• Shea Kropiwnicki

In a world where you can be everyone else, be you.

Updated: Sep 20, 2019

We have a go cart.

It wasn’t one of those decisions where we thought about getting a go cart, did all the research, and then methodically chose the right one based on price, durability, and longevity. Nope. Not even a little bit. One night Daddy arrived home from work with a big, goofy smile on his face and said, “I bought a go cart off the side of the road.”

Well at least we live on almost 2 acres of flat land, I thought.

Let me let you in on a little secret.

Nothing is flat in a go cart when you’re 30 and you’ve given birth to 4 kids. Riding in such a machine for zero point six seconds will have you dreaming of Buicks and prune juice. Imagine a rickety Wal-Mart buggy with an engine. You literally hop onto a bench seat that leans a little more toward an electric chair and a little less toward anything resembling comfort. You sit down next to the very reason you both enjoy and can never enjoy this ride ever again. A beaming little cherub smiles up at you, and it’s the very picture of sacrificial motherhood nestled together in a tiny death machine.

Well if jumbling all my organs while my brain rattles against my skull like a 25 cent bouncy ball makes you happy, then looks like I’ll be losing some IQ today and scheduling a visit to the chiropractor tomorrow. Here we go kids!

My four kids took turns hopping in and out of the go cart with their beloved mother toting them around. This feels like what I do every day, but okay. They all loved it about 74 times more than I did, but we kept the fun alive as I thought about all the ways we could possibly die in the next 30 minutes. At one point, my daughter pointed out my “window” (the very definition of an overstatement) and simultaneously knocked my head into a metal bar meant to protect me. Oh glorious motherhood, how did I ever live without thee?

Besides dreaming of a Sandals Resort and developing a new psychological disorder requiring 9 medications a day, I did actually delight in how differently each of my kids reacted to the ride.

The first rider told me what to do during the entire excursion. Turn here, go around the house, now do this, but don’t do that. One-hundred percent a back seat driver plopped next to me in the passenger seat. A deep desire for input and control. She’s my helpful, compliant, and even-tempered second-born with a rocket-high social IQ.

The second passenger beamed with delight the entire time. Every single tooth was visible as she looked up at me with a twinkle in her eye. The safety of her Mom’s presence mixed with the thrill of danger was her perfect balance. Although the baby of the family, she is a wild woman who tests all the boundaries and pushes all the buttons (mainly the alarm ones in elevators) but will probably, definitely want a snuggle later.

My next rider giggled through the whole ride. She had, and almost always has, a genuine zeal for life. This kid learned how to jump in the pool this summer, and she both enters and exits the water with a toothy grin on her face. As a true middle child, she is my free spirit who is opinionated, creative, and sometimes shy.

My firstborn, the last passenger, repeatedly yelled “FASTER!!!” as if we were desperately fleeing from gangbangers. His voice was so loud that I almost forgot about spontaneous combustion from the rattling engine being on my list of Ways We Could Die. He wanted the bestest, fastest, wildest, and most coveted-est ride. He’s a sensitive deep-thinker, who is tunnel-visioned and experiences only one thing at a time and absolutely no more, and boy oh boy, did we experience the go cart in full.

Four kids from the same gene pool that feels like oceans apart at times. They're different, and I delight in God's creativity when He made them. In a world where it's easy to be other people, I want them to be confident in who they are. Not too comfortable as to shirk off learning new things but also not too porous as to soak up everyone else.

Last week on two separate occasions, I had the same conversation by “accident” (hey God!).

The first a woman who felt inadequate when she went to a decluttering class where the speaker was shining light on how fantabulous she was at running marathons and organizing and basically having her life together. Our mutual friend pointed out that she probably wasn't good at other things. Maybe she sucks at meal planning? Whatever it is, she isn't good at everything, but she is good at those things.

The first woman may have a messy home and may not run 26.2 miles on the regular, but she is a natural with kids and makes everyone feel at home when they're around her. And maybe it's not seminar worthy, but I sure enjoy her friendship. And our mutual friend? She's a modern-day hippie who knows all the organic, BPA-free, chemical-free, non-toxic alternatives but who also doesn't make you feel bad for not knowing. I love learning from her.

The second conversation occurred two days later with a different friend who was talking about how she wasn't a minimalist. She had gone through her kitchen drawer with the intention of minimizing, and only three utensils got tossed. Our mutual friend just so happens to be a travel-blogging minimalist who lives in a tiny home. She is the very definition of a trendsetter and is also our cheerleader that will celebrate small, 3-spatula victories.

My not-so-minimalist friend hosts family, friends, and a fairly large life group in her home almost every week. She has the gift of hospitality. She cares for her circle well with texts, phone calls, and check-ins and knows how to ask hard questions. Each of my friends have found their own way to share their gifts with the world, and that's worth celebrating.

Yes, declutter. Yes, be healthy. Yes, travel. Yes, be hospitable.

Yes, try all the things! But don't lose yourself in being someone else. Sharpen those strengths, and work on your weaknesses because this Momma is cheering you on from the driver's seat of a rickety, old go cart.

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