Going Home Is Good for the Soul

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

On Monday night, I was a pretty good mess. After I posted this, I had some issues arise and some talking, and I went to bed in tears a little worried I’d offended people I love. While I realize the post was certainly triggering for some, I was simply trying to make the point that just because we’ve done something one way for a long time doesn’t make it the right way.

(And if you have issue with it, I would much rather you talk to me to my own face, phone, text, or email rather than to other people. Ahem.)

But we had plans to visit old friends in Richmond, Virginia, the city where I grew up, on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I was determined to enjoy those friends without concerning myself too much about something I couldn’t change.

me and Emily

We left early Tuesday from my parents’ house in Greensboro, NC, my husband and me and our three kidlets, only one of whom had ever been to Richmond. And that was when Libbie was just five months old and I flew out with her for my friend’s brother’s funeral.

We went to the home of my friend Emily. We were summer missionaries together the summer after our freshman year of college, and the two of us were peas in a pod: romantic, goofy, ready to fall in love and get married and have kids. We did. And this was the first time our kids have ever met, even though our daughters (who are only 10 days apart in age) are nearly 7 years old.

After our lunch-and-playdate where Libbie and Lily Grace quickly bonded, we went on to the University of Richmond, my and my husband’s alma mater. We walked around campus, visited some of my husband’s old professors, made a stop in the bookstore (where I worked all four years of college!), and visited the memorial bench for our friend Mike. It was humid and we all sweat like crazy, but for me it felt a little cathartic to visit after so many years. Even though there have been many changes since we graduated in 2004, the Great Hall where my English professors’ offices are still smells the same. The bookstore accounts manager remembered me and was so kind to my family. I was flooded with memories of picnics and concerts and dorm rooms and staring at stars. It was much-needed.

Mike's bench

Then we went to my friend Jen’s parents’ home, where I spent at least half my time during high school. It was refreshing to still be a “refrigerator friend” and so fun to see my kids hanging out with her 3-year-old twin boys. We went out to dinner, talked a long time, and my family spent the night.

Jen and Jessie

We took a driving tour this morning of the small part of town where my church and house were and where I went to elementary and middle school. Unlike the last few times I’ve been to Richmond, I didn’t feel lost or immediately like a 16-year-old again. I felt comforted in the sweetness of old friendships that have expanded and multiplied through children. It was just the tenderness and love for me, my whole self, from those who knew me in my teens, that I needed.

my childhood home

And even though my parents don’t live there, it felt a lot like home.

 

Why I Won’t Stop Putting Myself Out There for Friendship

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Why I Won't Stop Putting Myself Out There for Friendship

We’ve lived in Chattanooga for over five years now, and it’s just in the last year or so that I seem to have found my people.

For what seems like years, I would send out group messages to other stay-at-home moms I knew, mostly from church, about going to the zoo or the mall playplace or lunch. And every time, it was a no.

It broke me a little bit.

I knew it wasn’t really me as much as Chattanooga. Most everyone I know here grew up in Chattanooga. They have friends, family, and set schedules. Add on kids in school and other responsibilities, and I get it, I really do.

It’s just that not having any good friends got old.

I joined groups that scheduled playdates to fill time and just get out of the house. Once I had David and we moved on campus at the school, that seemed to fall to the wayside. The year Libbie and David were both in a Mother’s Day Out two days a week and I was pregnant with Joshua, I secluded myself pretty well. I determined friendships weren’t going to happen with people at church. In my sickness and tiredness and overwhelmed-ness at being pregnant unexpectedly when I had a 3- and 1-year-old, I gave up a little.

I worked. I tried to keep my head above water. And that was about it.

And then, the result of many prayers from myself and my mentor, I made a true friend. Someone who needed me as much as I needed her. We had much in common, and enough not to keep it all interesting. I was probably a little too devoted to our friendship, too needy, because when she went back to work this past year, I felt lost again.

After a few months of moping, though, I knew I had to keep sending messages. Mr. V and I started teaching our age group in Sunday School, and suddenly I felt not only connected with but responsible to a group of people our age. And this time, when I asked for get-togethers, there were yeses.

It still feels uncomfortable every time I send a text, asking someone to get together (especially because I tend to be a last-minute kind of girl). It’s that question of rejection. Obviously I take everything too personally. I’m an HSP to the core.

But I won’t stop sending texts and Facebook messages and making phone calls and needing women friendships a little too much. Because we need people to be vulnerable with, to show the soft side of motherhood and womanhood, the side that no one sees on Facebook or Instagram. Women who see my reaction when David blatantly ignores everything I say, or Libbie gives me THAT LOOK of rebellion. Because so often I isolate and think it’s only my kids or only me. But it’s not.

God sets the lonely in families. And even though I have an absolutely wonderful family and in-laws, those long days of being at home with little ones can still feel painfully lonely. These past few months, He’s given me a sort of family among the young-ish moms in our church, the women who desperately need to know we’re all doing the best we can and it’s OK.

I am so grateful.

____________

A few weeks ago, I sent another one of those texts. I was driving around and needed some coffee, so I texted Tiffany, asking her if she wanted to meet within the hour at a local coffee shop. I just had Joshua, and she had no kids. I expected a no, because it was so soon and she’s usually working. But she said yes. (She’s my favorite.)

We got there and ordered, and then I realized I didn’t have my wallet. I was mortified as I asked Tiffany if she could pay for my coffee and food. If she hadn’t been there, I would have been beyond embarrassed, having to walk out with a child wailing about a muffin. But she made me feel normal, paid for it, and we had a great visit.

And that’s why I won’t stop putting myself out there for friendship.

