Maybe I should name this blog, The Road to Hell, since it seems to be mostly paved with good
intentions. An old friend from
high school has a blog about her farm, Spotted Dog Farm, in Asheville where she
grows flowers and vegetables and makes candles and jewelry and, in her free
time, trains for XTerra triathlons.
I read her last post a couple of days ago; in it, she says that a friend
recently inquired about her lack of new entries to which she replied, “What? I have a blog?” That’s sort of how I feel, and there
seems to be a tremendous amount of guilt attached to it.
Of course, this is me we’re talking about so there is always
a little bit of guilt, worry or anxiety attached to whatever it is I’m doing,
but the blog has been a fairly significant source of frustration, which is the
exact opposite of its intended purpose.
When I first began writing, the blog was a way to make myself write and
to get over my fear of having people read and respond to my words, and it has
served that purpose, but along the way, I’ve expanded my writing, and right
now, my writing time, what little there is, has been focused on my book and
collection of essays. However, the
blog is still always in the back of my mind. Somehow, I always feel like I’m neglecting a child when I go
weeks without posting anything.
Lately, I’ve been feeling as though I’m fighting a losing
battle with time. Even though it’s
terribly cliché, there literally aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the
things I need to do, want to do and feel guilty about not doing. How can I work, be the parent I want to
be, get my miles in, keep up with laundry, write a book and still get enough
sleep every night to avoid becoming a zombie? I’ve thought about it (to the point of insanity), I’ve
reworked my schedule and then reworked it again, I’ve mapped out plans, I’ve
cut a few things out of our schedule (even some things I really liked), and
I’ve worried and become increasingly aggravated and irritable about the whole
thing. Why could I not get this
Then, just as I was about to spiral out of control, I
started getting the message.
Deanne laughs at me all the time because every time I have something
going on in my life that is causing me worry or frustration, I get messages
from God. She laughs not because
she thinks this is foolish but because every time it happens, I seem genuinely
surprised. After a while, you’d
think I’d learn. The instances
where this has been true are too numerous to list here so I won’t bore you with
the details. Just suffice it to
say that when I get a message, it is usually loud and clear and repeated
often. I guess God knows who He is
My first message was in the form of Brian’s sermon, which is
often the case. In it, he
referenced Steve Miller, one of the perks of having a young minister, who said,
“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” Brian’s point was that while time is
indeed moving ahead, it is not something to be stored up and saved for
later. Time cannot be saved; it
can only be spent. This made sense
to me. The more I tried to figure
out ways to save time and manage it, the more it seemed to be slipping through
my fingers. Rather than spending
that time focused on what was important, I was spending it trying to figure out
how to avoid spending it. This
seemed to me like one of those exercises in insanity that I find myself, from
time to time, fully engaged in.
Brian’s advice: “Stop it.”
Rather than trying to stay on this treadmill of insanity, maybe it was
time to step off and just look around at what was standing still right in front
My second message came in the form of a Wall Street Journal
article about the hazards of attachment parenting, a concept that I admire but
do not fully buy into; however, it seems I buy into it just enough to be
causing myself a little undue stress.
Attachment parenting is a concept based on the idea that parents should
wear their babies, sleep with their babies, never let their babies cry and be
there for their babies, or older children as the case may be, at any given
moment of the day or night, regardless of whatever else may be going on. I like some of the ideas behind this
style of parenting very much; I whole-heartedly believe in breastfeeding, and I
enjoyed making baby food and using cloth diapers. The key here, however, is that I enjoyed it. I also like playing with my kids and
being actively engaged with them. The article simply pointed out that the
attachment parenting model often creates a prison for women, making them feel guilty
for not being at their child’s beck and call 24 hours a day. This part resonated a little bit.
I don’t follow the attachment model to the letter and never
have. We don’t let our kids sleep
with us, I used the “cry it out” method of sleep training, which is a huge
attachment parenting no-no, I don’t micromanage my kids and their daily
activities and I even bought Pampers from time to time. But I do let the guilt of not doing
everything just right often weigh me down. I grade myself on a daily basis: “Today was a good mommy
day; today was a bad mommy day.”
