Tag Archive | balanced viewpoint

Love, not legalism

               Ah, this blog. I have enjoyed writing on it, both expressing my opinion and charting my journey to become a better version of myself. The way my brain works, I don’t really understand something until I write about it. The understanding increases when I read back what I write. Anyone else like that? It works on a lesser scale with talking; I think something, talk about it, and then listen to myself discuss it, and the light bulb clicks on. My husband (and nearly everyone else I know) just think I talk too much. So a lot of times I have quiet discussions in my head. I’ve been writing a lot of meaningful blog posts lately, but they’ve all been in my head. Sometimes the reason I don’t post is because I think my post is too short, or about something I assume is incredibly obvious to most people; sometimes, I just don’t get the time. I’m in my second week of home schooling the oldest two children in first grade. But today a thought popped into my head, and out of both guilt that I seldom post and hope that it may be encouraging, I am sharing before I make dinner and get distracted again.

               My oldest child has been called many things by well meaning parents. The term I hear most often is “strong-willed.” When I look at him I don’t see a problem to be fixed, nor even a challenge greater than the challenge of raising the other three. I see my beautiful, tiny baby boy—maybe just a bit bigger these days. I think he himself faces challenges the other children seem to glide through, but then he has his strengths, too. Anyway, today my eldest and I clashed again; there are a few behavioral traits I disapprove of, and lying is one of them. We had a talk. I feel weary of constantly correcting him but I know I can’t condone unacceptable behavior at some times and condemn it at other times. Still, it’s hard when you’re trying to raise a disciplined, well-guided child without resorting to legalistic tactics. And the more guiding a child needs, the harder it is to avoid becoming a legalistic robot, in my opinion. So this happened.

               We had our talk about being honest. I said smart things, earnest things, simple things. I wondered if any of it was getting in his mind. Then we finished up school and had free time for the afternoon. He made a craft. It was a card for me. It looked like this:

I luv yo mome :)

               He was sorry for everything, but I feel that he still doesn’t grasp the importance or necessity of telling the truth. He’s young. I expect that will take time. But the one thing he was keenly aware of was that he had disappointed me. So the point of the card was to let me know that he still loved me, even though he had done a bad thing. He proudly held it up, pointed to the words, and said, “Does this say—I think it says—I was trying to write—” and I looked at it closely, and said, “It says, ‘I love you, Mom!’” And he beamed. Yes! That was it. Did he spell words wrong? Of course. He’s only in first grade. So the thing I learned—From my experience, some parents are overreaching when it comes to their expectations for their kids. If the child spelled the word “mom” correctly in spelling class yesterday, why shouldn’t he be expected to spell it correctly from here on out? But that’s the entirely wrong approach. At that moment, what was happening was a parenting moment. A being-a-kid moment. A bonding, loving, emotional, healing moment where my small son was making peace with me. It would have been beyond inappropriate for me to correct his spelling at that moment!

               Reading this over I again come to the part where I’m thinking, “Should I even post this?” because my readers probably think that I’m messed up to be realizing, as part of my journey in progress, that legalism has no place in love. Really, it’s humbling that I should even have to realize something like this and not just already know it and be acting on it. Nevertheless, now that I’ve embarked on this search for truth, I find there are lessons to be learned almost every day, and this was the one I reviewed today.

               Thank you for reading the Well Bred Woman in Progress!

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Keeping a balanced focus

               I often have to remind myself about the progress part of my blog title. The reason I added it was that while becoming a well-bred woman is my goal, it is also a process, one that I never expect to fully complete in my life. To the ever-learning mind, there will always be new information to absorb and assimilate, new challenges to undertake and overcome, and deeper revelations of one’s own character with which to reckon. My latest motto has been “Live for today, look to tomorrow, learn from the past.”

               This has been particularly applicable to my life lately as I go through what may be one of the more difficult life stages. My small children require a continually high amount of physical care and intervention. Each year they learn new skills, such as dressing themselves, toilet training, tying their shoes, cleaning up after themselves, and simple etiquette such as “yes, please” and “no, thank you.” Living for each present day, I strive to continually love, care for, provide for, teach, and lead them by example even though it can be wearying at times. Looking back, I can see how far they have come in mastering basic life skills, knowledge, and understanding, and it encourages me to look forward to seeing them blossom fully in the future. But I know, as many other parents often remind me, that these precious years of babyhood and young childhood are fleeting, which is why I try to relish each day and fully take in the moments even when I am tired or overwhelmed.

               There are many lifestyle blogs and books I read that list ways for a woman to become more elegant and grounded by taking time for herself. Though I try to do this, I realize that I cannot let the idealistic suggestions of another woman whom I admire become the unyielding standards for my life, which only I can live. The truly well-bred woman knows that this movement to better oneself, one’s family, one’s future and one’s world is not about being a copycat. To teach and inspire others is every woman’s gift; to learn and be inspired by others is a woman’s priceless treasure . So I take from the examples and inspiration of others to create my own world, and I recommend any aspiring well-bred woman do the same. During this intensely busy time, I devote a minimum of effort to my beauty routine; however, I have purposed not to give up time for myself completely, even though I am sometimes tempted to skip it altogether. I remind myself again of my motto: Today, I need to feel okay and look presentable, which I am surely able to do on with minimal effort. Even though I am still wearing many pieces from high school–staples that have lasted well for many years, although the styles are dated and the colors are not my best–they are good enough. Learning from the past, I have been taking all the knowledge I have acquired by reading about style and presentation and applied it to my current wardrobe and beauty regime. Looking to tomorrow, I look forward to eventually paring down my closet and acquiring a capsule wardrobe of high-quality pieces based on my colors, which I finally have had analyzed.

               Another area to which I am applying my current motto is my house. It is cozy and lovingly furnished with handed-down items that are starting to look worn. I often daydream about buying some property, building a custom house, and upgrading or refinishing our older furniture and decor. My cats will become outdoor creatures, and I hope to never have to deal with fleas infesting the house or scratched up furniture again. Some days while vacuuming, bathing cats, or cleaning up the same mess recreated by the kids, I zone out thinking about the future. I want to just sit down, stop trying to clean up, and make myself tolerate living in conditions that do not match my comfort levels. But that attitude is unbalanced, because it places too much emphasis on looking to the future and not enough on living for today or remembering the past, the latter area being where I struggle the most. How forgetful humans can be! Sometimes to encourage myself, I walk through the house and observe all the organizational tactics I have implemented throughout the years. The encouragement of past accomplishments combined with the motivation of fear that the messy corners may eventually evolve into monsters keeps me going in the present moment.

               Whoever you are, wherever you are in life, and whatever you do, my hope is that you, too, may live for today, learn from the past, and look to tomorrow. Evaluate which situations in your own life could benefit from this balanced viewpoint.