Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mom Guilt and why we need to talk about it.....

I was trying to keep my blog idea in my head today because my 20 month old absolutely does not let me on the computer while she's awake anymore.  And by that I mean, I can not handle the horrendous sounds of gnashing of teeth that come from her as she tries to communicate with me that she would either 1) like to be with me on the computer (we have a baby gate protecting the computer from her...).  2) would really like me to get OFF the computer 3) just wants to scream and create chaos because she sees how I react.  My child is non-verbal- meaning that at age 20 months, she still is limited to a vocabulary of 2 words.  Momma and Dadda.  Now, of course, I think I hear certain words, but my husband is not so convinced.
That's a story for another blog- so before I forget about the Mom guilt, let's continue.

I tried this morning to wear my headphones and talk into my voice recorder so I could remember what all I was trying to convey in my head onto this blog.  Unfortunately, what I really need is what those transcriptionists (ok, is that a word?  You know, those people that type what doctors/lawyers/people dictate into a Dictaphone?) Anyway, I tried to listen to what I said and my voice makes my skin hurt, so it was touch and go as I tried to listen to my words to relay my concern about mom guilt today.

I suffer from Mom guilt terribly.  Mom guilt is what a lot of moms suffer from.  If you're a mom, and you have no mom guilt, go away.  No, just kidding, you're blessed and I hope you see that and don't knock the moms who struggle with Mom guilt.  I think it's very real and I think it plagues more moms than realized.  I think moms feel guilty for even HAVING mom guilt which only adds to the emotional roller coaster of the original mom guilt.   I know for a long time, I ignored it.  I pretended it was normal thinking.  I have been dealing with Mom guilt since trying to even conceive a child if you can believe it.  It took almost two years to get pregnant with our first, and the guilt I felt over not being able to get pregnant was horrible!  I blamed myself, food I ate, drugs I had taken, silly, completely NOT related to getting pregnant, issues flooded my brain every month that I started my period.

What did I do wrong this month?

It only continued and took on other forms after the birth of my first child.
Let me give you some examples of Mom guilt.

Should I work? Should I stay home?  Am I doing enough here at home?  Am I doing too much outside of my home?  Should I breastfeed?  should I bottle feed?  Disposable or cloth diapers?  Home made baby food or jar food?  Co-sleep?  Pacifier?  (Heaven help if there's nipple confusion) Do I have more children?  Do I have too many children (don't answer that one)?  Am I a good mom?  Am I the only mom who yells at her kids?  Am I the only mom who struggles with things on a daily basis?  Should we do this, that or whatever?  Do we move?  Do we stay?  Can we afford to.... Can we afford not to.....

This list is actually just a small snippet of what went on in my head this morning as I thought about the myriad of guilt questions that I'm certain I've had in my almost 15 years as a  parent and beyond.  I also know other moms who have felt the same or similar when it comes to feeling guilty.

I've been reading this fascinating book called, "The Catholic Guide to Depression" and in it, I have really come to recognize my depression and how it controls me.  I also have a great feeling of ah-ha that I'm not a total freak, after I read it as well.  (sometimes, depression can make you feel like you're the only freak in the whole world who feels the way you feel-it's a horrible feeling, one that is very difficult to explain and rather embarrassing because very well intended people tend to just say, "get over it!" )

In this book, I also recognize that I have basically stopped taking care of me.  Me, Catholicmomma.  Not me the mommy, wife, sister, daughter, friend, etc, etc.  I have let myself believe that "this is how it has to be" and really just given up on ever really doing things for myself.  Some of it is guilt of what others will think of me.  Remember I suffer terribly from that.  Perception is how most people judge others and if people 'perceive' me to be a "selfish" person who only does things for me, than that's the wrong message I want to send!!!

It's funny, because I wasn't like this until I moved up north and I suppose I felt conflicted because it seemed as though church people were all about only being with family, and never doing things outside family and certainly not just mom doing something, and my secular peeps who every night were doing things for themselves and when they could fit their family in, they did- so perhaps seeing the two different perspectives I didn't want to be like either one completely, and yet, did to some degree....if that makes sense.  And certainly not to put down the people I have known, or still know that live up here at all.  Most of my worries are seriously, just in my own head.

But what I discovered as I read this book, and really sat and meditated on what God wanted from me, I discovered that I haven't done anything I used to do back home.  I started out doing some things, a prayer group that met weekly, but then that fizzled when I decided people were coming out of obligation and then I got pregnant and it became 'easy' to drop it.

My moms group back home, met every week during the school year.  Of course, it wasn't nearly as complicated as the moms group I belong to up here, it was in someone's home and when our group got bigger, we split into two groups in two homes.  It was intimate and we learned about our faith and we had fellowship.  The babysitting every week was a blessing and certainly helped recharge my battery like nothing else.  But we didn't stop there.  We had park days, play dates, smoothies at the gym (several of us belonged to the same gym that had babysitting when we worked out-we would finish early and grab a smoothie and a great conversation before picking our kids up.

We had a monthly couple group called 'Just Desserts' and it was limited to 10 couples (which is why it spread into three-four different groups by the time I moved I believe) and it was so intimate.  Again, met in someone's home and either did a video with questions, book study, bible study, you name it.  But it was small and intimate and so cozy comfortable.

