Nailing the sin (and burden) of comparison to the cross

This Heart...

Of all the burdens we carry as women, I would say one of the greatest of these would be the affliction habit of comparison. 

We do it to ourselves, and at times it’s like we don’t even know we are doing it.

We snark at social media posts by other women working direct sales, “ignoring” their event invites and not responding to their messages. We sneer at the woman who is not ashamed to put herself out there with her talents or hobbies. We judge the mother who works and spends long hours away from her children, but we say we don’t understand the mother who still co-sleeps with her five year old. We hate the pulled-together mom waiting at school drop off, and yet we turn and wonder why the mother who is always late and disorganized can’t get herself together.

Worse than that. We discount ourselves before we…

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If the Oscars were for moms

The Academy Awards were last night.

A glamorous party, full of glamorous and important people?? Somehow, I think my invitation was lost in the mail or something.

Every year, there is article and think piece after blog post and write-up about how to better improve the Oscars telecast.

This year, they didn’t even have a host. And still, many decried it as a boring and tedious operation in Hollywood being self-congratulatory, indulgent and overly self-important.

Wait, that might have just been me, from the comfort of my couch, refreshing my Twitter feed.

Seriously, though, how many award shows does Hollywood need to pat itself on the back for being important? I say this as someone who loves movies, too. LOVES movies. I could do without the finger wagging from millionaires who have chefs and private planes, and their tear soaked cheeks as they act surprised for winning an award they have spent months campaigning for.

I promise you, I’m not bitter. And this is a tale as old as time, since the beginning of the twentieth century.

There are so many underappreciated, unrecognized people who work hard and necessary jobs in the real world. Personally, I wish we could give more props to moms.

I know, I’m obviously biased. But it’s true. We get it done, every day. Most of the time, without anyone even noticing. 

So, I decided what some categories could be if an awards show like the Oscars were crafted for us moms. Because we deserve a prize, too, right? We would all show up, or would intend to show up, before a third of us had to cancel last minute because it’s still winter and germs are plentiful. Another small chunk of us wouldn’t even be able to escape our house undetected.

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And this would all still be depending on how many of us could actually sync our schedules for the same day sometime this decade. We’d all wear dresses from Target, or leggings with pockets. And the show would wrap up before 9 p.m. because we’d barely be able to keep our eyes open.

This party is gonna be lit.

 

Best Emotional Breakdown

For the mom who loses her absolute mind in a McDonald’s parking lot. Or a Target aisle. Or in her closet while she’s searching for just five minutes of peace and quiet without having to hear her kid’s having a shouting match over a granola bar and the television remote. The tears. The heartbreak. The frustration. The journey. The secret stash of Twix bars she readily consumes to make it all stop. It could be any of these moments taking home the top prize.

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Best Sound Editing While You’re Trying to Make a Damn Phone Call

Have you ever taken a phone call while sitting on the toilet behind a locked bathroom door? On the back porch in the middle of winter? Or while whispering from your linen closet because you’re terrified they’re going to find you? It could be a sequel to “A Quiet Place.” Whatever it takes to have the school principal, receptionist at the doctor’s office or your great Aunt Milly not think your house is haunted or a home for the criminally insane or an active hostage situation.

Best Original Dinner Plan

What can you do with ground beef and a can of green beans? The correct answer is what CAN’T you do with them. In a pinch an hour before you need to leave to take the kids to soccer practice, so you speed dial Dominos and make the kids eat off plastic plates and napkins in the car? Cereal and milk for dinner because you can’t even anymore? Ever heard your child tell you how much they don’t like “this dinner” before they have even tasted it? If this sounds like you, and your family’s five-star Michelin weeknight dining experience, you might be a winner.

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Best Costume Design

And by costume, I mean the standard mom uniform. Tunic and leggings? Day four of the same black, stretchy yoga pants with cracker crumbs stuck to the front and your husband’s old Led Zeppelin shirt? Dry Shampoo and two day old mascara in the school drop off lane? You’ve got that red carpet razzle dazzle, girl. We see you.

Best Production Design behind a photo

Kids crying approximately three seconds before your photographer snapped your family photo at the Christmas tree farm? Messes scooted just out of frame so you could take a picture of your kid’s birthday cake you spend eighteen hours getting just right? Black and white filter on Instagram to mask the copious amounts of cups on your night stand or your dark under-eye circles? We see your effort to try to have it all together, mamma!

