Wednesday, October 27, 2010


"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life... I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it." — Anne Lamott

I am far from being a perfectionist, but for a scant few areas (such as grammar, and other people's singing ability) but I do live with that oppressor, that voice in my head that we all live with.  It is almost never a kind voice, though I have endeavored to train it to speak kindly to me over the years.  It almost always lies to me, or at least is less than tactful.  I would never, ever speak to another human being the way I speak to myself.

The problem now is that there's another human being listening to the way I talk to myself.  These days I talk to myself out loud a lot, or I say to Maeve what I'm really saying to myself.  And I've caught myself saying things like "Mommy just isn't very smart" or "Mommy doesn't know where anything is because she can't take care of you and herself".  And those are the kinder ones.

I have known for years that self-talk or inner dialogue matters, and when I have the time and mental resources to devote to being in charge of what my brain says, I can sort of cattle-rope it into being nice to me.  But as Anne also says, "My mind is a bad neighborhood that I try not to go into alone" and she's really got something there.  It's like pulling teeth to get my inner voice to be even reasonably tactful with me, the way you would treat a weird stranger on a bus, let alone a dear friend.

I'm trying to make an effort to say nice things about myself to Maeve, so that she knows how important it is to treat yourself with kindness.  Of course it's easy for me to be kind to her, it's just harder to be kind to both of us. 

I had thought perhaps I could get away with just doing all the work of being a parent, but it turns out that to be a good parent you still have to do the work of being a healthy person, on top of everything else.  Man, that's exhausting just to contemplate.  But taking it one day at a time, today I will choose to be as kind to myself as I can, amidst the swirl of parenting chaos.


  1. I am constantly talking to Serena about stupid stuff in my head, especially about people at work. She thinks it's funny when I talk to her like an adult.

  2. I love Anne Lamott! I was raised by an insecure mother, and I have tried to show my daughter, especially, that I am a strong woman because what you think of yourself definitely rubs off on your children. Keep those positive thoughts and comments going!