My girlfriends and I would have several events throughout the year we really looked forward to.  One year, we went to Hot Springs for the weekend.  Every year, several of us looked forward to the War Eagle craft fair up at War Eagle.  It was a beautiful spot in the Ozarks that rain or shine brought out some amazing crafts and people watching!  (not to mention, funnel cake to die for!!!)

We also went to Branson, MO every year in November or December.  This was particularly fun for me because it was a time in my life where I could spend a little money on myself (which I never hardly do) and my husband would actually stay home, and depending on whether there was a baby under the age of one who breastfed, he would begin several months prior, encouraging me to pump enough milk for him to watch the baby and I still, to this day, think he's the most amazing dad on earth.  He didn't even complain when the kids were crazy, baby didn't eat, or anything.  He gave so much to me in allowing me to go and be kid free, and worry free.  He understood my need to be me for a day or two and sacrificed his time to be dad for 24/48 hours and loved me through it and made me fall in love with him even more.

I have let all that go in the five years I've been here and felt so empty because I haven't had much of that me time that I require to be who I am.  I truly believe that some of it stems from feeling guilty over what people would think or say.  I have discovered that no matter where I live, north or south, there are people who clearly weren't born with filters.  They'll tell you whatever is on their mind whether they should really think first before speaking or not.  And not all of them work at Walmart like they did in the south.... ;)  I'm so worried about people giving me their 'advice' on why getting out without my family is wrong and how I need to learn to channel those needs in the confines of my home or close by or even during the week while my baby sleeps.  I once again, am letting fears that are slightly unfounded, control my needs.

I have to do things for me without this Mom guilt.  I have to see past the fact, that while on the outside I may look like I have it all together, I am literally falling apart on the inside.  I am not handling things well at all and if I don't start making time for me, it's going to get worse and my husband is beginning to see this as well.

We as moms, have got to let go of this stigma that we have to explain everything we do, or justify everything we say, just so we don't worry about who we offend.  Our secular world is already beating us to death with this mindset making us believe that because we don't think, act, look, or accept everything that our culture deems "worthy" that we are horrible people.  This doesn't help mom guilt!! And it's rather ironic when we want people to be individuals, and to think for themselves, when we're constantly having to defend our words, actions, choices, etc.  I can dislike how someone lives their life, but if I were to say something?  Whoa nelly...

Well, those mindsets are settling themselves into moms as well.  Moms who struggle everyday to be good, holy people and try with all their heart to raise their kids with good, holy values.  I want to be the best person I can be, I want to serve God and bring to Him my children, raising them up right, teaching them to respect and be respected and honestly, I feel as though we are letting our culture run our thoughts and actions.  I can't be the best mom or wife I can be, without taking time for me and it's ok that it's not a holy activity.  For so long, I made myself feel as if what I enjoyed doing was wrong because it wasn't holy enough and clearly, I wouldn't "fit in" if I tried to suggest it.  How silly of me!  But when you are depressed, a simple thought can become almost an overwhelming billboard sign in your head screaming horrible things at you that you are not worthy, not worth it, and stupid.

So what am I doing to combat that mom guilt?

I have already invited several moms on a shopping trip in a few weeks.  Will anyone come?  Who cares.   *Gasp*  I said that.  Out loud even.  I am even going to invite moms to a bible study on the day that works for me.  Will anyone come?  Who cares.  (Two in a row!)  I'm letting go slowly of that guilt.  Remember, we are clay in a Potter's Hand.  Let Him mold you into the perfect creation, one day at a time.  And also, remember that sometimes, that clay needs more work and might need repollishing.  We are not perfect humans.  We are striving to be, but only God can make that happen when we finally meet Him face to face.

Go do something for you today or make plans to do something in the near future for you soon.  And I pray you feel no mom guilt over it.  Offer it up for those moms who never do things for themselves.  ~Blessings~

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Give Away!

Y'all seriously have to enter this to try and win!!!  I have read this book and done the online study- amazing stuff.... You won't regret it!

Momnipotent Giveaway!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How do I know it's God calling me to do this?

That is for sure a loaded question to ask anyone.  I once had a priest friend tell me that God can give us several answers if we really open our eyes to what He's saying.  And sometimes, it boils down to which 'answer' is the best out of several good ones...

I have been faced with this dilemma a lot more since I really try to 'listen' to what God is telling me.  And as usual, my disclaimer is that this is my opinion.  Like everyone else in the world, I have an opinion and this is my story.  And hopefully you'll see how green your grass is, too.  So stick with me for a bit and see how crazymomma does things in regards to prayer/discerning God's message.

I never used to pray.  I'm fairly confident, the only 'prayers' I said before my reversion back into the Catholic faith involved me crying my eyes out in a pillow begging God, no, screaming at God, to MAKE THAT BOY LOVE ME!  Or another classic 'prayer' I had was, God, why did you make me so ugly?  I wasn't the most attractive, red headed, glasses, braces, tall, super skinny, waist starting at the boobs child, so as you can imagine, I was the butt, literally, of many hateful jokes about my looks.  So of course, during those times, I turned to God.

But that was about it in my faith.  I am pretty sure that once my parents stopped going to church after my younger sister was confirmed, that I literally drove myself to church for that simple fact- that I could take the car to Church.  period.  Cause I certainly wasn't there to grow in my faith.  At least, not in my mind.  But perhaps, being there, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist (ignorantly of course) God was planting that seed that would one day, once watered ever so gently, bloom, into what I am still blooming into today.

So my prayer life didn't really start going anywhere, or doing much of anything until I started really rediscovering my faith.  My faith journey has been ongoing since 1997.  That's when I first started teaching in a Catholic elementary school.  My prayer life had a match struck to it.  A co-teacher literally lit a fire inside me that slowly began to burn.  Slowly.  My prayer life was still the typical asking God for things, and telling Him how I wanted it to be, but something was changing.  Albeit, it would take probably 12+ years for it to really evolve into what it is today.

Still, I had a hard time determining God's plan for me.  After all, wasn't prayer, telling God what I wanted (which isn't a bad thing, please understand) and then telling Him how I wanted it to play out? (which is kinda a bad thing, if you think you have that kind of cosmic control over a God of the Universe).

I wanted to have children as soon as we tried.  I wanted to live in a big fancy house as soon as I found one.  I wanted to quit teaching as soon as I had my first child.  I wanted...I wanted....I wanted.

Never once, in my newly lit fire brain did it occur to me I should actually sit and listen to what God wanted from me.  Not until I started to seek out spiritual direction did I even begin to have a clue what a prayer life even involved.  I began to meet with a priest once a week and as he attempted to help me declutter my brain and put together my faith, he encouraged me to sit before Jesus in the Tabernacle and really, really, just try to listen.  It was something I was certain I could NOT do, since my brain was always on constant motion (and unfortunately to this day, still is!) but I would give it a valiant effort.

I can not say I heard God's audible voice the first time I sat there before the Tabernacle, nor have I heard His voice since (or at least the voice I believe would be God's, like a Darth Vader type voice, or the 7Up guy's voice from back in the 90's?  Remember his voice? hahahahaha- he said that....) but I have heard His voice and actually have started really seeking His voice each time I sit and pray and really try to just 'listen.'

It's not a deep voice from above.  Sometimes, it's the voice of a child in my home.  Sometimes, it's the cry of a baby I'm holding.  Sometimes, it's the story I've just read on the computer.  Sometimes, it's a great book I've just finished.  But I 'hear' His voice.  And if we all would really sit and listen, we would all hear His voice.  Sometimes, I get in such a rush through the day, I forget to really listen for it.  I forget to really even sit and pray and just listen to Him.  My thoughts race on some days, or I find I've wasted half a nap time (which is my "free time" on the computer) perusing Pinterest or Facebook reading articles and pinning meal ideas I may try in some distant future.  But when I remember, I sit and I really tell Him how much I want to just listen.  Just sit and be quiet and try to hear Him speak.  Sometimes, a song will come on my Pandora Christian station, or my car radio, or my headphones and it will be His voice speaking.  Sometimes, I'm reading a certain scripture passage either from the day's readings, or from my bible study, and I hear His voice.

I've had to learn to really trust what I'm discerning.  Sometimes, the plans God lays before us are all good.  And we have to really decide for ourselves which plan He has laid before us that we will choose.   Sometimes our choices don't always have to be about choosing the "right" one from the "wrong" one!  It can be two really good choices, which could lead to two really good outcomes.  Our free will comes into play as we decide what to do.

My newest prayer endeavor involves where we are to retire.  I've written before how I was worried that in choosing to move away from our current location, wasn't what God wanted from us.  I prayed He would correct my thoughts (yes-I'm still in that 'God fix me' mindset at times!) and begged Him to show me the correct path.

Nothing has shown up that we are wrong in our decision.  Actually, if we, my husband and I, compare our stories to what we've 'heard', we've actually heard Him telling us to follow our hearts to where we want to be.  He will take care of us.  So I know, that regardless of what happens, He has 'spoken' to our hearts and shown us that we will be OK with whatever we choose.

It's so important that we really trust and let go of all those things that hold us back.  Moving so many times has almost made it too easy for me to let go of things.  I sometimes worry it's 'too easy' for me to move from one area to another.  As though I have no roots planted anywhere, but then something comes into my heart that assures me, I need no 'roots' here on Earth to have my deep relationship with Christ.  His Love is what I need and His Word is what I cling to.

I am not perfect.  I am no where near it.  I see my faults so clearly sometimes, I am almost ashamed to lift my head to Him, but I know He knows how beautiful I am and perfect in His eyes.  I am a clay pot.  I am in the Potter's Hands and I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am constantly being reshaped and remade in His eyes as I grow in my faith and in my Love for Him.   I just need to listen and I'll hear Him say it, too.

Be still my heart.  Allow me to hear you, Lord, and discern Your path for me.  Comfort me always.  Lift my heart even when it feels trapped beneath a beam.  Guide me on Your path and never let me go.  How great You are God.  How great You are.  May my heart always be full of Your complete and utter beautiful love for me.