Happy Monday Y’all! Today starts my last week before I start my final internship this summer. After graduation, I head back to work. So, this is one of my last Monday’s of being on my own schedule. So, I’m spending the day catching up and planning for the months ahead. As a control freak, I am a planner. It is one of my best qualities but also one of my worst. It is one of my best because I rarely go into things unprepared. It is one of my worst qualities because I overthink things and it makes it hard for me to be spontaneous. I continue to work on being more balanced. In the meantime, I am enjoying today and giving myself some good vibes while I plan for success in all the exciting times ahead. What are your good Monday vibes?
When I was 8 months pregnant, I attended a close friends wedding. It was cold and I was huge so I wasn’t my usual life of the party self. Thankfully, there were two other pregnant women there and we clung together the entire wedding. Not only because we were all in the same proverbial boat but because let’s be honest, we were the only three sober people. For two of us, it was our first pregnancy and for the other mom, it was her third. We spent the evening talking “shop” and asking her all the questions pregnant women ask mother’s who have come before them. About halfway through the reception, we were talking while our husband’s ordered some drinks. This is when it happened. Regrettably, I opened my mouth and said, “So, was this baby planned?” Without a beat and straight-faced she responded, “Yup, we aborted all the other babies who weren’t planned.” My jaw about dropped to the floor and I stood there speechless. Although I couldn’t pull it together to speak, I heard exactly what she meant, “It doesn’t matter if this baby was planned or not, it’s none of your business, and you shouldn’t ask such stupid questions.” While I was still standing there dumbfounded, she laughed and said, “we are just so tired of people asking us that question so we came up with this response to shock people.” We laughed and after I apologized I told her the statement had its intended effect. It was equal parts shocking and telling. We laughed some more. When the guys got their drinks we went our separate ways. Later, when we were alone, I recounted the story to my husband and said, “Can you believe she said that?”
A few months later, I gave birth and joined countless women in this journey we call motherhood. The past three years have been such a wonderful experience as I have learned how to navigate the world as a new mom. But, throughout these years the same scenario and phrase seem to play on repeat. I’ll come home or look up from my phone and recount a story to my husband and say, “Can you believe she said that?” Now, I’ll be fair. Sometimes, I’ll say “Can you believe he said that?” But, more often than not, it is another woman who has said something outrageous or has asked me something that was none of their business. Either way, my husband always has the same response. He says, “Well, what did you say in return?” My response to him is also always the same, “Nothing.”
For the past three years, I never said anything in response to the countless inconsiderate statements said and questions asked of me. For example, I didn’t say anything in response to the mom who said my c-section wasn’t a real birth because it wasn’t natural. I didn’t say anything to the many moms who bragged about how easy and joyful breastfeeding was for them after I had just shared my breastfeeding struggles. I didn’t say anything to the mom who said my son was chunky because he was formula fed. I didn’t say anything when someone said I had changed for the better. I didn’t say anything when someone else said I had changed for the worse. I didn’t say anything to my supervisor who said my son was sickly and my daycare was horrible after I had called in sick to work, again. Later, I didn’t say anything to the same supervisor when she talked behind my back to a co-worker and told this co-worker how she was so much better off than me because her mother watches her son which means her child doesn’t have to go to daycare and she doesn’t have to miss as much work. I just held in my hurt feelings and quit that job.
The comments and questions didn’t stop when I became a stay at home mom. They just changed. They started being about my plans to return to work after I finished school. Everyone had an opinion on what I should or shouldn’t do. Yet, I never said anything in return. Recently, I haven’t said anything to the hundreds of people, even strangers, who ask when we are going to have a second child. Usually, I just shrug my shoulders and choke back tears. They don’t know we just had a miscarriage. They don’t know our second child was supposed to be born next month. So, I don’t say anything. Right after the miscarriage, I didn’t say anything in return when people offered half support by saying, “At least you have one perfect child.” What do you say to that? Sadly, I didn’t even say anything in return when my husband started to make subtle comments last month such as, “we should have had our second child by now” or “we bought this house to put two children in it.” He does know our second child was supposed to be born next month so in my confusion I say nothing.
