10/14/08

Shake it off

I was shaking my jeans out before putting them on. Snap! Snap!

Miles said, "Why are you doing that Mommy?"

"I don't really know, sweetie. It's just something I do before putting my pants on I guess."

He stared at me blankly.

I thought about this for a little while and then it hit me. How many things am I doing that just really don't make sense? You know, the things you do that are simply because you do them? Not for any other reason. It's not like shaking my jeans is really going to take the wrinkles out. I would need to iron for that. But every day, I stand and flap those jeans violently in front of me, as if I'm accomplishing something.

And in this same way, most days I walk around with an edge of anxiety about me, snapping at the silliest of things. Someone spills water and doesn't immediately get a towel, and my anger switch is turned to the 'on' position before I've even decided if it's worth being angry about.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the frazzled chaos I feel that I live in. I've been thinking a lot about how much of it really does come down to my perspective or my attitude. In short, how much of it is simply about me, and not about my circumstances?

I don't say this to add yet another flaw to that cloud of guilt looming above my head. I'm learning that serves no purpose. It only makes things worse. I say it because I think that accepting it may be a big piece to solving the puzzle.

The puzzle that is the me in motherhood.

There are some things I'm doing that serve only me. There must be a part of me that needs to hang on to my habits for fear of losing more of myself. There are things that I do that blow finding balance and meaning in motherhood right out of focus. I fall back on anxiety and frustration because they are old friends, things I do without a thought. Because they're familiar. As familiar as shaking out my pants every morning without a second thought.

I do negative feelings simply because I do them.

I'm so thankful today that I finally don't feel guilty about this. I'm enjoying some strange kind of freedom in the knowledge and acceptance of who I am. I'm experiencing a new kind of peace in the hope that change is possible, if I will only begin to practice something new.

I'm not very good with follow-through and discipline. But just for today, I think I'm going to practice ignoring the negative things that are spoken by that little dude on my shoulder. They are lies. I'm going to brush them off and focus my attention on the positive. Just for today.

And tomorrow morning I'm going to put my pants on without shaking them out, just to remind myself to try to do another day without old habits.
____________
For a little more on this, I wrote a new post here last night.

26 clicked right here to comment:

Kristen said...

I tend to default to negative, frazzled, and anxious as well. They just come so easily to me! And my own mother was such a good model. Eek. I'm working on that one, too.

Lisa said...

I have been on a journey learning that most things are about me and my choices and thoughts, and not about my circumstances.

I actually think there is hope even in that knowledge. While it sometimes seems daunting that I have so much to work on, I am also thankful that it is within my control and that I do not have to live under my circumstances.

Melanie J said...

I so hear you on this. I fall into these habits of frustration and short-temperedness with my older son. After nine years, we have our ways of being and interacting. Many of them are good, but some need to change. And yet they don't, because that's how we've done it for so long.

I know I need to fix it, to stop the thoughtless sniping, but it's such a habit that I barely even see it anymore.

Good post.

Kazzy said...

That idea of holding onto habits to maintain our own selves is an interesting one. Some habits can be ridiculous, like a friend I have that redoes her entire load of laundry if she finds out her mother-in-law has washed her jeans and towels together when she visits and tries to help out. That is nuts. But snapping your jeans just helps identify your own little likes and quirks. You are cute in all of your self-diagnoses! *_* ANd I don't mean that in a condescending way. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Kimberly said...

This is one of the most brilliant analogies I've heard in a long time - wow! I love how it gets the concept firmly lodged in my head and gives me hope of changing for the better. You're amazing!

Jillene said...

I also tend to default to frazzled, and negative. It is what is eaisest. I try and I especially pray for patience--all of the time!!

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

me too...me too.

Abra said...

I often wonder why those feelings of frazzlement, (is that a word? Let's pretend it is) and anger are so much more free flowing than those of joy and peace.
Then I remember who is happiest when we are unhappy.
Who relishes in the fact that I'm making my life just as miserable as he is?
That's when I take a big breath, close my eyes, count to ten, straighten my shoulders, and force myself to do something charitable or goofy, or silly, or joyful because then I know I'm winning the everyday battle.

MommyTime said...

I like this a lot. I find myself frazzled and with a short temper too often, I think, and it's something I've been trying to correct a lot lately. It's not always easy to remember, but I do think it's important to keep in mind that lots of the things that the children do that make me snap are not things they do intentionally. That small thought, "it wasn't on purpose," helps me keep me cool a lot of the time. Thanks for giving me something to think about...

Kristina P. said...

I think that moms need to be a bit more selfish at times, and shouldn't feel guilty when they are. Everyone needs healthy coping skills.

Heather said...

