Living in a Lonely World

I’ve talked about it here or there. I grew up going to a private school housed in the church that we attended every Sunday. I spent 6 days of the week in the same building and sometimes seven days during sports season. I didn’t think much of it. Everybody knew me and I knew everybody. When my mom was late to pick us up, it wasn’t really that troublesome. We could find a ride home or hang out in the building with whichever teacher was staying late.

It was a small world.

I’m not sure that is or was a bad thing really. There is something to be said for security and safety. As an adult, my husband and I have moved 8 times in 12 years. I would love to just STAY somewhere. One house, one yard. Instead, I spend 4 months procrastinating on hanging our pictures. Then, I hang them and we move 6-8 months later (12 months if I am lucky). Sometimes I wonder how much of a point there is in making a home when we move so often. Even my kids are reluctant to move again. I think if I told them we were staying in our less-than-ideal rental for the next five years – they would cheer!

But how much safety and security is too much or too long? I wonder.

The problem with my small world upbringing was that I didn’t know who I was outside of my small circle. When I left home, I floundered and, truthfully, I still flounder. I’m an expert flounder-er. But isn’t that somewhat natural? I mean, the term “coming-of-age story” exists for a reason, right?

Did growing up in a bubble really affect me as much as it feels like it affected me? I mean, we are all pretty subjective in the stories we tell ourselves. An outsider would hardly describe my life the way I would. I think that’s probably why biography and auto-biography are two very different things.

What if I told myself a different story? What would somebody write on my Wikipedia page?

“Small-town girl livin’ in a lonely world”?

Literally, those are the exact words that came to my mind. Oh lord, the soundtrack to my life features “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey. How poetic.

Actually, I think I’m okay with that story, that soundtrack. Really, we are all lonely at times or even most of the time. We are all searching – searchers. And maybe that is the best part of all…

We are not the only ones searching.

So don’t stop believing. (Yeah, I went there.)


5 Tips for Introverted Mommies

I didn’t realize that I was an introvert until I was 30 years old and in therapy. Suddenly, I realized why I felt depleted all of the time – my house is full of people! People who walk in the bathroom while I’m pooping, need a drink/snack/tissue every time I move to clean and who play music/video games/tv loudly when I’m trying to read by the fireplace.

Basically, motherhood is hell for introverts. In fact, I think the more introverted you are, then the more motherhood will exhaust you. I don’t, however, think you need to be miserable. Here are my 10 tips to keep your sanity, recharge and unwind.

  1. Create routine family outings. Plan it. Stick to it. Do it. As an introvert, I find that I often make wishy-washy family fun plans and then cancel them or get mad when they don’t go well. Truthfully, if I could sit in silence with my family, everyone reading books, then I would. But, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, children want your attention. Setting a time in your weekly agenda that is specifically for your children and family is important. Knowing the exact details of it will help you to follow through and plan for a time to recharge afterwards.
  2. Quiet car rides. My children sound like a marching band played by zoo animals when we are in the car. It drives me insane. So when I go somewhere by myself, I enforce a no music or radio policy. Now, I do break this rule every now and then. Like on Black Friday when I need all the energy I can possibly muster to arm wrestle a Hatchimal from a grandma. Then, I listen to music. Death metal specifically. Regardless, if there is something you used to enjoy (for me its driving), but now seems like the children have stolen it from you. Relish it when they aren’t around.
  3. Speak up. Extroverts can’t read your mind. For a long time, I would do all of my reading, writing and general existing in my room, because my husband’s video games took the general raucous of family living to catastrophic levels. I’m not sure why it took me ten years to realize that I was hiding in my room, because I hated video game music…but once I finally did, I spoke up and told him to wear his headphones. Hello, peaceful medium.
  4. Establish me time. Most evenings from 6:30-7:00 pm, I disappear. My husband knows that he needs to keep the routine going for the kids. And I go take a bath. All by my sweet lonesome. Another great idea is to wake early and read or do your thing without people bustling around the house. I simply require 8 hours to wake up so this doesn’t work so well for me.
  5. Share experiences instead of barking commands. Yelling interactions will deplete you much faster than conversations. When I graduated from my 6 week therapy program, my house was revolutionized. I had spent each Thursday afternoon while in the program working on assertiveness training. I don’t know if you know this, but its extremely applicable to parenting. The first time I used it my kids were fighting over a stuffed Olaf from Frozen. I looked up and said, “I’m trying to read this article can you please work this out in a quieter way.” They both immediately jabbered out their defenses viewing me as the ultimate mediator and final authority. Once they were done talking, I said, “I’m trying to read this article and I feel upset that I’m being interupted. Can you go to another room and talk to each other about this?” They looked at me with wide eyes and slowly wandered off into the kitchen. I never heard anything about Olaf or the quest for ownership again. I think that adults sometimes forget that kids understand feelings. If you begin with an “I” statement about what you are feeling or doing, then they are more likely to see your point of view. I.e. you get what you want. Sometimes.

You Can Do Anything…

…You put your mind to. Heard that phrase?

Me too.

My dad said it to me all the time when I was growing up. He was awesomely encouraging and loved hearing all of my thoughts. If I had an idea, then he’d extrapolate it with me and we’d devise ways to change the world.

{kindred spirits}

As a grown woman and mom, I don’t actually use that phrase, because I disagree wholeheartedly. I’ve learned that I can think of many things, anything and put my mind to them. But doing them? That is a whole different matter.

There are some things I can’t do. In fact, there are many things I can’t do – even if I put my mind to them.

Exhibit A. I cannot run a 3 minute mile. No matter how hard I try or how much I believe it, my short little stubby legs will not move that fast. I could train for weeks and months and years and even decades. Not. Going. To. Happen. I am descended from stout, bohemian women who were known for their kolaches and birthing hips – not their running.

Exhibit B. Three years ago, I was a music teacher, PTO president and school board secretary. I had a nervous breakdown. Full blown, mental hospital and 9 week therapy program. There are some things I just can’t do…

As a mom, I never want to give my kids the impression that they are capable of anything or everything or all things. I want them to know that they should chose things and do things they believe in, whether they achieve them or not. I want them to know that they have limitations.

Limitations ARE OKAY! There IS such a thing as “I can’t” and “I won’t”. I want their “no” to be as powerful as their yes. I want them to have well-formed boundaries.

With all of that being said, I still want them to be risk-takers, to challenge themselves. I want them to be proud when they try, gracious when the succeed and curious when they fail. I want them to know that failure is a compass to true north. All great destinations have bumpy roads.

When they ask me if they can do it, if they can make it or if they will succeed…I will simply ask, “Do you think you can?” And we’ll go from there, because ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I believe about them. It only matters what they believe about themselves.