Freedom from…

IMG_0604I used to love photography. There was nothing more fun for me then taking the children out from some elaborate (to me) photo shoot. I loved taking and editing and planning. I loved it all.

Then the internet.

The internet I wanted to learn from turned into my worst enemy. It became a breeding ground of anxiety.

My gear wasn’t enough.

I wasn’t creative enough.

My shots weren’t sharp enough.

I charged too much. Or too little or I shouldn’t be charging at all.

I was a business moron. Marketing was beyond me.

I wasn’t cool enough.

I didn’t have a studio. I didn’t shoot newborns right. I didn’t do weddings, then I did do weddings.

I wasn’t enough.

Frick, it was like highschool again. Stupid brain. Stupid anxiety. Stupid internet.

I stopped shooting for me and started shooting to be like everyone else. And I started losing my love. And then I mixed friendship with business and anxiety with business and then, I was just done.

Because I never felt good enough. Because I let the “others” win. I let anxiety win.

So I left. I left every forum, every Facebook group. I unfollowed and I unfriended. But it’s not there anymore because I shackled myself to someone else’s idea. Instead of finding freedom in my own work, I let it shackle me. Oh the woes of the anxious introverted artist.

Introversion. It’s the topic of many a blogs these days. I try hard not to use it as a crutch as I have watched many fall down that path. It’s not a crutch. It’s not anything except how I am. I’m introverted, to a fault sometimes but it’s who I am. I married an extrovert and had a few children who are extroverted as well. No, so far only one. Davis. He’s for sure an extrovert. The jury is still out on the others although I suspect the smallest will also follow in those footsteps. I prayed they’d all be extroverted and leaders. That, unlike me, they’d not worry about what everyone thinks. They’d create or sport or do whatever, without the shadow and shackles of worry and comparison. I prayed they’d be surrounded by friends and fun and fitting in.

I’m not sure my prayers were answered.

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My only daughter, beautiful, witty and smart, struggles with these things. I’m sure a lifetime under the roof of an over-critical mother does not help. Even if the criticism was never directed at her. Because to me, she’s nothing short of amazing. Yet, I worry the prayers I prayed for her were not heard or were not answered and she will endure the pebbled path of her mother.

So, I wonder how I teach her that the “internet” of her future doesn’t matter. That her photography is beautiful and wonderful ESPECIALLY because it doesn’t look like everyone else’s? That it’s okay NOT to fit in at MOPS or ever attend, because not all moms do and it’s okay. That it doesn’t matter if you go to PTO with pink hair and wishbone tattoo and you will still be a good mother and your children will just be happy you’re there.. How do I help her to embrace the introversion when I have trouble in that skin myself? How do I teach her that she’s enough…

I never want her to lose her love of anything and as I have walked with her during these tough teen years, I have watched as her smile has dimmed and how she’s hidden more and more behind duck faces and friends who aren’t really her peers. I watched her stop singing, stop going. I have watched her feel less than coming off a field of girls who have been playing lacrosse since they were in diapers and feeling like they will never let her in. And maybe they won’t, but I don’t want them to steal her joy and her love.

How do I teach my anxious, introverted daughter not to be all the things I don’t know how not to be, without telling her that she’s bad or broken? I never want her “others” to win. I just want her to be happy and whole… I want her to be anything but me.

Freedom from… anxiety.

Freedom from… introversion.

Freedom from…. me.

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

It takes a village

12545490_1672146226396144_1312233716_nDrew joined the Cub Scouts this last year. Late by standards I am sure, but after the troops visited school, he asked, a lot, to join and finally after talking to a friend about his sons’ involvement in Boy Scouts, I decided to give it a go. He’s been a member since right before the holiday and it’s been fun. It’s the thing he and I do together even though it’s probably more a dad and son thing to do. I have enjoyed going to the meetings and the field trips.

I have not enjoyed how freaking confused I am. I admit, I should probably read this Bear book. I am totally lost when it comes to understanding why we’re meeting policemen and visiting wildlife places. And outside of being helpful to the hungry, I don’t know why the Scouts annually collect food. Except maybe to earn badges… but I don’t really know much about that either.

And then, gasp, Pinewood Derby hit and they said, “buy a kit, it’s all you have to do” and so I did and it was a block of wood, four pins and four wheels and I was totally lost.

Lost.

My brother is handy thankfully. And despite my house of subpar tools, a beautiful car was created. Drew painted it and Kevin will take it to a friends how to make sure the wheels and axels are just so. And so while I wanted to do it myself, because I am the Cub Scout Mom, I had to rely on my village.

