Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Scares Me

Do you mind if I share my heart for a few minutes?

I've been reading the book Start by Jon Acuff, and it has really gotten me thinking. 



(If you haven't yet read that book, I highly recommend it.  It's fun to read and offers great advice.  But if there's something that you know you're supposed to do that you've been putting off, I'm warning you that this book will most likely get you moving.)

Throughout the book, Jon challenges each of us to discover what our "awesome" is.  What is that thing you feel you are uniquely supposed to do--that brings you the most joy, that really matters, and that can help others?

Then, once we've discovered that "awesome," he encourages us to "punch fear in the face" and start doing it.

You really need to read the whole book because Jon is a master at understanding the psychology behind all this. And I've decided that my first step is to share what it is I feel I'm supposed to be doing and then acknowledge some of those fears that I need to overcome.

(Just writing this blog post scares me, but it's quiet in my house right now, and these thoughts simply need to come out.)

To start off, the thing that I have been totally putting off--that I know I'm supposed to do--is write my book about motherhood, based on my post Your Children Want YOU.

I basically have the whole thing outlined.  When I sit down to work on it, my heart starts beating fast, and I get this feeling that that is exactly where my voice needs to be.  I am highly passionate about that topic, I find joy in writing about it, and I think that book could be helpful to a lot of people.

But I never work on it.  Ever. 

I have a huge poster board hiding behind my bookshelf with dozens of Post-it note ideas all over it that I haven't looked at in months.  But until I read Jon's book, I wasn't really sure why I was putting it off.

And now I know.

Fear #1: If I publish this book, I will somehow be saying that motherhood isn't "enough" for me.

I know . . . just typing that out sounded absolutely ridiculous, but let me explain.  Writing a book by myself feels like a huge undertaking.  Power of Moms published a compilation of essays last October, and we have another compilation coming out in the spring, but those were joint projects that didn't feel scary.

Stepping out and writing this more personal book feels big, and even Jon Acuff himself, who spoke at a conference I attended, said, "Maybe if you're a mom with young children right now, that's enough."

In my heart, I answer, "YES! Motherhood is definitely enough!"  I've always known that, and I find the most joy in my life when I'm with my family, being the mom.  I'm totally fine with waiting until my children are grown to do all this writing, but then I keep getting this feeling that I'm not supposed to wait.  I'm supposed to do this now.

Fear #2: I have to be perfect.

There are a lot of amazing writers out there--especially in the "mom" space.  Sometimes when I look around at what everyone else is doing, I quietly shut my laptop and say to myself, "I don't even want to compete with that."  (Not that it's a competition, but you know what I mean.)

I was telling another blogger at a conference about Power of Moms, and then I mentioned that I have a personal blog at powerofafamily.blogspot.com.  She looked really surprised and said, "Blogspot?"   I'm sure she didn't mean it to come out unkindly, but all of a sudden, I felt entirely unsophisticated. 

This personal blog is where I figure things out.  It's my own little place, and I like it here.

But sometimes I feel like just deleting the whole thing or making it private or starting over somewhere else because I don't have it all "figured out."  (No professionally-designed header, no special links at the top, no consistency in when I post. . . . )  There's just so much going on in my life that running this blog as actively as we run Power of Moms would overwhelm me.

Fear #3: I'll start something that I won't be able to finish.

I am really good at doing what I say I'm going to do, so if I say I'll jump into this book project but then have to back off because my life gets too full, that devastates me.  Being a mother is incredibly demanding, and I can't put a book about motherhood ahead of my children.  It's easier just never to start, right?

Perhaps I'm simply getting ahead of myself.  It's summer break right now, and I am surrounded by excited, energetic children for most of every day.  This fall, my youngest starts first grade, and I'll have six hours of quiet, five days a week.  Maybe I need to give myself a break for the next few weeks and reassess later?

Fear #4: I'll have to "go bigger."

I really like my life right now.  I like not having pressure to be anywhere other than my home.  I like playing the piano and reading with my children.  I like taking care of my mom on Thursdays and working on the computer when it works with my schedule.

Your Children Want YOU was my post that went viral.  It received more than a million reads in two days. 

I feel like if I write a book based on that post, I need to really promote it, and re-do my blog, and make the book as popular as that post.  I feel like I'll need to send my children away from me so I can keep up with all the details that go into such a mammoth project.

But I have zero desire to do that.

I don't want to be an author who is also a mother.  I want to be a mother who writes sometimes.

So where is all this leading me?

Yesterday, after reading one of the last chapters of Start, this question came into my head:

Who are you writing for?

And then these answers came to mind:

(1) I'm writing for myself.  This process of pouring my heart onto a blog or into a book is therapeutic for me--especially as I'm losing my mom.  I need to write. 

(2) I'm writing for my daughters.

This thought struck me the most.  My girls will hopefully be entering this motherhood world in the next 10 to 20 years, and I want to capture motherhood for them.  I want to record this life and these thoughts while they're happening, so when they need strength and encouragement, it will be waiting for them. 

But what's interesting is that they're not waiting until they're moms.  They're reading now.  Grace and Alia are my two most loyal blog readers.  Alia receives my blog updates on her phone, and sometimes she'll come home at the end of the day and say, "I liked your post, Mom."

Then the girls and I will talk about motherhood and family life and God, and I feel a connection to them that is deep and beautiful.

(3) I'm writing for "that mom" who needs this.

What seems to make the most sense is for me to simply make this blog private and share it only with my immediate family and close friends.  Lots of people do that, and it would be a whole lot less scary for me.

But every once in awhile I get an email from someone who lives far away--who I never would have met in a million years had it not been for this blog--and she says something like, "Thank you for writing. Please don't stop.  It makes a difference for me."

