Caught on Tape: My Bad Mom Moment Revealed

Caught on Tape: My Bad Mom Moment Revealed

Guilt. Shame.

Sadness washes over me as the home video abruptly switches from my cute little girls to me with my game face on, all dolled up in a white denim jacket.

It was 9 years ago in 2007, when video cameras still recorded on tiny tapes. Apparently, I intended to record over this audition, but a remnant remained.

I watch myself deliver carefully rehearsed lines. Eyes directly into the camera, voice projected, body poised. I was auditioning for a non-profit organization that sends motivational speakers to high schools around the country. And the deadline for audition tapes was that day.

Right in the middle of a line, adorable 3-old-year-old Audrey runs to the room, interrupting my soliloquy. The video shows me stop and glare at her, an angry mom look casting dark shadows everywhere.

“Anna’s getting fussy, mom,” her sweet voice rings out.

“What are you doing out here?” I yell at her. “I told you stay in the room. Get back in there and watch your sister. NOW!”

In the space of 5 seconds I watch myself turn from an enthusiastic, classy woman into an ugly witch yelling at her 3-year-old to go back and take care of the baby crying in the exersaucer.

Of course, that wasn’t the first time I yelled, threw a fit, or relied on my toddler to keep an eye on the baby. But it was the first (and last) time I saw myself do it outside the walls of my own head. I wanted to erase the evidence. Pretend it never happened. But for some reason, I didn’t. That clip still exists somewhere in the vast storage device where our electronic family memories reside. I know I’ll stumble upon it one day. Or perhaps one of my girls will find it. What will I say? How will I explain…

I could brush it off.

“Oh, gosh. That must have been a really bad day. Let’s delete that one!”

I could defend myself.

You know…I had recently stopped working to be home full-time. I didn’t know it then, but I likely had postpartum depression, too. We sold our car to make the budget work, and Justin only carpooled a few days per week. Many times, I had no vehicle to leave the house. Money was so tight. I was isolated and desperately trying to find an outlet to make cash and feel like myself again. The deadline for the audition tape was that day, remember? And I DID get the job…

I could give insight.

It was hard for me to be a mom of little ones. I’m highly driven, ultra sensitive, and I need lots of down time to feel my best. I was in over my head, and I had not yet learned the importance of asking for help. It’s not that I didn’t love my babies. Oh, how I have loved them every moment since I learned of their life within me! It was a rough season that I did my best to hide. As a result, the ugly parts spewed out all over the ones I loved the most.

I could be honest.

I’m a messy miracle, darling. I don’t know why I do the things that I do. I make mistakes. I act out of fear. I screw up…badly.  But those mess-ups have taught me so much about love and forgiveness and grace. I never would have known how much I value those gifts, how much freedom they give, if I hadn’t needed them desperately. And I do need them desperately.

What if we’re all simply doing the best we can?

I know you can relate to my story. There are things you’ve done that you wish you could take back. Maybe they weren’t played on a computer in front of you, but perhaps they keep playing on the screen of your mind. Your first instinct is probably to defend yourself and place the blame elsewhere. Or do you dismiss and avoid?

What about when other people mess up? Do you revel in it? Does it secretly make you feel better to know you’re not alone? Is your first instinct to judge and assume?

It’s a crazy world we live in, and we’re all part of the crazy. It’s not the way it was designed to be, but it’s the way it is. Until Jesus takes us home or returns, you and I will continue to be part of the mess. But we’re also part of the miracle.

What if the next time you mess up, you choose to confess and ask forgiveness?

What if the next time your unmet expectations cause you frustration, you talk about it openly and honestly, without blame?

What if the next time a friend tells you she doesn’t want to get out of bed, you don’t try to fix her. You simply say, “I understand. What can I do?”

What if the next time you see a mom frustrated with her child, you offer an encouraging word instead of judging and walking by.

Because you understand, after all.

You’re the mess. And you’re the miracle. God works through you in both ways. So let him. Be you and offer grace to others to be themselves, too.

Be Still,

Laura

XOXOXO

Other posts from the Messy Miracle Series:

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Blackout: Chasing Contentment

Blackout: Chasing Contentment

blackout

On the back of my senior t-shirt, I added these words in white vinyl letters.

Harmful or Harmless?
What do YOU think?

