Monday, August 4, 2008

Repenting, Confessing and Starting Again -- This is a limb I'm afraid to go out on WARNING: please read with a forgiving heart

With a title like that, this is a post you might not want to read.

I am a lousy mom. I will be the first to admit it. I'm not at all the mom I used to be. I used to consider myself pretty good, but somewhere along the way I've lost my focus. I think it might have been three children ago. I frequently feel overwhelmed.

I was looking at poor T the other day and realized that I don't sit down and read to him. With my older kids, they got read to twice a day EVERY day. Ugh! I've really lowered my standards. So, I'm in the process of rebuilding, making my kids a much higher priority. I love that the Spirit teaches us what is best for us and is so patient as to teach that lesson over and over until it sticks. Well, I'm ready for it to stick.

I just get the feeling that there aren't enough hours in the day, so I'm going to realign my priorities and use more of that time in their behalf and pray that time will be maximized in my behalf as I choose the right. One of my favorite scriptures is D&C 130:21-22. So, I can trust that only good will come from my efforts.

I'm thankful for good friends that set an example for me in how to be a good mom. One friend in particular, whom we don't live near any more, has been an excellent example to me. I get emails from her frequently, which are full of her good efforts, and I feel inspired by her; I love that she shares. She will soon have a blog up and running (this week, I hope), and I'm excited to read what she does, so I can follow her example. I don't know if she knows how much I appreciate her. She's also a mom of six, but she's a good mom of six. I don't consider myself a terrible mom, my kids are happy, and I don't yell at them (any more), but there's just so much more I could be doing that I'm letting fall to the wayside--as I look beyond the mark, let things slip through the cracks, get caught up in the thick of thin things, you know all those little sayings you hear--that's me right now, but not for long.

So, here I am, and here are my plans. I hope you'll follow up with me to see how I'm doing. I can use all the accountability I can get.

4. Read to T, A, DJ and B everyday
7. Take a walk with kids everyday
13. Do something to make a good memory for them daily
10. Clean house together
8. Train kids in how to do a job properly
3. Hug ‘em a whole lot more
5. Family scriptures everyday
2. Family prayer twice a day
6. Plan and carry out meals
9. Family Home Evening -- well planned
12. Teach them to serve one another
14. Music practice
11. Work on school stuff with them
15. Have their friends over
1. Do not compare kids - treat each as an individual

Where to start:
Early to bed, early to rise – 9:30pm bedtime/6am wake time
How I’m going to make this happen:
I have set an alarm on my cell phone for 9pm. This will be my alert to start getting ready for bed.

I don't plan on doing all of these goals at once, but I have them laid out, so I know where I'm heading. For now, I'm going to work on the sleep thing. I know this has a huge amount to do with my attitude and energy level. From there, we'll see where I go. I'm going to try to do the others to the best of my ability, but I'm not going to beat myself up for not doing them. We already do them to some degree or another, but I feel like if I tackle them one at a time, I can do each with a more concerted effort and turn them into a way of life instead of continual, half-hearted attempts.

Okay, so I'm going to be brutally honest here, and I know I'm going to offend some, but I hope, if you are offended that you'll forgive me, but this has to be said. I love my ward. I know, when I go to church that I am amongst WONDERFUL people. I would hate to leave it, but I don't feel like I am one of them. They leave me alone, but it's most likely because I leave them alone. I don't feel worthy to be in their presence. I'm now in the ranks of an "older mom" with small children. When I was a younger mom with younger kids, I think I was more easily approached, and being a good mom was easier with having friends who were in the same situation as I was. Now, I think they think, probably because I'm older that I'm too old for their conversations. I used to watch others' kids when they had errands to run, etc., but nobody asks me to do that any more. I have often wondered if it's because they consider me a bad mom and again, not worthy of such a responsibility, or if it's just because they think I'm too busy, but nobody even asks. I don't ask because I fear their rejection. Woah, way too much honesty here.

There are those who are kind enough to invite us to do things. Yesterday, for example, a new woman in the ward, who is dynamic and very outgoing, came up and invited us to go to the park with them today. I was touched and appreciative. I have to admit, I have a very shy side, a socially awkward side that I let emerge way too often. There have been too many times when I've refused invitations just because I haven't felt worthy, or I've been afraid I'd say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I'm not very comfortable in social situations with women. I never have been. Being raised amongst the wolves (a whole bunch of great brothers, and I wouldn't trade my upbringing for anything), it's hard to know how to interact with the rabbits.

I've decided that I need to raise my standards so that I can feel worthy of being in their presence, so when they invite me I can go and do and feel good about it.

Is this way too much information? Am I exposing way too much? See, that's a quality I haven't mastered yet either, knowing what is socially acceptable to share, and what is not. Sometimes I think people hold back way too much, so as to not lose face. I like to think I am a face value kind of person. Take me or leave me.

