16 May 2011

Worrywarts Anonymous

Hello. My name is Alicia and I’m a Worrywart.



It’s out.

But let’s be honest… are you actually surprised by that? Just ask Billy. He is well trained in the correct responses to my many irrational (and periodically, but only periodically, rational) fears and the usual tears that accompany them.

This last week was a bit rough. Tired, frustrated, and feeling hopeless, I felt that nothing would ever change. I was too weak to change the things about myself that were overwhelming me. I worried that I was doomed to be a lazy blob for all eternity.

But this didn’t all start like this, so let me back up a little.

Having a newborn has been… well… difficult. If this is a news flash to you then I don’t really know what to say to you. Today Millie is ten weeks old. Almost two and a half months old. She sleeps better. And I am getting better at knowing what she wants though that is not always the case, and she is becoming more fun. Smiling, squeaking as she almost laughs, and generally being adorable.

So after two months of the house being a mess, her room still overflowing with the endless gifts from family and friends, a garden still full of weeds and the rotting vegetables from last summer, and still no dinner on the table, I started to worry. Was I failing? Every night I would make goals. At the beginning they started out rather ambitious: finish Millie’s room, plant garden, end world hunger. After a few days, they had become small and somewhat pathetic (at least in my eyes): Monday= dress Millie, Tuesday=shower, Wednesday=finish one load of laundry, Everyday=smile and remember to kiss Billy when he gets home from work. Yet, sadly, even this list seemed out of my tired, lazy reach.

Being someone who enjoys lists and enjoys checking things off said lists even more, these things began to get me down. When Billy would get home from work and I had nothing ready for him to eat, I was overcome with guilt. There he was, working 10 hours a day with only a few hours of sleep each night and I couldn’t even greet him with a nice meal. What a terrible wife. He never complained and always told me to relax but it just made me feel worse.

In the wee hours of the morning, as I would lay there listening to Billy’s slow, even, sleepy breathing and praying that Millie would keep breathing (like I said… worry worry worry), I began thinking of everything that I had done wrong. I thought of how I spent all day watching silly movies on Netflix, how I hadn’t seen or talked to anyone but Millie and Billy for three whole days, how we still didn’t have a working budget after a year and a half of marriage, how the dirty dishes had taken up permanent residence in the sink and were quickly trying to take control of the counter.

I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you that this did not help anything. It depressed me. All I could see were the things I was failing at. All the unfinished projects. All the piles that I had labeled “To sort” that I now wanted to label “To Throw Out the Window.”

I began thinking I would never change. Even if I tried harder the next day, I would inevitably fail. I was naturally unorganized and tended to only get things done when someone was there to help me and motivate me.

These thoughts led to a feeling of deep hate. Hate for myself. How could I be so lazy and pathetic? How could I never get anything right?

I would just have to accept my fate. There was no way I would have the self-control to lose the baby weight, no way I would motivate myself enough to clean out the office, and really, no way to overcome any of the weaknesses that I was delusional enough to think I could weed out of my life.

I was weak, lazy, and pathetic.

At least, that was the conclusion I came to at my two am worry session. It was negative and pessimistic, but all my eyes would see were my past attempts at change and the overwhelming failures. It doesn’t help that I was going off of very little sleep. (I tend to get rather emotional and slightly crazy when tired.)

And then something happened: the next morning, I got out of bed, went to the neighborhood exercise class, and when I came home I didn’t let myself sit down. Instead, I got to work. All the dreaded tasks that I put at the bottom of the list went straight to the top. I was determined that if I got those terrible terrible assignments done first (i.e. calling insurance, making doctor’s appointments, paying hospital bills), then maybe I would do the things that I enjoy (gardening, organizing). And by golly, it worked! One by one, I checked things off my list and felt a tiny glimpse of freedom and accomplishment.

I could do this. I could change my ways, overcome my natural tendencies, and be an organized, happy person. Sure, I hadn’t quite gotten around to making dinner but let's not get overly ambicious. Baby steps, friend, tiny baby steps. Maybe next week will be the week we eat a real dinner again. Maybe. Maybe not. But Jimeny Cricket, I sure will keep trying.

05 May 2011

Inspiration for Mother's Day

With Mother's Day on Sunday and with a newborn child sleeping peacefully in our room, I have been thinking a lot of women and mothers; what it means to be a mother, to have a mother, and to be surrounded by women who teach me and inspire me. I am blessed to have amazing women all around me (family, friends, neighbors, leaders, and other bloggers).

Today, I wanted to share some articles, essays, books, and links that inspire me! They give me goosebumps and make me proud to be a woman and a mama. And even if you aren't a mother, as it is commonly defined, I hope you still take a look at these things. "The true definition of a mother is a woman who teaches, inspires, nurtures and loves those she comes into contact with"(Motherhood Matters). I really believe that. So, without further ado...

~Did you know? One of our local news stations, KSL, has created a site dedicated to helping women feel empowered by motherhood. Here is a little of what they have to say on the subject matter:

"More than just a stage of life marked by the presence of children, we are celebrating motherhood as a way of life that empowers our best selves... Popular culture promises that by recognizing and focusing on our own needs, we will find empowerment. In reality it creates a culture of comparison, distraction and discontent, none of which lead to empowerment. The act of mothering … caring for, teaching, and nurturing, has just the opposite effect. It emboldens us with confidence, contentment and purpose."

Amen to that!

Go. See more of what they have to say. It will make you proud to be a woman!

~Choosing Motherhood. This is a collection of essays complied by the lovely Lia Suttner Collings from women who made a conscious choice to be mothers. They are woman who left promising careers and personal aspirations to bring children into the world, to teach them and care for them, and inspired them. Here is a little excerpt that makes my eyes water and my soul scream in agreement!

"I finally laid down the book with a feeling of reverent awe. 'Who wouldn't want to be a mom?' I wondered. A career in motherhood had its elements of drudgery, but so did any other. What other career could claim as its end product the elevation of a human soul? Not just the enlightening of a mind or the development of a body, but the improvement of every aspect of a vibrant child of God? I, at least, wanted to be a mother because I believed, with President Harold B. Lee, that the most important work I would ever do would be within the walls of my own home. I chose to be a mother because I wanted to teach souls to fly"(pg 36).

Goosebumps, every time. You can also read an interview with Lia here. It makes me want to be a mother like her.

~ Even before I was ready to be a mother myself, I read this essay and felt proud of what I would one day become. Beautiful words by a beautiful woman.

~Courtney of C Jane Enjoy It always has fantastic essays about being women and mothers. This essay and this essay are just a couple of examples!

~And last but not least, how can I not say anything about the book that inspired this blog, us writers, and the project to remind women of their own importance, divinity, and influence. We Are Woman. Rereading the essays this morning, I feel a sense of empowerment and a desire to be a better woman. And, if I may, a quote from the book, from the essay We Are Woman of Purpose by Susan Hayward:

"True, I am not rich or famous. However, I have the opportunity to influence how the next generation turns out in the most intimate way possible. I am Someone Important. I am a parent."

There you have it. Some things to help remind you of how important you are, as a mother and as a woman. I hope you feel how special you are as a woman, mother, daughter, and individual. I hope you remember the great gifts you have and the potential for good that you possess. And I hope you remember, on this Mother's Day weekend, the women who have helped shape you into that woman you are today.

We love you! Happy Mother's Day!