Sometimes I get really frustrated with everything I *haven't* managed to accomplish during an hour/morning/day and bogged down in negative self talk.
"How can TWO hours have passed while I was cleaning that room?
Why can't I go faster? Why does it take me so long to do EVERYTHING?"
This kind of one-sided conversation doesn't do a whole lot for (a) my self esteem; (b) my motivation; or (c) the house!
I'm trying to teach my children lately that there are two ways of looking at everything - glass half full / glass half empty. If I'm looking at the same morning through a "full-glass" perspective, I can reframe the same events to be more positive. "I really devoted myself to cleaning that room, and got it done in two dedicated hours. I also managed to do a few loads of laundry and take good care of my daughter! The kids were bathed and dressed and off to school on time!"
In this way, my view lingers on what IS good.
Today has been one of the many mornings where I needed to do a re-frame, right around 10:30am. Even now, if I actually look around me it would be very easy to slip back into the negative side... I notice every single crumb on the floor, each dish that is waiting to be washed, all of the folded laundry waiting to be put away. (Quick, reframe! "Wow! I folded all that laundry! That's awesome!")
I envy my husband in this regard. He has an amazing capacity to ignore small imperfections and mess, and I think this is so healthy. He focuses on the task at hand... the one that can be done in the next five minutes, and he doesn't get wrapped up or overwhelmed by the big picture. His tolerance for chaos can sometimes irritate me but I clearly see its excellent side; if he and I looked around the same room at the same time, I can almost guarantee that he would say - "It doesn't look that bad! Most of this just needs surface cleaning. Overall, I think we're doing a great job."
Reframing seems to help a lot with parenting too. Especially when my elder son is actively trying to shake or choke his little brother. This continues to happen almost once a day, and while my husband is convinced is is merely a phase (and I hope he is right!) it still really stresses me out. My inner voice is that of an exhausted, defeated, whiny mother: "Why is this happening? Why is my child so angry and violent? What am I doing wrong?" during those moments. When I pull myself out of it and reframe though, I can see that at least 80% of the time my son is very well behaved.
Perhaps this would be a good reframe - "Wow, my son managed to be kind to his brother and sister for *most* of the day... what is happening right now within him that is prompting him to suddenly act so poorly?" When I actually manage to pull back from the situation taking place (after rescuing the smaller boy from attack) I often have clarity enough to sort through the possibilities and realize that he is hungry-tired-worried-needing my attention.. and that if I can simply redirect him or give him a snack, the violence level in our home will drop significantly.
The more I consider it, the more I think that there is a place for mommies to give themselves little pep talks throughout the day... why not? After all, we spend most of our day encouraging the little people that we love to continue practicing their life skills. It makes perfect sense that we might need a little encouragement ourselves; and while our children surely love us, it isn't likely that they're going to sit up as babies and say, "Wow mom, I really like the way you changed my diaper today! Good job!"
Humility is important, but I think appreciating our own strengths is also really worthwhile. It takes compassion and self control to witness tantrums, aggression, even meanness... and not react in a loud or frustrated way.
It takes determination and a sense of humor to continue cleaning up the same room over and over again as your children manage to destroy in moments everything you have worked to put back together for hours.
It takes organization and motivation to have three children ready for the day on time; nutritious food in their lunches; permission slips signed and homework done; children picked up from school at the exact right moment.
Parenting is one of those jobs that, if you do it right, manages to look so easy that the childless people around you think it is a simple and mindless occupation. "Parenting isn't rocket science," they might say. "If *I* was the mother, I would *never* let my child watch television!"
Yet raising a human being to be healthy, warm, well-fed, morally sound, socially aware, environmentally conscious, caring, confident and kind is not a simple thing to do. Parents deserve props for sticking with their kids through the hard times, the difficult ages and phases. (Not everyone does! Some parents abandon their kids, and some do worse!) Devoted moms and dads definitely deserve some kind of internal recognition for the effort that we do put into the job.
Since becoming a mother I have been peed and pooped on, spat at, hit, kicked, bitten, shoved, head-butted, screamed at, and insulted... over and over, for years on end. All of these acts have been performed by the three small people I love most and have sacrificed the most for ~ which sometimes made the abuse feel worse.
In return I have bathed them, cuddled them, cleaned for them, cooked for them, sung them lullabyes, chauffeured them the equivalent of thousands of miles, and generally 'turned the other cheek'.
I am not alone in this. Every mother I know ~ every friend or relative of mine with kids ~ is just as compassionate, loving and dedicated as I am... sometimes more! Whether working or SAHM, mom to one child or four, every one of my mommy friends gives their all to this often thankless job.
I guess then this blog is one massive reframe to my morning and a big shout-out to ALL of the moms and dads who keep showing up to 'work' 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a good attitude and a full heart.
We may not always get the laundry put away (or even out of the dryer!) but we're in the trenches fighting the good fight day after day, making sacrifices from a place of love and devotion. In the words of my husband/favorite parenting 'co-worker': "Overall, I'd say we're doing a great job!"