When You Think You Are Too Much

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

In MOPS yesterday, we talked about the topic “Courage to Be Too Much.” Too much. Those are some loaded words for me. Upon hearing the topic, my first reaction was NO. Why would I want to be too much? 

But as our leader, Michelle, read the devotional from the book, I identified a little too much, tears running down my face. As the other girls listened politely, I tried to not shake with sobs.

Because, man, I feel like I am too much.

I’ve always felt not-normal. Now I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but when I was 12 and spontaneously burst into tears in choir class when I didn’t make All-County Chorus, I was beyond humiliated. I’ve always seemed to have more emotions than I can hold in one body.

I don’t have fears. I have things that bring on full-on panic when they cross my mind. When I feel joy, it is wonderful, and I remember those feelings a very long time. But I remember my lows, too. I remember pretty much every time I’ve ever said the wrong thing and hurt someone – on accident or not. I can find myself swimming in the guilt and shame of something that happened 15 or 20 years ago now.

Never a girl with lots of close friends, I’ve been thrilled to have one dear friend during every phase of my life. I’m too scared to unburden me on friends. Will they still love me if I truly expose the mess I am? If I cry way too early in our relationship? If I confess the depression journey and the foreclosure and the other reasons I carry around pain? What if she thinks I should feel more shame about these things I’ve become adjusted to and acquainted with?

Since I hit 30, I like to think I’ve become more accustomed to myself and more accepting of my own body, emotions, and life. I still feel like a mess. But I easily acknowledge that I am a mess and that most other people are, too. We just vary in our skill at hiding it; I have none.

And I’ve stopped trying to hide it at all. Nothing makes me feel more uncomfortable than trying to have a real conversation with someone whose life seems perfect. My tribe is women who will admit they struggle, they panic, they fear, they sometimes want to lock the door of the bathroom and eat a Snickers. We need truth. And we need each other.

There’s nothing worse than a world where you never hear, “Me too!”

There's nothing worse than a world where you never hear, "Me too!"

 

It takes courage to be OK with yourself. To be willing to be a “stranger and alien” in this world for your beliefs, or to accept your wild frizzy mess of hair and lack of style and say, I AM STILL A WONDERFUL PERSON. (And by your, I of course mean my.) It is brave to share your vulnerabilities with someone and face rejection. It is wise to let this happen gradually instead of with, say, the woman at the drive-thru window. But in order to hear, “me too,” you have to share some “me.”

Let’s go forth and be brave with our messy, lovely selves.

Hey, Mom. You’re Doing OK.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with JOHNSON’S Baby and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

You're Doing OK, Mom.
source: Paul Hocksenar

I had this conversation with a friend tonight. We had a small group game night, enjoying snacks, fellowship, and a lot of laughs. My friend has a little boy just a few months older than Joshua. He is her first child, though, and Joshua is my third. And she’s a little bothered by his whining and fussing and how he is an angel for everyone else but her.

Oh, I’ve been there. Libbie is the Queen Mother of only misbehaving at home. She’s been in preschool all year and has never had one of her behavior “coins” removed. Her preschool teacher gawks if I tell her some of the things Libbie says at home.

But you know what? As I told my friend, I think it’s the better way. It means my child feels safe at home and believes I will still love her no matter how she tests me. Some days, it drives me to the brink of insanity. But still, I’d rather she test me than drive her teachers and others crazy with misbehavior.

I don’t think my friend, the first-time mom, had ever heard that theory. And it seemed to relieve her – just as it does me.

Sometimes we just need to hear that our parenting journey is not so abnormal. I sure don’t have any answers, but I do have three kids now, so I’ve been through the baby phase thrice in the past six years! Whether it’s good advice or not, I have some to dole out. And whatever awful thing your kids has done, I bet one of mine has done it, too.

In honor of Mother’s Day next week, I want to tell you: YOU ARE DOING OKAY. Way better than you think.

JOHNSON’S Baby wants you to know that you’re doing a great job, too. That’s why they created this adorable video. And for every view of the video on YouTube, they’re donating $1 to Save the Children, up to $50,000.

When has someone told you, “You’re doing OK, Mom!” and it meant a lot to you?
Here’s one of my favorite stories about that.

Hit Me with Your Best Coconut

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

dk_mountain_-_bridge_-_mario_kart_double_dash

Back in college, my husband and our friends played hour upon hour of Mario Kart – first for Nintendo 64, then the GameCube once it came out during our junior or senior year. (Yeah, we’re getting old!) I played, too, but not nearly as much as most of my friends, mainly because I was (and am) really, really bad at it. When playing in a big group, the loser of the race had to give up his or her controller to someone else … and I was almost always the loser.

There was a race for the Nintendo 64 version called DK’s Jungle Parkway. In certain parts of the race, when you went off course, monkeys threw coconuts at you, spinning your car out and slowing you down. (This Mario wiki says they are actually “natives” throwing rocks at you … but I’m pretty sure they are coconut-launching monkeys.)

I was praying last night and honestly asking God to give us speedbumps if our family is driving the wrong course. If we aren’t going where He wants us to be, I want to KNOW. And sometimes that knowing can be really painful. But without it, we can be driving off into nowhere, His glory fading into the background as we gun the engine.

It’s silly that this made me think of Mario Kart. But still, sometimes I wish God would just hit me on the head with a coconut rather than let me wander along my own path. I wish the turtle guy would flash the TURN AROUND arrow sign in front of my eyes when I’m aimless.

I’d rather run slowly and deliberately, learning lessons along the way, than be off in the jungle, hanging out with the “natives,” far away from God.

Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.

Psalm 119:35-37, NIV