Thursday, May 14, 2009

Words of Wisdom

I've heard some insightful things this week:

"Pretend you're on a reality show."

This has not been my finest week with the boys. I've used more imperative sentences than necessary, ending most of them with the word, "Now!" Owen's usual announcement that "I don't like Joel, and I'm going to take his toys away from him," made me want to toss him in the dumpster.

Not a reasonable response. I've felt like a bear, being poked at with a big stick. With every little poke, I'm baring my fangs and slashing blindly. If I don't get myself to a dark, quiet cave, there's gonna be a mauling.

I was talking about this with a friend, and she understood completely. She said that when she has days like that, she plays a mental game with herself. She pretends that she is on a reality show, and that cameras are filming her every move.

Now, just this week, I've opined about the goofballs of reality TV, but I decided to give it a try today. And wouldn't you know...I censored myself, took a few more deep breaths, and today has been a better day.

"Stop Feeding the Rat"

This book I'm reading (The Coffee Mom's Devotional by Celeste Palermo) discusses the idea that many women have rats running on wheels in their heads, with endless to-do lists and self-induced pressures. She writes, "My rat runs on the need to please and the need to perform."

Did that ever hit home. Now that I'm done with the college class, I've decided to take writing more seriously. I'm working on a few different articles for submission and I've entered a few writing contests as well. This is exciting in regards to pursuing a dream and using my mind, but it is frustrating because these pesky kids keep me from doing what I want to do.

I'll find myself playing blocks with Owen, my mind on Planet Article. I'm only half-listening to his story of the Tree Frogs and their Pyramid, because all I want is for the boys to be upstairs, asleep and content. That way, I can write about the cool things they do and the lessons I'm learning as a mom.

See the problem here? I need to give my flesh-and-blood babies the passion I've reserved for my paper-and-ink babies.

Getting back to the rats. This book has forced me to examine why I'm so focused on writing. I think that part of the reason is that it brings me joy, and I think that it's a gift God has given to me to help other people.

I also think that I am a Type-A first child, and I want and need attention---the need to please, the need to perform. Look at meeeeeee! Love meeeeeeeeeee!

So, I'm going to stop feeding the rat. That doesn't mean that I'm going to be complacent and lazy. I don't think we're given gifts and talents for that purpose.

I am, however, going to do whatever job I happen to be doing---parenting, writing, driving, cleaning---with 100% of my attention.

And, I'm going to stop working so hard to get gold stars from other people. Instead, I'll try to make those I care about feel like stars.

This is not easy, but nothing that's important ever is.

Besides, if I don't try, my imaginary camera crew will film it. And that would be embarrassing.

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