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Leave it at the Door

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Even though his expression shows his obvious irritation with all my “picture taking”, his eyes and cowlicks are melting my heart.

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Sometimes we wear pajama shirts as regular clothes–because we choose our battles wisely.

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Wednesday is pizza day around these parts.  We switched things up this week, and rather than eat at the parlor, we decided to have a pizza picnic.

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ruffle/chevron blanket c/o: Tulip Taffy

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Wesley eats his pizza upside down, for whatever reason.

And I never want to forget that.
Because I know it won’t be this way forever.
He won’t always let the greasy cheese drip down his chin,
or wipe his hands on the grass instead of his napkin,
or insist on pepperoni pizza knowing full well that he won’t take a bite until he has picked off every last one.

For now, the way he eats his pizza is a reflection of exactly who he is.
And that’s something I can always count on from my Wesley–he will be exactly who he is.
Not what others think he should be, 
or pressure him to be, 
or tell him he should be
 (or tell me he should be).

Sometimes this makes my job as his Mom a lot tougher.
And sometimes I think about how much easier life could be if he would just let the world mold him a little bit.  But then I replay that thought in my mind, I hear how it sounds and I don’t like it–not one bit.

Because those thoughts are a reflection of my own shame and doubt.
Not in him, but in my ability to be his mom.
It’s so easy to allow perceived judgment (the kind of judgment that might not even exist, but we assume it does) make us feel inadequate.
Make us feel like we aren’t enough.

It’s really silly actually–when we become our own worst enemy.
But here’s how it sometimes goes:

Sometimes I take what I’m most afraid of or what worries me,
and then I picture those worries and fears in the form of a conversation between those I love most—between those whose opinions I value. I imagine them discussing my shortcomings as a mother. Not berating me, or insulting me–because they are my friends and family and they love me. But I hear them questioning me…and not understanding my decisions, my choices, my way of holding us together. I take what I know to be my weaknesses, and I magnify them. Focus on them. Blame them for every challenge and heartache my children will ever have to face. Because it must be my fault, and surely everyone knows it.

I’m at a place in my life now where I can admit that those thoughts sometimes creep in, knowing full well they sound ridiculous and make me seem weak–or even (gasp) insecure. Yet, despite these negative thoughts, I’m in a good place. I’m growing.I’m seeing my weaknesses for what they really are—strengths.

My weaknesses give me compassion.
And perspective.
And authenticity.

There is no shame in having them.
Having weaknesses does NOT mean that you are weak.
Just as being sensitive does NOT mean that you are fragile.
And just as getting hurt does NOT mean that you have been broken.

So I banish those thoughts, and I focus on my job.
My job as his champion.
His cheerleader.
His mom.
As the one who must always have faith in his greatness
and in his purpose both in this world
 and in my own life.

Because there comes a point in parenthood when we realize that what matters most are those that live and grow within the four walls of our own home. We can’t expect anyone else to understand our choices as a parent, nor should their opinions have weight on the value we place on an honest job well-done. All of our trenches look different. Each of our battles involve a wide range of artillery. And it would be insensitive for us to assume that the plan of attack used within our own home should be adopted by others. Just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. So when you find me ringing your doorbell, before I step through the threshold, you can rest assured that I have left all judgment at the door. My trials may be my own, but I know we’re in this together.

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    kimmie
    April 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Honestly…you are such a great writer. I have had similar thoughts & experiences that you write about, but could never explain them the way you do…….thank you for having a talent that allows me to say…..”phew, not the only one!” 🙂

  • Reply
    Niki @ My Life Remixing
    April 21, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Picking the battles is definitely something parents have to do. I have to remind myself every once in a while.

    Kids & memories are so precious! Thanks for sharing these with us.

  • Reply
    Liz
    April 21, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    love the pictures… love the words. i can so relate to “eating pizza upside down.” i love when i see other women embrace one another and not make this thing called “life” a competition.

