...person I used to be. In most ways that's a good thing. I don't think it's a complete change, because my personality is the same, but my roles have changed. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as Rhiya is hitting puberty and headed full-force into becoming a teenager. It really wasn't so long ago that I was there. I'm 26 now, and while that feels so far away from 18, I'm not so far disconnected that I don't remember. But I am far enough away to realize teenagers are know-it-all punks who think of not much besides themselves. I don't think they mean to be--I know I didn't--but, still, that's the way it works. The ignorance is almost cute when they're not smug about themselves. I'm also not saying I don't enjoy teenagers. In fact, a couple we are good friends with has 3 teens who I get along with fantastically and I love to joke with them. I'm just nervous about how much changes in a seemingly short amount of time and how much will apparently still change based on what I've seen in my older friends. Some days I feel like I've bent all I can and I'll snap back any moment now.
Here are the 5 biggest changes:
1. I now lean on God and strive to be a better Christian. This is the biggest and probably the best change. I suppose most people would assume becoming a mommy would capture those two titles...I sure did...but anyone can be a mother. While it's special and amazing and my most important role on this earth, nothing can beat having a Heavenly Father to turn to in my most worn-out times. Faith keeps me forward-facing and hopeful. My life was so empty without God--even with children.
2. I don't fight my husband anymore. I don't mean to say we never have an argument, because we do. But I don't fight our roles anymore. **gee, none of you ever knew me as argumentative, did you?!?** For a long time I thought I could be just as good as he is and do the same things he does and maybe even do them better and I took every challenge as a direct insult to myself. ('I am woman; hear me roar,' much??) I was so exhausted doing this...I get tired just remembering it! I was constantly on the look-out for criticism and always on my guard. The day I finally realized that we are different for a very good reason and both equally important was an enormous victory for us both. I know he was tired of my being on edge as much as I was. I'm glad I know now that our children need us to be polar opposites in some cases, and that it's the way God intended for us to be. It makes things a lot easier and helps me to appreciate Allan, too.
3. I am less of a child than my children are. I do still fall into traps. I still argue with my 4-year-old sometimes. I still melt down when I'm tired like my 2.5-month-old. I still get a pissy little attitude and roll my eyes like my 11-year-old on occasion. For the most part, though, I'd like to think I command just a bit of authority in the household and every day I try a bit harder to be sure that I act my age instead of my shoe-size. This is less than easy, to say the least. I've always been stubborn and strong-willed and a know-it-all. (Is GraceAnne my just desserts?) I'm sure my mom will laugh when she reads that and think that it's an understatement. Hahaha. But! Yesterday I managed to have a real conversation with Rhiya about something that REALLY made me mad and I didn't yell or have a condescending attitude. (yeah-sometimes I *really* don't realize I sound that way, folks) I know this because she wasn't sad at any point during the conversation and didn't leave the room upset. In fact, she came to me a few minutes later and asked me to help her name her Littlest Pet Shop pets. SCORE ONE FOR MOM! She can be taught!
4. My priorities have changed. It used to be those 3 would have been completely backwards. I thought putting God or my husband first meant I loved them more and my mom has this uncanny ability of putting her children before anything else in the whole world, so I thought that meant loving nothing and no one else for a long time. I am glad to know I was wrong. She tried to teach me that lesson a few times as a young-adult and it always fell on deaf ears, but now I can see what she meant. Just because my priorities are God, husband, children does not mean I love my children less, it just means that I realize the importance of things. It's like when Violet is crying because she is hungry at the same time GraceAnne wants a snack. Violet can't very well walk to the fridge and get a yogurt, so she is top priority. That doesn't mean I don't love GraceAnne as much--it only means that Violet's need is more directly based on me at that moment. God and Allan will be who's left when our children leave this house, so I can't neglect those relationships in lieu of my kids, because then I'll have nothing when they leave.
5. I'm so happy. I spent a lot of time being miserable and scared as a kid. The crap with my step-grandfather left me feeling alone a lot of the time. I still struggle with that, but deep in my soul I'm happy. I have Jesus, a fantastic husband, 3 beautiful girls and our life is so very Blessed. I really hope that Joy flows from me onto everyone I talk to and everyone who sees me. I am so tired most nights, (last night I don't remember falling asleep, rolling away from Allan's arms, or even picking Violet up out of the bassinet to feed her I was so exhausted), and most days I don't have time to shower, eat properly or even do much past throwing on some pants and putting my hair in a ponytail. I know I could be a truly scary sight to anyone in the outside world, but my hope is that despite that, I exude Joy and Love, and that--like my sister-in-law Trish--people are moved by the way I lead my life and want to learn more about what makes it so great.