Insecurities and Being Mom to Active Girls

8 03 2016

I keep thinking I’m getting better at not being  competitive or anxious mother, and then something happens with my daughters and I realize I have all the feelings of anxiety turned up on high and wonder how in the world did I allow myself to get there?

I think I land in a space with other parents who are ramped up for their children and it rubs off on me. Plus, all my own insecurities and experiences from childhood pop up and I reflect them on my girls – despite all the times I tell myself I’m NOT going to do that. It just happens and takes me by surprise!

This month is intense for me as mom and Doug as dad. Some people might ask “why do you let yourself get SO busy” and it just works out that these middle two weeks of March are the moment at which every activity collides and all chaos ensues in our household – including my competitive parenting anxiety.

  • So softball started up last week for both girls – check!
  • It is girl scout cookie selling season – thankfully only for one girl this byear – check!
  • The school play in a week auditions (wondering if they’ll get in or not)/rehearsals/performance – check!
  • Getting close to martial arts testing for one girl – check!
  • School music concerts galore for both girls – check!
  • colds and ear infections keeping kiddos home from school – check!

Then let’s add mom and dad’s list:

  • Final papers, group projects, and take-home essay exams two weeks for my seminary program – check!
  • Structural engineering season in full swing meaning extra pay (yay!) and extra hours for Doug at work – check!
  • Easter is coming in a few weeks (ministry fun times for our family!)
  • Washing machine dead and finding time to bring in a repair person, order parts, bring in repair person again – check! (thank God for generous neighbors sharing their machines!)
  • Doug is semi-acting as interim interim church choir director for our church choir
  • Doug is coaching Katie’s softball team
  • We decided on no nanny this year to save some money, which means Doug is coming home early when I have my classes in the evenings twice a week

Um… there is more, there has to be because that is just how our life works in March! Can I apply the “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” weather metaphor to our family life?

I’m noticing the parent list is a little longer than the kids list – ha! What the heck am I worried about then when it comes to our girls? It is interesting because when I think about my childhood experiences growing up – I tried for several things and I was ‘OK’ but not ever really the best at anything. I was involved in a lot of activities but I was going to places where people encouraged me to try or empowered me in leadership. It wasn’t perfection but I’m glad I had opportunities to learn – sometimes very painfully – about myself. Most of the things I did on my own volition as result of being a child of a single parent family and my mom rarely was able to be a part of my activities either because she worked full time at the hospital or finances. My dad usually lived too far away to participate. Maybe I had to prove myself by just trying and seeing if I could actually do something.

I wonder if because I don’t expect perfection from my children – just want to see them do the best for themselves even if they aren’t the best at what they do? And when they are good at what they are doing, because I have a hard time having confidence in my own abilities, I have difficulty accepting and allowing myself to believe they truly are talented at what they do. I think I also get anxious and competitive when I see it in other parents because I’m a people-pleaser and I want others to accept and like my kids – even if they aren’t the best at whatever activity they are pursuing.

Maybe competitive isn’t even the right word to use, maybe concerned is a better word. I’m concerned that my children get to have a variety of experiences, I’m concerned that they have a positive experience or at least a parent or other trusted adult to fall back on who will still accept and encourage them even when they aren’t the best – I think this is what I missed sometimes in my own childhood activities, even with plenty of mentorship in faith and getting through school. I do remember my mother wanting us to do well and was sometimes sad if we weren’t the best and sometimes upset at the one who did better – usually because of their standing in society. I wonder if I reflect my standing in society  that I sometimes think people don’t know what to do with – mom, church childrens and youth minister, and now forever seminary graduate student – and worry how that affects my children’s abilities in their activities. So I play the comparison and anxiety game without realizing until it is too late.

Goodness, the things we deal with as parents, without even realizing it, when dealing with the rest of our family’s happenings!

Praying for peace for this annual season of chaos. Amen




2 responses

8 03 2016

I have friends from my sons’ elementary school who have two daughters attending Harvard University now. One is a freshman, one is a junior. I saw from the time these children were little their parents’ focus was loving, there is no question in my mind that these girls are loved. It was also focused on mind and body development in a rather rigorous way. They did ballet. The dad ran the chess program. They competed in the National Geography bee. They were top honors in academics and service programs. And now they are attending Harvard University.

Part of me just dies with envy when I think of these girls. But at the same time, if I’d tried to push my boys into doing these activities, where they weren’t particularly interested or have aptitude, it would have been pushing against the grain. Our lives would have been hell.

Maybe it’s me. I wasn’t valedictorian. I was #15 in my graduating class. I didn’t go to Harvard. I went to Cal. Good, but not top.

Maybe it’s genes. My dad was supposed to be a lawyer like his dad. He attended Stanford Law for a year and hated it. Dropped out and with a wife & 2 boys at home, drove a bread truck for Peter Wheat bread in Stockton while he got his teaching credential. Much to his aunts’ distress, he became a teacher in his late 20s. He liked teaching Junior High — a tough age for anyone. He was good at it. For him, it took maturity, into his late 20’s to find his calling and do it.

My husband had test anxiety. He attended Cal Poly to be an engineer like his dad — even tho’ transportation was his passion from an early age. He dropped out after a year of failing exams due to test anxiety. Went to junior college, a.k.a. Highschool With Ashtrays, and after 6 years, graduated from Cal State SF with a transportation business degree. In his late 20s he started with KC Metro and loves it. Again, it just took until his late 20s to sort himself out and find what he wanted to do.

Getting back to my friends with the Harvard daughters, the elder one posted a public blog last year describing her attempted suicide her first year at Harvard. One afternoon in 2nd semester she sat on the window sill in her dorm and contemplated jumping to the pavement below. Thank God she was pulled back. She came home and recovered herself. I wouldn’t wish this on any person or parent. It must have been horrible for her and hell for her parents.

It did make me sit back hard. I have to check my envy. Their life isn’t perfect. They don’t have it “all together.”

Maybe hanging with my sons while they blunder around for a while is okay. Maybe, like the men in my family’s history, they’ll sort themselves out in their 20s. Their lives won’t be straight achieving arrows to the top. Their paths will wander around a bit until they figure themselves out. Maybe I just have to be patient and grateful that they are healthy and strong and of good character.

Meanwhile the family chaos, the school play, the cookie sales, the grad-school tests, dad’s overtime — the chaos of life is just an opportunity to hang out together. We just need to hang out, hug your babies. Be grateful that they are safe and healthy today. And the future? They’ll sort it out. They really will.

Liked by 1 person

8 03 2016

Thank you Amy. 🙂


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