A few days ago I was talking with some friends, my tribe of weirdo’s, and in a moment of frustration said “I want to write a blog post and call it ‘I Don’t Suck and Neither Do You'”. As you can see, the idea took root. And it’s true. I don’t suck. You don’t either. Chances are good we’re both just doing our best.
Here’s an admission. Emlyn is 9 years old and we still don’t have an eye gaze. I could have bought her one by now. I haven’t. And I’m not going to justify why. I don’t need to. Do I feel guilty? Sure. Do I feel inadequate? Yes.
Emlyn doesn’t get enough physio. I feel bad about that too. She doesn’t get as much hippo-therapy as I want either. Another tick in the growing guilt column. Emlyn watches more tv than her sister or either of her brothers did. Check the box with a bold mark under ‘fail’. There are lots of columns and bold ticks. Guilt. Failure. Discouragement. ‘Not good enough’. ‘Not smart enough’. ‘Not advocating enough’. ‘Not raising enough awareness’. ‘Not raising enough money’. ‘Not keeping up with friends as much as I should’. ‘Not giving my other children enough attention’. ‘Neglecting my husband’. ‘Failing my dogs’. ‘Getting distracted’. ‘Losing perspective’. ‘Failing’. ‘Failing’. ‘Failing’.
Somehow, there’s all this pressure to always be and do more. There’s all this judgement. Or the perception of judgement. Self judgement. We look at other people’s projected image and measure ourselves against it and we always come off the loser. Of course we do, it’s a projection. How can you possibly measure up against something so nebulous?
Take Facebook for example. Most people (me included) share their good moments and their triumphs far more often than they share their heartache and insecurity. For instance – most of my Facebook friends have no idea that Emlyn hasn’t been in school since October. That each day she’s struggling just to breathe. That watching her struggle to breathe, I can’t breathe either. That she’s seizing more, her heart is worse and she doesn’t much want to walk.
They don’t know that the pictures I shared of my newly decorated bedroom make it look great – for the length of time it took to take the picture. My bed isn’t made right now and there is dirty laundry on my bathroom floor. Tonight I didn’t cook for my family. I didn’t cook last night either. But I do cook on weekends and when I do I share a picture of my culinary masterpieces and if you just looked at that you might get the impression that I’m this uber homemaker lady, which I’m not….but seriously, should I share all that with everyone? No way. I have my tribe and my husband and my kids for that. What I AM saying is that if you only looked at my projection you might think I’ve got my shit together…and I don’t. I’m betting neither do you. And that’s okay.
You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
So we don’t have an eye gaze yet. Not the gold standard but no one is sending me to mommy prison for that. I communicate with Emlyn and she communicates with me and we work it out. We use a lot of intensive interaction, a lot of intuitive communication; attuned-nurturing-attachment based communication. She gets her point across fairly clearly. She makes herself known. Of course I want her to have a louder and more effective voice, but I have not completely failed her by loving her and spending time being ‘in touch’ with her. Not at all. There are so many ways to do it right. We judge ourselves, or think others are judging us and handing down a verdict of ‘wrong’. Maybe it’s not wrong, maybe it’s just different. Maybe it’s just what we can handle at the time, or afford at the time. And maybe it’s time to stop pointing the finger…even when we’re pointing in the mirror.
I will always want to do better and be more productive, effective, attentive. But I am not going to beat myself up for failing to be perfect, I will not look around and compare myself critically with others I know only the surface of. I’m done believing that I’ve failed or that I lack. And I won’t be defined by my weaknesses or my strengths in absolutes. I’ll embrace the mosaic mess of it all and give my heart a break.
When you spend time counting your fails, you miss out on celebrating the things you’re doing okay at, and even the few things you’ve really succeeded at. When you measure yourself by anyone else yardstick you miss out of the texture of your own.
Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
‘Cause I like you