Girlfriends are the Best!

Yesterday, a girlfriend texted me and told me that she was praying for me. No particular reason; she was just moved to do so during Eucharistic Adoration. Her text brought tears to my eyes. I thanked her and let her know that she always has a way of sending me a message like that at just the right time. And it’s true. Many times when I feel like I’m drowning, she comes to my rescue. Even if it’s just in the form of a quick text message. It means so much to me.

She was concerned by my response and I explained that I’m fine, just perpetually overwhelmed. Having an infant, a baby, and three wild boys is a lot to get used to. Not to mention we school year round. Life is busy. It’s wonderful, but overwhelming. These days, consuming is a better word. I’m not trying to throw a pity party; I love my life. I really, truly do. This is just a difficult season. I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning and all the many ways I’m growing as a person, but it’s still tough. Really, really tough.

We made plans to go out for drinks next week so we can catch up, I can unwind, and we can both have a good excuse to wear earrings. I never get to wear earrings these days; the babies just pull them right out. She’s already warned her husband “not to wait up,” but I’m sure we’ll be home by 10. Mornings come quite early at my house.

Our little conversation really brightened my day. And making plans to get out for a couple hours gives me something out of the ordinary to look forward to. I felt so much better, so relieved after that brief little chat. Not because we are going out next week, even though that is really exciting, but because I felt connected. Like I wasn’t alone anymore. Someone else was there for me. I’ve said this many times before, so I don’t know when this lesson will penetrate my thick skull, but I really have to reach out more often when I need to blow off some steam.

Then, as if all of that weren’t enough, this morning, I went out to feed the cat and found this on my front porch.

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Isn’t it cute?!? I looked around hoping to catch the giver, but no one was around. It was early and everything was still calm and quiet.  I looked closer and saw the sweet little post-it note attached. It was a gift from my girlfriend.

2014-07-31 08.40.24She is seriously the sweetest! I was grinning from ear to ear and giggling. I couldn’t wait to see what was in the bag. Truthfully, the bag could have been totally empty and it still would have been great. That unexpected pop of color on my front porch and her sweet little note had already made my day. But the bag was heavy, so it certainly wasn’t empty. What was inside was the best “happy” I’ve ever received. (The group of girls I ran around with in high school would buy little tokens for each other – a bracelet, candy, something related to an inside joke, etc. We called them “happys” because it made you happy to be on either the giving or receiving end.)

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Breakfast for my kiddos and holy water. Seriously – best idea ever!! I can’t think of a sweeter package to drop off on an overwhelmed mom’s porch.

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My kiddos were pretty thrilled about her thoughtful gesture, too. They call sweet breads of any kind “breakfast cake.” When they saw me pull a foil-wrapped rectangle out of the bag, they just knew it had to be “breakfast cake.” They were jumping and squealing and ate most of it in one sitting.

Thank you, thank you, Kathy!! You have been such an extra special gift to me in the last 24 hours and I am so very grateful for our friendship! I look forward to the day I am able to return the gift to you!

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M, N, O, P – Moms Need Other People

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

 

(L to R) Leila, Me, my sister, Meghan, and her daughter, Mia.

(L to R) Leila, Me, my sister, Meghan, and her daughter, Mia.

I wanted to write this post because it’s a lesson I desperately need to learn.

The problem is I haven’t learned it yet.

All I know is I desperately need a community of other moms.

Sometimes for emotional support.

Sometimes as a sounding board.

Sometimes just to know that there are other people struggling with the same struggles.

Sometimes to get good ideas from. Or share ideas with. Or to trade recipes.

Sometimes to have someone to laugh with. Or have someone to laugh at myself with me.

Sometimes to have someone offer words of encouragement. Or to be that encouragement for someone else.

My kids participated in a new coop this year. It was small and intimate. I loved it. My very favorite part was visiting with the other moms while the kids were playing after their lesson. I had some of the best conversations I’ve ever had during that time – certainly some of the most edifying.

I don’t know why, but I have a tendency to isolate myself. To think I can do everything on my own. To refuse to ask for help when I need it.

Now I know that moms need other people. I need other people. I need to hang out with other moms.

But I still don’t do it. At least not as often as I should. And I never initiate it.