What are you talking about?!?! Shaking totally gets the wrinkles out.

Sara@ Butterville said...

I am NOT taking Talk to me goose. I love your weirdness. Shaking your jeans out. HA, I have to pick the fuzz balls off my jammies everytime I wear them. It drives me insane! Hours of fun right there. Hours I could be doing Martha things. I'm no Martha. I'm Sara. And I love weirdness.

Huse Yo Mama said...

Crazy I was just thinking a lot of the same stuff today. My daughter dumped an entire container of powdered creamer on the floor and my normal response would be to snap, but I didn't and I found that odd. That shouldn't have been odd for me. It wasn't worth snapping over.

Thanks for the reminder! Here's to not shaking our jeans! Although, that does get the legs out straight so it's easier to put your feet in. I hate putting my feet into jeans, only to fall over because the legs are twisted.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Heather, this is one of the most meaningful posts I've read in a long time. It spoke to me because I saw so much of myself in what you were describing. I loved what you said about the edge of anxiety; for me, this is not an old friend, but "someone" I'd never met before I had children. I get so frustrated with myself to be a part of that at the stage in my life where it's least helpful. I've got discipline and consistency down, but I really need to work on the smiling and getting over it part. Thanks for all your insight.

radioactive girl said...

I love this post! Sometimes it is so hard to step back and just see the whole picture and figure out what is important and what is not.

Carolyn Duede said...

Yeah, we have some funny habits that are a part of our mothering personality. As long as they aren't negatively impacting our children, I think that our quirks are great! A lot of times, I think they tie us back to previous generations, to things our mothers did. And those ties are so important today when extended families are thousands of miles away. Embrace your quirks!

I loved what you said about accepting yourself, freeing yourself from guilt about the things you do. We try a little better every day but that does not mean that everything we did yesterday was meaningless and wrong.

I realized something the other day. When I think of something I should do or change, it's a gentle commandment from God. I usually berate myself for not having done it already but I don't He is upset that I haven't done it already. I think He's just telling me so that I can do it now. I'm not sure that made any sense. Sometimes epiphanies can't be expressed in words.

Baby Tunnel Exodus said...

I'm a pants shaker too. Let's start a club. LOL. I also stand on the outside edges of my feet when I try new pants on. Talk about visible insecurity that they won't look good, eh? Whoa. Thanks for the wake up call I needed today. I too will tell the little dude on my shoulder to shaddapa-you-face, and start listening to the Big Guy in my heart.

Blessings, Whitney

Becky said...

I wish it weren't so easy to get angry, but it's pretty much second nature to me. I'm working on it, too.

minnesotamom said...

What a very relevant post. I am currently fighting these very issues--admitting my negative attitudes before the Lord in hopes that He can change them.

Thanks for your honesty.

Muthering Heights said...

This is a great reminder to all moms! What do we want our kids to remember...that there was never water on the floor, or that their mom was tender and loving?

The Three 22nds said...

Yeah. Anxiety is my old friend too. And it steals the joy. It is something I am constantly struggling with and working on. You are an encouragement to me! Keep pressing on toward the goal.

Brillig said...

Ummm, yeah. Hi. Those things all sound extremely familiar. (Even the jeans shaking. Seriously.) Love your perspective on it.

Heidi Ashworth said...

Heather, I had the very same thoughts when my oldest was about the same age as your oldest--when I became aware that he was watching me so avidly and learning so directly from me--I began to realize that there were things I did and said that were pretty nonscencical (I don't think I spelled that right). Then, nearly six years later, another one came along (my kids are really spread out due to probs with infertility) and I realized I still had more rough edges that needed attention. It is really just a process and as much as we want to be the best mom we could possibly be for our children, most of us are truly just doing the best that we can. It's all we can do and all anyone can expect (except that therapist whose fees you'll be paying when your kids are in their teens--I know, huge fear! But, it's not as bad as it sounds and I should know.) :)

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

I love your introspection and self-analyiss, when I go on this journey with you it helps me not just elarn more about you but also learn more about myself. I have many habits that don't make sense, but I do them because they make me feel secure in my own identity. But I realize they are more detrimental than beneficial. The work on improving one's self never ends, but I find it gets more fun the older I get.

Courtney said...

Great post! I think we all feel too short fused sometimes (in my case most of the time) and you just brought it to my attention it's because it is what is familiar. I do odd quirks like the shaking out the jeans to, just cuz.

Thanks for not making me feel so alone in the potty training arena too. My oldest was just so easy she said, I'm gonna go and she did. This one wants to and can't/won't! It's a mystery I tell ya.

charrette said...

This? Totally resonates.

I especially love this: I fall back on anxiety and frustration because they are old friends, things I do without a thought.

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