The cookie crumbs of self acceptance

There are many reasons I know I will be okay as a parent. The main one is how excellent my own parents are. Take for example, these recent WhatsApp conversations with my parents:

Me: I just found a cookie crumb actually in my ear. I‘m concerned about what this says about my suitability as a Mother

Mum: I think it says more about my ability to mother!!

Me: I think the weather has given me siege mentality, I’m storing food everywhere, just in case the floods get worse.

Mum: It’s either that or the cat is putting crumbs in your ears

***

Me: I have the Christmas song Little Donkey stuck in my head. There can be no possible reason for this.

Dad: Try I’m the Happiest Christmas Tree for variation.

Me: It isn’t working…

About 15 minutes later my phone rang, it was my Mum. When I answered, she and my Dad burst into an enthusiastic rendition of Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Then they accidentally hung up. Then they rang me back to tell me they were going for a walk. I woke up the next day singing Joseph. Happy. That’s parenting, right there. It’s also mild insanity, but there you go.

***

In case that beginning wasn’t a fairly obvious clue, this is going to a be a true drivel post.

Last week I was getting increasingly anxious that something was wrong with my pregnancy. I became convinced that my barely-there bump was just the result of my on-going love affair with mini BabyBels, and that I hadn’t felt any kicks because something was up. It culminated in me sobbing my heart out to my husband, spiralling into panic, convinced that everything was wrong. I do know this is melodramatic and kind of insane, but irrational anxiety is exactly that, irrational. I’d been waking up every day for over a week from dreams about the funeral of my child. I was starting to lose my reason.

The next day, sat at my desk after lunch, gently contemplating some invoicing, Minilase kicked me. Three times in a row. 20 weeks into our relationship, and he or she is already telling me to stop worrying. It’s okay in there. All is well.

Needless to say, I burst into tears. Apart from anything else, it’s the first time I’ve been told to chill out by a foetus.

***

My sister is currently waging a vendetta against me. I know, I know, we’ve held ourselves up as examples of awesome sisterly love before now, how dare we vendetta? Well, Emma is determined to get retribution because I persuaded her personal trainer, who is also my personal trainer and friend, to give her a session where every exercise was interspersed with burpees. If you don’t know what burpees are, suffice to say, they hurt.

Before you judge me too harshly for this hilarious but admittedly mean decision, let me explain.

The thing is, I hate hearing my sister put herself down, it makes me hurt inside. I can’t bear that she doesn’t see the amazing woman I see. It’s painful to see the people you love look at themselves and see only their flaws, I feel the same about my brother. If I could have one superpower, it would be the ability to show the people I love themselves through my eyes and the eyes of others. Emma would see how bloody excellent she is. Nicky would truly understand that he is the cleverest, kindest and downright funniest guy I have ever known.

And yet, I know how hard it is to stop seeing your own flaws. I am a hypocrite. I don’t celebrate myself, I have impossibly high standards and I give myself no quarter. Weeks ago, I told my Dad that I felt like I was awful at being pregnant because the one thing everyone told me I would have to do in pregnancy, relax and go with the flow, I cannot do. I’m beating myself up about it daily. No matter how many people tell me to relax, and let my body take control, I can’t stop fighting it. During my first trimester I could not accept that I would feel so awful for so long. Of course it didn’t stop me feeling awful, and I think it made me awfully unpleasant to be around at times, but I just couldn’t let it happen. Even now, I cannot simply give in and accept that I might feel this tired for months.

To me, this feels like a failure, because I’m supposed to let go, to be zen. I know I need to let my body be in control. And it’s hard because I’m just no good at it. My Dad, though, never sees me as a failure. To him it was simple; my inability to accept things is my greatest strength. It gives me my stubborn refusal to give up, my determination, the things that have helped me succeed at many things I didn’t think I could do.

I want to give this gift to other people, but it’s hard. I tried to make Emma text me one good thing about herself every day, and as motivation I told her that she didn’t, I would find a way to make her regret it. She couldn’t do it. Hence, burpee hell. Those burpees were really a lesson in how much I believe she’s amazing. Also, it was very funny.

