Trading self-doubt for courage

I hear people say things like, You are the right mother for your kids. While I want to believe them, somewhere deep within--from a dark spot in my soul I call BS on this line (Side bar: my kids think BS stands for babysitter!). When I find myself cradling my thrashing daughter who is screaming that she hates us, the sentiment You are the right mother for your kids feels cliche and sarcastic.

Since I became a parent via foster-adopt I've gone through the ringer of self-doubt. Every opportunity I missed, every tantrum from one of my kids, every time I make a mistake (so, daily...) feeds the belief that I am not the right mother for my kids. 

If only they had someone who was more patient, stronger, less sarcastic, more motherly--then they'd be better off, I think.


On turning 30

I'm 26 days away from my 30th birthday, and I'm feeling nostalgic.

Maybe it's because 30 is almost close enough for me to reach out and touch; maybe the nostalgia comes from listening to bands I listened to in high school that have evolved and taken on mature sounds and themes. Or, maybe my reflection is spurred from my recent lunch with an old friend from my college days, during which we kept saying, Who would've thought this is where we'd be ten years ago?! Perhaps it's a combination of all of these things. For whatever reason, today I'm reflecting on the changes I've experienced in the last twelve years.

In my younger days, I could not study or write in the quiet spaces of libraries or my home. I had to trek out to a bustling coffee shop or a park filled with families if I had any chance of being productive. The lively nature of these places energized me. Now these places are too distracting. I sat at a local coffee joint last week and tried to pound out a post, but the conversations swirling around me were loud and pulled my focus away. It was over-stimulating, and I left feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It was only when I spent time reading in my rocking chair at home that I was able to regain my composure. Today I spent some time writing in the quiet library where I work as a writing coach. The quiet energized me. Now I'm finding pleasure in the spaces right at my fingertips.

Only five years ago I was teaching high school English in Ogallala,on the brink of finishing my MA in English, and making back-up plans for what I'd do if I could never become a mother--things I could do to dull the pain of a dream out of reach. Doctoral programs, a move out of state, trying for a job as a curriculum director, applying for a summer internship at NPR. It was a difficult time in my life, but it was exciting to think about the possibilities. It gave me a break from dwelling on what might never be. And now I'm a mother to two kids we adopted from foster care (something I said I'd never do) working part-time to give me more time to spend with the kids I never thought I'd have.

About twelve years ago, I fell wildly in love with my husband and thought it was impossible to love a person more. Ten years into our marriage I'm realizing that despite the argument we had last night, I love him more today than I did twelve years ago. There is an attraction I feel now to my husband that moves beyond the boundaries of a physical connection. He has seen me at my absolute worst and still chooses to crawl into bed with me at the end of each day. After ten years of marriage, infertility, parenting, and the impact of age on a body--he still chooses me even though society says it would be okay if he chose someone else.

There have been growing pains for sure, but these changes seem necessary and good and worth the pain. And for the first time in the last year, 30 doesn't seem so scary...


Donald Trump, Transgender Issues, and Jesus

Author's note: I may lose some followers over this post. Also: I'm not a theologian. I'm a sinner...and a Jesus-lover. I've included lots of Bible verses throughout the post for reference--please know that the Bible should be read and studied in context, so if you're going to read through the verses I've included, read what surrounds the verses to get a bigger picture. Finally, please try and get through the whole post before you dismiss it as garbage :) 

If you haven't noticed, there are some significant cultural shifts occurring in our country that are difficult to ignore. This election season has been incredibly detrimental to our country for many reasons, and the results of it could be even worse. To me, one of the most frightening effects of this election season has been the rise of Donald Trump and the respect he has somehow garnered for his knack for cutting others down and calling it "abandoning politically correct behavior." A large portion of our culture (including, sadly, Christians) has embraced the Trump-Way and have used it to propel their own hate-filled language professing that "it's about time we have someone who isn't afraid to tell it like it is."


