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opening up about not opening up


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I find it challenging to be candid, even with close friends and family, in ways that may make me appear vulnerable. Yesterday I had a nice convo with my friend Emily about many topics; one of my favorites was our frank and honest discussion about how difficult parenting can be. Does it seem like a taboo subject to you? What do you think are the reasons for our struggle to admit the hardships of parenthood? Is it a part of our cultural folkways or mores? Sociology majors, help me out.

Upon further reflection after my call with Em, I realized my inability to share intimate life secrets runs deep. She proved herself a great friend by opening up to me, but I am still paralyzed to reciprocate. I am nothing if not supportive of friends, but when it comes to letting others support me, words fail me. What am I afraid of?

My need to appear perfect (i.e. perfectly insincere) from the exterior extends into the blog too. Somehow, the blog has become my safe haven and my clean slate; no matter what is happening in my life, I can display only the best of it here. But when I consider the reasons I keep a blog, I realize my true intention is to create a place where I can document it all, the good, bad, and ugly. Even calling it “The Lone Home Ranger” was a way of baring my soul and the feeling of loneliness that sometimes accompanies staying at home. While exchanging ideas with Tiffanie, another blogging friend, she inspired me to focus on writing content that is original and true to myself.

But how can I overcome my confession paralysis? My fantastic therapist’s recommendation comes to mind: “Act as if…” She says whenever you find yourself needing to behave in a certain way that doesn’t come naturally, with a certain person or in a certain social situation, you should “act as if,” until eventually (in an ideal world) the behavior comes naturally. This mantra is similar to the psycho-babble phrase, “Fake it ’til you make it.”

Now that I’m acting “as if” with you and divulging deep dark secrets, I’d like to go back to the parenting discussion for a minute. I am consistently awed by how incredibly challenging it is to be a parent. It’s a labor of love, to be sure, but labor is most certainly an appropriate word to describe it. Why can’t we discuss this obvious fact with each other more often? Couldn’t the admission of the challenges of parenting allow us to achieve a deeper enjoyment of it? I think so.

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Mom and baby gibbons at our local zoo. Mothering at its most pure.

I love being a mom. I really do. I don’t get tired of being with the kids except for maybe an hour or two, and I don’t find parenting as “mindless” as I once asserted when Vivi was very young, back when I knew everything already. Remember when you knew everything once? It was a nice feeling. But I embrace all that goes along with being in my thirties, including the beginnings of laugh lines, gray hairs, a budding muffin top, and a simultaneous feeling of confidence and of knowing nothing. Hopefully, my confidence will arise from my ability to learn as I go. Until then, I’ll be over here faking it.

I am, etc.,
~J

Editor’s note: This post is part of Just WriteMidweek Confessions, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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