As I was writing about what a hard day Monday was around here, it occurred to me that part of that was my own doing. Instead of just focusing on Penelope and working to calm her down completely, my attention was divided to getting things ready for dinner and tidying up the house- why? Why didn’t I just abandon those tasks until Penelope had settled down? I was chopping vegetables to put in the chili I wanted to make for dinner- it’s not like I would have had to throw them in the garbage if I couldn’t make the chili that day. They could have gone back in the fridge, ready to be used another day. I could have figured something else out for dinner- worst case scenario, we have to order take out- not exactly the end of the world.
At work and for most things in every day life, I am a pretty flexible person, able to roll with the punches. But when it comes to my expectations of myself, I am incredibly inflexible. A deviation from a plan I had for myself, for something I wanted to accomplishment, feels like a failure. And that’s crazy! I can’t even change what I had planned to make for dinner without feeling like I was letting myself down. I suppose part of that is because I absolutely hate planning dinners. After going to the trouble of finding a recipe for a healthy, delicious meal and purchasing the ingredients, and beginning the prep work for it, I just couldn’t bear the thought of having to shelve that plan for the day and figure something else out.
And despite forging ahead with this plan for dinner, I still wound up feeling like a failure anyway. The dishwasher didn’t get unloaded, laundry didn’t get done- which of course meant that the amount of laundry to do the next day had tripled in size (laundry seems to increase exponentially around here, it’s ridiculous. If I skip doing laundry for a day, it means I will have to do six loads instead of two. I do not understand why the laws of physics don’t seem to apply to my laundry hamper).
I need to give myself permission to change these plans of mine. Taking care of my baby instead of doing housework is not a failure. My aunt, Judy, has a picture hanging in her house with a saying I really love. I can’t remember how the whole thing goes, but the last few lines are something like this: “Cobwebs, quiet down. Dust, go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.” On a day like Monday, that’s something I need to remember.
I also got another message when I baked up some sweet potato biscuits to go with the chili. Some of the dough formed this when it was finished baking:
I think it was a message of love from my Mom (it was her recipe, after all). I could hear her voice in my head, saying, “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Julie.” She’s right- I’m not doing anyone any favours by being so hard on myself. So I am going to try to be more flexible with these things. I don’t know how successful I will be, but I am going to be mindful of it, anyway. Maybe when the world doesn’t come crashing down when I have to serve leftovers for the third day in a row, I will get the message. Kids are alive and fed and have warm beds to sleep in? Then I have not failed.