Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Hello Friends

For the first couple years after my daughter (my first child) was born, I was...lonely. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed her company immensely; I loved being a stay-at-home Mum, but I was lonely for girl friends. I had some beautiful girlfriends from pre-Eliza days - but some lived out of town, and others did not have kids yet. Working full-time, they were not available when I longed for hang out time; and when they were ready to hang out, I was too dang exhausted most of the time. My poor hubby can attest to this. Every so often, I would get all weepy about it. It was something I would hold before God regularly.

Image from here

I have recently realised just how much this situation has changed. Ever so gradually, my prayers were answered. My sisters and I started being more intentional about regular phone dates. This has been such a source of encouragement to me. I have developed some lovely friendships with other mums in my mothers' group. I also started meeting regularly with a close friend for prayer. Other friends from church have had little ones of their own, and we now have a fortnightly catch-up with our kids, where we can share our hearts' burdens and pray together. A couple of my friends from uni have remained good friends, and my friendships with them have grown closer over the years too, as we have gone through some difficult times together. I have grown closer with my sister-in-law. And besides all of these wonderful blessings, I have had the pleasure of meeting some lovely people across the world through Etsy. I have discovered one particular heart sister through Etsy, for whom I thank God every day.

Being a Mum at home does not need to be isolating. What I have learned through each of the friendships I mentioned above is: I AM NOT ALONE. So many of us women struggle with similar issues - body image, pressures from work, guilt, exhaustion, identity or worth issues, juggling work and kids, adjusting to the changes in relationship with partner that accompany having kids. Sometimes we can feel so alone, as if "I am the only person in the world who feels this way". Which can often lead to, "I must be dysfunctional/ unworthy/ inadequate/ not good enough". NOT TRUE!!

Image from here
I believe that we all struggle with feelings of inadequacy from time to time. It is part of being human. As is our desire to hide these feelings! We all hide behind different kinds of masks - this need is part of our drive for self-preservation. Masks can be very healthy and appropriate...but at times, they can actually be rather destructive or at the very least, counter-productive. We can invest so much energy hiding our struggles so that we can appear to have it all together - then fall apart in private, longing for someone to reach out to us.

Sometimes it takes one simple, honest admission of weakness to a friend to let her know that, in fact, SHE is not alone. Perhaps she looks like she has it all together - and perhaps she thinks just the same about you! Let's be brave, hold hands and speak honestly from our hearts about our struggles. We can shoulder the burdens together, and be stronger for it!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hard Task Master

You know it's been a hard day at work when your boss gives you this tongue lashing:

You did a really poor job today! You did not take care of your clients properly, you either tried to control them or you neglected them, and if they wouldn't do things your way, you ignored them. Where has your care and compassion gone? Where is your nurturing, caring persona? And what has happened to your personal grooming? What on earth are you wearing? You look like a fat slob! And would it kill you to at least run a comb through your hair? You smell like you haven't showered for days! Also, you spent too much time on the internet while you were on duty. You were rude and impatient to your clients. Your work space looks like a giant bush turkey's nest. In fact, there is no evidence of you getting a single thing done today at all!! And did I mention that you stink?

Who would take that kind of crap from their boss? Oh hang on. Me. From me. I am such a hard task-master to myself!! What I need to hear from me goes a little more like this:

Candy, you seem unhappy with your work today. Just cast your mind over the day for a moment. Think about how you spent your time.

You played hide and seek. Three separate games.
You read eight books. While juggling two wriggly kids on your lap.
You had kids tackle hug you repeatedly.
You worked out – while supervising two kids and dealing with their attempts to steal your work-out equipment.
You resisted eating chocolate brownie, smarties and corn chips, even though they were all readily available in your house.
You vacuumed the whole house, cleaned most of the house (while two clever kiddies uncleaned after you).
You cleaned up four wee puddles, and changed six nappies, and cleaned up poo off the floor and out of undies.
You did two loads of washing, and folded and put away four loads of washing, while supervising your children's playtime.
You brokered peace multiple times between warring kids, once involving a sand fight that required an extensive clean-up operation!
You started your work day abruptly at 5:12am, after being on call all night (and having to answer that call at least twice). You had no child-free time, no “break”. Your work day finished at 7:12pm, but not really because you then had to do more cleaning and prepare for the next day. Oh, and you are going to be on call all night too. 

I'm reminding you of this so that you can be more understanding and patient with yourself - not so that you can find your worth in the fact that you've done a reasonably good job under somewhat difficult circumstances.
Sure, you yelled more than you feel comfortable with. You lost your temper after the third wee puddle from the 3.5 year old who CAN control her bladder but prefers to play. You did escape online a multiple times when you needed a time out. You could have done things differently. You could have made different choices about how to handle certain situations. But today is past, and tomorrow is a fresh day. God's mercy is new every morning.

So stop being so hard on yourself and focus on tuning in to Him who loves you. Let Him love you. Take your frustrations to Him and breathe in His patience. Draw on His strength, His compassion, His love to supply the strength, compassion and love you need for your children. Beating yourself up just makes for an emotionally bruised and battered start to the next day. Rest in Him and receive His forgiveness for mistakes made. Apologise to your kids for the times you yelled at them and ask their forgiveness too. And be kind to yourself.

I far too often focus on the negatives. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Do you ever mentally beat yourself up? Well don't, it's not helpful! Remember, your worth is not based in how much you get done in a day, or what your house looks like, or how content your children are! You have unmeasurable worth because God lovingly created you and counted you precious enough to die for.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A Sentimental Favourite

I just LOVE this dress. I just found it again recently, after a long absence in my sister's closet. It never actually fit her in quite the right way, so I don't think she wore it much. However, when I passed it on to her, I asked her to give it back when she was done. You see, it's got special sentimental significance to me...

I wore this vintage dress on my first date with hubby, almost eight years ago. I'm ignoring the fact that it wasn't a planned date as such, and more of a "I'm going to be baking to make supper for church today and yes that's fine if you invite yourself over to help". It was the first time we hung out together one-on-one and hit it off. And he took me out for lunch, so it kinda was a date. It's the date we use as our anniversary, and it's almost eight years since that day!! 

Yep, eight years, two kids and two dress sizes since that day. I am currently on a quest to greater health - physical, emotional and spiritual health - and one of my goals is to be able to fit in some of my favourite clothes again. This dress would definitely qualify as one of my favourites, but it's so much tinier than I currently am that it seems impossible.

So today I pulled the dress out, ironed it and hung it in my room as a daily visual reminder! Here's hoping that it helps to motivate me when I'm feeling tempted to indulge in sweet treats or corn chips!!


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