June 10, 2013

The Summer Series - Jeanett Gibson

I remember the first time I connected with Jeannett Gibson. A link to a video she had made came up in my Facebook feed. It was about her daughter who has seizures, and it left me in tears. I commented on the post and shared that I, too, had a daughter with epilepsy. She immediately came to my blog and offered words of encouragement.

I believe it is not what happens to you in life, but how you choose to respond that matters. We can choose to be defeated. Negative. Hopeless. Or we can choose to see the best in every situation. Remain joyful. Be full of hope. Jeannett personifies the latter. Her blog, Life. Rearranged. addresses the difficult challenges her family has faced with incredible grace. And she uses her blog as a way to help and inspire others.

I'm honored to have her kick off the 2013 Summer Series...

I just ushered my daughter back into her bed for the 7th time tonight.

Her sister, who shares a room, has been tucked back in as many times.

Scratch that... make it 8 times.

I've read 6 bedtime stories, thrown a load of laundry in the wash, been to the grocery store, bandaged a wound, slapped together dinner, and stepped on a Lego creation that took hours to build, but only moments to pierce my foot. Cue tears from the boy.

I've also hosted a birthday party and gotten into a Super Soaker water gun fight with my son in the middle of the street.

And that doesn't include the everyday basics of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, diapers, noses, scrapes, bruises, and assorted tears.

And the chickens. Fed those too. And the dogs. And the cat. And Abraham. The goldfish that won't die.

I didn't bother with dishes tonight. Those can wait until morning. I just don't have it in me.

I have four kids. My oldest is just turning 6. I have a set of twins in there. A child with special needs. And a baby. Being a mom is tough. It is exhausting. I am weary to the bone some days. Lots of days. I cry alongside them sometimes. Sheer exhaustion. Frustration. Fear.

Parenting is really really hard stuff. I am the first person to admit to you how bone numbingly exhausting this gig is. I won't sugar coat it for you. I won't pretend I have it all together. I won't coo to you all about how perfect my children are. Because parenting is gritty. It is not for the faint of heart. Especially if you have some semblance of wanting to actually do a decent job of it.

But with all of that truth... with all of those things I just said... I'm really worried and sad about a trend I see in the blogosphere lately. It used to be that blogs painted perfect pictures of their perfect kids in perfect outfits at perfectly decorated tables. After a while, a backlash emerged. The moms who said "Enough! Maybe that's your reality, but it's not mine and I won't be guilty about it! In fact, let me list all the ways I suck as a mom and why my kids are such brats!"

I call it the I Suck At Life rant.

I see it so often lately. In fact, I went to a blog conference recently, and I actually texted a friend at a nearby table, wondering what was up with the weird theme. It seemed that every speaker had something to say along the lines of "I'm terrible at X, and proud of it!" It's the blog posts that decree the importance of painting the "real" picture. It's the victorious attitude that not only are there failures, but now they are badges of honor. It's this weird shift where the pendulum has swung so far away from the perfect Stepford bloggers (and rightfully so in my opinion), that it's gone much too far in the other direction. It's cool to be a crappy mom. It's funny to be say you don't really like your kids. Forget perfection, embrace ambivalence! With gusto!

But a word of advice to my fellow bloggers: As we tell the stories of our lives... as we choose the pieces of the journey to tell, let us not forget the little faces we are portraying. Let us not lose sight of the sweet souls and tender hearts behind those stories. Even if the words we would use to describe would not be sweet or tender that particular day.

There will come a day when my children will undoubtedly read my blog. I can picture them all broody teenagers sifting through archives. Annoyed at their lame blogger mom. But not so annoyed that they don't let their curiosity win out. I want them to cringe at the posts where I wax romantically about how much I adore their chubby baby cheeks. I want them to groan when they see the posts about their first solid foods. I want them to be chagrined when they read the one where I tell some story about when they were little jerks and made me lock myself in the bathroom and cry. I want them to be appalled when they find out I had a secret stash of candy that I ate in the closet when they weren't looking.

But above all else, I want them to read my words... the ones I chose to use... the ones I had time to edit and rearrange just so... and I want them to see our Life. I want them to see that it wasn't perfect. I want them to see that their mama failed them some days. I want them to see the fun times we had playing basketball in the driveway... the nights we watched Star Wars as a family... the hot cocoa we sipped... the flowers we picked... and all the little glimpses of beauty that would otherwise be so easy to miss.

I don't want them to read the old posts and think bitterly that I was being fake about our lives. That what I wrote about wasn't really what it was like.

But I also don't want to give them any shred of reason to think that I didn't love them fiercely. That I didn't adore every day I had with them. That even on the worst days... the ones where I was asleep before I hit the pillow... the ones where I cried in anger... the ones when I was so far at the end of my rope there was no rope left... I want them to know that even on those days, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. And no, I wouldn't even wish it went by any faster.

Not because it's perfect. But because I love them. And the stories I choose to tell... the words I choose to use... the photos I choose to include... those are all intentional.

I want my blog to be a representation of my heart. Sure, there are bad days... but those days are made up of lots of little shimmers of beauty. That's what I want my kids to see someday.

Life is tumultuous. There are days that are downright awful. But in the end, it's a beautifully chaotic ride.

It's a delicate balance. I'm sure I've gone too far in one direction or another from time to time... but I try. Real versus Love.

Thank you, Jeannett! This post was very timely, as my husband and I were recently discussing the impression my blog might make on SB when she is older. It IS a delicate balance, and I appreciate your words. Thank you for participating in my Summer Series!

How do you approach blogging or sharing about your children?

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