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.
(Even if it’s a grammatical atrocity.)