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The Compliment That Almost Broke My Heart

My husband and I went together to drop my daughter off at preschool last Friday.  We don’t typically go together, but it was the end of a long week and we thought it would be fun.  As we were walking back to our car, one of the other moms stopped us as she was walking in.

“You two are so cute, coming together!  I don’t know how you do it, you both work full-time, but you’re always smiling, you’re very involved with your sweet kids and I can only imagine that your house is amazing.  And you, Paige, look great”.  My husband I both started laughing in disbelief. I glanced down at my short, average body and glanced back at her tall slender frame and thought she must usually wear glasses.

“Just hide in my house for a day and you’ll see why I always say, ‘don’t look behind the curtain’.  You’ll hear me yelling, you’ll see the messes and you’ll figure out that I am crazy, but thank you, you are very kind”, I said as we headed to the car.

That brief interaction sent me into a tail spin.  I started mentally listing, by category, all of my faults and short comings:

Positive and Smiling?

  • I typically only use the F word when I am upset.  I use the F word daily, multiple times per day.
  • My best friend thinks I should pay her as much as I pay my therapist.
  • When it comes to parenting, I have been asked to write a book… on what not to do!

Amazing House?

  • If the kitchen cabinets aren’t re-done soon, the house may be condemned
  • There is always mold in my shower!
  • I am better at math than decorating, and I barely passed high school math.

This list continued as I walked back into the house.  By the time I sat down to my computer to work.  I was on the edge of a melt down.  I felt like a fake.  How could this high energy, fit, sweet mom be praising me?!  I decided to write this blog post on how upset I was to be given praise that I didn’t deserve.

Then the most magical thing happened…

Before I could start this post, I checked my email.  In my inbox was a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Gardner.  The post was entitled, ‘Today Call me Enough’, as she was guest posting on the blog, “Just Be Enough“.  Hello?!  Before you even visit the blog, which you should, the title should be smacking you in the face – it left a big nasty red mark on my cheek!  Here’s the magical part… I read it and stopped making my ‘why that sweet mom is crazy and I don’t have it together’ list.

I have decided the appropriate response to the sweet mom at preschool is thank you

Thank you for recognizing that I work full-time but make parenting my priority.  Thank you for pointing out, when I couldn’t see it, that I do a pretty damn good job of juggling it all most of the time.  Thanks for not expecting me to be perfect, even though I sometimes am crazy enough to expect that of myself.  I have tons of help from my husband and others, but I do the best I can.  It’s not perfect, but it’s enough

It’s interesting, I have no trouble listing my failures and flaws on this blog.  I use humor to mask the negative feelings, but at the end of the day, I am comfortable being truthful if it helps others feel “normal”.  It’s much harder for me to share my accomplishments and pride.  I thought about creating a second list of all the great things I do, but find it too hard to “brag”.

Why is it so much easier to focus on the negative instead of celebrating the positive?  I always push friends and family to celebrate their strengths, I tell them not to be so hard on themselves.  I marvel at their greatness, but I am relentless in measuring myself.  I think many of us fall into this camp.  We push ourselves so hard to be perfect, to succeed and ultimately just drive ourselves crazy… or to drink… or to chocolate. 

Since Friday, when I have felt ambition or perfectionism getting the best of me and when I set my intention at yoga on Saturday, it was simply, “Just Be Enough” and you know what, I already am.  On the days when I’m ‘not enough’ or ‘slightly off balance’, it’s still enough, but with extra amusement.

Do you want to do something brave?  Do you want to help me be brave?  Comment on this post with one of your strengths or one proud moment.  Did you make an amazing dinner?  Did you rock the project at work?  Did you finally catch up on your laundry (at least for one day)?  Did you get some quality time with your kids?

Need more inspiration?  Watch this short video from Brene Brown about the Gifts of Imperfection and being enough.  I am currently reading her books and her work is resonating with me. 

Finally, give yourself a pat on the back for being amazing just the way you are.