It was the first full week of school, and I was mentally giving myself a pat on the back after I dropped off my girls at school. It feels like a huge accomplishment every day when I drop them off. Our mornings now begin at 6 AM, and my husband drops off our son at high school at 7:30 AM and proceeds to go to work. Our mornings begin a lot earlier this year. As I was pulling out of the elementary school parking lot, the librarian yells, “Aren’t you staying?” I thought about his comment as I drove away.
The tears start streaming down my face and I call my husband crying. My busy man calls me back after his meeting and hears my tears. “I just can’t seem to do it all,” I cry to him. Seth is perplexed as we have had this conversation many times. Why today is it hitting me like this? Why on earth am I crying? This is a lesson that I seem to keep learning. I can’t do it all.
My Book Club hasn’t met in ages. We were finally meeting this Friday. What you don’t know, is that when my book club meets, we talk for hours and hours. I was very excited to see them. However, I totally forgot about the Book Fair. There were multiple posts on Facebook about it and I still failed to remember. I didn’t sign up to volunteer. I didn’t send Lillie with money. “She doesn’t need to buy books,” Seth tells me. Oh, to be Seth. He is so much easier on himself as a parent than I am. My expectations are unreal and unachievable. When will I realize that perfection is not a thing? Perfection doesn’t exist.
“I didn’t volunteer for the Book Fair. I didn’t send Lillie with money. I didn’t buy Ella tickets to see Frozen at Shea’s theater,” I cry to Seth. This man of mine is so calm, patient and kind to his crying wife. He is busy at work, and he lets me cry and get it out and he just listens. He knows that I am going like gang busters trying to keep up with everything. He always tells me I do too much and can’t believe the expectations that I put on myself. I just felt like I was failing my Friday. Not to mention, there was a huge Fall Fest at school and Lillie was choosing to go to her dance classes instead. I just didn’t feel like I could do it all and it was really bothering me at this moment in time.
Do I think that I can do it all? No! Do I tell myself that I can’t do it all? Yes. Do I still expect myself to do it all? Yes, sometimes I do. Sometimes I remember that I need to be easier and more realistic with myself. Sometimes my expectations go back up and I hold myself to a standard that is too high to achieve. I set myself up to be upset.
I was talking on the phone to a wonderful lady in our life who was explaining to me that she didn’t want to miss anything. Cheer, girl scouts, school events, you name it, and she was there, and she was volunteering. I know that lady very well. I was that lady. I thought that I could go to everything. I quickly learned that my kids would have things at the same time and that vision shifted to what was realistic in my life right now. I tell myself every day that I can’t go to everything and that it was ok.
We need to move from feeling down on ourselves to problem solving. My friend asked me if Lillie could buy something at the Book Fair. I told her Lillie could get whatever she wanted and that I would pay her back. Done! Lillie still got to go to the Book Fair, and I didn’t have to go. We have spouses, grandparents and friends who can stand in for us. If we have more than one child, we will have to divide and conquer sometimes.
Who can go in our place?
Who is available to help?
What does your schedule look like and what can you do and what can’t you do?
What choice are we making? Sometimes a choice is necessary.
Do we have to volunteer for everything?
What is the best decision that we can make today? It doesn’t have to be right, it just has to be a decision.
Sometimes when we hear ourselves talking, we hear how ridiculous we sound. I heard myself crying to Seth and I realized that I was not being very reasonable. It was okay that Ella was missing Frozen at the theater. She was tired. I was tired. Why do I always feel like I need to push myself? It was okay that I wasn’t volunteering at school. I was going to Book club for me. Sometimes I can do stuff for myself and that is ok. I am learning. I used to be the mom who had to do everything. Now I am the mom who knows that I can’t accomplish that goal.
I may have felt like I was failing Friday, but when I feel I am failing is when I learn the most. I learned that failing forward is good for me. I learn so much when I “fail:”
- I learned that I chose Book Club with my friends instead of volunteering at the Book Fair. I chose me over Lillie. I chose me over school.
- I learned that being sad doesn’t help. Problem solving is what helps a situation. What is the issue? Where do I feel I am failing? What am I going to do about it? What supports am I going to enlist?
- I learned that I was once again having expectations that were too high for myself and was adjusting them (again).
- I learned that we have to make decisions and choices. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be right. The decision needs to be made.
- I learned that I didn’t really fail. I may have felt that I dropped the ball on a few things, but it all worked out.
- I learned to look at the big picture. Does this really matter? Is this really a big deal? Sometimes I need to cry anyway and get it out. Then I need to pick myself up, open my eyes, be realistic, and move forward.
We’ve talked about unsuperwomaning ourselves in my last blog. We’ve talked about not being superwoman many times. The conversation isn’t over. We will still continue to expect too much of ourselves. You are not failing. If anything, you are failing forward in a way that teaches you a lot. If we learn from things, then we are never failing. I didn’t fail. I didn’t do it all. I never will. I did enough. So did you. As long as we get up and try every day then we are not failing. When we feel we fail at something is where the biggest opportunity for growth occurs. I learned that I was being really hard on myself once again. I will probably learn this lesson again.
I also learned again how much it helps me to write it out. Getting it out of my system and onto paper makes me feel so much better. When I type it out, I also make more sense out of what I am thinking, and I tend to see clearer.
Your homework assignments from me:
- Go write something out that is bothering you and see how much better you feel after you get it out.
- Think about what you feel you are failing at? How can you do some problem solving around that and what are you learning from it. It is never failing when we are learning.
- Adjust an expectation that you have on yourself and make it a little more realistic!
- Remember to unsuperwoman yourself!
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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