Autumn is a sad time for me, and a wonderful time too. There are a lot of good things that occur during Fall. My kids all went back to school and are doing well. I love seeing them succeeding. I love seeing how they grow and mature each year physically, academically and emotionally. Fall is also our time for the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is our Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur is the day of atonement. We atone and reflect over the previous year. It feels like new beginnings to me.
I want to invite you to reflect with me whether you are Jewish or not. Think over the previous year. What did you do well? What do you want to work on? Who do you need to forgive? When we forgive and let things go it takes a huge weight off our shoulders. Remember that forgiveness is for you, not for the other person. When you are thinking about who you need to forgive, I also want you to remember to forgive yourself.
As you think about what you would like to do better yourself, I would like to remind you to be easy on yourself. I hope that you will be easier on yourself this year. I hear how mothers talk to themselves. I think that’s a great goal for this year: I will be nicer to myself.
What is one of the biggest lines that I hear mothers say: “I’m trying!” If I give a mother a compliment, it’s rare that they say, “Thank you.” It’s usually, “I’m trying!” I’m always surprised when I hear that, and yet I say the same thing. Guilty! I want you all to know that when I am talking to you, I am talking to me too! I need to hear this too! I just said to my husband yesterday, “I try so hard to be a good wife.” Seth responded with, “You are a great wife.”
I’m going to tell you a huge secret! You aren’t trying, you are succeeding! Every time you try that is success. I’m going to do my best to sell this to you.
When we get up in the morning, we are succeeding.
When we make our family food, we are succeeding.
When we drive our kids anywhere, we are succeeding.
When we listen to our kids, we are succeeding.
When we help them with their homework, we are succeeding.
When we work and provide for them, we are succeeding.
When we clean the house, we are succeeding.
When we rest, we are succeeding.
When we do the laundry, we are succeeding.
When we run errands, we are succeeding.
When we exercise, we are succeeding.
When we teach our children how to do something, we are succeeding.
When we give them praise, we are succeeding.
When we show up for one of their events, we are succeeding.
When we let them have friends over, we are succeeding.
When we give them affection, we are succeeding.
You are succeeding all day long!
Did you get impatient or raise your voice? That makes you human. Did you forget something? That is ok.
I want to invite you to go on a journey with me of not allowing yourself to beat yourself up. I want us all to learn to talk to ourselves kindly with a gentle voice. I also want you to own your greatness?
Are you tired? I want you to honestly think about why that is? Is it parenting? Is it work? There are good reasons for you being tired because you are working so hard. If you have a ton of energy to go all day nonstop without being tired at all, then I need to find out your diet and workout plan. If you get tired, you are just like most of us. It’s time to change our dialogue to ourselves and one another.
The next time someone compliments you, I want you to take a deep breath and let it soak in. I want you to own it and say, “Thank you.” Is that hard for you? It’s hard for me too and I want to tell you why. Maybe you are the mom who doesn’t view yourself that way and doesn’t agree with the compliment. I’m going to tell you to CUT THAT OUT. Stop putting yourself down. I’m going to ask you to start noticing positive stuff about yourself all day long. Set out on a mission to identify your greatness. It could be that you got out of bed, and you really wanted to sleep. It could be small stuff. Small stuff can be great too. Small things all day long adds up to greatness.
There is the mom who doesn’t agree with your compliment and there is the mom who is trying to play down the compliment. “You are such a great mom.” Someone might tell you. “I try.” Or “So are you.” Isn’t that how we tend to respond? You do not sound badly if you just say, “Thank you.” I promise that it’s ok to own a compliment and say thank you. Being a good mom does not mean that you are perfect. Being a good mom does not mean that you never screw up. Being a good mom doesn’t mean that it’s all about the kids from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.
I just looked up the definition of a good mother: “A good mother, often called a good enough mom, does her best to: Teach her children how to live life to the fullest. Be there for her children when they need her. Teach her child the importance of self worth. Provide food, shelter, and love. Be a good example to her children. Make time to have fun with her kids. Allow room for her children to make mistakes and learn from them. Teach her children how to love unconditionally.” I got this definition from 8 Ways to be a Good Mother Instead of a Perfect One by Kate Kripke. There are a lot of other ways to be a good mother that I’m looking at online. No where does it say that you have to be perfect in order to be a good mom.
It is time to take some pressure off. It is time to stop saying, “I’m trying.” You are not trying. I guarantee you that you are succeeding. Every single time that you worry about if you are a good enough parent the answer is yes. I promise you the answer is yes. This doesn’t mean that your children will turn out perfectly. This doesn’t mean that you are perfect.
How can I do better this year with others:
I’m always striving to be kind, patient and assertive. To take a deep breath before I respond. To take the pause and think first. To be appreciative and loving towards my friends and family. I’m always striving for this. Every time I lose my patience with Seth or the kids I will evaluate and strive to do better. I will also catch myself a break. I will always aim to do better. I won’t aim for perfection.
What can I do for me:
I can give myself credit.
I can be gentle with myself.
I can say thank you when given a compliment.
I can understand that I am human.
As we work on how we treat ourselves it will spill over to how we treat everyone else. If I’m impatient with myself, I will be impatient with everyone else too. If I learn to talk gently to myself then I will be gentle with my children.
As we enter into Yom Kippur, I will let go of anything I am holding onto. Everyone deserves forgiveness. I will also remember to forgive myself. I’m very sorry to anyone I may have upset. I am so thankful for my ability to help others and will continue to work on doing more of this. I am so blessed by every single person who has helped me. I intentionally focus on being in a state of gratitude every day.
Time to forgive ourselves and others and own our greatness. You are good enough. You are succeeding! Every time you say, “I’m trying,” I want you to rewind and change it to, “I am succeeding.”
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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