It has been a LONNNNNG seven weeks since my last blog post was published. I’ve several times thought about writing, but I literally have not had time, which is a bummer. When I wanted to make time to write, I had so much on my mind that I couldn’t even figure out what portion of it to cram into the limited amount I had free and so, I would just let it pass me by… To be honest, I wrote the majority of this post New Year’s Day but forgot to to come back and finish it which is why I’m just now adding it to the site on January 9 (lol).
But anyway … here it is, 2014. So many things I wanted to accomplish over the last year and I didn’t. But one thing — one very important thing — I did. I learned me. My kids are all getting older — my “baby” turns 6 this summer and my older four are 8, 11, 12, and almost 14! Since none of them depend on me 24 hours a day anymore, I decided to do more putting myself first. I did what I wanted to do and I didn’t feel bad about it. So instead of my usual year in review recap, I’m going to focus on ME and share a list of things I learned about myself in 2013.
- Turning 30 was great for me. For some reason I looked forward to it and I loved saying that I’m 30. I don’t miss my 20s. And I actually was pretty stoked to celebrate turning 31 on the second day of the new year. Age doesn’t define me anymore. Being a teen mom always presented a sort of stigma in my mind. I needed to have it all together to prove everyone wrong. I needed to go the extra mile, be the exception to the statistical rule. I put SO much pressure on myself to be perfect that I never learned how to just enjoy life — I was always preoccupied with how I would be viewed, even though in a separate part of my mind, I felt like I didn’t even care. Why did I put so much effort into something I personally didn’t even care about? I cared without caring. What? Oxymoron much? lol The last year was awesome because I was no longer a 20-something mom of 5. Hitting my 30s gave me some sort of mental superpower that freed me from concerning myself with what others thought about me as a mom and that freedom allowed me to really get to the bottom of how I viewed myself as a mom, examining the areas where I didn’t really have it together and becoming more transparent (I know, it’s hard to believe that I could possibly be any MORE transparent than I already was, huh? lol) about my flaws, more open to the influence around me, and more welcoming of others in my life.
- I’m an extrovert, yet I possess very introspective qualities when I am around strangers or acquaintances. Yes, paradoxical to the core. I find that I’m very outwardly reserved (mostly) even though inside I often want to just loosen up and cut loose. I find myself withdrawing inward until I warm up to people — those close to me say that around strangers, I am in my own little world. I feel bound, though… bound by the title of “Mom” and “Wife” and limited by my own neglect of my title of “Woman” — this is something I’m working on. I’m me, but I am teaching myself how to be more ME outwardly and completely rather than only around those who I am confident already know and accept me. I tend to let people learn me very slowly and although I’m a generally open person, I am selective about what I share. Believe it or not ;)
- I like to drink. I like having my own life. I like going places and doing things. I always said I don’t drink alcohol at all and haven’t since … well, over 10 years because I haven’t since I’ve been old enough to drink legally that I can remember with exception to maybe a daiquiri here and there at home with Barry. I always said my life wasn’t my own anymore after Bri was born when I was 17 and I said that I was fine with that — and I was, to a certain point, but I admit that I always craved having a section of myself that was my own. I always said I’m a homebody and didn’t want to be anywhere else and I thought that was the truth at the time but reflecting on the inner workings of myself, I really don’t think that was the case — I just resigned myself to the fact that in my given situation there wasn’t a choice so I convinced myself that it was how I wanted it to be. There is nothing wrong with needing my own space and having drinks with friends. I’ve actually had to TEACH myself that it’s okay to be AWAY from my kids — and the flip side of that is that I have teach THEM that as well. They are so accustomed to me ALWAYS being with them that they literally call me every few minutes when I’m not. Old habits truly die hard ;)
- I am addicted to tattoos. Another thing I always said I would never get — a tattoo. However, I turned 30 and all bets were off. I set out to rediscover ME and I found out some surprising things… this was one of them. I got my first tattoo on June 1 and my second on December 29. Already planning my third and then I’m pretty sure at some point I’ll end up with a sleeve down my right arm. Because, why not?
- I am a bit of a paradox in many ways and sometimes I can be inconsistent with my feelings toward certain things… and I’m okay with that. I don’t feel the need to fit myself into a box even from day to day — I allow myself the freedom to make up my mind and change my mind. Previously I felt like I shouldn’t make exceptions for things I had already formed a belief or opinion about. The older I get, I find that exceptions are healthy – they help me stay well-rounded, keep me thinking, and empower me to make situation-based choices and decisions and develop differing preferences rather than being bound to one idea universally and unconditionally.
- I’m not very disciplined and sticking to things is often a real challenge for me. I know what I want out of life and I know that I can do anything I decide to do, but making myself actually take those steps can be very frustrating. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to action, but I’m also very resourceful so even though I can be quite lazy, in the end I usually push myself to follow through just because I hate to fail. I’m getting better at focusing… the fact that I’m almost positive I have Adult ADD doesn’t help much, but I’m determined and strong willed which usually helps me compensate for my lack of concentration and discipline.