I’m finally starting to understand how much I need other people.

Now I just need to do something about it.

SST # 5: Thank You, Grazie, Merci BEAUCOUP!!

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330On March 1 we welcomed our precious daughter into the world. It goes without saying that it was an incredibly joyous day and the days since have been full of moments of perfect beauty. There’s something about looking into the face of a newborn, especially one sleeping on your chest, happily drunk from having consumed her fill of milk…I don’t know the words for it. It’s almost as if you catch a glimpse of eternity. She embodies peace and happiness. Total dependency, yet complete autonomy. Immortality encapsulated in a fragile human body. All of time and the meaning of existence shines forth from that innocent little person. It’s incredible!

Because of the gift of new life in our house, I feel like every moment is a great big success. Granted, some moments are sleep deprived and some moments are a juggling act as I adjust to being a mommy of 5, but, overall, holding that precious gift that we named Sophie eclipses any of the struggles that come with being a new parent. Since I’m floating on cloud nine, I thought I’d dedicate this entry to all the people for whom I’m incredibly grateful. I won’t be detailing any of my own small successes, rather I want to thank and acknowledge all the people who have been such a gift as we have transitioned into life as a family of 7. (Brace yourself, this entry is a little long.)

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Sophie. 1 day old.

1. My husband, my fabulous labor & delivery nurse, Wendi & Kevin O’Brien, the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, and St. Colette. Sophie’s birth day was simply beautiful thanks to this incredible team of people. After 5 deliveries, 2 of which were all natural, I feel like I have some good notes for comparison about what to expect on “D-Day.” This was, without a doubt, my best delivery ever, despite it being my second longest. Wendi and Kevin are great instructors and prepared me, and, most importantly, my husband well for the big day. Despite this being baby number 5, there is a lot to learn if you want to have a successful peaceful natural birth, especially in a hospital setting. I keep meaning to write a whole post about all the reasons why I am in love with Dr. Bradley and so very grateful for his books and our fabulous instructors, but today is not that day. Suffice it to say, I am so very grateful for them! My L&D nurse, who was also incredible in so many ways and so very supportive of our desire to birth naturally, said that she had never witnessed a natural birth go as smoothly as mine  in her 19 years of delivering babies. That is completely thanks to the Bradley Method and my husband’s fidelity to assuming his role as coach. He did a phenomenal job, and I truly could not have gotten through without him! My husband is THE reason that I was calm, cool, and collected throughout my entire labor, but especially during the hours we spent laboring at the hospital.

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Josh and Soph, 2 hours old

Above all, I have to credit St. Colette, my sweet daughter’s patroness (Colette is her middle name) and the patroness of expectant mommies. After our last less-than-stellar birth experience, I was quite nervous about this one. I spent a lot of time begging her to help me out on D-DAY. And she did. I don’t believe in coincidences, so I fully credit her with our awesome nurse (Who was called in on her day off because L&D was swamped. And who sacrificed her daughter’s volleyball game to answer that call and come in to work. And who was weirdly connected to us in a strange 6 degrees of separation type way.) and with the fact that we got THE LAST L&D room (had we arrived any later, we would have been laboring and delivering in a busy triage room) and with the fact that a new mommy room just happened to open up for us, despite the fact that we weren’t supposed to get one because they were all full. Thank you, St. Colette, for interceding on my behalf!           

2. My husband. (yes, I already thanked him, but this is for a different reason.) Josh works for an incredible company. One of their many benefits is that fathers get a two week paternity leave after the birth or adoption of a new baby. This leave is granted ON TOP of any existing vacation. While I think our growing family may make them question this lovely policy, we are so grateful it exists. Josh was home with me for the last two weeks and he did a stellar job keeping the house running. I was blown away! He even kept up with the kids’ school work, so we weren’t behind at all when he went back to work. He cooked and cleaned and cared for all 4 of the other kiddos. All I had to do those first two weeks was sleep, eat, and snuggle my sweet Sophie. It was amazing!

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One of the beautiful meals we received.

