I’ve had a problem with severely underestimating my abilities lately. When I was still working full time, I felt that I could do anything because it felt like I was doing everything anyway – going to work, taking classes, making dinner, taking care of the boys, taking care of the dog, taking care of the laundry (which reminds me of the load that’s been sitting in the dryer for the past 3 days…). But once I left the working world and focused on studying, it felt like a huge chunk of my self-worth and identity got packed away with my stethoscope and scrubs and threw the other facets of my life and personality completely out of whack.
I left my full-time job over a year ago and am still mourning the temporary departure of my master multi-tasker self. Although my days are still filled, there was something about being a 9-to-5er that mentally enabled me to cram more into my day or feel like what I did mattered more. I felt more focused, with less time for bullshit and more time for getting ‘er done. Maybe it was because the boys were younger, but I also felt more confident in my parenting decisions and didn’t waste so much time wondering if I should have handled each situation differently. However, I was unquestionably miserable at work and brought those beefs home with me, making for distasteful dinner conversation.
These days I find myself more easily overwhelmed and exhausted by the conflicts of living in such a confusing world. There is so much I plan to do each day but I either forget about it or crash into bed before I can get to it. My mind is consumed with common parenting quagmires, and as I scroll through my Facebook feed of “thoughful parenting solutions” or step-by-step articles to “hug away aggression,” my kinder, gentler intentions are crashed and smashed monster-truck style by not enough sleep and this ridiculous mission to reduce my caffeine consumption with the school year about to start.
With Connor’s first day of kindergarten less than a week away I worry about what he’ll see at school, the unsavory behaviors he may pick up, and the peer pressures that he may succumb to. Have we given him the tools to make the right decisions? Does he know what it means to do the right thing? Does he even know what the “right thing” is? We’re not sending the kid off to college, but given my current state of anxiety we may as well be.
I fear for my goofy, big-hearted, precocious bossypants who, like me, just wants to make people happy. I want him to wear his Iron Man t-shirt because he thinks it’s cool, not because he thinks his best buddy will like it. I want him to like a song because it makes him move, not because the other kids are singing it. You may be yelling, “For god’s sake, woman, the child is 5!” and I get that. Humans survive in packs, and those packs begin to form as soon as there are enough bodies around to create them. However, like any American parent, I am struggling with the idea of raising an independent thinker in a world where what is most needed is community. I am also struggling to keep up with a kid who probably understands the world better than I do.
I often think that life might be less stressful if I lived it like Ike. Ike rolls through each day like a bowling ball, running headlong into crotches (I would refrain from that) and blasting through the word “No” like he’s knocking over 10 fresh pins. He doesn’t people please, he doesn’t give in, he doesn’t eat more than 3 bites of every meal – I admire the simplicity with which he lives his life. What he does do is make play his day-long objective, ask for granola bars at 3:30 a.m., and gives great hugs if he’s in the mood to hug at all.
I know I’m not alone in any of this, but I underestimate my abilities because everyone else seems to have it all together. And if that isn’t the truth, I need to stop thinking that I have so little under control. It’s been weeks since someone had to flip their underwear inside out because I was behind on laundry, the only bugs in our house are the crickets that make their way in through the back door, and I know where every member of my family is. That’s a Wednesday night slam dunk.
A while ago a post went around on Facebook about the need to redefine success. While it would be amazeballs to redefine that word within our culture, we first need to redefine it for ourselves. “Success” used to be financial or material – something you could take a picture of and boast about online. But what “success” means as a 30-something may be completely different from what it means 10 years from now, and how you define it one day may be different from how you define it the next. I’m still working on my new definition but I think that may be the key to this whole thing “not feeling like enough” thing.