On [Not] Keeping Score

October 8, 2012

Not too long ago, I had this really bad habit of keeping score. Here's what I mean. In my head I kept a running list of all the stressful events that had occurred in my life over the past five years or so. It was a breathtaking list, too, that involved moving out of state twice, dealing with a major death in the family, buying a house and undergoing therapy for nerve pain. Anytime anyone asked about my life or my stress level, they got a full rundown of the list. In detail.

Surely no one else had endured so much stress in such a small space of time. It was almost like a competition: look how crazy my life is! Or maybe, I hesitate to admit, it was a plea for sympathy or attention.

I used the list to justify bad attitudes and reactions to stress. I used it to assure myself that I was doing ok...under the circumstances. I used it as a cosmic scorecard. Ok, I've had my fill of stress now. Time for a break. 

Then I miscarried. I started to add the event to the list. And then, I started thinking: Why am I even keeping this list? 

Why don't I have a corresponding list in my head of great memories I've made over the past 5 years?

Why don't I tell people about all the cute stuff William has said and done?

Why can't I remember half the cute stuff he's said and done??

Why am I always complaining and painting a tragic picture of my life?

See, right after the miscarriage, I had a dream. One of those realistic dreams that wake you up from sleep. In this dream, I was wearing my wedding dress at some kind of event. Calvin was in a suit. And we were spinning across the floor, dancing and laughing. Carefree. Obviously deeply in love.

I was watching myself from the sidelines. Watching that young woman I was with the glowing eyes and beaming smile. She looked at me as she whirled by, so young, so beautiful. She said something to me as she passed. I'm not sure what it was. But I think it may have been, "Look at what you have."

So I did. And I discovered something. I have so much. Not just food on the table or cars in the driveway. I have the love of my life right here with me. I have a wonderful child with this man. I have a heart that's full of love and peace. Enduring a parade of stressful situations has been worth every minute I get to spend with these people I adore. I have no reason to keep score.

So I'm throwing away the scorecard. No more complaining. No more dwelling on the past. I need room in my head for all the great memories we're making.  

New Blog

October 6, 2012

I know I've been a little lax about keeping up with this blog in the past, but this week I followed my heart and started a Bible blog. I put it up on Wordpress, and it's called Revolutionary Faith. If you wish to read it, visit http://revolfaith.com.

Right now, I'm in the middle of posting about my faith experience. However, I'll still be posting stuff here about my personal thoughts. I have a post in mind that I'd like to write soon. This blog is well over three years old now, and I don't have plans to abandon it anytime soon. :-)

Thanks for reading!

Finding the Value within Myself

October 3, 2012

It's been two weeks since the loss of my pregnancy, and I think I may be finally coming to terms with it. Of course, that has involved a lot of gardening...and writing...and jewelry making. Anything that isn't crying. Not that I haven't cried. I have.

It's not just that I wanted this child and lost him. It's all the other emotions that come with it. I had to adjust to the whole idea of becoming a mother again after deciding I wouldn't. Plans to get a job were interrupted, rearranged. William and I talked about the baby, especially when my belly started to grow. I had just bought maternity clothes, had just got over the persistent morning sickness. The baby's heartbeat was strong at 10 weeks. My big ultrasound to confirm the gender was only three weeks away. I expected to feel the kicks at any moment. And then I go to the doctor to find out that the baby had been dead since week 13. Now I'm back to square one, unsure of how I will move forward. My mother-in-law calls it "emotional whiplash."

I think that description is quite apt.

It's amazing the kind of clarity that can come out of these situations. For instance, working as a way to cope with my pain has shown me exactly how much I am still capable of doing. Being stuck in the hamster wheel of housewifery for the past three years had made me think I had lost the energy, creativity and initiative that I possessed in college. Now I know that it's still inside of me.

I think it's very difficult for young women to realize the full extent of their value. Society says women are basically useless unless they're bringing home a paycheck. The problem is, even when we are bringing home a paycheck, our work isn't as appreciated. Women still earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. And for those of us who stay home to raise our kids, the enormity and (sometimes) drudgery of what we do is overlooked. "Oh, well YOU didn't have to battle morning traffic, or sit through a boring meeting, or miss lunch because an overbearing client was breathing down your neck," husbands will say. No, but I spent the day wiping up urine and puke, wrestled a cranky toddler, and ate a sandwich that had fallen on the floor. Sitting through a boring meeting sounds like heaven. Do you get to pee there without someone watching you, too??

So how do I cope? I find the value within myself.

And that's hard to do when people's expectations of what you should be doing are numerous and unrealistic. Breastfeed until your child is 3. Socialize this many times per week. Cook breakfast for your husband (or you don't really love him). Iron his underwear. Shine his boots. Don't let your child cry, ever. Use that degree you earned. Work off that belly fat. No VOCs. No GMOs. Organic only. Co-sleep. Don't co-sleep. Use only rear-facing carseats. And for heaven's sake, no more than an hour of TV per day. Really, WHAT do you do all day?

I could go on. But here's the thing: life is more than living up to arbitrary standards of perfection. And that's a HUGE admission coming from a self-proclaimed perfectionist. Just because I'm a wife and a mother doesn't mean I stop having my own dreams and goals. I need to learn, to try new things and fail at them, to be a human being. It's through exercising my talents and pursuing the unique opportunities available to me that I find a life worth living. In that regard, I'm no different from a man. My child is not going to remember in 10 years whether he ate homemade baby food or not. And he's not going to feel less loved because I bought him Gerber peas instead of growing my own in the backyard. What he will remember is the time we spent together. And whether I was a happy, secure, fulfilled individual or not.

I feel like I've hit a major milestone with this epiphany. I have value within myself that's not defined by a paycheck or a pat on the back. What I do matters to me, and that's what ultimately matters to those who love and depend on me.