I'm not begging to be involved in more, I just think I've been very misunderstood. Thank you to those of you who've been patient with me and forgiving. Just because I'm older doesn't mean I have everything figured out, not even close.


vaxhacker said...

Wow. So many things I've felt and struggled with myself. I know these are things my wife and I have discussed ourselves more times than I can count. For whatever it's worth, I think being concerned about doing well by your kids, and being sensitive about your shortcomings there, means that you care. At the very least, you're far from alone.

I was just looking back at all my grand plans for how I was going to help my kids over the summer to keep up on their academic skills they are struggling with, and just being with them more, since I've been on an extended vacation over the summer too. I've been pretty bitterly disappointed in myself at how that's turned out so far. Our kids are happy and healthy and loved, but still... well, you know.

And your feelings you've expressed toward the end of your post about fitting in and feeling a part of our ward community? All I can say is, “Thank you for saying that.” It's so good to hear (well, okay, read) someone else saying that, because it's largely how we've felt as well. We love our ward... really, really, a lot! But mostly because of our shyness, and a few other complications of how life's turned out lately, we've just had a really hard time making personal friendships with people, even though there are a number of people we'd specifically say “I'd like to be friends with them”. Recently someone from the ward invited us to hang out with them for a bit and that was just a wonderful feeling... and I think there, and with a couple of others in the ward we're really just getting to interact more with, we have found some friendships growing more.

But for us, we've managed to get ourselves in a couple of complicated situations which could be a long discussion all to themselves, we just haven't felt like we've had the freedom to just invite people over, and I really hope I don't offend anyone here but to be totally honest we've never really been sure if people would really want to... it comes back to being socially shy, lacking self-esteem/confidence, and never feeling explicitly excluded from a group and yet never quite sure you're completely accepted either... does that makes sense?

And regarding you specifically, since you brought it up, know that when we overcame our “gosh we don't want to feel like we're bothering or imposing on them” instincts and anxieties, when you watched our kids, we knew they were under the care of people we had complete confidence in, and had no fear for their welfare at all. In the last year or so, though, our eldest has been (finally!) old enough to babysit his little brother, so we haven't required that kind of help... until now, as it turns out somewhat ironically... he's now old enough to start going to youth activities, and the temple trip coming up this week involves him and both parents going to the temple... so suddenly we need a sitter for Jon we haven't had to think about for a long time... just so you know, the first words out of my wife's mouth were a hope that one of a couple of people were willing and available. The list included three people, and you were one of that short list.

I applaud your resolve toward self-improvement. Don't run too fast, though. Some of us are still trying to improve enough to feel worthy of hanging around you. But we can keep up the pace together... :)

vaxhacker said...

Not to mention that we know what it's like to be the “older parents of younger kids”. We're right there too.

Baxter Family said...

Julie you are such an ANGEL! I read your post and guess what? You were talking about me - not the "good mom" part - but ALL the rest! With us so far apart I have forgotten how much we are the same.
I struggle on a daily basis and can completely understand the "older mom" thing - you would not believe how much our ward has changed and how many of those around me are young with little children! I feel like I just dont fit anymore here -and you know how many fabulous people are in this ward still!

I have to tell you right this minute that I LOVE YOU TONS! You are an inspiration to me and after reading your posts I am always trying to do better. I agree that having goals and ideals is GREAT - I may get to them and I might not - but guess what? We are both TRYING our very best to care for our homes, children, husbands, everything else. Sometimes that very best is taking a nap and other times it is having a great day of adventure with the kids. Every "best" is different, every day.
I have been extra shy all my life - always comparing myself to everyone else - never feeling good enough or worthy enough...even after all these years in this ward.
I have to tell you though of a wonderful experience I have had recently - one in the ward and one not.
Preston has been HT a man for several years and we havent gotten to know him too well - he got re-married this last year and we have gotten to know him and his new wife quite well. They are older with children our age and yet they have become dear friends. It came of me being willing to remember them and try my best to just be kind and friendly. These are things I have always struggled with extending to people i dont know or dont know well...but we have received the blessings of a new friendship!
The other experience was re-newing a friendship with a family we only get to see 1x/year. I was SO nervous to see the other military wives since we just dont see each other or communicate often (they both live in WA)The kids were thrilled to see each other of course and got together like they had never been apart (dont we wish adults could be like that too)
I was brave enough to invite one of the families to our house to play and have lunch and much to my pleasant surprise (after running around the house like a mad woman trying to make sure everything was "perfect" for their visit) we had a wonderful time visiting and watching the kids play. I have to tell you it was one of the hardest things I have ever done - worrying every moment if I was making a "good enough" impression.
You are so amazing in so many ways and one of the people I look to for inspiration and know that I am a better person because I know you!
You just keep doing your best - no matter what that is from day to day and know there are SO many people out here that love you and your cute family! You will find those small and simple ways to touch others just as you always have and you will be so blessed because of it!
Speaking of re-newing friendships - reading your wonderful blog and hearing from you often makes me miss you even more! We should really try harder to get together! I know the kids would prob love to get together even though they havent seen each other for so long. We could even meet at the temple and go to dinner or something fun like that. Christy Jeffries and I have been talking about getting together a temple date night - it would be wonderful for you and Zan to join us too!
Know that I would not extend the invite if I did not MEAN it! It would be SO wonderful to get to see you and re-new our friendship!
LMK -k-
I do love you TONS and I think you are AWESOME! Keep up the great work you are doing!

Bambi and Jack said...

Oh my goodness Julie,
Do you have the slightest idea how much I admire you? How much I look at your kids and think you are "Mother of the Year" material. Your kids adore you. There...that says it all. I have just now decided that if your kids are happy, healthy, and well-adjusted than you are ahead of the game.
Personally I think I am socially retarded and don't fit in anywhere, especially at church. But you, you are such an example. Not a "Molly Mormon", but none the less you have the strongest testimony of anyone I know, yet I don't feel that you judge others.
In my book, you get lots of "Jesus points" and if you don't know about those, just ask and I'll explain.
Most Sincerely,
Your adoring fan

Darilyn said...

Wow, those are some dang long comments. I appreciate your honesty here. I often have felt this way. From my perspective people are probably looking at you and thinking they aren't worthy to be your friend. I also tend to be a little shy socially until I get to know people better, especially when I feel that I'm not as capable as that person is. I know when I first met you at camp and found out you had all these great kids I felt a bit intimidated. But because of blogs I could read about your life and thoughts and realize that you aren't very different from me. And that I could connect with you on so many different levels. So now I have you as a friend and I'm really grateful for that.

Anonymous said...

I think God sprinkles us around in different areas so that those who are most like us aren't always close in proximity.

I lived in your 'ward' for 18 months and to be brutally honest :D if there was one person I thought I could hang out with it was you...only problem was we were dealing with so many hard issues that those plus the crazy callings and pregnancy were all I could handle.

Now we've moved and life has some normalcy to it...and you're an hour away and I don't blog enough to read you every day.

If I can say one thing tho ~ you are a kindred spirit and I'm glad to know and read you more - even if through words!

I gave a lesson recently about being content...but stretching in the tethers....if you want, I can send some of the skeleton to you...

I love you Julie!

meganconser said...

I think your feelings are very real and personal. I appreciate your sharing them. I also think you are very hard on yourself. You are a great example, and while I don't see you at home and the craziness that goes there(its in every home you know), I do see your children interact with eachother and other people. You are on the right track. And it doesn't matter how slow we are going on the right track, so long as we are still going. I go at a snails pace... Anyway, we are still learning to be moms. Just because you have 6 kids and should have a degree in Mommyhood with all your hours invested, you are learning every day. I am struck at how different each child is and how I need to use different discipline techniques on them. Wouldnt it be nice I could just read a book and figure them out before I try to jump into a fight?

I think feeling lonely in a loving ward is normal-talking to a lot of other mommies, they sometimes open up and say the same. I love so many people, but so many times I still feel isolated and not needed. This is when I try to focus on my individual realtionships with those I have really clicked with. I also know I will never feel totally at ease because of my personal feelings of inadequacy, which is no one elses problem but my own, and can cause a lot of pain inside. I simply do not show my pain- its too personal.

By the way, I know you are older than me(just a few years I think), but I do not think of you as older. I love talking with you. You have a perspective that is very experienced, yet it is still very real for me personally because you still have babies. I think even when your children are older you will never be a mom to simply say: Oh, they grow out of it- you will get over it. You have always been interested and have always had compassion for me and my situation, which honestly seems like is such a lighter load than yours. Thanks for your time and conversations.

I would ask you to stop being so hard on yourself Julie. You need to read and re-read the talk "Overcoming Feelings of Inadequacy" by Elder David s. Baxter(Sorry, if I knew how to insert a link I would have!). In this talk he says: 'The adversary is also at work. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught, “As the showdown between good and evil approaches with its accompanying trials and tribulations, Satan is increasingly striving to overcome the Saints with despair, discouragement, despondency, and depression.” The adversary knows that if he can prevent us from recognizing our divine potential, he will have scored a major victory.'

Don't stop recognizing your divine potential- somthing easy for me to do as my daily life consists of feeling guilty for not being a good mom/wife/daughter/sister and overcoming different anxieties of simply how to be. Maybe add a small item to your list to look at yourself in the mirror and smile. I would be happy to stop by and smile at you everyday if that sounds good.

Hang in there little Momma- you are loved and needed. In fact, we need another bunko night....

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