Friday, October 19, 2012

Confession of a Human Mom - I Am Not A Saint!

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are not longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children. ~Jessica Lange

Sounds quite idealistic... doesn't it. 

Mommy or Me - Selflessness or Selfishness? 

When I became a new mom and the ripe old age of 20, again at 24, and again at 27,  each one of my children became the beacon of my life.  My world revolved around providing a home, a life, and an existence for them. I was (and still am) passionate about them, dedicated to helping them grow, responsible for providing them stability, and accountable for giving them the tools that they would need to be productive and contributing members of society.  I gave my all to them, for many, many years.  I was able to stay at home- we had reasonable financial stability, and my husband fully supported my desire to be an at home mom.  My life, my existence, my passion, my interest, my career, my vocabulary, my interaction, my effort, my energy, my everything all flowed to one glowing ball of light.... my children. It was the natural state of "motherhood".  The job of motherhood.

I must confess - it was not the natural state of my humanness.

Don't get me wrong - I loved that I was able to be in that place.  I would not trade a single second of any of it. I am honored to be able to call myself Mom to three amazing women. In the ideal days of mommyhood, I played the role well.  I played it with heart.  I played and lived it with every fiber of my being.  I was happy in that.  I had focus, I had purpose, and I had an audience - three little children who needed me every second of every day. If moms could get Oscars - I think I would have been at least in the running for it. I was in the role, but I  WAS the role. 

 But I am not going to lie. As the kids started to grow a bit, I tried to keep the script and the ideal the same. But there came a point that I just wasn't driven or fed. Instead of joy with moments of work, it became work with moments of joy.  My energy began to run low.  My tank was empty. My kids were still the center of my universe, but my revolution around them began to grow weary.  I became unhappy, lonely and empty. 

I lost myself. I questioned myself. I made these realizations about myself. 
  • I knew that how I felt had nothing to do with them or my relationship with them.  It had everything to do with my relationship with me! 
  • I knew I had, did, and always would love them more than life itself.  I would forever move heaven and earth if I could for their good.  They were by far the most important human beings in my world, and as long as I was on this earth they would always be that. 
  • I came to terms that there really were times in "mommyhood" that I wanted to just shut myself in my room and not be responsible. I called it needing a breather, needing a break or taking a time-out.  The reality was I CRAVED time for ME - time that I neglected.  
  • The idea of motherhood being hearts and flowers and puppy dogs and cute kids - it was a crock.  Trying to make it look that way only led to failure and exhaustion.  There were days when I really didn't care if someone judged me because my daughter wore a plaid flannel shirt, a floral skirt, and pink cowboy boots on the wrong feet to the store. She was covered and dressed. MORE IMPORTANTLY was that the battle of getting her that way was over. 
  • I realized that I was jealous of all of the time and attention that I and their daddy could give to them, but I failed to give to me or us. It wasn't the green face of envy, but it was certainly a gnawing very quiet message of  I wish I had someone paying this attention to me.  
  • What in some moments was my giving and existing in selflessness, felt like sacrifice in many others.  (The difference in meaning and attitude surrounding those is huge.) 
  • I questioned my own heart as to why I was not fulfilled in the way I thought I should be. 
  • I faced that as much as I loved being Mom, there were moments that I just didn't like motherhood. 
  • I realized that I needed to do the things that refreshed me and filled my pitcher. That way I could fill the cups of my children.
  • I realized that what I was experiencing was the natural state of HUMANNESS!
It's ok to throw some selfishness in with the selflessness.  It's the only way to not suffocate and to be able to grow and best serve in the role of mom.  It's also the best way to grow yourself for the day when your mom role changes as kids launch into the world.

I like to and I need to feed my OWN spirit, my OWN goals, and my OWN self. There are times when I want to be the center of the universe. Sounds pretty selfish, I know. But it's true. It doesn't make me a bad mother - it makes me an honest and healthy one.

