When we arrived at school yesterday, the crossing guard cheerfully asked if the girls were comfy – given that it was pajama day. Insert *mass hysteria* because they were not, at all, dressed in their pajamas. THE HORROR.
There was some blaming… on both parts (“Mom!! It was on that sheet that came home! HOW COULD YOU NOT REMEMBER!” “I never read any such thing!” “YES YOU DID! IT WAS ON THE SHEET!” “I believe that it is YOUR job to be in charge of things like pajama day, my dear…”). There were some angry, hissed words… on both parts. There was sulking… on both parts. There was full-on denial of any responsibility… on both parts.
As I came back home, I kept replaying it in my mind, how wrong my offspring had been for not taking responsibility for themselves, how they need to remember their own stuff, damn it! Then, after a bit of pondering, I realized that it was, indeed, a confluence of many errors – not just theirs. One daughter’s teacher did not mention pj day to the class at all (resulting in 3/4 of those classmates not wearing pajamas). One daughter did not remember that her teacher had mentioned it, and thus failed to don appropriate loungewear. And one mama (*cough*) only scanned the informational sheet that had come home rather than reading it thoroughly (although we did send in pennies on Monday and nickels yesterday for the All For Books collection, so this mama got something out of the handout…).
Still… no pajamas. My bad.
Once I realized that I’d had a part to play in The Great Pajama Debacle of 2015, I blamed myself. Harshly. I mean, if one of my kiddo’s teachers never even mentioned pj day, and it wasn’t announced over the loudspeaker, the only way she’d even know that such a thing existed was if her parents (or, in this case, me – ’cause Nick is out of town) had fully read the communication that came home and informed her of said pj day. Which I did not, and she got screwed.
So, basically a total parenting fail on my part. Which is ironic because, I mean, how many times have I berated students (and angrily chided fellow parents) for not following the directions or actually reading the emails I so dutifully type out?? HOW IS THIS SO HARD?
But then, for reasons I can’t quite place, I sat back and realized that, yes, I did do it again. I made a mistake and my kiddos suffered the consequences of it. But the thing is, I’m going to keep on making mistakes because (and this sometimes shocks me) I AM HUMAN and that’s what we do. We make mistake after mistake; hopefully, we don’t do it on purpose. Hopefully, we learn from them. Hopefully, we apologize when an apology is warranted and we mean it. Hopefully, we try really freakin’ hard to do better in the future. But mistakes are natural and normal and, even when pajama day is not remembered (cue tiny violins), even when my kids stand out like sore thumbs in jeans instead of flannels, it will be okay.
Upon this realization, for one of the first times ever, I decided to give myself a little bit of a breather. I decided to let go of the guilt, of the should-haves, of the yuckiness gnawing away at me when I looked at the bar I’d set and saw I hadn’t come close to reaching it. I decided to give myself grace – not necessarily in the religious sense (I’m not quite that powerful; see above: forgotten pajama day), but in the I’m Doing The Best I Can And If I Make Mistakes It’s Okay So I’m Not Going To Beat Myself Up For It sense.
I’ve been reading a lot about the concept of grace, especially from Glennon Doyle Melton on her Facebook page and in her book. Glennon is really just the absolute shit – funny, poignant, thought-provoking, absurd, well-spoken – but it’s what she’s written about grace, about forgiving and embracing your whole scattered, imperfect, crazy self, that has really struck a chord with me.
But man, has it been difficult to put into practice.
I’m naturally hard on myself, asolutely my toughest critic. I’m not much for keeping up with the Joneses. I don’t feel outside pressure to look a certain way, parent a certain way, be female in a certain way. I don’t worry so much about appearances (see the previous post about my duct-taped car and stain-covered clothing). Some of this is just who I am, and some of this I attribute to my ADHD – so I choose to let it go. I mean, if there’s a great likelihood that it’ll take me 37 steps just to put away the laundry, it would be expecting a helluva lot of myself to have a perfectly organized house all the time.
That part is nice – the allowing myself to just be… me. To not hold myself to impossible visible standards. But the secret is that I hold myself to impossible invisible standards; the ones I’d never expect of anyone else, the ones that are ridiculous, the ones that no one else knows about but me. And when I don’t meet my own expectations – because they’re, you know, all but unattainable – I come down on myself. Hard.
If I’d tried more. Started earlier. Listened better. Said no. Said yes. Been more organized. Gone to bed earlier. Focused differently. Paid attention. Worked faster. Put in more detail. Worried less about the small stuff. Asked for help. Done it myself. Been open to change.
You name it, I’ve failed at it.
Honestly? All of this failure just plain sucks. It’s exhausting. It’s disappointing. It’s maddening. It’s stupid.
So, I’d like to be done with it. I don’t mean I’d like to stop screwing up (that would be awesome, but it’s not what I mean), but rather that I’d like to be done feeling like a failure because I don’t live up to my own unreachable standards. To allow myself to be human, to be me. To give myself grace.
Attempting some Irish dancing after seeing it live on St. Patrick’s Day.
Again, this has nothing to do with anything. Carry on.
I decided to start yesterday. Yep – I didn’t read the memo thoroughly. Yep, I didn’t inform my kiddos that it was pajama day. Yep, they felt left out. And it sucked. But it’s okay. It was a mistake – a small one, at that. It’s okay. I’m okay. In fact, I’m pretty damned awesome.
When the girls came home, there was not one mention of pajama day. They did not come through the doors in tears claiming I’d ruined their lives (over pajama day; I’m sure they’ll be happy to come up with other ways I’m doing them in). Still, I wanted to at least acknowledge what had happened — after all, I’d completely denied that I had any responsibility in the forgetting; I needed to set the record straight. Before I left to teach piano, I leaned in and said, “Hey – I just wanted you to know that I double-checked the note from school. You’re right; pajama day was mentioned. I didn’t read it fully, so I didn’t know. That was my fault. I’m sorry.” Without missing a beat, they looked up and said, “It’s okay, mama. We didn’t remember on our own, either. It’s not your fault.”
Which, I guess, is what it all comes down to, right? This parenting thing? Growing and learning and admitting your errors and celebrating who you are and starting over again with love and a new perspective and probably a glass of wine?
They will find out whether it’s okay to be human from you. Insist to them that it’s more than okay by apologizing and then PUBLICLY and SHAMELESSLY AND BOLDLY forgiving yourself. And then Begin Again. And Again and Again and Again and Yet Again Forever and Ever Amen.
Don’t show those babies what perfection looks like- show them what GRACE looks like.
– Glennon Doyle Melton
I am shamelessly and boldly trying. It sucks, but I’m trying.
(Damn good thing, too, considering that this morning we all remembered that it was Crazy Hat day… but, in our rush to leave the house a little earlier than usual so that I could sub, some less-than-stellar moments were had, including the moment where I might have crouched down low right in my daughter’s face and growled the phrase, “If you ever say that again, you’ll be in for a world of hurt.”
So… yeah. A world of hurt. That’s neat.
I’m having a little trouble with the grace thing on that one, but you’d better believe I’m going to apologize. And begin again. And again. And again.)