Sunday, November 13, 2011

How Humility Handles Our Need to Be Noticed

I have a need to be noticed.

As a woman, I like for people (ahem--this especially means you, husband!) to notice when I am trying a new hairstyle, sporting a new outfit, or working a new pair of shoes. When I post pictures of my family on Facebook, it is not enough to merely have you look at them. I want you to "like" them and comment about how cute my children are. I also want people (ahem--that's to you again, husband!) to notice my efforts. When the house is picked up and put together and the meal is hot and ready on the table, I want to hear the compliment. When the toilets are clean and the floor is mopped, I want you to verbalize that you've seen it. When the grass is cut, and the beds are made, and the dogs poo has been scooped, I better know that you've recognized it. When the four-year-old is counting to 100, I want to hear you say that you are proud of me for all the good work I am doing with her. When I broke the boy from bottles and made the hard transition to sippys, I want to hear you shout, "Woo hoo! You go, Mama!"

I don't know how or when I became so needy.

And unfortunately, the person I am "ahem-ing" is not here to do the noticing for me. So all of my needs to be noticed must be fulfilled by my family and friends. Sorry about that. :(

The book says we have a need to be noticed in three ways:
Our labels/logos
Our honors/recognitions
Our titles

Labels/Logos: Growing up, I remember never caring what brand my clothes were. But I specifically remember my mother buying me my first pair of name-brand shoes. There was a boy in my fifth grade class who was teasing me because I didn't wear fancy athletic brand shoes. So I did what any fifth-grade girl would do. I went home and cried to my mom about it. And that very day, my mom took me to Famous Footwear and bought me a pair of white, princess Reebock sneakers. I remember wearing them the next day, feeling so proud of myself for having something that had never even mattered to me a mere 24 hours before. Did the boy notice? I'm sure he did, but in the grand scheme of things it didn't make any difference. He was still a meanie-head, and I was still me...just in a different pair of shoes. I have since learned my lesson about labels from that scenario. Here's a little secret about my wardrobe: I don't buy anything that isn't at least marked 75% off the original sales price. If it is not $10 or less, I won't buy it for myself. And I don't think I dress all that badly! My clothes do not have to have a fancy tag or logo...they just have to fit me and be cheap! I have carried this line of thinking over to my children. I feel no shame in putting my kids in hand-me-down clothes, because they are kids. Regardless of if the clothes are free or cost a fortune, a kid will outgrow it, a kid will stain it, a kid will rip it climbing a tree, and any kid preschool-aged or younger is probably going to pee through it. It is a fact of life. And you will be a lot less angry if they do these things and you aren't thinking "Noooo! I spent $25 on that polo onesie!!!"

Honors/Recognitions: So labels I don't have too much of a problem with, but this one is going to sting a little. I like helping people. I truly and honestly do. But as much as I like helping people, I also like having people notice me for it. When you work hard, you want to hear someone say, "Job well done!" It is fun to have your picture taken holding an award. It is even more fun to have a whole lot of people see that picture. It is especially nice to have someone that you admire and want to impress notice your efforts or nominate you for the award. Everyone deep down wants to stand in a place of honor. I struggle with this alot. There was one awards ceremony at my old job where my supervisor got up to speak about the "Rookie of the Year" winner. I had been nominated for the position at the company-level (I didn't win) but I was sure I was going to nab the department-level one. As she spoke, I could feel myself blushing like you do when you think someone is talking about you. Everything she said, I thought, "Yep. That's me." People were nudging me on the side as if to say, "Yep. That's you." So imagine my surprise when she said, "Congratulations to our Rookie of the Year, [not me.]" I was so embarrassed, hurt, and a little offended. Not to mention, I was really jealous of the person who won (and who totally deserved it! She had caught a glitch in the billing system that saved the company like $300,000/mo.) It wasn't enough for me to have been nominated. I wanted the whole she-bang! I wanted the ultimate recognition. And it hasn't gotten any better since becoming a stay-at-home mom. It may have even gotten worse. Because I don't have the validation of a job, I need recognition of a job well done from my peers, my husband, and my children almost constantly. Because mothering cannot be processed in a database or completed on a form, I need people to notice that I am doing a good job or I feel like I am not.

Titles: I wear a lot of hats. None of them are all that prestigious. But when you are a member of a military family, you realize how important titles (aka rank) can be. If the husband is high-ranking, there are certain respects that are always to be paid to him. This is hard for me to adjust to when I visit my husband at work. To me, he is my best friend, the father of my children, the man I know can drink a pitcher of beer in 13 seconds...just this good old boy from Aggieland. So when I am walking somewhere with him and people stop to salute him, this really trips me out. What trips me out even more is when the courtesies they are required to pay to him are then reflected onto me. It is really a strange thing to have a person 20 years older than me call me "Ma'm." It is really, REALLY weird when their wife does it too. Mrs. Tarter--I'm okay with that. But M'am?? Just so you know, if I have never mentioned it before, if you read this blog and you EVER call me "Ma'm"...I will bop you on your noggin. :) But titles are important and they make us feel important. The first time I was called a 'mom' or got to call a little person my 'daughter,' that was wonderful to me. When I got to call my boyfriend my fiance and then my husband...that was spectacular! I love to be recognized as an Aggie. (Bring on the Aggie jokes! See if I care!) I love to be called an Army Wife. But I can see how people are able to get too caught up in titles of prestige. Don't let me ever get caught up in the title of being an "officer's wife." I am proud of my soldier, just like everyone else. But he deserves the special treatment. Not me.

I have gone on and on tonight so I think I should wrap it up. The book says that in order to handle our need to be noticed, we must redirect our focus to meeting other's needs. I know that's the truth. It is amazing how quickly I can put aside my own needs whenever my children need me. One time the three of us were so sick and my husband was on staff duty. I think that was the easiest stomach virus I ever had because I couldn't focus on how miserable I babies needed me more. The thing I need to remember for myself is that when I feel the need to be honored or recognized, I shouldn't focus on earning man's recognition, but God's. Sure, it feels nice to hear other people tell me I'm doing well but it will feel even better when one day I hear God tell me "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

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