This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project. To learn more, click here. It is different than my usual everyday blog writing...much more personal, but something I was proud to be a part of.
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At first glance my story will not show as messy. It will not make you cry, it will not make your heart ache. It is not tragic nor sad. It is very average. My whole life can be summed up with that word. Average. Happy, idyllic childhood, parents still married one of three daughters. Grew up in a nice community, had nice friends, was a cheerleader with basketball player boyfriend. Went to college in the same town, met my love, got married, adventured together, settled down, had two babies. Bought a house, got a golden retriever. The only thing missing is the white picket fence. Not much messy about it. But, sometimes hidden behind a beautiful life things can still be messy. These stories don't come to the front when you think of a messy life. You have to look closer. Even when you feel perfectly happy and content with your life as I do, there's always the one closet where you shove everything in and if you open it, it will explode with a mess. Yes, even a beautiful home has a messy closet.
My messy has always been Fear. Because I have lived a comfortable life I have been afraid of pushing myself out of that comfort zone. An average life can have the illusion, and sometimes true, vision of beauty. But lying beneath that is an internal conflict. Is there more? Should I have done this? What happens if I do now? Fear and it's nasty sister Regret go hand in hand for me. I have great fear of trying new things. Analyzing everything in my mind…weighing the pros and cons and ultimately not choosing to try the new thing. This is because of Fear. And right behind Fear is the Regret. Why didn't I? What if it would have been great? Am I really contend with this simple life or am I faking it because I'm so freakin afraid? Is telling myself, life is so good, I should be 100% happy all the time just a reassurance that it's okay to let Fear win and never try something else? This back and forth truly becomes a jumbled mess inside my head. Fear is my messy.
Tucked up in my messy closet along with Fear is Worry. Just as with Regret, I'm pretty sure Worry is another mean sister of Fear. The three of them hang out and mock me. (Thank goodness I have two real sisters who always have my back and would kick that trio to the curb for me if necessary). My daughters have this book called "Wemberly Worried". It's about a little mouse named Wemberly who worries about EVERYTHING, all day long. Often I feel like this. Worried if the girls are safe at school. Worried if my husband is safe on the road. Worried if kids are being nice to my kids. Worried if my kids are being nice to other kids. Worried if I'm doing a good enough job at work. Worried if I'm doing a good enough job at home. Worried about what I'll make for dinner. Worry, worry, worry. And then there are the bigger ones. Big picture worries. Should we leave our comfortable life for a new adventure? Worried if we do will we regret it? Enter mean sister Regret. Worried if we don't, will we also regret it? Why can't she leave me alone!
And then there is the giant worry that looms over my head each day. Am I being a good mama to my girls? Am I doing this parenting thing the right way? Am I teaching them the right values? What ARE the most important values I should be teaching them. Do I focus on them being a good, kind person or being independent and strong? Do I push them to always try harder or be cool with the average? Do I focus on them being true to themselves or finding a way to comfortably fit into a crowd? All of these are important, but which is the most…which should be THE thing they take from me? What do I want them to remember the most when they are grown up…how do I want them to end this sentence…"My mom always told me…." I don't know why I feel you only get one main point. I know this is silly…they learn hundreds of things from us. Each day we are shaping them to become the adults they will grow into. But, what's the main idea? I feel wishy-washy with this and the whole parenting thing in general. I read way too many parenting books when they were babies trying to the right things. I finally realized going with my gut was the best way and tossed the books. However, now in a world of parenting blogs and Pinterest I continue to worry if I'm doing it right. And with that comes the fear that I'm running out of time to fill them with all the things I want to. Should I be super hands on, playing endless hours of Barbies with them or let them be? How do I instill good manners and old school thinking while still being laid back and keep them up to date in this fast paced world? I worry that on a daily basis I am screwing them up with mixed messages. That they will grow up in an average, happy childhood and in turn will also get visits from their aunts Fear, Regret and Worry. I don't want that for them. I don't want them to experience that kind of messy…I only want them to have the beautiful.
I do know you can't have the beautiful without the messy. I know everyones version of messy is different. Some are a disaster of a mess, while some are simply sloppy. In my beautiful life it truly is hard to say things are messy. But just because you can't see it or have one turning point that has made things messy, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Acknowledging the mess is the first part. I know it is okay to have Fear, Regret and Worry as a part of my life. I know I have to stand up to them once in awhile so they don't cripple me. I know as clean as the rest of the house may be, occasionally I need to open that closet and let it all fall out. Because once it all falls out, you can go through it, pick things up, put them back and get on with your beautiful life.