I started forming this blog yesterday. This morning I woke to find this post on Momastery: Friendly Fire. Great minds think alike! Be sure to check it out. Today's message seems to be "Be kind. To yourself and others."
Yesterday one of the neighborhood kids was hanging out at my house. She was lamenting the fact her Mom couldn't afford to buy her a costume for Halloween. Before I knew it, my daughter had taken charge and with some brain storming, makeup, and things we had around the house the little girl was transformed into a kitty cat! She came up to me excitedly showing off her costume. I made some comment about how awesome and creative Embree is and Embree immediately replied that she got it from me. I started to argue when Trey reminded me of the time that I made costumes for some friends of theirs whose parents couldn't afford costumes. I had totally forgotten about it. I don't remember what we did for the girl, but I took a bunch of brown curtains out of a bag of household items someone had given me and along with a hiking stick, made what the boy swore was the coolest Gandalf costume ever. (He was also seriously impressed by the fact I knew who Gandalf was.)
Since becoming a Mom almost nineteen years ago, I step on the Mom Scale at least once (usually more) per day. I'm not sure if I do it to myself or the culture does it to me...or a combination of both. But what I do know is, when I look down at the scale, I rarely if ever see what I want to see. I never quite "measure up". But here is what I realize, when I look down at the scale, I see one thing...when my children peek over my shoulder at the scale, they see another.
The reason is that while I spend so much time focusing on where I fell short, what I got wrong, my mistakes and failures...my kids spend the majority of time focusing on what I did right.
They don't talk about all the nights I was too tired to read to them. But they will tell you about how we read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series and I did all the voices. (Bree will tell you to this day that the voice of Reepicheep in the movie is not right...because it isn't the voice I gave him.)
They might tell you about the years where Christmas was slim because I was so broke...but they are more likely to tell you about our tree cutting adventures, hot cocoa deluxe, and the years they got exactly what they wanted (and the fact that I often had help is seen more as the fact they are so loved by so many than the fact I didn't do what I needed to).
Ask them about my temper and the first story that comes to their mind is the time I lost it and let a bully coach have it while they sat in the car exclaiming "She put her hand on her hip!" and "OH, she's got BOTH hands on her hip!"
They may acknowledge that they knew about things like trafficking and poverty way before they actually wanted to but they will also tell you how they learned to really see a person because of me. To not just see a "prostitute" but the woman, life, and possibilities beneath the clothes, heels and makeup.
They will tell you about how they have come to me with questions and problems and we've dealt with them together. They will tell you I didn't chastise them when they struggled with their faith but stayed up to the wee hours of the morning talking through it. They will tell you about hugs, playing "hookie" and going to the park, growing up doing theatre together, games where I yelled louder than any other parent (okay...he might not actually enjoy that one! ha!).
If those are the memories and the stories my kids hold on to, why do I hold onto the stories where my daughter fell asleep in class because I was working two jobs and couldn't get them home from the sitter until after one in the morning, or how I lost my temper at Trey so many times, how I struggled to get my mind right after their dad left, or the times of financial difficulty?
Why am I so insistent on being unkind to myself?
I don't know. I don't know if it's my fault or society's fault or the television's fault. I don't know if it's the PTA Mom's fault when she looked at my packets of instant cocoa at the 3rd grade class party and remarked "Oh, I thought you were making home made cocoa" without caring how I'd used my lunch break and broken every speed limit to even be at the party. But here is what I do know, if I continue to step on the Mom Scale and see myself as a failure, it's my own choice. No one is forcing me to do so. As a matter of fact, if I choose to step on the scale and see myself as a failure, I am making my children, my friends, and members of my family out to be liars. I am telling them that all the kind things they say to me and about me are untrue. That the only thing that matters is what I see on the scale. And who in the world am I to say that? Who am I to look at my two amazing, beautiful, and loving children and not believe I didn't get it right-at list a good percentage of the time? What am I teaching them if I continue to judge myself so harshly?
So today, tomorrow, next week...and beyond, I am going to be kind to myself. I accept that I will fail, falter, and mess up. But I will also succeed, get it right and try again. It's going to be a challenge. But I will take it. And I challenge you too. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle when you step on whatever scale you find yourself stepping on...give yourself permission to love you, to be good enough.