I Fell Into the Comparison Trap

The other day, I caught myself doing something I know I shouldn’t do — comparing my son to his peers.

I think it’s something all parents do; it just can’t be helped sometimes. And it seems easier and less wrong (which is horrible to admit) somehow if the comparison has your kid coming out on top.

However, when your kid doesn’t quite match up…well, it’s a different story. A couple weeks ago at preschool, the kids wrote letters to send in the mail. My son’s letter came addressed to Daddy, and since he was out of town for work, I left it alone so he could open it.

Throughout that week, I noticed a couple of parents from my son’s class sharing their kids’ letters on Facebook. They were completely handwritten by the kids, and it made me so excited to see my kid’s letter, which I also assumed would be completely handwritten by HIM.

When my husband arrived home a few days later, I eagerly looked on as he opened and read the letter. He reacted the way I wish I would have — with pure love and pride in his son. I, however, immediately noticed that most of the words were written by a teacher, with only a few written in by my son, and I felt a little pang of disappointment.

Believe me when I say that I regret this so, so much.

I never want to make my child feel like he’s less than others, and I told him his letter was awesome. I let my expectations get the better of me. I guarantee many of the other kids in the class could not write out their entire letters. I mean, come on…they are four years old and in the first of two years of preschool. Most of them just learned to write their own names this year (my son included), let alone any other letters of the alphabet.

What my son has learned this year amazes me. He’s become such a big boy and accomplished so many new things that have made me so incredibly proud. So he couldn’t write out all the words by himself — big deal.

I will always encourage him to try his best and push himself, but for now, he’s in preschool and all of this stuff is brand new. Every little new discovery and ability is awe-inspiring for me right now since he’s my oldest child.

When I look at that letter now, I see how fast my first baby is growing up and I feel the pride I robbed myself of the first time. And while we’ve got many, many years of school ahead of us for him and our other kids, and I’m sure I’ll fall back into the trap of comparison sometimes, I hope I remember this moment.

I never, ever want my children to feel like I think they’re inferior to others, and I don’t want to dwell on how they compare to others. My kids were specially hand-crafted by God to be who they are, and that is something I will always cherish. I will encourage them, and hopefully challenge them, as they grow. But first and foremost, I will love them unconditionally for who they are and what they’re capable of.

And the letter? It’s going on the fridge for now, and then to a special place later. It’s value can’t be compared at all anymore.

My Assignment of Refinement

Last week, I started a post about a crappy day I was having. A few weeks before that, I started a post about something else, and probably a few weeks before that, I had another started.

But did I publish any of them? Big fat nope.

I’ve written on my blog fairly often since January, when I swore I’d be more present. However, I haven’t published anything because I keep thinking, “Who will want to read this?”

I realized something this week, though. I have got to stop holding myself back. I do it way more than I realize, and it’s more detrimental than I realize. I love to write and share myself through my blog. It doesn’t even really matter to me how many people read it; the process alone fulfills me, and I’ve been neglecting myself of that.

I started a new online Bible study on Monday, and I give it much of the credit for getting me back to posting. The book is 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz, and the study is through Proverbs 31 Ministries (www.proverbs31.org). The book uses the story of Ruth to delve into these five habits, the first of which is “She accepts her assignment of refinement.”

I’ve got to say, I am loving it. It’s challenging me to rethink my attitudes and actions, and I’ve realized just how much of a quitter I have been. And while that’s not exactly a fun revelation, I feel inspired to make changes and pursue my goals today instead of tomorrow.

I want to not only accept, but also embrace my assignment of refinement. I want to leave behind my comfortable area of not publishing my posts because I worry about what others might think. I want to be me bravely and find out who I really am a writer. I want to grow, and I’ll never do that if I don’t try.

This is probably going to be messy and random and kind of weird at times, but that’s pretty much me. That’s how God made me, and I’m going to embrace it instead of using as an excuse to quit yet again.

January Again…

Well, this is weird. Exactly one year ago today, I wrote about January and it’s unwillingness to end. Then this morning, I finally (FINALLY!) open up the old blog to write again, ironically about how January is actually not too terrible this year. I really didn’t plan this — I’ve just been putting off writing for the entire month…and the last two months before as well.

I do kind of have an excuse. A few weeks into November, all the glory of the first trimester of pregnancy hit. (By the way, surprise! In a good way…it was a planned surprise, if that makes sense…but I digress.) I felt nauseous on and off almost every day. Nights were the worst, and I went to bed as soon as I could after getting the boys down. This pretty much went on until a little after Christmas, when I finally began to feel back to somewhat normal.

Needless to say, writing was something I didn’t do much during that time. I could barely keep up with housework and Christmas preparations, let alone anything else. I wrote my monthly posts for Her View From Home and called it good. I failed dismally at NaNoWriMo, although I actually get a decent start.

I’m a couple weeks into my second trimester now, though. I no longer require a nap every day to function normally, and I even had enough energy to finally finish painting my kitchen cabinets (which I started in October…) and take down Christmas decorations last weekend. My house is — or I should say was by now — clean for a few days, and it felt good. Still does actually, even though there are a few stray cheerios in the living room.

