Friday, September 11, 2020

Imperfect progress and it's ok that I'm not there yet

Last night I had dinner with my friend Becky.  We sat in her newly remodeled kitchen...that she did ALL HERSELF by the way...painted the cabinets, recovered the dining room chairs, and even resurfaced the countertops HER OWN SELF.  She's that brave and creative and amazing.  

When we get together, it takes very little time for us to dive deep into what I call soul conversation...what we've been thinking about, struggling with, rejoicing over, and learning about ourselves and our faith and our relationships.  Last night was no different.  Two hours flew by in a nano second as we indulged in lo mein and egg rolls and coffee ice cream and rambled and ranted about all the things that have been making up our lives since last time we talked. 

One topic we spend quite a bit of time on (and have been for the past couple years actually) is how we are navigating this season of empty nesting and parenting young adult children who are their very own adult selves and don't want to be parented anymore.  

Sigh.

This is hard.

Harder than I thought it would be, and quite honestly I think so far I am sucking at it.

I used to think things would get easier as the kids got older, that the baby and toddler years were the most challenging and as they grew older and more independent, life would get easier.  It's so cute how I used to think that.  Nothing that I experienced through all the years of parenting, all the books I read and all the things I thought I knew...nothing prepared me for these years when they would leave the nest.  Forge out on their own, no longer wanting or needing my hovering -er, I mean guidance.  

At least when they were babies and they insisted on "me do!" I could still stand there and watch (ok, hover) to make sure they didn't harm themselves with their freedom and independence. But now, not so much.  Now it's "me do!" and "back off...farther...no, farther...keep going, Mom.  I can still see you and feel what you are thinking.  You need to let me go."  

I don’t want to hear that.  That makes my heart hurt and I want to die in my body.  I’d much prefer to hear something like “Mom, what do you think I should do” and “Let’s hang out together for four hours and eat cookie dough and make snow angels and cuddle.”  Or even “Mom, I still need you.”

But then I realize, with the help of my friend and egg rolls and lo mein and coffee ice cream...that this is part of the journey.  This is how it's supposed to be.  We raise them to not need us. 

And their lives are not about me.  

Even though I birthed (some of) them out of my own body, and we had them because we wanted babies and love and family and all the sweet, precious things that come with that forever.  And even though being a mother has been my life's focus and my highest calling for the past 23 years, I now need to swallow this very hard truth.  My kids are not here on this planet to make me feel fulfilled.  They are here to live their own lives, walk out their own journeys, and fulfill their own purposes in this world.  

I have always known this to be true in my brain.  It’s my heart that’s throwing a tantrum.  

Becky gets this.  We are walking parallel roads.  She shared advise she heard recently on how to deal with this so very strong mom desire to fix and help and teach and guide and make them wear their life jackets or better yet, come back to the shore where it's safe when the waters get choppy.  She said in those moments we have one thing to do.  Only one.  And that is to shut it.

Shut.

It.

They don’t want our advise.  Our wisdom doesn’t apply to their lives.  Not now anyway.  When they are in their 40’s they’ll feel differently, but for now they want and need to follow their own callings, make their own decisions and even their own mistakes.  It’s what I did, what we all did, but it's SOOOOOO hard when the maternal lifeguard takes over and we see the waves coming.  We want to make them see what we see, and do what we wish we woulda shoulda done when we saw those same waves coming at us when we were their ages.  When our moms tried to coax or warn us back to shore and we insisted on not.


As hard as it is, I'm learning to keep my feet planted firmly in the sand and enjoy life from the shore as they learn to sail their own boats.  I get the glorious joy and blessing of being part of their stories and sometimes riding along as a passenger and not in the driver's seat.  It's equally thrilling and terrifying, but I am learning to navigate my new role as mom of adult people. 

And I am immensely grateful to have Mr. Wonderful by my side to help keep me sane (not a small job).  He's so much farther along on this journey than I am, and he has unending  grace and patience with me while I figure this all out.  

I may not be there yet, but I'm on my way.

Friday, March 27, 2020

19 Things to focus on instead of COVID!

Wow.  Looking at my last post, just four weeks ago, it seems like forever since things were normal.

Well.

Here is how I’m handling ALL THE THINGS right now. I thought I'd share my thoughts because maybe some of this will be encouraging – and will also be here for me to remind my OWN self when I need it!

1) Communicate. Call and video chat with family and friends. Talk with your people you live with. Check in with each other. Share your frustrations, fears, worries, and stresses. Don’t keep it all to yourself. Sharing is healing.

2) Remember – this will pass. We will not be isolating and living in this uncertainty forever.

