Confessions of a Disorganized Mom

It is difficult to be a parent In this era of social media, where everybody is striving to broadcast the best version of themselves. I know that what I’m about to write will expose me to a lot of judging, but I am going to confess anyway. So, here it is:

I don’t put enough effort into teaching my kids how to be tidy, so they often spend time looking for a pencil and eraser to be able to do their homework. In general their room is a mess 80% of the time.

Eating spagetti with hands, messy child
My son eating spagetti with his hands

I sometimes forget when my kids have extra activities at school, such as swimming pool visit, or need to bring extra materials.

I don’t always remind my kids to brush their teeth.

Around 40% of the time I don’t check what clothes my son has put on for school.

My kids’ clothes are often stained, and I have long-lost the war against the dirt on the shoes.

Between the four of us we have exactly 6 pairs of matching socks (I don’t count the black socks that my husband uses, they all seem to match, because they’re all the same).

Around 40% of the time my kids eat bread and butter and milk when they want a snack.

Half of the time my daughter’s beautiful hair is unbrushed.

We don’t play board games much, because most of the sets have either cards or playing tokens missing. The average duration of a complete set is 10 days maximum.

The list goes on, and I must say that I already feel so bad that I can’t continue. It’s not that I don’t want to do all these things. Well, sometimes I don’t, but most of the time it just happens.

What I never fail to do is to try to listen to what my children want to tell me. To hear their fears, joys, desires and dreams. And that is one of the things that is visible on them.

During the New Year’s party my son decided to perform a few “magic tricks”. Everybody enjoyed his spontaneity and openness. He was confident and had a great time, even though most people were strangers to him. My daughter and her friend also had an impromptu performance of rhythmic skills with mugs. After they were finished my husband and I got the best compliment we’ve ever received as parents: that our kids were friendly, open and confident. Nobody noticed the unbrushed hair and not matching socks. We must be doing something right, after all.

Don’t Mute Your Inner Voice, Change It

We all talk to ourselves, inside, all the time. We debate our day, comment on people around us, we imagine situations and scenes. We tell ourselves off for our mistakes and cheer ourselves for our victories. Those silent conversations occupy a lot of our time.

inner voiceWe hardly ever question that voice inside. We don’t think how and why it was created and where its attitudes come from. It’s just there, a silent, yet loud part of ourselves. Often it leaks outside in the way that we talk to others too. But most of the time it is quietly waiting for its turn, silent while others are talking. It is the soundtrack of our insomnia, our worries, our over thinking.

We can stop it, but we rarely do. It’s such an integral part of who we are that, even when it is doing a great job destroying our feeling of self-worth by self-defeating monologues, we just let it talk. As if we wanted it to take us to the darkest that we can be. It’s also shamelessly immodest sometimes. Or simply bad-mouthed, when we are in a situation that requires all of our self-control not to be bad-mouthed out loud.

It gives us a competitive advantage in the imaginary arguments that we have with others, the ones that we always win.  Those conversations that never happen, except in our heads, while we are showering, or peeling potatoes, serve as the exhaust for our brains to get rid of frustration, or live out moments that need to be lived out.

But often it is the most self damaging part of us. It’s the voice of our insecurities, self loathing and self hate. It’s the voice that tells you “I told you so” before anybody else utters those words. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to say anything, you know what it thinks, and it is not on your side. It is not nurturing and gentle, it is cruel and unhelpful. It makes you feel lonely and alone inside your own head.

The surprising thing is that this voice can be so unloving, so cruel and damaging and yet, we rarely demand it to change when it is like that. We meekly accept its verdicts and feel bad. And I think that we shouldn’t. Just like we show understanding and compassion to others when they need it, we also need to have it for ourselves and it should come from within.

I am sure that this process of changing your inner voice requires a lot of self-searching and even more self-acceptance. Those are big tasks and we often need a helping, guiding hand to do them successfully. But what we definitely can do ourselves is recognize when our inner voice is doing us damage and try to be kinder to ourselves.

And how to be kind to yourself, inside? Try to talk to yourself like you would be talking to a good friend who is in pain. Talk to yourself like you are the love of your life. Talk to yourself like you would be talking to a child that needs comfort and security. Talk to yourself with kindness.

While I can reflect about this, I have not yet managed to change my inner voice. At the moment, I can only recognize when I am being mean to myself and say “I’m sorry.” The road ahead is long and I don’t see the destination yet.

The Underestimated Victory of “Easy”

macarons
French macarons

“Oh, they’re easy to make, actually”. That’s how fast I dismissed somebody’s praise yesterday. The compliment I received was about cookies I made for a friend’s baby shower. Admittedly, they are a bit fussy to make, but once you’ve practiced a bit they come out right every single time. Just like most other things in life do.

Alongside with my macarons, there was an amazingly well made cake. It looked as if it was purchased from a bakery, not home-made. Yet, one of my friends had made it, and when I, beyond impressed, praised her, she said almost the same thing as I did: “Oh, it’s no big deal, it’s actually easy”. Of course I was not convinced at all, because I could tell how much practice it took to reach that level of cake art, but on the other hand I understood where she was coming from.

Happy and high on sugar, I thought about it, on my way home. In the moment when the product of my work looked satisfactory and involved little effort, I dismissed it as “easy”. But, I seem to have forgotten how many frustrating unsuccessful attempts of making the famous French cookies I had before they even started to resemble the real thing. The only thing that kept me going is that I could not throw my towel for the cookie that actually had only 3 ingredients. So I kept trying.

After some practice, the macarons started getting better, and now I can make them without major flops. But it did take time to get to that. So, why do I tell everybody it’s easy? Why do we dismiss the things that we’ve mastered as easy, even though we remember well how much it took to get to the “easy”?

Maybe it is because the feeling of victory after achieving something is just momentary, and our triumph lasts not very long, and soon it just becomes a part of us. We get used to our achievements, and, forward-looking as we are, we rarely have the time to reminisce about them.

The idea that we like to brag crossed my mind, but I know it in my heart that when we say something is easy we are not bragging. We genuinely think so. Yes, we can be proud that something that others find difficult is easy for us, but I don’t believe that we dismiss things as “easy” if they truly aren’t that to us.

I don’t think we celebrate enough that underestimated victory. The levels of any skill go from “Easy” to “Medium” to “Expert”, but once you’ve reached the top-level, it all turns into a victory, it all becomes Easy.

As for French macaron cookies, instead of a recipe, I will share something I learned along the way while learning to cook them: find a friend who knows how to make them and have a “master class”. You will enjoy some time together and learn by doing. It is the fastest and most fun way. And you will get to take part in the victory of “Easy”