Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Settle Down, Bessie

As I sit down to write, the sun is shining, the temperature outside is well above freezing and for the first time in a couple of months I am entertaining the real hope that spring is imminent.  This is a wonderful, glorious, miraculous thing because the winter has taken a serious toll on my emotional reserves.

You hear what I'm saying, right?

Nothing is really wrong.  In many ways things in my life are better than ever.  But I've been feeling down in spirits.  Not terribly anxious to get up in the morning and greet the day.  Worn down and unhappy.

But that's not the worst of it.  I've been unbearably grouchy towards my children.  Just imagine if you had to face THIS everyday.
This self-photo was taken moments before I attempted to take the children on a "fun" Saturday outing a couple of weeks ago.  I will tell you, I believe I had actual fire coursing through my veins.  I felt quite out of sorts and I was yelling at every little person who had the misfortune to share the same airspace with me.  I have been a frightening mother as of late.

In short, I haven't been enjoying the time I have with my children.  This makes me very sad and I've been thinking a lot about why that is.  Here's what I've come up with.  Besides the horrible winter weather, and you better believe I AM placing a great deal of the blame on winter, I fear I have put unreasonable expectations on my children and myself.

I confess that I want my children to excel.  I want them to do well.  We home school so perhaps I feel I've got a point to prove.  I hope it's not about me wanting them to be better than other people, but for sure, I want them to reach their potential and Be All They Can Be(!) without actually having to join the Army.  I know I'm nowhere near the smartest or most talented person I know, but I have this crazy little idea that if I work hard enough I can make up the difference.  I apply this same reasoning to my children.  So I push us all.  Hard.  I'm not sure they can do enough to make me think they are doing enough.  I hate the phrase, "Just do your best."  What does that mean?  Like we read in C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, are you really doing what you can do, or are you just doing what you think you can do.
There is a difference.

I have wonderfully dear friends who I admire so much.  Some keep immaculate homes and cars.  Another is so organized and structured.  I have a sister-in-law who thoughtfully sends birthday and anniversary cards to every member of the gigantic Fox family.  Another is so gentle and soft spoken.  One is so aware of the needs around her and constantly giving of her time to help out.  Another is so creative and daring.  Another  who can build something from nothing and bless so many others. You get the idea.

 I am surrounded by amazing, talented, gifted people.  I love them all! I'm not complaining and I'm not comparing myself to them in a woe-me attitude.  I know I have my own gifts and talents.  It's more that I see these fabulous qualities, and once again, I believe that through hard work I too can develop them as well.  I understand that some people may see this differently, but I think this is a pretty healthy attitude.  I believe that I can become what I want to become, through my choices and efforts.  What is not healthy is feeling that I need to be all those things right now.  It is not healthy to be unhappy because no matter what I or my children do, it is not enough.  It is not healthy to make myself and those I love miserable in a quest for excellence.  It is not healthy to run faster than I am able.

And that is precisely what I've been doing.  I have to change.  I have to settle down.  I need to remember that people, my own children included, are more important that problems.  I've got to settle down and love my children.

This week I called an unofficial spring break so we can get ready for Faith's birthday party on Saturday, enjoy the nicer weather, do some practice tests online for end of year testing, and do a little spring cleaning.  But mostly, we're having spring break so I can settle down and enjoy being with my children. 

End note:  And now for the end note that really should have been the main point of this post.  15 minutes after posting this and in an answer to my prayer, I came upon this quote by Elder Bednar in this month's Ensign regarding the enabling power of the Atonement.  "...We mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities".

I mean really, who would ever mistakenly believe that we could develop all those great characteristics just through our own hard workSheeh! Some people just don't get it :) 

5 comments:

Schramm Family said...

Its like you are watching me and writing posts for me. I felt this way for several weeks. I had Keith give me a blessing on Sunday. It has helped me so much.

You are an amazing mom. Really, I need to learn several lessons from you. Thank you for your example.

Gabrielle Kim said...

I look up to you as such an amazing mom & friend! I feel so blessed that you are in my life and in Isabelle's life with piano, book club, etc. things I wouldn't dare take on!
I feel the same way about being unmotivated. A disease that only spring can cure.

christini yogini said...

Oh, our wonderful Betsy! Hugs to you. You are an exceptional, amazing, strong & courageous woman. Enjoy your spring break, and enjoy this shift into neutral. You have such a lovely family & we all admire you. Go forth in confidence of your fabulousness!!
XO, C

The Kibbie Family said...

Oh thank you for helping me to feel a little more normal! My perfectionism has caused me and my children a great deal of stress. I've been forced to slow down and have learned the hard way of letting go of pure excellence in order to have an excellent relationship with my children. I still struggle with this and it's nice to know that I am not the only one with this problem. You are a great mom and I LOVE reading your posts! :)

Amy F. said...

Betsy, I feel much of the same way you do, I think it comes with the territory of being a mom. I have to read President Uchdorf's Forget-me-not's talk to remind me to go easy on myself every now and then. I smiled to see I was included in your post. (birthday card girl) Other than that area though, I honestly think that I have watched you over the years and thought, if Betsy can do it, I can too, and pretty much copied a lot of your great homeschool/mothering ideas. You are amazing and wonderful and I have shed a tear or two these last few years and felt stretched and inadequate often so I loved reading this if nothing else to feel I am not alone, even the cheerful Betsy Fox struggles sometimes too. :)