I can’t figure out if this was a compliment or an insult.

Yesterday was Matt’s birthday. (Happy birthday, little bro!) The girls and I were in the car and this happened.

Super L: How old is Uncle Matt today?

Me: 29. (HA HA, btw. I didn’t make any old man jokes at your expense yesterday, but the blog is fair game.)

Little Miss G: You’re older than him.

Me. Yep.

Super L: Why is Uncle Matt bigger than you if you’re older?

Little Miss G: Because he’s a man!

Me (thoughtfully): Well, honey, I don’t think Uncle Matt really is all that much bigger than me. We’re almost exactly the same height. (Sorry, Matt, but it’s true.)

Super L considers this for a moment, and then says:

“Yeah, but he’s flatter.”

Umm… Thanks??? or Ouch???

 

                         

                                        Flatter than me. → 

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I’ve been putting this off for awhile now. [Otherwise known as the post I’ve been composing in my head for months].

So there’s this meme that’s been floating around the internets and Facebook– 30 posts of truth. I first heard about it from Sweetney, and I wanted to participate immediately, but when I looked at the 30 topics my first thought was dang, these are going to be hard.

I don’t like writing unless I can be honest. And I find that I will sit for an hour and work a paragraph until it says exactly what I want it to say. I don’t ever want to publish a word here that I don’t absolutely mean… I shy away from writing anything that I suspect I won’t want to stand behind a year or two or five from now. This can be a good thing, because I am cautious about what I write here…and caution is good. But it can also be bad because it keeps me from really laying some good, honest, nitty-gritty-where-my-life-is-in-the-trenches-stuff out there. It keeps me from taking risks.

And just why am I afraid to let myself write what I think today, knowing that it’s okay if I grow and change my mind somewhere down the line? Is that so wrong? Is that so bad?

All of that is to say, I wanted to do this 30 posts of truth, but I was scared–skeerd–to do it. What if I [gasp] look bad? Like THAT’s never happened before. Get over yourself, woman!

So, to begin — Day 1 of the 30 posts of truth: Something I hate about myself:  Okay, to begin, there are numerous things I dislike about myself. Not the least of which are these: I don’t always know when to shut up. And when I’m talking too much, I often say awkward things. This happened just last night at a wedding reception. I’ll spare the details because they really aren’t that good. It wasn’t exactly an example of putting my foot in my mouth as mucha s it was, just an awkward remark that made no sense to anybody except for the little person in my head who flips the “blurt” switch in my brain from time to time.

Anyway, I’ve been putting off writing this first of 30 days of truth posts because even though it says it just has to be a thing I hate about myself, I keep focusing on the thing I hate most about myself. And that is a difficult thing to think about, let alone write about… especially considering my aforementioned tendancy to only want to write things exactly as I mean them, and also not to write anything that I might regret later.

Before I tell you what it is, I’ll tell you that I’ve had this tendency for as long as I can remember. I used to take pride in and contragulate myself in my skills in it, but as I’ve grown older it has cost me a shocking amount of peace and enjoyment out of life. I’ve tried to correct it in myself, I’ve tried to just flat-out stop doing it, of no avail. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve beat myself up over it so many more times than I could even say. It impacts my relationships with people–particularly those I’ve lived with past and present. I’ve let it (and the things it touches) get the best of me and take the joy out of my life.

And though, when some people read this, they will roll their eyes and say, “Good lord, woman, just freaking grow up already,” I’ll tell you that it’s not a simple matter of being more disciplined. Or, if it is, then I guess I’ll just have to face facts that I am not a very disciplined person. But I’m here to tell you that procrastination–my hugest demon, ever–is a nasty, nasty thing to grapple with. It’s not just a matter of getting off one’s lazy rear end. It’s more than just shutting down the computer or turning off the tv. It has created such disorder and chaos in my career and personal life. It makes me less effective and I hate that. But some how that isn’t enough to get me to stop doing it.  I feel like such a hypocrite when my students who are chronic procrastinators ask me for extentions on papers and projects, and I tell them no. (sometimes I tell them yes). But part of it is that I know that they will not get it done until they have to. And I know this because I am the same way.

I wish I was not this way. I wish I was the kind of person who had a schedule and kept to it. I hate the fact that minor inconveniences become a major wrench because I’ve backed myself into a corner with no time to work my way out of it.

