For my whole life, I've been told I'm a flake.  "You don't finish things," I heard.  "You start projects and don't finish them."  "You just don't follow through."

So for the last, oh, 30 years, I have believed I'm flaky.  When I started something and either took too long or never finished it, from craft projects to college, I thought it was because I'm flaky.

When I found out I was pregnant 8 years ago, after the initial freak out, I thought, "How am I going to do this?  I'm a flake.  This kid doesn't deserve a flaky mom."  Through the course of my pregnancy, I would occasionally find myself drifting into a place where I’d worry about all the deadlines I'd miss and all the projects we'd start and never finish.  Would we have an ever-growing pile of half sewn Halloween costumes in the corner?  Would her room become a haven of partially painted bookshelves and unfinished scrapbooks?  Would I commit and then not follow through?  Would I make promises I couldn't keep?  I didn't want to do that to my kids. I burned with shame and my kid wasn't even born yet.

I've been parenting for a few years now, and I'll tell you, no greater life test exists than raising a child.  I passed all the immunization tests and even got my kid to the dentist, but my first challenge was preschool.  I got her registered, and she got to school every day.  I made snacks when I said I would.  I got her places when I said I would.  We both graduated from preschool with honors and moved on to kindergarten.  At that school, I had to volunteer once a week.  I got nervous because, you know, long term commitments aren’t really a flake’s forte.  But guess what?  I did it.  I volunteered every week.  I even had another baby and did the same things for him.  I brought snack.  I made appointments and kept them.  On paper, I was a really good mom.

But ugh, that voice in my head was always there, criticizing me.  I heard it in the tone of relatives and a childhood friend.  And I'll be the first to admit, that I have left some projects unfinished.  But there is a difference between being a flake and having a firm grasp on what is important.  And you know what, that time I told my husband I was going to start collecting stamps?  Yes, in that moment I told him I wanted to be a philatelist, I was utterly serious.  But I did nothing to pursue it beyond saying that I wanted to do it.  Consequence of my inaction?  Nothing.  Nobody got hurt.  Moral of the story:  That wasn't "flakey."  Stamp collecting is simply not important right now.  My kids are.

And you know what I realized?  Maybe I'm not a leader.  I'm not the PTA president or Girl Scout troop leader.  Other people can be chiefs.  I'm an Indian right now.  I'm OK with that.  But I'm no ordinary Indian.  I'm an Indian with enthusiasm, and that makes all the difference.

I've approached motherhood in that spirit.  I can think of a million examples in my life that I thought were flaky red flags.  Those critics still hounded me.  Like, for example, everybody told me that I'd get SO sick of the Wiggles and I'd be humming the Wiggles in the shower.  And I felt like, "Crap!  I'm not listening to The Wiggles!  Am I blowing off this major component of motherhood like I do everything else?"  But soon I realized the Wiggles aren't a necessary for happy kids because I saw that my kids were happy.  And I really just don’t want to listen to irritating children’s music.  Putting the kibosh on irritating children's music doesn't make me a flake!  It makes me happy.  We listen to everything from TOOL to the original cast recording of The Book of Mormon in the car.  I love hearing my 7 year old singing wildly inappropriate music a 7 year old.  And I don't care what everybody else is doing.  I'm engaged in this way.  I'm not flaking out.

You know, forget all that Indian crap.  I am a leader.  I am my kids' chief.  My "flakiness" is actually my mad leadership skills in disguise.  I wake up almost every morning committed to not doing lame stuff.  I am not a flake.  I am dedicated to showing my children how the dreary, humdrum monotony of life can be broken with honesty and laughter.  That thing they call flakiness was actually me saying, "This is boring and I won't live my life like that."

But you know, those critics were right about one thing.  When they said I don’t finish things, they were absolutely correct.  Motherhood is a project I'll never complete.  I'm going to be doing this forever.

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