The other day, as I dropped my kids off at school, I caught a glimpse of another mom opening her trunk to remove her kids’ bags so they could join their little people for a day of education, enlightenment, and fun. The sight was typical. But looking back, I was disappointed by my immediate reaction. Before me was a multi-coloured row of four backpacks, all perfectly lined up, kept in place by what looked like a stretchy mesh barrier meant for this purpose exactly. My first thought: that mom’s more together than me because her kids’ backpacks are neater than the ones strewn messily in my trunk. Even writing it out sounds silly and embarrassing. And no, the irony is not lost on me that I’m disappointed in my disappointment in myself.
It’s amazing how quickly I cast such a negative judgement upon myself. And for something so trivial! How swiftly I compared myself to this mom – who I knew nothing about other than she was having a good backpack day…or year. And how easily I concluded (even if just for a fleeting moment) that she is somehow better than I am.
In general, I am more conscious than ever before of being kind to myself and I try to recognize everything I do accomplish (and more importantly, what I contribute to my family, community, and society as a whole), instead of focusing on my so-called misses. But I am – and always will be – a work in progress. On the eve of 2016, I wrote a piece called Beating the Self-Compassion Drum into 2016. It’s 2017 and I’m still beating – albeit it’s more a light tap than a pounding at this point.
It’s hard not to feel like I’ve missed the mark once in a while. I am pretty diligent about uploading activities, events, and reminders to a shared calendar with my husband (and he shares the load too). But the why-can’t-I-just-remember-the-book-fair-money internal rant sometimes shows up uninvited. Even when I know I’ve done my best. And judging by a recent Facebook friend’s post that announced Put your hand up if you feel like your life is a constant ‘to do list’! I suspect I’m not the lone survivor on this island. Unless she and the 100 people who liked and commented actually complete their tasks with oodles of time to spare. Somehow, I doubt that’s the case (or maybe I’m just hopeful I’m not the only one). Don’t answer that…let me dream.
Lists aside, I know the real success metric for my life is how happy I am, whether I’m growing and learning, and how much light and love I bring into this world. Of course, not every day is going to feature a world series home run with fireworks. But it’s sort of like that song from RENT declares: “How do you measure a year in the life? How about Love? Measure in Love.” As far as I recall, no one belts out “How about stuff? Measure in all the stuff you get done!” – unless I was in the bathroom for that part?
Nonetheless, I still need reminding from time to time that it’s okay to miss the mark…or the early bird registration date for [insert any one of dozens of programs/activities/camps – take your pick].
So here goes…a few reminders of what I didn’t – but more importantly did – give to my family, friends, community, or myself in the last couple of weeks.
- We didn’t get our 8-year-old son into Spring baseball because it filled up by the time we got around to checking out the website. I hear it was full within the first hour so I really didn’t stand a chance :(.
- But the other week, I did set aside time in my day to make a phone call to a friend who is battling cancer and visit another friend in the hospital. They were both so appreciative of the call and visit.
- I forgot to give my kids allowance 5 weeks in a row – I work at a bank (head office, not a branch mind you) and I still can’t remember to bring home small change for allowance! (I know…there’s an app for that…but we’re keeping it old school for now).
- But I did support two friends at two book launches within two weeks! And I enjoyed a much needed catch-up dinner with a girlfriend the same week…and we have our next one in the calendar already!
- I didn’t sit down to dinner the other week with my kids at all Monday to Thursday – with programs and other commitments, it just didn’t happen.
- But I did arrive at school early to save front row seats to my son’s SK Shabbat Ceremony – and I even remembered to dress him in dark pants and a white top! I enjoyed every song, dance, clap, wiggle, and turn.
- I missed the deadline for school lunch orders…again. Luckily, there was some wiggle room with the timing and my kids will enjoy their weekly mac ‘n cheese after all.
- But I spent a Saturday afternoon playing Clue, Scrabble, and Spot It with my kids and hubby, distraction-free. And if it was up to me, we’d still be playing! Um…is it possible to discover a competitive side at 38? NOTE: My mom insists I’ve always had a competitive side…hey friends, is this true?
- I’m reaching for chocolate chips more often than I’d like (to admit). My self-conscious feelings went through the roof when I was recently nestled between two very diligent “cleansers” at a (lovely!) community Shabbat dinner. Sigh. The company was great…but needless to say, I felt serious #ChallahGuilt.
- I did spend time mentoring a Rotman MBA student as part of a mentor/mentee program I have participated in for a couple of years.
Have your own two-sided tales to share? I would love to compile your thoughts and share as Part 2 of this blog post. Please email me your own “I didn’t/But I did” anecdotes…or “Leave a Reply” below.
In the meantime, I consider myself accomplished if I get all three kids in the car in the morning and unloaded before the bell. And if the backpacks make it too, that’s a bonus.
Oh, and now I really want to see RENT again! If it comes to town and there’s a limited seat offer, someone please tell me before it sells out in the first hour!