I drove down to Wakefield last week to walk the lake with a friend who recently gave birth to two beautiful boys. We met in the parking lot of Honey Dew Donuts and she was barely out of her car before I burst into tears. Tears of joy, seeing her with these precious new lives. Tears of relief, for her pregnancy had been a risky one, that everyone was so healthy and well. Tears of…anything else?
I didn’t think so at the time but…maybe.
We had coffee and then walked. We were together for over an hour, our conversation flowing easily from one subject to the next, as it always does when we’re together. We touched on so many subjects — our marriages, our bodies, our children, our towns, our homes, our friends, our family — and yet it wasn’t difficult to feel we’d covered each fairly well in our limited time together.
When we finished the walk and began piling her kids and ourselves back into our cars, she took pause. As we exchanged our goodbyes, she stopped, left her car and walked over to mine.
I just have to say something. In all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never heard you sound so self-deprecating.
She went on.
I’ve always known you to be so self-confident. So capable. So sure of yourself. Most of this walk, you found little ways to put yourself down. You were too slow in the 5K. You spend money too freely. You think you don’t clean your house well enough. You’re not loving enough to Husband. You don’t see your parents enough. You’re too hard on your kids. Come on, Swooper! It’s not like you. What’s going on?
She was right. I said all that. And, really, that’s not like me.
At least, not like the old me. The one who sat in the office around the corner from her at the big financial institution. The one who got recognized with bonuses. And promotions. And “atta girl”s. The one who exuded confidence in the success of my daily life because I could prove it. I could prove it with my harborside apartment. I could prove it with my paycheck. I could prove it with the ring on my finger. I could prove it with my business card.
Well, I’m a stay-at-home Mom (and happy to be one). But, there aren’t any promotions or bonuses or corner offices.
So, how can I possibly prove I’m any good at what I do?
I know, I know. I get plenty of nice praise from people (Husband included) for the fact that I’m raising “good kids.” My boys are kind, generally calm, nice people who say please and thank you (to everyone but me). And I know I can take a good chunk of credit for their behavior. Raising them is by far the most important job I’ve ever held.
And, as far as the superficial proof? Well. I live in a nice town in a nice(ish) house. I drive a nice car and we take nice vacations. But, who cares about that? No one.
So, why the utter lack of confidence when walking with my friend? When did I become that woman? That woman who can’t take a compliment. That woman who says (and believes) that she’s just not doing anything as well as it could (and should) be done.
1) I could be a better Mom.
2) I could be a better wife.
3) I could take better care of my body.
4) I could take better care of the house.
5) I could be a better daughter.
6) I could be a better friend.
Nothing in my current world is ever perfect. And, I guess I just always thought myself a perfectionist.
In the working world, I could run an event from start to finish and (often) it could go off without a hitch. In the stay-at-home world? Ha. Not so much.
So, add it to the list.
7) I could be more proud of my daily accomplishments.
Maybe I’ll work on that one first.