The past few months I’ve been binge-reading and watching everything Brene Brown. If you haven’t read any of her material, you must. She has a phenomenal Ted Talk entitled The power of vulnerability.
On the topic of vulnerability she says: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.”
One of my favorite fostering resources are the ladies over at Respite Redefined. Caitlin Frost says “you are the mom your kid needs today.” She also talks a lot about faking it till you make it. Going through the motions until you end up actually feeling it.
A good example would be acting like your kids mom even if you don’t feel like it (and you aren’t.) Or saying I love you even though you aren’t sure you are there yet. Or giving a hug even though you want to slam the door. Or smiling even though you feel anything but happy.
These two thought processes seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. I certainly wasn’t planning on writing about faking it this week. A good majority of my recent posts have been raw and vulnerable and unfiltered and I have no regrets about those. I do not see weakness in them. But I have also been learning, believe it or not, the value of simply pretending. And I would argue there is strength, not weakness, in that as well.
Julie Bogart, from Bravewriter, a homeschool resource, talked recently on smiling through your day. She pointed out the fact that it kinda sucks to be scowled at all day. She encouraged us to think about what our kids are seeing 24/7. Are they welcomed nicely when they wake up for breakfast? Do you laugh when they do something silly? Do you smile at them when you offer snack and lunch and dinner and snack and snack? It’s a little scary to think about.
My kids have taken to taking pictures with old camera’s and I’m amazed at how much I just stand there- looking- well- pissed.
To be fair they have a camera and not the best concept of angles. And I’m probably in the midst of saying “Give me back my phone.” But still. If your boss is walking around all tough and mean and angry all day you probably won’t want to act like your best self.
So this week I decided to smile more. Even when I wanted to scream. Well, I sighed and walked away and than came back to smile a little while later.
Today was the tipping point for me though. One of the girls was so extremely upset about having to take a nap she woke up both of the babies before she passed out. I was justifiably angry at her the entire time she slept. I had to play referee to two tired one year olds all afternoon. An afternoon I had totally planned on being a time of respite and refreshment. I was frustrated. I was disappointed. I was overwhelmed.
I thought about it for a while, how am I going to handle this when she wakes up. How I’m going to keep everyone safe for the rest of the evening. I figured I would probably not be able to do this well. To do this to any standard of excellent care.
She woke up refreshed and happy and ready to play.
And I had a choice to make.
To ream her for ruining my afternoon. To passively aggressively make things harder on her. Or to smile at her. To smile and say “how was your nap, are you ready for snack?”
I had a chance to smile through it. To fake it. And I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
But I did it.
I did it and then we talked about it.
“Did you know that when you were upset before nap you woke up the babies?”
“They are so tired because they didn’t get the nap they needed and we had such a long afternoon. It’s been so hard to keep everyone safe. That made me feel so sad that they are having a hard time now. I’m wishing I had that break too.”
But also a little bit of faking it.
Because, let’s be honest, that’s not what I actually felt like saying.
I messed up a lot of other times today. I scowled and screamed and was totally irrational in the eyes of my littles. But I know that each time I smile, each time that I point out something they did well, I’m piling up the points. Even if they stole a toy 50 times and only managed to share it once. If I can just point it out, if I can smile and say “good job waiting your turn!” just once, it helps out all of us. It makes our home just that little, tiny bit, inkling of a sparkle, more joyful.
And this afternoon? This afternoon was shot but we still have tonight. They are playing together. Together. And I can sit here and type while everyone is safe. And that seems so much better than spending the rest of my night scowling at everyone.
Till you make it.