There once was a mommy who wanted to do her best. She was a good person at heart and she wanted to do good in the world and be liked by others.
Each morning she’d wake – earlier than she’d have preferred – and prepare breakfast for the family. Sometimes it was sweet. They’d get dressed, brush their teeth and come eat while she prepared school lunches. Those were the good times. She liked being a mom and felt good about herself and the job she was doing.
Other times they’d get up, grumpy from sleep and the morning would be loud and demanding. That one would step on that one’s book on the way out of the room and a fight would start straight away. “DON”T step on my book.” “I can if I want! DON’T hit me! Mooooommm he HIT me!” “No I didn’t. You stepped on my book!”
Those times felt grating, emotions raw, all that noise on not enough sleep, trying to make breakfast, make lunch, help them get ready for school while they clawed at and tangled with each other in hurtful angry ways. Somehow she was in charge of keeping all that separated – but how?
Pulled on from every side she would feel overwhelmed and helpless. Then she’d shout or push or hit and withdraw to her room in a huff or cry and it made her feel like she was a bad, BAD mommy. An awful mommy. The WORST kind. And it would make her feel sad and bad inside.
“I don’t know how to do this.” She would think sadly. “Why do I lose control like that? I’m sure Patrice wouldn’t do this. She’s always so calm with her kids. So kind and gentle. Oprah wouldn’t do this. Brene Brown wouldn’t. The swami at the ashram would stay calm in all this. He would know it’s not about ego. I’m a walking disaster I am.” She’d cringe at the thought of her children’s teacher or the other parents at school seeing her behave like this .
On one of those mornings she had finally bundled the children off to school with their ride. Alone in the kitchen in the rare silence she looked around at the dirty dishes, the crumbs and spills on the table, the bits of cold egg left in the pan and she remembered being rejecting towards one child and snapping at another. Her shoulders drooped.
“Excuse me” said a little voice behind her. She spun around in fright. Who was in her house?! “Over here.” said the little voice from the windowsill. She couldn’t see anyone at first. Then she saw a tiny movement over near the half-dead basil plant.
Oh no, she was losing it, seeing things! There stood Tinkerbell – or something like her. “Yup, lock me up. I’m away with the fairies” she thought.
“Is that really helpful?” the Tinkerbell vision wanted to know.
“Huh? What? I’m sorry, what? Is what helpful?”
“Putting yourself down like that. Is it helping you?”
“Who ARE you? What is going on?”
“I’m wanting to know whether telling yourself horrible things about how you are doing is helping you at all. Is it useful?” Persisted the tiny fairy person thing, as though her presence there was most normal.
The mommy decided, to hell with it. If she was going nuts she may as well play along. “Ummm, well I don’t know if it’s useful exactly, it’s just how I feel about myself.”
“Oh. Well, have you asked yourself if what you are saying is true?”
“Er, no … What do you mean exactly?”
“You thought, and I quote, ‘I’m sure Patrice wouldn’t do this. She’s always so calm with her kids. So kind and gentle. Oprah wouldn’t do this. Brene Brown wouldn’t. The swami at the ashram would stay calm in all this. He would know it’s not about ego. I’m a walking disaster I am.’ Is any of that true?”
“Er, well, ummm… isn’t it?”
“Didn’t you see Patrice get really upset with her child the other day? Hasn’t Oprah talked about how glad she is she never had children because she’s not sure she would have done it well? Hasn’t Brene Brown written about imperfect parenting? Hasn’t the swami spoken about how difficult it is to remain calm in the face of life?”
“Why do you keep telling yourself lies that make you feel bad?”
When the tiny fairy person thing put it like that it really did sound strange.
“I don’t know. Habit I guess?”
“How would you feel if someone kept telling your kids lies that made them feel bad?”
She hit below the belt, this one did.
“I would be very angry. I would make them stop.”
“Right then. Good to chat. You take care now.”
And off she went.