Feeling anxious about hitting publish on this one.
It's not really tied up with a neat bow, which I hate,
so taking a cue from C.Jane's book, we'll call this my "First Draft".
There are days when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. I feel like my years of parenting and my parenting confidence have an inverse relationship. The longer I do this parenting thing, the less confident I feel about how I'm doing it.
In the course of a day I will question: my discipline methods, homeschooling the boys, how much I use social media, what toys we own, how much television we watch, what screen time should look like, the meals I prepare (how nutritious they are), and how to simplify while still making sure the boys' lives are enriched... The list goes on.
And those are my daily concerns. My long term concerns are far bigger. Are they kind? Do they empathize? Can they express their feelings properly? Are they helpful? Can they complete tasks independently?
And perhaps most importantly, are they loved?
Do they know it? Do they feel it? When they're at their lowest, do they know way deep down that no matter what I love them?
I remember my wedding day very clearly. I look back at that girl the way you look at your favorite Hollywood starlet. I gaze unabashedly at her body, taking in all the tight skin, the flat belly under her pure white dress and the million watt smile that knew nothing of the life that was to come. I want to take her by the shoulders and shake the sparkle from her smile, and tell her to "get real" or "get ready" for all that life is going to throw at her.
I could never have imagined that in five years time we'd be expecting twins. Or that three years after that, we'd both be college educated, jobless & expecting our third child. I miss the naïveté of that beautiful girl. The way she was so sure life was going to be good to her, and that she could, undoubtedly, handle any challenge that came her way.
Since that day twelve years ago, I've been beat up a bit. But what bothers me the most aren't the bruises or the way my story has been woven (its made me who I am, so I can't help but love it despite it's darker parts). No... what bothers me is the sunshiny optimism that was swept away with the storms.
As we prepared this summer for Josh to leave for Alaska for the school year, I had none of the confidence I should have had about my ability to handle the hard times that were surely coming. I wondered at my ability to take care of our three boys and grow our fourth. I wondered how I would manage being both mom and homeschooler. I wondered how I would balance life in the city with the simplicity I fell in love with while living in rural Alaska.
As the weeks have passed with him gone, instead of feeling more confident about how I'm doing with the responsibility currently on my shoulders, I feel the opposite. More unsteady, more unsure, more unhinged with every day that passes.
I've been having lower back pain for about two months now. I imagine it's from picking Wyatt up (I can't help myself. He's still my baby!) and my center of gravity changing with the pregnancy as it's progressed. This pain lead me to the doctor and then a massage therapist. When I saw the massage therapist she told me that my ribs are out, in addition to a million other things wrong with my body, and that that happens when your body is curling inward, toward a fetal position.
Since then I've worked really hard on opening my chest, standing taller and sitting up straighter. I find that it's really uncomfortable (not physically, but emotionally) for me to do these things. It's like I don't think I deserve to take up space in this world. What a terrible, terrible realization.
I wonder, if the table were turned, what that girl in her beaded gown would think as she looked at me a decade into the future. Would she recognize me? Would she pity me? Would she shake her head and ask, "How could it be?"
Maybe, just maybe, she'd hug me and lend me some of her confidence.
Heaven knows I could use it.