So here is the background to my story…
I try to positively disciple my children in a way that allows them to develop an internal conscience guided by compassion for others. More often then not I try to create this “yes” environment where I allow them to have what they want. I’ll let them wear hats to bed, bring a million toys in the car, dip carrots in ketchup, choose what they are doing and the list goes on and on.
I will never let you be fooled into thinking I am a perfect parent. I am NOT. To be honest I jumped on this principle because the guilt I feel about being away from my kids during the day. Yes I have just admitted to not telling my kids NO in order to make me feel better. Even worse I will admit I seem to be doing a lot of negotiating lately. If the truth me known saying yes to these seemingly ridiculous requests is just easier then creating a power struggle that spins my head around.
Recently my kids were lucky enough to have swimming lessons done in our backyard by a wonderful instructor. Well of course my high spirited, independent 4 year old on a number of lessons was screaming “NO” and “STOP” because he had his own idea of how a swimming lesson should be run. I gave my son the benefit of the doubt that this was beyond his comfort level for the day. I told the instructor best not to push and explained how I try to create opportunity for “yes” and trust him to guide his own development yada..yada… Well after this conversation he said that, “he understood and could tell he rarely was told no.”
Clearly, he didn’t understand. I felt the need to reverse and explain that I didn’t mean I am wildly permissive and let them walk all over me but I wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind. I replied, “I know it’s hard, I am doing the best I can.” (Of course after I had a conversation with my son about how to respectfully express his needs).
It is amazing what negativity can arise when we feel we are entitled to have an opinion on someone else’s life. This instructor saw a piece of my life through a narrow lensed telescope. Honestly, I have to say I simultaneously thought of his life as black and white. My first thought was to overgeneralize those without children as not possibly being capable of understanding life as a parent.
Did you catch that? Look how easily I gave myself permission to develop an opinion of someone else. Far too often we are judging others because their life story isn’t quite like our own.
Why do we do this? Someone once told me the things we don’t like about other people are often flaws within ourselves… our own insecurities. I am beginning to understand this now. I was already embarrassed my child wasn’t listening and being a little ridiculous (sorry attachment parents). At this moment I sense the underlying guilt and made a quick “lack of understanding” judgment to protect and justify my own life. In this situation, I felt judged, insecure and inadequate.
As I was reflecting on this moment later I thought about other examples of when I felt misunderstood. I’m guessing you can think of an example in your life as well.
As a working mom I feel like my life is disorganized chaos to put it lightly. If you were to look in my car it’s a disaster! I compare my self to other moms and I immediately think why can’t my life be like theirs? How do they have it all together? I look like I just rolled out of bed, which is in fact the truth majority of the time.
In my head all I can imagine is how easy it is for them. Online I see the sappy <3, <3, <3, posts about their amazing relationship with their spouses (eye roll). Travis and I can’t seem to ever really have our crap together since kids. I see their beautiful organized home (featuring tidy labels of course), children who don’t suffer from selective hearing and whose development is so far ahead they are destined for Harvard. I feel jealous and defeated.
The truth is, though, through all the filtered instagram photos, the highlighted facebooks posts is someone who is struggling herself. NO ONE is perfect, NO ONE is the same and NO ONE has had the same experiences. Raising kids puts you through a lot physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We’ve all had good days and bad days but never the same days. The way we view our experiences and our world is unique and determined by our individual experiences to this point. When you feel judged or are tempted to judge another remind yourself that it is okay they don’t understand you. They don’t understand you because there’s no way they could or should and that’s okay because all us moms are doing the best we can and that is good enough.
The truth is, you are the expert in your body and babies, don’t forget that.
The truth is, we need to invest in one another, to build one another up. We need to surround ourselves with authentic, real people. We need to know that no matter what we are GOOD ENOUGH, exactly how we are. I want you to have the freedom to be you and in order to do that we need to create a world where we lift one another up and share our hearts with one another. We need to remember we are enough and are all doing the best we can. We need to support and affirm those that matter the most to us so they can be strong enough in moments of judgment to stand proud.
From my heart to yours I want you to know your best is enough. Even when you are exhausted because at 4am they woke up again, your best is enough. When you feel judged and that no one understands what you’re going through, you are enough. When you have picked up the toys, wiped up the food, emptied the dishwasher again and again, you are enough. When the piece of granola bar from the day before falls out of your bra when you finally got undressed and you feel defeated, your best is enough. When your child wants down, but really doesn’t want down but actually doesn’t know what they want, remember your best is enough. When you showed compassion at first then your emotions got the best of you, your best is still enough. When your marriage consists of arguments, your house is a mess and all you have time to cook is take-out, remember you are doing your best and your best is good enough.
Always remember you’ve got this! You are an incredible, amazingly strong woman. Damn right you’re strong, you gave birth to a tiny human! You are worthy of love, compassion and kindness. You are incredible, failure for you my friend, is not an option.
Please friends, remember in times of judgment to show compassion and unconditional love for others. We all have different experiences and cannot assume we know what is going on in one another’s lives. All we can do is show grace and give one another the benefit of the doubt that we are all doing the best we can.