Measuring Up

One of the things I didn’t expect as a parent was that my personal failings would be brought into ultra-sharp focus.  Suddenly, with a child watching, I became more aware of what I was doing, how I was doing it and how I wished I could be doing it better.  It even got all meta – I was critical not only of the individual things that made me squirm but the fact that I was critical of being critical of those things.  Seriously, it’s a wonder my wife hasn’t had me committed.

I desperately want my child to grow in an environment that is less demanding than I found my own childhood to be: the quiet standards of perfection, the unspoken moments of disappointment, the glimpses of my own mother placing crushing expectations on herself and failing.  You can see where this is going, can’t you?  In trying so hard to make sure RR has a better environment, I’m actually recreating it.  I didn’t realize it was happening until I read an article that said her mental recording equipment isn’t mature enough at this age to remember anything as it actually happens, if she remembers it at all.  I cried as I read it, feeling an enormous sense of relief that I could still do it right.  And then I cried because I couldn’t believe I thought that.  And then, of course, I cried because I was doing the very thing I swore I would never do.

A friend shared a post with me about some of the feelings inspiring blogs can generate and I realize I’m totally guilty of falling into these same traps.  As she says, it’s so hard to believe that all of you aren’t embracing all of each others ideals as your own, i.e. “because one of [you is] was committed to an all-organic raw diet, [all of you are]” and that because one of you holds something as an ideal, it’s right.  And, further, that the ideals you hold are ones you live by without fail.  My own brand of crazy embraces this.  Believe it or not, I have days when I think, “I’ll bet every last one of those gorgeous mothers is saving the earth by teaching their genius 4 month olds to turn off the water while brushing their teeth.  I can’t believe I haven’t taught RR to do that.  What kind of failure am I?”

Holy cow you guys.*

At the same time, much like this author, I love reading what you have to say.  I love reading how your children are growing and thriving and turning off the sink at 4 months old.  You inspire me to look for the gems in my own life and to capture them and share them.  But, I am also so moved when you talk about how your child sometimes only wants your partner or is struggling with a new developmental phase or drives you crazy when he screams.  I deeply appreciate the rawness exposed when you talk about the imperfections of life.  The empathy I feel in those moments reminds me that I have a wonderful and rich community of friends and mothers.

So thank you.  Thank you for sharing ALL of your life, the achievements (she can blow her nose!) and the struggles (why won’t she sleep through the night?).  Thank you for not shaming each other (or me) when we share the hard parts, the missteps, the going backs.  Thank you for celebrating without judging yourselves when we climb that new milestone.  Thank you for being so brilliant you remind me to do the same.

*Also, thanks for realizing that crazy isn’t contagious.

6 Responses

  1. A few month ago, a blogger we both probably know and love posted this on her facebook page and it has really stuck with me. That there are two sides and we can pick one. showing both was powerful. On the one hand I dont want to poison people with my negativity. On the otherhand, I know that unmitigated slices of perfection can be their own poison. I don’t know. These little gerbil wheels of ours . . .

    “zee avi is singing. buffalo swiss basil sliders. horseradish potato cakes. blackberry almond crisp. greek yogurt. the baby is running laps around the island in her walker, singing along and stopping for tastes of everything. my life is missing nothing.

    could have read: today i lost 12 oz pumped milk, missed lunch, the baby screamed all the way home, and i ate my lovely dinner standing up in the kitchen wondering when i’ll ever date again. but, it’s all perspective, right? life is good.

  2. I feel like I fail at something everyday. And most days I feel like I also succeed at something, even if it’s small. It’s all part of parenthood. Thanks for having the guts to share the “failures” with the “successes.” I think that’s why your blog is among my favorites to read.

  3. I have wondered and worried every day since Henry was born that I’m just not good enough – could never be good enough – to parent that amazing bundle of brains and humor and raw emotion that is my son (and now daughter). Not only do I feel lousy about my own slacker parenting when I read the super-inspiring mom-blogs, I feel SO lousy that I stop reading them… then I feel lousy for doing so, since surely I could become a better mother if only I’d read about how someone more competent than I is doing it.

    Also – I feel like I can’t win when it comes to my own blog postings. If I post honestly about a rough day, I get emails saying that I sound brittle and worn out and should perhaps consider going back to work, because I certainly am not enjoying this stay-at-home-parent thing as much as I should be… but if I post about the latest, greatest kiddo accomplishment, the emails roll in that I’m bragging. Geez. It’s enough to make a Mama never want to blog again. I’m so glad that you don’t feel that way, and that the posts from you continue.

    Thank you for the refreshing honesty, and for letting me know that it’s not just me with this special brand of crazy! (It rarely is, but frequently feels that way.)

  4. one of the best blog posts I’ve read. Thank you. It is also a struggle for me to portray what honestly goes through my head with what I want to go through my head. By writing the ugly am I contributing to it more, or am I showing the process and making it more okay for others to be honest? I don’t know.

    I thought I invented critical of the meta-critical!? Whew. Glad I’m not the only one.

  5. Oh man, I hear you. I love this post. Also, in case I haven’t made this clear – I love your blog.

  6. What a revelation to come to. I love people genuine enough to share the struggles as well as the victories. This was a wonderful post. Thanks

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