Here are some final thoughts: 

I don't need to write for a million people.  I need to write for individuals.

I don't need to go "bigger."  I just need to write what feels right--when it works with my life.

I don't need to be perfect.  I need to be authentic.

That feels a much more doable.

My children are up now, so I will close.  Thanks for being with me as I try to figure all of this out.  I appreciate you.

Love,
April




13 comments:

  1. Thanks for this! The post is for me :) I will have to read that book!

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  2. I am "that Mom" that you are referring to because I have been wrestling with these same questions and fears about simply starting a blog! I've kept a blog for my family audience and if felt like no big deal, but now I feel terrified as I contemplate putting myself out there for the whole mom-blog community. I am afraid that a) no one will read it or want to read it and b) that I'll feel rejected. It's encouraging to know that others may share the same fears and have surmounted them. I will check out Jon Acuff's book and I look forward to reading your book as well, whether sooner or later. I think you hit the nail on the head with your final thoughts! Best of luck and thank you for sharing!

    nativetohappiness.blogspot.com

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  3. Thank you for writing this. My 4th baby is just 3 months old and my oldest is 5, so for now being a mom is all I can do, and I'm glad that you feel like that, too, for thee summer (along with power of moms and everything else you do--for me it really is just being a mom). But I've been feeling like "then what?". And I don't know what the answer is, but I need to figure it out, and maybe this book will help. And in the meantime I read both of your websites and feel understood. Thank you.

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    1. Liz, it was so great to hear from you. You have a BUSY household with four children under five! Congratulations--and best of luck! :) You will definitely have time to yourself in the coming years, but you're right--now is the time to start figuring it out. Then when your time opens up, you just jump right into your passion. These are the days for thinking and exploring. Glad you visited and left a comment here. I'm thinking of you!

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  4. April your voice is needed in this world today that discounts MOtherhood as of little importance. The reason why your voice is so powerful is because you are REAL and not perfect. None of us want to read a book of a perfect Mom (because she doesn't exist). WE want someone who is real and imperfect, but yet is trying and doing an amazing job (which you are!) Plus the reason why I think you feel that you are supposed to do this NOW is because it is more powerful coming from you when you are in the "trenches" instead of writing it when your children are grown, becuase I think we can forget a lot about how hard it was and maybe glorify it a little bit?? Anyway, I would love to read your book, I think you are an amazing woman who has a very important mission in this life. I know you have changed my life and my Mothering!

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  5. I remembered this quote this morning and thought of you...

    "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." ~Marianne Williamson

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    1. Cheryl, your thoughts have been in my mind the past couple of weeks, and I so appreciate you sharing them with me here on my blog. Whenever I start doubting myself, I think, "No, Cheryl's right. I've got to move forward with this while I'm in the trenches!"

      Thank you for being such a support and such an amazing mom. So excited about your new house!! xo

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  6. April I miss talking with you. I was so spoiled to have so many hours of dedicated April time but now reading this I feel like we are right back in that van. How I wish I could just talk right back to you. I have felt your heart and your intentions to do what you are led to do. I have no doubt that you will write this book in the spirit and manner it is to be written. You are a mothering rockstar:) I am simply amazed at how much you get done in one day and how so much of it is being with your family, really being with them. I am so excited to see hear how your book is coming along. I think I'm going to need to read 'Start' because there are definitely changes happening in my life in which i need motivation to punch fear in the face and get to work!!
    Hope we get to see each other very soon!!

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    1. Thank you, Briana! I miss our time in the car, too. I think of you often and admire your persistence and all the good you do! I met a mom the other day named Stephanie Guardian who knows you, and she told me that she just loves the way you write. And yes--read Start! It's amazing. (I am pretty excited because I get to record a podcast with the author tomorrow. Can't wait to share the recording.) xo

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  7. Hi April!
    I came across your blog through the Power of Mom website. I was referred to the Power of Mom site from reading another blog that was talking about this Power of Mom conference that she had just attended. I was attending college and was childless at the time, however I have always been a believer in being prepared for when I would have children so I decided to read more about it.I started reading the Power of Mom articles and listening to the podcasts at least every week or when I would have time. Little did I know that a few months later I would be pregnant with twins and fully immersed in being a mother. Your articles and podcasts were what I had in the back of my mind to pull from as I entered into this beautiful journey of being a mother. I just want you to know that your example has been such an amazing thing for me as a young mother. I am inspired everyday to be a 'deliberate' mother because I have now been given the tools and the support from you and other mothers that I have found on your Power of Mom website.
    I then decided to check out your personal blog because I found your outlook refreshing and real from your articles and podcasts. You have stayed true to form on your blog and that is what is the biggest help to me as a mother. You are showing your struggles and triumphs which may make you scared to admit or disclose, but I can guarantee that it has at least helped me to really put my best foot forward as a mother and to love it (and to recognize that I am not the only one with these thoughts in motherhood)! Thank you so much for putting your life out there for all of us to see, you truly are making a difference!
    I will definitely buy your book when the time comes because you are a real mom that I can relate to!

    Thanks again,
    Monica

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    1. Monica, I can't even tell you how much this sweet message meant to me. My early days as a mom were SO hard, and just knowing that Power of Moms is helping moms in that same situation gives me the strength to keep going. I didn't have twins, but two of my children are 12 months apart, and that was definitely tricky! I'm thinking of you, and I'm so glad you're part of Power of Moms!

      Love,
      April

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  8. April, you are wonderful and I'd be thrilled to read anything that you write. Write for you, your daughters . . . Write what is true to your heart and I can guarantee that it will resonate with the desires of so many women!

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    1. Thank you, Shannon! I love that this blog world can unite us with other moms and remind us we're not alone. I appreciate your support!

      Love,
      April

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