Monday, October 20, 2008


As I lay awake at night worrying---as mothers often do---I find my mind wandering from one random topic to the next.  I am ALWAYS exhausted so I don't know why it is that I can't just automatically turn off when my head hits the pillow.  Unfortunately my brain usually has other plans---to allow me to filter through many unrelated topics aimlessly, anxiety levels increasing and creating more reasons why I should get up and get things done and not lay in bed.--- Did I pay this or that certain bill?  What should I pack in the kids lunches in the morning?  Did I RSVP to that e-vite?  What gift should I get for such and such's new baby?  Is my cell phone on its charger in the kitchen?  Did I move that last load of laundry from the washer to the dryer?  What time was that appointment I made for Ruby at the childcare center at the gym?  What is the best way to get rid of the dreaded last 10 lbs. of baby weight?....or worse, Will we ever close on this house?  Will we still be living in Texas in five years?  Where do I think will really be the best place for our family to live long term?  ...those longer-term questions can really be a pain.

My husband does not seem to have this problem, I know that he worries about the normal things that fathers worry about, but somehow when it comes time for sleep he's out like a light each night.   What would it be like to be able to sleep?  To not hear the pitter patter of little feet padding down the hallway upstairs at 6AM?  To be able to sleep through the requests to "turn on a show" or "can you get me a snack"?  Justin does not seem to hear these things, he often doesn't hear his alarm (I do), or even me trying gently to wake him up.  The latest I have slept in for as long as I can remember was until 7:45, and that was a major accomplishment.  Children have us programmed so that even if they are miraculously able to sleep in (which never has happened at my house), or we are able to steal away for a private weekend with our husbands, our body clocks are still set to wake up at the crack of dawn.

I often think how much simpler life would be if I had lived fifty or even one hundred years ago.  I yearn for a time when things were not always so rushed.  Maybe even a time when my home would have been so far down the road from my neighbors that it would have required a several mile walk or horse ride to find me and my family.  A time when I wouldn't have had to worry about whether or not I had returned all of the e-mails piling up in my in-box, or whether or not I was on top of my voicemail's from both my house and cell phones.  I yearn for a less media-centric world where I would not be continuously bombarded by what I should look like, how I should dress, how I should behave, what car I should drive, what I should believe---what is the newest, the latest, the best!  

I know that there are many strong women out there who are wholly unaffected by this phenomena.  I wish that I were one of those women, but admittedly I am not.  I have a classic people pleaser personality, which is usually not a good thing.  I am fairly certain I inherited this particular personality trait from my father (it is a curse for him also).  Anyway, I think that one facet of this personality is a need to feel as though I am doing things "right".  As though there is just one correct way to live my life.  When I stop to think about this rationally I know that there are many ways for people to be successful and happy, but when it comes right down to my daily actions and decisions I find that I often do what I think others would want me to be doing.   Living this way can make a person feel quite inadequate and can lead to all of the lying awake at night.

Case in point, yesterday when I picked Bracken up from preschool I let him run around outside with some other little boys on the blacktop.  After a few circles around the perimeter Bracken fell going full speed and one of his shoes flew off.  The other mother standing near me (clearly a Type A personality) turned to me and told me that Bracken really shouldn't be wearing Crocs to school and that I should send him in sneakers.  So, when the fun was over and the kids were loaded back into the car I asked Bracken if any other kids in his class wore Crocs, he told me that a girl did and that "she has flowers on hers."  Why should I care what this other mother thinks?  Bracken likes his Crocs, I like--no love--not having to find matching socks, so Crocs are really the best choice for our family.  Why would I even entertain the idea of being a lemming and doing as the others are doing?  Because I have a need to perceived as doing the "right" thing.  What a pain.

I find myself fascinated by the stories I hear everyday about how people are living their lives.  Some are meant to depict people who are living the right way, others the wrong.  But what I have to remind myself is does it really matter what diet the celebs are on (as if acai berries are going to make us all thin)?  Or if Angelina and Brad are ever going to get married so that their culturally diverse clan can have parents who are legitimately and legally bound to one another?  Or how quickly each celebrity mom was able to shed those baby pounds?  Do we really care whether or not Jessica and Nick will ever get back together even if she doesn't know if it really is fish in her can of tuna and not chicken?  These are not the things I lay awake worrying about, but they are kinds of things I can't escape in my daily life.  They are reminders of what our society values most: beauty (defined as being wafer thin and flawless in every other way), money, and "stuff".  

I don't want my kids to grow up in a society where my daughters have to develop eating disorders so that they will be thin enough to be considered beautiful by their peers.  How do we avoid falling prey to the pressures of society?  I often find myself wondering if I will ever be able to just "release myself" (that's a DBL term).  Why have we all decided to place so much pressure on each other to look, act, and live a certain way?  Or is this just a perceived pressure and none of us really care what anyone else does with their life? What ever happened to growing old gracefully?  Or being grateful for what God has given us?  Do we really need to inject our faces with poison in order to freeze frame ourselves  so that we look perpetually frozen in our twenties or thirties?

Anyway, this is a completely random blog entry, all resulting from me asking Justin the other night whether or not he thought he would experience a mid-life crisis.  He looked at me like I was crazy (probably because he is 27 and mid-life seems ions away...let's all remember this when he is forty because his answer was no).  I, on the other hand, inch closer and closer to thirty each day...well, not really since I still have 22 and a half months in my twenties.  I just know that there is so much that I want to accomplish in my life and I would like to do those things without worrying how others will perceive them.  I yearn to be sheltered from the judgements and biases of others, and I yearn for my children to be sheltered as well...but mostly I yearn to not yearn anymore.  Anyone have any suggestions?


J and Rachel Kirkham said...

I think you summed it up just right...what's the point of worrying about those things? I have to say, I am comforted to see that too think of the same things I do. I always look at you and think that you are so perfectly "together" that I envy that...I guess we're all weak in our own way and all we can do is find someone we emulate and follow their lead. Think of your mom, I often do when I want center myself on being the best I can be for myself and for my family. My mom and I often think "what would Marilyn do?" and go from there. You are lucky because you have the great qualities of DBL and your mom so I think you're all set!!

Jessie and Taylor Miller said...

If it helps any, when I try to figure out what the "right" way is, it is always what you say it is. I was joking with Taylor at sushi last night that everything you say to me is golden and I take every piece of advice that you give me as the straight and narrow. As long as Brooke says it's okay, then it is. If Brooke says this is the best stroller, then it is. Let's be honest, if it wasn't for all of our Taylor convos at the beginning of our relationship, who knows if I would have ever ended up with him? For me, more important than feeling validation from "the world", I need to feel like I have your approval and thats all.So don't worry, you're doing everything perfectly and you are perfect. At least in my eyes thats how the world works!

Mer Swift said...

What a great post! And I love what Jessie had to say about it. I really don't think we need to be worrying so much about what is the "best" way to do things. I think we need to concentrate on what will bring joy to our life and our family. If B. wants to wear crocs to school, and you like him wearing crocs, then let him. The liklihood of him falling wearing sneakers is just as high. What an annoying woman...