Dear Guilty Mom, Mom who isn’t doing enough, Mom who lost her cool, and Mom who should be doing a better job,
Dedicated to a beautiful mom and daughter duo we got to witness in action 🙂
As a person with an extremely critical nature I’ve spent most of my life finding things that aren’t right, criticizing those in charge, complaining, pointing out how it should be done and trying to come up with ways to fix things or do them better.
Of course that means that I’ve also been feeding MYSELF a steady diet of judgment and self criticism over the years. I need to be better at this, I need to be better at that and I need to be better at the other thing too. I need to be less judgmental. I need to be more positive. I need to…
None of this lead to more positivity. The more I tried to change and become a better person, the more of a constant issue it was in my life and the more I notice all the judgments I make against myself and others.
This past summer at a Bais Chana retreat I learned a really important lesson that helped me totally change my approach. The teacher was Malka Tauger from Israel and she was teaching a verse from Eishes Chayil “A Woman of Valor” a beautiful song that King Shlomo wrote for his mother.
We were learning the third verse “Gmalas’hu tov v’lo ra…” “She does for him good and not bad all the days of her life”. When analyzing the reason for the repetition (good/not bad) we got into a discussion about whether loving good and hating evil are the same thing.
We concluded that every situation (including your mothering, including a class you attend, including a parking ticket) has good and bad.
YOU choose which parts you’ll take home.
Are you going to see the bad and hate it, try to fix it, constantly focus on it?
Or, are you going to find the good, love it, and focus on it until it strengthens, spreads and ultimately completely takes over?
I teach in a local high school. There are challenges. One day a substitute walked into the teachers’ room. She seemed like a gentle, somewhat young and inexperienced woman and I was wondering how she was coping with our “energetic” bunch, especially being in the position of a sub!
Next thing I know, the principal walked in and asked her how it went. I kid you not, her entire face lit up and she started gushing about how much she loves it and the girls are so wonderful and she finds them so inspiring!
Between all of you and me, I know the crowd. I know it wasn’t a picnic for her in that classroom. Only someone who goes through their day loving good can feel (sincerely and truly) a reaction like that.
Practical suggestions based on my experiences:
1. At the end of a long day when putting my child to sleep I do a little review with him.
Ex: ” Today we had yummy soup for dinner, we had fun playing with the puzzle and you brought a beautiful drawing home from school. What else did you love today? ” (by talking about the good I feel like I’m actively shaping his memory to capture and store the bright moments. No need to even think about the yelling match that happened, the hours I was away or whatever other expectations I had that didn’t happen. Those are not relevant and should take up no space at this point.)
2. When I feel a self criticism pop into my head like “I don’t do enough,” I try to replace it immediately with thinking about something positive like, “Itty, you teach, you take care of a child, you said a Bracha before eating food.”
I have found over time that being kind to myself helps me feel stronger and focus on the things I DO right and then I get to do them more.
Do you want your child to be kind and generous, or constantly criticizing him/herself? Although each child has their own journey, our modeling makes a greater impact than anything we say. To raise happy children be a model.
Chasidus teaches us that we need to know our make-up, strengths and weaknesses included. BUT – focusing on self-evaluation in this way is not a full day activity. For introspection, set aside 15 minutes a day tops. Fifteen minutes where you get in there, think about your day, think about what went right, what didn’t work, and what you want to do differently tomorrow. That needs to be a focused activity done mindfully.
The rest of the day we can afford to add a lot more simcha (joy), kindness and compassion toward ourselves and the beautiful, human work we do, every part of which, struggles included, gives Hashem so much pleasure.
You, struggles and all, give Hashem so much pleasure. Thank you for being an inspiration.
<3 the BC blogger
PS Malka (pictured above), thank you for being a beautiful, graceful model of love and positivity. The joy and spirit bursiting from Eliana says it all! 🙂