What do people see?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our little family.

Who we are.  What we look like to others.  What I want so desperately for them.  For me.  For us.

I guess, in a way, our family’s culture.

Not culture like going to the museum and art and history and sipping tea with our pinkies in the air…oh no, because that is most definitely not us.  Not one bit.  Oh no Sir.

But culture as in…say, there was a new family at church and one of my kids raced by, another person would say “Oh, that’s a Gibson kid.  Do you know the Gibsons?…”  And it’s the next few sentences…the ones I’m curious about…

What would they say?

How would they describe us?

What would be those few adjectives that they would choose to use to describe who we ARE?

A wild, unruly bunch?

A frazzled mom ready to burst with her fourth?

A dad whispering threats in exchange for good behavior?

What do people ACTUALLY see?

Not what I want them to see…not what I wish they saw…not what I blog about (because let’s face it, for as transparent as I am here, y’all know it’s still more roses and doilies than the real life version, right?)…

Why do I care what people think of us?  Because I do care.  Truly.

I don’t care because I have any irrational aspirations to look like the perfect parents.  I don’t have a single desire for my children to be seen as model children.  Or even to be that wife that is amazing and has it all together.  Nah, that would be boring.  I don’t do boring.

But I DO care because well, for one, I wonder if I’m actually DOING it.  Or is all my talk of love and compassion and joy just lip service?  Is the picture I paint on this blog what actually happens around here?  (I don’t make stuff up, everything I type is true…but you know what I mean.)

Are the values and virtues and character traits I hope to instill actually, you know, being instilled?  Or do they get lost in the nitty gritty of making sandwiches and wiping noses and picking up stray socks?

But the real reason I care…because as Brianna so beautifully explained here, we DO live in a fishbowl.  And when I’m out with my bulging tummy, carrying one who can’t walk, and wrangling the other two like I’m herding a couple of cats in the parking lot of Costco…well, people see me.  They notice. Whether I want them to or not.

When my husband and I are defending our honor from flinging pinto beans at Baja Fresh during lunch after church, do people see a sweet family (a sweet and crazy family, with some spillage and plenty of rice on the floor for certain, and about 67 trips to the bathroom) or do they see a couple of overwhelmed parents looking quite over their heads…and oh good grief, they are having another???!!!

What do my neighbors think?  The ones who likely hear every yell and scream and cry wafting through our always open windows?

I’ve thought a lot about Brianna’s post since she first wrote it.  And a whole lot lately.

I’m trying to give myself grace.  Big, giant doses of it right now.  It’s been a crazy few weeks.  Life hasn’t seemed to slow down.  I’m the size of a house (a neighbor asked if it was “any day now?”…no dude, I still got 2 months!).  I’m tired.  I get worn out easily.  The kids have been unruly and insane.  Andy’s been working hard and often late.  We are smack in the middle of the 8,000 meetings and assessments it takes to get ready for Jill’s IEP next month.  I have three birthdays, a ten year anniversary and a baby due all in the span of three weeks.  And it doesn’t help that my house looks like a tornado blew through it.  (Didn’t I just straighten up yesterday???)

I’m not complaining.  It’s just where we’re at right now.  And I’m feeling like the culture I want for my family…an air of wild and crazy rambunctious noise…sprinkled with love and sweetness….and heaping doses of laughter…is…a bit missing these days.

It’s a season.  And it’s okay.  Seasons are fine.  They are a part of life.  I’m fine with seasons.

But I just want to be sure that I keep it a season…and don’t allow myself…don’t allow us…to stay in this busy, busy, busyness with short tempers and bad attitudes for too long.

Because what people see…when we think they don’t…when we are plodding through the grocery aisles…when we are grabbing lunch…when we are in our homes unaware and think no one can hear…paints a picture of who we are.  Who we are is often not the scrubbed clean version that shows up all smiles at church and birthday parties.  It’s the everyday every day.  (And yes, of course, sometimes there are really BAD days where you look like a train wreck and your kid is screaming bloody murder and your other kid just spilled the entire pack of popcorn all over Target and the third one just pulled down a display…I’m not talking about those…I’m talking about the majority of days…the everyday more normal days.)

And I wonder…someday when I’m old or even dead…what will my kids recount of me?  Will it be the words I wish and hope they say…or will it be some other reality?  Will they remember their childhood fondly…or will they remember something else?

All of this to say that I’m reminding myself to be intentional.  To be purposeful.  To be patient.  And kind.  And see the joy.  Even when it’s crazy.  Especially when it’s crazy.  Because seasons can be so sinister and turn into months and years and lifetimes.

And oh my goodness that is not what I want.  Not for me.  Not for my kids.  Not for my family.

And it’s only gonna happen if I make it happen.

