While dining out with a group of friends last weekend, another patron casually observed that I was “out with the girls.” In response I said, “No, they are at home.”
As my matter-of-fact statement registered as a major flub-up, my face went red-hot as I stumbled around trying to correct my obvious mess-up.
As I confessed my flightiness to the “girls” my acquaintance was actually referring to, one commented (through bouts of laughter at my expense) that I was definitely in mommy-mode.
So that explains it.
But then I wondered if it justified it.
Is it ever OK to be a walking definition of oblivious?
I’d like to think we’ve all been there. That we’ve all been so absorbed in one thing or another that we’ve said or done something foolish. But then, it could just be me.
And that is the part of raising a family that I both adore and despise.
I love being a part of a close-knit family unit. I love being wrapped up in the nuances of our family. I love spending time with my husband. I love caring for my children and home. Most of the time.
But sometimes I realize how much I am missing in the world around me (particularly with a newborn). How sometimes I make it through a day when I don’t make it upstairs, let alone outside. And it’s in those moments when I don’t feel entirely human that I find it impossible to be the super woman I am “supposed” to be.
In those moments of struggle, it’s easier to focus inward. To start believing the messy house, disobedient kids and fussy babies are all I am. And once that lie is imbedded, it’s even easier to sink lower in despair. To feel as though I am a failure, unimportant in fact.
But what I have learned (and am still learning) is that it’s much better to focus outward. Serving someone else takes the focus off my own troubles. Sometimes it’s pure relief to make bierrocks for a friend’s birthday instead of sulking. To listen to a friend instead of talking.
Serving others always seems to kick self-pity to the curb.
So if helping others is the way to go, why don’t I always go there?
I guess it’s because I feel like I don’t have the energy to serve anyone other than the four people who live with me. What I don’t think about, though, is the energy I always gain from putting others ahead of myself.
And maybe that’s why parenthood seems to be so draining. I’m always viewing things from my perspective.
When my kids ask if they can paint, I generally cringe and say no (I don’t need extra mess), even though I know my girls would love it.
But when they ask if they can watch a movie, I say sure (a break!), even though I know playing is more important.
Same goes with my newborn.
When he needs to eat, my first thought is “not again,” even though I know his tummy is tiny and can’t hold much at a time.
When he is fussy, I sometimes get more agitated, even though I know babies cry to express a need.
But what if I changed my perspective to that of a servant’s heart instead of a demanding parent? What might my day be like if I viewed requests from my child’s line of sight rather than my own?
Perhaps I would go from one drained case of oblivion to someone filled with joy. I, for one, can’t wait to find out.