My maiden name is Harm, thus the creative play on words. But a darker meaning also lurked there.

I swallowed my first taste of alcohol at age 16 sitting on a car in the high school parking lot. The next morning, I sat in the choir loft for church. I was a notorious good girl who thought way too much about doing, saying, feeling the right thing, so I quickly learned that alcohol was an “easy” way to release the nagging voice in my head. Under the influence of elixir, layers of weight shed from my skin. Words flowed freely. Spontaneity was achievable. My reserved nature fell away and an alter-ego took her place with sweet release.

For the first decade of my drinking years, there was no such thing as simply enjoying a glass of wine or a can of beer.

I drank to become someone else.

“You know, alcohol is more dangerous for you than for others,” my father said one night, a reminder of our shared family history.

The angel on my right and the demon on my left. A conflict of character. A battle of identify. I was both of them, but thankfully they weren’t all of me.

Can you relate, Messy Miracle? Do you sometimes wish you could change the things you dislike about yourself? Do you wish there was a pill to erase the fear? Do you long for a magic mirror in which to see the future yet to come?

We all do. It’s universal, this desire to control. And sometimes it actually works…for a little while.

The dark side.

I’ve experienced two drinking-induced blackouts. Entire evenings missing from the cavern of my mind. On my 19th birthday, the last memory I have is throwing back shots at a bar during a fraternity social. I woke in my sorority bedroom soaked in layers of vomit with no recollection of laying face down, comatose on a parking lot the night before. Nor do I remember the (thankfully kind) designated driver who carried me home. He left a note. His name was Troy.

In my twenties, I attended the marriage of friends and drank the glasses of wine that continuously appeared before me. I vaguely recall dinner, then dancing and then nothing. Except the echoes of embarrassing stories the next day.

Blackout. No memory. No picture in my head.

Life moved ever forward with career, marriage, and kids. The escape of drink turned to shopping, moving up the corporate ladder, decorating a home, and dozens of smaller distractions to numb the ever-blooming chase for contentment.

Who am I? Why am I here? I had everything I ever wanted, but nothing was enough.

First the heartache. Then the healing.

I intended this essay to be about drinking, but I realize now that it’s actually about so much more. Drinking is just one of many ways I’ve sought to avoid the pain of this chaotic world. And what I’m learning is that You. Can’t. Avoid. The. Pain.  

At least not forever. Any attempt to stuff it or hide it or ignore it, just makes it intensify when it can no longer be contained. And trust me. At some point, it will no longer be contained.  

So, what’s a lady to do? I wish there was an easy fix, dear one. The truth is that the only way out is through. You have to open the door on the pain to set it free. You have to find trustworthy people to help you. And you have to surrender it all to Jesus.

I know you’re chasing contentment. You are wrestling with warring sides of yourself.  So am I…still. We’ll never find the answer in the bottom of a bottle. It’s nowhere in the latest trendy clothes, lower numbers on the scale or newest wrinkle cream. It’s not in your boyfriend or your spouse or even your children. All of that will fail you. You will fail you. But it’s ok. We were never meant to heal ourselves. But we ARE made to be healed.

Can you believe, just for a moment, that you were made to live free? Live free from the pain and emptiness? Imagine what that would feel like…to know that you are perfectly loved and accepted exactly the way you are. And what if you didn’t have to do anything for this to be true? What if you only had to let go of the reigns and believe? Would you do it? Could you do it? Stay with me on this quest to Seek The Still and see…

Fear tells me to hold these memories deep in the cavern of my mind. My weirdness, quirks, and imperfections feel safe hidden from stinging curiosity and judging eyes.

But change is stirring. With each word released, with every story shared, my heart and soul are stretched in new ways. Feelings fly free and shame is undone in a mysterious dance that I’m learning to respect – and even enjoy.

These tales are true, and they are mine. Yet they are also strangely yours. In the sharing, our lives intertwine, and we see one another more purely. Perhaps for the very first time.

I'd love to remind you that there is hope and you are never alone.

 
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When Resolutions Are Made To Be Broken

When Resolutions Are Made To Be Broken

 

“Mommy, will you play pet shops with me?” the little voice pleads. I sigh and look up from the computer, stare at my to-do list a mile long. I begin to utter the familiar words, “Not right now sweetheart. Maybe in a little awhile.” Then I remember. Soon I will be the one begging for time spent together. Soon playing with mom will be the last thing on her list.

