I’m drinking my son’s smoothie. Usually that grosses me out. But I decided to let it go this time because it was such a good one. I made it this morning for his breakfast and lunch, because he bit his tongue really hard last night and can’t chew anything. I threw a thermos of it into his backpack and baby-wiped his mouth at least once on the way to school while he spooned in the the other one from the cup. “Have a great day, make great choices, I love you” and kissed the top of his head as he dashed, careening up the front steps, attempting to avoid a tardy. I felt a little like SuperMom. Why? Because today I chose to.
Part of wanting to create excellence in MomLife for me was because I just like things being done well. It brings me joy and exhilaration. But if I’m honest, there was always a little voice inside me, ever increasing in volume, gnawing at me to prove myself. Whispering that I wasn’t enough in MomLife. That all the girls who would have graduated along with me with all our gold stars would be on “career path” now and would be secretly judging me, thinking me less-than, for taking a walk on the stay-at-home-mom side of life. (I kind of think we should rebrand for accuracy-- something like “stay-in-the-car-mom” or “stay-at-Target-mom”...)
I worked harder and harder in MomLife to prove my valor to these invisible foes, who were really just my sisters doing the best they can just like me. I could hit Walmart for a grand, heaping pile of groceries, with a toddler in the cart, a baby on my hip and talking on the phone all at the same time. And prequel it with a trip to storytime at the library. These were the pre-Pain days, of course.
Even as the PainDays began, once I healed from the surgeries, I was up, albeit more slowly, still trying to prove my valor. Back to story time at the library, sometimes with my own chair. Enduring stares from the whisperers as I sat on my camp chair in the aisle of Target with little children all around me. Who does that? A highly motivated stay-at-Target-mom, that’s who.
But I could not validate myself. In pain. Out of pain. I was not enough. What I did was not enough. What I thought other people thought about what I did-- not enough. Ever, endless, non-validation.
Until I chose.
To even write this blog, I’ve had to choose that my life is valid. I choose to validate myself and what I do in the great wasteland of invalidation that is MomLife. Because honey, there are no gold stars here. (Though, to be honest, I have often secretly thought of making myself a gold star chart…) The only way to truly feel like SuperMom-- is to just claim it for myself. And weirdly, that actually works. For the first time, it works. And it works even when I’ve let go of so many commitments and obligations so that I can heal, meaning, I’m doing less than I was doing before. But with more joy and deliberateness.
And it was the only way I could choose healing. About a year ago, I committed (finally, good grief) that my health came first. Very first. For Reals. But the only way I could make that happen was to begin to let go of the validation from other people. All of those nameless, faceless, or named and faced, fellow humans that I believed had the time and energy to scrutinize my life and find me wanting, or not.
And the less and less I care about their validation, the happier I am. The more I get to choose SuperMom for me, even if nobody else happens to think so. It’s kind of Rad.