Saturday, October 10, 2015

Somewhere Between Amazing and Calmly Mundane

Saw this on Facebook today:

I'm somewhere between Amazing and Relax and Exhale right now, depending on the moment. But for you mothers of young children and/or young families, I have to post this with some caveats.

I get enough sleep. Only the dog wakes me up to pee. She has trouble getting comfortable in her old age, so rarely sleeps with us on the bed anymore.

My children will cook dinner for the family once or twice a week. Ben usually offers.

They wash their own laundry. I don't clean the game room or their room. I only stock their bathroom. If it looks gross, I clean the bathmat, but I have them do the rest.

My children are old enough to tell me what they want and need. Their personalities are such that they will offer counter-arguments to my NOs with respect. I listen to those counter arguments and will change my response when they are reasonable. We can do that because of their age, who we are, the choices they make about how to communicate with us, and our current levels of calm v. stress.

I can pay all my bills. We can set money aside for savings. Unless I do something seriously immoral or at all illegal, my job is relatively secure for the next three years. Our internet is free (Google Fiber, and we're happy with the free speed) and our "basic" cable is 140 channels included in our rent.

We don't have smart phones. It cut our phone bill in half, it cut the addiction, and it cut down on overworking. I tell my students that I can't respond to their emails immediately so they know to expect that.

We don't have to work on the Sabbath. Not even rehearsals, because of where we live. People don't schedule lessons or activities on Monday nights to avoid interrupting Family Home Evening--which is just what it sounds like.

I have a job where my whole self is welcomed and appreciated. My classes start with a prayer. My students relate the experiences of their ELL students to their 18 months to 2 years learning a second language on their mission. We talk about how awesome General Conference was (AND the games, c'mon, be reasonable). GC is our THON and it happens twice a school year, but the students don't miss classes for the next two days. They are rested and refreshed.

Work is work! There are politics and long-standing personal clashes and things you just wish could be different. But it is *my* work, the work I had the *privilege* of choosing and I had the LUCK of landing at a school where I FIT. I love my scholarly community across Universities.

For me, the older I get, the easier it is for me to be cool with me. I have less of a need to be what someone else thinks I should be. I have a better understanding that sometimes the lens through which we regard others refracts.

Warning: The following reflections are influenced by my area of research:

In Mid-May I read a book about stereo-type threat. Not the work on the effect of stereo-type threat's affect on assessment practices in minority communities--although that started it all and is definitely part of the literature--but the notion that when we associate ourselves with a stigmatized community (e.g., a particular disability label)--we may behave in ways that attempt to avoid reinforcing a stereotype about that type of stigmatized person and in the process inadvertently reinforce it. We internalize the stigma and the shame and put an extraordinary amount of effort into hiding the disability. This gave me tremendous insight into one of the sources of what was nearly crippling anxiety in the last few years of my PhD program.

[Thank you Mary Lambert for "Secrets" at that point in time. "They tell us from the time we're young to hide the things that we don't like about ourselves--inside ourselves. I know I'm not the only one, who spent so long attempting to be someone else, well I'm over it." Not that I think everyone should know everything about me. I think that's part of feeling constantly apologetic for existing--you feel you have to explain yourself to everyone. I've moved beyond that.]

It happens that I love my Faith and the opportunity to NOT have to downplay its influence in my life and the degree to which it brings me JOY has had an incredible affect on my ability to love my life.

I had no idea that's what was waiting for me here.

I know there will be tough times ahead because that's how we grow. It's part of the design, as the quote above suggests, and it is a foundational belief for Latter-Day Saints. I suspect further heartbreak awaits me because I love a lot of people and none of them will live forever. But there will always be updrafts if we don't give up--and if we remember that we are never alone. I can promise you that.

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