We are all so proud of Shannon for talking about motherhood with Mother Honestly over the weekend. She wanted to share not only with the mothers at that summit, but with all of you. The video is coming soon, but you can read her speech below.
KEYNOTE SPEECH – MOTHER: THE SUMMIT 2018
When I moved three years ago, I painted my entire house white. Sherwin Williams SNOWBOUND. Best color ever, in case you’re thinking about doing some re-decorating anytime soon. Not too blue, not too gray. Just right. Here’s the problem with that: I now have a four-year-old who loves to color, and a one-year-old who doubles as a mischievous little terrorist meatball. What in the heck was I thinking? I blame my husband for that color choice, by the way. But SERIOUSLY.
My daughter, Lucy, is really into treasure maps, so I’m finding these little X’s drawn all over the walls. And Smith is just a total BOY and he’s climbing and falling and denting and there are dirty handprints and chunks taken out – every boy mom in this room is nodding. You know what I’m talking about.
So here I am, quite the perfectionist since 1st grade – buying Mr. Clean Magic Erasers in bulk and trying to keep the walls Sherwin Williams Snowbound instead of Sherwin Williams Barcelona Beige with X marks-the-spots everywhere.
Here’s the analogy: Yes, my perfect white walls don’t always look perfect. But MAN, what a story they tell. I’ve got something to say about each of those marks, stains, handprints and Xs. So why am I wasting precious time constantly scrubbing them away … or trying to cover them up with a pretty print from Minted or a piece of furniture? They’re messy. Yup. But those walls say something about my family. About my home. About ME.
I do it. I think we all do it. We want to feel put together so that our friends and co-workers, mothers-in –law and Instagram followers can think so super highly of us and remark in amazement, “Wow. She does it all. I only wish.”
But my messy walls represent the REALITY of my current season of life. I’m a working mom with two awesome kids who are creative and full of life and energetic and guess what? I’d rather be doing something more intentional than keeping my walls clean to show off to WHOM?!
Can we all just stop trying to impress people with our attempted togetherness? It’s freaking exhausting. Isn’t it?
My walls are a little messy. And I am a little messy.
If you listen to Mojo in the Morning, you may have heard me completely LOSE IT on the air a few months ago. Lose it is a bad phrase, not the right one. I opened up. That’s what I did. I opened up.
At the time, I was reading this book called “Present Over Perfect,” by Shauna Niequest who is just an amazing person. Daughter of a pastor. Mom. Wife. Friend. A REAL, not-perfect person.
And one of the passages that I doggy-eared (I doggy –eared every other page in this one, but nonetheless) was THIS:
This is what I’ve learned the hard way: What people think about you means NOTHING in comparison to what you believe about yourself. Essentially, my identity then depended on outward approval, which changes on a dime. So you dance and you please and you placate and you prove. You become a three-ring-cirucus and in each ring you’re an entirely different performing animal, anything anyone wants you to be.
When you decide, finally, to stop running on the fuel of anxiety, desire to prove, fear, shame, deep inadequacy – when you decide to walk away from that fuel for awhile, there’s nothing but confusion and silence. You’re on the side of the road, empty tank, no idea what will propel you forward. It’s disorienting, freeing, terrifying. For a while, you just sit … you sit in your own skin, being just your own plain self. And it’s ok. And it’s changing everything.
So I’m on an airplane, reading this book, and that just about turned my world upside down. I thought to myself, “OK, I’m going to bring some positivity to our morning radio show – because we do a LOT of talking about the Kanye West, poop and Tinder on a daily basis. I bring this idea to the boys, Mojo and Spike, and our producers. Let’s do a MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY segment. I’ll read some quotes or book passages that have really helped me on this journey of self-discovery and transformation that I’ve been on, and share with the listeners. They love it. We go live with it. And I started talking about the rough year I’d been having as a basis for this positivity segment I wanted to create … and just DIDN’T STOP TALKING.
I talked about how the past almost TWO YEARS of my life have been really, really challenging. I talked about how I've struggled – and still AM struggling, by the way - with my purpose, my identity, my roles as a friend, sister and mom, and my marriage. I've had the lowest lows EVER.
I confessed that going to work was really tough on certain occasions. BUT ... I had realized that THIS was an opportunity to really grow and figure out who in the heck I am.
I said that I felt unauthentic on the air because of this, and that I was sick of "faking fine." I think there are A LOT of people who are doing the same, and I wanted to be the one to tell them they're not alone. To do so in a way of keeping my own privacy, but also being transparent enough to say, "Look, I'm going through some stuff and I want you to know that if you're questioning your worth as a parent, daughter, son, significant other, in your career, in your group of friends, WHATEVER ... I am, too. I may look and sound like I have it all together, but I don't.”
