I am insanely excited to share with you the voice of my blogosphere friend Deborah Bryan. Deb and I e-met through a mutual friend a few years ago, and ever since I have felt a deep connection to her that belies the fact we’ve met in person only once before.
If you don’t already follow her, do yourself a solid and zip over to The Monster in Your Closet stat. Well, right after reading this.
Today you’re wearing a dress with a broken zipper.
That’s just like you.
Wait, that didn’t sound as nice as I meant it.
Let me start over.
Today you wore a lovely dress you haven’t been able to wear for a few months. You were delighted to see how pretty you look in it, but not so delighted when the zipper in back burst all the way to your waist while you leaned over to put on your toddler’s shoes two hours later.
“+%÷@#!” you thought, before deciding—a split second later—that the best immediate solution was to be thankful for your long sweater. You’ve used binder clips to deal with cleavage issues, but they’re harder to use for back wardrobe mishaps without a girlfriend close at hand. There were other options, of course, but this was the one you quickly determined best in light of the circumstances.
Thank goodness for long sweaters! Courtesy yours, you made it to work on time and looking fine.
Do you see the compliment yet? No?
Okay, I’m getting there!
By the time your dress busted at 7:15 a.m., you’d already—among other things—telecommuted for an hour, gotten ready for work, fed your boys, clothed the youngest one, gotten gasoline, actually commuted for an hour, and gotten your youngest into his classroom. Within each of those acts were numerous choices, which you navigated well and quickly within constraints.
Mom the decider
You do this hundreds of times daily: making choices not only for yourself but for your family, over and over, day in and day out, deciding not only what must happen but also when and how.
You have learned, from motherhood, how to prioritize like a boss.
Of course, “skiller-prioritizer-and-get-crap-doner” is not what you’ve seen when you looked at yourself.
You’ve seen the choices you could have made better. You’ve heard the gentle and not-so-gentle judgments about how and where you should divert your efforts. You’ve fretted about how you could do more. Better. Faster.
Thankfully, your health got a little scary.
(Sounds weird, right? Stay with me here!)
When your health got scary, you had to stop and really listen, not to the external noise, nor the judgments, nor others’ expectations, but to yourself. You had to listen for the quiet whispers within yourself and, beyond listening, actually hear them… and respond well to appease them.
When you listened—which you did, naturally, because you are wicked determined once you realize something must be done—you heard so much:
- I am so tired.
- I can’t keep up.
- Why can’t I make them understand why I can’t do more?
- How can I cultivate hope if I can barely make it through each day?
You faced a choice: pretend you didn’t hear and drown out those whispers as you had been, or make a change.
You chose change. You chose healing.
You opted to begin taking stock of your strengths and working to build deserved rest into your days. You quickly learned that showing yourself five minutes of kindness daily improved your outlook enormously.
You learned to feel the profound difference between telling yourself, “Stupid Deborah, why did you do that?” and laughing while thinking, “Oh, my, thanks to my smarts, I have already learned from that mistake!”
From the quiet of listening, you learned to see not what you couldn’t get done but everything you accomplish. Daily.
Overwhelmed and sobbing while driving one day, you thought how suffocating it can feel to bear the physical, psychological, and financial burdens of supporting a family.
In the stillness after thinking that, you heard from your depths a quiet, new whisper:
What amazing choices you have made, to go from poverty to being able to support a family!
What amazing choices you are making now, to lessen your burdens and support yourself!
The thoughts themselves lifted a burden.
You saw you were learning compassion—and love—for yourself, and it was weightless.
You saw, truly, how much you carry from today as well as from sad yesterdays. You saw how almost anyone would stumble under such weight and looked upon yourself with as much kindness as you’d show a(ny other) friend.
Believing in yourself
So today, when your zipper broke, it didn’t seem like a big deal. You saw the different options, and you trusted yourself to quickly make the right one given all constraints.
You trusted yourself, and it was weightless.
You laughed as you strode toward your car.
If that’s the hardest choice you have to make today, it’s a good day!
And if it’s not the hardest? Well, then you will do your best with what you have, standing tall all the while.
Your zipper may be broken, but, man. You are not.
You prioritize and decide like a mom, and I am so proud to be you.
Deborah Bryan opens her heart with inspiring, honest, in-your-face reflections at her blog The Monster in Your Closet. She writes about mothering her two littles, wrangling demons from the past and navigating the always-ongoing project of loving yourself.