Day three into my new me and the schedule is being followed (more or less). Tasks are getting done, lists are being crossed off, the timing isn’t always to the schedule but it pays to be flexible, and getting on the treadmill 20 minutes later than scheduled is hardly worth beating myself up about (though the thought has been there).
Today was my son’s 8 month check-up. Technically he turned 9 months yesterday but by the time their reminder card arrived, and then I remembered to call them to book an appointment, they were booked up until today.
The last week has been incredibly hot but of course today it poured with rain. So I bundled my 3yo daughter and 9 month old bubby into the car and drove through the rain and idiot drivers, juggled umbrellas, car seats and nappy bags in wind and rain to fall inside the doors and press the button. Just as I managed to sit, dumping bags where they fell and started to haul overtired-due-for-a-nap bubs out, we were called in.
Of course the check-up was fine, despite a bit of chaos herding my daughter whilst juggling grumpy bubba-boo. Satisfyingly, my new me was brought into stark contrast to last week’s me, as I filled out the survey designed to identify postnatal depression. Based on the past 7 days, it was a good feeling to know that, although things aren’t perfect, emotionally things had made a huge turn around in a pretty short period of time.
The health nurse queried me as to the cause of the turnaround. I reeled off a number of things but a key one was just simply a decision had been made, an attitude had been taken and in some beautiful symmetry, events timed in to confirm, push, cajole, and inspire me into action.
As I talked about my plans, what I had on my plate, what I wanted to achieve and how I planned to achieve it, as well as what, despite my emotional turmoil of last year, was really an incredible loss of weight (20kg of my planned 30kg), the health nurse was impressed. “Wow, so you’re a really driven and organised person!”
I felt really uncomfortable. I knew what she was saying was well intended but it was only based on what she had just heard, from a peppy, slightly manic woman who may well have seemed like she had it all going on. She hadn’t seen me on my bad days, she hadn’t seen the house, she hadn’t seen my paperwork, my office, the sink. She had only seen the veneer of a wonder woman.
It got me thinking about my roller-coaster return to full time work from maternity leave. As I’d sign out to go and feed bub or on my way back in, our fabulous office chic would praise me as super-mum. I’d chuckle with her, but inside I felt guilt and inferiority. She didn’t see the hours wasted on T.V. and Facebook. She didn’t know that I virtually never cooked or washed clothes or folded them or put them away or cleaned up or anything that super-mums do.
The problem with these snap assessments is that although always intended as praise for perceived greatness, they are based on whatever veneer we choose to present. And in my personal case actually only held my short comings up to my own scrutiny. It also meant that, as people’s perception was that I had everything under control, there was no way that I could appeal for the help I felt I desperately needed. How could I, people wouldn’t believe that I was struggling! Or maybe they’d believe that things were tricky but blown out of proportion in my mind. Maybe they think I should suck it up. I should suck it up. Why can’t I get this together? I really am failing at this whole life thing. And so the self-talk of shame would go.
I want to be that amazing woman who has all the plates spinning. I want to look great, have quality time with my kids, run a successful business, socialise with friends, be the most amazingly inspiring and organised teacher, keep the cleanest house, have the perfectly neat garden and still find time to indulge in some pampering. To be a super-mum or wonder woman. However, the reality, for me at least, is I know that will never happen.
Mum used to have a sign that read: “Behind every successful woman is a pile of unwashed laundry”,
and in those simple words, sits my point. We all have limitations and if we strive for perfection in everything, whilst accepting more and more on our plates, we will only be disappointed by what we can achieve. Like my schedule, there is what’s on paper and then there is what is close enough. I want to get better at everything I do, be more disciplined, more consistent, be present to every moment, to be successful at what I do but I’m slowly realising that success isn’t the same as perfection. As long as I continue to be better than before I am being successful, but I also need to be kind enough to myself to know that sometimes things aren’t perfect but they are good enough.
I am a wonderful woman but beware the wonder woman, she is not all that she seems.