How many times do we say things relating to kindness in a day? Be kind to your brother, be kind to the dog, be nice to your friends, ask me nicely please, don’t say horrible things about each other.
Ever said it when thinking negatively about yourself?
A conversation I had recently got me thinking about this. I think that people, woman especially, (but not exclusively!), and particularly mothers, can be guilty of going all out for other people. Recognizing a friend is stressed and offering to have her child for an afternoon, spotting a card that you know will make your best friend smile and getting round to writing, stamping and posting it, (no mean feat some days!), driving for hours to visit someone you care about because you know they are sad, doing everything in your human power to make sure that your children have everything they need, and lots of things they don’t!
When it comes to myself though, I agonize about treating myself. Not just to material things, but also to time. Although all jobs deserve breaks, and most of them don’t have the hours parenting do, I feel so guilty at the thought of sitting in the garden with a book or putting my feet up to watch a program I love, that I will set myself tasks to complete first, often resulting in the missing of that precious, vital nap time altogether. If I do watch tv, it is with a basket of washing to fold.
Why though? If my little children look tired, I make sure they stop and rest. If my husband comes home weary, I’m the first to put the kettle on, to make him a cup of tea, sit down, relax, I’ll make it. Yet I won’t do that for myself. I’ve been tired to the point of crawling up to bed before and yet I have tried to do just one more job before my head hits the pillow.
I see a lovely top that I like but I hesitate. I revisit the shop several times, I look online to see if I can get it cheaper, and we’re not talking Dolce and Gabbana here!! If I do buy it, I will have a feeling of guilt hanging over me that will take the shine off my new purchase.
We need to be kinder to ourselves. Have you ever thought, I’m a terrible mum, I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m lazy, my house is a mess, everyone else seems to have it together – where am I going wrong? If your husband said these things to you, or your child, what would your instantaneous reaction be? To reassure, to offer comfort, to tell them not to be so hard on themselves, to tell them all the things that they are brilliant at.
We need to do this for ourselves more often.
One bad day does not a bad mother make. A day of shouting, a forgotten p.e. kit, no milk for breakfast does not make you a failure. It makes you human and we all have off days. Or weeks. Or even months, it’s ok.
And yes, you do deserve that half hour of sunshine in the garden, even if you do nothing but close your eyes and listen to the bees. You should take your friend up on their offer of a few hours babysitting. And you most definitely should buy that top and wear it out with a spring in your step and a big smile.
Caring for yourself makes you better at caring for others, so really it’s win win for everyone.
Be kind today, to someone really fabulous. You!