Pretending vs. Living

When I chose the name of my blog – Be Real – it was not only a statement, but a challenge to myself to not be another ‘social media perfectionist’, only sharing the ‘perfect’ parts of my life. Instead, I want to be real about the challenges of being a wife, mother, educator, and the challenge to also just be me striving to accomplish other hopes and dreams outside of the roles I play for other people.

Today, however, the Dynamic Catholic Best Lent Ever reflection,, really socked me in the gut. The final question for the day, “When have you preferred pretending over living?”

That question is deep on so many levels. A couple I will share with you.

When my parents divorced when I was in junior high, I fulfilled the perfectionist role in the dysfunctional family. My mantra was

“Everything is fine. I get perfect grades. I am the president of clubs. I am the basketball star. I don’t know about those people. Oh, yeah, they are my parents, but I am just going to keep my distance from that crazy mess. That is not me. I am perfect. Just look at all my accomplishments.”

When you grow up pretending instead of living, it is a hard habit to break.

I think back over my 10 year marriage. How many times did I pretend nothing was wrong and instead felt the sadness/anger/hurt in silence? And if you actually live instead of pretend, people think you are crazy. You are not supposed to call each other out on something one of you is doing that is negatively impacting your marriage. That is counter-cultural. You are supposed to pretend. Everyone is more comfortable when you pretend – everyone except you.

What about as a mother? How many times did I pretend to laugh at the jokes about my boys being so close in age (11 months 1 week apart #nojudgment) and pretend like it was ‘just like having twins’?

It was not like having twins. One could not eat anything and the other constantly stuffed all kinds of crap in his mouth. For three years, I could never leave the two of them in a room alone without something happening. I struggled through, knowing that any day someone was going to call me out as a bad mother, simply because I could not keep up with work, two babies, and a husband who traveled all the time for work. I was comparing myself to many other moms, who I know now, were likely pretending. But I didn’t know that at the time. I just continued to put on the smiling face each day as I pulled on my superwoman costume, which I never actually fit.

When my third son came along just short of three years later, I wanted to stop pretending and live the life I was missing out on. One strategy I used to be present in different aspects of my life was by striving to separate my home/family life from my work life.

I would park my car when I got to work, and then sit there for several moments, trying to get over whatever crazy crap happened that morning with the boys.

At the end of the day, I would reverse my routine striving to leave behind whatever a wonderful coach had said, or the struggles of an upset teenagers, or fury of mad parents, which were all in a day’s work in my position as an athletic director. I did not want to pretend with my family, and I wanted to give them my best, not just want was left over.

As I pulled up to the daycare, I would remind myself that these boys only get one mom and that is me. I am not going to handle everything perfectly, but there are perfect moments like when they all come running to me the second I come in the door, one in my arms and the other two wrapped around each leg – now that is living.

There are still times that I pretend more than I live, and that reflection today, really brought up some memories – some not so great but also some of the best.

It also made me recommit.

I will strive to ‘actually live an interesting life instead of pretending to be interesting.’

I want to live up to my blog name.

I want to be real.


I am basing this off of what I learned/was reminded of at church, but even if share other beliefs, temptations are real!

The gospel reading for the first Sunday in Lent is always the same because we need to hear it each year – Jesus going to the desert for 40 days and being tempted by Satan. This reading and the homily that followed really made me think about what tempts me. Enjoy my list and add your own temptations in the comments.

