Category Archives: personality

Mom Shrugged

My daughter threw up this morning. She leaned over her bowl of Mini-Wheats and puked up her daily vitamin. Half crying and half choking, she looked up with an air of bewilderment as we rushed to her side.

Nothing breaks my heart quite like that sad little face and the pronouncement of “owie tummy, Mommy.”

I should have noticed sooner…I should have scooped her into my lap…I should have bought more ginger ale…I should wash our hands more often…I should feed her more vegetables…I should buy organic…I should give her the latest trendy-hippie-health-freak-immunity-boosting-super-food…I should know what that is…I should have kept her home from school yesterday…I should put her in the bath…I should scrub the tub out more often, it’s gross…I should stay home from my class this afternoon…I should have finished my paper yesterday…I should worry less about rearranging my day and more about my little girl…

And the guilt game plays on and on and on… just like every other day in the life of a Mom. Though to be completely fair, I was an expert player long before my children came along.

A modern day Atlas, with the weight of the world on my shoulders, my reach often exceeds my grasp. I’d like to end poverty, cure the Aids pandemic, reorganize the storage room and teach my daughter to read, all while maintaining my ideal weight. I’d like to write a book, master every spiritual discipline, earn a PhD and design a Martha Stewart home with paper mache and a $10 budget. I’d like to teach seminars like: Flawlessly Understanding the Entire Bible, Effortless Parenting to Produce Perfect Children and, most impressive of all, How to Potty Train Your Special Needs Child in a Single Day (because I really should have figured all this out by now). I’d like to be everything to everyone.

So I feed myself a steady diet of comparison and perfectionism (and chocolate; there’s always chocolate).

While I may huff and puff and sigh about my problems with guilt, I still hold onto it with an iron grip. On some level I must believe that it is the engine that drives me. It’s a bad habit I keep returning to.

According to Greek mythology, Zeus condemned Atlas for his support of the Titans in their war against the Olympians. As a punishment, he was sent to the western edge of the earth and forced to hold the sky on his back. He literally became the axis upon which the heavens rotated.

I can relate. It’s hard being the centre of the universe.

This week was a complete write off. The flu took it’s toll. I spent entire days in bed. I missed meetings. I wasn’t there to pack lunches or drive kids around or check up on homework. And guess what? The world kept on spinning.

I am learning to ask for help, to accept it graciously and to put down burdens that aren’t mine to carry. Every day I must resist the siren song of pride and insecurity, and remember that boundaries and limitations are a blessing, not a curse. I find my worth, not in perfection or accomplishment, but in being the unique person God designed me to be.

The chorus of “should” begins to quiet when I remember my inestimable value.

I am just doing the best I can. And that requires no apology.

So here’s me, posting my life-writing paper as a blog post, because I just don’t have the energy to write anything else.

The Great Boot Debate of 2012

Call it karma. Call it genetic predisposition. Call it reaping what you sow. I call it parenting the child I deserve.

She is me. In so many ways, good and bad. A smaller, spunkier version of myself. And usually that seems like a good thing.

When I was 12, I put my foot down… right into a snow bank. What self-respecting 7th grader would wear ugly, clunky snow boots when they could be rocking a pair of thin white sneakers with flourescent green laces? So what if I had to walk 3 blocks to the bus, knee deep in the snow? What is a little suffering in the name of fashion?

Moms just don’t understand. After as much arguing and weeping as I dared, she decided to let me try it my way.

It took almost a week for my toes to thaw out.

I grudgingly wore my boots the next day. Lesson learned. Sigh.

Me 2.0 has had several upgrades. She is funnier, more creative and, oh happy day, even more stubborn. Excellent.

This morning was a blow out. Her black boots with the silver stars no longer fit. It takes her 20 minutes to squeeze her feet in and she can’t do the zipper up at all. I have 2 pairs that are a bigger size, but apparently the Hannah Montana pair her sister loved are “so embarassing” and the other pair “don’t work at all”.

With over a foot of snow in the school yard, we are out of options. We only have about 1-2 weeks of snow each year, so there is no way I am buying another pair. The school is not as forward thinking as my mother with her let-them-suffer-that’ll-teach-em philosophy. So she has to wear them.

