Sunday, May 20, 2012


When I was growing up, I really only had a few friends.  These friends were my BFFs and I loved them and spent as much time with them as possible.  We did everything together and were always trying to coerce our parents into letting us spend more time together.

Of course, as invariably happens with girls, things change.  Families move, we grow up, new BFFs come and go.  It's difficult not to take these changes personally.  She likes her more than me, spends more time with her than me, is more like her than I am, gets to hang out with her more than I do.  There are so many questions.  What did I do wrong?  What should I have done/said/given/been to keep her as my friend?  Losing a friend from childhood or those awkward tween/teen years can be devastating.

As an adult, I've been lucky enough to acquire some new "BFFs," if you will.  Girls who are there for me, accept me, encourage me, inspire me, and are kind enough to share their lives with me.  One of the big things I've learned from them is that having friends who have plenty of other friends is wonderful.  There is so much freedom in knowing your friend is not dependent on you for everything and that you have at least several other people you can call if necessary.  Conversely, it is wonderful to not feel like you are imposing too much on one friend or expecting too much of one friend.

A couple years ago I started hosting some parties at my house I call "Girlfriend Appreciation Parties."  I invited friends from growing-up and work and church and other random places I meet people.  I wasn't really sure of what to expect when I started doing it, but it has become something wonderful.  Sometimes I have ten to fifteen people show up.  Last night, I had only three guests.  Regardless of how many or how few ladies attend, one thing I always come back to after one of these parties is how nice it is to spend time talking and laughing with other women.

I've come to realize how important is this interaction and conversation and confession and commiseration. We may be very different or pretty similar.  We may be mothers or not mothers, employees or SAHMs, not that far out of high school or surprised at how long ago we graduated from college.  But we are all women, so what we have in common almost always outweighs our differences.

I've so loved getting to know the ladies who show up and gaining this appreciation for having a variety of friends.   No, every friend you make is not going to be a kindred spirit or inseparable companion.  But there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it's a wonderful thing.  I now realize that even if a girl isn't your best friend or even a very good friend, you can appreciate each other and learn from each other and support each other.  You can drink a glass of wine together and shoot the breeze over whatever you may happen to have in common.  You can offer each other the gift of time and understanding.  No pressure.  No expectations.  Just offering each other the time to talk and discuss and share mutual fears and laugh.  And, even if this only happens occasionally (or even once) between you, you're all better for it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Can I Do It?

I really need to get back into writing.  I have a friend who is a technical writer who says that having to write for her job has ruined her for the writing she used to do for herself.  I think I've realized that is what has happened to me.  Trying to figure out the correct way to write about things that went wrong and then trying to explain how we will attempt to correct and prevent them can be exhausting.  Add to that the dealing with multiple groups of people reading over what I write so they can tear it apart and tell me what they would like to see written differently, well,  that can be really disheartening sometimes.  Especially when I disagree with them and they disagree with each other.

Although, if I'm honest, my job isn't the only thing that keeps me from writing on my blog.  When I think about possibly doing another month of writing every day, I feel a little guilty.  I mean, I do work full time, so even when I am working at home, I'm not really spending time with my kids.  Then there are t-ball practices and family commitments and other things that take up my non-working time.  Then there is the fact that Ryan works on the weekends so our only time together is weeknight evenings after the boys are in bed.  I feel like taking the time to write every day would be a bit selfish and just not that do-able.

However, I do have some time on the weekends, after the boys are in bed.  I typically use this time to tidy up, catch up on the laundry, and clear out the DVR.  What I need to make myself do is use at least one of those nights for writing.  I really need that creative outlet, and since I am not even a tiny bit artistic or in any other way creatively talented, writing is pretty much all I have in that regard.  And when I go back and read old posts, like my Polka Dot Bathing Suit one or my Seafoam Green Couch post, I realize that I used to actually not suck at writing.  One night per week.  That's not too much to ask.

But can I really make myself do it?  I guess we will find out.  Friday is only two days away.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What to Watch For

I know I've mentioned before about being raised pretty conservative. I've also mentioned before that my parents are surprisingly open-minded and accepting of me, their much more progressive daughter. This is all fine and well. It's great that I can still be close with my parents, despite that I have "strayed" so far from how I was raised.

Where I have trouble is in trying to figure out how much or little of certain aspects of my upbringing to pass on to my kids. There is a lot of it I question, some I still hold on to, and some I've completely discarded (or am probably still in the process of discarding).  So many of the things I'm trying to avoid passing on are more about the perceived guilt a person should have if they do or don't do certain things.  I don't see value in the guilt that comes from being taught that all things, views, and actions are either good or bad -- From being taught that you shouldn't do or think "X" because "X" is bad and you don't want to be bad.  Or, conversely, that you should always do "Y," because "Y" is good and you want to be good.

Just for grins, here are just a few things I do or don't do now that I still feel a twinge of guilt about when I least expect it.  These aren't necessarily things my parents specifically taught me were wrong, but I did learn/absorb the idea they were wrong as a result of the overall environment in which I was raised:
Having tattoos
Not abstaining from alcohol
Working Full-Time instead of staying home
Not having our family life revolve around church activities
Not homeschooling my kids
Not being Conservative
Not demanding unquestioning obedience from my kids

The more I think about it, the more I realize that while I'm working out some of the more specific aspects of what to pass on to my kids, I also need to be working toward an overall strategy that guids them yet avoids passing on these guilt issues.  I want to teach my kids to be wise.  I want to teach them to be kind.  To be generous.  To be helpful.  To be compassionate.  To be hard-working.  To be responsible and realize their choices and actions affect their own future and can affect others.

But I want to TEACH them these things.  Not guilt them into them.

So here is my newly formulated strategy: 

What to Watch For

This isn't rocket science.  I'm not saying I've invented some entirely new thing that is unlike anything anyone has ever done before.  I'm just saying this is what I'm going to try.  I'm adding our weekly What to Watch For to the boys' chore chart.  Every week we will have a new one, although some may be repeated every so often.  We will watch for ways to use wisdom.  Ways to be kind.  Ways to be generous, helpful, compassionate, hard-working, responsible, etc., etc., etc.

Maybe.... just maybe.... this will help me and help my kids to focus on thinking about what we do and what opportunities we notice.  Maybe it will help us to be aware and to be intentional and to make good choices about how we want to conduct ourselves.  I'm going to be watching positive results and for responsibility without the guilt.  I'll let you know how it goes.