I have been reading lots of comments and quotes lately on Facebook about how some people portray the perfect life or the perfect children and that the reality isn't that. I know that I have had people ask me how I have it all together. I get the comments about how wonderful my children are, it appears our life is all together and I have even had people ask me if we ever have problems / challenges in our family. I just have to laugh when I am asked this. Yes, we do have challenges, my children are not perfect, I am by no means a perfect parent and the list goes on.
In fact, just over a week ago one of my boys was facing some struggles and having a rough night and one of the comments he said was, "I hate being put on a pedestal, because of the things you say about me, by all of your friends and family. I feel like I have to maintain that image."
As he said that I thought about my growing up years and being an "Anderson." My parent's were / are well-known in the community. My dad had his own business with his dad, president of Character Connection, president of Alpine Foundation, served on the State School Board, served on a bank board, served in several church callings and my mom was wonder woman raising 9 children, volunteering in the schools, holding several church callings and giving so much back to the community. They shared everything they had with others - even strangers - and they still do. People knew my parent's, saw us out giving service as a family and really thought highly of our family. I felt like I had an image to live up to.
Was my life perfect? No, not by any measure of the word. I had many struggles and many hard things I was going through that people didn't know about until I went on my mission. In fact, I had a counselor tell me that the only way I made it through the challenges was because I was stubborn.
Was it wrong for me to strive to live up to the image and portray that we were happy and life was great when things weren't? I would say no.
I look back at those times and I am so grateful that my parent's taught us hard work, to serve the community, to spend time together as a family, to work for good grades and take education seriously and the list goes on.
Was I mad at my parent's at times because I didn't get to go hang out with my friends instead of planting trees? Yes.
Did I fight with my siblings and even think that I hated some of them growing up? Yes.
Did I fight with my parent's and think they were wrong at times? Yes.
Did I treat others with disrespect because I was mad and thought they were wrong? Yes.
Did I cause my parent's worry and heartbreak growing up? Yes.
Do I hope that my children don't do some of the things that I did to my parent's? Yes.
Did I feel the spirit and enjoy giving service when all was said and done? Yes.
Do I have utmost respect for my parent's for all that they taught me? Yes.
Do I think it was easy for them to be parent's? No
Do I think they felt like they were failing at times? Yes.
Am I blessed because people thought highly of me and I worked at living up to that image when things weren't really as they seemed? Yes.
There is definitely a balance, because the weight of being on a pedestal can be really heavy and sometimes cause us to be depressed or even want to give up. We might compare our weaknesses to other peoples strengths. We might perceive that this family has it all together and we don't. I yelled at my children and I am sure that mom doesn't ever yell at their children. My house is a filthy mess and I am sure their's isn't and the list goes on.
I truly believe that the bottom line is counting our blessings where we are right now and finding happiness in the struggles. I promise, everyone has struggles and no one is perfect (or they would have been translated). I do go out in the public, smile, put on my best face and give whatever I have committed to my all even though I might completely be heartbroken inside or even feeling like I can't take another step and I don't have one more thing to give to someone else. What amazes me every time is when I get out and do those things, because I have to, there is a friend, smile, note, comment that is a boost for me and helps me realize I can keep going. I realize I am not really alone. There are people that love me and want what is best for me. Every single parent is fighting their own battles, just like each of our children are. I gain so much every time I look outside myself and I hope that I can do that for others.
So, just for fun I thought I would list a few of the imperfections in our family (and I promise I am not lying about these things):
1. Our house is a mess and there is ALWAYS a pile of laundry
2. There are always dishes that need to be done
3. Every time I want something done in the house I have to ask my children more than once to help and sometimes I give up and just do it myself or leave it undone
4. I struggle with my health and have to work at it every day - sometimes I can't even think clearly because of the numbers from my diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol - take your pick
5. We have gone through 4 different times of unemployment in the last 6 - 7 years.
6. With that has brought major financial struggles and we are still working on taking care of our financial obligations.
7. My boys each have their own struggles and some days are better than others.
8. We do have fighting in our home - probably on a daily basis among the brothers and sometimes with dad and mom. I have to work daily at building stronger, better relationships with my boys and my husband.
9. I struggle with being confident and have to give myself pep talks when going to meetings or getting up in front of people (I am TERRIFIED to be in front of people). I often lose sleep the night before a meeting that I am in charge of. I struggle with anxiety and have a major fear of making mistakes.
