I’m always giving strangers the benefit of the doubt.
Not my husband (like, ever), and typically not my children and surely not myself, but acquaintances and strangers, well they seem all too deserving.
Okay, maybe it’s not that they seem or even are deserving, but just that I find it pretty effortless to go easy on strangers and flippin’ arduous to assume the best of my children, spouse, or myself.
Why do you think that is?
I think that for many of us, we are harder on ourselves and those we deeply care about because our expectations are higher than those we hold for the general public.
And, so I guess that is where we have to begin — with our expectations.
Why is it that I expect for my children always to behave? Did I always behave as a kid? Uh, that’s a fast no, and I still don’t always “act accordingly”.
Why is it that I forbid my children to linger in bed or be slow to rise? Don’t I know what tired feels like?
How dare they have a mood change or need to express a feeling that does not benefit or help me? And, Lord help them if they inadvertently cause me more work, stress, or frustration.
How must that feel for a child – my child, the one I would throw myself in front of a bus for – to be denied “normal” human tendencies and feelings?
And then I think about my poor husband — the butt of all my dad and husband jokes.
Are my attempts at being farce missing the mark?
Am I missing a chance to acknowledge my love and appreciation for him when I find it easier to tease or joke instead?
Am I on my phone too much that neither he nor the kids can remember the last time they had a conversation with me where my phone wasn’t in my hand or within my eyesight?
I wake up every day with hopes to knock the day out of the park by being a supportive and stellar wife and the “perfect” mom. And, every day, as early as 6 in the morning, when the first child’s whine is upon me, I make my first mistake for the day; I yell. Then I like to follow that up with numerous additional yells throughout the day, lots of exasperated sighs, more than a couple of time-out threats, evil-eye glances, and a kajillion “give me a second” statements.
So, I arise in the morning hoping to be wife/mother of the year and fall flat upon taking my first step.
Do you ever feel like this?
I assume that this “hard on myself” attitude is one you may impart to yourself as well, or at least you may know another woman who does.
Earlier, I mentioned that I believe I am tougher on those in my immediate family because my expectations are higher for them. The same goes for me and these high standards, and while they can be motivating and useful, they are detrimental to our mental attitude (and health) and our relationships if they aren’t balanced out.
Standards are important and dare I even suggest, necessary.
Without them, your kids might behave like animals! (Ahh!)
Without them, your husband might not do his laundry and clean his plate! (Gasp!)
And, without them, you might actually not cook a homemade meal every night, and the children may even remain unbathed for more than a day.
What’s my point? That the expectations I hold for myself, my children, and my spouse are acceptable to have and that it’s unrealistic and probably detrimental to give up all standards. But, if we can (to put it directly) stop being so damn hard on ourselves (and our spouses and offspring) in our day to day, well, then our long-term will be that much better.
Sometimes it’s the simple concepts that are the hardest to put into action, but I’m going to keep trying.