So, this is my Monday challenge for you today, readers. Think of the one thing you most dislike about yourself, or the thing you most frequently beat yourself up about, and try and see it through positive eyes. Then comment, and shout about why it makes you awesome. I dare you all (but especially you, Emma, if you’re reading. You know what’ll happen if you don’t…)

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Family, Friends and Relationships
24 interesting thoughts on this

24 Comments

  1. Posted February 10, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I’m going to say I’m flawless just so you don’t make me do burpees.

    Actually I’ve been feeling fairly useless lately for one reason and another. Funnily enough my best friend (who I don’t talk to often enough these days) had a meltdown over the weekend and just in talking to her and picking her back up I realised that I do have something I’m ok at- making other people feel better about themselves. Just like you, Katie dearest. And just fyi, that skill is the ultimate parenting weapon.

    And I’m not sure if this will make you feel better or worse, but having a baby has forced me to sit with my anxiety to such a degree that it’s become almost bearable to live with. Hour by hour you think the world is ending, but then it doesn’t. It’s not like the worry goes away, but you learn to be at one with your crazy brain. Like a slightly eccentric partner on your road trip, wacked out on mescaline, sitting in the backseat wearing a top hat and screaming that the trees have eyes and waah waah waah…sometimes that voice is seriously scary and weird, but you know he’s just tripping. So you roll your eyes and keep your eyes on the road.

    Px

    • Posted February 10, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      You guys should definitely work on making your comment function editable. I can’t read the damn thing til I hit “post” and then I read back my comment and I cry.

      Px

      • Katielase
        Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        I think that’s my favourite comment ever. I’m printing it out for when I’m worried I won’t be able to do parenting.

        KL x

    • Posted February 10, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Beautiful image. Seriously. I was with you all the way with that one Pensky.

  2. Posted February 10, 2014 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    What Penstar said. You spend a whole lot of time worrying about keeping them alive, then a few months pass, the health visitors don’t want to see you again till x age and you realise that you are actually doing it – being a mum and a good one at that.

    I would like to say I’m flawless like P too, but that would be a Lie. Note the capital. I am self critical, lacking in patience with anyone and everything other than Toby, am occasionally neglectful of my husband in favour of work, and speak my mind far too often. All that said, after being a wallflower for some time, this more forthright Vivienne is no bad thing, and my self criticism only pushes me further. I just need to remember to keep D sweet with cake…..

  3. Posted February 10, 2014 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Love this.

    I recently finished the Hyperbole and a Half book and was relating to the whole bit about wanting to be good but also wanting to do really really bad things. In fact last week when rather hormotional I sat down crying saying “I just want to be good”.

    Then I got to remembering my philosophy degree and if I recall correctly Aristotle reckoned if you were just virtuous it wasn’t true virtue. If you have to force yourself to do thec right thing against all your all powerful base instincts then you’re pretty bloody virtuous. So by that token either I’m really virtuous or am at least a bit like Aristotle because why would he write that unless he was the same as me?

    You are ace Katielase.

    • Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Hormotional is my new favourite word!

  4. Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    This is also really hard for me because my confidence is at rock bottom at the moment. My biggest fault is that I hold myself to a level of perfection which is completely unachievable, but that can be good because it means I am always trying and pushing myself. Gosh that was hard…

    • Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Hugs. You are wonderful and it makes me sad that you are struggling with confidence issues x

      • Posted February 11, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

        Oh yes, the lack of confidence. I am really good at memorizing stuff and repeating it back. I know all kinds of stuff that I learnt years ago. But when it comes t the practical stuff, to applying that knowledge, I get totally insecure. I keep thinking I am doing it wrong. Or that I am not good enough, or that I just don’t know how to do it. That I am not to be trusted alone with a baby. But everyone says I am doing great and that they mean it (to which I respond by giving them skeptical stares).

