Saturday, December 28, 2013

Enough

I do love babies, but I am no saint.
If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all okay,
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these.

- Jewel, "Hands"

Dear mothers,

It is high time you cut yourselves some slack. The world is full of judgment and criticism, and it's easy to feel like you aren't doing enough. Not volunteering at the kids' schools enough, not breastfeeding long enough, not making home-baked cookies often enough. The list goes on and on and on.

Sometimes it may get so bad that you worry you don't feel enough. Or don't feel the right things. You may feel exhausted instead of giving, angry instead of forgiving. You may even feel that you don't like your child very much. You will always love her ("Need a chunk of liver? A kidney? A lung? Open me up, baby, because there's an organ with your name on it RIGHT HERE!") but, right now, you'd rather not be around her.

Worse, you may start to feel that you aren't being enough. Not patient enough, not generous enough, not disciplined or "consistent" enough.

I want you to make this little phrase your mantra. Say it so you know it.

I am doing the best I can.

Because you are. The fact that you are reading this, that you care, that you sometimes worry about whether you are doing or feeling or just being enough -- that fact means that your heart is in the right place. And that makes all the difference.
People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did.
But people will never forget how you made them feel.

~ Maya Angelou
Sometimes our best isn't all that great. (Every mother has shameful secrets that she will never share except with her closest inner circle. Every single mother.) You are allowed to screw up, to learn, and to forgive yourself so you can do better next time. Remember to tell yourself:

I am doing the best I can.

When your kids hit their teens they will be very free and loose with the criticism. They will continue to love you and to need you, but they will remember every mistake you've made (and the new ones you discover), and they will seem to rejoice in pointing them out to you. It's a normal but painful stage when they move from respect (and maybe a little awe) to judgment.

The best thing you can do is acknowledge: I might do some things differently if I had a do-over but, all things considered,

I did the best I could.

You don't need to argue the rightness or wrongness of your choices or reactions. You don't need to pick sides or lay blame. That will get you nowhere. This simple statement:

I am doing the best I can.

This statement tells everyone -- your mother-in-law, or the supermom down the street, or the expert behind the desk -- that you are doing everything in your power to do the right thing. With the resources available to you, with everything else going on around you, you are doing the best you can.

And, more importantly, it tells your kids that it's okay to be human, to make mistakes and learn from them. It's not just okay to forgive yourself, it is a necessity. This is a message that many teens miss as they try to leap into adulthood fully formed.

We are all doing the best we can.

Practice saying it to yourself out loud. Because it's true: you are doing the best you can. As am I. Keep saying it.


9 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Bronwyn. And thanks for passing them along.

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  2. This is all so true...I need to remember this so often...parenting is hard work, but I do the best I can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Practice saying it next time you find yourself beating yourself up.

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  3. Aw, I love this post. Thanks for the encouragement and now I have to do the best I can with getting my kid up for school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather. Hope your school day went smoothly!

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  4. Very powerful statement. And it is definitely a message for everybody not just moms.

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