  • Peanut butter M&Ms – if you can eat just one, you must be super-human.
  • The urge to cuss to make my point when I am mad – I was never a cusser, until I married into a family of cussers (or at least that is who I am blaming it on). I am using Lent as a fresh start to stop this bad habit that I hear my boys also doing (YIKES!) when they don’t think I can hear them. A cusser is just not who I want to be.
  • Staying up late, binge watching The Closer, Suits, Project Runway, or whatever other series I currently have on the DVR. I am a night owl by tendency and must force myself to go to sleep at a decent bedtime. This is a ridiculous temptation when I know I will pay for the lack of sleep later in the week.
  • Taking out my lack of sleep on my family – this is when the tailspin occurs. I am tempted to yell at my boys and get mad at my husband about events that otherwise would not typically bother me – dirty clothes not in the hamper, middle son taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R to get ready in the morning, finding recycling items in the regular trash (I mean come on people!). I know deep down these frustrations are occurring due to my lack of sleep, but I am tempted to take it out on someone else.
  • To make excuses – I am tempted to make excuses to tell the person all my reasons why my action or lack thereof is justified and therefore, why I should NOT be held accountable. Almost always, I regret giving into this temptation. Making excuses is not the person that I am. I am the kind of person who owns up to mistakes made or opportunities missed. I am the kind of person who learns from failure and strives not to repeat it. I am not an excuse maker.
  • To judge people – This is so easy to give into, especially when you are in conversations (I think we call it gossip) about someone and then I am tempted to also give my two cents. That is the easy road. It is much harder to say that I do not know the entire situation, but that we all likely need to pray for the situation and do want we can to support our friend. It is so tempting to just chime in with what I heard! But again, I never feel great when I choose door number one – gossiping.
  • To spend more time at work because that is where I feel the most success – I just got real. This temptation I have struggled with my entire life. I continue to work on my life blend and understand more each day how fleeting this life is. My boys only have one mom and my husband only one wife (fairly certain of this) and they deserve my best – not the whatever is left after I give my best to those at work. I was convicted of this when one of my sons told me I was so much more fun at school and must like other kids more than him. He was being dramatic at the time and of course, I told him he was more fun at school as well, but the comment hit me right in the guilt box (it is located in about the same place as your heart, and many of our loved ones seem to know exactly what to say to open it). I really had to examine my schedule and make some changes to give my family my best times as well and the temptation is there each night as I strive to get just one more item off my list or send one more email. Stop the temptation by setting the time you will leave and then do it. Do not bring work home with you. It will only tempt you to shorten your family time even more.

So what tempts you?

Small Town America

I have always loved living in small towns. I was reminded of many of those reasons again last night as we attended our local FFA’s fish fry fundraiser.

  • Thousands of dollars were raised to provide youth opportunities they may not otherwise have.
  • There were also thousands of laughs as the local auctioneer/comedian was at his best.
  • We see many volunteers provide hours of labor with nothing in return, but a thank you.
  • There were many younger kids sitting on the laps of their relatives taking it all in and thinking about the day they will be in the blue and gold official dress.
  • My boys got to see their babysitter from their youth and the love continues to flow both ways.

Just a few of the reasons I love my small town!

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Growing Up?

When did you notice your kids growing up?

Is it that first sign they are now aware they need to wear deodorant because it is not always funny when they smell? Don’t all moms love the smell of AXE throughout the house in the morning!

Maybe we see it in their wardrobe as they ask if something matches and don’t just wear comfy pants to school?

Is it when they start to report hair growth in the ‘most unusual places’?

Or is it when they start to ask ‘serious questions’ about how you knew when Dad was the guy to marry?

They still have a ways to go, but there is no denying, they are starting to grow up.

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No, I will never miss this!

If you are a mom, you have likely had a day when your lovely children seemed more like something possessed. They are fighting with each other, the dog, or anything else within reach. And for me, this kind of day is also the day when I have to go somewhere public – grocery store, ball game, gas station, church.

There have been more than one of these days when my typically sweet and loving boys really cause a scene – have you been there? And have you had the well-meaning, but naive woman say something like, ‘ you are going to miss this.’ IS SHE CRAZY????

I will miss snuggling and random hugs. I will miss those times when they show pure brotherly love. I will miss our jam sessions to Soul on Fire and Yellow Rose of Texas and Picture (Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow), yes, my boys are great djs.

I will never, ever miss wrappers of all kinds all over and unidentifiable food substance that I pull from under their bed. I will not miss finding dirty clothes and other mystery items in their closets. Nor will I miss begging for ridiculous items in a checkout line. Or the times when they absolutely lose their minds in the middle of the store shouting out their injustices and how unfair and terrible their lives are – and on a really good day how terrible their mom really is!

So, thank you well-meaning lady. I know you are really telling me to focus on the positive of the healthy, energetic boys that I have. I know you see my boys, and you remember your own babies, who may not be babies any more. But I think over time, you either blocked out those crazy days or have become crazy because of them. So the next time you see me and my boys are riding the crazy train , just smile and give that knowing mom look – not of pity, only pure understanding.

Choosing Your Weather

How much of your day is spent thinking about the weather? I have decided this could be one of the greatest life sucks of all time.

Living in Missouri, you truly experience all the seasons – sometimes in a single day! As we move toward spring, we continue to get a tease of the warm, only to be followed by another cold front bringing in snow and ice. For those who continued to state how long it had been since we had a bad winter, 2019 is making a bold statement for you to remember.

Spending time thinking about the actual weather may be a waste of time, since you cannot control what Mother Nature brings us. But when thinking about the weather we bring to the room or to our families, I am reminded that I need to dwell on my own weather more often.

Do I want people to think of me as a storm – unpredictable and erupting when least expected? Do people see a rain cloud above me when I walk in the room as gloom approaches? Or am I that ray of sunshine, shining my light with positivity to those I meet? And do I care as much about the weather I bring home each night as that starting my day at the office?

We sometimes bring our worst to the people we love the most, unless we take time to choose our weather.

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Anticipation . . .

Anticipation. Isn’t it interesting that this word not only makes us think of events we are excited for and believe will bring us happiness/pleasure, but also includes those events which bring anxiety. And isn’t this an accurate definition for this word? Most of the the life events we most anticipate are exciting, typically happy, but also cause anxiety, which I do not consider such a great feeling. Can we achieve the anticipation without the anxiety?

As a part of my daily calendar, I strive to write down three events I am excited about and three items I am grateful for. Even though I don’t always take time to complete this section, I enjoy looking back at what I anticipated about my month, week, and even day. As I look at the month of March, one event continues to stand out.

Later this month, I will travel to NYC to present at the National Afterschool Association annual conference. I was selected as one of the intensive leadership session presenters. I am STOKED! But also starting to get anxious as I think about a city I have never traveled to, the large potential audience, and the potential opportunities that await. This leads me to wonder, when does good anticipation turn into dreadful anxiety?

I am doing all I can to be prepared and insure an excellent performance. I am also focusing on the excitement of a new city, lots of potential opportunities, and potentially a large crowd who are taking time for my workshop to assist them in bettering their skills & helping their staff. What do you do to focus on anticipation and stop the anxiety creep?

The Magic of Motivation

Today I took my middle son to his pulmonology appointment. These are typically biannual check-ups, but after a decrease in his lung function in January, he needed a quicker follow up. W has had asthma since he was two, and while it is typically well controlled, his lung function was not improving, as it should as he grows.

What we needed to know from this check -up was if it was an issue with his body or with W not correctly taking his medicine. Our great doctor, provided him with a star chart to track his morning and evening meds. This is not new to us, as I have tried all sorts of charts and bribery to get him to take his medicine. But this time, the promise of a $10 Walmart card was the magic motivation. He missed his medicine less than five times over the past two months. And his improved lung function, which was well over the normal rate for his size, was evidence that he had in fact taken his inhaler much more since the last appointment.

This slice also made me wonder about myself. I have tried blogging over the past year and a half, but had only been successful in setting up the blog and posting one or two times. Now, with this challenge, I have made the time over the past four days.

What’s my motivation?

I am reminded of how much I like to write.

My sister challenged me to do it, and I can’t let her down.

And I am really enjoying reading the slices of others’ lives.

So, thank you, Fellow Slicers, for your magic motivation.

Thankless Workers

This winter has made me acutely aware of one group of workers who make my life better each day, even though I rarely think about it, but to complain. This winter has been especially harsh with many winter storms, which have left inches of snow or ice covering everything in their paths. Each time one of these storms come across the country, our departments of transportation do all they can to keep our highways and streets safe. We often do not think about the nights, weekends, and time each of those DOT workers are spending away from their families. If you have the opportunity in the future, thank these workers who keep our highways drive-able and the snow at bay as much as they possibly can.

Road Trip Anyone?

When you think about travel, do you get excited, dreadful, or anxious? Or does it depend on the situation? This weekend, I was not exactly excited about the ten plus hours in the car, but soon learned time really does fly when you are having fun.

The time spent with my older sister driving to Oklahoma reminded me of the many days we drove the twenty minutes to school. Most of those days contained the typical teenage sister squabbling. She always took too much time in front of the mirror, and I could have cared less about my appearance or dress and preferred to roll out of bed at the very last minute. This weekend, we truly enjoyed the ride as we reminisced many memories and dreamt up plans for our little sister’s wedding.

The time in the car with my two sisters, mom, mom’s bestie, and my little sister’s MIL-to-be, brought many long forgotten times to light. Oh, what you can learn from other people’s memories! The process of two families coming together is really quite a miracle. When both of those families have split into four families, everything becomes a bit more interesting! When you are contained to a car, you can learn so much.

The biggest takeaway from this trip is the reminder that whatever the attitude, we often meet our own expectations. So this weekend, whatever you have on your agenda, challenge yourself to shift your attitude. Ten hours in a car or road trip for making memories – it all depends on your perspective.

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