Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pleasing all the peoples

Noah was standing at the bottom of the slide at the playground, crying. Calling for his friend, his voice quivered and broke under the strain of holding back tears. It was a scene not unlike many others; a kid at the park was being a bully. 

Like other times before with different bullies, the meaner this little guy was the more Noah sought his playful attention. I pull Noah aside and asked him what is going on; his response is almost always the same:

"I just love my friend *insert name here* and want to play with him/her so bad! He/she is my good friend."

With a little help from this (self proclaimed and proud of it) helicopter mama, the kids usually figure it out. Thus far I have managed not to threaten a young child, but holy cow, does a bully make my blood boil. 

The thing that always confuses me is that Noah WANTS to play with these kids that are hurting his feelings. They will be actively saying unkind things, and Noah will still respond with a plea for play. 

After the park, when Noah and Amelia were busy playing at home, I called a girlfriend to vent about the afternoon. After my diatribe and my exasperated, "I just don't understand why he WANTS to play with these children that are so mean!" my friend laughs, saying "Well, gee, I wonder where he gets it from?"

____________________

I am a people pleaser. I have been since I was a little girl. This is a character trait that I have always loved about myself, however, somewhere along the lines it has changed from 'I just want the people around me to be happy' to 'I just want the people around me to accept me'. 

My Noah is a pleaser of the people; he, too, wants those around him to be happy. When there is conflict over play time with a peer, Noah is usually the first to cave; to concede his ideas for playtime to those of his playmate. And I realized that my friend was right... and now I am faced with a whole lot more self evaluation than I was expecting after an afternoon at the park! 

I have never once felt like I have low self esteem. However, as I pray over why I put pleasing the peoples over my own needs and feelings, I was struck with the reality that I often times feel like I am not enough. 

The friend that is inconsistent (at best) and self involved (at worst): I find myself bring fresh baked goodies, while forgiving slights and snubs. All because I need affirmation that I am enough. 

The abusive boyfriend: I forgive the temper, the punched out walls, the projectile picture frames. All because I need affirmation that I am enough. 

When did I start looking to other people for affirmation? When did being a pleaser of the people cross the threshold into being a doormat? 

Psalm 139:13-14

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

This. This is everything. Remembering that

God

Created 

Me

 gives me strength to stop trying to please the people when it comes with a personal cost. To let go of the people that hurt me. I might not ever be 'enough' in their eyes, but theirs are not the Eyes that matter. 

My prayer for both of my children is that they feel such self confidence and worth through Jesus Christ, that when they hear a kid say "I don't want to play with you!" at the park, they shrug their shoulders and let it go. Don't please the bullies; please God. Please those who see how wonderful you are. Be affirmed in this truth; God created you, fearfully and wonderfully, and that is all the affirmation you need. 





Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seeking

I have spoken before about my faith. It is no secret that I tend to have an open mind about other religions and, certainly, social issues. 

But...

For some time now, there has been a whispering. A fleeting feeling that ignites my nerves, leaving them tingling with anticipation; like the seconds before an embrace with an old friend you haven't seen in a long time. 

And I knew the voice behind the whisper. I knew the warmth from the embrace.  

Psalm 9:10

10 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you

One of my dearest friends sent me this passage. She didn't know that it was my favorite; one that was highlighted and underlined and prayed over, time and time again, in my beloved and tattered bible when I was in high school. 

Last week another of my dearest friends-- my oldest and my best-- sent me this picture:


It's a flower she picked during a mission trip with our youth group one summer. My flower was being pressed in my old and tattered bible, on the page with the prayed over lines of Psalm 9. That bible has long since been gone; a casualty of an abusive relationship, thrown in the dumpster to hurt me. 

But I still remember the way its thin, dried petals felt between my fingers as I closed my eyes in prayer. I still remember the Wednesday night of that mission trip, where the entire sanctuary was filled with the presence of God. I remember crying to our youth leader, "When I lost God, you helped me find him."

For these remembrances and for the whispering. For the longing for that embrace with an old friend. For the promise made in Psalm 9:10...

I am seeking.


_____________________

The story of my walk with Jesus is still unfolding. The story of how I got to where I am now is one I want to tell. I am praying for the words and my own understanding of the past, but have big plans for a pen and some paper once my story is ready to be told. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bad on paper: A Mom Resume Revolution

This is a call to revolution; a cry to those whose nine to five is more like a five to nine (as in years. Back to back days and hours. Never ending.) 

The stay at home parent. 

I recently started to revamp my resume; a preemptive move for a job search, should we actually ever move back to the United States from Japan.

And it struck me as ridiculous that there is no way to quantify the work I have done for the past five years as a parent into something that would make me a desirable candidate for a professional career. 

It's almost cliche to mention how under appreciated the stay at home parent really is. And I'm not talking about the fact that I have not eaten a full plate ('Mom! I want a bite of YOURS!') of my own meal, that I chose to cook because it's what I wanted; not because it's something I knew my picky eater would consume. Or about the fact that I have not taken a shower in I don't know how long without a little head popping in to ask a question or share a story or  tell me they neeeeeed me rightnowrightnowrightnow. Or that the piles of laundry and dishes and toys and books and craft mess is endless. That's the life of any parent, wheather they work or stay at home. 

This is about the fact that there is no apparent way society values the skills you learn, beyond the domestic, when you are a parent. 

I am considering rewriting my resume to include skills such as,

- can calmly diffuse multiple heated situations (read: tantrums) while maintaining personal integrity, all while working towards accomplishing a common goal. (i.e. living with any number of little humans who have big feelings and opinions. And by personal integrity I mean sanity and by common goals I mean bed time. If this person isn't manager material, I don't know who is)

- keen sense of anticipating a problem and finding a solution before the other party is wise to any issue at hand (read: any parent at any given time while out of the house. Arsenal of distractions and snacks in the diaper/mom bag are optional. If I were ever need to hire a PR rep or an agent, I would hope they could handle themselves as well as a parent on an outing with a five and two year old)

- facilitated negotiations which lead to a satisfactory and desirable outcome for both parties. (i.e. potty training. I feel like if you can get a toddler to poop in the toilet, you should probably just be handed a law degree) 

If during an interview I was asked to describe a difficult work situation/project and how I overcame it, my response NOW would be far different than what it would have been BEFORE I had kids. Also, the response now would be more honest and would involve a whole lot more of my true self than that of my 'before children' self. Of course, a situation/project from work is not likely to mean as much to you as a situation/project with your children. But what you learn about yourself from any situation is what defines you; it is what makes you YOU and what makes YOU the perfect fit for a job. What does it matter if you learned how to manage different types of personalities at the playground rather than a conference room? 

But, as it were, you can not apply these sorts of skills to the professional ranks. And so when asked what your career has been for the past several years, you check the box; stay at home parent. And that's all there is room for. No room for the explanation that in raising children, you yourself were raised above and beyond your former self. You learned how to care and how to do things with meaning. Shouldn't those be the qualities an employer is looking for? 

I find my self worth in so many things, the last thing I 'need' is a fluffy and fancy resume that would be my ticket into the office to sit in front of the desk to answer the interview questions to get the job; I just wish society found stay at home parents just as worthy. 

And so, I am working on my Mom Resume. And, truly and honestly, I will send that bad boy out, cover letter and all, in hopes that someone, somewhere, will find the worth and value in the lady who can simultaneously wipe the rear of one child while breastfeeding the other (all while ordering a pizza over the phone) without loosing her cool.