Maybe it’s the physical and mental energy boost I’ve gotten from starting my second trimester, but I haven’t hated January this year. It’s kind of going by quickly, which is great. Plus, I’ve totally lucked out and missed bad weather on the days I needed to drive out of town for doctor appointments. That’s pretty fortunate, considering the decent amount of snow we have.

I guess that is also the reason I haven’t even gotten around to blogging yet. The month has kind of gotten away from me. That just does not happen in January, but I’ve had enough things to catch up on that I ended up making a to-do list to keep it all straight. And I love me a good to-do list.

I’m starting to feel like this has been random, babbling post, so I’m going to call it good. It’s always tricky to get back into the habit of writing — especially when I can’t really call it a habit without feeling like a sham. I’m going to change that this year, although I’m warning you now, I’ll probably do another disappearing act in July.

It will be for a good reason, though (a baby!), and I’ll eventually be back, like I always am.

Today’s Nap Time Presents: Productivity!

It’s nap time. Usually, this is the time I use to fold laundry and veg out in front of the TV, but I decided laundry can wait today so that I could pay a much needed visit to my blog.

I’m sure I’m not the only who feels this way right now, but holy heck, when did time kick into warp speed? I’m pretty sure Owen just started preschool a couple weeks ago, but the calendar tells me it’s been over six weeks already. And his birthday — big number four! — is in just five days.

(Which means my birthday — big number 30! — is in just 12 days. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this yet.)

Time is definitely getting away from me too much lately. I haven’t prioritized my writing at all, except to put out my monthly post for Her View From Home. I need to get myself together, though, as I’m really hoping to accomplish something I first set out to do three years ago: Write a novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November.

I started out pretty good during November 2012, but probably didn’t even make it through two weeks. And to be honest, I can’t remember what I was writing about. Like no clue at all, for real.

I signed up again in November 2013, but didn’t even start writing, as I decided to use more of my spare time to prepare for Archer’s arrival. I was at least successful in that endeavor…seriously, you should have seen how stocked my freezer was with meals.

November 2014 came and went without me signing up at all. Nap time for Archer was still pretty random, even at 10 months old, and it usually ended up with me holding him the whole time, which equals no free hands to type.

So now, as we’re closing in on November 2015, I’m ready to give it another go, and I’m really hoping this is the year I can get myself together and actually do this thing. I’ll admit, I’m not off to a good start. Instead of spending my “nap time free time” preparing, I’ve been binging on TV, reading (which is at least a good thing!), or napping myself.

I keep waiting to find the right time of the day to work on my writing, and I’ve been letting golden opportunities slide by each day. I tell myself it’s not worth it to get started on something in case Archer decides to cut his nap short, but that is such a lame excuse. I’ve even talked to Randy a bit about having my own “office hours” in the evenings sometimes, and he was all for it. But for some reason, I’ve been letting those opportunities pass by too.

My problem is that I sabotage myself. There is a little voice in the back of my mind that constantly tells me I can’t do it. That I’ll start, but I won’t finish. That it wouldn’t be good anyway.

I’m working on silencing that voice. It helps that a bigger voice that’s not my own is tugging on my heart. I can’t know God’s exact plans for my life, but I feel pretty confident that writing my novel is part of them. I don’t think I’ve truly had that reassurance in the past, so I really do think this year will be different.

For now, I’m going to use the next three and a half weeks to work on implementing the changes I need to make to be successful. You might see me blogging on here a lot more often. If not, it’s hopefully because I’m preparing for November!

just write something, heather

I’ve been feeling really uninspired lately. Or perhaps just lazy. Either way, I’ve spent far too much time away from my blog.

For me, writing is kind of like a pile of laundry that needs folded. I want to do it…I really do. And I enjoy doing it. Seriously, folding clothing into neat piles gives me such a feeling of satisfaction.

But sometimes I fall behind. We might have a busy weekend or I might have so much laundry to do that folding just doesn’t happen in favor of simply getting the loads in and out of the washer and dryer. Then a pile of clean, unfolded clothes builds up and becomes so daunting that I just ignore it for awhile.

Writing is unfolded laundry. Like creating those neatly organized piles, writing brings me so much satisfaction. It’s my favorite way to express myself because I can be so socially awkward and incoherent in person sometimes. Writing gives me a chance to process my thoughts. It often doesn’t even take me much longer to write something than it does to say it, but that extra little bit of time to think makes all the difference.

So why don’t I write more? Seriously, I’ve blogged about this before. This is not a new problem for me at all. I can’t blame being a mom and try to use my kids as an excuse. I simply just don’t giving writing enough priority in my life. And maybe I haven’t really had anything good to say lately either, but the longer that keeps up, the harder it is to tackle. Just like the laundry.

I’m looking forward to the changes autumn is going to bring. I know spring is the season of new life, but I think autumn, at least for me, is equally revitalizing. I do better with a schedule, and now that I’ll have a preschooler (sob), schedules will be my best friend.

