New life rule: If your mother is dead, DO NOT GET ON FACEBOOK ON MOTHER’S DAY.
Not that it’s not pleasant to see the resemblance between every friend I’ve ever made and the woman that birthed her (THOSE EYES! THEY LOOK LIKE SISTERS!), but when you don’t have anyone to celebrate, and you’re not a mother yourself, you can end up feeling like everyone is having Christmas without you. In other words: Where the f*ck are my banana pancakes?
Which is why, of course, over the years I’ve learned how to make my own banana pancakes—a metaphor I’m going to stretch as far as I can here, you guys. Recently I said this to my Unf*ckwithable Girlfriends:
The truth is, we desperately need to learn how to be mothers to ourselves.
We desperately need to learn how to take our own kind hand and caress ourselves. (Not like that, though frankly that couldn’t hurt either!) We need to be soothed; instead of telling ourselves how stupid we are, we need to say the things that a mother would say to her daughter. That she is strong. That she is capable. That she is okay. That she was built to start fires. That everything is going to be just fine. That everyone makes mistakes once and a while. That we are still loved no matter what. Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do for yourself is to comfort, not criticize.
Because man, are we hard on ourselves. And to some extent, we’re all sitting around waiting for someone to come along, stroke our hair, put extra marshmallows in our hot chocolate, and tell us that everything’s going to be alright. (Clearly mankind’s greatest argument for marriage.)
But what if you learned to do this for yourself?
What if you made an active effort to be extra nice to yourself on your hard days, extra sweet to yourself on your moody days, extra loving to yourself on your overwhelmed days?
Self soothing can feel so good—and way better than doing it with alcohol, or looking for pleasure the quick way.
My favorite thing to remind myself:
All things considered,
you’re doing the best that you can.
The “all things considered” part is important. It’s a head nod to reality; to the fact that, yeah, some days your brain is going to be foggy, your creativity is going to lag, your output is going to suck, you’re going to mess stuff up, but there’s a reason for that, and the reason is NOT YOU.
It doesn’t mean you aren’t giving it your all at any given moment in time; it means that at any given moment at time, the factors are always changing. Life is fluid—kind of like a giant waterbed. When someone jumps on the other side, you feel the waves ripple over to your side, and you’ve got to redistribute your weight to stay steady. (If you’ve never been on a waterbed, go to hell, because this probably means you’re way younger than me.)
Redistributing your creative weight is key—nothing stays stagnant, and so you have to be constantly adjusting to that reality. These are called creative constraints; constraints that must be considered when you’re giving yourself a hard time, guilting yourself over not being as sharp as you were last week, or as enthusiastic as you were yesterday.
You are not operating in a vacuum of pure awesome. Reality must be considered. Constraints must be considered. You can’t forget to weigh everything else that’s affecting you at any given moment.
Which is really just my motherly way of saying:
Take it easy on yourself, honey. And learn how to make your own banana pancakes.
Sometimes, the best way to be taken care of, is by actually taking care.