This may be the very first post in which I use a swear word, but I am only quoting Anne Lamott so it's okay
Yesterday was rough, and it wasn't because of the kids, it was because of me. I am anxious again and hopeless about it, tired, overemotional, rethinking this baby evaluation stuff, mad at the scale because I've been really good about not eating sugar and the number hasn't budged.
The first thing I did was buy two chocolate bars when I did my near-daily Target run, and I ate one of them in world-record time - screw the scale. I felt better.
The second thing I did was to wake up this morning and think: what would it be like if I wasn't so hard on myself?
See, I don't think I AM hard on myself! I tell everyone this. Someone who is hard on herself wouldn't leave dishes in the sink for days or let her kid go out with his hair all crazy-like or actively decide to NOT vacuum when she knows the baby professionals are visiting AND will sit on her floor. CLEARLY a hard-on-herself woman would NEVER allow such things. So I sit here and congratulate myself on tolerating my lazy slobness, for only beating myself up about it once in a while.
And that's true, I think. Things about which I am not particularly twitchy include: housecleaning, how my kids are dressed, cooking skill, what milestones my kids are reaching and when, whether or not I am involved enough in church or school or community stuff, ETC. Watch me be laid back! Woo!
Sometimes I'll write angsty blog posts about those things, as you know, and I'll have to say "I AM ACTUALLY FINE WITH THIS, I AM JUST LETTING OFF SOME STEAM!" because I know YOU and you are very nice people.
But sometimes I'll write angsty blog posts about other things and I'll give the same "I AM FINE" disclosure, because I really think I AM, but actually, no, no no no I am not.
I am not fine about my weight. I weigh all of three pounds above my pre-Emma weight. If I lost those three pounds NO ONE, INCLUDING MYSELF would be able to tell. Three pounds is not going to do ANYTHING for me. But I am dogged in pursuing those last three pounds, and I've actually bumped it up to five because I think I COULD tell if I lost five, and for some reason this is very very important. It's very much about fitting into my pants, but it's even more so about accomplishing an etched-in-stone goal. If I don't lose these three pounds then I can't say, "I lost the baby weight three times!" I can't stick my tongue out at the Medical Professionals who gasped when I told them how much I gain during pregnancy. I won't impress the handful of people who always make sure to tell me I'm doing such a great job on my weight loss efforts. I will have failed. And even though three pounds is negligible, even though losing weight this time is much harder to accomplish for very good and obvious reasons, even though I fit into 95% of my pre-pregnancy clothes - I am still a failure at losing the baby weight.
I am not fine about anxiety. I thought I'd made some progress here, what with my total acceptance of crazy pills and my belief that it's More Like A Chronic Illness Than A Failing Of Intelligence. But I am still beyond frustrated that there is nothing I can do about it. It still doesn't make sense to me. How can I feel AFRAID, but not be able to tell myself to STOP FEELING AFRAID? How does that even WORK? What is WRONG with me? I don't think this way about other people, I only think it about myself. That if only I were less sensitive, had more faith, more courage, prayed harder, I could make myself fine. If only I was better at talking to doctors, if I wasn't such an uncomfortable-joke-making-Chandler in their offices, if I was more articulate, if I knew what they wanted me to say, I would have a medicine that works now. I at least wouldn't have waited an entire month to tell the doctor that my medicine suddenly gives me horrible lightheaded side effects if I take it during the day, and I can't tolerate it anymore. Who suddenly has side effects after taking something for two months?! He probably won't even believe me! I am so bad at this, in so many terrible ways.
I am not fine about discipline. Not at all. Some days it's fine. Sometimes I am in a ball, crying, so angry and upset with myself for not being able to do something that SEEMS EASY. What am I missing in the equation: tell child to stop jumping off the couch = child stops jumping off the couch [for more than 10 seconds].
I am not fine about writing. I am supposed to be writing Other Stuff. The disclosure here is, "I AM FINE, I KNOW I AM A PARENT OF SMALL CHILDREN, TIS A SEASON FOR EVERYTHING, LA LA LA" but I don't believe it. I believe writers write and I don't always believe this space counts. I must not be a real writer. Anne Lamott would tell me to write a shitty first draft, to take 10 minutes and write my short assignment and OH MAN do I find her writing tweets inspirational and challenging and encouraging and YES I CAN DO THIS, ANNE! But then someone spills milk or I am too tired or I am just too busy being hard on myself, and I fail at even the shitty first draft.
But this morning I really am honest to goodness wondering: what would it be like to not care? Or let it go? Or have more grace for myself? What would that even look like? Would I be recognizable?
Is it even possible? I feel like I have this wispy layer of bloggy angst, then a very thick layer of sensible rational normal-ness. That's where I live most of my life and except for your average mom-of-small-kids setbacks and frustrations, everything's pretty fine and looking good. Then underneath that is the real me, the core, where I'm most who I am, all the good and the bad. And the good is so awesome, the good is everything God sees in me. And the bad is... well, right now the bad is like this twisted mottled ball of fear: indissoluble, everlasting, fear of failure, fear of unworthiness. Fear that if I don't do something the right way, or the way that other people expect; fear that if I don't accomplish something; fear that if I can't get it done; fear that if I can't figure it out, then all the rest, all the good things about me aren't real. They aren't enough. Those three pounds will bury the 27 I've lost, I must have no faith at all because I can't make the anxiety go away, I can't be a good parent, I can't be a writer.
And then! I make it worse! Instead of grasping all the things God made me to be and knowing the rest is redeemed, letting those things fly away, letting them die on the cross; I cling tightly to my flaws and sin and darker parts - my FEAR - and I tell God, "Just let me make all these not-so-awesome parts disappear first, let ME take the blame, let ME deal with my fear - then I can be the person you made me to be."
The thing is, I don't even believe that's possible. The entire Christian faith is built on Jesus taking the blame! And beating myself up is not at all how God wants me to be spending the little energy I have these days. So what if I didn't do that? HOW do I not do that? I may have said this before, but just knowing what your Stuff is does not mean you can break free.