This summer we went on our annual Not Back To School outing at a wonderful warm springs pool. Every year we have a family or two join us for the day. At lunch time we meet at some picnic tables and devour the foodstuffs we brought from home. Each year as I pack our lunches, I ponder what my friend Kylene will pack for her family. She always seems to have very nutritious items and I must confess I feel as if I must mirror her food choices, you know…so I look like I’m a good mom. If she serves her family rice crackers, I can’t very well bring potato chips. I mean, come on. What would that say about me? Hey, I’m confessing here. I didn’t say it was rational.
Well, this last summer, Kylene admitted I was the one that intimidated her. We were both astonished. And I was left in shock that I could be the one that looked like I had it all together, when clearly it was her who was organized and intelligent. This affected me so much that I stopped blogging. All I’ve ever wanted was to inspire women. To encourage them to be all that God has made them to be. And here was evidence that I was anything, but inspiring. I was actually causing another to feel less of a mom. Ugh! Not a fun moment. Defining, yes. Fun? No.
I tell you this not in hopes you will comment and tell me how very encouraging I have been to you (although I wouldn’t be upset if you did), but to say, “Hey! Let’s wake up, women! We’ve got to stop this nonsense. We MUST choose to tell our friends how great we think they are.” If I had ever stopped to tell Kylene what a great mom I think she is, how I think she’s fabulous for the way she feeds her family, how I love that she is so conscientious about taking her part in going green, how I love the way she homeschools her children and how smart I think all of them are, and how I wish I had just a pinky portion of her creative talent, then maybe I wouldn’t be so intimidating. Just a thought. Maybe it wouldn’t work.
But I’m just saying, we as moms/grandmoms/women don’t always get the ‘Attaboys’ we need. Our culture is not set up that way anymore. We’re rushing from one place to the other, busier than any of our ancestors have been. And the rules of living are so different. We’re faced with an immeasurable amount of decisions our grandmas or even our mothers didn’t have to face. Most of us are guessing at how to do this life with no one to help us measure what a good job looks like.
I know the world my mom grew up in is very different than the one in which my kids are growing up. My mom, as a parent, didn’t have to wonder about how to restrict computer/Facebook/texting/Netflix time. She didn’t have to push us to go play outside. There just weren’t a lot of things to keep our interest inside. There weren’t kids’ programing on TV twenty-four hours a day. There weren’t gluten allergies or kids with ADHD or Asperger’s Syndrome. My mom has no personal experience with many of the things the 2011 Mom deals with today. Now, that isn’t to say she doesn’t have valuable things to say, I still need and treasure her advice, it’s just that if she’s at a loss at what to do, boy, oh boy, so am I.
And most of the time, I’m guessing whether I’m doing a good job or not. And since I know I could always do better, I often opt for the ‘Not Doing So Well’ grade. Let’s be honest, many of us think we are C average women. We’re exceptional at many things, but there are other areas of our lives that need work. And if you are like most women I know, you choose to focus on the ‘Needs Work’.
Music Man reminded me of a phrase he heard from a friend on Facebook,
“Tell a girl she’s pretty; she’ll forget it in an hour.
Tell a girl she’s ugly; she’ll remember every time she looks in the mirror.”
Where am I going with all of this? God reminded me this morning how much we women need to be authentic about our challenges and encouraging to each other. I got a call from a friend today who suffers from fibromyalgia. She’s thinking that her body would benefit a gluten, dairy and sugar free diet, but she’s leery about beginning for fear it will be awful. As I shared with her that I would gladly hold her hand and walk her through, she expressed her gratitude. She explained that eating a special diet can feel very isolating, and to know that there is another who would be willing to walk the road with her was comforting and encouraging.
I realized that God still has a plan for me. I need to take my defining moment and learn from it, not run from it. Yes, God designed me to encourage women. To help them face their giants. To tell them they can do it. But at the same time to be real. To share my hurts and my weaknesses. And then to purposely recognize the giftings of those around me. And then tell them.
Couldn’t we all use a friend like that? Someone to encourage, inspire and just be our biggest fan. Someone to say, “I’ve been watching you, and you’re doing a great job. Keep up the hard work. You are making a difference.” Let’s vow to be this for each other. And know that all this stuff I put on this blog is my way of sharing what I am learning. And just that. No more. You do not get to beat yourself up because you’ve never made kefir or have no desire to make your own mozzarella. Someday, you might be interested. And when you are, come on back and visit. Otherwise, just be entertained by my craziness.
I really do think you are terrific. Keep up the hard work. You are making a difference.