        I think the “fake it ’til you make it” strategy is a good one here. Eventually you do learn… and for me it has only (I mean already!!!) been 3 weeks and 3 days. So I think we will get there…

      • Posted February 11, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

        Oh yes, the lack of confidence. I am really good at memorizing stuff and repeating it back. I know all kinds of stuff that I learnt years ago. But when it comes to the practical stuff, to applying that knowledge, I get totally insecure. I keep thinking I am doing it wrong. Or that I am not good enough, or that I just don’t know how to do it. That I am not to be trusted alone with a baby. But everyone says I am doing great and that they mean it (to which I respond by giving them skeptical stares).

        I think the “fake it ’til you make it” strategy is a good one here. Eventually you do learn… and for me it has only (I mean already!!!) been 3 weeks and 3 days. So I think we will get there…

  5. Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Oh yes.
    Anxiety? Check. Feelings of failure? Check, daily.

  6. Fee
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I love your posts KL. You are going to be an awesome Mum.

    It’s kind of in keeping with your thoughts but as has been documented on these very pages, I am the crappest pregnant person ever. The pregnancy long sickness and SPD were bad enough without the drug regime and operation in took to stop me going into ultra premature labour again. I was racked with guilt the whole time I was pregnant with Max that I had been selfish enough to risk bringing another baby into the world without a chance.

    BUT the events of the last two years have definitely made me a better person. I am more compassionate, have more empathy and am much more capable to support anyone who experiences pregnancy loss/anxiety. I had a friend who did that for me and I wouldn’t have survived withou her.

    I don’t know what kind of parent I would have been without all of these things that I see as absolute physical failings in myself but I do know that I will never, not for one second, take for granted how lucky I am or forget to show kindness to someone who is struggling. Every cloud…..

  7. Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Oh geez. In 30 minutes I know I’ve got at least an hour of burpees coming…and I’m not saying that in a metaphorical sense. Just for you KL, every time I do one I’m going to try and think of something positive about myself.

    I’m sorry I can’t offer thoughts on babies etc etc, but your parents sound ace! For a start they Whatsapp! My parents struggle to text. If you are like the parents they are you guys are gonna rock it.

    xx

  8. Posted February 10, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    My lack of confidence in myself. That’s the thing I beat myself up over, the thing I’d most like to change, the thing that irritates me the most. I used to be confident. I used to think I was good at things. Now I’m terrified of taking risks because I might fail in my risk taking. Its caused me to settle for things that are now making me less than happy. Its led to me thinking people are just being nice when they say that I’m good at X – I instantly go, I might be all right at X, but so and so is so much better…

    However, it’s meant I recognise that trait in others, and I refuse to let them believe the bad things they think about themselves. It’s probably the reason why I’m so vocal on twitter etc when someone is putting themselves down (sorry about that. If it’s annoying, please tell me to stop!). I think it’s made me a more understanding person because I get why someone feels the way they do.

    This in turn has made me realise I’m a bit of a hypocrite. If I’m telling people how awesome they actually are, and how they can do the things they want to do, and expect them in turn to believe me, I should start listening to others and believing them. So, when someone says I’m good at something, I’m damned well writing it down, making a little origami star, putting it in my jar of happiness and reminding myself of what they said until I believe it too. I’m going to take risks, albeit small ones. Tiny little changes that will hopefully lead to bigger and better things in the future.

    Sorry…this was a far longer comment than I was planning on making, but for some reason my brain is being a jerk this morning – telling me all the changes I’m planning on making this year are going to fail. That I’m useless, unskilled and no good. Blurting out all the above helped me tell it to shut up and go away…

    • Beth
      Posted February 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think you’re a hypocrite at all. Through this comment you’ve shown you’re honest, brave, insightful, generous and compassionate. As a result, you might sometime doubt these things, but that doesn’t take them away xx

  9. Yanthé
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Katie your parents are flipping awesome! And you are going to be just the same.
    You already know how much I appreciate this post today :) xxxx

  10. Posted February 10, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    KL, you write brilliantly. And your parents are hilarious – can we do a big group AOW/KL parentals WhatsApp chat, please? And this is a cracker of a question to pose to the AOW community. I’ve been thinking all day about what I can answer.