3. Kate and all the people who signed up on the Care Calendar. My sweet friend Kate made a Care Calendar  for people to sign up to bring us meals. It started on Tuesday when Josh went back to work and is still filling up with our incredibly generous friends and acquaintances from Church and our homeschooling coop. I can’t begin to say how grateful I am not to have to worry about dinner. These first few days alone with the kiddos have been challenging, so it is such a gift to just have to open the door and say thank you before having a beautiful, home-cooked meal on the table. And let me tell you, these women can cook. Everything has been so delicious! On top of being generous enough to make us dinner, these women have even been kind enough to adhere to our new dietary standards. These women have their own large families and struggles and pregnancies and whatever else to deal with, yet they took the time from their hectic lives to make us dinner. I am so grateful to them all for their incredible generosity!

Kate also took my older boys to coop last week which was a gift for them, Josh, and me. They were bummed about the prospect of missing coop, but, thanks to her, they didn’t have to. Josh had been wrangling the four older kiddos by himself for several days at that point, so I’m sure he was grateful to have his duties cut in half. And I was super grateful for how quite the house was while they were gone. Thanks again to my dear friend! You are such an amazing gift!

So that’s it for me. I’d apologize for this post being so long, except for even this doesn’t fully express my gratitude to these individuals. What about you? What are your successes this week? Link up over at Catholicmom.com

No, Really, I AM an Introvert.

introvert fishI’ve told my husband for years that I’m an introvert. He’s always disagreed. He says something along the lines of, “I’ve seen you be social when you want to be. You’re really outgoing. You’re an extrovert.” Truthfully, until I read the Huffington Post article the other day, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be an introvert. All I meant was that I often feel awkward in social settings and being around people can be so exhausting. Turns out there’s even more to it that that. While both of those traits do fit in with the introvert experience, there’s so much more about my personality that makes sense now that I’ve read that list. Yesterday, I touched on some of the highlights for me. Today I’m going to add my commentary to each of their 23 points. Maybe it will be enough to convince my sweet husband that, even though I have high energy and do enjoy socializing with people I know, I really am an introvert.

First, I’d like to point out that in the introduction the article states that a lot of introverts can be social butterflies and pass as extroverts. I think this is why my hubby refuses to accept that I am really an introvert. Just because I don’t hide in the corner, doesn’t mean I’m not an introvert. The article says that the social aspect is really only a small piece of this personality.

Next, I find it fascinating that the American Psychological Association considered listing “introverted personality” in the DSM as recently as 2010. I certainly understand what they may have been considering. At times, being introverted certainly can feel debilitating. But, overall, it’s not really something that holds me back. It’s just something I have to cope with and make accommodations for. It’s just part of who I am.

Now for their traits…

1.You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

Oh my gosh! All I can say is AMEN! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “I used to think you were such a b**ch until I got to know you.” Umm…thanks? Glad you took the time to get to know me. I’m really not a b**tch (well…at least not most of the time), but I think this trait is why people perceive me that way. I don’t think I’m better than you, I just really can’t stand having to talk about nothing. To me, it seems like we’re both above that.

This trait is also is to blame for the awkwardness that ensues when random strangers approach me to talk about how cute my baby is. I can tell you all about my baby, but, my guess is, you don’t really care. I just don’t know where else to go from there. You said she’s cute. I said thanks. Now what?

bill lumburg2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.

You’re having a party? Awesome! I love parties!! But if I could get the guest list in advance to ensure the ratio to people I know to people I don’t know is within my comfort zone, that would be great.

Sure, it’s nice to know a lot of people, but getting to know them is pretty tricky. I think if more people could master good introductions, this would be so much more bearable. You know, when someone says, “Oh! Mary. I want you to meet my friend Suzie. Suzie blah blah blah blah (insert some kind of relevant information about Suzie’s life, career, pet iguana.) Being able to start a conversation with real information helps so much when meeting new people. Otherwise, see # 1 about my dislike of small talk.

3. You often feel alone in a crowd.

I’ve written about this before. I thought this was just the result of my lifestyle choices. Most people treat me like I’m some kind of three-legged freak, so I often feel like one. Maybe there’s more to it than that?

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.

This is reason # 1 that I couldn’t hack it in Mary Kay. I loved so much about that organization, but I can’t network. I feel like such a fraud when I try. What’s worse is I felt like, even when I wasn’t networking, people would think I was phony, assuming I just wanted to sell something to them rather than just hang out or be friends.

