When I grow up

Just so you know, I am still "looking into" this bakery cafe playroom thing and I continue to tell more real life people that I am "looking into" it and that's how you know I am still not in posession of my right mind. FYI. 

One thing I realized at Urbana was that if I'd gone as a student I would have FUH-REAKED OUT. I didn't have a husband or kids or a mortgage, no responsibilities, just a totally blank (VERY BLANK) future infinitely before me, like a Personal Antarctica or something. I really had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up (still don't, actually) and the myriad possibilities at Urbana, plus the constant invitation to devote a year or two or ten to missions, plus the pressure I would put on my own self to be what Urbana thought I should be (THREEEEEEEEEEE!!!) I would have self-combusted. I had an excellent time, but I'm glad I experienced it as an adult with a husband and three kids and a mortgage and, therefore, way fewer options. This is a GOOD thing. 

But still, you wonder what you want to be when you grow up. 

The last several years I have tried very very hard to think of myself as a Mother. I mean, I AM a mother and I am very happy with my SAHM status, but "just being a mom" has never EVER felt like The Only Thing I'm Supposed To Do. It's one reason why I stopped reading a lot of blogs where the author was a religious SAH homeschooling mom-of-many, because there was a way I felt like that was the RIGHT way to do the mom thing, and clearly THAT was not going to happen at Chez Cheung. Like that was the way to make the most of your vocation, you know? And I hope you know I am not disparaging those mothers. I stand in awe of them, I bow down, I salute them. The gifts they have are not my gifts.

(Can you even IMAGINE if I tried homeschooling Jack? We would need two padded cells within a week.)

Then again, I've never been the mom who is itching to get back to work or the career, I've never aimed for anything, I am very much an Introspective Slacker, which is obvs how I got into this blogging thing. So it's kind of a weird place to be in, to feel like There Is More To Me Than Being Mom and But Nothing Else Sounds Good/Seems Right. 

Honestly, a Bakery/Cafe/Playspace does not at ALL sound like The Thing I Am Supposed To Do. I know absolutely NOOOOOOTHING about running a business. Pretty much the only thing I know I'd be good at is 1) cleaning and 2) making sure our business has a social media presence. FPC informs me that that's important, but it doesn't feel like quite the right skillset, you know? 

I thought I was supposed to be a writer. 

I thought I was supposed to teach English overseas. 

I thought maybe I should "just be a Mom". 

I thought I was maybe supposed to create a lovely home and support my husband's career. 

I thought I might work for a politician. 

I definitely thought I would travel. 

I suppose the right answer is that we do a lot of things in our lives, that everything has a season, that I can't be everything I'm supposed to be in one year, that I'm not even really SUPPOSED to DO anything. I can do all of that, I can do some or none of it. Though that's the stumbling block for a Three: if she isn't DOING anything (and doing it well), she's pointless, a waste of space, not valued, unloved.

I have an Urbana/prayer/Three/value post in the works. It's hard going, but I'll get it out eventually. What is the thing that I DO? What is the thing that I AM? The end of that post will tell you that right now I'm somehow - miraculously, even - okay with the absence of an answer. 

Or, rather, I am just beginning to comprehend the actual truthful answer. 

It's Enneagram Week. (LAST ONE, PROMISE)

Are you guys sick of this? I feel silly writing about it again. Like it's this super dorky thing that only I am into. I know I'm a huge dork. This was evidenced today by waking up from a 10 minute snooze on the couch to find that a chocolate chip had melted in my cleavage. 

SO ANYWAY. What did I say I was going to write about again? How I "use" my enneagram smarts? 

Something like that. 

Each of the nine types has a "chief feature" which is something really unpleasant - the seven deadly sins, to be exact, plus deceit and fear. Your type describes how you've arranged your life around that fear or failing, how you've accomodated it and worked around it and existed with it. One way that you know you've identified the right number for yourself is reading that description and feeling "found out". That thing, or how you live with or deal with that thing, sounds familiar, but also secret, like one of the things you don't really want anyone to know about yourself. Maybe THE thing. 