    I think the thing I beat myself up about the most is not being able to please everyone. I hate it when there’s discord, or conflict, and do everything I can to be the glue that smooths things over and binds people together in social situations. It’s a silly thing to o because conflict is not something to fear, it’s a part of life, and avoidance of it will only serve to hinder me – both in my career and my personal life.

    But, the flip side to this negative trait is that people generally enjoy spending time with me, and feel uplifted around me. And that can only be a good thing.

  11. Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    For me, it’s the crippling fear that people don’t like me and are just being polite. I hate that I really enjoy something or meeting people then come home and convince myself I was too loud, too opinionated or just… Too much, and never go back or just withdraw. The plus side of this is that I try and go out my way to make others feel welcome and included, just so they don’t feel the same.

  12. Posted February 11, 2014 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Oh the anxiety. I am a world class worrier. For some reason during the pregnancy I managed to be quite calm (except before ultrasounds and medical checkups, then it got extremely scary… is it going to be there?is it going to be healthy?). It all gets better when you start feeling the foetus kick, because they tell you they are there, happy and thriving. And they even react to music or the big bang theory. I think I was so calm because I knew stressed mommy = stressed baby and my fierce instinct to protect her was stronger than whatever melodramatic bullshit I got into believing and making me upset (like I normally do).

    But, as soon as she was born, all that fear translated into me getting this really weird panic attacks where I felt my throat was closing and that I was going to choke. They started right after the adrenaline of giving birth went out of my system (2 days later) and would make me wake up coughing during my sleep, or having the most awful nightmares. Mark had to hold me really hard and “strap” me down awake. The midwives had no idea what was up, they told me to get some Strepsils and that it was probably a cold or a mild throat irritation. Because of when the attacks happened we started to believe it was emotional, but this was new to me. It was a peadiatrician (that is not even “allowed” to treat parents… you are forced to go to the GP for matters like this) who after seeing me having an attack, heard my lungs and heart and discovered what this were and told me how to breathe through them. I will be forever thankful, because this was new to me and I thought I was starting to lose my mind. Maybe I should write a post about going through that…

    Anyhow long ramble to say I get you on the worrying and anxiety, particularly because knowing too much (coming from a biomedical field) makes it difficult to go with the flow, knowing what can go wrong and when. Just keep playing Bob Marley on repeat… “don’t worry, be happy, every little thing’s gonna be all right”

  13. Rach M
    Posted February 11, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Great piece KL! You will be such an awesome Mum. If this is ever me one day I think I’ll be off-the-scale anxious but with a community like this made of great, sensible supportive women that you can ask anything to, I don ‘t think anyone could get better counsel. More drivel please! Xx

  14. Amanda M
    Posted February 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m definitely not getting into the whole flaws stuff. And burpees would kill me. Fact.

    BUT I have to say you sound like the most amazing family – lucky minilase to become part of that.

  15. Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Your parents sound immense!! My mum used to have a teddy which sang happy birthday that she used to play down the phone to me on my birthday. She’s a proper zoomer that one.

    I’m now recognising that I have quite crippling social anxiety. I’ve been looking back at all the posts from everyone here and they’ve done me no end of good… it’s going to be a long road.

    I over think everything, usually after it’s happened. Perfect example; Saturday was The Peas first birthday party which we hosted at the house. G has told me over and over again how proud he is of me for pulling it all together. Lots of our guests have sent me messages to say how much fun they (and their littles) had yet I spent most of Saturday night lying awake chastising myself for neglecting guests, did I say the right things, did I thank everyone for coming and for their gifts, was there enough food, was there the right food, were our favours well received or should I just have done party bags… and on and on. I know all about the inner voice and how it can be over critical yet I can’t seem to get it under control. This was probably one of the worst spirals I’ve had for a while.

    BUT, to try and look at this through positive eyes it shows that I’m thoughtful, that I care about whether my guests are comfortable and catered for and that I want my girls to grow up knowing that I will do anything for them. Which isn’t so bad. xx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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