At the end of the day, most of us take stock of what we’ve done well and what we could have done better. It’s probably not that formal of a process, but think about where your mind wanders as you lay your head on your pillow. Maybe you’re a lucky bastard, like the Man, and you switch off like a light. If not, you probably go over the projects you finished, the errands you ran, the progress you made. Then, you probably spend more time stressing over the chores left undone, the errands you didn’t run, and the progress you didn’t make. Why? Because people are judgmental…especially towards themselves.
Every single day you have moments of brilliance. EVEN on the days when everything goes wrong, though they are considerably harder to see then. I’ve had three very rough weeks. The Man has been working more than ever. All three babes were sick with several different illnesses. They’ve also been going through various developmental changes which make for terrible sleep and worse moods. Not to mention my full plate of work and extracurricular projects was cracking in front of me. These have been some very hard days and nights.
Not surprisingly, at a too late bedtime, I would lie down and bring myself to tears over all I did wrong. My temper was too short. My voice was too loud. My actions were too rough. My patience was too thin. (It went on.) My phone was too important. My anger was too present. My forgiveness was too slow. My presence was too absent. My effort was too weak. My results were too poor. My love, attention, time, and affection were hoarded instead of shared. What a terrible wife, mother, friend, and Lady I was. What a failure.
All of this. Almost every night. For weeks.
If someone said these words out loud to me, I’d lose it. The Lady would step aside, and the rage would take over in an instant to defend my existence. Still, I couldn’t stand up for myself to myself. So I would take the beatings at night and imagine that tomorrow would be better…but it wouldn’t. Or, I should say, it would never be better enough for the amount of judgment it was up against.
You do it too, you know. So does she. And him too. Most people, parents or not, ladies or men, are their own worst critics. They focus on the improvements instead of the accomplishments, glossing over those almost completely. We’re a world of better, more, not enough, and try again and again and again.
Would you believe me if I told you that in those same three weeks, I also did a bunch of good? We created an awesome November craft that I made up completely on my own and that gives us an opportunity to pause each day and be thankful. I also took three babies out by myself for the first time ever! And it went really well! I cooked hot lunches. I made new dinners, and even the kids ate them. I was the first one at school pick-up (once). I had wine with a dear friend. I wasn’t always late. I did some charity work. I spent quality solo time with each child (including the Man). I wrote some pieces I’m proud of. I hosted many play dates. I talked to new people and tried to make friends. I visited new places to keep up with old friends. I reached out to people I care about who were in need. I dressed and fed and played with and talked to and loved everyone. I handed out hugs, kisses, snuggles, and sweet whispers, day and night. So many nights.
Moments of brilliance in my days dulled by struggle. Often forgotten, neglected, discarded. But, for goodness sake, WHY? Those moments are the ones to focus on, and there are so many of them! You have them too! I SWEAR you do. Take stock of your day. Right now. And forget about the ridiculous “are they alive?” question. That bar is low, and you are better than that.
Did you sing a song? Did you feed them something healthy? Have you said anything encouraging? Did you let them help with anything? Did you take them out somewhere? Did you give them a good kiss, hug, or look? Did you do a project? Did you talk about a show? Are you making plans for family outings? Are you paying bills? Did you drop them off somewhere safe and welcoming, so you could earn money, better yourself, and show them the importance of having a job? Did you keep them with you, so you could play a larger role in their upbringing, better yourself, and show them the importance of staying home?
A positive mind leads to a positive life. I’m not saying don’t complain or cry or bitch or moan. BELIEVE ME. I am the Queen of Good Cry Country. But if you keep your mind and heart focused on the sad and the not enough, you’ll just keep being sad and not enough. Fake it if you have to! Give yourself permission to call your mom, your sister, your best friend, or your other half, and have it out. But then, even if you remember it, you cannot settle on that unhappiness. Think about your moments of brilliance. Dwell on those. They are so delightful! The girl was one of only a handful of students at her school to choose to eat vegetable soup at her Thanksgiving feast. The boy is drinking from an open cup. The baby is so close to that big first step. The Man has come home to a meal shared with his wife, even when it’s after one in the morning. I took a shower!
And, listen, you don’t need to be hyper-positive in the moment that your world is crumbling around you. That’s insane advice. Please, lose your mind! But get it back by remembering later what you did well.
Because you’re doing more right than you are wrong.
You love them and him and yourself. You’re in the thick of it, but you’re living a life that someone somewhere wishes they had. Not every minute. But certainly most.
You are brilliant, dear reader. Believe it.