My expectations of myself are high. I want to be an author of a fictional series that people actually want to read. I want to have a great blog. I want to exceed expectations of the internal and external customers at work. But mostly I want to be the best mom I possibly can be for my two children.
It's world prematurity awareness day. I did nothing special in the global sense of awareness. But I did everything in my son's world. I took him to ice skating lessons. I put the ice skates on, even though I am about the slowest parent ever to get them laced. I watched him as he skated around the rink with confidence and did some small spins (I'm sure there's a more technical name for what he did, but from my vantage point I saw him spin). We went to the bank where I pulled out the money to pay for last month's daycare expenses and we each helped ourselves to the doughnut holes available on Saturday mornings. He did the penny grab. Then he was bored while we got groceries, especially while he had to wait in line at the meat counter. I'm going to be making ham balls, so it was important to get the right ingredients for that. I let him pick out some of the less healthy items that ended up in the cart, like pop-tarts and Cheetos, but he did stay by the cart and never bashed into anyone except for me.
When we got home, he willingly picked up his room. But he did not want to organize his room. Why would he? Neither of his parents are organized. Or if they are organized in their own way, the other one destroys the organization and it goes back to square one. It was really simple. He needed three pairs of shoes that he could wear to school to be put in his cubby. He often has melt downs int he mornings about shoes and pants, but he has chosen not to put either of these items in the said location - and I often don't think about the absence of these items until I am trying to get myself ready in the morning too.
But after a few calm re-directions, he found three pairs of shoes, his rain boots, and half of a pair of shoes that I know are too small for him and placed them in the shoe rack in his closet. Then he pulled out his piggy bank, counted the pennies, practiced counting by fives and tens and discovered that a $10 bill is like having 1000 pennies.
After we ate lunch, he asked for the 80th time if it was time to go to Target yet. The kid had done everything I'd asked him to do. So, I said yes. I needed some things and I also needed to buy him some new snow boots. He had $15.35 to spend, but the rule was he couldn't spend it on himself. He had to buy his sister her Christmas present. He did a lot of circling back to the toys he wanted while I kept telling him that he needed to think about what his sister would like. I did take pictures of him with the things on his wish list though and said we could send them to Santa.
It was a good day of being the light of my son's world, but I sacrificed writing time to be part of his world and I feel like I am behind. (I'm not. I'm still on track to finish NaNoWriMo ahead of schedule). I just want to be able to pump out 5000 words everyday and not worry about my adult responsibilities. But the creative writing wasn't coming today. My story is moving, but the words in my head are splattering onto the paper like a paintbrush that has flicked the paint around instead of the nice smooth strokes of a polished Bob Ross painting.
I've had my own adult temper tantrums today. I don't feel like I am doing enough. I don't feel like I will ever come out of this miserable slump in my professional life. I feel depressed. I feel hopeless. I feel sad. I feel angry. But one thing I remembered from a meditation that I listened to awhile ago was if my friend was feeling this way, would I say the hurtful things to them that I sometimes say to myself? Would I berate them for having a day dedicated to being present with my son instead of losing my mind trying to write with constant interruptions? Would I be this unkind toward another person, like I am to myself? The answer is absolutely not!
If my friend said that she was struggling professionally, I would ask if there was anything she needed from me and I would listen to her without offering advice. I would congratulate her on having had two interviews in the last month. I would tell her that I know she's doing everything she possibly can to move forward professionally and I would be compassionate about it.
If a friend told me that she was participating in NaNoWriMo and had stayed above the goal line all month, would I berate her and ask why she wasn't doing more? Absolutely not! I would say, "Wow! It's amazing that you've written 30000 words so far. How many pages is that?" When she tells me that it's more than 60 pages, I would smile and say "Congratulations! Keep going."
If my friend walked in and out of Target without causing any major meltdowns from her six year old who really, really loves toys, would I be angry with her for having taken time to carefully navigate going through the toy section without letting her son buy anything for himself? Heck no! I'd tell me to let me in on her secret.
So why do I talk to myself without compassion? Why do I use harsh words with myself? Why do I not see all the awesome things I do? Probably because i always want to be better. And probably because I hear a nagging voice in the back of my mind playing over and over on repeat that I can't be good enough because I don't have this or that.
But tonight, rather than focus on all the things that I didn't do or don't have, I'm going to talk to myself like I am a friend. I am going to say, " Kudos! You're living a full life. Those ice skating lessons, the ones you showed up at, your son will remember. That novel that you're writing, it's a first draft - it doesn't have to be perfect. And if you can make it all the way through two stores without your six year old having any type of meltdown other than to say he's bored at the meat counter, you're rocking it as a mom."
What kind words are you going to tell yourself as a friend?