Geez, no pressure there.
What I’m coming to realize, more and more, is that overall, I’m a pretty
good mom. All the news reports of
abused and neglected children out there tend to put the occasional chicken
McNugget in perspective. Every day
does not have to be perfect, and the constant drive to make it that way usually
guarantees that it won’t be.
The article, which I neither fully agreed nor disagreed
with, was just a reminder to me about what is really important. It gave me pause and made me realize
that all my worrying and trying to get everything just right is really a
negative attitude. It’s
essentially saying, “If I don’t plan everything perfectly, then it won’t be,”
but what I’ve found is that perfect planning sets up a path that cannot be
deviated from or ventured off, and where’s the fun in that? Time is indeed slipping away at what
seems to be warp speed, but one of the reasons it seems to be moving so fast is
that from one moment to the next, my mind has gone ahead of me and started
planning for moments that have yet to come. In the meantime, I’ve missed the one I’m standing in, the
one my kids are standing in, right now.
Right now, I’m at the lake with Deanne; it’s our yearly girls’
trip. It’s usually a three to four
day trip of books, naps, long runs and funny movies. I look forward to it every year. For the past couple of days, I’ve thought about this fight
with time that I seem to be having right now. I guess it’s all part of my larger psychosis, but I have a
definite tendency to resist things, particularly change and the unknown. Unfortunately, or not, life is nothing
but a series of changes and a journey into the unknown. There’s really no getting around that
one, no matter how much I may fight it.
And when I look back over my life, I see that some of my greatest
regrets are the times when I have been focused on the wrong things, fighting
against change or time, worrying about what might happen later rather than what
is happening right now, and I realize that life is full of grand possibility.
Faith is the positive outlook that hope and possibility
create. If I have faith at all, I
should feel secure in the knowledge that each day brings endless possibilities,
but focusing on what those possibilities may or may not be seems to squash some
of the opportunities that are currently presenting themselves to me. I think that negativity, an obsession
with avoiding tragedy or unhappiness because I believe it is lurking around
every corner and just waiting for me to come stumbling by, is one of my
I say that I believe in a loving and good God, that I
believe in all the beautiful things that are here just for us, but I turn
around and worry that if I go away for the weekend, we’re all going to die in a
fiery crash; I worry so much, in fact, that I let it diminish the joy I feel at
this moment, which was the whole point of the fun weekend to begin with. There’s something wrong and faithless
about that, and I don’t want to be that way anymore.
Time is a gift to be enjoyed and savored, whether I’m
drinking a glass of wine by the lake with my friend or baking cookies and
reading stories with my kids. Even
now, as I was typing this, Deanne came up the stairs and said, “Hurry! The otters are on the pier.” I ran downstairs to watch a family of
three otters scamper and play on the end of the lake house pier until they slid
back in and glided across the dark, cold water to the tangle of cypress trunks
along the bank. It was just one
more message that life and all the beautiful things in it are here to be
enjoyed right now. I didn’t plan
on seeing those otters today.
Instead, I had planned to sit right here and type this entry. It’s a good thing I didn’t stick too
closely to my plan.
I may be a hard head, and I’m sure that I frustrate God to
no end most days, but I’m not a completely lost cause, and I am getting the
message. Attachment parenting is
not the only thing that may be creating a prison for me; negative thoughts,
worry, fear, obsessive planning, and rigid thinking are bars that I have set up
around myself for a very long time, but I know that I can just as easily set
myself free from that if I choose to.
In the words of another great 70’s band, The Eagles, “So oftentimes it
happens, that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the
Attitude adjustments don’t happen over night, and I am, at
my core, still a worrying sort of person.
These will not be easy chains to break. I even hesitate to write this stuff down just because I know
I’ll still be dealing with my weird habits when I’m 70 years old. I just hope that, with time, I can
learn to let go of the worry about what might happen and just enjoy what is
happening, which is some really good stuff.