Friday, December 11, 2009

Insecure Musings

Do you ever wonder what other people think of you? I used to be quite constantly consumed with this question back in high school and it continued to hop into my mind a fair amount in college. On my mission in Bulgaria, the question faded quite dramatically - it's quite a challenge to worry about what others think of you when you're so busy trying to help so many people with serious needs. Then, while I lived in DC and Boston after Bulgaria, I think I really came into my own and felt pretty comfortable with who I was. I felt good about myself and stopped worrying - and I think that made me a pretty cool person. And while being a pretty cool person and getting lots of good vibes from people around me, I further shed my worries about what people thought of me.

Then I got married and the identity shift involved in that threw me for a bit of a loop. Who was I now that I was intertwined with someone else? What did people think of US?

But before I could worry much about any of that, I became a mother and while working part time and having child after child, I was too busy dealing with 100 things at once to find a moment to ponder what other people thought of me. It was a busy, crazy time but being needed so much is a great cure for insecurity.

But now that I'm coming out of a very long period of functioning primarily in crisis mode, the question pops up in my mind again here and there. What do I look like to people? Do I look as frumpy as I often feel? Do people notice that a spend about 10 minutes on my hair and makeup (when I spend any time on it at all)? Do people notice my flabby post-twins tummy as much as I think they must? Do other people notice the wrinkles that seem to have quite suddenly appeared around my eyes? What do I seem like to people? What do I seem stressed out and overextended? Do I seem warm and kind or aloof and uninterested? Do people feel like they can relate to me or am the oddity that I often feel I am here in St George? (When it somehow comes out that I went to Harvard, I seem to be put quickly into the "different" or even "alien" category in many people's minds.) Do I seem like a good mother? Do people read this blog and think, "What in the world is she doing going to get a Christmas tree when she's got a sick child?" or "Why does she run websites and do all these things in the community instead of focusing more fully on her kids?" or "Why is she so selfishly focusing on her own family so much when she could be using her talents to help the larger world a lot more?"

I've always been quite introspective and I'm always taking stock of how I'm doing and what I could do better. It's helpful when there are outside influences offering feedback - performance reviews at work, friends and family who tell you what they think, etc. But in my current life as a mom, it's hard to find benchmarks or outside feedback. It's just me and the kids a lot of the time. I get called a "mean mom" sometimes and "the best mom in the world" occasionally. But how do I really look to the kids? Sometimes I get a glimpse of what they see when they look at me - and sometimes I like those glimpses, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I get a friend or neighbor thanking me for something or I feel the need to check myself based on some comment I've heard.

Does it matter what anyone else thinks? I was brought up with the quote: "See how the masses of men worry themselves into nameless graves while here and there, some great, unselfish soul forgets himself into immortality." So is the key to success in life wrapped up in willing yourself not to worry about what anyone else thinks? Or are the opinions of others helpful?

OK, rambling here, I know. Better stop thinking about thinking and go watch the "garage band show" Ashton just announced that he and the twins have put together downstairs.


shawni said...

I'll tell you what I think of you (although I think you already know). I think you are one of the most amazing, fun, loving, able-to-do-a-million-things and still REALLY care about people people I know. I love you with all my heart.

Anonymous said...

Found you blog blogwalking and enjoy you parent's books.

Gosh, how can you tell when and if a child is going to get sick or is still not done with being sick? Bringing him into the great outdoors is pretty clever. If he made it out of the car in time there would have been nothing to clean up. Home there is always clean up.

When will a family of 7 be completely free of illness and have managed to avoid contact with anyone sick within the contagioius period of any cold or virus? Never. Just live life.

You brought your family to the woods, not a movie theater. Didn't contaminate the world. The kids survived the experience with a great memory.

Jen H. said...

I think you're great! You're beautiful, talented, intelligent, and kind. And you're a great friend.

brittanimae said...

Darling Saren! I think about you. Somehow all the times your dad said that I reminded him of you sunk in, and whenever I see you do something particularly fantastic, like starting up your website, or having creative ideas for your kids and their friends or whatever, it makes me that much more likely to think "hey, maybe I could do that," or "maybe I could do this other awesome thing."

Also, you're gorgeous, imaginative, and have lots of inner sparkle. I always read your blog, and I've come away with lots of fantastic ideas.

It's true that it's hard when the major feedback you get in a day is "I hate you mom," (maybe you never get that, but I do), but here's some feedback from a (mostly) grownup. You're cool. Very cool. ;)

Märta said...

I am so grateful to know that other Mom's feel this way too... especially Totally Awesome Ones like you!! Thank you for standing as an example to the world of Beautiful Motherhood! Don't let 'Them' (the on-lookers) get you down (whoever They are anyway!) Reality is those critical eyes watching are really watching in Pure WONDER at the amazing sight of a beautiful family loving, learning, serving, sharing time and memories together... wishing they could participate! Thank you for making Motherhood Beautiful! Keep up the good work!

Found your blog recently as I was downloading the fabulous... "Alexander's Amazing Adventures," and logged into Grateful to say that I have bumped into you in our little St. George Haven! It's a great place to raise a family and a vacation destination for the world! We're just fortunate enough to call this beautiful corner of the world... Simply HOME. :) Wishing you and your beautiful Family a Very Merry Christmas!

Katie said...

I think you are amazing! You are always doing something wonderful and even though it may not be one on one time with one of your 5 sweet darlings it is usually intertwined with them in one way or the other! LIKE PTA!!!! You're great!

Eyrealm said...

I am truly blessed to be your mother!

Dana said...

I think the only opinion we (especially all of us Mommy's out there) should worry about is that of our Heavenly Father. He sees us with perfect eyes, and still loves us anyway! It can't get better than that. :0) AND Mommy's are practically perfect to their children, anyway! Who needs another opinion?


Charity Jade Eyre said...

you're amazing sar. more than you'll know.

Rachelle said...

It's interesting because we all seem to go in and out of times when we care more or less about what others think. I remember when my oldest started pre-school and the other moms were there "decked out" for the day in their fancy jeans, heals, sporty SUV's, make-up and off to...I'm not sure. I was off with the hopes of cleaning the toilets with three additional little ones at home. I mentioned it to another mom whose response was, "don't worry about how you look to them or if they are thinking this or that about you, because they really are probably just concerned about how they look". Hum, an idea.
I don't know you, but wish I did. I think as we live with the Spirit in our life we can feel confident of the choices we make, but I love what you wrote. We ALL have those days when we wonder. How do we present ourselves? How are we perceived? Thanks for the post. I think you are GREAT!!


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