Monday, June 27, 2011

Held Back By Fear

“What in the world makes you think that you’re even remotely qualified to help encourage and educate other parents? Have you noticed how much you screw up on a regular basis? Have you noticed how often you end up doing the very things you said you wouldn’t, or not doing the very things you know you should? Who in their right mind would ever listen to you? Are you really so conceited as to think that you should be trying to help anyone else?”

That is what is being whispered– sometimes shouted– in the back of my mind. I can’t help but wonder what gives me the right to think that I’m qualified to help equip anyone to be the best parent they can be. Sometimes I get angry. I yell. I slam doors. I say unkind or sarcastic things. I have even, much to my dismay, gotten frustrated enough to smack my 2 year old’s leg– yet physical punishment is something I am very much against. I have messed things up so many times during this parenting journey, sometimes in ways I am ashamed to recall.

I fear that as soon as I start trying to provide encouragement and information, people will call me a phony. They’ll see right through me. They’ll see that I’m not perfect, that I don’t get this stuff right all the time, that I’m just as messed up as anyone else.

But then I wonder if my imperfections and weaknesses may actually be necessary. Is it better to offer encouragement and information from a place of humility and recognition of one’s own struggles, or from a place of pride and a carefully manufactured appearance of perfection? Do people feel more encouraged by someone who recognizes her own faults, or by someone who puts on a front of having it all figured out? I can’t speak for everyone, but personally I’ve always been much more encouraged by people who seem to be as human as I am.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I should never try to work on my own struggles as a parent. Absolutely, I should. But I should also be willing to admit that I have them, and I should never fool myself into thinking that I am better than anyone else. I know I’m not.

But still, this is one of my fears. What fears hold you back from pursuing your dreams?

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Dream

When I started this blog, I was particularly keen to avoid the topic of parenting. I was trying to disconnect myself from the idea that I am nothing other than a mom, in part because I sometimes get the feeling that people think that’s all I ever write and/or think about. And that is just not true. ;) My goal was to use this site for thoughts about God and spirituality. Yes, it may be my personal website where I can post anything I please, but posts about other interests or happenings were not going to be posted here.

But my answer to a recent question has changed my focus a bit. The question, asked by author Jon Acuff, was this: “What passion or dream would you pursue if you had all the time in the world?” My answer surprised me a bit. The truth is, I have many interests. God and spirituality are certainly on the list, and so are authentic relationships within communities. I have also been considering going back to school to become a high school guidance counselor.

Yet, when I asked myself what dream I would pursue if I had all the time in the world…

When I asked myself what was the one thing I would go for if I wasn’t hindered by things like time and money…

I said that I wanted to counsel pregnant teens, young moms, and even new parents in general. I want to encourage them to be the best parents they can be and help them obtain the tools and information they need to do that.

It is still true that being a parent is not the totality of my identity. It’s not all I do, it’s not all I think about, and it’s not all I care about. And parenting my own children is not the only thing I want to do in life. But I do want very much to encourage other parents, especially young and/or new parents. And I have a personal interest in encouraging and educating young moms. I was a teen parent myself; I became pregnant with my oldest child at the age of 17, and I was 18 when he was born.

In light of all of this, it seems foolish to insist that this site should have nothing to do with parenting. Is it all I’m going to write about? No, probably not. But I do think this dream of mine is something worth writing about on my blog. And I also think it is something worth pursuing. I have a lot of ideas pertaining to this dream, and I will probably write about those ideas here too. And while I cannot make everything happen right now, I do think there are steps I can take to at least start moving in that direction. I want to write about that too.

So there you go. Perhaps I will post more now that I’ve given myself permission to post whatever is on my mind instead of limiting myself to just one topic. ;) I hope you’ll stick with me and join the conversation that I’d like to get started here.

Speaking of conversation, I have a question for you: If you are a parent, in what ways were you encouraged and helped by others when you were starting on your parenting journey? In what ways do you wish you had been encouraged or helped, but weren’t?