5. You’ve been called “too intense.”

There was a group at the fraternity house where I used to hang out that would sit on the porch and talk for hours. We would talk about all kinds of things: philosophy, books, movies, science, music, history… Everyone always said we were being “too intense.” That we just needed to grab a beer and let loose. We were much more content sitting with our beer and talking about all sorts of things. That’s not to say I never “let loose,” only that I was frequently accused of being “too intense.”

6. You’re easily distracted.

I find this particularly interesting. I have ADHD, which also involves being easily distracted. I’d love to see some work done on how ADHD presents in introverts vs. extroverts. Apparently, I have no hope. Between the two, I’m not likely to ever finish a task, or even a sentence….

Maybe this is why I long for the beach. I get lots of down time.

Maybe this is why I long for the beach. I get lots of down time.

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.

I crave downtime. I need it. If I don’t get enough of it, I can’t function. I just end up breaking down. When I was working at our church, I had to take Thursdays completely off. I worked 10-12 hours on Wednesdays, and it was usually my last day of work for the week. On Thursday, I had to veg out. I worried that I was just being lazy, but I knew that I needed it. The kids loved just having a day to chill. They thought I was being “cool.” I was just trying to stay sane. Now that I’m not working outside the home, I still need it, just not in such massive quantities. This is the added benefit to the quiet time we have each day. I get to sit down with my coffee or lunch or whatever and recharge. It makes for a much smoother evening when I’m running on fresh batteries.

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.

I talked about this one yesterday. I’ll just sum it up by saying this is so true!

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle.

Always! Or at church. Or the movie theater. Or anywhere. I need to be able to escape easily. Luckily, my kids make for a handy excuse. “I might need to slip out with the baby, so I should sit on the end.”

I also strategically pick my spot at tables in restaurants. It has to have a combination of a good view (I don’t want to be staring at the wall) and an easy escape. Interestingly, I rarely do escape, but I need to feel that I could. I can’t stand to feel trapped. 

10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.

Yes, yes, yes! This is part of the reason I had to take Thursdays off in # 7. The same applies to play dates, shopping trips, even vacations. I need a good balance of activity and down time.

That's not me, that's my beautiful sister. And that's my hubby...being an extrovert?

That’s not me; that’s my beautiful sister, Meghan. And that’s my hubby…being an extrovert?

11. You’re in a relationship with an extrovert.

Most definitely. Having read this list, I’d be interested to find a similar list of extrovert traits. I’d love to know what pieces of his personality are tied to his extroversion that I’ve never noticed. Major plus to being in a relationship with an extrovert: I let him handle the small talk whenever possible. I just stand there and smile.

12. You’d rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.

So true! There’s so much to learn about everything. You can always go deeper. I can’t imagine being satisfied with surface level knowledge of everything with no deep knowledge of anything. I need to go deep. I need to understand why.

13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.

Umm, of course. I would die if I had to be that sap that got called on stage.

On the same token, there’s nothing worse than being in a workshop when the presenter says, “Now I want you to turn to your neighbor and share your responses to these three questions…” Can we not? I came to hear you, the supposed expert, talk, not the random lady sitting beside me. More than that, I don’t really want to “share” anything with her. I don’t even know her.

14. You screen all your calls — even from friends.

Yes! A million times a day. I can’t help it. I hate phone calls. I thought the article described it perfectly. To me, it really feels like you just jumped out of my closet and shouted, “BOO!” I just can’t deal with that. I’ll call you back when I’m mentally prepared to deal with you. Oh, and when none of my children are screaming. Waiting for those two stars to align could take a while. I’m sorry. This truly is a case of, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

15. You notice details that others don’t.

I’m incredibly detail-oriented. I never would have guessed this is somehow correlated with being an introvert.

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.

When I first read this I thought, “Doesn’t everybody?” Apparently not. I find this fascinating.

The description also mentioned that introverts need to think first and talk later. This is so true. This is why the thought of taking Q&A’s petrifies me. Not because I won’t know the answer, just because I need to process my thoughts for a minute before answering. I can’t just start talking. I need to think for a minute. This is also why I hate being called on in class. I really did do the reading assignment. I just don’t answer very well on the spot. I need a minute to think.

17. You have low blood pressure.

Always. Even when I’m pregnant.

