I bent over and locked my too-big-for-me rented ski boots into the clamps on my rented snowboard. I stood up and immediately cringed. My legs did not want to be permanently stuck this far apart and at these awkward angles. Not even for a second.
It was a series of empowering decisions that led me to allow 4 strange women into my home.
It wasn’t easy.
I struggled for a long time with feelings of guilt and unworthiness.
I felt like my needs were insignificant. Unreasonable even.
“According to the wisest man who ever lived… messes are not proof of a wasted life, but of a productive one.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4). According to this explanation, the proverb is about the messiness of a life well-lived. Tremper Longman says the moral is that “a productive life is a messy life.” Longman says, “One desires a neat and tidy life, just as the ideal stall would be clean. However, a clean stall by the nature of things would mean an empty stall since oxen do not have to be in a stall long before it is messy. However, without oxen there is no productivity.”
Derek Kidner says, that “Orderliness can reach the point of sterility. This proverb is [a plea for] the readiness to accept upheaval, and a mess to clear up, as the price of growth.”
Oh, but we do.
Not only had my religious upbringing deemed alcohol taboo, but every paranoid thing I’ve read about a breastfeeding mom having a drink had my red flags up and flappin’. But, like he said, “New moms are anxious. A relaxed mom is a happy mom, and a happy and relaxed mom means a happy and relaxed baby.” Holla! Where do I sign? I’d frame that permission slip like a first paycheck if I could.
I needed permission. I was too fearful of doing something wrong or messing something up. I needed someone to be willing to take the heat if something went wrong, like trusted friends and professionals. People willing to take the blame. Fearful thoughts get trapped in the spin cycle of: “I’m not supposed to do ____ . I can’t do ______. I don’t even think I’m allowed to ____.” “I couldn’t ___.” Or, “What will people think if I _____.”
- Fall in love
- Question everything
- Wear white in the winter
- Try a new hobby
- Say “no” to your kid even if he cries
- Go back to school
- Be happy
- Skip instead of walk
- Say how you actually feel
- Wear the same thing everyday
- Eat cake for breakfast
- (See me after class if your desire didn’t make the list)
*You might be relieved to know, both authorized activities worked. I can confidently say that me and my kids are healthy, happy, and doing just fine. And we sleep like champs.
(Day 3: 671 words down. 13,389 to go.)
Let me break my heroism down so that you can write about it for the front page of a newspaper:
- I take drastic risks all the time. Like the other day, I ate some chicken from the fridge that was questionable. I licked a piece of brown something off the back of my hand. I went out shopping with the kids without a extra set of clothing and diapers. I didn’t shower. I didn’t shave my armpits. I popped a pimple. I slept in for a bit while the kids roamed the house without supervision and played with iPads. I mixed colors and whites in the washing machine. I wore capris in 12 degree weather. I paid my bills a day late. I didn’t put gas in the car until the light came on and said I had like, 5 miles left. Okay, so I didn’t do this all in the same day, but you get the idea. I’m as risky as Tom Cruise dancing in sunglasses and his underwear.
- I sacrifice my dinner pretty much every night. The kids would rather eat my boring chicken soup and toast over their Kraft Mac ’n Cheese and broccoli dinner. I sacrifice my sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. I sacrifice my cleanliness on the days they are sick and need to be held all day. I sacrifice my privacy every time I use the bathroom. I not only sacrificed my body to have kids, but I sacrificed a clean house. I sacrifice my time. I sacrifice quiet.
- I push myself every morning that I wake up to go to the gym instead of sleeping. I push myself to write everyday, and post to my blog on Tuesdays. I push myself to clean the house every night its been ransacked, to cook, and to go grocery shopping instead of reading a book or watching movies all day. I push myself to stop eating the whole pizza/cake/bag of candy/*insert any sort of delicious food here*. I push myself to beat my husband at racquetball, even though a lot of the time that doesn’t happen. I push myself to be kind to others, when I really would rather yell or give them a lovely piece of my mind. I push myself to have positive thoughts, when being negative and miserable is SO MUCH EASIER.
(Day 2: 553 words down. 14,060 to go.)
I came across Jeff Goins’s post “The Secret To Develop a Regular Writing Habit: 500 Words Per Day,” on Medium that changed my way of thinking about writing. I’ve always approached writing as a hobby, and Goins suggests that to be a good writer, writing must be a habit, not a hobby.
31 days is a pretty reasonable commitment. So… I’m in! I joined the Facebook group, I posted my blog, and I’m ready to get started with the writing prompts he shares on his site.
Here we go: Day 1.
“Dad, pretend you were a mermaid, and you met this mermaid for the first time, and you said, ‘Hi mermaid!” Sidda asks. “Okay,” Dan says, and then after a brief pause, “Hi mermaid!””
(887 words down. 14, 613 to go.)