Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Art of Telling Yourself True Stories




Every mom I know has a deep-seated fear that the Department of Children and Families is going to come take their children away. Maybe they don't all talk about it...but it's there.  Often, it's something we say to other moms to be self-deprecating.  But that uneasy feeling that ebbs and flows beneath the surface remains...the fear that maybe, as far as parenting is concerned,  we're getting it all wrong.  

When my close mama friends and I get together, we sometimes reveal our fears, and our mom fails to one another. We take turns making tongue-in-cheek comments about how our laundry pile is overtaking the house or how we feel like throwing our kiddos in a lake when they won't stop fighting with each other. Almost immediately after we do, we experience a sense of deep relief, of togetherness, a bond in our uncertainty.  This task of motherhood is the hardest, best, craziest and most meaningful thing we are doing.  And the guilt we are collectively feeling on most days is off the charts.

I've never met a mom who hasn't been riddled with mom guilt at one time or another over something she feels she is doing "wrong" - yelling at her kids instead of having patience in perfect measure, feeding them cool ranch Doritos with their sandwich instead of organic celery sticks, letting them watch three straight hours of Nick Jr. instead of reading them three straight hours of books.  

But the truth is, none of these things are "right" or "wrong."  They just are.  They are simply choices, things we do, decisions we make, things that happen. We are who we are.  It is what it is.   Truthfully, we are merely imperfect people, showing up, doing the best we can every.single.day.  And the moms with littles often have the cards stacked against them in numerous ways including, but not limited to:  no time off, no sick days, no nighttime sleep, for crying out loud.  

Yet we consistently tell ourselves these stories:  "I'm doing it wrong. She's doing it better.  DCF is seriously on their way to my house right now." 

Well, my mama friends, I've got news for you.  DCF is not on their way to your house.  They're not on their way to mine.  They are actually up to their eyeballs busy with families who are struggling in much bigger ways than many of us can imagine (which is why we hope to begin the foster care process in the next year or so).  

My point in sharing all of this is that we ALL tell ourselves stories that aren't true.  Usually they involve shaming ourselves over what isn't going perfectly in our lives - or feeling guilt over things we didn't do or say perfectly.  As I awake more and more to this phenomenon in my own life, I feel compelled to share with ALL my Besties (mamas or not!) that we DO have permission to be objective observers in our lives instead of harsh critics.  We have permission to give ourselves grace and treat ourselves gently in each and every situation we face - past, present, and future.  And we have permission to speak loving truth to our friends who are beating themselves all the way up with that blasted shame stick, too.

The next time you hear those nasty liars Shame and Guilt making their way into your story (or you are certain that ring of the doorbell is a social worker from DCF), call them out into the light and gently remind yourself that we ALL have vulnerabilities and imperfections.  Let's boldly and mindfully return to present moment truth, observing what is happening and nothing more.

And you should also know this:  I, for one, think you are doing a freaking fantastic job at life right now.  
   

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