When I conducted my recent reader survey, one of the comments that I got said, “I like that the site doesn’t push readers to be ‘supermoms.’” I can’t tell you how happy that one comment made me. In just eleven words, that reader made me feel like I was doing something right with this site. There are too many messages on the Internet, on the TV, in our communities, and in our own minds that tell women that if they are not being the elusive supermom, then they are doing it all wrong. That’s just not the case.
Of course, this doesn’t just happen to Moms. People of both genders and all walks of life are pushed to be more, to be perfect. But we’re just not made for that.
When I made my new business cards this weekend (to reflect the new site) while preparing to attend one of the Disney Social Media Moms on the Road events, I decided to change things up. Instead of filling a front and back of the business card with all of my information, I used one side to include my name and site name along with the following message that I came up with for the card:
You were not made to be perfect. You were made to be authentic. Embrace your real life and find joy in it.
To me, that’s some of what this site is about. I try to make sure that projects are not lofty. Homeschooling is practical and doable, and will always include some gaps (just like any other form of education). I fess up to being domestically challenged. I admit that I’m not perfect. I don’t need to be. I wasn’t made to be that way. I can only attempt to be authentic.
In keeping with this being a List it Tuesday post, I thought I would share some ways that by being authentic and intentional, you can embrace the life that you have and find joy in it. The ways that you would do this in your own life may be a bit different because of your own life circumstances. But, I thought I would just offer up some suggestions.
Look at your children with an eye toward the fact that they are miracles.
It would be a lot to think of the kids like this all the time, but if you’re a parent, just take some time to look past the demands of parenthood. Look at your kids while they are busy working on a project or reading or running around in the backyard, and really take it in.
I wouldn’t be being authentic if I didn’t admit that sometimes, I just want to tell them to stop talking. Sometimes, I want to roll my eyes as I help them in 30 seconds find something that they swore was lost forever. Sometimes, I just want some time to myself. But when the kids are busily doing something and just going about their lives and I have a moment to watch them, I’m kind of blown away by the enormity of parenthood and that I’m lucky enough to be such an important part of their lives.
If you have a chance to get away with your family, take it.
I’m a sucker for going on Disney World trips. While I enjoy it just for the fun that it offers, I also love the family time we get to spend together. In particular, I love that we keep so busy having fun that it’s time that leaves us mostly unplugged. That’s also the reason that I love the considerably cheaper trip of camping. I like that it gives us a chance to just be with each other.
If you can’t take a trip, even just a day spent walking some trails and having a picnic lunch can be enough to reconnect.
Allow yourself to admit that you can’t do it all.
Be authentic with those around you. It can be hard to admit to other people that you just can’t do everything. It’s okay to sometimes disappoint other people rather than to push yourself past your breaking point.
That was why I finally had to merge all of my sites into Real Life at Home. I was exhausted. There was a never ending list of things to do. I worried about letting down all of my readers if I merged the sites though. Finally, I had to admit that I just couldn’t keep up the pace that I had set for myself.
To my surprise, readers were mostly supportive. To those few that told me they wouldn’t read the site anymore with it merged, even after I said that I felt like it was killing me to keep up the pace that I was, I was sad to see them go, but I guess it was time for them to move on.
Find the activities that you love and do them.
I know that there is always laundry to be done and meals to make, but find some time to do the things that make you feel alive and joy-filled. It’s too easy to get caught up in the monotony of life sometimes. Get caught up in the joy in life too.
Surround yourself with people who understand you and people who make you a better person.
I meant to add this to my list, and then forgot before I published this post. I was quickly reminded of it, however, when a text message came to my phone after midnight from one of my best friends telling me how much she liked this post. I knew I couldn’t leave the post how it was. It was incomplete without this addition.
One of the things that helps me to be more authentic and find the joy in my life is the people that I have surrounded myself with. I have the most amazing friends. In fact, I have friends so amazing that I can’t help but call many of them my best friends. They make me feel real because I can be myself with each of them.
One of my best friends is someone I’ve known my whole life. She gave birth to me, and has been with me every moment after that. She has sacrificed for me in ways that nobody else would ever dream to sacrifice.
I have a best friend who, despite a sometimes rocky first year of knowing me, later vowed to spend the rest of his life with me. He laughs with me, cries with me, muddles through this things called parenthood with me, and wants little more than to make me happy.
I have a best friend with whom I used to lay on the driveway at night and stare up at the stars while we talked as giggly 12 year old girls who felt so grown up. And now, we watch our giggly nine year old daughters being best friends. Truth be told – I think we could still lay and look up at the stars today. I just think we might have several kids who wanted to know what we were doing.
I have a best friend who builds up everyone around her with her genuine words. Right after we met, she told me that I was wonderful or genuine or something like that. It’s funny, but I can’t remember the word. What I remembered was that she said that it didn’t seem like enough to just say that word to describe me. It would be more appropriate if she could write it on a paper and wrap it in a giant heart shaped box with a bow on it. I knew that I needed her in my life.
I have a best friend that I didn’t speak with for 20 years, but when we talked again, it was like we had never stopped. He puts up with my special brand of crazy. But, I think it’s because he has a special brand of crazy too. Still, he’s often a calming force when I get a little insane.
I have a group of best friends who, in theory, are some “online friends.” In reality, they are friends who I love just as much as friends I can hang out with in person any time I want. They are friends that I love so much that I sometimes get crazy and figure out how long it would take me to drive to their houses, just because it’s not enough to text or Skype.
I have a group of best friends that I am blessed enough to call my siblings. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we don’t keep in touch. But they are always in my heart. They are the friends that God gave me to get through life with.
If you don’t have people in your life that build you up, hold you when you’re down, calm you when you’re crazy, and rejoice with you when you’re happy – then you need to find those people. You need to be that person to other people too.
What things do you do that bring you joy? What things are you doing because you feel like you have to in order to be “perfect” that are actually stealing away that joy? What can you do to change that?
|Angie, a domestically challenged nerd and mom of three very fun kids, is the founder of Real Life at Home, the combined home of the former sites Many Little Blessings, The Homeschool Classroom, Catholic Printables Online, and Catholic Mothers Online. Angie also listens to music every chance she gets, writes eBooks, loves Pinterest, begrudgingly uses Google+, and occasionally sleeps.|