I loved teaching. It was so fun hanging out with little kids! They come up to you with dot-to-dot marker on their arms and say, “Look, Mrs. Skelton. I made a constellation!”
The hard part was always scanning the children for standards they didn’t know. They can read, but they can’t spell. They know their times tables, but not the 8‘s. They can write, but they can’t write in a straight line. The first sentence is good, but they didn’t punctuate. But, but, but.
My children are in their 20s and I’m still approaching them with my big red editing pen. Know what I mean? It’s when you have a truly good and lovely person in front of you, but all you see is the untucked shirt, or the tangles, or the speech impediment, or the new piercings. You want to take out your big red pen. If I just cross out that wrinkled crop-top, this kid would be perfect!
Why do moms do it, when we know we can’t stand ourselves afterwords? I think it’s partly because we’ve trained ourselves so hard in our own mirrors and our own minds. Do you know what I mean? It‘s when you have a truly good and lovely person inside of you, but you focus on the part that doesn’t fit some imposed ideal. The thighs, the roots, the one thing you said that one time you wish you could take back. The imperfections. Here’s the thing. I now think criticism is just fear in disguise, fear of what people think, of not being good. That kind of fear can be diluted with self-compassion, and eventually turn into empathy.
Kudos to us, because we keep trying! We say, “Okay, tell me again. I want to hear you. It’s not about the piercing.” Now, let’s work with our own mirrors, and the truly good and lovely person inside.
Would you like to go deeper? There are two spots left for Mothering Ourselves, a daring parenting™ group for moms, beginning Aug. 22, for 8 consecutive Fridays, 2:30-4:00 pm Join us! (916) 719-3218
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