Monday, September 27, 2010

Risky Business

I've been thinking.
And I believe I've had a sort-of-epiphany.
I have been examining a critical question.
A question I have been asked a few time lately,
by women.

Women like me
who are navigating through
and faith.

Women who are wanting to be all they can be,
honor their God,
care for their children
and maintain good marriages.

First off,
I am always struck with the amount of
and selflessness
we as women
pour into our children (assuming we have them--I have FOUR).
I wonder how many minutes in any given week, would reflect the grand total of TIME
I spend on, for, with
my children.

I have been pondering the amount of time
and selflessness
we as women
pour into our husbands (assuming we have them--I have ONE)
AND YES, I am laughing at myself as I write this.
I am chuckling at the total number of minutes, in any given week, which would reflect the grand total of TIME
I spend on, for, with
my husband comparison to what I spend on my children.

Thirdly, am I the only one,
who's knows there is a GREAT discrepancy between those two totals?
Am I the only one,
who realizes (with some embarrassment)
that I do not
consciously GIVE
as freely, openly and sacrificially to
my husband
as I do to my children
(and I know, it is not because there are FOUR of them and ONE of him. I know it is not because he travels and commutes with work and is away from home a lot. I know it is not because he is a man of 44 and they are young people of 12 and 10 and 7)?

It is because of ME.
It is because of how I have placed importance on certain things and not others.
It is because I have made some things, some tasks, some duties (with my children)
more important, or necessary, or meaningful than him.
I know this.
I know I am doing better with this than I ever have before,
but I still know
there is a great imbalance between my EFFORTS toward Mike
and my ACCOMPLISHMENTS with my children.

even this confession, this realization, this fact...
is NOT my actual epiphany.

Here is the question I have been struggling to answer...
(and thus the epiphany for MY life)
As I work on ME,
as I connect with myself
and learn more about loving and accepting ME
and becoming the woman I want to be
OUTSIDE of the roles and duties of
How do I keep myself from becoming selfish?
How do I draw boundaries for myself, so I do not cross over into narcissism and neglect others?
Bottom line:
How do I know I am not being selfish when I take time out for me to REALLY focus on ME and what I want or need, and still be the kind of woman who loves and honors God with her life?

This is the question I have been asked by others.
This is what I have been pondering.
I want to be able to answer this question, when asked.
I want to be able to answer it for myself.

This is a major question.
This is a question (I believe),
rooted in guilt
driven by fear
(dare, I even state it)...
only HALF of the question we (I) REALLY should be asking.

Deep breath, Becky.
Here's where I cross a line into an area that might shut down interest in anything else I have to say (ever)...
I think the OTHER side of this question,
the question I would ALSO like to be asked
(and frankly, have NEVER been asked, and until now, really never considered as a question for myself) is:

How do I know, I am not working, laboring, doing, being selfless, volunteering for everything, driving everyone everywhere, and pouring out every ounce of my life and my energy, and neglecting myself, me as a woman----out of PRIDE---in those very actions and sacrifices?


Both are risky business.

So why is it,
we feel guilty
and struggle with our fears
and question the possibility of

when we
take a look at ourselves
and feel guilty
and struggle with fears
and question the possibility
that we are riddled with and
drowning in

in what
we do for others,
what we give to our children
how we go without, for them
give up and drain ourselves for them.
Pride in how we have been
Good Mothers
or Good People,
because of what we have done, and
how exhausted we feel.

I think
Pride guides us,
as women,
much more than Selfishness.

Here's the epiphany part:
I am starting to see that
Pride is
another type of
It is a valuing of ourselves
because of who we THINK we are,
based on something we are doing RIGHT.
It is a focus on OURSELVES
and what we do and accomplish,
which makes us appear noble
and virtuous
and self-sacrificing.

I know that's harsh.
I know that sounds judgmental.

Maybe I am the only one looking at myself and my mothering
(and some of my wife-ing, friend-ing and church-ing)
through a magnifying glass...realizing I am truly
to walk
in pride
(and ignore it)
because it is OTHERS focused...
But makes me feel Good.
The exhaustion and stress and suffering and self-neglect
(on some level)
feed me
and make me feel like I am GOOD because of that exhaustion, stress, suffering and self-neglect,
like I am Good and Right, for DOING all the "right, self-sacrificing" things.
And then, when I crash at night, there are THINGS to SHOW for my day.
THINGS to SHOW for my time.
REASONS to point to,
as to why I am worn out and drained
and ready for sleep,
when my husband might be ready
(And then, I can do as I've done in the past...I can blame him, feel like it is him who is being selfish, because I have GIVEN ALL DAY LONG.)

Pride is MY confidence in the things I do, making me Good.
Selfishness however, just makes me look plain ol' Bad, or at the least Not Good.

Both are risky.
Neither is worse, or better than the other.

So now, for me,
the bigger more important questions, based on what I am "knowing" about myself today (post-epiphany) are:
Why am I not more concerned about Pride in my life?
Why am I so riddled with guilt and convinced it is so wrong, or inappropriate to concern myself with ME?
What is at the root of my pride and my selfishness?
What is driving ME in each of these situations?

