This past Sunday, Blake and I started a new bible study at church, and we were having some table discussion with our group members at the end of class. One of the items we were supposed to discuss was the best piece of advice we have ever received, and to answer that question, I had to go back to high school. I’ll never forget one of my teachers, who clearly saw me struggling with my completely nutty perfectionism, pulling me aside and telling me to be gentle with myself. You see, I’m what they call a people-pleaser. My love language is “words of affirmation” and nothing makes me feel more on top of the world than someone telling me I am doing a good job at something. (Or that my kids are cute, my outfit looks nice, you get the idea.) I am my own worst critic, so being gentle with myself is not something that comes easily.
Joining the tribe of mothers puts being gentle with yourself in a whole different light. For those of you who don’t have children yet, you may or may not know this, but there’s this bizarre phenomenon amongst moms that is sometimes called the Mommy Wars. When you become a mother, you have to make a whole host of decisions (that you likely know nothing about) in a short period of time – breast or bottle, crib or co-sleep, work or stay home, Pampers or Huggies (or, gasp!, generic), cry it out or rock to sleep, and the list goes on. Suddenly, you question every decision. You feel judged about every little thing. Random strangers (typically those YEARS removed from having little ones themselves) offer their opinions in the middle of the supermarket on how to calm your daughter. You begin to feel like you are doing something wrong because your baby is being…well, a baby. Being gentle with yourself becomes exponentially harder.
So, I’ve decided to make gentleness my goal for 2015. This year, I am going to try to be gentle with my kids, my time, and myself. So the baby had three meltdowns at Kroger? Oh well. It wouldn’t be the first time there was a crying kid in aisle 12. So that is my encouragement for you today – be gentle with yourself. Life’s too short to get worked up over the little things. (And let’s keep it real – it’s almost ALL little things!)