motherhood · writing

From One Extreme to the Other

I spent the first four days of last week just being myself. I went to a writer’s conference. I met agents and editors and successful published authors. I had insightful conversations with incredible people.  I focused my writing and took volumes of notes from a man who knows how to tell a story.

I read a book.

It was incredible and soul-filling and light-a-fire encouraging to my hopeful writer self.  While I was there, I was a blogger, a novelist-to-be, a social media guru others asked for advice.  It was thrilling to say the least.

But then I came home. And I spent the weekend being the mom I most don’t want to be.

Rather than that mom who has found her footing, I was right back to being that mom who was drowning in the weight of expectation.

Let me tell you there’s nothing heavier than the expectation you heap upon yourself.

On Saturday all four of my children were in a family wedding. After I had been gone for nearly a week, I came home, did last day of school honors and parties, packed again, and all of us headed to Atlanta for the weekend.

The sweet bride marrying my husband’s cousin is easygoing and a great believer in family. She never once made me feel like I had to do anything extra than put them in their dresses and have them show up. But of course I felt like I had to do so much more.

Here’s a piece of advice if your daughters are in a wedding. Know your own capacity for handling fancy hair and fancy clothes before you think you can do it all yourself.

I called in reinforcements in the form of my baby sister. She was great.

I was a basket case.

The bride was calm and completely unnerved by the idea that the two year old ringbearers may bolt before they got down the aisle.

I was a bundle of nerves.

So somehow I went from playing the “sure I know what I’m doing” writer mama to the “what have I gotten myself into” mama who was undone by curling irons, hot rollers, and a splash of Sprite.

Of course that splash of Sprite landed directly on the skirt of Annabelle’s dress and when I yelled about the stain, she cried great big crocodile tears that landed directly on the bodice of her dress.

And that’s when I knew I had swung the pendulum of motherhood from one extreme to the other.

I simply can’t be everything to everyone. What I can be, however, is good at who I am and aware of the situations that make me stressed because they are outside my comfort zone.  Most of these situations involve instances when I’m sure I’m about to be judged on my children’s behavior and appearance.

Are you catching a theme here?
It’s never about them. It’s always about me.  That, friends, is the problem.

Saturday wasn’t supposed to be about me. It was about how a wedding can bring a few hours of pure joy to anyone lucky enough to share it. It was about how Michael and Ashley are high school sweethearts who’ve dated for as long as Joshua and I have been married. It was about how God can cover over all our messes and steam them back into something beautiful–which is what the God-bless-her coordinator did with Annabelle’s dress.

I reached behind me in the minivan and held Annabelle’s hand while we drove to the church. I told her I was sorry and she was beautiful and no one cared if her dress had a little stain because she is more than a dress.

She is beloved by the King and a princess of heaven, and her mama is just a sinner in need of grace.

And a glass of sweet tea. Which I had at the reception while my children danced their hearts out like no one was watching.

They didn’t learn that from me, thank you Jesus. But maybe someday soon, I’ll have the courage to dance like that too.

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