(And I just really love fall. It’s such a relief after ridiculously hot summer days, and frankly, I’d take autumn-kissed foliage over spring flowers almost any day.)

I’m hoping this post is the catalyst to get the funk out of my system. I’ve been putting if off for weeks months, but it’s time to get back to it. I know I do have plenty to say that’s worthwhile, if I just give myself the chance to do it. Maybe I’ll even finally focus on my real goal — to write a novel. I know what you’re thinking…if she can barely keep up a blog, how is she going to manage a book?

Believe me, I think this all the time, which is probably what’s been holding me back. I haven’t had the confidence to really begin, but I’m getting there. I’d fill you in more, but this post is getting entirely too long the way it is, so I’ll save it for another someday.

Boy, it felt good to get that all out!

“One of Those Days”

As a mom, it’s common to have “one of those days” — you know, the ones where you find yourself hiding in the bathroom, counting down to bedtime, and sneaking chocolate behind the kids’ backs.

Welcome to my yesterday.

Between Owen challenging me from the moment he woke up, Archer getting into stuff he shouldn’t, and Randy working out of town for most of the week again, yesterday was just an off day. I struggled to be patient, nap time was less than satisfying, and I spent most of the afternoon feeling sluggish and cranky.

By the time I got the boys to bed, my motivation was pretty much gone. Fortunately, I caught up on dishes earlier in the day and we ate supper at my parents’ house, so the kitchen was in pretty decent shape. The rest of the house, though…well, I was just waiting for it to be declared an official disaster zone.

Believe me when I say I am not exaggerating. In the living room, there were movies, toys, and crumbs scattered all over the floor. I desperately needed to vacuum, but before that could happen, I needed to relocate all the toys. I had a huge pile of unfolded laundry hanging out on my bed, a stack of brand-new food containers still needing to be washed and put to use, and my Bible study all calling my name.

Despite it all, I ignored everything and went straight to bed, only to be awakened less than an hour later by Archer. As bad as I thought the day had been, the night was worse. Archer would not go back to sleep. In my desperation, I took him to bed with me, which used to be the best way to get any sleep. Not anymore, though. We both struggled to sleep for the next few hours before I finally gave up and forced my near lifeless form to the sofa for another nursing session. Between all that, Owen also woke up and climbed into bed with us. When we got up and headed for the couch, Owen eventually following, resulting in a distracted Archer. I love his little giggle, but when I desperately want to get back to sleep at 4:00 a.m., it’s just not as endearing.

Fortunately, today has been much better. Obviously, any day where everyone sleeps in until 9:30 a.m. can’t be too bad, right? I was a little high strung most of the day because of the severe weather threat (which missed us…thank you God!), but for the most part, it was a good day. I got all the goldfish crumbs vacuumed from the living room floor and couch, my food containers washed, and both boys were bathed and asleep shortly after 8:00 p.m.

How did that happen? I have no idea. I think this is one of the profound mysteries of being a mom — some days you kick butt at the job, while other days you get your butt kicked. Sometimes just getting through the day alive feels like a victory, worthy of an award (otherwise known as wine), while other days are peppered with feel-good moments that convince you you’re the greatest mom on the planet.

I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring. It’s possible it will be another “one of those days,” but it’s also possible it will be amazing. I may not be able to dictate my kids’ actions or other happenings, but I can choose my attitude toward them, and maybe, just maybe, that will be enough to make it a great day.

Hitting Refresh

Yesterday, I attempted to renew Randy’s pickup registration online. I guess the DMV likes to be difficult online as well as in person because this is the screen I saw…for the entire day:

 

CaptureAfter the first 45 minutes of “processing,” I considered clicking refresh and starting over. For some reason, though, I held back. Logically, I knew hitting refresh would probably be my best option, but I waited.

Eventually, I forgot about the page as the day’s busyness unfolded. And isn’t that how it happens with us? We can load and load all day long, and never really get anywhere. I often end the day worn out both physically and mentally. I really, really love being a stay-at-home mom, but there are times when the kids’ whining, constant laundry and dishes, and toys EVERYWHERE just wear on me.

It is during these moments that I need to stop and just hit refresh. Lots of times, all it takes is a couple minutes — a quick prayer for patience, tight hugs from my boys, or even some time just locked in the bathroom alone. Sometimes it takes a little longer…like 30 minutes on the treadmill while the kids crack out on TV.

However it’s accomplished, hitting refresh helps me remember that I’m doing the best I can, and my boys aren’t asking for anything more. I can head into the rest of the day feeling more optimistic, joyful, and stress-free, and we all have a better day because of it.

It doesn’t matter what you do or who you are — this is something every single person can benefit from. Maybe you’re a college student cramming for finals and feeling overwhelmed…hit refresh. Perhaps you’re working in a job that doesn’t make you feel fulfilled…hit refresh.

In case you’re wondering, I did hit refresh on the DMV website this morning. And you know what? I didn’t even have to start over. My confirmation number popped up, showing that my payment had processed yesterday. See? Hitting refresh sometimes really is all you need to do.