  • Reply
    Claire
    April 22, 2013 at 12:57 am

    Have you read “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Kurcinka? I don’t know your son, but from the little bits you share here & there I can relate! My son is 5 & I wish I had read it when he was Wesley’s age! It would have made things a lot easier, to understand him. Anyway, maybe just look into it on Amazon. I used to read lots of blogs, but yours is one of the handful I still check daily! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Annet M
    April 22, 2013 at 3:21 am

    How are you finding Daring Greatly? You haven’t spoken much about it lately. We’re reading it in bookclub after i suggested it seeing it on a number of blogs, including yours. Had such a great 3.5 hr bookclub last week and we’d only read halfway through! Great post

  • Reply
    Mique
    April 22, 2013 at 3:21 am

    The way you write is magic. I can absolutely relate to what you’re saying and reading it makes me want to do better. Not i in a guilty/shameful way but in an inspiring way. I just love you. And that cute family of yours. xoxoxo

    • Reply
      kristi quill
      April 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Ashley ~ you need to write a book!

      and I adore that Wes eats his pizza upside down! and that you’ve captured this amazing memory!

      love you!!! xoxo

  • Reply
    Brittney
    April 22, 2013 at 4:02 am

    Such a good writer Ash. You’re so introspective and smart. xo

  • Reply
    lucy at dear beautiful
    April 22, 2013 at 6:53 am

    This is so beautiful. And definitely what I needed to read today. It’s so easy to let those insecurities as a parent creep in on you, and then when you think about them, you realise they came from the outside world and it’s need for everyone to conform and be the same. So my previously independent toddler is going through a needy cuddle phase? This doesn’t mean he needs to “man up”, it means I need to give him more cuddles, fill him up with love, make the most of it.
    Thank-you for reminding me to keep my perspective. x

  • Reply
    Lori Ann
    April 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Oh, those eyelashes! Aren’t little boys with beautiful eyelashes the best?! Looks like a wonderful picnic!

  • Reply
    Shirley
    April 22, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I agree with Lori, those eyelashes are so adorable. I hope you are going to print a book some day as I would love to buy one. You are a beautiful writer and I am sure others would buy the book. God love your little family.

  • Reply
    Ariane
    April 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Ashley, you are such a talented writer. I’m not a mom, but I truly appreciate how much these words help combat the self-doubt and perceived judgment of moms and women in general. Love your blog.

  • Reply
    brenda
    April 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    it is so wise of you to have embraced that your little guy is not fitting someone else’s mold. Neither of my children fit into molds and it is so great having leaders and not having to worry that they are going to try to go along to get along and get into some dangerous and/or wishy washy situations. I still think your “big boy” has a new spark in his eyes…

  • Reply
    Absolute Mommy
    April 23, 2013 at 5:23 am

    I love this post. The part about “who they think he should be”. That was my biggest battle in motherhood. I still struggle with it today. Children are a reflection of their parents, but I’ve come to understand in the best ways. Sure it would be awesome if W wore his actual spider man shirt instead of the pj one, but then he’d be like everyone else. That kids got a spark, and I think he knows it.
    Your writing as always paints a picture I don’t think you see, a picture of a wonderful loving mother. It’s hard to see that from the outside. As moms we tend to focus on the negative. Anyone in the world who reads this blog is sure of two things:
    One you are a fantastic writer, and two: you love those boys without a doubt, without a single condition.
    XOXO
    Megan

  • Reply
    Lexie
    April 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Ashley-

    This is so. well. written.
    You make want to be a momma now now now! But then I remember the other things I’ve learned from you – to slow down. To take my time. To be myself. That’s it’s OKAY to wait a little while longer to make sure that my husband and I are the best we can be before we bring a little one into this world.

    Thank you. Reading your words means more to me than you will ever know.

  • Reply
    cassaundra hull
    May 19, 2013 at 9:40 am

    and this was so great, i just nominated it for babbles book.
    love your writing.
    love your bravery and honesty.

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    August 10, 2017 at 3:53 pm

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