I am a mother. I am a musician. I am a teacher. I am a wife. I am on social media. Everywhere I look around me there are people who I perceive to be better than me. There are moms who have their lives more together-moms who have or make time for social lives, they work out, they always have healthy meals prepared or are able to purchase healthy meals at a restaurant. Moms whose kids are always dressed in the cutest clothes, have the sweetest pictures taken, clean houses, play rooms, immaculate yards for the kids to play in, every toy a kid could want or need, patience to deal with the kid(s), energy to do what they love, and passion in their marriage. There are musicians who play more instruments than I do, record music (professionally or otherwise) and put it out into the world, get paid for doing what they love and are good at, make music with other people, sing better, perform better, practice diligently, and work harder. There are teachers who spend more time caring for their students and working than I do. There are teachers who go above and beyond to decorate their rooms, send letters to their students, buy them gifts, travel to teach them during this crazy time, spend hours researching and growing professionally outside of work. There are wives who are more patient with their husbands than I am, wives who are able to keep a clean house, juggle all their responsibilities and still make their husbands swoon on date night or other nights. I can find a million reasons to hate myself, belittle myself, or give up. But I have one precious reason to tell those thoughts to shove off. My son.
My son is almost 2.5 years old and I may not be his whole world, but I know I’m pretty close. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, he calls for “Mama.” He falls asleep with his daddy, but he is adamant that I cuddle him to sleep if I’m in the room. He knows I’m the one who prays with him even when he’s screaming that he doesn’t want to pray, makes him meals even if it’s just a hot dog and ketchup with a side of veggie straws because I’m feeling overwhelmed. He has learned to take deep breaths to calm himself down because he’s seen me do it and has had conversations with me about it. He loves singing and humming and reading because I have done that with him every single day since he was born. He looks up at me and tells me I look good even when I feel like a pile of wombat poop. He hugs me when I’m sad, tries to follow me to make me feel better when I need to leave the room because my anxiety is kicking in and I need space before I interact with him again, he lovingly gives me “kissles” and “ugga muggas” and hugs multiple times a day. He deserves to grow up with a mama who sees her worth. He is learning from me every day, from the things I say and the things I do. I want him to grow up knowing that he can fight those inner demons and voices that tell him he isn’t enough. The only way to do that, is to show him that I can fight those inner demons and voices that tell me I’m not enough. He will struggle with his identify and self-confidence…that’s part of growing up, but I hope that he learns to pick himself up, dust off his bruised and broken heart and self-image, and remind himself that he is worthy. He is worthy of love. He is worthy of the good things that come his way. He is worthy of the titles he holds, whether they be father, husband, worker, celebrity, priest, or anything else. He is worthy of holding space on this earth. The world wouldn’t be the same without my sweet boy.
And you know what? The world wouldn’t be the same without me. Years ago my desire was to be THE best, but I didn’t have the drive to do it. I was scared of working towards success because I was more afraid of failing. It was easier to not try and say “oh darn, I didn’t get it” than to give something everything I had, only to be let down. I’ve grown a lot since then and have learned that I only need to be MY best. Interestingly enough, that changes day to day. Some days my best as a mom includes a clean house, playing with my son, eating healthy, getting some light exercise, and no fits of anger and frustration at my son or husband. Other days my best is controlling my anger so that I hit the floor instead of screaming at my son when I’ve reached my wits end and my anxiety has taken control of my actions and turned me into a ball of anger and doing only the dishes that I need so that we can shove some sort of food into our mouths at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some days I pick up an instrument and work towards improving my musicianship and other days I just sing along with whatever I’m listening to or whatever my son LETS me sing along to before asking me to “Peas stop singing. I ask really nicely!!” Some days I am a kind, fun, flexible teacher who can handle anything life throws at me and other days I explode at my students over the stupidest things. Some days I give my husband what he needs (space, a nap, time to work on his writing, time to exercise) without a second thought, proud of him for taking care of his mental health so that he can be present for our family and other days I sit and stew in my jealousy. I say that I’m jealous that he has time to do all that, but really I’m jealous that he makes the time for it. I’m jealous that I don’t have the strength or self-control or trust to say “I need to have an hour to myself to make music” or “I need to go for a bike ride or a run or do some yoga.” None of that his fault. It’s my anxiety talking. Anxiety is a fickle thing. It takes a simple thought and turns it into a massive tornado. It starts with “I can’t focus on myself until I do the dishes” and then turns into “I can’t do the dishes until I do the laundry because I don’t have clean towels, but I can’t do the laundry until I put away the laundry that is still filling every single basket, but I can’t do that until I clean the couch because where am I going to put the clean laundry once I’ve folded it, but I can’t clean the couch until I clear off the floor of all of my son’s toys, but I can’t clear my son’s toys until I clean the floor, but I can’t clean the floor until I sweep the floor, but I can’t sweep the floor until…” and suddenly the idea of taking even 10 minutes to myself is incredibly overwhelming. Anxiety constantly tells me I’m not doing enough, I AM NOT enough. I’m not smart enough, trusting enough, kind enough, patient enough, self-aware enough, healthy enough, humble enough, confident enough…but I am.
I am enough.
I am smart enough. I can problem solve, manage our finances, teach my chosen subject, and teach my son life lessons.
I am trusting enough to drive on the road with my son and family in the car. I am trusting enough to let my parents watch my son while I’m at work. I am trusting enough to let my son try new things as long as he is not in danger. I am trusting enough to believe my husband when he says he loves me and thinks I am beautiful.
I am kind enough. I may not be THE KINDEST teacher or mother or wife, but I am a kind teacher, mother, and wife.
I am patient enough. I may lose my patience and my temper, but I own up and work hard to find coping mechanisms so that I can be more patient in trying situations.
I am self-aware enough to know that I can come off as rude and blunt, so I work hard to monitor my tone of voice and body posture or adjust the manner in which I speak with specific people. I am self-aware enough to know I’m struggling and find resources to help me cope.
I am healthy enough to run around with my son, wake up in the morning, get things done, take care of my family, and manage my mental health.
I am humble enough to realize that I don’t know everything and am not God’s gift to humanity.
I am confident enough to do my job and embrace my strengths, using them to help other people.
I am enough for my son, for my students, for myself, for my husband.
And so are you. The world is a better place because of you. Even if it’s a small section of the world, it would be so different if you weren’t in it. Maybe it’s the stranger you smiled at whose day you completely turned around. Maybe it’s a lame joke you made that cracked an exhausted and stressed person out. Maybe you have a child who places you with the stars and the moon even though you feel lower than dirt. Maybe you have a pet who depends on you for food and water and shelter and is grateful you’re around to provide that. You deserve to take up space on this floating rock. You are enough.