Sunday, February 6, 2011

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Being Gentle to Ourselves

Hello, friends.  Do you want to hear about my last week in which I was a miserable failure?

1.  Monday was the first and only time this week that I did alef-bet worksheets with Asher.
2.  On Tuesday, I only worked out for 20 minutes.
3.  I didn't fold the laundry on Wednesday night as I should have.  And I felt annoyed with David when he implied that I should bring him some dinner.  (I should.  He is working nonstop and studying for the bar in between.  He sleeps 3 hours a night.)
4.  I ate a pumpkin muffin for lunch on Thursday.  Then I skipped folding laundry in favor of tossing shirts, pants, and socks into their appropriate bins.  They will be sadly wrinkled, and I'm sure people will wonder.
5.  When slinging the challah ingredients into the bread machine on Friday morning, I completely forgot oil.  An hour and a half later the very crumbly dough was discovered and thrown out, wasting a bunch of flour and three eggs. Then, I used my last eggs on the second batch, which consequently didn't get an eggwash and sat on my Shabbos table, looking at me, dull as dirt.

On Friday afternoon while I was listing and stewing over these housewife's sins, suddenly, like a bat kol (voice from heaven), it occurred to me - I was being very rough on myself.  I remembered how last week, my friend Halli  was being all Zen in the comments section and said, "....striving for perfection leads to failure."  And I was all, "Hal, I'm not striving for perfection, okay?"  But as I was writing this list, I thought, hey!  If these are my greatest faults, what would I have been happy with this week?  Pretty much only perfection?  Yeah.  (Sorry, Hal.)

Then I thought of the age-old advice that we shouldn't judge our insides by everyone else's outsides.  In other words, I never stop to consider what other people are eating for lunch, or whether they fold their kids' undershirts.  Because they're smiling and their hair looks good, I assume that their entire lives are perfect.  It's easy to forget that no one is perfect.

Then I remembered what my bloggy friend Shannon taught us in this January's post:
You deserve more credit for doing a little when it's hard than for doing a lot when it's easy. 

And you guys, lately, it's been hard.  Really hard.  As much as I really want to be happy, like really do, I am having a very hard time adjusting to this new day-to-day life of mine.  And so I think, according to Shannon's axiom, I just need to cut myself some slack, mentally, I mean.  I need to be gentle with myself, and realize that to some people the fact that I did worksheets with my kid, touched the laundry more than once, and bothered to make challah at all would be pretty impressive.  Who am I trying to impress?

I did a great job with my writing for pleasure last week.  I'm still averaging around 1000 words a day, which considering the limited time I have, I'm happy with.  If you want to read about my writing craziness, by the way, you can do so daily at my shiny new writing blog - just because it's my Project 365 this year, I thought I could do with some accountability (last year my only 365 was photography, so Flickr served that purpose.)

This week, I'm going to try to be gentler on myself, and play the Devil's Advocate to my own inner Perfectionist.  What about you?

(Shannon, who's a star, posted her Check-in before I even started typing.  You can read her fabulous update here.)


  1. Wow, this post is almost like I wrote it...last week was ROUGH for me. I've been struggling with trying to find an appropriate balance in my life, and how I can spend less but do more, make more things from scratch but still have time to sit down and enjoy my meal, keep my house clean but still play with my little guy and NOT give up my time to exercise when he's sleeping. So far, I've failed at every single one of these things. Not just in the last week, but pretty much since he was born and I was no longer "forgiven" for just having had my first baby.

    Last Sunday and this Sunday I made menus for the week, made my grocery list based on my menu, and happily trotted off to the store, convinced I'd come in way under my usual tally. Last week, I spent almost $90 MORE than the $100 I think is appropriate to feed my little family of 3.5 (can't forget Bentley). I drove home (which is all of 7 minutes from that particular store) telling myself that I bought things I don't have to buy every week, and I stocked up on things I like to have handy when, for example, we get nailed with an unexpected snowstorm and I have to create acceptable meals for a couple of days. I tried a few new recipes that were successful, and overall I felt ok about that shopping trip. I did not, however, get ANY laundry done (last week's laundry is still in a basket in my family room) and I didn't vacuum once - even after I broke a plate :(

    This morning, I came up with another menu plan...I even went to the store EARLY in the day, and I went to Trader Joes instead of Whole Foods...I spent $130 at Trader Joes and STILL HAD TO GO TO WHOLE FOODS. I spent another $40 there :( The only item that was what I would call expensive were the Leeks I bought for two recipes. And I still forgot to get detergent for my dishwasher.