I look at my list again.  It is filled with the demands that make my days speed by too quickly, as I rush around without taking the time to be still. Work to pay the bills that keep coming. Chores to clean the house that will get dirty once again. New Years resolutions to keep.

My words catch in my throat. “Yes, darling.  I will come and play with you.” Her eyes widen with the surprising answer. “You will?!?” She skips merrily down the hall, and I know that for once I got it right. I made the right choice.

The work and the chores will still be there waiting for me. I’ll always have goals about exercising more, eating better, or whatever the New Year has challenged me to do. But for now I am going to sit on the floor with this precious one, stare into her eyes with wonder, and be part of her world. It may not have been in my plans, but sometimes plans are made to be broken.

Friend, do you have plans or resolutions that need to be broken today?

 

 

A Prayer for Seeking The Still

A Prayer for Seeking The Still

There’s much to say about 2017, but it can wait for now. At this moment I want to share this prayer with you. I have adopted it as the prayer for Seeking The Still. I do hope it will bless you and remind you to ever turn your gaze from yourself to the Author of Life. Happy 2017!

seeking-the-still-prayer-2

May you know you are never alone and always loved.

Be Still,
Laura
XOXOXO

……………………………………………….

initials_small

 

Seeking The Still: A quest to trust the divine amidst the chaos of life.
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Daily Doses of Seeking The Still

Daily Doses of Seeking The Still

Hey you, yes you, up late on your phone. Can't sleep?

Goodness, isn't it so tough how life gets really hard sometimes? Maybe you're lying awake worrying about finances. Or laundry. Or health. Wherever you are on the spectrum of worry, it matters. But Jesus says His purpose will stand. He does what He promises. That's not a bandaid verse, ladies. It's true tonight, with your tired eyes and open phone. His purposes will stand. Rest in that.
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3 days ago

Hey you, yes you, up late on your phone. Cant sleep?

Goodness, isnt it so tough how life gets really hard sometimes? Maybe youre lying awake worrying about finances. Or laundry. Or health. Wherever you are on the spectrum of worry, it matters. But Jesus says His purpose will stand. He does what He promises. Thats not a bandaid verse, ladies. Its true tonight, with your tired eyes and open phone. His purposes will stand. Rest in that.

Pull up a chair and stay awhile. I get it. You look perfect on the outside, but you feel one misstep away from falling off a cliff on the inside. It's a scary place to live there all alone. I've been there. I know. The music is still playing, though. Even if it's faint. Can you hear it? There's a WAY through. Just breathe and listen. He's calling you to live. #seekingthestill #hopewriters #simplytuesday ... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago

Pull up a chair and stay awhile. I get it. You look perfect on the outside, but you feel one misstep away from falling off a cliff on the inside. Its a scary place to live there all alone. Ive been there. I know. The music is still playing, though. Even if its faint. Can you hear it?  Theres a WAY through. Just breathe and listen. Hes calling you to live.  #seekingthestill #hopewriters #simplytuesday

Seeking The Still was live.

To the gal who has it all and is quietly falling apart...
... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago

Melanie Wheeler Evans and Charmaine Furman like this

Sarah Harm RentfroI listened to this on my walk tonight and loved every minute.

4 days ago   ·  1
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Glenda M. RicketsonLaura, thank you for sharing. It is very helpful to have someone who can walk with during this amazing journey.

3 days ago
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Comment on Facebook

7pm Tonight on the Seeking The Still page.
I'll be talking to the gal who has it all, but is quietly falling apart. See you there?
Be Still,
Laura
XOXOXO
... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago

7pm Tonight on the Seeking The Still page.
Ill be talking to the gal who has it all, but is quietly falling apart. See you there?
Be Still,
Laura
XOXOXO
What I Learned From Speaking My Story Out Loud

What I Learned From Speaking My Story Out Loud

Six months ago, my friend, Elise sent the following text…”You won’t believe the dream I had last night. It was so real! You and I were standing on a stage in front of women sharing our stories.”