By the time we were walking out the door (15 minutes late, mind you), I was in full froth. Almost an hour of relentless bargaining, whining and outright wailing had taken its toll. In my loudest Angry Mom Voice, much louder than I intended, I yelled “THEY. DO. NOT. FIT. YOU!”

YOU… You…you….echoes through the neighbourhood.

As my howling 4th grader throws herself into the van, I look up to see two sets of neighbours loading their own kids into their vans. Trying to pretend like they weren’t looking. Fantastic.

No one can push my buttons like this kid. I’m pretty sure she was put on earth lest I become conceited about my life and my superior parenting. And she is doing a fine, fine job.

After school, we talked about it. I apologized again (this time with my teeth unclenched) and I told her a story about the olden days when florescent colours were cool and I longed for sneakers in winter. I’m sure we’ll be recapping this discussion again tomorrow morning, but I think I’m ready for it.

The boots might not fit, but she does. Here, with me, always. I thank God for her, especially those rough edges that remind me so much of myself. My children are the best curriculum He’s ever given me. As I teach her, I am learning too: to be teachable, to choose substance over appearance, and that life may be full of necessary unpleasantness, but a good attitude can make all the difference.

I see the best of myself in her also, and am amazed.

I wonder, when God looks at me, does he see himself?




Patient (okay, probably not that one).

One day when my little girl is all grown up, she will spit on her thumb to wipe the schmutz off her child’s face and come to the shocking realization: “I’ve become my mother!”

Oh sweetie, you’ve been there all along!

So here’s me, counting down the days until I can start giving my grandchildren ugly, clunky boots. Then I will sit back and watch the fireworks. And I will laugh and laugh.

Outgrowing New Years Resolutions

Hello, my name is Christie and I am a list addict.

I have discussed this predilection before (The “Honey Do” List). If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m kind of a nerd. My absolutely favourite flavor of list has always been Resolutions.

There is something so intoxicating about this fantasy of future perfection. So, each year, I carefully craft a comprehensive manifesto for the year to come (okay, that sounds a little Una-Bomber-ish, but it’s an accurate descriptor). My administrative little soul shivers in pleasure at the thought of measurable targets and color-coded schedules. As if that’s not embarrassing enough, I’ve been known to alliterate the list categories: Health, Home, Happiness, Helping Others, Holiness… (a disturbing symptom of Sunday sermon brain rot).

This excess of order in the creation of my Resolutions has no actual benefit when it comes to their execution. I think the word is dissonance, as I cheerfully munch my way through a jumbo bag of sour patch kids while neatly formatting my diet goals for the year. In fact, the more time and energy I pour into drafting elaborate goals, the more I avoid any real action. I can ride the wave of optimism and good intentions for days, even weeks, before it all comes crashing down. And it always comes crashing down. The more elaborate the plan, the more spectacular the fail.

But this year will be different. No, I’m not giving up entirely. There is something inspiring about a new year and a new beginning. I am not willing to give that up, but I am changing my approach. Here’s a few things I’m trying to do different this year:

  • Let God weigh in. Too often I bring God a list of my objectives and plans, expecting that He will be thrilled that I thought of Him at all. Good things, valuable things that I’m sure will please Him, like a cat dropping a dead bird at her master’s feet. But my Maker has a better idea what I need and who I am becoming than I do, so why not consult the expert right from the word go?!
  • Focus on Being, Not Doing. Changing what I believe, my attitudes and my feelings, is so much more complicated than reading my bible each morning or eating leafy greens with dinner. But it is the only way for my resolve to outlast that early January idealism. It is more about my heart than teeth clenching, white knuckled willpower (which is good news, since I’m not so great with the willpower).
  • Keep it Simple. Instead of a long-winded list of Resolutions I am joining the One Word project this year. It’s such a great idea – find a single word to build your whole year around. In the next few days I’ll be posting my One Word 2012.

So here’s me, facing a year of change and upheaval without a mission statement or exhaustive list of goals. I’m not going to lie, it’s kind of relaxing! I should have done it years ago.

What are your resolutions this year? Do you have a structured timetable or cute acronym to keep them all straight? (Do you need one? I have years of experience after all!)

