Friday, September 4, 2015

Everything Else is in Your Head

The last line..."Everything else is in your head."
As a middle-aged mother of five, I have always believed that exposure was the best teacher and balance is the best measure of success. I have never fully trusted myself as the main caregiver, educator, nurse, counselor of my children. That's why they were born into a family.

I have had natural deliveries and epidural deliveries.

I have breastfed and I have bottle-fed.  (P.S.  One who was bottle-fed is a nurse who works with cancer patients and hospice and who is looking to go back to graduate school to become a nurse practitioner. Her brain was not fed on breast milk but neither was it starved for food, love, or a parent's commitment to make sure she received an education. The rest she has, as have her brothers, done on her own.)

I have homeschooled (for the most part) and sent children to school. (This week I was asked to speak at a teachers' in-service. How ironic is that!?!)  They are all doing just fine and, as of today, their father and I are not supporting any of them. They are all functioning, law-abiding citizens who are working hard, raising their families, going to church, and respecting their elders.

I have worked out of the home, in the home, and stayed at home. The only thing is I never worked full-time. For me my heart and soul could not do it. Personally I have found that part-time work was the best "fit"...for us...for me...for my family. That's a blog post all its own.

I have raised children too busy with life to do more than attend Sunday Mass & CCD (but we never failed in those areas) and I raised children intentionally within the faith doing all the feasting and fasting and observances within the home.

I have been a strict parent, and I have been a mellow parent. When I was strict, my husband was mellow. Then...somewhere in this journey...we switched roles. Effortlessly so. Now he is the strict parent, I am the mellow one. It's all about balance. Children need balance. Without that balance they do not thrive.

It's true. Any success or failure we think is ours, isn't. It's all in our head.

I now have two daughter-in-laws whom I support (from a distance) in raising their boys. One works out of the home, the other stays home full time. I try to be respectful of their role as the mothers of those boys. I help with the boys when asked but, unlike some grandmothers, I really have no desire to take their place. And, really, why even try? No one can take their place. I've been doing this mothering bit for a very long time. I'm more than happy to watch from a front row seat...especially since I still have two teens at home I'm raising.

I know how exhausting mothering is. Believe me! I know.  I don't want to make it harder for those girls by dictating to them how to raise their boys. As long as I see a balance, it's good. I don't ever want these girls to feel they need to prove anything to me or that I think more of one and less of the other for how they raise their boys and whether they feel the need to work outside the home or not...whether they choose to breastfeed or not...whether they send their children to private school, public school or homeschool.

All they need from me is an endless amount of cheering, support, and a listening ear. I can never assume my way is the only way much less the right way for their families. It's pretty safe to say that as long as my children and grandchildren are happy, then I am happy.

And I know too many families where happiness is not the key element within the home and I can't help but wonder if overwhelming expectations are the problem, the destroyer, in most families. Often it's a control issue, a battle of the wills.  I think simpler expectations work best. There is nothing wrong with simple. Absolutely nothing. I don't harbor the notion of having no expectations. There have to be expectations otherwise people become wasteful, useless, lazy sinners. Nothing wrong with lifting the bar. Love usually isn't unconditional and if someone is taking advantage of you, that's not love at all.

Today as I watch my little boys being raised, I'm seeing (from that front row seat versus being front and center on the stage) how much their lives will be influenced by a culture and society outside the home.

Does it scare me?
Yes, it does.

Why? I ask myself.

Because I see where one can have a better life if we just focus on the good, the true, and the beautiful.
When we follow the crowd, we lose this focus. That's sad. It usually happens because someone has not been taught how to think or act for himself but is too dependent on the expectations and opinions of others.

I want to tell those little men of mine...

Keep your eyes on God. Offer your service to your families. Keep your expectations simple. Keep your focus on self-improvement more than on trying to improve others. Know that unconditional love does not have to extend to everyone you meet. Know that not every problem is yours to fix. Pick your battles. Know that it is ok to walk away from drama and not every battle is yours to fight. Know that working hard keeps the devil away. Being different is good, having variety is even better. Know the importance of's good for the soul. Being positive and grateful is a blessing for yourself and others. Know that simple is good enough.

And know that everything else is in your own head.

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