Tuesday, June 30, 2015

     3:48 a.m. Wide awake. No problem—-that’s almost six hours’ sleep, and I can hop back into my cocoon at 6:15ish when Mr. Wonderful emerges. One of the first things that occurs to me at about 3:49 is “What will I accomplish before going back to bed?” This early morning routine happens about a third of the time, and I’ve learned to just go with it. I hate tossing and turning, and once the wheels are in motion, there’s no stopping the wake-up train.

     I love breakfast and watching the news, but that usually only takes about 15-20 minutes, and that leaves almost two hours. I write a blog or two, organize my day/week, answer any late-night e-mails, check bills to pay, take a few minutes to see if those $240 sandals are on sale yet. Now I have about 1:45 left. 

     This morning, I stumbled on an article written by Elizabeth Gilbert, a published author and professional speaker. It had to do with the pressures women put on themselves. It took me back to the “Supermom Syndrome” of the 70s when we moms were trying to be everything to everyone and accomplish long lists of miraculous feats. Ms. Gilbert talks about the concept of how we women compare ourselves to one another, a self-defeating, frustrating habit that diminishes what we work so hard to achieve. She also discusses how we risk giving up completely because we try so hard to be so much. Here is a quote from her article.

“Let's just anticipate that we (all of us) will disappoint ourselves somehow. Go ahead and let it happen. Let somebody else be a better mother than you for one afternoon. Let somebody else go to art school. Let somebody else have a happy marriage, while you foolishly pick the wrong guy. (Hell, I've done it; it's survivable.) While you're at it, take the wrong job. Move to the wrong city. Lose your temper in front of the boss, quit training for that marathon, wolf down a truckload of cupcakes the day after you start your diet. Blow it all catastrophically, in fact, and then start over with good cheer. This is what we all must learn to do, for this is how maps get charted -- by taking wrong turns that lead to surprising passageways that open into spectacularly unexpected new worlds. So just march on. Future generations will thank you -- trust me -- for showing the way, for beating brave new footpaths out of wonky old mistakes.
Fall flat on your face if you must, but please, for the sake of us all, do not stop.”

     Through the years, as a mother, a teacher, a small business-owner, a wife, a divorcée, a public speaker, a musician, a retiree, I have been guilty of comparing, self-criticizing, feeling exhausted trying to live up to others’ as well as my own perfectionistic expectations. As I watch my daughters parent, work in professional careers, seek extra training to grow, try to keep everyone happy, I realize they face all the same pressures I put on myself so long ago. What I hope I modeled was what Elizabeth Gilbert addresses:  resilience. Somewhere along the way, despite all the muddled attempts, the rejections, the failures, the “wtf”s, I always seem to find the strength and energy to try again. I do see this in my daughters, and I am so proud. I don’t think they really consciously hear the words in their heads like I did (“Do more. Not Enough. Go beyond.”), they just keep going. The drive is in their blood, and for that, I beam and I fret. I see them do the same, but they never let worry or frustration stop them. We are not unflappable, but we are unstoppable. Seven grand-children are watching. It will be interesting to see if the legacy continues.

     Only 45 minutes before the cocoon will be vacated. Yay.