You may know your kids well–but how well do they know you?
If you ask me, scrapbooking is the equivalent of a colonoscopy. Every page is painstaking to stitch together and I’m so afraid of pairing the wrong pictures to the wrong dates and stories, my brain gets gummed up with Kragle (Lego Movie, anyone)? And I wanna give up. Especially when my computer crashes half past midnight and my uploaded pictures are lost in Shutterfly abyss. But the stories we tell ourselves about our lives are important. And as an adoptive mom who worries incessantly that her children will struggle with feeling unworthy, I want to give them the gift of an adoption narrative they can be proud of, secure in the truth they were always wanted, valued and loved. So I let my blog go black for a month as I scrapped together photographs, memories and medical histories for each of my children.
As soon as I high-fived myself for finishing these labors of love, a dear friend invited me to join her on a journey of self-discovery. I would do another scrapbook of sorts–but this time just for me. In journal form. I broke out my water colors, crayons, and colored pens…and dug through childhood photos taken of me before I felt pressure to please, perfect and perform. Before life labeled me as broadcaster, wife, mom, stepmom, adoptive mom, radio personality, Christian, friend, and the list goes on…Every label added a social circle and layer of expectation to my life…and over time I kind of lost my footing because my core wasn’t strong enough to withstand the pressure to please, perfect, perform…I tried to fit in at great cost to myself.
I found myself asking: Who am I? When did I feel most authentically alive? When did that little girl stop smiling in such a big way? And perhaps most importantly for me: How will I be known by my children?
I’m not related by blood to any of my children but as I sifted through my girlhood photographs, I found pieces of my soft-hearted Hayes reflected in the way I cradled my baby brother…I saw my Hadley’s spicy sense of humor in my smile. My heart flooded with gratitude all over again that God gave me exactly the children I was meant to have…Parenting is hard work, isn’t it? I feel like a screw-up all the time when my temper flares, if they’re falling behind at school and I feel like I’m failing…
I take heart in the wisdom of my current favorite author, Brene Brown, who says, “Who we are is a much more accurate predictor of how our kids will do than what we know or understand about the science of parenting.” All the debates over helicopter parenting, the stay-at-home mom vs. the work-outside-the-home mom and how to raise perfect kids merely circle the drain with this insane lie that if you do x,y and z, your kids will turn out great. What if we focused our efforts instead on being the kinds of people we want our kids to be? What if we gave our kids the gift of knowing who we really are? What if we encouraged them to be comfortable in their own skin instead of conforming?
I want my children to know me, and not just as their mother. I want them to get acquainted with the fully human, passionate, fun-loving, irreverent, God-seeking woman who started off on this journey when I was kid just like them. I want them to know what makes me tick, what I find funny…I want them to know how deeply I regret letting insecure people try to box me in and steal my joy. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give the world is your smile and sense of humor. I want my kids to find their joy. I want to show them my awkward, ugly years…I want to share stories of how I screwed up. I want them to know that as much as they drive me crazy, I’m crazy about being their mom. I need them to know the specific ways they leave me in awe.
So as much as I detest scrapbooking of any sort, I purchased two more journals I hope to complete for my kids by the end of 2015. I’m gonna paint water-colored pages of memories we make together, scribble thoughts I have as I kiss them goodnight, paste childhood pictures of mine they might like as a keepsake…I want my kids to know the true heart of their mother so they can have a stronger core as they move out into the world.