Choose Joy

Life is not always easy. The reasons why differ from day to day. But the outcome is usually the same. When life gets hard, I forget to find joy. It only seems right. Why would there be joy when nothing goes my way?

Just because life isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. We read in the Bible many things that Jesus suffered through. He was mocked, spit on, wrongfully accused, and crucified. But He was never negative. That doesn’t even come close to defining His character. He taught us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), treat others how we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), and turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). If Jesus Christ could teach, and live, this principles amidst everything He went through, I can choose joy through the rough times in life.

Joy isn’t just mere happiness. I love this definition of joy. Joy is “success in doing, finding, or getting something.” That something for me is my faith in Jesus Christ and his teachings. Joy to me is living the way that Jesus would have me live. Joy is choosing to find love for someone who has sought to do wrong by me. Joy is extending a hand of service to someone who is in need. Joy is walking away from a rude comment, instead of starting a conflict. I find joy when I do my best to exemplify the life of Jesus Christ.

Joy is a choice I have to make every day, hour, minute, and second. The Bible teaches that “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). I still feel sorrow, sadness, and hurt sometimes. I still hurt from the actions of others, situations outside of my control, and thoughtless comments that are made. But through these situations, I still have to find joy. I still have to have love, compassion, and charity for others. I have to choose to forgive, let go, and move on. Because without joy, I am nothing.

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Mommy Facade and Anxiety

Women strive to appear perfect. We don’t post about last night’s marital disagreement on Facebook or share a picture of our daughter’s failing report card on Instagram. We shove all of our junk into the coat closet before our visitor’s arrive. We use concealer to hide the bags under our eyes from being up all night with a toddler with a tummy ache. The only time we share those far-from-perfect moments with others is when they are too down right hilarious not to. I like to call this act the “Mommy Facade.”

Why do we do that? Why do we hide the fact that we are days behind on dishes and laundry? Why do we pretend that life is always perfect all the time? I can’t answer that question for anyone but myself. But for me it is anxiety.

Anxiety is a scary word. It’s actually a terrifying word for me. Just hearing the word makes me more anxious (ironic, right?). Anxiety is a hard thing to come to grips with. If you tell someone you are struggling with anxiety they may tell you to go get meds for that. That’s what Xanax is for, right? I don’t want to down play the fact that some people truly need help to be able to calm their anxiety in order to function. I am well aware that for many, it is a true medical problem.  However, I know for me, that isn’t the case. I will refer to my kind of anxiety as “Mommy Anxiety.”

What is contributing to this “Mommy Anxiety”? I could give a list of the things that make me anxious. Maybe one day I will. It almost sounds therapeutic. But for now, I want to focus on the one that causes the “Mommy Facade.” I am always worried about other women judging how I am doing in my role as a wife and mother. I don’t want to be THAT mom who has dishes piled up, graham cracker crumbs on the floor, and unfolded laundry all over the kitchen table. But I am totally THAT mom. If no one is coming over, my house is THAT house. I fear unexpected visitors because my house isn’t clean.

But the reality is that I am a mom of 13 month old. She is going to leave crumbs from her afternoon snack and I’m not going to get them swept up immediately. I’m going to leave her to play in her room and she is going to empty every drawer in her dresser. I’m going to have to do laundry when I don’t feel good so my husband has clean clothes for work. But they aren’t going to get folded anytime soon. I am going to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have aching feet at the end of the day and not feel up to washing the dishes. So they are going to get piled up.

I often discredit the things that I do in a day because of the things that get left undone. But what really matters is that my daughter’s tummy is full and my husband has clean clothes for work. And I’m doing those things. Their needs are being met. My health sometimes gets in the way of getting everything done. Somehow that has to be okay. Because I’m not super woman. (Apparently someone else is already filling that role.)

I am not perfect. There. I said it. I do not live a perfect life. And I am okay with that. I may still stay up late the night before I have company to appear perfect. Because that Mommy Anxiety isn’t going anywhere for the time being. I will still work with all my might to appear as perfect to the outside world as I can. But anyone who knows what being a mom is all about doesn’t care about how my house looks. They care about me. They care about my husband. They care about my daughter. And they choose to love my totally chaotic, imperfect mommy life.

Not your typical “Mommy Blogger”

What do you think of when you hear “Mommy blogger”? I think of beautiful, healthy 5-course meals. I think of an ultimate DIY-er. I think of an avid workout nut, who only eats a vegan diet. I think of a pristine house out of the latest Home & Garden magazine. Basically, I think of everything I’m not, but aspire to be. I want the picture perfect home with the healthy meals and the fabulous fit body. But that is not my reality. And I’ve come to learn that isn’t a lot of people’s reality. But for some reason, I feel like everyone has everything under control. Everyone except me.

That is the reason I have started this blog. I am hoping by my chaos, I can help others feel okay about themselves. That may be because they can see that at least they are doing better than I am. Or realize I am sinking in the same boat they are. I am hoping to defy the definition of “Mommy blogger.” I want to set a new precedent of who a mom is. I don’t want to feel pressured to have everything pristine and perfect all the time. I want to look around and see my mess and find it beautiful. Sure, it’s important to try to keep things clean and orderly, but it’s not always a reality with a baby. She likes her toys and attention. And that attention leads to other things going undone sometimes.

I don’t want to look back on my life and say, “Boy, I’m glad I had a perfect house, even if my kids went without the time and attention they needed.” It’s just not worth it to me. So I invite you to join in on my adventure to do my best to juggle life. And hopefully you can laugh, cry, cringe, and celebrate with me all along the way.