Not long ago, I went through a wonderful phase of being super busy and loving it. It felt like I was on fire, moving seamlessly from one task to the next and finishing every project that came my way with a smile on my face. Inevitably, it didn’t last. One sick kid and everything came to a smashing halt and I lost my momentum. Kids can do that to you and so can life in general.
I remind myself that nothing lasts forever, neither the good nor the bad but when life changes gears on me quickly, I get frustrated. Frustration leads to control. Control leads to anger. Anger leads to the “ugly cry”. You get the picture.
Over the years, I’ve been a master of positive affirmations. I’ve studied all the habits of highly effective/happy/successful people. I’ve practiced the laws of attraction, meditation and being in tune with my mind and body. I’ve recovered, survived, prayed and self-helped myself into numerous happy places. But you know what? When the going gets rough and the frustration gets to be too much, I’ve found that for me it all boils down to one simple phrase.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I’ve made an art out of being hard on myself. Motherhood took it to a whole new level for me. Even though I know that the vast majority of parents struggle just as much as I do, I still tend to focus on my mistakes rather than my successes. Like when I took my kids (age 2 & 4) trick-or-treating on a dark street without flashlights. Oops. Or the two times (yes two) I forgot to hook the straps on my son’s car seat and drove miles before he said, “Look Mommy, I can get out!” Or the screaming matches I’ve had over Legos, candy and toys. I expected to have learned by now how futile it is to get into a pissing contest with a toddler but I still do it.
My consolation is that God loves me, not just despite my faults, but because of them. Even if you’re not into the whole higher power thing, you can still be comforted by the fact that no one will ever be as hard on you as you’ll be on yourself. That means that you don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks because it’s likely that they’re not even thinking about you. You only have to be a little kinder and gentler to yourself. Isn’t that the best advice ever?