A few weeks ago I was talking to a dear friend, and fellow mommy, and I was listening to her concerns. She felt so guilty for all the things she wasn’t making time for. She felt guilty for the things she was making time for but wasn’t doing well enough. She felt frustrated that she had lost herself along the road of motherhood. She felt terrible that she sometimes did things for her husband or children begrudgingly. Does this sound familiar? I think she thought she was telling me something I might not understand. (That is how motherhood can make us feel, lonely.) But I, like my friend and probably like you, have those feelings often. I just don’t give them a chance to bloom into a giant pool of guilt.
WHY? Why do I not give much time to those negative thoughts? I have made a deal. A deal with myself and God and even sometimes a silent deal with my family. This deal has given me so much peace.
So whats the deal?
I’m aloud to change what MY BEST is.
What does that mean? Well let me set the stage of what my morning looked like. I am 5 days post gallbladder surgery so I’m in recovery mode. It hurts to get up or sit down, I haven’t worn a real bra in 5 days, I haven’t eaten chocolate in about as long either and I haven’t taken anything stronger than ibuprofen for the pain because it makes my nursing baby sick. Last night my baby woke up 4 times, my toddler showed up in my room at 6 and my 5 year old came down twice, at who knows what time, to tell me she was hungry. My sweet husband had a wine and dine type conference all day which meant I had to get up extra early to get the kids ready fed and to school by myself.
As your reading this I’m sure your thinking, “Oh that mommy needs to have a movie marathon, pajama wearing, frozen chicken nugget serving day!” As an outsider it is easy to look at others and decide oh she needs to give herself a break and take it easy. But it would be very easy for me to think, “Wow I’ve put the 2 year old in time out twice by 8 am, and the poor girl is just acting out because she misses mommy being able to pick her up and hold her. And I told the 5 year old I didn’t care that her shirt was itchy she needed to put it on anyway. And I let the baby lay in her crib, awake, for 20 minutes because I was so busy trying to get breakfast on the table. I’m a terrible mom!”
Here is where my deal comes to the rescue! I woke up this morning and crawled out of bed and first thing I did was remind myself, TODAY MY BEST IS GOING TO BE TO SURVIVE. That is really the best I can do today and I am not going to be hard on myself for the rest. I will apologize when I need to. I will give my girls extra snuggles when we have time. I will make them a special breakfast, as an apology for the rest of the day. I will love them, feed them, clothe them and stick to our schedule and that is the best I can do.
So far I am half way through this exhausting day and I have ticked off everyone but the baby but I’ve also read some books, and went out of my way to bring a forgotten item to school. So truthfully I’m feeling pretty good about myself! Haha! Really I just wanted to keep everyone alive today, and I went one step further and made the children happy!
If I had been holding myself to the standard of Kelsie’s Best of 2 weeks ago today would have been a disaster!! But that is RIDICULOUS! If I called up any of you and I told you how guilty I felt for being rude, or impatient with my children, and how terrible I felt for not doing anything fun with them for days you would tell me I am doing the very best I can do right now and that is enough. So thats it. If I hit a giant guilt filled pothole during the day I quickly ask myself, “Is this guilt going to help me be better or am I already doing the best that I can today?” If I can do better than I take a deep breath and say a short prayer and try try again. But if I am honestly already doing the best I can I just give myself a pass on the messy house, the lack of time to do something kind for a friend or the fact that I put my child in timeout, more to protect her from me than for any other reason.
THE DEAL works for larger chunks of time too!
I often remind myself that my BEST, in this stage in life, might look very different than what my BEST used to be or might be in the future.
Right now I have a GIANT list of things I’d like to do better or spend more time on. I’d like to make my house cutesier, make MORE time for personal study, be a more patient woman, wife and mother. I’d like to make holidays and birthdays more magical, and give more time to serving others. This list often threatens to bring on tsunami-size waves of guilt. My trick is to remind myself of the DEAL and say, “Right now my BEST is to spend most of my time with these sweet children, teaching them and helping them grow into kind, brave and amazing adults. It’s okay that I don’t make much time for decorating or extra community service, in a few years I’ll make time for that.”
I don’t think there is anything wrong with that! If an outsider can see that my messy house means I am busy doing my best in other areas, why can’t I embrace that too!
So that is my trick! I simply set some goals for the day, or week or the next few years, and tell myself that working for those goals each day is the BEST I can do, and I show myself some mercy for all the rest of it.