- I don’t care about being perfect anymore. I enjoy just being real… and not just real with those who are close to me, but real without regard to how I’m viewed by everyone else as well. I think perhaps that feeling was what kept me from wanting to ever drink or have a personal life that didn’t relate to my motherhood or get tattoos even though in the back of my mind, I believe I always sort of wanted to… but I didn’t want to be seen as just another “partying” teen mom since I clearly wasn’t… but for some reason it wasn’t good enough just for me to know that. One thing I’ve realized over time is that you can’t control how people see you… no matter who you are, people will make their opinions and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. Why bother?
- I realized that being with my high school sweetheart has sort of stunted my growth in some ways because I’ve been hesitant to change. Going back to item #5, before I felt like once I stated how I felt about a certain thing, that was concrete. I couldn’t say I didn’t like something and then later go back and decide differently. I felt the need to be consistently that same person. Barry would not have cared if I changed my mind but in some ways I felt like he was my accountability for life — I had to live up to everything I’d previously claimed or continue being everything I’d previously been, which locked me into staying the same throughout all of the years that I should have been experiencing most of my life’s changes. I don’t feel that way anymore. I might feel differently about something today than I did yesterday and if I can accept that, everyone else who accepts “me” will have to accept it also. I feel empowered for once in my life to not force myself into being so damn consistent. I going to be responsible, respectful, and will always be a good woman, a good wife, and a good mom. Past those things, I’m not making any promises. Take me as I am, whatever that might mean tomorrow.
- I’m honest to a fault. I’m loyal to a fault. But it’s extremely hard to win me over after I’ve been lost. This is a “new me” trait. I don’t hold grudges — that has always been the way that I am, but I’m finding that with age, me sticking around after someone has wronged me or shown their true colors has certainly changed. I used to forgive and forget pretty easily and damage was repairable in my relationships. At this point in my life, I’m feeling very differently and I’m much more likely to walk away without looking back. I easily forgive, but rarely ever forget. I look for the best in everyone, but once a person has shown me who they are, I believe them the first time around and I have a tendency to have a hard time expecting them to be any different. I believe it has more to do with the fact that I don’t have any desire to deal with bullshit or engage in drama so it’s harder for me to play games or fake my emotions to the point that if I’m not comfortable with a person or if I lose interest in having them in my life, not only is it next to impossible to change those feelings but it’s even harder to act any differently… At the same time, I am a respecter of others’ feelings so I TRY not to be rude or hurtful, which honestly just ends up being awkward when it’s someone I will run into regularly because… well, you try to politely distance yourself from someone who is always around. It takes a special kind of talent.
- I really, really do not know everything. Yes, this truly was a revelation to me. Not literally — I mean, I never thought I knew EVERYTHING in an absolute sense, but I did mostly feel like the things I did know, I had all figured out. I didn’t. I don’t. Life is a game of give and take, trial and error, doing and being, learning and failing… I’m embracing all sides of my life experience and I’ll make adjustments where and when they’re needed. I used to feel like no one can tell me anything that I don’t already know and while often, that’s true I am now finding that even the things I know, there are always viewpoints and considerations other people can contribute which help me to grow in my understanding and which impact that way I handle things. And I am also learning that hearing something from someone else that I do already know tends to give me the confirmation that I need to transition my thoughts into action, which is equally helpful :)
I’m finishing my climb… learning to be comfortable with merging who I’ve always been with the new side of me that I’ve discovered. I’m not really big on resolutions but I do have a few things that I intend to do 2014:
- Worry less. I am not going to ever be able to control everything, plan for everything, or see everything coming. I’m going to give my brain a break. I’m going to learn to relax. And most importantly, I’m going to trust God to do what He does best — guide me. He had a perfect plan before I was ever in the picture and the more I think I try to be in control, the more flawed things become.
- Live passionately. I’m going to live life like my world is on fire! What’s the point in being alive if you never really learn how to LIVE? I’m going to find joy in everything and remind myself daily not to take life too seriously… it’s too fleeting to try to hold on to moments. Instead, I’m going to start making memories that keep my moments alive forever.
- Love hard. Last year, my husband made a lot of compromises… I was busy. I was tired. I was stressed. I needed so much support from him that he didn’t get nearly as much from me as I’m sure he would have liked. This year, I will listen to him intently and give him my undivided attention. I will spend more meaningful time with him and I will leave work at my desk. My kids exhausted me so regularly that they didn’t get the affection from me that they deserved either. This year I’m getting them in check (that process is already underway lol) because I refuse to spend another day having to fuss at them so much that I’m not able to enjoy them.