Thursday, September 26, 2013

on pressure

She was beautiful, every girl's (and guy's) idea of beautiful, perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect athletic body.  She was a mom.  How could she still look so smoking hot and super girl-next door at the same time??!!

I could feel myself sweating, partly because I couldn't find my deodorant anywhere (best guess: Eli threw it in the trash) and partly because our little parental-soccer-information meeting was being held on the field in 102 degree midwest humidity. 

Well and I was also sweating because my clothes looked dumb, my BlackBerry wasn't an iPhone, my earrings were drooping in my ears-that-need-re-piercing, my flip flops looked like dog chew toys (although we don't own a dog) and because I shouldn't feel this way at thirty-one years old!

*It's really humbling to admit I care about this stuff.  I shouldn't.  I know.  There, I got it out. 

And then SHE started talking, timidly interrupting the little meeting, scared and unsure.  She sure didn't look like someone who would be scared.  Now, me, with the sweat marks, I should be scared. 

Her son has allergies.  Severe allergies.  Like, call-911-allergies.  She was scared that the other parents would be mad if her son didn't partake in the snacks they brought to games. 

Really?  Are people that mean?  Apparently they are, because she was legitimately concerned and wanting to clear the air before it ever got clouded.  We all agreed, a bit incredulous, not to be bothered and (hopefully) set her mind at ease.

But this bugged me.  Why should she have to worry what people think if her son brings his own snack?  Ahhh, as busy as we Americans seem to be, we have too much time on our hands if we can't live and let live a little. 

The same week, back at the same soccer practice,  I ran into an old friend I hadn't seen for awhile.  She was dashing from her (running) vehicle to grab something she'd left at the playground.  She was literally fifteen yards from her car. 

With the reclaimed item in her hands, heading back to her car, she stopped, breathless, to apologize to me that she'd left her kids buckled into her vehicle.   

I know, it's the big no-no, don't leave children unattended in vehicles. 

I get it. 

But somewhere, someplace, this insanity of worrying about what others think of our parenting has got to stop. 

It was still midwest humidity with ungodly temperatures.  What kind of decent mom would think of dragging her kids out of the cool car across a sweltering parking lot to grab a forgotten toy?

I know what kind of mom-- the mom that I am when I'm afraid everyone sees my inadequacies, the missing deodorant,  the tear in the skirt that was super chic a bit ago. . .

the mom who has been burned one too many times by well meaning whispers

the mom who tries so hard and still her kid keeps biting the other kids

the mom who feels that everyone is against her and she's holding up her little world with her own two hands

the mom who just can't bear another disapproving glance or well, the way I did it was the only way to go

yep, that mom will be afraid to make her own sane decision to leave her well adjusted, well behaved children in her own car for 45 seconds. 

I look down at myself.

What about me makes this sweet woman need to apologize to me?!  I did buy some more deodorant.  Perhaps that's the key to looking like you have it all together.

And I stopped her.

"Hey- you're a great mom.  What in the world?! Leave your kids in the car!  That's what I'd do, plus, I don't care! It's ok! I'm not like that!"

She smiled, relieved, and left, still breathless.

I think about this crazy pressure phenomena for awhile.

Why am I scared of the other normal women in the soccer mom group?

Why is Ms. Stunning Beauty scared of the other women?

Why is my friend scared of me?

I talk to Daniel about it, and he nods and grunts makes thoughtful uninterested sounds, completely oblivious to the pressure game women play with each other.  Men have their own pressure games, a bit more bold and in your face.  At least men seem to know where they stand.  Women are a bit more sneaky.

There aren't any great answers popping out at me as I jump into my own pressure cooker of teaching my kids, preparing for a year of Bible Study and relationships with other women, sports and music and trying to help my daughter stop sucking her thumb. 

I try to balance being a stay at home mom with hiring my very-first designated nanny as I desperately race to help my husband complete deadlines and finish our house renovation projects. 

I try to balance working crazy hard with the freedom of paying a teenager to come fold my laundry and scrub my floors. 

I try to balance ministry (people in my home at all hours of the day and night) (this means serving a second dinner at 11pm sometimes) and sanity (taking time to lay on the trampoline with Eli).

Is it a balancing act or a pressure cooker?  I don't know.  Some days it feels like a pressure cooker.

I logged into Pinterest last night intending to pin pin pin away after months of neglecting my boards. (I blame Africa for this.)  The pressure hit me like a sauna blast. 

Guys! Come ON!!!

"Thirteen ways to fold a napkin." (I just want to know how to keep napkins in the house.  Sanitary napkins, too, for that matter.  Seriously.)

"How to make a homemade jellyfish in a two liter bottle with a grocery sack" (I am not making this up.)

Install your own whirlpool in your master bath (I don't have a master bath, I just need to clean my one bathroom.  And it's directly off the dining room.  Try that out for convenient-- and awkward.)

Jewelry that coordinates with outfits no one should buy, nails and haircuts and celeb sightings and news and terrific birthday parties that are in no mothers' capabilities or budgets anywhere. 


Stop folding the napkins.

Hug your son and let him bumble his own way through the jellyfish project and you stop trying so hard. . .maybe go paint your nails some really happy WalMart $2 color.

Just be yourself. 

Wear your own jewelry.

I love Pinterest because I am a writer and artistic at heart and I thrive on inspiration.  I buy books just because the title inspired me and paint colors because of how they make people feel. 

But sometimes inspiration, on Pinterest, in books, out in the world, in the church, at the soccer field. . . sometimes it gets awfully confused with comparison and jealousy and envy and pressure.

I'm asking myself this week:

Am I a safe friend?

Do I project condemnation or criticism?

Am I part of the pressure problem?

What are practical ways that I can help dial down the pressure?

Can I be a gracious receiver?

Can I exhibit humility while offering help and strength?

Is my own identity as a Child of God enough if everything else is gone?

My chalkboard wall is littered with multiplication fact post-its and though there's a great centerpiece on the table, it isn't clean. The white lights hanging in the dining room give a cozy glow to my chaos and I don't feel pressure in my own home. Here is where I know without a doubt that I am loved by a good man, needed by beautiful children, and safe in the Hand of the one True Identity Giver- Jesus Christ.

from Pinterest  \/

definitely not from Pinterest \/
(but happy none-the-less)

Treats are yummy regardless how they're packaged ;) - on his way to Puggles

And camping. . . in your own backyard. . . is such a terrific experience.  A picture would say a thousand words of joy if only your mom was a photographer.  But since she's not. . . you just look like you're laying on a tarp and you have large nostrils.

Annnnnnnd, we may not be submitting this project to the paper anytime soon since we can't spell everything (WHO is the kid's teacher anyway?!)

Now here is a surefire pinterest/fb/foodblogger approved chocolate chip cookie recipe:  Start with Olive Oil Miracle Whip, add some eggshells and Windex and stir it all together with a butcher knife.  Yum Yum. (Believe it or not, there is chocolate chip cookie dough in that bowl.)

I suppose this is what you do if you are eight going on twenty-eight and you know how to use a camera and you really wonder what you look like driving. 

Last but not least, an original art sculpture.  No.  Really it's the only safe place to keep your structure from being demolished. Welcome to my living room.


  1. Shared on my facebook because this post - it's where I'm at!

  2. My favorite picture is the last one.
    I will never cease to be amazed at my children's lives and creations and chaos that totally outshine my attempts to create beauty, and peace and order and magazine looking pretty.
    And that picture says it all.
    Love it!

  3. Hahahaha, when I finally met you for the first time, I WAS THE SWEATING, lol! I find this funny, since your explanation of the gorgeous mom and you sounded like ME when we met :) I even told my friend about my exploding armpits after we got done talking to you. I said, shes just cool and so pretty, you know? ;) I agree with this post, I love how you can explain things like this so well!

  4. This!! Yes! Totally and completely.. I SO get it!!! I keep thinking..if I was more Christ-like, all these pressures wouldn't affect me.. *still working on that* Thanks for speaking truth..

  5. Really.good.stuff. thanks for once again sharing your heart, nailing it on the head, and challenging me. wow!

  6. I cannot describe how much I love this post. A, because I have a dear friend like the lady in the parking lot, ALWAYS apologizing for every little thing, usually things I would never even DREAM of condemning her for and it always makes me wonder...who am I that she would feel the need to constantly defend herself? I have also felt like you at the soccer game next to Miss Perfection oh, 1,000 times or so. I just echo everything in this entire post. Will probably link it, share it, post a response to it on my own know, the works.:) Keep up the great work!! This is exactly why I love you and your blog.

  7. I want to be a safe friend. And, exhibit humility when giving and receiving help... So good!!

  8. Hayley, you are doing a great job - God is pleased...and that's all that really matters.
    love you!

  9. This post. Just says it perfectly. I love it & if it's ok with you I will pass it on... Keep being YOU.