I received the nicest text message the other day. It was unexpected and rocked me back on my heels and made my heart full.
My dear friend Grace who moved 1000 miles away last month (to a new job, with a 2.5 month old – crrrrrrrrrrrrrrazy) is good at that. She is thoughtful. When we moved into our new home she invited us over for dinner on moving day, because she knew we’d be exhausted and not want to face restaurant crowds or unpacking boxes to get to our dishes. She also got me a lovely house key chain for my new house key – I still use it. Both the dinner and the keychain were lovely thoughtful things. But what tipped the thoughtfulness into range of CRAZY AMAZING THOUGHTFULNESS was that she had had the forethought to dump out her ice tray the night before so her ice maker could make us all new ice. She didn’t do this because she thought she needed to impress us, she did this because she thought it would be nice for us to have fresh ice. Fresh ice. Who does that? Grace does.
She is thoughtful because she is full of thought. She reflects on people, behaviors, herself. She is smart, positive, forgiving and sensitive (though her lawyerly life means she has had to hide some of her sensitive self – which is a shame, because I think it is a marvelous strength – damn Lawyerland). She laughs well and often. She has a wide-eyed innocence and curiosity that is endearing and sincere rather than annoying. I’m a big fan.
So I was touched when she sent me an out-of-the-blue text message telling me that she admired me for setting high standards for myself, but still managing to be kind and forgiving to myself. In all my years of navel-gazing, I had never reached that conclusion about myself. But it was nice to hear it, because it is something I work towards. After too many years of judging myself harshly (why do we do that?), I’m trying to be kinder to myself.
I understand where she’s coming from. New mom, new city, new job. She’s set expectations for herself of how to be the best mom, employee, wife, sister, friend, person she can be. We all do. But time, patience and energy are not available in endless supply – they just aren’t.
So many of the moms I know feel tired and stretched thin, meting out their time and energy to the various parts of their life that cry, “Me! Me! Me!” All of those parts need attention and nurturing but usually there’s not enough to go around and we end up feeling like we’re getting by, but not truly succeeding at any one part. We end up feeling like we’re not doing our very best job at any one of our jobs. We fall short of our own standards – professionally, emotionally, personally. And it doesn’t feel good. It feels hard. And it feels like failing.
But I don’t know one mom who is truly failing. They are all working incredibly hard, and they are raising secure, capable little doodles. They are doing the best they possibly can. And sometimes it feels good to hear that that is enough.
So thanks for your (never-ending) thoughtfulness, Grace. I’ll take some time today to try to pay it forward to my mom friends who are getting by, struggling, working hard, working towards balance, keeping all of the balls in the air and being so much to so many. And Grace, be kind to yourself, because you’re doing a great job. No really, you are.