Tuesday, May 13, 2014

what a difference a year makes...

Last year on Mother's Day I did not want to be celebrated.  I was convinced I was the worst mother in the world. I probably would have been more comfortable wearing a sandwich board around town that stated as much, than I was receiving accolades and affection from my boys and husband.  It was a hard day for me and when Nate asked what I wanted to do, all I could think to ask was for him to take the boys out for a while so I could be alone.  Not that there's anything wrong with a mother wanting some alone time.  It was my motivation for this request that was so sad... I couldn't bear to be with them and accept their love.  All my energy was tied up in hating myself.
This year felt really different.  I felt much more at ease with the whole idea of the day.  After over a year of intense weekly therapy, I am finally breaking some of the bad mental habits and cycles that kept me feeling like such a failure for so long.  I credit my phenomenal therapist, who keeps me working hard, even on days when I come in and say, "I feel great!  Everything's fine!"  He makes me dig until we find something that still needs a little tweaking.  And I give myself a lot of credit too.  It is such. hard. work.  A lot of times I don't feel like going.  If not for their 24-hour cancellation policy, I would probably be skipping my Wednesday appointments frequently.  But I make myself go because I'll pay $100 for nothing if I don't, and then I'm always glad I did.  I'm learning exactly how to challenge the voice in my head that tells me I am a worthless piece of trash because I am not perfect.  I'm honing skills and identifying untruths in my thinking.  Usually by the end of the week I am sliding back into old habits, forgetting what I learned.  So we talk about it again, we review and make solid, we look at it over and over until I can see it clearly. 
On Sunday I was able to accept gifts and cards with joy.  Because, hey.  I'm here and I'm doing my best.  It took (and is taking) a lot of work, but I'm finally to a place where I can believe that that is enough.


 I knew exactly how I wanted to spend my Mother's Day this year.  You could say that I milked it.  First we went to church, then we went to two museum exhibitions I wanted to see (but I knew the boys didn't).  The boys liked the quilts more than the photographs.  I loved both shows.  We also spent plenty of time outside, and it was a gorgeous day.  We had lunch in Scoville Park before we headed into the city, and we walked around Grant Park after our museum rounds.  Throw in some Dairy Queen mid-day, and some Five Guys for dinner, and it was basically a perfect day.
There's that word again.  Perfect.  If there's one thing therapy has taught me, it's that perfect is a myth.  It's not some elusive goal that should be my life's mission.  It's a lie.  It simply doesn't exist.  When I say our day was perfect, was it actually?  The boys fought over a book.  Theo threw a fit about some video game issue I can't even remember now.  I felt self-conscious all day in a new sweater I was wearing that I felt was not flattering.  I probably snapped at someone at least once or twice.  All little moments that, in the past, would have pointed the finger at me and taunted, "SEE?  See how much you suck?" Now I'm working with a little more grace and grit, and I can (usually, sometimes) see these moments for what they are.  Just life.  Happening.  I was able to have a perfect day, in my mind, because mixed in with all these were also moments where we smiled, we laughed, we felt a breeze, we saw something new. 
Imperfect is the new perfect.  That's what I am learning.

I like this poem by Shawn Fink, of Abundant Mama blog.

Ordinary Gifts


This moment, right here
the one with a sink full of dishes,
and sticky jelly still smeared on knives,
I'll take it.

This moment, right here,
the one where the stuffed animals breed like bunnies,
and marker caps vanish into thin air,
I'll take it.

This moment, right here,
the one when he falls asleep,
too tired to listen to my long diatribe,
but still carries on the conversation,
I'll take it.

This moment, right here,
the one when the weeds are growing,
but the basil refuses,
and the bees threaten their sting,
I'll take it.

This moment, right here,
the one when she yells she hates me,
and storms away leaving me in her wake,
and then returns, hugging me tight with a sorry,
I'll take it.

This moment, right here,
the one when a Saturday night is spent tucking in,
and cleaning up,
rather than partying and socializing,
I'll take it.

I'll take it all.
I'll take it all.
I'll take it all.

2 comments:

Amy said...

This is so beautiful and inspiring, Laura! I think many times we think we are alone in doubting and criticizing ourselves, but I believe most of us do this far too often. I've been making an effort to try not to weigh myself against others and to not focus so much on what I should've done or didn't do... but it is HARD. Thank you for the reminder! And I love the photo of you and your boys!!

Debbie said...

Ordinary Gifts. Yes. We do take them all for granted. Take it all. Soak it in. Being a parent isn't easy. My mother used to tell me that if I didn't think I was measuring up to the standards I had set out for myself that I should just use a different ruler.. that was her way of telling me that I was doing just fine. Glad to hear that you are creating a new ruler to use. And put duct tape over that inner critic's mouth! tee hee. Happy today.