I have some theories. Procrastination is indicative of boredom. Indicative of a lack of structure, so instead of “having” time, I’m constantly “stealing” time. Indicative of mild depression. Or perhaps more directly, indicative of someone who just doesn’t want to do this stuff they’re procrastinating. Can that even be true? Because if it is, I don’t want to do most things that promote a smooth and orderly home and blossoming career.

Maybe it’s time to think about whether or not I even want to do the things I procrastinate doing. Maybe my procrastination problem is a big symptom that I am not really living an authentic life. I mean, getting out my camera never feels like a chore. Reading good stuff never feels like a chore. Being outside never feels like a chore. Being with my students never feels like a chore. 

I know that there will always be things that I don’t want to do that I  have to do… like loading the dishwasher and folding the laundry. But what about those other things? That stack of random stuff in the office that I don’t want to lose but needs to be put away? That decorating project I seem to really want to do? That stack of papers that need to be graded because it’s my damn job? That thesis that hasen’t been written to further my career? What about those things?

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with me? Sometimes I just feel like a big piece of crap. When I talk to others about it, they always assure me that this is not the case. They’re always supportive. But maybe what they’re thinking is something else. Or maybe it’s just me thinking that of myself. This… this problem of mine–it’s very sneaky… it deepens my insecurity… in prompts me to question the good and loving support of friends and family.

If it does all of that– if it costs me so much– why is it that I have not made the necessary changes? What exactly is my problem?

If only I knew.

Monday morning, we were getting ready for school. It had actually been a better than average morning, especially good for a Monday. I was sorting out socks to find a pair for her and Super L to wear when Little Miss G said something particularly hurtful to me. I let it get to me, and it stung because she touched upon something that I’ve been trying very hard to improve. And I have improved, but it has cost me in other ways. And basically, while fuming and bristling at her remark, I came to this conclusion: She just doesn’t know.

Unfortunately, that did not stop me from very slowly, and with measured precision, lay into her. Rather than blow up and shout, I expounded on the half-dozen ways in which she was out of line. Please forgive the metaphor, but I set my eight year old daughter in my cross-hairs and basically vented a week’s worth of aggravation in a lecture that lasted no less than 10 minutes. I basically argued her into a corner from which there was no escape. My husband will readily tell you that my ability to do this to is quite formidable. The fact that I verbally overpowered her simply because I could is really just wretched. Especially especially when I knew that she just didn’t know how much her words would hurt me, and to a certain extent, how inaccurate her assessment was that morning. And the longer I lectured her, the worse I felt. I can only imagine how she felt.

After dropping both girls off at school, I called John and talked to to him about it on the way to work. As usual, he was so good. He offered up some insights about her; he spoke some truth about her that I think we both needed someone to say–namely that she is a little girl, particularly for her age. A sweet little girl who is nowhere near as comfortable in her own skin as her younger sister. And sometimes we just expect too much from her.

He was right of course. Within a her strong body lies a delicate soul, even though she herself can be quite rough with her words and attitude. And I am often not fair. I am beginning to see that she her reticence to share her feelings may not be so much a choice she is making to be private, but more from being unsure as to how to say what she really means. And it’s no wonder that she would hesitate. Monday, she tried to tell me something, and I blew it. I shut her down. If only I knew when she is going to give me another opportunity to listen.

If only I knew what it was like for her, to walk a mile in her kid-sized shoes. Sometimes I feel like I am about seven years behind in understanding her. I can’t help but wonder if this is the price I’ve paid for working so much when she was a baby and a toddler. Did I miss some magical time that would have given me the ability to sort that beautiful puzzle-heart of hers? Or, worse, do I continue to miss it despite my efforts to be more balanced in my career and personal life? Is she showing me the pieces and I’m just not noticing them?

Or, is this just who my precious girl is, and anybody worthy of her love is going to have to wait on the shore of her heart, gaze into the rippling waves, and wait until she is good and ready to give them a clear view of what lies beneath the surface? If only I knew.

[see? I can’t even choose a metaphor for her and stick with it.]

It’s hard for me to admit that I have a difficult time identifying with and understanding my daughter, although I suspect it readily shows to some of my more observant friends and family members. I’ve failed her so many times, and it hurts to say so because she’s my beautiful puzzle. My precious one. The one who is going to make me work really, really hard. Her heart requires no less, and she certainly deserves the very best… even the kind of best that sometimes hurts to give.

But to know her better is my treasure. And so I’ll stand on her shore for as long as it takes.