18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.

When I was a teenager, my friends always told me how wise I was, especially when we were dealing with boy problems or parent problems. I never really understood why. It was usually after I verbalized what seemed to be incredibly obvious. Maybe this is why? I don’t really know. This hasn’t happened to me in years.

Final Four games at the Alomodome in San Antonio, TX. 43, 715 in attendance!

2009 Final Four games at the Alomodome in San Antonio, TX. 43, 715 in attendance!

19. You don’t feel “high” from your surroundings

This is the only one that I can’t immediately identify with. Perhaps, neurochemically (which is what the article describes) this is true. I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that I love huge concerts and sporting events and other ginormous situations. I think it’s awesome to be part of something so big and so exciting where everyone is so passionate about the same silly thing. I love that.

20. You look at the big picture.

Always. Even when I don’t want to. The good news is, this is probably why I never got in any “real” trouble in college. I did a lot of questionable things, but I was never willing to put my scholarship in jeopardy. This ruled out a lot, since getting in trouble with the campus or the police certainly would have done so.

21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”

For as long as I can remember. Usually, my solution is to surround myself with people who are out of theirs. It seems to camouflage the fact that I’m perfectly content in mine. Or maybe this just leads more people to thinking I’m a b**ch? (see # 1) Who knows?

22. You’re a writer.

Indeed. I always have been. I’ve kept a journal since the 7th grade. When I was in 1st grade, I started writing letters to my parents explaining why I was running away. (That was probably a tad dramatic, but I’m just illustrating that I’ve always been more comfortable expressing myself in writing.)  Maybe one day, when the kids are bigger, I’ll make something substantial of it.

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.

This is so true. I’ve touched on this in # 7 and # 10. I definitely have a threshold of activity. I have to have a balance between work and fun and rest. When that balance gets out of whack, I get very stressed out and very cranky. I don’t think as clearly, and I don’t operate as productively. It’s not just being lazy; I really need the downtime to be able to function as a normal human being.

This need makes weekends challenging for me. I have two days to hang out with my husband, to unwind with him, and to get things done with him. I usually don’t balance it out very well, which leaves me disappointed every Sunday. I always feel as if we wasted the weekend. Maybe now that I’m more conscious of the way I cycle through these things, I can plan more balance, and, thus, get more satisfaction out of our weekends together.

Singing and dancing on stage with the band at my friend's wedding. I think it's moments like this that make my husband doubt that I could possibly be an introvert.

Singing and dancing on stage with the band at my friend’s wedding. (I’m the one in the blue dress, just right of center, behind the bride) I think it’s moments like this that make my husband doubt that I could possibly be an introvert.

Just A Little Note

This is floating around facebook and I just LOVE it! It reminds me of one of my very first blog posts. I don’t know Fr. Martin. In fact, I’ve never even heard of him. But his lovely post made me realize I was on to something way back when. I only briefly followed through, but I think it’s time to revisit that little idea. My originally proposed 10 notes is a little ambitious for my current state in life. However, considering the fact that all of my thank you notes from Leila’s birth remain unwritten, a small start will still be a tremendous improvement over my current approach. I think I’ll start with just one note a week. It’s manageable, obtainable, and, hopefully, the start of a really good habit.

“If Pope Francis can take time out of his unbelievable schedule to write a handwritten note to someone he’s never met, then I can surely find time to express my gratitude more fully to others. Getting a note today from the Pope did something strange to me: It made me want to be more generous. Friends had told me that the Pope rises early (someone said before 5 a.m.) and I imagine him sitting at his desk in his little room, writing many notes to a variety of people. And I thought of how stingy I can be with my own time. Maybe you feel something of the same when you see this note. (By the way, you’ll see that the Pope even took the time to neatly address the envelope.)

Bottom line: If the Pope can find time to be kind to others, if he can pause to say thank you, if he can take a moment make someone feel appreciated, then so can I. So can we.”

pope letter 2

A handwritten letter from Pope Francis to Fr. James Martin, SJ, a priest he does not know.

A handwritten letter from Pope Francis to Fr. James Martin, SJ, a priest he does not know.

Notice the Pope’s signature! :) (By the way, in the comments of the original picture, Fr. Martin gave permission for these photos to be shared. He wasn’t concerned that his mailing address was visible.)