The whole idea of a village is hard for me. The introvert. It’s also hard for me to accept help. I have always thought to myself, “these are my kids, they are my responsibility” especially  with the stigmas attached to large family (see the Duggard’s buddy system). I also hate the thought of not being able to do something. But, I cannot cut wood. And I need more time to learn to build a really good derby car.

It took a village. I fell short, because I am human and my village stepped up.

I have a strange brain. Even though I know I should think about the “what ifs”, I do. What if I was a single mom? What would my little Cub Scout do? I think people think this is a bad thing to do sometimes but I think it’s makes for good planning. Good helping. I’ll ask now… what happens to the Cubs who don’t have a parent who can help them with this kind of thing? Maybe a single Dad who doesn’t work wood and doesn’t have family near. Maybe some kind of network, some village needs to be in place for that. People helping people. Because you never know.

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I also learned from all this that you can’t take over the projects. Holy heck I wanted to paint that car so bad. But this is not my project. It is Drew’s and letting him do it, is part of the journey. It’s a real struggle to not say, “this could be this way” or “paint it like this”. I cleaned up his bomb and realized what I was doing. And I stepped away. It’s Drew’s car. Not mine.

More lessons in parenting. I’m learning more and more every day.

Saturday is the big race. The weather is calling for a tremendous amount of snow so I am hoping we can still get there. We bought a van to replace my much loved truck and judging from how it did in the first snow, we may not be going anywhere.

Oh how I miss my truck right now. I really don’t want to miss his derby.

I don’t want to miss anything.

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

The bigs and the littles

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You should see the look on people’s faces when I first tell them that we have five children. While I believe large families are more and more common, there are still those people who think, “holy cow that is a lot of kids”. I sort of always giggle to myself and add a comment about being “those people”. They often press on with more questions and the top is generally what their ages are. People are often more shocked to hear the large range we have,

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11

8

3

1

My oldest will graduate high school before my littlest even starts public school. She will probably have children of her own before the youngest two finish school themselves. And I could very well be a grandparent while still navigating the waters of elementary.

I have 18 more years of kids at home. Well 18, give or take.

Before I had Devlynn, the oldest, I swore I’d never marry. That I’d never have kids. I sat in the bathroom of our tiny, one bedroom apartment with that pregnancy test and my work apron in my hands, wiping the tears. I was scared to death. Unmarried and now setting sail on a sea that was far outside my comfort zone. I sort of denied the whole idea of it for a long time and continued to think nothing in my life would change once this little baby arrived. I continued to wait tables, play video games and act like a stupid kid and then, she was born and like that it all changed.

Except we thought she’d be the only one.

Some years later we added Davis and then Drew. Dexter and Dixon graced us a few years later and here we are, a family of seven.

I like my big family. There is always something to do. We have preschool and lacrosse and baseball and football and homework and dodgeball and playdates. They all have different interests and all talk about different things. They’re a great group of children. And I wouldn’t change anything about any of them.

However, as my daughter approaches the end of her school career I have found myself mourning the one on one time I feel like I may of lost with her, adding so many siblings, so spaced apart. I’ve missed a million roller coaster rides sitting on the sidelines with baby and while I am at every.single.game, I know I miss things because I have to protect the toddler from falling down the hill. And it works both ways. I go to far fewer story times because I am so busy with baseball or whatever and the babies are drug all over and I worry that the dragging is making them miss out on free range babying.

It’s the story of having the bigs and having the littles.

You find yourself wishing away the toddler years and praying the teen years slow down. It’s a stark and strange contrast in parenting such a broad range of ages. It’s going through all the good and all the bad all at once.

It also adds an element of weirdness to making adult friends. I have people I know from each child’s age but no one who gets the struggle and awesomeness of having it all at once. So while they relate to my pre-pubescent boy fun-ness, they don’t get that I am having to navigate it while dealing with teen angst and a baby who is teething so badly I want to jump off a cliff.

Large family, big gap. Lots of fun.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about college and how I worry Devlynn and all she has to give up. And that I hope she doesn’t resent me for encouraging her to stay home and go to school. Not because I don’t think she’ll thrive in a big college far away, but because I want her to have less debt and not worry about working. But by encouraging her to stay home, I am also keeping her with the zoo family. And I worry if she’ll look back and regret being part of it.

There is a lot of guilt that goes with the bigs and the littles.

Parenting is hard enough and sometimes I feel like I have dealt myself a tough hand. I’d never change it. Never. Even when they upcharge me for Great wolf lodge and my Disney entry tickets cost more then your entire vacation. Love my bigs and my littles and every big and little thing that come with them.

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Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.