The Daily Reminder – Day 28: Emotional Health + Self-love
Do you guys remember Saturday Night Live back in the day? The episodes with Al Franken as Stuart Smalley – when he looks at himself in the mirror and says, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” His “Daily Affirmation.” If you need a refresher, I just watched a short clip of his episode with Michael Jordan and was cracking up.
So I LOVE a good daily affirmation. My roommate after I graduated with my M.A. degree (Shout out to Becca Hansen!), gifted me this cute little jar that I keep on my desk that includes little strips of paper with various daily affirmations on it. It includes short inspirational sayings, bible verses, and phrases meant to bring happiness and joy on a daily basis.
I believe we could all use a little more self-love. Particularly as women and mothers. As women, we are constantly comparing our bodies to those of the women around us. We are flooded with images of the perfect shape, the most beautiful face, the longest eyelashes. All of which leave us feeling like we are imperfect, or worse, not enough.
As mothers. Oh sheesh. Don’t get me started on the things we do to ourselves as mothers. So if we get beyond the body image thing, and simply succumb to the “mom body” we have acquired, then we are overwhelmed by the need to have our homes, our marriage, AND our kids be put together on a daily basis. And frankly, not just “put together”, we have this irrational expectation that those things will be damn near perfect.
Our homes will be organized, de-cluttered, un-chaotic. The laundry folded, the kitchen sink empty. If they aren’t, upon hitting the pillow that night, we feel like we failed (either a little bit, or a lot) that day.
Our marriages need to be that picturesque scene from Aladdin and the flying magic carpet. Eyes ogling one another. So deeply in love. Weekly date nights. Smiles everywhere. Certainly not the up and down, back and forth, continually learning how to grow together sort-of-thing that happens behind closed doors. Trust me, I ain’t no picnic to live with when I get stressed and I talk to enough women to know how much work a great marriage really is.
And the pressure to have great kids. Y’all. That pressure is real! It’s all around us. And I don’t think it makes us better parents. In fact, I recently led a virtual book club where we read The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey and spent time devoted to allowing our fears of over-parenting go.
Listen, I am not saying there is ANYTHING wrong if your house looks beautiful, your marriage on top of the world, your kids earning straight As in the honor society. I LOVE that. Frankly, I would be super proud, too. And a few times a month, my house looks pretty good. A huge portion of the time, my marriage is amazing. And my kids love school and I think that’s awesome.
But my point is, most of us fall somewhere in between in all three of those areas ALL. THE. TIME. And yet…I believe we all still feel a little bit of yuck when that comparison comes along and we perceive ourselves on the short end of any of those sticks.
And today, I challenge us to love every part of ourselves. Every inch, every thought, every tear, every word. Every roll, every hair, every wrinkle. Just one day. We can go back to striving for perfection and Pinterest-worthy organization tomorrow.
But today, we will model for our kids what it really looks like to love.
Recap from Day 27
I realized today that I have been thinking about joy in a rather narrow way. When I think of joy, I picture a child-like joy. Laughter, movement, silliness. But when I actually looked up the definition of joy, here is what I found: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness (dictionary.com). For me, that put the idea of joy into a different perspective.
Today was the third day of our national psychology convention. And truth be told, by the third day, many of us are running out of steam – doing more sightseeing than learning by this point! But I had a few things on my list today that I needed to get done and two more events I wanted to go to. And boy am I glad I did.
In recent months, I have started hosting discussions about how to talk about race with kids. In preparation for that, I began studying the work of Tim Wise, a writer and educator on race relations. And today, I got to sit in the audience and hear him talk, followed by a more intimate Q & A session following. Earlier at the conference, I sat in a talk by Bryan Stevenson, another provocative speaker against racial inequality in our country – with special emphasis on the over imprisonment of poor, black men. Together, these two talks, and a few other great conversations with other psychologists, brought me so much joy today.
Around 3pm, I stopped at a coffee shop to do a few last-minute things on my computer and as I got up, I said to myself…”Man. It has been a good day today.” And a rush of joy came over me. That feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
It was so good. In fact, it was so good, maybe I will try to have it again tomorrow. 🙂