Help! Facebook is Taking Over My Life.

facebook-notesA lady I know from Church was lamenting on Facebook today. She said she was considering deleting her account because it wastes her time and because she often feels stressed or inadequate as a mother thanks to the rampant advice polluting her newsfeed. Despite the 75 comments her post had collected, it seemed inappropriate to offer my two cents when she just stated she was overwhelmed by unwanted advice. I think what I would have said is helpful, at least it has been for me, so I’ll share it here, where she won’t have to read it unless she wants to.

If she is feeling as overwhelmed as she stated, and if her daily priorities are out of whack because of the time she spends on facebook and/or articles she links to from facebook, it is most definitely time for a break. I know this because I have been there – multiple times. There have been times when I have allowed my children to sit in front of the tv for hours on a perfectly beautiful day while I perused the internet. I find this unacceptable. My children deserve more than that. For me, that is a sure sign that my priorities are way out of whack. Truthfully, I probably ignored many signs prior to that big glaring realization.

There have also been times when I have been drawn into debates of one kind of another. These are a big no-no for me. When I find myself arguing with the stove-top while I prepare dinner, I know I’ve let facebook get the best of me. I’m all for conversation and sharing opinions, but let’s be real: no one wants to consider my opinion (or anyone else’s) when they’re on facebook. They only want to share their own. Loudly. And repetitively. I’d have better luck debating my 2 year old with his fingers stuck in his ears. One simply can’t take the bait. It won’t be a real conversation, it will never truly be resolved, and you’ll just end up shouting at yourself in the shower. From what I’ve seen in my newsfeed, my church friend not only takes the bait, but she dangles her own. Facebook is not an effective platform to resolve the worlds problems. Save yourself some stress. Don’t debate on facebook. Block your friends that dangle bait from your newsfeed. Life’s too beautiful to put that much effort into something so incredibly ineffective.

someone-is-wrong

So, here’s my advice for my friend, take a break. It’s the best way to gain some perspective. For me, I fast from Facebook every Lent. When I come back after the 40+ days (because I don’t log in on Sunday’s either) I am shocked at the drivel in my newsfeed. It is such a wake up call for me. Then I am able to start cleaning things up. I unlike or hide pages that aren’t offering me fulfilling information. That helps immensely. I have a really bad habit of liking pages. Any time I see a yummy recipe or a good blog entry, I like their page, envisioning all of the future entries that will enhance my life. It rarely works out that way. After a year of accumulating new likes, they desperately need to be cleaned up. The time away from facebook allows me to see my newsfeed with a fresh perspective. Over time I become desensitized to all the crap. When I come back from my fast, I am able to see with new eyes, and quickly discern what needs to go.

Next, I don’t allow my friend list to grow larger than 300 people. There’s nothing magic about the number 300; it’s simply what I decided was a realistic number of acquaintances. This decision has two components.

  1. My primary motive for having a facebook page is keeping in touch with friends and family that are spread far and wide. As such, I often post pictures of my kiddos and family updates. Although I never post anything extremely intimate, I don’t believe it is appropriate or necessary to share these details about my life with someone I used to run into at parties in college. Therefore, I try to make sure everyone on my friend’s list is someone I actually communicate with (or want to communicate with) in some way.
  2. When I started cleaning up my newsfeed like I mentioned above, I starting “hiding” a bunch of “friends.” This caused me to think about the nature of these “friendships.” In most cases, these were people who were sharing facts about their life that weren’t really intended for me. An acquaintance from 10th grade can’t possibly be posting pictures of her kid for me. Quite frankly, I didn’t care about the pictures of her kid because I never knew her all that well in the first place. As a result, my general rule of thumb is: if I’m going to hide them from my newsfeed, I should probably just unfriend them. There are a few exceptions to this rule, like family members who want to dangle bait, but, for the most part, if I don’t want to read what you have to share, we’re probably not really “friends.”

My unfriending principle lead me to a realization. There were many people that I wouldn’t really consider myself friends with, but whom I didn’t really want to delete. Their lives were simply too interesting. When I stepped back and thought about it, I realized just how creepy that really is. I was watching their lives the way people watch the lives of celebrities, a trend which I find disgusting. As such, I have to make myself follow this rule: if I don’t feel comfortable liking or commenting on their posts, I have to unfriend them, no matter how fascinating their lives are. Otherwise, I’m just using them for my entertainment, which is not something I want to do, even from afar.

