In my previous post, I mentioned that sometimes I don’t feel like I am a “good enough” mother. In my heart I know that I am a good mother. But in my mind, I am constantly asking myself whether there is something I can be doing better. And then there are days when I surprise myself. I will do something that I don’t question. I will do something that makes me proud, and I will allow myself to be proud.
My relentless questioning extends beyond being a mom who is responsible for keeping two children alive and happy. I question whether I am a good wife, daughter, sister and friend. I question whether I am on the right path to achieving my full potential. I question whether I am capable of making my big dreams happen in this world. All of this questioning stems from my greatest fear: failure. I don’t want to be a failure. I don’t like disappointing others. I hate it when I make mistakes — even stupid, little, meaningless mistakes.
What am I so worried about failing at, though? I am not being graded on my ability to be a half-assed domestic goddess. My husband loves me for who I am. My kids continue to quote Wreck It Ralph saying, “You’re one dynamite gal.” My family is always there for me when I need them. I have friends who will cry with me, laugh with me, and tell me like it is. I have never been fired from a job, and I still keep in touch with my boss from my first “real” job. I never do anything perfectly, but many things I do are done with passion. So, what am I so worried about failing at?
I am worried that I will not be as good as you at what you do. This sounds really childish, huh?
The other day I heard my son talking about how he is taller, faster and smarter than his sister. And it’s true. He is almost two years older than his sister, who is two, so he is taller, faster and he knows and understands more. I had a little talk with my son about his behavior, though. I told him that he was not being kind to his sister, and that instead of focusing on how his strengths were different compared to his sister’s, he can help his sister develop her own strengths. I told him that he can teach her words, colors, letters and numbers. I told him that he can show his sister that he is proud of her for learning to brush her teeth and pick up her toys. You see, in my son’s mind, he thinks his sister is a failure because she can’t keep up with him and do the same things he can do. But as adults, we understand that a two-year-old has much more growing and learning to do before he or she can be expected to do certain things. After having this talk with my son, I had an aha moment: My definition of failure is f-ing skewed.
I don’t focus on my strengths nearly as much as I focus on the strengths of other people. How can I possibly feel successful and confident in myself if I am constantly comparing myself to others? Wow, I am such a child. But I did learn my own lesson while trying to teach my son to be more kind to his sister.
Instead of fearing that I will not be as good as you at what you do, I should be fearless in everything I do and set out to accomplish. Katy Perry, I got the eye of the tiger, too. And I am going to roar with you.
Last weekend, I came across my portfolio from the last poetry class I took before graduating from college. I read every poem and my professor’s comments on my “final” drafts. I was hesitant to open my portfolio at first for fear that I would be utterly disappointed in my writing. But my early-twentysomething self surprised my late-twentysomething self. I was actually proud of what I had written. My poems are certainly not material worthy of being published or anything like that. However, I could tell that some of my poems were truly written from my soul. And what a great thing it is to be able to use words to reflect bits and pieces of one’s soul.
I will end this post with a roar from the depths of my soul. Here is a little poem I wrote a few years ago (with some minor changes made today):
why do the men refuse
to talk about blood?
sure, they boast about the skinned and cleaned deer
(the one they are devouring now).
one incision along the warm belly,
skin, slippery fat, then muscle tissue.
images of utensils ripping the rib cage,
gloved hands plunging into the carcass;
cupped, their hands scooped out the heart and lungs –
the remaining bundle of organs simply
wrenched through the pelvic opening.
yes, the precious meat they procured
for their family today.
the women laugh and share their pain and happiness –
the way their bodies stretched and pushed,
some sliced at the warm belly.
images of cupped hands scooping precious beings
for the new mothers to see; to breathe in; to hold.
after the rush of pain, blood and peace,
the women were exhausted, stitched, and shut up.