I am my own harshest critic. There is a voice in my head that is always ready and willing to critique how I am doing as a mom. It is often heard saying things such as:
Are you really putting that in your son’s lunch? Hello? You haven’t spent any quality time with your kids yet today! What kind of an example was that for your daughter?
It’s a pretty brutal voice. It says stuff to me that I would never say to a friend who is a mom. And yet it goes on talking inside of my head. Until I tell it (politely of course) to just be quiet!
I know full well that I am not perfect. I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that you are not perfect either. In fact, none of us are perfect right now, nor will we be anytime soon. So why are we so hard on ourselves when we’re not?
As a mom (and I have the added challenge of being a single mom) I am learning to be kinder to myself. I am learning to tell the inner critic to buzz off. I am learning… that I am learning.
One of my greatest “ah-ha” moments as a mother was when I noticed my reaction to a mistake my daughter made. She was beating herself up about it, really raking herself over the coals and unwilling to forgive the error. I sat her down and told her how much I loved her, how much I understood that she was learning and that learning meant making mistakes. I advised her to remember what had happened only to guide her in the future and to be kind to herself.
When I walked away from that conversation I had my “moment” of insight. Why wasn’t I that kind to myself? Not too much later I heard my inner critic tell me that I really screwed up by overreacting to my son’s sluggish preparation for bed. Instead of beating myself up and raking myself over the coals, I sat down on my bed with the door closed and had the same conversation with myself as I had had earlier with my daughter.
“Ann,” I told myself, “I love you very much. I understand that you are learning and that learning means making mistakes. Remember what happened tonight only to guide you in your future reaction to your son’s feet-dragging. And by the way… be kinder to yourself.”
I then took a minute to plan out what I could do differently the following night to make bedtime run more smoothly (I hoped!).
Moms, your job is tough! It didn’t come with instructions. It’s a learn-as-you-go experience.
QUESTION: Do you have trouble being kind to yourself?
CHALLENGE: Tell that inner critic to go jump off a cliff. Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to someone that you deeply love. You deserve it.
Photo by Dan at www.freedigitalphotos.net.
Originally published on September 9, 2009.
If I am ever mean or not nice to someone, it is myself. I have had the same feelings and worries for most of my life. I truly believe it has dampered my life in so many ways over the years. I should be more successful and have a good career with a comfortable earning. I am a single mom and wish I was more now for my son. This is all on the iniside and most people consider me very sociable, funny, and independent. I think I am an uneducated mom who can’t buy my son everything.
Do you think we’ll ever learn this “once and for all?” I loved that essay, Ann. It is so needed…every day. Even on great days when I’m doing the best I can, I still find myself getting frustrated with my imperfections, but I notice when I REALLY focus, I end up treating myself much better.