Jan 072014
 

avocado

*This is part of the BOM 2013 – Best Of Momastery 2013! I chose the essays that you loved and shared the most. Enjoy!

One of the questions folks ask most often is:  G, I’m drowning in the mommy wars. How do I escape from all the mom-petition?

My answer is always this: If you need it to disappear, stop believing in it. Competition is just like shame. It only exists for people who believe it does.

I used to believe in mom-petiton so strongly that it left me more than a bit paranoid.

I remember sitting in the food court of the mall one afternoon when my three kids were very young. I was cutting cardboard pizza and life-threatening “chicken” into itty bitty pieces, wiping up a million sugary spills, sweating, sweating, sweating, trying to figure out if I could be arrested for leaving my kids’ side for one hot second to refill my coke, praying no one would have to pee because: THREE KIDS WHO LICK EVERYTHING IN A PUBLIC RESTROOM and just, well, UGH.

Out of the blue this women sat down at the table next to me with her quiet child.  The child wore a matching top and pants. With a matching bow in her braid. In her BRAID. Someone had BRAIDED this child.  While I stared and looked back at my ragamuffin children who sort of looked like nobody loved them – the woman pulled out a high chair cover. To protect her child from GERMS, I think. And then. And THEN. She pulled an avocado out of her bag. An avocado AND A SPOON. This woman had packed a spoon. And she used that spoon to start feeding her well-groomed child food that came from a TREE. Or the ground? I don’t know – where do avocados come from? I don’t know but I’m pretty sure it’s not from the food court.

And this SHOW made my face start burning. I felt as if this woman had materialized for the sole reason of making me look bad. I am telling you that I decided right then and there that this mother was feeding her child avocados AT ME. And that also she had matched her child’s clothes that morning AT ME. And also that she had likely disciplined her child effectively for years AT ME. And that as icing on her (likely homemade and gluten-free) cake she was enjoying a lovely, peaceful, well-planned, healthy lunch AT ME. I felt judged. I felt like her approach to parenting was maybe developed solely to shine a big old spotlight on my “not good enough” parenting.  She was parenting AT ME, I tell you!

For years I lived in world in which people lived AT ME. For example:

Craig worked out AT ME while I tried to enjoy the couch. So aggressive.

People discussed natural child birth AT ME because they could sense my previous sixty epidurals.

People attempted ATTACHMENT PARENTING AT ME. ( I still don’t know what that really is but it certainly doesn’t sound like something behind which I’d rally.)

People threw Pinterest parties AT ME.

People trained for triathalons AT ME.

People refused to eat carbs after 8 pm AT ME.

I was constantly under attack with all of these judgy people living AT ME.  I was living in a hostile world.

But after spending the last five years reading thousands of letters from mamas and the last year on the road hearing stories from every different “type” of mama –  I live in a different world. I believe differently now. I know that nobody’s parenting at me and nobody’s living at me. Feeling judged by other people’s decisions is an insanely ego-centric way to live. Like my dad always says, “Glennon, nobody is thinking about you as much as you think they are.” Everybody’s just doing the best she can, mostly.

Other mamas are just weaving together families using what the unique gifts and challenges and interests they have. Just like I am. They are much too joyful and scared and fulfilled and empty and tired and inspired and busy living their brutiful lives to concern themselves too much with what I’m doing.

I mean, after five years – I’m ready to consider the possibility that avocado lady might not have even known I was going to be in the food court that day. It’s not likely – but it’s a possibility.

What we seek we will find and if we’re looking for a world full of judgmental mamas –  we’ll find it. Parenting is the most important thing to many of us and so it’s the place we’re most vulnerable. But even when we’re scared  – we can still choose. We can choose to see each other as competition or as fellow warriors – fighting the same fight on the same team. One goal – many paths. We can learn from each other. We can even ENJOY each other.

I live in a world where women do that now. It’s cozier. Better. More peaceful.  And much more interesting.

And if you have a friend who makes you feel competitive or less than- just remember that it’s likely not because she’s bad or you’re bad – it might just be that she still believes, so she’s living in a different world than you are. But you don’t have to enter every world into which you’re invited.

Stand your ground. Stay in your world. Stop believing.

*********************

A Folk Tale About Worlds

A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.

“What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.

“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.

“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”

“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.”

Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.

Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.

“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.

“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”

“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”

*********************

 PS. I still think you marathoners are running at me. Cut it out.

