If your life is anything like mine, it gets messy. Some days, if I am being honest, I totally nail it. I have all the people in all the right places at all the right times with all the right gear. I mean, it’s positively miraculous!
Then there are days where traffic is bad, so we’re late. The dog gets left at school because I got all the way home before I realized I forgot him. My son and I stop at the dollar store on the way to school because I forgot about the goodies he needed for his holiday party. My personal favorite is when my first grader has a research project on Japan. In good first grade fashion, I discovered that (per Google) Japanese children love fruit gummies at Christmas time. So, for the “authentic food treat” portion of the project, I send Pikachu gummies with Publix chop sticks from the sushi section.
When the mess happens, when I don’t feel like I am winning, I can easily allow the weight if the world to move in on me. It’s then that the whispers start to creep in.
“Are you seriously not going to sweep again tonight?”
“That kid and parent clearly put more thought into their project than we did. I mean, since it’s her project, not mine, I allowed my daughter to do most of this. Should I have done more for her? Should I have done less?”
“Is my son ready for Kindergarten? Should I have him writing more?”
“Is the dog EVER going to stop chewing? Should he have more training? How much will that cost?”
“Today is Thursday and I’ve said ten words to my husband that didn’t involve the kids or dog. I have absolutely got to make more time for us.”
“Sleep? No, bath. No, eat. Sleep?”
Recently, I had fallen into this trap and a friend, a good friend, said to me, “Show yourself the love and understanding you show others.” That sounds like excellent advice and it was, but really it was a friend giving me the tough love I needed to hear. I had let myself fall prey to the negative tones and completely neglected self-compassion. I had cut myself off from the grace in which I so strongly believe.
I know how to be present for others. How to be there when a friend needs me and how to extend them the grace they need and deserve. For me, though, it’s hard to allow myself the mental permission and the freedom to not have it all together, to allow myself grace.
- Treat yourself as you treat others. Most often, the harshest words we say are to ourselves. Let go of the idea that you must be perfect. Ask yourself some questions: “Why am I struggling? What would help me move through this?” Answer honestly and then allow yourself to ask for that help.
- Allow yourself to say no (or yes!). Sometimes, it is important to say no. As women, but especially moms, we are wired to do everything possible to meet every other person’s needs, often to our own detriment. Balance your needs too. Keep in mind that sometimes, it’s ok to say yes! Say yes to that career you have dreamed about; say yes to the exercise class; say yes to afternoons with friends to refill your tank.
- Don’t let others/social media get you down. No one is perfect. The cute kids on Facebook with the perfectly brushed hair aren’t better than your child who refuses bows (and often brushes). No Christmas cards this year? That’s alright…You can love Jesus and the Christmas season without cards. I’m speaking from experience, ladies! The women down the hall in your office who refuse to believe in you…quiet the voices, they are wrong. You absolutely can succeed in your next exciting challenge. You aren’t defined by whether you achieve perfection, rather it’s how you handle the imperfection that truly defines your character.