    And this is only one thing I've been struggling with. I know this post is about being gentle to ourselves, and I know that I am inherently a perfectionist (thanks Mom and Dad) but I also feel like some of this stuff is my basic responsibility. I can get over it when I don't get a yoga practice in, at least for a day or two...I can forgive myself when I don't leave the house for 3 days (this happens quite often, actually) but taking care of my family is something I should be able to manage! So, I too am going to commit to being gentler on myself this week, but I am also going to commit to striving towards a routine. I know that things will happen and it won't be perfect, but I honestly think I'd feel a lot better about things failing if I didn't fail so often (maybe this is just more of my inner perfectionist/ego trying to claw its way to the surface...)

    Also, anyone have any tips for buying organic on a budget? Clearly, I need them.

  2. perfectly imperfect...that's a great goal! look forward to taking a look at your new venture, F.I. what fun!

  3. Hi--I don't have kids or a husband -- give me three months for the husband part :) -- but I love your stories about frugality! Here's my suggestion: my therapist (right, let's not go there right now) has me keeping a list of three things I've accomplished each day because sometimes I'm so upset about what I haven't done that I don't realize what I have done. Some examples from the past week: took a friend to the doctor. made a to-do list. saw something i wanted to change (not an error...just a teeny thing) on wedding invitation proof and decided to let it go.

    also, due to last week's blizzard, I just had five days off work (and four were not shabbat). My laundry remains undone.

  4. Yes, you are too hard on yourself. And I say this from the Department of pot-calling-the-kettle-black, takes one to know one, whoever smelt it dealt it, etc. It is really a lot easier to give somebody else a break than it is to give yourself one.

    I will tell you this story from my own life. So, I have this workout partner Amy, who hosted a Super Bowl party on Sunday. She was talking to this other guest, and she said, "Yeah, you should come to the gym. Shannon and I are there literally every day."

    To which I replied, "Umm, yeah, not literally. I wasn't there today. And I skipped two days last week because of the blizzard. And sometimes when I do go, I don't work that hard."

    Now, the first realization here is that the word "literally" is often used incorrectly. Unless you were at the gym 365 days last year, you are not _literally_ there everyday. But beyond my friend's incorrect word usage, I realized that I am always, always, ALWAYS going to find something wrong with everything I do. I could get elected President and be like, "Yeah, but I won by such a narrow margin."

    Or, like my husband has decided he's now some kind of nutrition guru because he switched from eating white bread to eating wheat bread. Whereas I'm like, "Yeah, but this isn't whole grain enough, and I eat too much of it, and I shouldn't eat peanut butter and cheese, I'm really only going to be healthy if all I eat is bulgar wheat and green leafy vegetables."

    I feel like I'm never going to be good enough. At anything.

  5. Yesterday was one of those days for me, too, when I felt that I wasn't good enough in any of the roles I play. I sometimes think that Judaism hinders instead of helps when it comes to being gentle on ourselves, because there is always 'one more thing' you could be doing to be a little more machmir, a little closer to the minhag and not just the halachah. You know what I mean.

    And yet... ours is also a tradition that teaches us humility and great self-respect. We are told to carry in our pockets two small slips of paper. On one is written, "I am but ashes and dust." On the other, "For me the world was created." The trick is for us to know the right moment to look at each one. When do we need a little humility, and when do we need an ego boost? It sounds like you might be in need of a little Sanhedrin wisdom - you are unique in the world! You are enough, just as you are!


Thanks for your comments! They make my day.

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