In our MOPS steering meetings, we’ve each been sharing our “story” to learn more about each other and have a better idea of who to refer a Mom to talk to about similar experiences as needed. I took my turn yesterday and I decided to post mine here for several reasons, including to fill out “About Me” more, in case you wanted to know. There’s a few more thoughts at the end.
I’ve had a pretty easy life. I grew up with a very loving, supportive, and creative Christian family- I never felt like I was lacking. I accepted Christ as my Savior at an early age. I was always a “good” kid. I did well in school and in most anything I wanted to try. I never felt much doubt about my abilities and never really struggled with low self esteem because I knew I was loved and could do lots of things well. I worked for years at a Christian camp that eventually inspired my choice of a college major.
I went to Houghton College, did well there, learned a lot and enjoyed my college days. I came out with a degree in Outdoor and Therapeutic Recreation and a lot less debt than average. I got a “perfect” job almost immediately. I have had some good work experiences with at-risk youth, adults with learning disabilities, and adults and children in mental crisis and with addictions.
I married a wonderful, creative, supportive, and even-keeled man. He is the only man I ever dated and He was diligent to guard my heart. That has given us a secure foundation and God-focus for our marriage. With our combined frugal natures, some solid biblical teaching about money, supportive and helpful family, and endless do-it-yourself projects, we’re debt free, own our home, and have more than we need with a healthy portion of our budget allotted to giving.
I had no major problems with a twin pregnancy and delivery, and both girls have always been perfectly healthy. I had basically the same experience with Belle, only I had NO physical challenges during pregnancy and a successful VBAC delivery. I get to stay at home with my kids without major concern for finances and I can dabble in hobbies readily.
Not to say I haven’t had challenges. I grew up poor. I had my christian “good kid” version of rebellion-not wanting to go to church, and hating to be volunteered to do special music or other service tasks, and being less than pleasant at home when I was made to do these things.
I lost a friend in Middle school to a drunk driver, and I experienced some very unkind school mates. No boys ever really showed interest in me, although I was ALMOST too busy to care. I struggled with what direction to go with my life and education since I had lots of options.
My first “perfect” job I finally quit after 2 years, not wanting to continue to manage the politics and unrealistic expectations. I then faced an unusual-for-me difficulty of not finding another job for 6 months, but since my income was just supplementary for savings and debt payment, it wasn’t much of a hardship. I’ve always lacked social ease, so making conversation, especially with someone I don’t know does not come naturally or comfortably.
I had some small difficulties in my twin pregnancy including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and wrist problems, and took a scare helicopter ride on my birthday at 34 weeks. I had a C-section and was told I wouldn’t be able to deliver a baby naturally if I couldn’t deliver a 5 lb 12 oz baby. I had a very LONG labor for my second pregnancy and a lot of apprehension about attempting a VBAC, especially during that long labor. And 3 kids under 17 months old was a challenge in it’s own class, and continues to be as they get smarter, taller, and more able every day.
We live frugally and HAVE to do a lot of things ourselves to stay within the budget we’ve established. While I enjoy some aspects of it, canning beans on a hot summer day or going out to do chores in bitter cold or rain isn’t the fun part of being frugal and producing good food for my family. And extra dishes are absolutely my least favorite part of cooking from scratch for better, cheaper food. But God has HUGELY blessed my life, even when I’m undeserving.
These details of my story lay the foundation for where I am now and where I connect with others. It establishes that I am a Martha rather than a Mary. I often stick to “do-it-myself” instead of asking God, or anyone else, for help if I need it. And I am compelled to do it ALL myself. After all, I can do it better and cheaper, right? So I think about adding just one more thing- like cutting out convenience foods altogether, or homeschooling, or milking a cow year round, or making all our laundry and bath products, or whatever strikes me. I can often feel too busy to see what God may want me to do with my time.
I know it appears to others that I’m incredibly talented and have EVERYTHING together. Sometimes feels good. But it’s an uneasy place to be- “If they only knew how it really is…” I fight overwhelming piles of dishes and laundry to put away. I have crud pasted on the floor and don’t often see my counters. I don’t feel like I spend enough time paying attention to and engaging my children, or God- to listen and talk to them and Him regularly. I’m dealing with my selfishness- doing what I want rather than taking care of the needs of my family. I struggle with feeling angry and frustrated at my kids for doing curious kid things- like emptying clean dishes out of the cabinets and dirtying them or raiding the counters or fridge, or making lots of messes. So that’s my story- an imperfect woman trying to find balance and make good, God honoring decisions for herself and her family.
There are 2 major elements I want to pull out from my story that have served to strengthen our marriage, make it easier, and put us “ahead” since we’ve had to deal with fewer problems. They are 1) Diligence during our courtship to guard our hearts and purity. We chose to honor each other throughout that time, and didn’t even kiss until our wedding. It helped to check us emotionally and physically. If we had not ended up marrying, neither of us would have had regrets, missing pieces, or “baggage” to carry forward. It makes even a kiss more valuable, sacred, and special to us now, since we’ve only ever shared that with each other. 2) Starting out following biblical principles regarding finances. It has put us on the same page for our finances from the beginning. It kept us from spending extravagantly on a wedding, home, car, or other major expense, and has helped us to get rid of school debt quickly and not acquire any other debts. It has provided perspective for Whose money we are stewards of and the role of money in our lives.
Despite straight A’s in public speaking in college, I still hate it. I get nervous, and the combination of a stressor like that and personal or emotional content or anything I feel is “high stakes”, makes me cry. So thanks for bearing with me, steering ladies. And for most of you who didn’t hear me give my story, you know one more struggle I have that makes me an imperfect woman.
Something I learned in college that has stuck with me: The higher up on a pedestal you’re placed, the further you have to fall. I don’t ever want people to think I am ‘perfect’ or a ‘supermom’ or a ‘superwoman’. I’m certainly not, and hope the transparency in my story helps convey that.