February is supposed to be the love month, with the 14th notorious for it’s much-hyped Valentine’s Day celebration. In a nod to all the hoopla, I wrote a love letter which I posted on my Facebook page. But it was rather short by my own standards (being a love letter and all). And it was a little bit strange because it was addressed to me, and in the third-person.
Just to appease my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, here’s the edited version.
Please be patient with me.
Rather, be patient with yourself. I know it is difficult not to feel disappointed every time you don’t reach your own expectations of what you think you should have done, and how you should have done it. It is even more difficult when you feel that you have disappointed the expectations of everyone around you. You feel so small peering at the overwhelming judgment of the world around you, like an insect about to be crushed underfoot.
Please, please don’t give up on me. Believe in me.
Rather, believe in yourself. Other people do. Your children think you rule the world with your uncanny domestic crisis management abilities. Your husband believes you are Wonder Woman who’s able to juggle everything and still look like a million bucks when he gets home. Your friends treat you like a rock legend because you birthed two amazing little humans and you raise them while dealing with home cooked meals, homework and everyone’s laundry.
Yes, you may falter and fail at times; you stumble, lose heart and back out of resolutions. You give into fears and weaknesses. Sometimes you break down in tears or lose your temper at the most inopportune times, when your schedule suddenly goes awry because your child gets sick, or when someone unwittingly pushes your buttons, like say, your husband. You’ve even screamed in frustration, more than a few times now, in front of the kids, while you picked a fight with the hubby because he forgot to do the dishes again, like he promised.
There will be these delays and detours from your grand itinerary of successful domesticated parenthood, all because you are human. But you will get there, eventually. You may not know it yet, and you may not even see the finish line, but you are on the right track.
So please, stop comparing yourself to others. Stop listening to all those righteous opinions about what being a good mother should be, or those pretentious lies about you not having an excuse to look haggard, or those uppity criticisms from women who instead of empowering other women, bash them with negative comments about not being a working mother in this day and age. Nobody knows the difficulty or the unique circumstances of your job like you do.
Everyone wears a different pair of shoes. Everyone is walking on a different route. You have had your own dragons to slay, and you slayed them on your own. Thankfully, God’s hand guided you through when you were most alone. You’ve fought battles nobody knew about; you’ve won some, and you’ve lost some, too. Only you know the pain you’ve suffered and survived. And when you picked yourself up from the ground, those who judge you so harshly, never even saw what happened. But you do. So don’t belittle those victories. They have made you a stronger, better version of yourself.
Be gentle with your words when you talk to yourself, because everything you say is amplified and is unavoidably passed on to those around you. Especially the people you hold closest to your heart—your children. The vitriol and self-imposed cruelty you feed upon, can maim and break a person’s spirit. You can break your own spirit. You can break theirs, too. And when you hurt your children, it will come back to you a like a sick circle of hurting and getting hurt, a never ending cycle of resentment. You wouldn’t want that.
Appreciate the good and beautiful in yourself. That’s the grace of God shining through. No matter how flawed or broken you think you are, you have a soul that is deeper than the ocean, grander than any mountain, and more immortal than the universe itself. And your soul is made even more beautiful with each lesson learned. So welcome those cracks and scars, for they are proof that you are strong enough to weather the storms and remain standing tall.
Remember how much you have grown from a listless, insecure, little girl. Now you’re a woman who has outgrown the fearfulness, self-destructive habits, and naivete of youth. You are a woman unafraid of the future, who knows to value the past, and yet stays alive in the present. You have come into your own despite everything—a dysfunctional upbringing, an utter lack of parental guidance (let alone parental presence), an unstable, traumatic childhood, and a father with neither conscience nor remorse.
So cry when you need to cry, hurt when you have to hurt, and be angry when you need to be. You can grieve after each loss, but afterwards, dust yourself off and keep on walking.
You don’t need to bare your soul and show all your broken pieces taped together by newly-recovered rolls of hope and faith; Don’t prostate yourself at other peoples’ feet just to gain their respect or acceptance. They may still judge you unkindly and unfairly in spite of everything. People can be selfish, insensitive, and impossible to please. You don’t have to convince anyone of your worth. You don’t have to beg to be loved, recognized, appreciated, or justified. You are perfectly made in God’s eyes. He designed you uniquely, putting much thought and care into who you are. And He loves you unconditionally. Believe this—He has great plans for you. Have faith in that promise.
So talk to yourself a little more kindly. Compliment yourself more than you criticize. Celebrate your achievements and success, no matter how small. Have confidence in your own strengths and abilities. Accept praises gracefully, and ignore unsolicited negativity. Know that you deserve to be happy, and own it. Treat yourself like the treasured gem that you are.
You are worth it.