Monday, May 9, 2011

On Grading and Being Kind

I have a friend who recently started writing a blog and she gave herself a D in mothering/parenting. I felt so much sadness for her because the amount of stress and heartache she is dealing with means her mothering tactics are shifting and sharpening daily. There is no scale in which to measure mothering under immense stress. I told her, what a friend always reminds me, "be kind to yourself."

But, I catch myself doing the same thing, evaluating how well I'm doing as a mom, beating myself up for not doing this or that, for fussing, for wanting things to be just so. I've lightened up on my tongue lashings, but I'm watching myself shift and sharpen as I navigate these waters. The first part of my journey was a hard, almost hateful, heart-wrenching dump into a murky, muddy ocean. I'm grateful my heart no longer aches. But the stresses continue, they shift and you learn to shift with them-- learning to upright yourself once you fall and continuing with that cyclical pattern of falling and up-righting.

On your good days, you realize you will always fall, and you just "shake it off." On your bad days, you put a noose around your own spirit with mean, evil criticisms that interfere with God sparking/re-igniting His divine flame within you. It's hard to recognize your own unkind words as aggression towards yourself (The Wisdom of No Escape) or plainly put, evil setting up shop in your mind.

I love reading to my 2 year old because he loves books and repeating words and pretending to read on his own. I love reading to/with him, except when I get tired of it and want to read my own magazine or watch t.v. or check email. And then I'm upset with myself for not giving myself over to this curious child who only has me a few hours a day. I'm upset that I don't make my seven year old read more. Reading to him began when he was in utero, and somehow he has fallen in love with legos and out of love with books. And I don't encourage reading because I'm tired, and then I beat myself up again. (This is simply a short list; a portion of what goes on in my home, in my head that I'm willing to be honest about)

I beat myself up, then I remind myself to get rid of the grading scale and just try to be for a little while. I think of how I made Ezra laugh with silly voices and kisses in ticklish spots. I'm proud of myself for taking in his laugh, the dimples near his elbow, the teeth that are taking their time to appear, his beauty, how he's changed, his eyes as they narrow when his whole body becomes engulfed in laughter. I was fully present when I made him laugh.

I think of how I was interested in Elijah's story about the bug that Micheaux accidentally killed. The children found some leaves to cover the dead bug and wrote rip (I didn't ask or correct, I just listened)near his resting place. They named the him Mordecai Something Something, "bugger" for short. "What a long name," I said to show I was really listening, as opposed to my sometimes,"mmmmhmmm," that one day he'll recognize as not really listening. Today, I listened to the story. I made vegetables with dinner tonight. I let Elijah play outside and I brushed the baby's teeth. If I kept going, I would realize how much I've actually done and be all the more kind to myself.

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