Friends, I need to be honest with you. The past four months have been hard. I mean really hard. Extreme emotional and physical pain have riddled my days. Here’s a quick recap:
Many of you know my sister-in-law, Tera’s story and tragically her story here on earth came to an end on Feb. 3, 2019. Losing Tera is something that I feel every single day. Watching her and many of my loved ones lose their wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend…has given me a heightened empathy that I didn’t even know was possible…
The physical pain seems so much easier to deal with than any of the emotional “stuff.” I threw out my neck a few weeks ago and found myself sitting at work in a pain that I can’t describe other than to say it was sharp, burning, and relentless. I truly believe that a lot of this was due to the emotional stress that I was feeling (and maybe not dealing with) and it that needed to come out somehow.
You would think that would have been enough of a wake up call? Nope, God knows that this child of his is one stubborn girl and sometimes you need to go to extremes to get me to listen and pay attention. Last week (on Mother’s Day), how ironic, I woke up with a stomach pain that I knew wasn’t normal. I’ll spare you the arduous details. Long story short, I arrived at the ER on Monday, 5/13/19 at 7 a.m. with my appendix and I left at 4 p.m. without it.
I have found when I’m dealing with a low point in life, I begin daydreaming of “better times” and usually my mind settles on my college days and my early 20s, when life seemed simpler. There wasn’t as many responsibilities, I didn’t have the titles of wife, mom, and manager, there was no mortgage, no budget meetings, and no real loss. I daydream of going back even for a short while, but I began to think of the why ? Because, honestly, I love the titles of wife, mom, manager, etc. All the work we do in our college years and early 20s has gotten me to exactly where I wanted to be, so why is it not what I imagined?
The why here is so important. I was reminded yesterday by my mother, that I always told her that I was afraid to have children, because I didn’t want to lose myself. And friends, wow, I feel like I have totally lost myself right now. You know why? If I’m truly honest with you and myself? I’m trying to please and fit a mold that I always thought a mom, wife, and manager should be.
I used to be “that girl.” The girl that may have been coined as the “party girl” or even called a “hot mess” on a night or two (hey, we’re all human). I would have dance parties in my bedroom during college, I would jump on any karaoke stage and sing a range of songs from Toby Keith to Johnny Cash (believe me, my creative talent ends on the written page) that was open, I’ve danced on bars, floors, cars, etc. I’ve been to over 75 live concerts, I would host Thursday tequila, I mean taco night every night with my roommates. Did some of this happen while having one too many cocktails, sure? But, a cocktail didn’t have to be involved. All I needed was some good music and friends. Because at the heart of all of it was simple fun!
Once we begin to take on titles from society (wife and mom) I believe we also take on some of the informal job descriptions - many are specific to reflect what we grew up with. I remember thinking when I became a wife, I needed to settle down, because it wasn’t just about me anymore. I wanted to make my husband proud (just writing that makes my 20-year-old self cringe a bit). What’s so ironic about that is that Matt fell in love with me when I was “that girl.” Proof point: Matt and I were at the Apple River one summer and there was no bathroom in sight, so what else can you do, but pee outside...well, I thought I was doing well until I pulled up my pants and found out that I missed the grass and hit my pants and you know what? Matt still loved me.
When I began working and growing my career, I remember thinking, I can’t be crazy and silly, I need people to take me seriously. But, if there’s one thing I know about work is that we all need to have more fun there. Maybe a few dance parties in a conference room is necessary.
When I became a mom, I never wanted my kids be embarrassed of me. Again, I never wanted to be coined “that mom.” The mom that went out too much, had too much “fun,” or was putting her needs above her children's. I needed to be the quintessential mom. What does that even mean? Maybe the Pinterest mom who does crafts every night, or who makes lunches (with notes), volunteers at every event, picks their child up first, I don’t know the list goes on and on and it’s exhausting.
Anyways, you know what’s all wrong with this. That’s not me. God made me to be silly and imperfect, because that’s what makes us human. God wants His children to have fun. The Bible tells us (where was this in confirmation class?)
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 I have concluded that the only worthwhile thing for them is to take pleasure in doing good in life; moreover, every person should eat, drink, and enjoy the benefits of everything that he undertakes, since it is a gift from God.
I love this verse, because everything that I have in this life is a gift of God. My husband, my children, my home, my family, and my job. So, why am I choosing to not enjoy life to the fullest? I think it’s because I’ve chosen to ultimately not be true to who I am. That’s on me, but you know what? That’s going to stop.
Does that mean that I’m going to go off the deep end and start going to karaoke bars every weekend? No, but it does mean that I’m going to go and not feel guilty about it? Yes. When we can’t make it out, the boys are going to get to listen to my vocal renderings of “Should’ve have been a Cowboy,” by Toby Keith.
Am I going to invite 20 random college students into my room to have a dance party? Nope, but I am going to turn on some music and have my boys dance with me (it will be a good energy release for them, plus I’ll be burning some awesome calories). Am I going to pee in my pants like at the Apple River...I hope not, my boys have enough of those accidents ;)
Really, what I’m saying is I’m ready to get back to me. Because I can be silly, love music, dancing, writing, etc. all while being a mom, wife, daughter, manager, etc. It doesn’t have to be an “or” it SHOULD be an “and.” Maybe being true to myself will actually make me a better mom, because I believe when we’re true to who we are, the Lord can ultimately shine through us. He’s the One who made us this way.
So, friends. Life is hard. I shared a lot of the “stuff” I have going on. I mean, seriously, my stomach looks like a battlefield (two c-section scars, and an appendix scar), my heart hurts everyday wishing I could talk to Tera one more time, but I know that she would want to see that crazy Jenna that she knew for so many years as well.
If you’re feeling like you have lost a bit or all of yourself, I challenge you! What’s missing? What can you do? It’s not going to be perfect, but life isn’t and you don’t have to be either.
Three items I’m grateful for:
- Strong woman who have led the way for all of us
- My husband for still loving me - in spite of my crazy antics
- Friends who have been with me during the highs and low (I’m coming back)