The Post I Secretly Hope No One Notices

Fix It

In the five months this blog has been alive, I’ve had two goals. Inspire others to overcome everything that holds them back from living out who they are. And don’t make anyone mad.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way human nature works. We stay stagnant until someone is brave enough to slap us in the face and wake us up from our stupor.

So, here’s to making people mad. If it inspires even just one person, I’m ok with the rotten tomato brigade.

Today, I will stop trying to live by the popular Pinterest saying: “Be brave enough to tell your story, but polite enough not to tell the story of others.” Our lives as humans are so tightly twisted and mangled together, that that’s just simply impossible. You can’t tell a story of triumph without speaking of the darkness. But you can’t tell of the darkness without speaking of the person who caused it.

I’m on a journey to break through the darkness of a hostage identity. The one holding it hostage was my mother. She really messed me up.

“Yeah, well none of us had perfect parents,” you say. “At least you had a mom. At least she wasn’t a druggie prostitute living on the streets.”

Both of these statements are true, but there’s fallacy in the thinking.

If we’re honest, we don’t shrug our shoulders at our parents’ mistakes out of kindness, but out of fear. Fear of confrontation. Fear of drama. Fear of rejection. But mostly, fear of responsibility.

If we acknowledge their parenting failures, we’re forced to act upon that acknowledgement. We’re forced to confront the “messed up” parts of our life and fix them. We’re forced to take action to prevent making the same mistakes they made.

But here’s the rock solid truth: If you don’t stand up and acknowledge how your parents messed you up, no one else will. If you don’t fix what’s messed up, no one else will. Your parents cannot do that for you, no matter how many times they anguish, “I’m so sorry. Forgive me. I only did the best I could.”

So today, I’m taking my stand. I’m standing up on the wooden soap box in the park to say…

My mother made mistakes. These mistakes messed me up. It doesn’t matter if the mistakes were huge or small. What matters is I’ve spent the last 9 1/2 years trying to fix what’s messed up, and I’m not done yet. That’s huge.

I’m messed up because I spent every waking hour of my first 25 years of life doing exactly what she wanted, when she wanted, and how she wanted because it was my job to make her happy. It took me 9 years to even realize that this emotional control had polluted my thinking.

I’m messed up because my mom taught me that every.single.man had only one thing in mind: sex. And that they will take every opportunity to get it from any female body. She would stop our homeschool afternoon and drag us with her to my dad’s job site to make sure he wasn’t messing around. I struggle with trusting my husband a lot… I mean like beyond the normal trust things that come up in a marriage.

I’m messed up because my mom decided our family should join ATI. My dad went along with it to make her happy. She gave herself to following Bill Gothard and conservative family Christianity. She set up “standards” we had to follow so we could be Gothardy. I resisted, then fell for it, then resisted, then fell for it. Funny thing was, the only time I resisted was when I was away from my mother. The only time I began to fall for the legalism and strict authority focus was when I was home with my mom. Even in my 20’s, I submitted like a child to her rules and wishes, because Mr. G said that’s what a godly daughter does.

I’m messed up because my mom abused me physically and psychologically. She became the dictator, in the name of parenting. It’s made me so confused in my own parenting. I hate the concept of authority because of it. The recent realization that I am a teacher, and have no reason to even try to be a dictator, has been the most freeing thing to me as a parent. I’m so relieved. ‘Cause if being a mom means being a dictator, I can’t do it.

There’s many more ways I’m messed up, but that’s enough to get the point across.

woodcrates

I can’t just shrug my shoulders and excuse her with “she did the best she knew how” and “she was probably messed up by her parents too”. Excusing it doesn’t address the problem; it simply shrugs off responsibility.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not a blame game. I’m not throwing mud. I’m not lashing out. I’m just being honest and shouldering the responsibility to do something about it.

Now that I’ve realized it, stated it, and believe it, I have the power to change it. I see where I’m messed up. I realize why. Now, I can take the action to fix what’s broken and do my darnedest to mess up my kids a little less than the previous generation.

So stand up on your soap box. Admit how your parents messed you up, so you can fix it.

 

*photo credit

How the Search for Myself is Changing Our Parenting

mykidletsThat night as I held my new born baby for the first time, I never dreamed parenting would be so complicated. What’s so hard about feeding a baby, changing diapers, and teaching a child to obey?

I found the baby and toddler years to be fairly easy. Exhausting, but not complicated. You teach the child to eat well, sleep well, play well, and listen well.

Then it hit… those preschool years when they’re three and four. And suddenly, they’re not typical toddlers anymore. They’re their very own bundle of person with their own desires, own feelings, own will, and own mind. And by golly, they’re going to use them to their greatest benefit. This is where things got a little shakey for me.

How do you validate your child’s own personality, feelings, and will, while teaching the important concept of authority? Especially when you’re so adverse to the very word: authority. Quite honestly, I still hate the word.

I floundered along as each of my four children passed through this stage. I doubted. I hesitated. I second guessed. Sometimes I was strict. Sometimes lenient. But mostly just so darn confused. I guess I thought if I could just manage to make it through that stage, the next one would be easier.

I know. I laugh at myself too. There’s no such thing as parenting getting easier. But I think there just might be such a thing as parenting getting smarter and kinder.

With my husband’s help, I’ve spent several month evaluating my parenting. Why the doubt and aversions?

And you know what I found? The worst part of my entire childhood was that I had no personal identity. I obeyed because my mom said to. If I didn’t, bad things happened. My mother’s parenting was about conformity and control. I’m sure she meant well and did the best she knew how, but it’s not what I wanted for my kids.

Turns out I was opposed to various parenting methods, because I felt so many of them focused solely on conformity and not on guiding your child into finding and loving the person they were created to be while mastering respect and responsibility.

As I’ve learned to love who I am, I’ve realized that my children are incredible creatures of tremendous powers and abilities. Who am I to steal that from them?

parenting

I began to realize that parenting isn’t about “authority”; it’s about education. It’s not about rules and consequences; It’s about presentation, repetition, and practice. We are teachers, not dictators.

We teach them life skills (respect and responsibility) the same way we would teach them motor skills or educational skills. We present the lesson through our conversations, our activities, and by example. Then we rinse and repeat a thousand times, and practice, practice, practice. Cause that’s how the human brain learns.

These days, my husband and I travel a new parenting journey together. We punish hardly ever and teach mostly always. And our home is happier because of it.

Just Let ‘Em Be Them

TotallyEthanToday, Grace for Moms is sharing a post I wrote on letting our children just be themselves. It starts with a story I told my daughter…

…I watched the wheels turn in my daughter’s head. “But now you’re your own person, and you can wear make-up if you want,” she stated emphatically.

Her words hit me like a slap in the face. She caught on to an underlying theme of my childhood. I was not allowed to be my own person.

And it made me question. . .In all my striving to find myself, do I allow my children to be themselves?

Be sure to catch the rest over at Grace for Moms. And check out a few other posts too. Many of the posts there have given me the chance to ponder life and how true grace is intertwined within it. A few of my favorite posts are:

Redeeming Negative Life Events by Donald Miller

Since Becoming a Mom, I’ve Lost Myself by Kristy Chowning

Grace, More Than a Word by Christa Ashworth