Basking in the Glow

I like to organize. Cupboards, drawers, storage rooms… When I find the time to tackle a project, it is strangely addictive. Though the world spins out of my control (how dare it!), I am the master of this small domain. With each item I discard or donate, I hum an anthem of freedom. Chuck! Chuck! Chuck!

But the moment of true decluttering nirvana comes at the very end. When each item is in its place… boxes and bins neatly labelled and lined up for inspection. Ahhhhh.

For the next several days, I find myself returning to the scene of my great triumph. Each time I pass by I must pull open the door and gaze in wonderment. Is that the Hallelujah chorus I hear in the background?

Where I once would squint my eyes, reach in to grab the needed item, then hastily slam the door, now I linger. After overhauling the craft cupboard, I pulled a chair in from the kitchen so I could eat my lunch while basking in its tidy glow.

Is this strange? I wonder if my world is too small and trivial. Perhaps I should get a life… or hours of therapy.

But celebrating our successes, even the small ones, is important. Especially the small ones. Because a life that is full of celebration is a victory in and of itself.

This week between Christmas and New Year’s is a pause. The holiday craziness is over, but the vortex of real life has yet to begin. I’m sure that I will get caught up in the promise of resolutions and new beginnings with everyone else. But this week I will pull up a chair and bask in the glow of the year that has been.

So here’s me, thankful for a line-up of successes big and small.

Renovation. B reading her first words. Understanding God in a new way. Discovering blogging. Grand opening. Art and worship. Pointe shoes.  Family vacations. Online community.

What successes are in your line-up? Have you taken time to “bask in their glow”?

The Sacrament of Small Talk

‘Tis the season for close-quarters shopping, holiday recitals and office Christmas parties. Extroverts soak it all up – the energy, the excitement and the near constant socializing. For the rest of us, who shall hereafter be referred to as “normal,” the constant pressure to make nice with strangers is exhausting and overwhelming.

I’ve been struggling to find the appropriate analogy to describe my feelings as I anticipate my husband’s staff dinner. Sticking hot pokers in my eye? Getting a pap smear? Painful dental procedure? All three at the same time…

I hate small talk.

I’d like to think that this makes me a person of great depth, integrity and complexity. As if I am simply too busy/intellectual/chock full o’ spiritual insight to discuss unimportant topics with any old Joe Schmo who crosses my path. Of course, I have ample time to peruse pintrest, watch Walking Dead webisodes and google my own name.

The truth is, I am shy in new situations. Most people don’t realize it, but I’m actually chock full o’ insecurities. I care too much what people think of me. I over think everything I say. Then I over analyze what I’ve already said and the tone with which I said it, and my body language, and how it may have come across.

And this is why a simple discussion about the weather, local sports and your pet cat freaks me the heck out! I put on a good show. I am outgoing and friendly when I need to be, but my heart is beating like a hummingbird and my whole body is tensed to flee. Before a party I sit in the car and suck back the nausea.

Does it really matter if I can maintain a steady stream of shallow banter? Although I like people (and talking!) I’m an introvert, so small talk with new people will never be comfortable or easy. So why turn myself inside out to make it happen?

Someone reminded me the other day that every person I meet is made in the image of God, and when I get to know them, I am getting to know God better. Everyone has something to contribute. Those few moments in passing may be my only chance to connect with this completely unique and precious person.

So maybe it won’t change my world to hear about her bunions and his disgust with union politics, but it’s not always about me. I need to stop focusing on my own angsty feelings and make sure they feel comfortable. After all, who doesn’t want to feel heard and valued? Even just for the duration of the elevator ride, or the really awkward office party my husband is dragging me to.

So here’s me, off to check the weather report to make sure I have some good material.

How do you feel about small talk? Are you the silent, mysterious type or the life of the party?

You Can’t Make Me!

There are three things I really hate:

~threatening email forwards

~chain letters with dire warnings

~worship leaders who instruct you on what to do (now everyone raise your hands!)

Basically anything where someone is trying to guilt trip, peer pressure or trick me into doing something. It may be something I would have quite happily done on my own, until I realized someone was trying to guilt trip, peer pressure or trick me into doing it. I just hate being bossed. I’m more likely to dig in my heels and do the opposite, just to prove I can.