3) Do what you can…and then let it go. It’s easy to get consumed with sanitizing EVERY SINGLE THING and then looking around wondering if THIS has germs on it, or maybe THAT over there…ugh. That’s a spiral I don’t need to swirl in. So, I have made a plan for myself and my home. We sanitize:
· When we get home (hands, phones, keys, purse handles, water cups).
· When we get in our car after being out in public.
· At least once a day go through the house and get light switches, counters, handles, buttons, keyboards, and remotes.
· And then…let it go. Seriously, let go of it. Don’t allow myself to worry and obsess.

4) Help others. There are opportunities out there to help those who are unable to help themselves.  Even from our homes.  There are community groups (like the Facebook group "Winona Neighbors Helping Neighbors") who have banded together and are offering help to those who are isolated and don’t have the resources to get what they need.  As long as I am able to, I’m going to continue to help. If I get sick, I’m going to get sick helping people.

5) Sing! Sing loud and often and crazy!  80’s pop!  Hard rock! Get your country on! Or go mellow. Whatever gets your energy out or gets you to take a deep breath and relax. Music is therapy.

6) Pray! God is not surprised by this. He knows what’s going on, and how and when it will end. He has a purpose in this, and He is our only hope - not only now but always.

7) Laugh! Watch funny movies, share Facebook memes. Laughter is healing.

8) Youtube happy things - puppy and kitten videos, penguins walking down stairs, and seals. Oh my word, the seals!  Watching baby seals play make me soooo happy. Google family photo fails. I call this “Penelope Therapy” (Criminal Minds fans will know what I mean).

9) Connect – organize a group chat, a group sing, an online game, or whatever we can do to spend time together and see each other’s faces. Not sure what this will look like yet, but this weekend we are going to organize a virtual family game of Catan!

10) Turn off the dang news. I check in with the news once (ok twice) a day so I am informed, but then I make myself leave it alone. I don’t need to inundate myself with this, it only breeds fear and worry. God is bigger than all the predictions that are being thrown around. He’s teaching us to trust and rely on Him, not the government or even the medical community. I don’t need to listen to what everyone is saying, I need to listen to Him.

11) Move! I’m still working at my job for now so I’m not sitting around ALL day, but when I’m home I need to move. I haven’t been working out like I was for the past few weeks, and my body feels it. I need to go for a walk outside, do my Beachbody workouts, stretch. Again, reminding myself here :)

12) Go outside. I CRAVE fresh air (as my family will attest when I whip open all the windows and declare that we NEED SOME FRESH AIR IN HERE!) Nature is therapeutic for me. Listening to the birds, feeling the breeze and sunshine on my face, taking in a deep breath of fresh air and watching the clouds. Get me by a waterfall and forget it. I’ll sit there for hours if you let me.

13) Create. I love to write – blogging, journaling, even doodling. I also love to cook, bake, and play my (out of tune) piano.

14) Clean & organize. This is also therapeutic for me, and if you’ve been to certain areas of our house lately (eh-hem, our office and storage room) you will see that I NEED SOME THERAPY!

15) Light a yummy smelling candle. I especially love the ones that crackle. That alone reaches 3 of our 5 senses!

16) Practice mindfulness. I’m not talking about in a weird spiritual kind of way, but as a therapeutic technique. Mindfulness is simply being aware and present in the moment and focusing on what is going on in and around you (a.k.a. getting out of your head). Focus on your 5 senses…what can you see, hear, feel, taste and touch right now? Especially if you find yourself getting anxious or overwhelmed or ruminating on negative thoughts…focus on one or all of your senses and break out of that cycle in your mind that is taking you nowhere but to Anxietyville. (I have spent a lot of time there, I know it well).

17) Realize what is truly important in life. I think we are all doing this right now on a new level. Basic needs are no longer taken for granted (I’ve never been so happy to have toilet paper before). I miss being close to people (I’m a hugger), seeing people’s smile (we are all wearing masks at work), and going to coffee shops (Jesus, take the wheel).

18) Remember all of this after the crisis is over. Nearly every generation goes through some type of crisis, and we learn some valuable lessons through experiencing them that we maybe would never learn if life was always calm and good and predictable. As bad as things are (this is difficult, not gonna sugar coat it), many have lived through far worse than what we are experiencing now. The Vietnam War. The Great Depression. The Holocaust. The Macarena. Let’s keep things in perspective.

19) Lastly, and MOST importantly….TRUST God. Just trust Him. Tell Him all your worries and frustration and sadness and even anger. He knows it all anyway, and He tells us in His word that He wants us to bring all our cares to Him. He bears our burdens, heals our wounds, and guides us. He does not promise an easy life, or one free from crisis or heartache. But He promises to those who love Him that He will bring good out of EVERY situation. We have a good God who walks with us through every storm that we experience on this earth, and when our time is up He walks us into eternity with Him. That is what I hold onto.

PS, this is coming soon...