My intention for this week has been one thing: self-compassion. If you read last week’s post on the Mindful Return blog, you know our family has been in crisis mode this month, simply putting one foot in front of the other. And as we settle into a knowing, like we all did at some point in the pandemic, that this is a long game not a short one, self-compassion has been waving her brightly colored flag at me. Urging me to pay attention.
“I’m here! I’m here!” she reminds me throughout the day, asking me to stop and just listen to her for a moment or two. When I think back to the academic research I’ve read on this subject (by the amazing Dr. Kristin Neff and others), I’m reminded that one of the best ways to draw on self-compassion is to talk to ourselves as we’d talk to a dear friend.
So today, I’ll let her talk. That voice of self-compassion. I’m not going to pull out my lawyer hat or my dictionary and share definitions. (I already did that here: When It Comes to Working Parents, Please Don’t Ration Your Compassion.) Instead, I’m going to channel that caring friend and write what I need to hear right now.
I’ve got you. This big, wide, wild world is too much sometimes. You’re not wrong. But you, my dear, are okay. I’ve got you. When it snowed and schools closed, and life got topsy turvy last week, of course you were thrown off by it all. Of course you wanted some order. Some predictability, especially in a household already shaken up like a snow globe.
You can let go of that upcoming meeting, dear one. That Zoom call. That e-mail response. The plan for what you’ll be doing at noon on Friday. You may feel like you don’t know your way forward, but you’ve never been one to faceplant in the mud. You keep on going and growing. Believe me, you just do. And if you faceplant, I will be there to wipe the mud from your brow. To kiss your forehead. And to let you know you are beautiful anyway.
Your mysteries – medical and otherwise – are one small part of the unknowns in this beautiful and mind-blowing world. There’s “no consensus,” Laura Fargas writes, about why “stars form, or how they’ll dim or dazzle, perishing.” Just as there’s no consensus about what is, precisely, the best way to parent. Or to eat. Or to triage work projects. There’s no consensus about how to swim through the turbulent waters of teen and tween years and find stillness on the other side. No consensus, even, about how to write a good blog post.
Don’t go looking, my dear one, for single answers. Words, labels, diagnoses, “aha” moments that purport to solve the conundrums of life. Remember the question Rabbi Crawley was asked to take a stab at this past weekend: why do bad things happen to good people? What did we learn from her answer, sweetie? That since the time Moses asked that very same question millennia ago, there are no satisfactory answers. And here we are. Muddling through. Loving, even so.
Pause, and listen to your intuition, mama. Listen to her gentle whisper, letting you know what step to take next. Not the “right” step – there is no “right” one – but just the next one. When the to-dos swirl around your brain, pause and dump them out. When the overwhelm strikes, remember your toes. They are still there, wiggling.
Your Dearest Friend
You, working parents who are reading this, you can call on her voice too, you know. Even if it’s just a whisper right now, you can turn up the volume of your own self-compassion a little bit more, every day.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave