Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the 10th Day of Christmas

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

10 things of which I am proud.

The year's end and accompanying holidays, while wonderful, can also bring out one's insecurities. It certainly does mine. I spend way too much time feeling ashamed or stupid about things. Whether it's reflecting on serious things like goals I never met or vices I never kicked, or feeling guilty about silly things like my outdoor lights were never hung or my kids never sat on Santa's lap, it's easy to feel kind of 'less-than' in the holiday season.

So, today I am going to make a list of things I'm proud of. I don't mean this in a haughty or better-than-thou way. But we all have things in our lives that we should be PROUD of. It's good to be humble, yes, but it's also good to recognize valued things in our lives as well--both for the person doing the recognizing, and those on the receiving end of it. So here goes:

1) I am proud of my Mister. He's the hardest-working man I know. And he never complains about his responsibilities. I'm proud of the way he loves us so much. I'm proud of the way that he adopted my daughter and loves ALL of our children the same, even though they are not all biologically his. I am proud of the way he truly does not give a rip about what others think. He inspires me and pushes me to acheive more than I ever thought possible. I'm proud of the way he threw himself head-first into Cross Fit and the huge changes he's made so far.

2) I am proud of my Hattie. She's the nicest 10-year old girl I know. Hattie is happy to make the most out of whatever she is doing. She does not complain when we go to someone's house, and there are only 4 and 2 year old children to play with. She jumps right in and joins the fun. She's my Activity Director around our house, and I'm proud of her.

3) I am proud of Atticus. He works so hard at school and truly wants to learn. I'm proud that he learned how to read this year! And I'm proud that I taught him how to read. I was VERY intimidated and scared at the thought of teaching a child how to read. But we did it! I'm proud to have a son who looks (and acts and postures) exactly like his father.

4) I am proud of Paloma. I am proud that we made it through her second year of life (because somedays I didn't think I would). I am proud at her fierce independence, because although I know it makes for some rather trying times during her third year of life, it's a great trait for a young adult woman to possesss. I am especially proud that even though this child CANNOT read, she can tell you which present goes to whom under our Christmas tree for every single present.

5) I am so proud to be my mother's daughter. My mother is an amazing woman. She was widowed at the age of 41 with 3 children. She had always stayed home with us and had not been in the workforce for 17 years. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and fear she must have felt. But, as children, we never once were scared or felt unsafe. We never once worried about our security. We did not question tomorrow. She held it together for us, and we all turned out despite many people thinking to the contrary. My sister and I married great guys. My brother works hard and is going to college in January. She taught me the true importance of children in one's lives when she once said, "Thank God I have you children, because at the end of the day, your children are all who matter." And she's right. Which is why I pour everything I have into my kids, even when some think I should leave more for myself (what do they know, anyway, right?)

6) I am proud of the way the Mister and I choose to live our life. We are very well aware that to some we are considered to be more of the "fly by the seat of our pants" sort of un-planners. Actually, we plan quite a bit. I think we're just a less risk-adverse. When my Dad died at such a young age, I realized that you only get ONE shot at life here on Earth. And time is not our friend. So I think that is why we are more willing to jump into things. It's why I love having a home full of children and pets and craziness and chaos. I know that my home is loud. I know that most think it is too small for a family of our size. But I'm proud that we try to live a life aligned with our values.

7) I am proud that we are a homeschooling family. It certainly is not the "easy" way to educate your children. I'm proud of how much my children like to learn. I'm proud that my oldest daughter reads Shakespeare and fought her way through 3rd grade math (for 20 months) and came out with a solid foundation. I'm proud of the way Atticus remembers the stories we read and how just last night he said, "Mom, that guy is just like the puppet king we read about!" I'm proud of how Paloma always wants to do her school and be like the big kids. I'm proud that on the bad days, I don't drink before 5 pm or join the circus. I'm proud that the Mister is so proud of us and supports me unconditionally in our children's education.

8) I am proud that I am a vegetarian. It's not an easy thing to be vegetarian in Wisconsin. People think there is something *wrong* with you. And most people assume it is only because you are some Nutty animal rights activist and think that meat is murder (which I do, but it wasn't my main decision for returning to this lifestyle.) Either way, I'm proud I returned to this. It certainly isn't easy. But I'm proud of how clean my body feels--how clear my skin is, how much energy I have-- and I'm proud at what a positive global impact a vegetarian lifestyle creates.

9) I am proud that we have 3 dogs and 2 cats. Even if it means there is a *lot* of animal hair and dander in my house. Even if it means that I freakin' vacuum twice a day. Even if it means that we spend an unGodly sum of money of pet food and vet bills. I am proud that we adopted from the animal shelter, took in barn cats and gave shelter to a diva dog. I am proud of the love my children receive from these sweet beasts and what a lesson in responsibility it is for them.

10) I am proud that I now call myself a runner. This was every bit a as big a mental hurdle to overcome as it was a physical obstacle. I'm glad I slogged through it even when I never thought I'd be able to run for 10 minutes straight. I'm proud that I've run through rain, sleet, snow and billion temperature/high humidity conditions. I'm proud that I run in my old grungy sweats that most runners wouldn't be caught dead in. I'm proud that I am going to run a half-marathon in the New Year, although I'm seriously questioning my sanity in that decision.

Wow! What a feeling of self-worth that comes along with listing the things of which you are proud. So, come on now. All of you out there feeling "less than" because your homes are not holiday picture perfect or your kids are out of control or you just feel low, give this a try. Even if you don't think you can come up with 10 things now, I promise you that you can. Give it a try :)


Salzwedel Family said...

That is a great list! Merry Christmas to you all.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the post and know that the kids and I are very proud of you (you'd be #1 on our things to be proud of you) for being super mom.

I am most proud of the strength that you show which the kids will inherit. It takes strength to stand alone at the table being a vegetarian. It takes strength to hold onto homeschooling as a choice even though it isn't easy and often others may say things that are meant with good intentions but still have barbed edges. It takes strength to be proud of your faith even though it doesn't agree with others or especially when your spouse isn't quite there (yet) with you. It takes strength to raise so many kids with minimal help from your spouse(I should say right now that I want to thank and recognize Jimmy and Boppa for their help, which is often more than what I can provide). Then, on top of it all, you take on a adoption and help to bring in additional income to assist in covering the costs. Most of all, it takes strength to make your choices on principles, hold onto them when others disagree, and show grace and elegance in how you respond to others- that is a wonderful gift to give our children.

Hope this isn't too redundant with the post. Bottom line is we love you and are proud of you!


Jenn said...

Ok, I did mine too, although it's not nearly as eloquent as yours...

bbbunch said...

On my top 10 list would definitely be having you for a friend. You mean more to me than you could possibly know...Merry Christmas Sarah!


This Mama said...

You DO have so much to be proud of - I think your incredible but I thought that before you made your top 10 list :)