 



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Jan 062014
 

Happy Ever

My friend Fawn, over at Happy Wives Club asked me to answer this question for her:

G: What do you believe about marriage?

Um, WOW. Well, a lot of things. Here are five:

  1. If neglect or abuse is present in your marriage and you are being hurt – get the hell out. If your church tells you to stay, get the hell out of your church. Any decent church will promise you that God loves you more than any institution God made for you –  including marriage and including church. If you are telling yourself that you are staying for the kids- tell yourself to leave for the kids so you do not teach them that love is pain. If you have no one to help you get out of an abusive, neglectful, hurtful marriage- start here.
  2.  If you are not hurt or neglected, but you’ve “fallen out of love” and so you are disillusioned about marriage- join the club. All the married people in the whole world are in the club. Being disillusioned is good. It means you’ve stopped believing a lie. The lie is that marriage is like it is in the movies and that everyone else is having hot love affairs while you are cleaning up smelly socks and trying to get someone to actually listen to you instead of pretending to listen to you. The truth is that cleaning up socks and trying to get someone to really listen to you IS marriage. It’s less sweep you off your feet and more sweep the kitchen four times a day. Like everything good in life- it’s 98% backbreaking work and 2% moments that make that work worthwhile. So- just get ready to sweat. Despite what the movies tell you- you’ll sweat less often in bed and more often in therapist’s offices, in front of the clothes dryer, and in line at the grocery store while the children lick used gum off the floor and you silently curse your partner for existing. I’m actually surprised more of us married folk are not constantly dehydrated from all the sweating.
  3.  Happily Ever After IS NOT A THING. We are all trained by Disney to believe that the wedding is the finish line – but the wedding is JUST ANOTHER STARTING LINE. In light of this fact- we should quit the huge, fancy, debt-inducing weddings. When I asked my parents to help pay for my wedding, they said they’d give me a little bit and then if Craig and I made it to our ten-year anniversary, they’d give us some more to throw a big party. “THAT’s the time to celebrate,” they said. My parents were right.* Celebrate AFTER hard work, not before. Young people: marry simply, start your life, and party later. THINK OF HOW MUCH BABYSITTING FOR YOUR FUTURE COLICKY BABY YOU COULD BUY WITH THAT WEDDING BUDGET. THINK OF HOW MUCH MARRIAGE THERAPY YOU COULD BUY. Invest in your marriage, not your wedding. Spending all your money on a wedding and leaving nothing for marriage is as irresponsible as foregoing health insurance for your baby so that you can throw her a kick-ass birthday party. It’s as backwards as circling the stadium with your arms in the air –  waiting for applause before you start the race. Sweat a little, then celebrate. And don’t forget the good news/ bad news – there is no finish line. Marriage starts over again every.single.day.
  4.  Sex is really, really freaking confusing. No one talks about this, which is a shame. I’ve been married for eleven years and my husband and I are still trying to figure out how to make sex enjoyable for both of us. Right now sex is a source of all kinds of confusion and resentment and shame and pain for us. But we don’t think this means that there’s anything “wrong” with us or our marriage. We just assume that our confusion means that we’re normal people who’ve been paying attention to the world’s mixed, dangerous sex messages forever and so we have some unlearning to do. When our kids were young – we knew we were stuck when it came to sex – but we couldn’t find an extra hour or dollar to spend figuring it out. Now that the kids are older, we spend hours a week in therapy muddling through this stuff. It’s annoying and painful and expensive and necessary. Mating comes naturally, but healthy sex lives don’t. They take work.
  5. Marriage is still the best chance we have to become evolved, loving people. We live in a transient, disposable world that teaches us that if we are uncomfortable, we should change our surroundings and people instead of ourselves. I do it all the time. New friends, new house, new church, new, new, better, better. It never works, because wherever you go, there you are. If you keep swapping partners because the ass is always greener, you’ll just end up – poorer and more exhausted – but with all the same issues. We are like butterflies who want to keep moving, keep flitting around and be free- but freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose (thank you, Janis). What we want even more than freedom is to be loved, and we can only be loved when we are truly known. It takes a lifetime of tears, laughter, arguments, loss and conversation with another human being to be truly known. We have to be patient. Marriage is dogged, determined patience. It’s also one of the only ways we’ll ever truly know ourselves. Because to know ourselves we have to stop flitting and face our demons in the face of another person who serves as our mirror. Who reflects the best and worst of ourselves back to us. Sometimes I feel like marriage is more a constant relationship with myself than it is with Craig.  I’ve learned to quit listing things he could do to be a better partner and ask myself instead what I can do to be a better partner. If I get stuck in comparison induced self-pity and start feeling like others have better love affairs than mine- I don’t need to look for another person to love, I just need to start actively loving the person I already have. Because love is not something to wait for or hope for or look for –it’s something to DO. Do not measure your marriage by how much love you feel today- measure it by how much love you’ve offered today.  When you don’t feel love – DO LOVE. Feelings follow doing, not the other way around. Lasting, True Love is not about being swept off your feet. Sometimes love is just sweeping the kitchen and being grateful that there is a kitchen and a partner who is contractually obligated to share it with you forever.   