 I am a human Mom - not a saint. 

Do you struggle with feeling selfish for needing some time for yourself? 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Pink Haze - Awareness Is Cheap, Action is Priceless

As most of you probably already know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It seems almost impossible to NOT know.  The stores are full of pink ribbons, pink products, and pink commercials. The lovely pink hue permeates just about everything, from retail, to media, to bumpers stickers, to T-Shirts, to bracelets.  There is even controversy as people don slogans and sayings to work and school, supporting breast cancer "awareness",  arguing a right to free speech when questioned about them. We walk charity walks, stuff donation jars, and get in the pink spirit. We eat, sleep and breath pink. Pink is a part of our landscape - and we are becoming immune to it.

We are in a PINK HAZE - all for awareness.

But what about ACTION?

Awareness is a good thing. But it means nothing without action.

Women AND men are still dying of breast cancer.  Yes... that's right... men can be diagnosed with breast cancer too. According to BreastCancer.Org, (visit link for more statistics)

  • 1 in 8 women are affected by breast cancer. 
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women (aside from skin cancer).
  • In 2011 there were more that 2.5 million survivors of breast cancer, but over 39,000 didn't survive. 
  • Approximately 2,150 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in men.
The point is, knowing about this doesn't change it. Doing something about it does. ACTION is what can change how this bastard of a disease affects women and men.

What are some of the action steps you can take?  I am so glad you asked...
  • Get mammograms and other screenings, do self checks, and have clinical exams.
  • Support funding for research - know where your donation dollars are going.
  • Know that breast cancer is not always a lump and know other signs to look for- it can save lives. KNOW THAT THERE ARE OTHER SIGNS BESIDES THE LUMP THAT WE'VE BEEN TRAINED TO LOOK FOR AND LOOK FOR THEM. You are your own best advocate and  know what is normal for you. (See the SISTER CHECK)
  • Learn about IBC (inflammatory breast cancer.)
  • Talk to your doctor if you feel OR see any changes in your breasts.
  • Don't be embarrassed to tell your significant other if you see a change in your breast OR theirs. Sometimes a second set of eyes of someone who knows us intimately can be the difference between early and later detection.  Cancer is not a solitary disease. 
  • Support groups that make advances in the quality of treatment, the effectiveness of medications, the care of patients, and the support of families with loved ones in the battle is imperative to kicking the breast cancer monster's ass. 
Simple awareness is not enough.  In fact, too much awareness and not enough action becomes a problem in itself.  It turns to a fad, a marketing tool, or even apathy. When we wear the pink shades, it just becomes part of our everyday view and doesn't stand out anymore.  By being saturated with awareness, you could even say that we become less aware. 

Take off your pink awareness sunglasses and put on your hot pink ACTION safety goggles.  It takes work and strength. But with active steps, advancement in the diagnosis, quality of life, treatment and cure for breast cancer can be made. Awareness of an issue is not the same as action on it.

Awareness is cheap. Action is priceless.

Have you checked your breasts recently?

For related posts please visit:
My Sister's Cancer
Breast Cancer Hop: My Sister's Story
The Reality Of Pink

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Week Notions - Mountains

In every phase of parenting, relationships, jobs, and life, we face mountains.  They are an inevitable part of our travel on our own personal roads.  However, as moms and dads, the mountains seem to have such a huge significance - there is so much more at stake.  Parenting challenges, household finances, job stability, are constant inclines that seem never ending. We are not just climbing the mountains to meet our own goals or to strengthen our own selves.  The climb has a different consequence.  It affects the outcome and path of our children's lives. Than responsibility often looks so huge that we can see nothing else.  We feel as if we are climbing mount Everest.

Just for today, take a step back. Catch your breath.  Survey the hill ahead.  With a fresh view, you may see that what you thought was an insurmountable peak, is really just a foothill. You'll find the inspiration and the strength to put one foot in front of the other, until you've reached the peak.