What I've learned throughout (almost) 10 years of marriage

On July 29th, my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage...10 YEARS, PEOPLE!
We were so young....
This is cause for celebration because marriage is so. damn. hard. Can I get an Amen up in 'her?!? I got married as a newly-minted 20 year old--straight outta my teen years--and while I've always been a bit of an old soul, I learned to be an adult during my earliest years of marriage. Here are just a few things I've learned as a married gal:


Adult onset introversion

A few weeks ago, my family traveled out of town to spend time with friends, so on Sunday, we attended their church for the first time. Our kids were slightly apprehensive about attending the children's ministry, but once we got them up to the room and they heard lively worship music and saw kids jumping in a bounce house, they they had a sudden burst in confidence and ran off leaving us in their dust. When we picked them up after church, they chattered about the new friends they made. In the hour that we were separated, they were able to make one friend a piece. Admittedly, I was slightly jealous.  In the 10 months that I've lived in this new town, I've managed to make approximately two friends...TWO. My kids have seriously put me to shame in the friends-making department.
Hipster friends at an abandoned gas station
It wasn't always this way for me. As a child, I was never at a loss for friends. There was a group of kids that played baseball and football together in our neighborhood. I played basketball at recess with Kevin and Andrew formed a secret club with Jenny, Tracy, and Becca. Even after a move to a new town in the 7th grade, I managed to befriend people other than my cousin who was the same age as me. Most of these friendships lasted throughout high school, and I'm still friends with Hannah, Autumn, and Celeste--a friendship that has lasted since we were in the 7th grade. Even in college, when it was time to start over without the people who had been my safety net for six years, I managed to form meaningful relationships with others. But something changed when I hit my late 20s. And now, I'm creeping closer to 30 and am finding it damn near impossible to meet people in this new town I'm living in.

I could list a hundred awkward quirks that are unique to me that might prevent me from engaging well with others (like the fact that I'm terrible at small talk, freeze up in large group situations, and nearly every sentence I utter starts with Today on NPR...). But I'm betting that I'm not the only person who struggles with meeting new people and forming meaningful relationships as an adult. Maybe we can call it: Adult onset introversion. Do we just become more introverted with age? Honestly, it feels like too much work to meet people and form relationships (I KNOW...I'M TERRIBLE). it's easier to just sit in my rocking chair and enjoy the people in my home. I'm conflicted, though, because I know we were put on this earth to connect with others--and a large part of me wants to form meaningful relationships with others especially in my new community that is actually not so new since I've lived here 10 months now. So, sufferers of adult onset introversion: How do you connect with others? What quick and dirty tips can you provide those of us whose kids are putting us to shame in the friends' department?


Why I don't attend women's ministry events

Women's ministry...if you're a church-going woman, you've likely heard this phrase before. Maybe you're even knee-deep in your church's women's ministry. I've never been the women's ministry type. I've tried a few times, but each time I've found them to be uncomfortable--like wearing a scratchy wool sweater in the middle of a sticky Nebraska summer. It's been my experience that women's ministries tend to be geared towards one type of woman, and I am not this woman.

To see a totally rad picture of 7 year-old me and to read more about why I don't attend women's ministry events, pop on over to Her View From Home! 


Mother's Day Gift-Giving Guide: Consider Your Audience

I teach English, so I am always harping on my students to understand the rhetorical situation when writing. In a nutshell, this means that a writer must be aware of his/her audience and the limitations in which he/she is working. For example, if I am writing an essay to persuade a Donald Trump supporter NOT to vote for Donald Trump, I first need to understand why my audience is voting for Donald Trump (Note: I don't need to agree with said reasons, but I have to acknowledge these in an unbiased way in order to reach my audience). Next, I have to consider the limitations here. Do I have unlimited time and pages to write on all the reasons why Trump would make a terrible president? I might...but does my audience have the time to read it all? Probably not, which means that I have to make some deliberate choices about the information I include in my piece.

I think this whole rhetorical situation business can be applied to purchasing a gift for Mother's Day.