So, we’re kickin’ it REALLY old skool today.  Jamie and Shannon posted a prompt this morning asking us to re-post our very first blog entry. 

I scratched my head.  Holy cow, I thought, where is that thing? 

It was still Running Monologue, even back then, but it was at a different url.  I did a little digging and found it. 

Oh. My. Gosh. 

I have been writing this blog for nearly 10 YEARS!

I began reading through archives, and I found myself laughing out loud, both at how clueless I was and at how clueless I must still be since so many of the same worries and weird notions that I have right now were with me nearly a decade ago.  I don’t know if that’s comforting or really disturbing.

Of course, I see evidence that I’ve grown– as a mom, a writer, and a person– but I also see that I am just as prone to easy frustration over silly things as I was back then. 

Like I’ve said before, I’m a slow learner.

Still, I see a lot of good that has come from this 10 year journey of creativity, writing and, maybe most important of all, sharing.  For one thing, 10 years ago, I would not have labeled myself a writer.  Now, I can’t imagine calling myself anything else.  I also look back at the loneliness of those first entries and how I thought the only people who might ever read it were my mom and mother-in-law and how, now, it has expanded more than I could have ever imagined.  I think of all the connections I’ve made just by sharing my words.  This running monologue has also been one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself– a record of our lives together. 

The blog has gotten less wordy (sometimes) and more visual, and I’ve expanded my definition of a blog post during this time, but the core of why I started this has remained the same.  I just want to write and have other people read it.  For them to respond and connect with me, to find a little humor or inspiration or to feel less alone in this world is why I write. 

Thanks for continuing to read.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Divine Contact

Recently I was in what can only be called a “funk.” It wasn’t
depression, because it wasn’t consistent, but it was definitely
something akin to the blues. Being who I am, I analyzed every possible
reason behind this melancholy. I attributed my lack of energy and
general irritability to everything from iron deficiency, a nagging
injury that has been hanging around for nearly two years, repeated colds
and sinus infections, a too late bedtime, the winter months, vast
amounts of laundry that never seem to decrease no matter how often I run
the washer to “stupid people” who I am convinced exist only to annoy
me. I think it is most likely a mix of all of these, but it is also the
head-smacking realization that being a mother is hard.

I found myself becoming increasingly intolerant of what I used to
think of as fairly benign occurrences. A pen exploding in the dryer,
thus ruining several articles of clothing, was almost more than I could
bear. I found myself contemplating the murder of my favorite cat simply
because he insists on crying (incessantly) the moment my two year old
goes down for a nap. After mopping the black and WHITE kitchen floor
for the second time in one morning, I actually spent time looking for a
crowbar with which to pry the linoleum tiles up, so that I could throw
them into the street. Fortunately, sanity prevailed at the last moment.
I was in a perpetual state of PMS for over a month.

My two year old, Harper Lee has been doing what professionals might
call “testing her boundaries.” I call it “making me nuts.” So, I
decided to take matters into my own hands. Take charge and find a
solution—this is my husband’s personal motto, and it seems to work.
This is how I suddenly found myself, for the first time ever, shopping
the self-help aisle at the local Barnes and Noble. I am NOT a self-help
kind of girl. Reading “expert opinions” on my own personal issues has
always seemed weak and wimpy to me, and now that I have done it, I’m
sure it is.

I bought a copy of “Raising Your Spirited Child” on the advice of a
friend. My toddler could easily be categorized as high energy and
strong-willed. Being a strong-willed person myself, there have been
some epic battles at the Libbert house for the past few weeks, and all
at once one Wednesday afternoon, I lost it. “I’m a terrible mother,” I
cried to my friend. “I have a potentially phenomenal person that I am
responsible for, and I am so afraid that I’m going to screw up and have
one of those kids that everyone dreads seeing.” She suggested the book.

I have to admit that the book is very interesting, although it
applies only in part to Harper Lee, and it was helpful in recognizing
that there are other people trying to make their way through the same
issues, but I also realized as I was reading, that there are no answers
in a book. My child is different from any other, and I am a different
parent from any other. I have to set my own expectations, my own rules,
and deal with her in my own way. It’s true that children don’t come
with instruction manuals, so why was I trying to find one? I decided
that while Harper Lee may very well be “spirited,” there are some things
that I won’t tolerate. And while this renewed philosophy has made me
into the quintessential “bad guy” for the past three weeks, she’s
responding, and life at the Libbert homestead has improved.

Of course, being the treacherous villain has also added to my blah
mood. It’s not much fun having to ride roughshod over a beautiful,
buoyant bundle of squeals and giggles, but I also know that that’s life,
that’s motherhood, and that’s the way it has to be if I don’t want a
raging brat on my hands in a couple of years. Still, I’m looking
forward to the day when there is not a single time-out, a single
privilege revoked or a single screaming fit that morphs into
uncontrollable sobbing all within the span of time required to fasten a
seat belt. I probably have a while to wait, but if I stick to my guns,
it will come, and she and I will both be the better for it.

Meanwhile, I am convinced that God has designed, in His infinite
wisdom, safety nets for those moments when we feel that we cannot take
it for one more minute. In fact, He threw one out for me just last
night. After a particularly grueling bedtime routine that included
wailing, throwing a stuffed dog, and blatant defiance, I was closing the
door to her bedroom when Harper Lee said, “Wait, Mama.”

Exasperated and expecting some completely crazy request just to extend bedtime a little longer, I said, “What now?”

“I have to say the blessing.”

Feeling appropriately guilty, I walked back over to her bed and
knelt down beside her. “OK, “ I said, folding my hands. “You say the
blessing. Do you know what to say?”

Having never said her own prayer, I expected nothing, and for a few
moments, she was completely silent and still. Finally, she said, her
forehead resting on her pillow, “Thank you for my food. Thank you for
my doggies. Amen.”

It was one of those moments that makes me feel proud, horribly
small, incredibly lucky and overwhelmed with love all at the same time.
I kissed her head and crept out, closing the door behind me, and I
cried. I realized that this child, who at times can be so devilish, is,
in fact, proof of God. She is His liaison to me. It is just one more
example of the saying, “Anything worth doing is not going to be easy.”
Raising her will not be easy, and there are days, maybe weeks even, when
I am tired, irritated and need a break. Fortunately, there will also
be Harper Lee with her nose buried in a yellow daffodil, her
conversations with the dog, her warm, grubby hands patting my face and
her sweet voice saying, “my itty bitty Mama” to pull me back to reality
and put things in perspective. And the reality is, I’ve got it made.

And I still do.  Wow.  What a blessing. 

This calls for a special Running Monologue 10 Year Celebration this March!

I’ll keep you posted.