Most days I’m a fine mom: Satya, my 3-year-old is fed, mostly clean and laughs more than she cries. She has more veggies than cheese in her tummy, enough crayons on her easel and an unhealthy obsession with both Wonder Woman and FLOTUS. I love seeing the big wide world through her little eyes—kids have the crazy ability to find little bits of happiness in every situation and I’m naturally a more glass-is-half-empty-holy-shit-fill-the-fucking-glass kind of person.
But I yell. A LOT.
Satya is a force—a firework, wrapped in a glitter tornado. And just like her mama, it’s a short distance between friendly spark and full blown explosion. Which means that while I love her loudly, I yell at her loudly too.
Her words landed like a lead balloon: “You always yellin’!”
How do I know?
When I asked her to describe me, somewhere between “best mama” and “so crazy silly”, her words landed like a lead balloon: “You always yellin’!”
She’s not wrong. But it’s hard to not yell when said child is either 1) “painting” the table with spoonfuls of yogurt simply because, “Mama, you know white is my favorite color” 2) streaking through the apartment, post at-home paint night, refusing to get in the shower because, “Mama, I like having this purple belly” or 3) decidedly against eating dinner, even though it’s the exact thing she wanted to eat 10 minutes ago, last night and the night before.
Look, I’m not going to stop yelling, I’m just going to yell less. How? By engaging in some mindfulness as soon as I feel it coming up, taking a few seconds to breathe in and out before blowing my top, then lowering the volume I deliver the admonishment or request. Even if it’s the fifth time. Five breaths in, five breaths out, then the words. And then forgiving myself the times it doesn’t happen exactly this way.
Here’s the thing: I’m successful at work and at home. Sure, it’s not always at the same time, but there are hard earned victories both at the conference room table and the dinner table. I need to learn to own them both. Instead of focusing on being 10 minutes late to work, I’ve got to enjoy the extra 10 minutes I had with Satya, rather than spending them shouting about being late. Instead of freaking out on the train after work, worried I might be 10 minutes late for bath time, I’ll stick my phone in my pocket and spend those 10 minutes reading the book that I’ve been carrying around.
It may be a new year, but it’s going to be a not-so-new me.
So it may be a new year, but it’s going to be a not-so-new me. I won’t be chasing a body that is not mine. (Hey, for all the complaining I do about my squishy body, it’s the same body that that ran 13 miles a few weeks ago in Memphis, as part of Team Lancome, to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and countless 5K’s to fundraise for the Tomorrows Children’s Fund.) I won’t be apologizing for paying $15 for a salad for lunch, when I can easily just pack one myself. This won’t be the year when I finally figure out how to grow an entire ecosystem in a Mason jar. Forget chasing perfection, I already have it. Our life is the perfect mix of chaos and charm, long days of hard work and weekends full of family naps and happy hours. And while I’ll never be the perfect mom—I’ll continue to forget show-n-tell, miss some school stuff and bungle bedtime routines—this will be the year I’m finally going to perfect the art of being kinder to myself.
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