Pass this e-mail on if you really love puppies (or cancer victims, or your mommy, or Jesus) and suddenly I’m feeling an inexplicable irritation with puppies, cancer victims and even my mom (still love Jesus).

Seven years of bad luck if I don’t forward this letter and a thrifty crock pot recipe to 14 of my closest friends and neighbours. Bring it on! Perhaps I should break a mirror and open an umbrella inside while I’m at it.

“Sing loudly if you love the Lord!” Without fail my inner Quaker awakens, craving silent contemplation.

I recall telling an overeager family member that if she wants me to be receptive, it would be better for her advice to sound more like a suggestion than an order. I’m not sure she realizes how often her strident opinions cause me to take the exact opposite side, regardless of what I actually believe. Because you can’t MAKE me do anything.

I love free will! And I would love to see others embrace it. Not their own, of course, but MY WILL… especially my children. I am drawn to the parenting books and systems that promise cheerful, obedient children in a convenient one-size-fits-all. Some of them have value and may even work. Ring a bell and your children will immediately drool… wait, I think that had something to do with dogs?

I know in theory that the best form of discipline for my children is self-discipline, but that takes time, insight and a whole lot of failure to develop. There are days when giving my children the opportunity to make good choices (or bad and face the consequences) is exhausting. And I am tempted to manipulate, pressure or trick them into doing what I want.

Free will is God’s thing. I’m sure He would have saved a lot of time and trouble if He chose to simply impose His will on all humanity. Instead, we struggle, and learn, and fail, and start over again. And He never stops loving us, no matter how messy we get. I can’t think of a better parent to emulate.

So here’s me, composing an opening to this blog post. How about: If you love Jesus, freedom and puppy dogs, you WILL repost this at least 3 times.

Wonder Woman and other Mommy Myths

I may have broken my foot… on Monday, but I just now (Friday afternoon) got around to getting it checked out. Hopefully it’s just a ligament thing, but apparently all this walking around, driving, running errands, carrying my kid up and down that stairs and umpteen other activities which make my foot throb are actually BAD for an injured limb. Who knew?

I would be leading the charge if it were my husband, my child or a random stranger off the street who needed a doctor’s care. But when the I am the patient, the rules are different.

The walk-in clinic physician explains in a slow, patronizing way that if it hurts – don’t. do. it. Clearly, HE doesn’t understand a very important fact. I am not a mere mortal: I am the mom!

There are playdates to arrange, groceries to buy, meetings to attend, doctors to visit, pharmacists to bawl out… And when I’ve taken care of everyone and everything else, then and only then can I address my own needs. Usually this is somewhere around 9:37 at night – at which point I can focus on what really matters: facebook, pintrest and eating my weight in fair trade chocolate.

I’m quite familiar with the concept of injury and recovery. After all, only two years ago I broke my foot (in exactly the same place) and after only three weeks I finally found time to seek medical care. Three x-rays, two bone scans and 11 weeks in a stylish grey boot were my reward for delayed treatment.

Medical professionals, women’s magazines and Oprah are always telling us that we need to take care of ourselves and not just everyone else. We nod our heads and hum in agreement. Sage advice. So true.

And then we carry on exactly the same way. Or maybe it’s just me? Lunch consisting of scraps that the kids left on their plates. Exercise plans deferred to sew ribbons on ballet slippers or shop for a last minute birthday present. Missing the fun during special events and visits with loved ones, because I’ve spent the whole time rushing around making everything perfect.

It’s not a bad thing to put others first; to experience moments of complete selflessness. But I need to find balance. After all, this motherhood thing is a marathon, not a sprint. And I’m not going to keep up if I am hobbled (literally) by shortsighted decisions.

All my life I was taught the rule: “Love others, as you love yourself” (Galatians 5:14). This verse loses its steam if we believe we are second class citizens. If I were to take care of my children the way I take care of myself, I would delay medical attention, forget to feed them, cancel their plans in favour of mine and banish them to the kitchen during parties.

I count too. And I’m not hurting anyone by counting myself in. It will make me better (and more spry) in the long run.

So here’s me, lazing on the couch with my foot up ALL NIGHT LONG!

P.S. – FYI, I have PLENTY of selfish habits I need to work on also. It’s not all self-sacrfice, all the time at our house. But that’s a post for another day.

%d bloggers like this: