A completely different REGION than what I’m normally discussing (makeup), but I had to get this down.
I grew up with a lot of criticism. Period. There’s no nice way to put it. It was all around me, an already shy introvert with a social phobia and terrified the world was gonna eat me alive. So naturally as I got older, I was conditioned to point out what was wrong with anything I touched: “how could I have made that better?” “This won’t be well received, how can I adjust it to accommodate ANY other person viewing it?” – an impossible task. So I went through life thinking that I didn’t have much merit. I didn’t make teams, wasn’t in clubs, didn’t have a lot of relationships, pretty much just kept to myself as much as I could. Now that I look back on all of that I totally get it was probably more for self-preservation. My perception was that I wouldn’t receive any encouraging words so I’d prefer to just shield myself from the crap that would probably fly at me; trying to escape the “why’s” of everything I had ever wanted to do… and did, from everyone that was not interested in watching me succeed. I got married at 18, had my first baby at 19, and went on with domestic life; feeling like I disappointed a lot of people after the blowback I received for doing both of those things.
“So that’s it then? That’s ALL you’re gonna be? A mom?” It still stings every time I play it back in my head.
Now enter: My 14 year old daughter. No matter how much her dad and I encourage her, is still extremely self-concious. No idea how pretty, smart, kind, and all around great kid she is. I know I know (every parent is biased) but even going off of what other people say “she’s just a NICE girl” I couldn’t be happier. I listened to her talk about how she didn’t think she was a good enough dancer to make the high school team while I was driving her to school one morning and finally I just asked her: “So that’s it? You’re just gonna hand your number over to the next girl because you’ve decided you aren’t good enough?” The truth is, I could see the pattern in her and I wanted to break it because it’s such an unfortunate frame of mind to live in every day. Naturally I want the best for her. Long [portion of the] story short, she not only made the dance team but made the cheer team too. And was elated. Yeah… it was a total ‘pat myself on the back moment’.
After all that worked out, the same day I saw a quote that resonated with me and got me thinking. Like I said, it’s easy for me to focus on what I’m NOT doing, haven’t done, what I think I should have done and critique it until I’m sick. See, raised with criticism I also learned that mistakes were these life ending crises that were just. not. tolerated. So I hyper focused on everything that I did and questioned it after the fact. I wasn’t ever given permission to think that what I had done was a good job, a good choice or acknowledge to myself, that I tried hard even when something didn’t work out. Where does that leave a sometimes stuttering 33 year old mother of 4? Awkwardly accepting any compliment thrown at her and maybe even a rebuttle in an attempt to downplay the compliment. That’s not humility (which is a great thing btw) that is self sabotage. Two very different things. After confronting my daughter I thought I needed to practice what I was preaching. Even though I don’t have the cheerleaders that my children have, that wasn’t a good enough reason to not acknowledge the things that I have done. When I was done with my mental list I was kinda like – “Hey man… I’m a DO’er!”
How did I think I was perceived before putting things in a reasonable perspective for myself? I thought: Married too young, mother at 19, sick babies, crazy dogs, lots of houses, a patent pending I never finished, some klonopin to calm my nerves once in a while, losing her mind Autism mom who doesn’t spend her time wisely, HOT MESS. How AWFUL is that? It’s AWFUL. So I changed my mind to meet how others expressed they viewed me. Instead,
- I wanted a loving family so I MADE ONE
- I wanted to take care of my premature sick babies at 22 so I LEARNED
- I wanted a college degree just like everyone else around me so I WENT!
- Got bored and wanted to play so I self taught and decorated cakes
- Didn’t know how to braid my girls hair so I watched YouTube
- Wanted my daughters to have nice hair bows so I made them
- Wanted to do more work with autism so I applied for a job and got one
- Have amazing relationships with my kids because I’m involved (and we keep it real)
- Thought the zupa toscana at Olive Garden was too salty so I cooked it myself until it tasted the same, minus the salt lick
- Wanted my makeup for free so I started selling it
- I needed my daughter to think differently so I addressed it
- Needed a good circle of friends so I was one (and waited patiently)
- Thought I was losing my mind and didn’t want to vomit my troubles on these new friends so I went to a COUNSELOR!
… I could go on a while longer but I won’t. I may look like I’m all over the place to someone else but, I know exactly where I’m at when I’m there. I’m DOING. Mothering isn’t streamlined and pretty but, I didn’t do any of this haphazardly and none of it was an accident. They were choices; and ones I’m proud of. I wanted all of it so I went and I got it. Organized chaos if you will. It is HARD to feel good about yourself when you’re parenting, home all the time, and probably look like a headcase while doing it, all the while hoping to get some time alone to compose yourself. It’s hard to feel good about what you think you’re doing every day. But dammit, I get shit done. I just have to break it down. I’m not gonna minimize it in my head anymore. And if you’ve ever done this as a mother, I hope you stop now. Moms are Do’ers. You’re not “JUST a mom” and neither am I.
“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home”