Asking such questions, can be risky business.
It may stir up some tough answers.
Answers which point to conclusions
and even, epiphanies-of-sorts,
leading me to understand and accept how much of a mess I really am,
and how much I need Someone to clean up after me
and make me right with Him,
each and every day of my life.

What I do know, for sure, is that
if I ask these questions because I am examining my SELF,
getting to know ME,
spending time on ME,
exploring who I want to be....
If I am asking these questions during the times when I am focused on SELF
and they lead me to an understanding of my need for Him,
isn't that the Point of it All?
Isn't that why He came?
Does He love me any more, or less or differently, because I am closer to the truth about who I really am AND who I want to be?
Nope. He's known the truth about me, all along.
And it's in the "getting closer to the truth,"
in the ME times, that I take FOR myself,
that I know myself even better
know even better (and deeper),
how very much He obviously loves me
and how very obviously,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Let Freedom Ring

I eat dessert first (sometimes)
I eat my favorite chicken salad for breakfast (on occasion)
I head to the movies when my kids are in school (once a week, in August)
I put on make-up & re-do my hair at night, just to try new things (quite often)
I don't make my bed every morning
I eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch from the box
I don't return all of my phone calls
I wear my over-the-knee boots around the house (in August)
I put on lipstick to check the mail
I try on dresses at the store, that I'd never wear in public
I wear in public, dresses some of you would never wear in your life
I wear skirts and dresses to school events
I wear heels to school meetings
I skip a real dinner sometimes, and fill up on wine
I buy pretty notecards I might never use, because I like them
I have three American Girl dolls, I don't let my girls play with
I don't finish reading books I don't like
I cut pages out of InStyle magazine & tape them into my Fashion Journal
I change to & start a new bottle of shampoo, when my other bottle isn't empty
I give/receive make-overs from my 7 year-old daughters
I don't volunteer at school. Really
I make my kids do their homework by themselves
I don't walk my kids to the bus stop
I let my kids skip school for Mental Health Days
I play Christmas music whenever the mood strikes
I slip treats under my kids' pillows for no reason at all
and I swear

Today, I bought a sweater.
A yummy, textured, burnt orange,
ruffle-y collared

And it was 82 degrees out.
But I wanted to wear it.
I cranked the AC,
Put on my sweater,
and a pair of jeans,
and a pair of boots,
lit my LEAVES scented candle in one room
and my PUMPKIN PIE candle in another
And sat in my Dining Room
which is ALWAYS decorated for Autumn.
I looked at and studied
the pumpkins,
and pine cones
in my favorite ceramic trays
arranged with
bark-covered candles and
And I was delighted
I felt Fall
I felt all the wonderful things I love about
and ignored the fact that my kids were in shorts
and had been throwing water balloons a little earlier in the yard.
I escaped from the reality that Mike had mowed the yard on Saturday because the grass is still growing like crazy.
I allowed myself to experience TODAY
what is probably another 6 weeks from being TRUE

I did this today,
and do all the other things I listed above
I am free.
I am free to do them.
I have finally given myself the FREEDOM to
and have fun
and enjoy
and grab hold of, the things that bring me joy
and enhance my wonder, of this beautiful thing I have

I have been hung up
for so long
on doing things RIGHT
or being RIGHT
Abiding by Laws and Rules
of my own making,
or by cultural,
grown-up or
"what's expected"

I spent too much time,
years, decades even,
DOING things I didn't want to do
or NOT doing things I REALLY wanted to do
because the calendar
the season
the neighbors
or other moms
or other wives
or other southerners
or other religious people
or other Williamsons or Usserys
DID them or DIDN'T do them.

I am, by nature
A Pleaser
A Rule Keeper
A Good Girl
(still true, all of the above)

But now,
I am an adult.
I waited all of my young life,
to Grow Up....
and I love being a grown up.
I love being a woman.
It is now time,
for me to
step into,
walk through
and enjoy
all the experience,
I have at my disposal.

I am not a rebel
I am not out to buck the system
or do destructive things

But I am ready
to LIVE.
To live FULLY ALIVE and Awake!

I can say NO
when I don't want to do something

I can say
"I'll think about it"
When I'm not sure
and need more time to consider

I can
Change My MIND
in the middle of almost anything.
I can.
I am free to do that
and will take responsibility for my actions when
doing so necessitates it.

I can say YES to doing things
I have wanted to do
(but have NOT done because I felt silly or immature doing them
or considered FIRST what other people would think,
rather than what I wanted.)

I can put on a cozy sweater
and rig the AC to make the house chilly,
so I can savor a 30 minute preview
of my favorite season-to-come,
SIX weeks before it gets here.

There is absolutely
with being free.

Let Freedom Ring
(I've decided to listen to Elvis sing, Blue Christmas before I head to bed tonight.)

L, thank you for getting me thinking about this.
You are my inspiration for this post.
I love you, Becky