toddler behind me, strapped into his car seat, still in his Thomas the Train pajamas (which I changed in the parking lot before we went into the store).
Instantly my eyes welled up, and maybe it's just end-of-the-school-year nostalgia, but I had that desperate slipping-through-my-fingers feeling, like why don't I spend every waking second with these people? Why don't we just hang out and play all day long, and why do I ever let them out of my sight, because each time I do they come home a little bit older?
And why in heaven's name am I obsessing about how clean my kitchen sink is, or building bookshelves, or organizing the Halloween costumes in the basement?
Now mind you, I get that those kinds of things still have to be done or life gets desperately crazy really fast! But I think part of my weakness is letting my little control-freak lists take over 100% of my attention. Balance, right???
We'll see how it goes, launching into summer. Maybe I will relish the break and we as a team will start to get stuff done and I'll enjoy not being a slave to the dreaded School Year Schedule. Or maybe it will just be the death of me. Time will tell.

But I'm getting all sappy and sentimental.
Let's recap some events, like Mother's Day, and Kate's school music program, and the piano recital I told you about.
Maybe not the piano recital.
Travis took all the photos and videos there, so I'll get them later.

First, Nolan is an artist.

The piano recital was held in a dear friend's farmhouse, so while Nolan and I were visiting to make plans, we also got to visit and feed the animals in her barn! Chickens, bunnies, donkeys, horses... He was in heaven.

She's the one in the middle. In pink, of course.

I got a lot of pretty great Mother's Day cards this year, but this one might be my favorite

Travis smoked ribs for dinner!

And Brooklyn took pictures of us getting ready for church.

Troy's kindergarten class had a "Muffins with Mom" celebration before Mother's Day, where we all eat muffins (and obviously powdered-sugar doughnuts) and watch a student-produced performance of Peter Pan.

"A mother, a real mother, is the most wonderful person in the world."

Nolan found a game that troubled him.
"Why is Lightning McQueen all dirty?"

0 sweet nothings: