Sunday, January 20, 2008

Somewhere In The Middle

In the comments a few days ago, someone made a statement that has been bothering me ever since. Since "Things-I-think-about-when-I-can't-sleep" is always good fodder for blog posts, and because I just don't feel comfortable letting the statement just dangle out there unanswered, I will now attempt a justification response.

When Melanie said, "I am not sure how you do what you do", I had several reactions. My first was to be frustrated that I may have, by only giving snapshots into our life (a drawback inherent to blogging), led folks to believe a storybook account of our life. The second was to think, I know exactly how you feel.

The Momma in me has to warn you explicitly about assuming too much. Don't read too much between-the-lines about the lives of anyone...especially online. I can't write about everything, and even if I could, I wouldn't air our dirty laundry in so public a forum. Case in point, allow me to ask some questions. Is my laundry caught up? Do I yell at my kids? Is my husband happy and well cared for? How does my garden grow? And most importantly...is it well with my soul?

Truth is, you can't know from just reading blog posts. I have several dear friends with whom my relationship is conducted primarily via computer. Even with extensive e-mail and phone conversations ~ even they ~ can't truly know about our life. The view from a blog is comprised of no more than multiple peeks through a fence's knotholes, and it is not a reputable source from which one may draw a complete picture. All of that is to say, I am not doing all that much. Especially now.

I am currently prostrate on the family room couch. My head is pounding, my mouth is constantly watering with oh-please-can't-I-just-throw-up anticipation, and I can only type a couple of lines at a time before I have to stop to let the dizziness subside. Meanwhile, my family is fending for themselves. My eleven year-old daughter made dinner alone, while helping me entertain the Littles. For the past several weeks, I have only been able to be up and about for (at most) an hour at a time before I feel so sick I need to lie down. This is not the stuff of Super Woman, whoever she is.

I have however, made the same statement ("I don't know how you do all you do") to many women over the years and thought it about still more. Anyone with more children than myself, at whatever number of children I currently had, I automatically assumed was handling all things well, with abundant grace and tea parties, as well. I just knew that their sinks, laundry hampers, and trash cans were empty before bedtime each night, their meals were well-balanced, colorful and healthy, their husbands were enraptured at all times, their children rose up each day and called them blessed, and since they had regular devotional times, YHWH loved them more than me. I knew it. I have been a Mom-To-A-Few, and looked up to the Mommas-Of-Many. I am now somewhere in the middle...a Momma-Of-Many, sandwiched between the  folks looking to me, while I look to the Mommas-Of-Nations. The truth, which I eventually discovered somewhere along the way, was that I couldn't assume too much...although I still haven't learned to walk in this truth at all times.

As I lay here now, I am less than 36 hours away from being the hostess of a family of thirteen. While Mr. Visionary would say that my house could - possibly - use a little "picking up", my inability to see in shades of grey tells me that it is a wreck. I will need to prepare three meals a day for 22 people for at least three days. I have a minuscule amount prepared, and no great ideas for the rest. And yet, here I lay, unable to function any better at present.

The Momma who will visit is soft spoken, loving, patient, kind, beautiful and has been pregnant many times. This is not the sort of woman in front of whom I want to appear to be a sissy. And yet, even with all the self control I can muster, I am not a hero, either. Will this Super Mom of Eleven (whom I greatly admire) understand? Has she ever been laid up with morning sickness? Surely she was always prepared when company was coming, and surely her house was always orderly. Surely. I know this because I have seen knothole versions of her life. And if the knotholes look like that, I can fill in the rest for myself.

Or can I?

17 comments:

  1. A wonderfully transparent post! Well, as much as is necessary and prudent.

    I can't tell you how many women I bump into in this medium who are downright discouraged by the apparent perfection of some "Mommy bloggers." I've never been so accused, and hope I never shall be.

    And yes, surely your visitor has been "there." If she won't say so, maybe she is insecure and needs to be drawn out by your vulnerability.

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  2. Know what? Your guests are coming to see YOU and YOUR FAMILY, not your house or your housekeeping skills or even test out your cooking abilities. :) Your Momma of 11 friend will surely understand and I'd be willing to bet that she (and some of her tribe) might even be blessed to be able to help you out. That's what Momma's do after all, right? And you'd do the same for someone who needed assistance due to morning sickness.

    Still, you and your family are an amazing example for many of us. Your ideas, insights, ability to communicate and your wit are a joy for the rest of us.

    May you live and be well, may your strength be quickly restored and may you be abundantly blessed by all who know and love you.

    Keep your chin up, girlie. :) I wish we lived closer and I'd bring you some soup and several days worth of warm meals for the family. But alas, we're on opposite ends of the continent. Still, my prayers are for you.

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  3. oldpathsfamilyfarmJanuary 21, 2008 at 6:30 AM

    You know, this lady is one of the most laid-back, relaxed, there-are-no-emergencies kinda Mom I have ever met. I hope I haven't painted her in a bad light.

    I meant to illustrate ~ using my big fat self as an example ~ the foolishness of guessing... and assuming... too much in the places were I have no facts.

    So what do I get for fretting?

    They just called to say two things...

    1) The oldest half of their family will be fasting for 24 hours of their stay, and

    2) their visit will be 1.5 days shorter than originally planned.

    And yes, Beth... you did guess right. I am truly looking forward to the Wallers visiting... all nausea and stuff aside. They really are a blessing.

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  4. HI Julie-
    Thanks for such a great post. There has often been times when I've will visit different blogs and it really puts me in a "downer" b/c I feel like such a failer when I see what other mommas are doing. But then one day the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the fact that I'm not seeing the whole picture (just as you so beautifully explained). If you think of it, please tell your guests hello from the Smith's in middle Tennessee :)
    We'll be praying for blessed time of fellowship together.
    Amy

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  5. Too true.

    I wrote a while ago about how it drives me absolutely CRAZY when people say how amazing I am that I do what I do, because what they don't see is what I don't do, or what I do halfway, or the days when I completely and utterly fail. There are always those super-mommas that I look up to and feel inferrior to even if they have less children or a small homestead just because they can do it with the grace and joy that I've been chasing around forever.

    Paul said it was OK to esteem to be like him since he was like Christ (1 Corinthians), but then he was immediately and completely honest about the areas where he failed. Not one of us is perfect and it can be hard to remember that when looking at someone else who seems to have it all together.

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  6. Has anyone on here ever read Alexandra Swann's book, No Regrets? I tell you, Joyce Swann has given me a 15 year long inferiority complex. I've always wanted to collar her and ask "How? HOW?" LOL.

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  7. It does my heart good to read of your vigil on the couch. Were we to be blessed with another little one, that is exactly where I would be - making sure the couch did not run away. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one!

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  8. Ah, who is Joyce Swann? How can I describe Joyce? Maybe she could define the term "supermom".

    Joyce has 10 children, and if I remember correctly she had all 10 over a period of about 13 years. She began homeschooling her oldest daughter when Alexandra was 5.

    Joyce's children have all (at least the ones who are old enough) graduated from highschool around age 10, earned their bachelor's degrees around 13 and their master's degrees by age 16. Their bachelors came from Brigham Young U's distance learning programs (they are NOT mormons, they just had a good distance learning program) and their master's from the university of CA also through distance learning.

    Joyce's children did school from 8 am until 12 pm 5 days a week year round without fail except for the actual chritmas and easter holidays. They schooled through her pregnancies, they schooled through serious illnesses.

    But it's not like they were abused from a rigid schedule either! The sour grape in me would have liked to think this, but these children were on school 3-4 hours a day and had the rest of their time for house chores and their personal pursuits!

    The book "No Regrets" chronicles their lives through Alexandra's graduation from the U of CA with her masters.

    Did you need to hear about this while you're laid up on the couch? ;)

    Joyce has haunted me for years. If you read Alexandra's book, she may begin to haunt you too.

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  9. Hey...
    Like everyone else, I thoroughly appreciate and respect your transparency (about everything, not just this), but hopefully you already know that.
    I'm praying for you guys tonight and tomorrow and believing their visit will be nothing but a blessing!
    Mucho love and hugs,
    E

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  10. I often go out of my way to confess my faults because we can’t encourage (be Titus 2 women) effectively unless we admit our struggles. Others will be discouraged if we appear to have everything perfect.


    Great post. Much needed. I'll be adding to SSSS.

    Blessings,
    Robin

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  11. What a wonderful post! Mama's need to be free to fail. :) I think sometimes we dont "air our dirty laundry" thinking its the best foot forward and then other Mama's feel like the cant measure up. But hey, even I cant measure up to my best days every single day. giggle!!

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  12. Hello sister. I've just been wondering how your visit with the Wallers went and how you are feeling. May He bless you and yours.

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  13. Julie,
    You should feel proud of all you accomplish! Congratulations to you and your family for the newly expected baby.
    Sorry I have not been able to follow in your online Bible study. I started a weekly 3 hour Bible class at my church, and it involves over an hour of home study every day, so it just became too much to do both. I would like to go back and do your when this class ends in June.
    I hope your morning (all day) sickness subsides soon. I also had bad morning sickness with my pregnancies. This may all be psychological, but I did feel that wearing "SeaBands" (an accupuncture wrist thingy sold in marine/boating stores for combatting sea-sickness, costs around $6) took the edge off. I hope you find something that works for you.
    Congratulations again, I'm sure the other kids are excited!

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  14. It's been a long time since I've come to read-congratulations on being pregnant!!! I'm so excited for you! I'm sorry you're feeling so poorly, though.
    I'm pregnant too and am always sick for the whole 9+ months. I finally broke down and accepted the prescription for zofran-what a difference! I took it the last time, too.
    This was a great post to read-thanks for sharing. Holly

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  15. Julie,
    Thank you for this post, it is a great reminder. There are many times I find myself in awe and feel totally inadequate to someone whose blog I read, but I recently realized that just like I don't put my whole life on the internet, these women don't put theirs out there either.

    I hope that your visit went well.
    Gwen

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  16. Shabbat Shalom Julie and other Ladies. I just wanted to let y'all know that now that Julie has left her post on the couch, I'll soon be taking up mine. Baby #8 is due October 6!

    This is extra wonderful because grandbaby #2 is due September 19. LOL, I'm due three weeks AFTER my daughter so that I can (prayerfully) be at her birth.

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  17. oldpathsfamilyfarmFebruary 2, 2008 at 5:33 AM

    Oh Beth!!!!!!!! How EXCITING!!!!

    Congratulations! Mazel Tov! And Yasher koach!

    How fun it is to be passing the baton...

    May YHWH bless you with strength and patience as you walk in the mitzvah of carrying this precious lamb! May you have perfect health and abundant joy. May this little one be called out, from even now, by his Creator to a life of obedience and holiness, a man or woman after YHWH's own heart.

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