*Hey! Dad! Where the Sam Hill’s our ten-year money, Bubba?!? Well-played. 

HWClub_BlogButnA_400x100



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Dec 312013
 

tish beautiful

Tish and I were walking together on the beach last week. She stopped to look out at the water so I did, too. She put her hand in mine, looked up at me and said, “Mom, am I pretty?”

Luckily, I’d been thinking about that word for a couple of decades, so I was ready.

I sat Tish down in the sand, took a deep breath, and dove in.

“I think you’re pretty, Tish. I think you are very, very pretty. But pretty is a weak word, because it means different things to everyone. You really don’t have much control over whether folks think you’re pretty or not. Spending a lot of time asking the world if you’re pretty – it’s just not a strong position to take. You will have to keep changing yourself for everyone you meet, and eventually you won’t know who you are. I know because I used to think pretty was really important, so I felt confused and weak a lot.

What I want you to be, Tish, is beautiful. Beautiful means “full of beauty.” Beautiful is not about the appearance of your outsides- beautiful is about what you’re made of. Beautiful women are women who spend time discovering what they love – what sings to them –what their idea of beauty on this Earth is. Then they make time each day to fill themselves up with that beauty. They know themselves well enough to know what they love, and they love themselves enough to fill up with a little of their particular kind of beauty each day.

That’s why we’re here today, honey. I was feeling a little empty this afternoon and so I brought you here to the beach to fill myself back up with beauty. This place is beauty to me. So I come here to fill up with the Gulf of Mexico. With the sound of the waves rolling in and the sight of the pelicans fishing and the feel of the cool sand on my feet. When I leave here I feel really beautiful. And I brought you with me because you are beauty to me, too, Tish. When you smile at me – I am beautiful .

Many of the things you see me do each day, honey – I do them to be beautiful.

It’s why I take time out to spend with good friends.

It’s why I read and look at art and always have that music I love playing in the house.

It’s why I light candles in every room.

It’s why I watch you climbing those Banyan trees in the front yard.

It’s why I roll around on the floor with Theo and Meadow and why I’m always smelling the top of your head.

It’s why I drag you to sunset and to church every week.

I’m just filling up with beauty- because I want to be beautiful.

Tish, you will meet plenty of people in your life who are pretty but haven’t yet taken the time to be beautiful. They will have the right look for the times- but they will not glow. Beautiful women glow. When you are with a beautiful woman you will not so much notice her hair or skin or body or clothes – because you’ll be distracted by the way she makes you feel. She will be so full of beauty that you will feel some spill onto you. You’ll feel warm and safe and curious around her. Her eyes will twinkle a little and she’ll look at you really closely, Tish- because beautiful, wise women know that the quickest way to fill up with beauty is to soak in another human being. Other people are beauty, beauty, beauty. So you will notice that the most beautiful women take their time with other people. They are just filling up.

Women who are concerned with being pretty think about what they look like, but women who are concerned with being beautiful think about what they are looking at. They are taking it all in. They are taking in the whole beautiful world and making all that beauty theirs to give away to others.

Does that make any sense, baby?”

And Tish said, “I think so. It’s like, when you first wake up, mom. You look really,really bad. Your hair is messy and your face looks weird. But when you see me, your eyes get twinkly. Is that because you think I’m beauty?”

“Yes, baby. I’m filling up with you. Because I want to be beautiful.”

 *********

Friends – in 2014 let us decide to be beautiful women. Let us take the time to discover what in this world is beauty to us –  and fill up with it daily.

Being beautiful is a strong position to take.

Love and Peace and Beauty for all-

G

 



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest