May 2008 I wrote the following:
Because I had the natural knack for mothering, and I feel it's my vocation, I thought this would be so much easier. I was duped. About a week ago, as I lay in bed, I thought to myself, "I don't remember praying for humility." But that is what I've gotten. My pride and dignity have gone out the window time and time again: milk soaking my shirts, poop all over, crying I cannot console, a boob poking out while I'm burping a fussy Lydia, and on top of it all I can't shower or brush my teeth until 11 usually. And when I'm low on sleep the crying is much more likely to not only begin, but continue for hours. (I'm talking about myself crying, not my daughter.) It is amazing how such a tiny person can make me feel so unsure, incapable and frustrated.What a difference a year can make. I have learned that sleep is vitally important to my ability to mother and that one frustration will take the place of another. I've also learned that my love for my daughter grows every day but that it is not dependent on her personality, achievements or cuteness.
Patience, and My Lack Thereof
While I have gained a great deal of confidence in how I parent, I still run short on patience. Fortunately I know Lydia pretty well now, and with her small vocabulary she is able to communicate some needs/wants to me, and both of these things prevent meltdowns for both of us. However, getting ready in the morning (me) can still be a struggle, as can the mess of meal time. I'm wondering if there's another way to become patient besides nurturing the virtue through experience. I think that hand-in-hand with my impatience is my stubbornness and pride. I am not always the most flexible person and I have such a hard time "letting go" that I hate that expression. So when things don't go my way, or don't turn out well enough, I become frustrated, upset and have no tolerance. I know that in the moments when Lydia is dancing on my last nerve I need to say a prayer and love on her, but feel a sense of entitlement so I don't want to humble myself before my daughter or the Lord. As in, I'm not asking too much to want to shower, dress, brush my teeth, do my hair and make-up and not have Lydia cry, so why should I turn away from myself again. I'm also seeing selfishness here...
Beauty and Where to Find It
I sat down with one of my wedding album a few nights ago and poured over the pictures of showers, the rehearsal, the wedding day and opening gifts the day after. Over and over again I stopped to stare at this woman who was so attractive. One photo was of her and two of my cousins, whom I have always considered to be very pretty. Looking at the three of them I noticed that the one in the middle was incredibly pretty - and it was me. Yet I remember looking at that picture two years ago and feeling so fat and ugly in comparison. Why did I not know? Why did I hate how I looked? Why did I never feel attractive enough?
This realization was even harder to have because of how I look now. I felt so beautiful when I was pregnant with Lydia and I didn't mind having my picture taken - one great big belly shot after another. But now I shy away from cameras and make sure Lydia looks cute when we go out so people notice her and not me.
I worry about how these feelings I have about myself will affect my daughter. No one wants to have an ugly kid (and thankfully I don't) but my greatest hopes for my daughter are that she'll be kind, just, compassionate, generous, welcoming and a faithful, joyful Catholic. To me, this is really what beauty is for everyone else, just not for me.
More on Beauty
I keep thinking about religious sisters, especially the ones in habits and most especially the ones whose habits hide most of their bodies. The sisters I know, the ones I've worked with or are friends with, are all so beautiful, even if they would be fairly average in lay clothes. Any time I'm with a habited sister there is a great sense of peace, joy and love that emulates from her. Her face radiates like Moses' as he came down the mountain.
On the flip side I always feel sad or even embarrassed when I'm around women in revealing clothing. The shorter the skirt or the lower the top the more I feel like there's something lacking. They may look good in one way, but they don't radiate beauty the way I've seen it done. It takes so much more than a pretty face and a hot bod.
I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with these thoughts and where I should go with them from here.
The People I Know
The older I get the more I appreciate the wide spectrum of people I know. I love that in my closest circle of friends I am completely normal: a practicing Catholic with traditional views, a stay at home mom living on a budget. And I am grateful for the women who I am different from but who still hang out with me anyways. Two good examples of these circles:
1 - the version of Theology on Tap that Travis and I are hosting in our house. We invite area Catholics and find a speaker. We eat snacks, drink soda or beer and listen to a priest give a talk while Lydia toddles around.
2 - the La Leche League meetings I go to on a monthly basis. I am the only Catholic and definitely one of the most traditional. I'm probably one of the few who didn't vote for Obama. But I love going to that group and hearing their ideas and opinions.
What have you been thinking about, or what do you think about what I've been thinking about?