I wish I was as quick-witted as my friend at the wedding. I wished I had a response statement prepared which shocks yet also conveys; that was rude and hurtful or it’s not okay to ask that. I’ve always been taught if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Why does it feel like I am the only one playing by the rules? Instead, I give a polite response and just hold the rest in. In some ways it is good. It has helped me to realize who my true friends are. To know which moms are in my #momtribe. It has helped me to set boundaries where they have been needed. It has helped me to learn to let go of expectations. But, doing these things hasn’t stopped the questions or taken away the sting of the statements. Last week my husband said something truly outrageous. Just like at the wedding, the statement left me jaw dropped and stunned. Later that evening at bible study, I opened up about how hurt I am over these unexpected subtle comments. Doesn’t he know how hurtful it is? A trusted friend and fellow miscarriage mom said, “have you ever thought these comments aren’t about you but about him?” Hmmm, I thought. She went on, “maybe HE is thinking about the miscarriage and this is how HE is trying to express himself?” At that moment, a lightbulb of clarity was lit. Honestly, up until then, I had never thought someone’s comments or questions had been about them and not me. Instead, I have let everyone’s words trigger my innermost insecurities and allowed them to cut me so deeply.
I can’t control what other people say. It is obvious that people, even me, will say rude and hurtful things or ask unwanted questions. However, I can stop letting these comments and questions trigger and feed into my deepest insecurities. I can stop allowing them to make me feel less than, different, and rejected. I can stop telling myself lies and using other people’s words as confirmation. Instead, I can #liveloved by accepting God’s love and acceptance. I can believe God’s truth that I am enough. I can look for the real meaning of the person’s comments. I can then use it as an opportunity to open up a dialogue. It works. I’ve tried it.
Armed with my new outlook and insight, I waited for an opportunity to talk with my husband. Last Sunday, it came on the way to church. He made a comment about his upcoming birthday and how he’s starting to feel his age. He was talking about his job. The law enforcement and night shift lifestyle are meant for the young, yet I used it as an opportunity to bring up his recent comments about a second baby. I said, “Is this why you have been making all these comments about how we should have had a second child by now because you are feeling older?” He thought for a second and responded, “Yes, I guess so.” After that, we were able to have an open, honest, and meaningful conversation about everything. Probably, the most productive conversation we have had since the miscarriage. If I hadn’t been able to look past my insecurities to find the meaning of his comments, I would still be stuck with the pain of his and countless other comments or questions. I’m so glad I allowed God to heal my hurt and I chose to dig myself out from under the burden of old patterns of saying nothing.
The funny thing is, I started this blog post as a way to tell others to be kind and sensitive in their questions and comments. I was going to say something along the lines of, You never know what someone is going through so tread lightly. Or, what is best for your family isn’t best for mine. BUT, I am no longer going to do that. Don’t get me wrong, we all should be cognizant of what we say to others especially women. If I have learned anything through this blog journey, it is that so many women have gone through the silent struggles of infertility and the comments and questions do cut deep. But instead of asking everyone to keep their questions and comments to themselves or remind everyone of the Golden rule, I am going to say this. Bring on the comments. Ask me the question. The words can no longer hurt me. Yet, they will give me an opportunity to let go of control, accept God’s fullness, defeat my insecurities, and speak my truth (sidenote: if you just got my reference you are my people) More importantly, it will give me the opportunity to open up a dialogue and trust that God has a purpose for our conversation.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mother’s with living and heavenly children. Live Loved.
“Don’t get so consumed by and focused on the mess—the feelings of rejection, hurt, and disillusionment—that you miss the miracle.”
― Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely
I have had such a great response to my latest blog post, I can’t control the Church, I decided to forgo my previously scheduled blog for today and share a related blog post written by my friend, Kaitlyn Thompson, LMSW. Kaitlyn is a fellow Christian, fellow police wife, and fellow social worker. As such, she and I share many of the same sentiments which is why I would like to highlight her blog today!
Kaitlyn is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and she is currently in the process of obtaining her clinical social work license, LCSW. She currently works at Cultivating Changes LLC, a local private counseling practice. Through her private practice, she writes a blog to bring awareness and knowledge regarding relevant mental health issues. This specific blog post shines a light on the controversial topic of therapy and the church. It is an honest and open post regarding the struggles Christian’s face when dealing with emotional distress or mental illness. I hope it resonates with all of you as much as it did with me. You can read Kaitlyn’s blog, Therapy and the Church by clicking on the title. If you like what you read, consider following Kaitlyn’s blog! Stay tuned for my next blog post titled, I Can’t Control What Other People Say. It won’t disappoint. Have a great weekend everyone!