10. I yell. I get mad. I have an opinion and can get really frustrated when I am at home. Not very often in public, because I have a major guilt problem and worry so much about hurting people's feelings.
I am guessing that many wouldn't believe some of these things and think I might be exaggerating some of these things or my perception is off on the reality of some of these things. I promise, it's not :). This is the truth. The list above could be my reality and I could feel discouraged, but I refuse to accept these things as they appear above and what some would say is "my real reality." So, here is how I view each of the things listed above:
1. I am enjoying making memories with my family, because the mess will always be there. There will always be laundry to be done, as long as we have clean clothes to wear each day we are doing great!
2. Yes, the dishes have to be done. It's a part of life, but it's alright if they wait for a short bit. It can be a team effort when they do get done.
3. It is frustrating asking my children over and over, but hard work and learning to do household things is very important. These are skills they will need for their missions and cleaning can be fun and very rewarding. Sometimes we have to take a breather or negotiate for a different time when we are all feeling like we can do it.
4. Due to a doctor helping me face my reality, I am getting healthier. I love that I have perspective that if I get healthier I can be around longer for my boys. That is very important to me. I love that I might have a bad day, but that I can start over tomorrow or even in 10 minutes and make things better. I love a good challenge and this is the one for me.
5. Unemployment has not been easy by any sense of the word. It has taken a financial and emotional toll on our family. It has caused many tears,worry, stress, etc. On the other hand, unemployment has helped us appreciate the simple life. We don't have to have the big things. Playing a board game and pancakes and eggs for dinner is the best meal ever. We have also learned what it is like to be served and helped by so many. It has been extremely humbling, but in turn it has helped us empathize and reach out to others and give back when we haven't been unemployed. Also, with each time there has always been a reason, something to learn and something better on the other side. Rick has a job that he absolutely loves and that wouldn't have happened without losing his other jobs.
6. Financial struggles stink. Owing people money, not making ends meet, finding balance between the needs and wants and providing my boys with opportunities they would like is really a challenge. This can be a very heavy weight. On the other side of things, my boys appreciate the simple things we are able to do for them. They don't just assume that they can do everything they would like to do. They learn to make decisions and are learning great lessons for their future. Because we don't have money for everything out there we really get to spend a lot of quality time as a family that we will cherish forever. When we pay something off it is so rewarding. We recognize both sides of the coin on this one and we are still working at it, but I don't let it get me down.
7. My boys struggles. We all have hard days with our own weaknesses, disappointments, etc. What I love is that they are learning to battle through them. When they go through the experiences they are better people for it. They are stronger and find a feeling of success and momentum to take on the next challenge, because it will be there. There is no need to beat ourselves or others up over their mistakes. We all make them in different ways so it is important to be a team and work together, be a cheerleader. I want them to know that there is still happiness and laughter through struggles.
8. Fighting in our home - surprise!!! Someone is mad, wrestling started out as fun and now someone is hurt, I got impatient and yelled at one of the boys or felt disappointment that something wasn't done, etc. We all know the story, because I am sure it happens in all of our homes. We have a saying that we are working for eternity and these are the people we want to be with forever. We apologize, work through things, apologize when we are wrong (I probably do the most apologizing) and we love each other. Our best friends and those that are truly our safety nets live right within the walls of our home. This is our safe place.
9. I am working on myself constantly. I am not a very confident person internally, but I would bet those who know me or who have worked with me would totally think that I am confident. I give myself pep talks and I go for it. I give things a try. I do fail and I recognize that some things are just not for me and it is alright. I am proud of myself for reaching outside of my comfort zone and becoming a better person. I like making progress in the right direction so I have to do hard things. Due to doing hard things I have been extremely blessed with great friends and a network of people who have not only blessed my life, but my entire family. If I didn't face my fears I wouldn't know the joy that comes with the things that I do.
10. Guilt and getting mad are probably the greatest things I need to work on all of the time, but due to those two characteristics in my life I really strive hard to keep my mean feelings or opinions to myself or vent to Rick when I am at home. The blessing of this is that I find myself really trying hard to understand where that person is coming from or what they need. I want to leave each situation helping people feel better about themselves. I want them to think about their interactions with me as a positive thing. I want to be a better person and in turn help others to be their very best.
Alright, this has been an EXTREMELY long post, but I just felt that I should share a little more about myself and what my reality or my real life is really all about. I truly believe life is all about counting our blessings right where we are and finding happiness in the struggles - we all have them. Good or bad - happiness makes each day better.
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