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Best Animated Short to Buy you Just Twenty Minutes of Peace

For some reason, Paw Patrol is an unstoppable, potent force that once it gets its hooks in you, just won’t let go. It’ll answer a hundred questions you didn’t even ask, and all the information gained from it (where is that purse chicken this time??) will be forced upon you. Sort of like the Kardashians. Or, if educational shows are more your flavor, perhaps the classic Little Einsteins is more your speed. Just don’t let it be a show about a singing backpack or a little boy whose name rhymes with “Malliou.”

Best Picture of a mom trying her best

Let’s be honest, we are all winners in this instance, aren’t we? I’ve never come across a mother yet who isn’t trying her best, but believing she’s messing this entire operation up. The truth is, there aren’t enough awards for moms who get things done. And really, instead of a statue that would make a great door stop or a plaque on the wall we would  have to dust, we’d rather have our kids turn out to be fabulous little people who are kind, smart and successful. There is no greater reward. And it’s honestly the one, despite our efforts, we just don’t expect. But we should. We really should. 

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Honestly, moms, I think we would have a ratings hit. Don’t you?

 

 

 

 

Don’t be scared when grief settles in.

If there is one piece of advice I can share with someone who is grieving, it’s this:

The worst thing you can do is wait for your grief to pass.

 

Just months after the week I lost both my grandfather and my father, I was careening toward an emotional break. 

Looking back, I’m not sure where I ever came up with the notion that grief is tidy and immediately transcendent. Or that the world was counting on me to just get on with my life.

When the sun would set and my house grew still each evening. When there was finally nothing else to do to avoid reality and nothing to distract myself with, another me would emerge. The me that felt like she was floating because she believed she was filled with nothing. It felt, more than ever, as if the tethers that bound me to this world were thread thin.

Exasperated with my inability to function in any normal capacity, I wondered why, when I was armed with optimism and a faith-centered outlook, my sorrow hadn’t yet turned a corner. I tried to force a peace with what happened. I was lying to myself.

No matter how much I tried, though, my days were spent slogging through silent misery. The more I tried to correct course and steer the ship, the more scattered and chaotic everything felt. 

Don't be scared when grief settles in.

What I thought I was doing was carrying on. What I was actually doing was trying my hardest not to face my grief. I was hunkering down, waiting for the storm to pass. When in actuality, grief is not a storm. It doesn’t spin and howl, and then move on. 

It settles in.

It’s like a volcanic eruption that changes the course and landscape of everything forever. It’s like a quiet cosmic shift. You have to find a way to live in a world that’s been leveled. In a world that does not entirely, if at all, resemble the one you knew before.

Signs of grief will always be there. You have to find a way to not allow grief and bitterness to have the final say over what really matters. Over what you do next.

Two years later, I still find myself startled from being triggered by seemingly insignificant things. I now live near the hospital my father died in. Most of the time, I drive past that brick and glass building, and don’t think about that day. 

Other times, I remember the sterile hospital smell and cold tile floor like I’m standing in one of the hallways. I remember that day and try not to go crazy. I try not to stay there. 

For so long,  I clung to the memory of my life before. I desperately wanted to stay there, in the place before everything spun out of control. I thought moving on meant I was forgetting and letting go of the people I loved. That I was ceding some ground to tragedy.

I tried to compartmentalize everything. I fought to keep my grief contained so it wouldn’t swallow everything. It felt like a blackness that would taint everything. Grief was the name I wouldn’t dare speak.

And if I could separate everything then I didn’t risk losing everything.

It wasn’t until I realized grief went by other names that my guard could come down. It was another form of love, trapped love, and something I couldn’t avoid or I would lose so much that mattered to me. I realized grief didn’t dwarf any of the joy or diminish the good things I had to hold on to.

If anything, it magnified them.

When I let my walls down and grief enter into my broken parts, when I faced it, I finally realized its true purpose. Because there are some things grief cannot touch. And those happen to be the most important things. Things worth fighting for and savoring. And they stand tall in the face of the bleakest sorrows we can imagine.

 It allows me even now to save myself when my heart breaks over and over again.

If there was one piece of advice I could give to the grieving person, it would be that the worst thing you can do for yourself is to wait for your grief to pass. For you to put your grief away.

Grief is terrifying. It can feel like some unnamed specter that always hovers close. And it does. Grief is now what reminds me of all that I have, all that I once had.

And when I finally asked for its real name, its name wasn’t grief.

It was hope.