I might have mentioned it before…but my did you know my husband works nights? Well, he does. Which means on most evenings my son and I do the nighttime routine just me and him. We have it down. We rarely deviate from it. Which is great for him; children thrive on routines. After three years,for me it can sometimes be mundane and lonely (take a look at last week’s blog on my love language). For weeks, two of my friends and I had been trying to plan a girls night out but could never settle on a date which worked for all three of us. Then one of my friends suggested that they come over to my house on a night my husband was working so we could have a girls night in. I wasn’t sure. I had never had friends over in the evening. The evenings are my son’s and I sacred time, our nightly routine. Reluctantly, I agreed. One night won’t hurt. The following Thursday they came over after my son had taken his bath but before his bedtime. I put on the Lion King for my son and he danced around in the kitchen with us three as we drank wine, talked, and laughed. I let my son stay up later than usual. When he was ready for bed, I let him lay down in my bed. Instead of laying with him, as is our routine, I turned on my tv for him and let him fall asleep to Paw Patrols. He LOVED it. The girls and I stayed up talking about life. We laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was a great girls night in. After they left, I was too tired to transfer my son to his bed so I just got in bed with him. I laid my head on the pillow, filled with joy and wondering why I had been reluctant to deviate from our usual bedtime routine. A few hours later, I woke up to my son crying that he was all wet. He had peed the bed. My bed. UGH.
My mind sprung into action. It started telling me all that I had done wrong. I was selfish for having friends over. I had deviated from the routine. I was a horrible mother. He peed the bed to punish me for not following the routine. Overwhelmed by the shame, I decided my redemption could wait until after I had my coffee. During which time, my husband came home from work. He asked me what happened to the bed. I confidently said, Oh, he peed in the bed. I’ll have it cleaned up in no time. I just wanted to get some coffee first. I do that a lot. I speak confidently and act cool, calm, and collected while my mind goes on the attack. This time my mind started saying, he must be mad at me. How could I have friends over while my husband worked last night. I’m so selfish. How could I let our son pee in our bed. Not only and I a horrible mother but I’m also a horrible wife. It went on like this for hours. Long after I had cleaned everything up, washed and dried the sheets, and restored the bed to it is normal condition. My mind continued to berated me on repeat. And I let it. UGH.
Negative self talk. It creeps up on me daily. I say things to myself that I would never let other people say to me. Things I would never say to other people. I believe them. It demolishes my self-worth. It makes me take things personal. Because, it makes me think everything is my fault. It makes me react negatively to everyday situations. I assume other people think them about me. How could they not? Afterall, they are true… right?
Except they aren’t true. There is a clinical term for negative thought patterns. They are called cognitive distortions. I have spent two years learning about them. Learning how to recognize them in others. Learning how to help others overcome them. Until I went to counseling, I didn’t realize I had them myself. I do. UGH.
I can’t control that my son peed the bed. He is 3 and potty training. It happens. However, I can control how I treat myself when unexpected things happen. I can apply what I have learned to help others to myself. I can give myself grace. I can give myself affirmations. I can tell myself I am a good mother. I am good wife. It is okay to have a girls night in once every three years. I can practice mindfulness. I can do Yoga. I can use essential oils which foster positivity and clarity of mind. I can tell myself I am loved by a God who created me and loves me no matter how imperfect I am. No matter how many times my son pees the bed. I can stop these thoughts when they come into my mind and ask God to help me flip my own script. I’ve been working on it. Unfortunately, I’ve been practicing negative self talk for 33 years, my negative thought patterns won’t change over night. It will take consistency. Consistently filling myself up with God’s love by praying and being in his word. Consistently affirming myself daily. Consistently practicing mindfulness and doing yoga. Consistently write this blog because writing helps me to put logic to my thoughts. Consistently go to counseling. It has to become routine. Second nature. Or else the negative self talk, these cognitive distortions, will continue to rule my mind and ruin my day. Just as my son thrives with our nighttime routine, I can thrive with the routine of speaking kindly to myself no matter the circumstances. Oh I almost forgot, I can and I did, put a tv in my son’s room. Hallelujah!
I know I’m not the only one. I’ve talked to other mothers, other women. We do this to ourselves a lot. For lots of different reasons. Let’s flip our script. Find things that fill you up with positivity and speak kindly to yourself.