I guess the point of all of this is that I have finally resolved my turbulent relationship with Facebook. I now realize that my disdain actually stemmed from the unchecked and often times inappropriate place it held in my life. Now that I have created some much needed boundaries by defining the role I want Facebook to play in my life, I’m much happier with it. I would like to encourage my friend to do what is necessary to accomplish the same.

A Lonely Path

On facebook today a woman lamented, “*sigh* Second time this week I’ve been told I should write less. Great idea, guys! Shall I send you my mortgage bill, or will you be paying the bank directly?” She’s a blogger and a mommy of a large family. I don’t know her personally, but I think she has something like 9 kids. Clearly, she’s a busy woman with or without writing. I read the 50ish comments in response, as her commenters are often quite witty and enjoyably sarcastic, thinking it would be a slew of “what the world would be like without regular doses of Simcha Fisher available on the internet” type responses. What I stumbled across instead was another woman who can apparently see into my soul. “I think one of the worst things about this attitude,” she responded, “is that it makes those of us who are a bit overwhelmed by it all hesitant to say anything or look for the support we need because people will just start making uninformed suggestions about what we need to drop from our schedule.” A little further down the thread Simcha replied, “right, which is always just a hair away from ‘hm, whydja have so many kids, if you can’t take care of them?'”

I don’t quite know how to explain the flood of emotions that resulted from that exchange. (Granted, I’m 29 weeks pregnant. It doesn’t take much to unleash a flood of emotions. But this genuinely moved me.)

These two strangers gave me a sense of validation that I didn’t even realize I was looking for. I felt so heard, so understood. These women know what it often feels like to be me.

But immediately following that reaction, it just made me sad. Why are people, women especially, always so busy judging and trying to one-up the other? Why are we so full of ourselves that we think we can tell another person what’s best for them, despite not knowing anything about their life or circumstances? Why can’t we just support and encourage one another? Why can’t we do what we can to help each other out, even if all that means is telling a well-timed joke or offering a few words of encouragement?

I can’t tell you how many times I’m told (without ever expressing how overwhelmed I find myself from time to time, or in any way soliciting advice or an opinion) that I should cut work or school or something else out of my life because it’s just not possible for me to do it all. If I get regular comments like that just by walking out of my house, why on earth would I ever attempt to open up and express how truly difficult some days (some weeks, for that matter) can really be? Why would I ever admit I need help when the vultures are already circling, just waiting to attack me with their unfounded criticism and baseless concerns?

It leaves me strangely isolated despite being constantly surrounded by people.

With my husband and through prayer, I have carefully discerned that homeschooling, graduate school, and working for the Church are all things I’m supposed to be doing right now. Yet, those are the very things that people frequently tell me I should cut out of my life. Admittedly, if anyone had ever told me I’d be attempting to navigate all of those tasks simultaneously, I would have told them them… Well…let’s just say it’s not something I ever would have signed up for. Nevertheless, I do believe that all of these components of my life are meant to be components of my life at this time.

But just because something is meant to be a component of my life, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always going to be easy.

And that’s what friends, family, and whatever else makes up your support system exist for, right? To sit on the porch and have a glass of wine after a tough day, listening with a sympathetic ear. Or to say, “hey, why don’t you let the kids come over and play for an hour or two so you can get caught up on the housework/school work/church work?” Or to tell you that you’re absolutely crazy for being upset that one child covered the other from head to toe in lip gloss and glitter, when what you really should have done is run for the camera. Or to say, “hey, let’s get all the kids together tonight for some cheap pizza and let them run around the yard like fools, while we sit far enough away to actually have an adult conversation.”

If only that’s how it really were.

Instead I get unsolicited commentary informing me how my lifestyle choices have produced these awful consequences (or will produce an array of awful consequences in the future) and I should just change paths.

I don’t want to change paths.

I love the path I’m on.

I just wish there were people around who wanted to walk this path with me, not necessarily by making the same choices I have, but by supporting me through the challenges this path may produce.