The way I think about it is: what is the thing I believe about myself that most keeps me from God? 

For a Three, it's that you're worthless. If you've been around months, let alone years, you've probably read at least a dozen posts about feelings of failure and worthlessness, that I'm not measuring up, that I'm not doing a good enough job. A Three only feels loved for what they DO or what they ACHIEVE. The idea that someone could love them just for who they are... that's crazy talk. 

And so it is with God. Yeah yeah Jesus died for our sins, even mine, but I am not worthy of that sacrifice, I don't deserve it, I haven't earned it, I haven't atoned or repented enough, I haven't beat myself up enough, I haven't done anything special enough to win that prize. Who am I? Just a boring SAHM with a dumb blog and a dirty house. How do I even matter?

In the Three description there's all this talk about how impressive and successful Threes are, and when I read it I thought, "Um, that's not me." I'm not charming the pants off anyone at a party, I'm not winning any elections, I am not climbing a corporate ladder, I'm even (I hope) rather honest about my lack of any Super Mom trophies. I'm probably not a Three, right? Except, when I delve into the motivations of a Three, and how a Three views the world, and what that Three is thinking about other people, oh yes. I totally get it. I totally understand it. That perception of the world makes complete sense to me, it even sounds like the right perception. The Three's chief feature is "deceit", which isn't about being a liar so much as someone who is so good at projecting an image, they even believe it themselves. They believe people want THAT person, not the real one... whoever that may be. 

And so it is with God. God will only love me if I'm good enough, if I win enough, if I'm best, if I get all straight As. 

That worthlessness was my Thing was not news to me, and then once I finally consented to being a Three I didn't know what to do with that information. So what. Just another personality test thing. 

What's been helpful, for me, is two things. The first is that the more you think and learn about it, the more you understand how a person with your "root sin" can grow (I think Helen Palmer calls this "evolving") and even find ways to redeem that sin. You start to be aware of how that root sin interferes with true things in your life, and distorts how you feel and what you think about things. You're just more aware and better prepared. 

The second thing is a little more concrete - reading about Phillip's type was ENORMOUSLY HELPFUL for me. Like... I would say that until I read the description for Nines I had no idea that other people acted the way Phillip acted about certain things. I hadn't interacted with any other person on the level that I do with Phillip, and certain things about him are SO WILDLY DIFFERENT. The biggest "discovery" for me was about "merging". So, throughout our entire relationship, Phillip has had a really hard time dealing with me if I'm moody or upset or angry or anxious or whatever. I think the way I looked at it was that he was so frustrated about not being able to fix it that he got angry too. So whenever I was not doing well, Phillip was not doing well either. I thought he was mad at me. Simply because I had a bad day at work or something. Gah! 

I... do not do this. If you are not doing well? I don't take it personally. I empathize, but I don't feel upset about it. I was starting to think something was wrong with me because *I* didn't get upset when Phillip was having a hard time. Was I an unfeeling horrible person?!

WELL. Turns out that a lot of Nines do this thing Helen Palmer calls "merging", which is sort of like taking on another person's feelings as your own. It's a way to ease tension or a way to focus on something instead of what the Nine himself is feeling, because he forgets himself, or doesn't want to work to figure it out. So Phillip really IS angry when I'm not doing well, because he's the type that 1) "emotionally merges" with people and 2) absolutely hates feeling anything other than peaceful and content. I get upset about something and get over it quickly - Phillip will be upset that I'm upset and take foreeeeever to get it out of his system. TOTALLY WACKO TO ME. (Sorry Nines!) 

But yeah, it was a whole new INSIGHT into my HUSBAND! I picked out his type in seconds, seriously. (Nines are pretty easy, I think.) And just knowing a little more about how those two types interact has been helpful for both of us. 

I am TOTALLY COPPING to the fact that this is a WEIRD PERSONALITY TEST THING and obvs I am not living my life around it. But I HAVE found it very helpful. Also fascinating. Obvs. 

This is just a bunch of garble, isn't it? I'm so tired right now. Good night, Internet. I'll see you later.