We really do often hold the key to the thermostat of our homes.

Because let’s be honest here: if mama ain’t happy…ain’t no one happy.

True story.

(Even if it’s a grammatical atrocity.)

 

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jeannett
I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.
jeannett
jeannett

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Comments

  1. 1

    “But I just want to be sure that I keep it a season” is EXACTLY what I’ve been feeling lately. Baby number 3 was a long, very uncomfortable pregnancy and of course the first few months were so exhausting that I know I’ve been more grumpy and short than ever. But I so want this to be a season. It’s so easy to get into habits during seasons that stick around for years, or forever.

    Thanks for this beautiful post.
    Janice´s last blog post ..Solar Eclipse on Sunday!

  2. 2

    I love this post. I needed to hear it. I have two littles at home and have been struggling greatly with how to manage them both. They are five and 11 months. They have two completely different needs right now and I can’t seem to figure out how to balance them. My husband coaches baseball and is gone a lot now so I’m “weathering” the storm alone. I have been so overwhelmed with trying to figure all of this out. Your post has really helped me put things into perspective.

    “Keep it a season”… I’ve never thought of it like this before but it’s so true. This is a phase. A phase that won’t last forever. It’s a season and I can’t let the bad attitude (that in all honesty, I’ve taken on) ruin what sweet time this could be. Thanks for your insight! Love the post!

  3. 3

    I love this post. I needed to hear it. I have two littles at home and have been struggling greatly with how to manage them both. They are five and 11 months. They have two completely different needs right now and I can’t seem to figure out how to balance them. My husband coaches baseball and is gone a lot now so I’m “weathering” the storm alone. I have been so overwhelmed with trying to figure all of this out. Your post has really helped me put things into perspective.

    “Keep it a season”… I’ve never thought of it like this before but it’s so true. This is a phase. A phase that won’t last forever. It’s a season and I can’t let the bad attitude (that in all honesty, I’ve taken on) ruin what sweet time this could be. Thanks for your insight! Love the post!
    Kristi´s last blog post ..I need a break

  4. 4

    I have no idea how people see us either! You know, our family looks similar – your vision of the Costco parking lot – replace “carrying the one who can’t walk” with “unloading/loading the big wheelchair from the accessible van with the one who can’t walk/move/see/eat/etcetc” while wrangling the other two with a huge belly, and you have us! We are very, very hard to miss. People must think we’re crazy. Oh well. It is what it is, and we manage, and we are happy and healthy (mostly) and we triage ourselves, and somehow things work out. It’s overwhelming to those looking in, but to us, it’s just life, and we know what to do. I look in from the outside and wonder how we manage with a smile on our face too.
    Jenny´s last blog post ..Wildlife Experience

  5. 5

    What a beautifully honest post, thank you for sharing it.
    I think there is a lot of pressure nowadays (particularly on parents) to “keep up appearances”…I attended a mother’s group briefly when my first child was a babe and struggled with the idea all these women seemed so together…I later found out in a random conversation with our local GP that 90% of the women in our town were on anti-depressants! Horrific!
    Make sure you schedule in calm time – cancel stuff if you have to – regularly. Family night, sitting on the floor having a tea party, lazing in the sunshine with the kids, a bit of yoga together…there is nothing but nothing so important as now – no meeting, sports practice or chore.
    As you can tell I have struggled with these times too and now I just stop when I reach the point where I know to go forward would be not constructive. My husband is learning slowly too – I even busted him laying on a towel pillow on the bathroom floor, feet up on the side of the bath, our little boy washing his feet tenderly. He laughed and said it was like having a pedicure and the little man was stoked to have massive yetti feet to wash and stick water toys to :)
    Sending lots of peacefulness your way :)
    Charlotte´s last blog post ..A little love from a winter garden

  6. 6

    YOU are doing a great job. I see a mamma who loves their babies with everything in her. I see a mamma who wants and believes she can change the world. I see a mamma who encourages people every day.
    Kate Eschbach´s last blog post ..Sunday Screensaver

  7. 7

    I love this post! We all need to hear it. It’s so true that moms hold the key to happiness for the whole family. We set the tone. It’s a gift and a huge responsibility. So, thank you for your honesty! It makes readers like me feel less isolated :) And you’re in my prayers, especially during this season of your life. xo

  8. 8

    Jeannett
    I think I saw in one of your other post that you like the movie “Parenthood”.
    I remember all the crazyness and sillyness of that movie, but I think the best part was when the Grandmother talked about life being like a rollercoaster; all the ups and downs, the scarry feelings and the moments of excitement.
    Relax and enjoy the ride! Just think of all the fun you’ll have years from now re-living these moments when you and the kids are sitting around a campfire talking about the “good old days when …….”
    Uncle Marc

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