The truth is, after last week's Worthiness Wednesday post, I felt like a bit of fraud. "So, what's new?" you might be thinking. I mean, who is a stranger to the impostor syndrome? Certainly not me. But, to be more specific, last Wednesday afternoon I went and did the total opposite of what I had just spent the morning waxing lyrical about. Instead of switching off, stopping the work, trusting that all was as it should be, one afternoon of less-than-stellar parenting threw me back into the maelstrom of unworthiness... and all the questioning/analysing/working on myself that inevitably follows.
I'll spare you the details, but feel compelled to share that my daughter is coming home from her Wednesday morning creative play sessions on extra stimulated, over tired and extremely hungry. I learnt pretty quickly that my expectations regarding the amount of time she could spend in this new setting were way too high (and that's a story for a whole new post), and that scheduling anything for the afternoon was a bad idea. But the ability to understand what she needed to ease back into her home routine somehow escaped me... with the result that her lunch/potty training/nap routine were completely thrown out of whack and she spent half an hour screaming herself to sleep while I consumed half a bottle of wine and inhaled my husband's cooking chocolate stash.
Somehow, this was not what I had in mind when I started the day.
I had just been blogging confidently about letting go, not judging myself, and allowing myself to be. And then I found myself crying on the phone to my husband about what a terrible job I was doing, and deep deep down worrying that I was a horrible mother and an awful human being.
I went over and over my actions in my head, chastising myself losing control, hating myself for resorting to old crutches, feeling deep shame for the psychological damage I was likely inflicting on an innocent two year old. Then I scurried back to my bookshelf, scribbled furiously in my journal, emailed friends, abandoned plans to do anything productive that day, and spent the rest of the afternoon dissecting the origins of my every unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Motherhood seems to be the one area in my life where I have trouble applying this worthiness work. My image of an ideal mother seems so resilient, as does the list of all the ways in which I don't measure up. The stakes seem so high, and I am terrified of the consequences of my imperfection. There is so much work to be done.
And yet, I can't help but wonder: is all this work on accepting imperfection a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Am I over-analysing this? Is all this introspection really helpful?
What if I said: I have a particular idea of what it is to be a good mother. It likely comes from my own experience of being mothered. Some days it makes me feel really inadequate. Feeling inadequate makes me lash out in defence. Lashing out in defence makes me feel ashamed and out of control. That's a horrible feeling. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does happen it feels like all is lost. And then just left it at that and made a cup of tea?
This week, it's fair to say that I was pretty keen to do things differently. I decided to relax the routine and give my little 'un and greater chance to unwind when she got home. This included letting her play by herself in the front of the house, and not batting an eyelid when I found she had pulled every book and photo off of our bedside tables and piled them onto the floor, in some kind of reenactment of the Storytime we sometimes attend at a nearby public library. It also included reminding myself, on a moment to moment basis, to ignore the clock, take our time, let her settle into her own rhythm, and not be so hasty to judge or panic when it all went pear-shaped.
Last Wednesday, I had a bad day. Today was a much better day. There are going to be a lot more bad days and also a lot more good days. I'm also going to make many more mistakes and do a lot more stuff that I'm not proud of.
My daughter may well need therapy of her own in twenty, thirty years and she will likely be angry with me for the kind of mother I am, despite my best efforts. Sometimes it seems like the best efforts are the ones that are holding me back, keeping me stuck in the place where I am a problem that perennially needs fixing.
This week, I invite you to observe, with compassionate and curious eyes, all the ways you have stumbled and fallen in the course of trying to be your best self. Then, I entreat you to just leave it at that. Don't try and fix anything. Just observe, then walk away. Could it be that the struggle is what it is, and nothing more? What would your day look like if you just spent it being you?
In whatever medium you choose, you are more than welcome to share your thoughts and experiences using the linky (or comments, if you don't have a blog or flickr site) below.
You are worthy of being you, with all your struggles, without fixing anything.