Ladies, Lower That Bar

By: Tina Mickelson - May 06, 2020

The golf course has always been my sanctuary, just like it has been for many others. But now I’m “supposed” to make our HOME a sanctuary/the only place we want to be right now because it’s the only place we CAN be. I’m “supposed” to be learning a new language with all my “free time” and cooking bread from scratch and giving my kids 1,479 snuggles a day while being completely present at all times. Never mind that I’m also serving as their new teacher, lunch lady, custodian, PE teacher and art instructor. There’s more. All of this “needs” to be done without letting my guard down for fear of…you know…my FEAR being detected. Make sense? Nope? I know, right?

That’s a lot of pressure. I mean, we are all worried about our families and loved ones. But do we really need to freak the heck out and beat ourselves up because we might not be completely present (this time) for that detailed account your child provided you about how the “caterpillar was climbing up the…um…um…tree…I mean bush…I mean flower...and" Stop it. Your child will be fine even if you don’t react like every story contains Pulitzer Prize winning content. If all you have to give that day is a faint smile and a hug, you are killing it. Killing. It.

I swear I heard an inspirational score of sweet orchestra music when I finally made the discovery that my kids think they are living their best lives right now. The way they see it, they don’t have to get up too early or comb their hair before “school." They can have a snack whenever they want. The list goes on and trust me when I say, there are things on that list that I never saw coming. What a weight off my shoulders! Sure, they miss their friends, their teachers, recess, Otter Pops slipped to them by the custodian when they help him with lunch clean up, etc. But they are really making the best of it. Kids are funny that way. They don’t stress over who is or is not following stay at home orders. They don’t care about political views or have opinions as to how this is all being handled. All they know is, their lives just got filled up with more play, more snuggles, more time with Mom and Dad and new ways of doing things. As cliché as the term “new normal” can be, the kids are past “new normal” and now it is just their “normal." And guess what? They are happy. Resilient. On to the next “best day of their entire lives." And it has nothing to do with whether or not I bake them buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. Another frozen waffle? They wonder how they got so lucky. Mind. Blown.

And then it hit me. What if I lowered the expectations I set for MYSELF? I mean, can you even DO that? Apparently, yes. Once you take out all the dangerous words like, “I should” and “everyone else is doing blah blah blah…” from your day, you suddenly feel a hundred pounds lighter. Yes, even in this shelter in place and after all that comfort food.

So I started to give myself a pat on the back for things I would not normally view as “accomplishments.” Clothes on the laundry room floor? There’s not as many as yesterday. I’m going to ride that victory wave. My daughter’s nightgowns, however, were not part of the lucky bunch that made it to the washing machine (this time) so tonight she will be sleeping in underwear and one of my old t-shirts. But that still counts as being “clothed.” I’m crushing it.

It’s a funny time right now. Not “haha” funny, although some memes out there are pretty hysterical. And laughter is always a good thing. But it’s funny what we think we “need” to be doing in order to consider ourselves “good enough." It’s funny what unnecessary pressures we put on ourselves that we would never dream of putting on someone else. It’s funny that we judge ourselves just as harshly now as we did BC (Before Corona.)

As I felt my shoulders relax and a sense of sweet relief envelope my body I realized I had learned this valuable lesson from none other than my kids. You know, the ones I have to wrestle with like wet baby seals just to sit down and do their math. It dawned on me that I’ve been so busy worrying about whether or not I’m a good enough teacher to them right now that I have been completely missing what THEY are teaching ME. I immediately searched for my two little savants (which did not take long because the first place I looked was the video game console) and hugged them tighter than my wine glass at 5 p.m. I kissed the tops of their heads and looked them in their little faces before giving them another big squeeze. And in that moment I was reminded that all is well. It will be OK. Maybe not the “same” or the way I WANT. But OK. There may or may not have been questions like, “Why are you squeezing so tight?” and “Yuck, why are you making this weird?” but it’s fine. I had my moment and was suddenly ready for whatever else would be coming at me that day. I was … yep ... I was OK.

Sure, this is a challenging time, but it’s also a time to realize that we have blessings and things to appreciate that we never paid attention to before. And at some point we will be blessed to let those back in. And even better, we will also be more aware of what we won’t let back in: unnecessary fear, pressure, negativity, people who don’t lift our spirits and any other factors that make us feel anything less than great (or at the very least, good.)

And right now my only job is to make sure my kids are happy, feel safe and know they are loved. And thankfully, they hold the bar low on that, even if I don’t.

But as we run around trying to make sure everyone else is OK, let’s not forget about US. How do we achieve some resemblance of happiness, safety and love for ourselves? Well, don’t worry about me. I’m eating jelly beans by the fist full as I write this. Self love is easy to come by in life when your love language is “sugar." We have heard of the different love languages, but what is your SELF love language? Maybe THAT is the new language we should all be focusing on learning right now.

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