What?!? Back then, the thought of sharing my story in words was still new to me, so the thought of sharing out loud was not on my radar at all. God has His own plans, though, and last Friday night, surrounded by 200 women, Elise and I shared our story of “sistering.” We took off our masks, showed our mess, and pointed to the One who continues to carry us through.

elise_speaking_cancer

Elise sharing her journey of cancer, anxiety & chronic pain.

laura-speaking-anxiety-story

Me sharing my story of a nervous breakdown and divine breakthrough.

The process of preparing and speaking for this event impacted me in profound ways. It was scary. It was healing. It opened old wounds. It set me free. Most of all, it was an honor to let God use my story and impact women struggling with similar issues. Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on the experience, I want to share what I learned.

Because you don’t have to tell your story to a room full of people for it to matter.

Give God Space to Work

Rehearsing for a speaking engagement is tricky. It’s a balance of knowing the content, yet being flexible enough to respond to the audience and incorporate impromptu thoughts. It is tempting to simply read a script. In fact, the first few times I practiced telling my story, that’s exactly what I did. I needed the safety of the written word to get through. But it felt too stiff. Too stale. Too safe. As I prayed about last Friday’s event, I realized that I knew this material. It was my story, after all. I lived it. I breathed it. And now it was time to trust God with it. I knew I needed to ask Him to open my mind and heart as well as my mouth and know that He would give me right words at the right time. I let go, and let God, and it was amazing.

We like to play it safe with other areas of our life, too, don’t we? It feels good to plan and control. But just like speaking, there is a balance to achieve. If we are too controlling and think our way is the only way, we miss the opportunity for God to direct our paths. We need to give Him space to work in every area of our life! I am learning to open my hands of control and lay my plans and my words at God’s feet.  I long to let go and trust that His outcome is always best.

Prayer is Powerful

A few days before the event last week, I was starting to feel the familiar anxiety creep in. I got tense and terse with my family, so they asked if I was anxious about speaking. After thinking about it, I realized that I wasn’t nervous about speaking at all, I was simply nervous that I MIGHT get nervous. I know…there is a reason I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder! But before I could get too worked up, people began texting, emailing, and messaging me with words of encouragement.

They said they were praying for me.

And when Elise and I arrived Friday morning for the walkthrough, I incredulously asked her if she was anxious?

“No, not all,” she replied.

“Me, either!” I responded with glee.

Those prayers carried us throughout the day, through the event, into the evening. and to this day.

The Magic of Stories

I am fascinated by Revelations 12:11 where it says,

They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

We overcome evil and sin and suffering in this world through the grace of Jesus and by sharing our stories. That is huge! Why? Why are our stories so important? I think it’s because stories (real, raw stories) act like a mirror. When you hear a story, you automatically see yourself in it. Something about it resonates. It becomes intensely personal. That’s why Jesus spoke in parables – stories! Those stories share the most powerful truths we need to know, but rather than telling us with facts, Jesus told us with stories.

So, what’s your story? How do you even begin? That’s a topic for an entire post, but here’s one idea. Get a sheet of paper and list the milestones from your life. Start at the beginning and work your way toward today. What are the highlights (both good and bad). Then go back and make notes about how God was working in your life through those times. Finally, do the mask activity. What’s on the inside and outside of your mask? You will see your story begin to take shape.

Walls Can Come Down

Don’t believe the lies this world tells us. The lies that say you have to wear a mask. The lies that say you need to live up to your Facebook status. The lies that say you are less than the woman sitting next to you. After I spoke last Friday, I stayed up on the stage in case any of the women wanted to speak to me. Did they ever! One by one, strangers and friends, alike, came up and shared parts of their own story with me. Ladies lingered at their tables. People didn’t want to leave! As Elise and I shared our stories, the facade of every person in that room began to crack and tumble down. We looked at one another and saw beautiful, broken sisters with more in common than not. When I think back to that evening, that’s the picture I want to remember. Women of all ages, all shapes, all sizes daring to let down the guard that the world forces upon us to allow the Holy Spirit to stir. I pray that He continues to  stir us, one heart, one story at a time.

Video of Event

Laura Fleetwood and Elise Aromando were two women separately dealing with tough struggles until God unexpectedly brought them together.  They became friends and spiritual supporters – “sisters!” In the video below, Laura and Elise  share the story of God working in the midst of cancer, chronic pain, anxiety & depression to strengthen faith, provide new beginnings, and offer hope for the future.