Annnnd I kept going. You get the idea.
I needed to get it all out. And I live my life with my listeners. So even though I couldn’t see them, I knew they were listening. It was terrifying and freeing all at the same time.
I probably said too much. There were some members of my family, some of my friends, who thought – and still think – I was crazy for sharing.
But you know what? I took off the mask I’d been wearing for so long and it felt really darn good. That little girl who started feeling the pressure to be perfect on the first day of school at Parke Lane Elementary School in Grosse Ile, Michigan was all of a sudden lighter. And clearer. And honest. And REAL. I made myself proud in that moment.
By taking off the mask.
Perfect has become such a dirty word to me. If anyone uses that word to describe me or my family or my wardrobe or my kids – I FREAK OUT.
I don’t want to be perfect. I’m a recovering perfectionist, that’s what I would call myself.
I’ve been doing lots of soul searching for the past 2 years of my life. Much-needed soul searching. Throw a whole bunch of Jesus, some girlfriends who are walking through all of this messy stuff with me, a great counselor, stacks of good books – and I’m not gonna lie, a few bottles of wine together – and I have to tell you, it’s been gut-wrenching. But it’s working.
Among the NUMEROUS things I have discovered about myself: There are so many different versions of Shannon. I don’t think I am the only one who does this, and if there’s anything that comes out of you sitting in this room listening to me, I want you to HEAR THIS: If you are feeling messy. Fragmented. Unraveled. Not yourself. If you’re longing to be a different, BETTER version of yourself, not just as a MOM, but as a fierce woman in general: Re-calibrate with me.
Become ONE incredible version of YOU. Not someone else you look up to. Not the person you THINK you SHOULD be. Just you.
Those different versions of Shannon I was talking about, let me explain. There’s the Mom Shannon. There’s Shannon from Mojo in the Morning. There’s the Shannon at Kensington Church, who volunteers (not enough, but that’s OK). There’s Shannon with one group of friends, my friends from growing up. There’s CupcakeShannon. That’s my Instagram name. I like her. Especially with that pretty filter on Instagram Stories. There’s the Shannon with my new mom friends. There’s the daughter Shannon, the sister Shannon, the wife Shannon.
There are so many versions of Shannon, sometimes I take a hard look in the mirror and say to myself, “WHO THE HECK ARE YOU?” Who are you? Who don’t you want to be anymore? Who are you in the present moment? And who do you want to BECOME?
Merge all of those versions of yourself into one version. YOU. The real you. Where the inside matches the outside. The Shannon that doesn’t have to pretend with this group, or put on a smiling face with another, even though I’m hurting inside. The Shannon that feels comfortable talking about Jesus with these girls, and slinging back wine with others. My stance on issues, motherhood, people, Kim Kardashian’s booty shall remain the same no matter the company – no matter if there’s a microphone in front of me.
What do YOU need to do to get that?
I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing, and maybe it’ll help ya. For starters, I’ve been keeping four lists: WHO I WAS. WHO I AM. WHO I DON’T WANT TO BE. WHO I WANT TO BE.
I look at it all the time, and it keeps me in check. And I’m CONSTANTLY adding to it.
Second, find a community where you can be authentic. I’m not talking about a PLACE: I’m talking about creating a tribe, a squad, whatever fancy word you wanna call it - of individuals who are going to walk through this with you, encouraging you when you need it and calling you out when you deserve it. People are hungry for REAL connections. As Shauna Niequest says – Those people who will look you in your eyes and tell you “YOUR MESS IS MY MESS TOO.” Essentially, we’re in this together. No judgment.
Third: Do things to make yourself proud. That moment for me on the air was BIG. I heard Elizabeth Hasselbeck do an interview one time (and I get it, you either love her or hate her, but hear me out here) – And she said when she was doing “The View” and FOX News, she would get off the air, go home and have her time with her family, and then in evenings, reflect using this checklist of FOUR THINGS to asses her day:
- Did I honor God?
- Did I honor my family?
- Did I honor my friends?
- Did I honor the people I care about?
Now if you don’t believe in a higher power, that’s totally fine. Because I think that #1 could also say did I honor myself? Did I give MYSELF enough grace and respect today? Was I gentle on myself because I know I need it right now … Or did I push myself because THAT’S what I need. What we practice over – including how we treat OURSELVES and OTHERS - captures our hearts and becomes habit.
Creating space in my week for SLEEP (what’s that?), recreation, and exercise. I’m throwing those in there too. They’re important. I don’t make good decisions when I’m foggy because I’m insanely exhausted.
So … close your eyes. Imagine the BEST version of you possible. THAT is who you really are. GO BE HER.