I want to tell you the TRUTH about our family.
As we embark on another year… another year of living, of parenting, marriage, growth, change, striving, I feel a strong urge to open up and talk about how I’m feeling. Right now, I’m more committed than ever to motherhood, to wifehood (I’m making up a word), to my relationship with Jesus Christ, to letting Him mold me. And oh my goodness, there’s a LOT of molding that needs to take place up in here.
And I feel more committed than ever to write from the deep, dark corners of my heart and soul. That means the good, the amazing, the horrible, and even the humiliating. It means letting this page be a flowing river of truth, no matter what I’m going on about. And I’m humbled to discover that thousands (THOUSANDS) of people read these words. It’s humbling but also scary.
Let me tell you a secret – I get incredibly nervous about what kind of impression I make on the people in my life. What people think of ‘me’ matters. A lot. Which is kind of funny, because I’ve often had people say they’d never think “I” would care what anyone thought. Me. The opinionated one… Ha! They couldn’t be further from the truth.
But I digress. Let’s start here:
I once heard about giving each new year a ‘word’. Almost like a starting point or a platform on which to build goals and hopes and dreams. Or maybe the word could be used somewhat like an ‘inspiration piece’ is used when designing a room. The WORD becomes the “piece de resistance”, if you will. If you can? Bah, either way, if asked, I’d say my word for 2012 is perspective.
My goal for my writing is and always has been to share truth. That every soul who reads these messy words that start in a sketch pad would get a true glimpse of ME. A true glimpse of our family.
I love reading other women’s blogs. So many ladies, young and old, have a wealth of knowledge and a sea of emotions and experiences to share. I grow immensely from soaking in what others pour out through the written word.
Why? Because they don’t motivate me or encourage me at all. They actually make me feel bad about myself. I actually feel worse when I read about how seemingly ‘perfect’ these women are. Shining, radiant examples of the sparkling ‘Titus 2’ wife. Massaging their husband’s shoulders the moment he is home from work, waiting in full make-up, with a hot meal served in fine China. Me? I’m pretty sure I’d leave ’em wanting.
There’s also that large, poised, wonderfully organized Homeschooling family where Mom seems to have everything together. I read about lesson plans and daily routines and Godly discipline and the pouring out of grace and never raising one’s voice at her children and I can feel my shoulders sag and my back hunch. I just can’t live up to these women. I’ll never be THIS. And then I feel almost defiant – are these people even real?
Please. I’m not saying this in spite or to sound mean in any way. I love difference… I truly do. Every message has it’s purpose, and every writer is passionate about theirs. And I’m sure every Christian blogger writes in hopes of inspiring others. I know not one of us TRIES to intimidate or confuse or bewilder. But I’m also POSITIVE I’m not alone in my feelings of inadequacy when comparing myself to ‘perfect’ Bloggers, because I’ve had people send me emails that described the way I’d made THEM feel. That MY blog had actually discouraged them. That they felt they could never live up to my family and our “unpluggedness”. Friends – tears roll down my face when I read words like these.
I am not some amazing, unplugged picture of perfection. I don’t do relaxation exercises in the forest- I chase my kids screaming, “HEY! Back away from the waterfall!!!” Yes, I have a touch-screen phone- and I probably text my husband thirty times a day. I watch online TV programs – mostly Extreme Home Makeover and The Dog Whisperer and documentaries about Africa. Our children like movies. Correction – our children LOVE movies. We eat candy and I often don’t exercise. Sometimes, I grab McDonald’s instead of making lunch because I’m lazy and it’s easier. Our kids fight. A lot. I yell. I went to Wal-mart and bought laminate folders the other day AFTER blogging about how much I dislike Wal-mart because of their poor ethics. I drink Tim Horton’s, even though I question where the coffee beans come from and how good it is for me. Yes, I’m just ME.
Our family is a normal, crazy, chaotic mess. We have not reached some level of ‘there’ like so many people seem to somehow think. It seriously makes me on edge to think people consider us a picturesque example of perfect family life. It’s just not so.
I recently received a comment from a sweet reader who was questioning why I had mentioned our children watching Curious George. She wasn’t criticizing, she was just wondering. “Do you consider Curious George ‘educational screen time’?” she asked. Um… I’m not sure. Is this a trick question? But she was right – I had written that our children were allowed ‘educational screen time’. Which is misleading, I suppose. Sometimes, they just watch silliness. They do. I mean, is “Dave and the Giant Pickle” REALLY educational? Or what about Pingu? A penguin who doesn’t even speak a coherent language but instead mutters and yells “NOOOK NUUUK!” ? Probably not so much.
But the comment got me thinking about how people view us as this, “The Unplugged Family”. Let me say first and foremost, we are STRIVING! (It’s right there in the tag line, see?) Sure I have my opinions about popular culture and media and we do try very hard to unplug from the brunt of what the world would sell us. But, we are still human. We are still IN this culture. And we’re struggling to find a way to stand apart without making people feel judged… and without driving ourselves mad. And it’s hard.
I’d rather my kids have little to no screen time and I’d rather be unplugged from consumerism and branding and all the junk we’re thrown… but then there’s reality. The reality that I spend 60 hours a week on my own with three children and sometimes, let’s face it, I need 30 minutes to make dinner. Life happens.
And I used to get REALLY worked up about it… but I’m starting to learn…
It’s all about perspective. Because I think mine has been pretty messed up in the past. Because it still is some days. Because everything, given the right perspective, makes sense. Because God desires for us discernment and the ability to view things through His eyes (ie: the perfect perspective). Because sometimes, it’s just not THAT big of a deal. You know, if my kids watch 2 hours of silly screen time today because I’m sick and alone for 12 hours. It’s ok. I’m not letting everyone down, am I? I mean, really? (Please, help me out…)
I’m still figuring it out. And I’m not saying EMBRACE culture. I’m not. But I’m asking myself to consider perspective and I’m begging readers to please understand… we’re human. Yes, I speak on issues of pop-culture, I write about unplugging and questioning media messages – but we aren’t a cut-off from the world, we roll with the punches.
I’m starting to think it truly is more about how we are being the hands and feet of Jesus and spreading His love and His message. And that I be a woman who encourages and inspires rather than annoys and frustrates and makes a loving Mother feel inadequate because HER child watches too much TV. Perspective for me means we focus on living for others and spreading life. Perspective means I learn to let go of my opinions and my ‘but I have to make a point’ mentality, and just embrace the Everlasting… the things that REALLY matter.
The nurturing of souls is what the job of parenting is. I am so under-qualified, but still, I nurture souls along with God and my husband daily. All day. Every day. And as I do this, I want PERSPECTIVE to be a guiding factor. What is a must for these children? What needs to be breathed into their souls? What attitudes, passions, desires, and truths need to be sowed, watered, grown? And what things are just opinion-based legalistic eye-rollers? Oh, Jesus, help me figure all this out! And then Lord, help me humbly share what I’m learning in writing… here… on this little blog.