I really did win the in-law jackpot.
I love my husband's entire family, but tonight I am going to lush about my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law is one of those people who you'll catch on the phone once in a blue moon and will reply back to your emails about two weeks after you send them (I guess being a doctor probably has something to do with the response time!) But when she gets a chance to slow down and catch up with you, she is always so attentive and supportive. I love that about her.
PLUS I love that I know she has been keeping up with my blogs. I guess I should take that as a sign that really likes me if she cares enough to make room in her busy schedule to keep up with my random spurts of "insight"...either that or she just wants to know if I'm yelling at her grandkids again. (Just kidding, it's because she likes me.) :)
Today I received a belated birthday gift from her that was one of the most thoughtful gifts I've gotten in a long time. Her birthday package to me contained a cupcake cookbook to help me cultivate my skills in the kitchen, a song book containing guitar chords to a bunch of country top 40 songs and a gift prompting me to "sign up for guitar lessons."
I loved all of it from the minute I saw it and I was so excited as I flipped through the pages of my books. But then, all of a sudden, the "negative nancy" inside of me came out and spoiled the party. (Who keeps inviting that witch over, anyway?!)
Sammi looked over my shoulder at the cupcake book just as I was turning the page to a castle constructed out of different sized cupcakes and icecream cones. Of course, my four-year-old sees this a says, "Mommy, that's the cake I want for my five year princess sparkle party!" (By the way, her birthday is not for several months, and she already has her party themes picked out up to age 18. Anyone up for a unicorn pirate party in about 14 years?!) Anywho...
I saw the excitement in my daughter's eyes and the first words out of my mouth in response to her question were "well baby, I don't think Mommy's cupcake castle would look quite as nice as that. I don't know if I can do it." Saying these words triggered a cataclysmic force of negative thoughts. Almost instantly, I began to wonder, "Would I be able to make anything out of this book? Do I even know where to go to get the little candies to decorate this stuff? Are my cupcakes going to be so ugly that no one will eat them but me and I'll end up being this fat person who doesn't know squat about making cupcakes?" Then my thoughts shifted from cupcakes to other things. "I know I won't be able to play any of the songs from my new guitar book. I don't know who to call to help teach me. I don't even know if I have the capability to invest my time into taking lessons, (what with all the hours I need to dedicate to Pinterest and Facebook!) I will probably take the lessons, not be able to figure it out, and ruin a perfectly lovely contribution to my resolution. My mother-in-law will come to visit and she will roll her eyes at me when I try to play her a song and it sounds awful. Then she'll never invest anything into me again and she will quit reading my blogs and I'll only have like three readers."
I quieted that crazy nutcase now, mostly thanks to a conversation I had with my mother-in-law. As I called to thank her for my presents, I realized that she sent me those things because she believed I could do them. In fact, I realized that the only person that thinks I can't do any of this stuff is me! I might not be able to construct a cupcake castle come birthday time, but I can make a lot better cupcakes now than I could when my daughter was born. And who knows! I might surprise myself and crank out an awesome cupcake castle for Sammi's birthday. And no, I can't play any of those songs from my new book yet, but I can play a lot more than I could a couple months ago. And if I could learn that much through self-teaching, then I should be able to do a lot more if I commit to lessons.
I confess, I was one of those kids growing up who was honors and all-star everything. I really prided myself on being one of the best. But somewhere down the line, I got a much needed wake up call that I was not God's gift to the earth. And rather than letting it humble me, I let it destroy my confidence in myself. And since then, I have taken a few more hard hits to the ego. I didn't graduate with honors, I didn't get the promotion I thought I deserved, I didn't get the new job I thought I was qualified for or even the ones I thought were beneath me.
I love being a mother, but I don't want that to be all people see me as. I am comfortable with the person I am. I know I am well-liked, and maybe even looked up to. I am proud of the life I lead, and I do feel successful about a bunch of small things--like when my son learns a new word after I work with him, or when my daughter gets the "lightbulb" after I teach her simple addition, or even when I realize I can still fit into my wedding dress (yes, I have put it on recently lol.) But it's been a long time since I've set real goals for myself, and I think it's because I'm afraid I'll be put into my place again. My New Year's resolutions may have seemed piddly to some, but they are important to me--and for me.
Vic, thank you for realizing how important they are, for supporting me with your gifts, and for unknowingly giving me the push I needed to move forward.