Hold Your Nerve!
We seem to be under so much pressure these days to look on top form at all times in a world where people don’t seem to put their not-so-fine moments on display or on social media. What a glossy brochure life we’re shown. Who can keep up with all that? Not me!
I remember the day I decided not to be intimidated by other people’s expectations. I resolved not to keep up appearances ever again, which meant not appologising for the state of my house or behavior of my children again. Yes, I was going to completely give up defending myself when in fear of being judged.
Twelve years ago, we’d come back from back-packing around Greece with the kids, where we’d trained our fourth child out of nappies. He had to do wees into a plastic cup, which we could then throw away, so we didn't have to lug a potty around with us.
Shortly after we returned, a friend popped in to catch up. (It was the day I had decided to hold my nerve and not defend myself if I was in fear of being judged.) She was sitting at our table with a cup of coffee when our newly trained toddler came running in from the garden. He grabbed a coffee mug from beside the sink, pulled the front of his trousers down and had a pee in the mug. He then opened the dishwasher, pulled out the top shelf, threw the pee to the back of the dishwasher, placed the mug carefully upside down on the shelf, closed the dishwasher and then ran outside again.
I’ve never been so tempted to offer an explanation. I decided to hold my nerve – “so, how have you been?” I asked.
She pulled her jaw off the floor and gently asked why he didn’t pee straight into the machine! Good question.
Whose child can sit in a swing?
Sleep through the night
Who got into the rugby team?
Who won the tennis match?
Who got into grammar school?
The best looking?
Who’s the best Mum?
The most patient?
The most laid back?
The most kind?
The most organised?
The best cook?
The multi tasking juggler?
Who’s never compared themselves to anyone else?
We’re wired to appreciate our children and to try to be all that we can be as mums
But it gets muddily when we define ourselves by other people’s benchmarks.
It’s great to have personal benchmarks but when we slip into comparison; wanting to be a certain way or wanting our children to be a certain way so that people will notice, that’s when we’ve gone off route
A good question to ask yourself when you’re feeling intimidated is
Why does this matter to me? Is this my value, or is it theirs?
We’re a creative household and sometimes there’s glue and mess and a sewing machine where there could be clean surfaces, so there’s not much point in me saying “You’ve come on a messy day.” You probably haven’t!
If we’re okay with the way we are we’re far easier to be around.
Here are three great ways to cut yourself free from those defensive moments.
1. Celebrate other people’s successes.
As Mum’s we could make it our role to affirm others, rather than check our progress by them.
2. Notice what you have achieved and what you feel grateful for. Start with the smallest things. Gratitude can change our whole outlook.
3. Don’t appologise when your home’s a mess or your kids have embarrassed you!
We have a massive job. We’re a work in progress. We’re all learning and growing and doing our best. Work out what matters to you and let the rest go.
Hold your nerve!