Let’s Pretend I’m a Good Mom
I’m so far from perfect that sometimes I wonder if it would even recognize me if we ran into each other on the street. I’m not imperfect in the It’s-So-Cool-To-Say-How-Lame-I-Am kind of way. It’s more an I-Want-To-Be-Better-So-Bad-And-Sometimes-I-Am-A-Little-And-I-Guess-That’s-Okay-But-I-Know-I-Can-Be-More type thing. I feel like I’m earnest and sincere but I fall short and I don’t even always keep trying. So far I’ve never hit a point where I wasn’t eventually willing to get up and try again. I think that’s good but sometimes it takes me a while between attempts.
While I’m drumming up the courage to try again, I make big plans. These are super maximum strength, last for 24 hours kinds of plans. I write things in notebooks. I envision who I will become. Sometimes I break my plans down into baby steps.
I want to be a better mom. What does that look like? How will I accomplish that? What should I do each day to build towards being this better mom? SHUT UP KIDS! I’M MAKING A PLAN TO BE A BETTER MOM! Oh yeah. I should write “listen better” on the list.
The more I plan, the longer I can avoid this new attempt at BECOMING as I rest in my person-shaped indentation on the comfy couch. You know? Rather than cook a healthy meal, I can plan healthy meals until it’s too late to cook and I’m forced to order pizza. What’s a girl to do when she’s in her chrysalis? You can’t rush butterfliffic triumph.
I don’t mean to knock planning because it can be truly helpful. But sometimes I think I use planning to camouflage laziness or fear. I use planning as a better tasting version of procrastination, enhanced with data on an Excel spreadsheet.
Sometimes it’s more productive to just jump in and fake it. Find a hat and some crazy glasses and dress up as a person who keeps track of her finances. Then act the part. You can be the person immediately while you plan how to be the person even more completely.
I once had a friend who hated mornings but her schedule required her to get up around five every day. She was sick of hating her routine so she decided to pretend to be a morning person. She woke up and smiled and said cheerful things and talked to herself about how much she loved mornings. And you know what? After about three months she found that she really did love mornings.
Now, although I can’t claim to love mornings or to even be able to imagine feeling cheerful at five AM, I will tell you that I’ve tried this technique on a small scale and had success. The flies on the wall of my house got an eye full last week as I was grumbling and vacuuming and I suddenly decided I was sick of being miserable about something that needed to get done and I would pretend I liked vacuuming. I couldn’t do it, not convincingly. So I decided to at least smile as I fumed inside while I vacuumed.
The strangest thing happened.
The storm clouds in my brain were no match for the crazy-sauce asynchronous smile on my face. It didn’t take long before I switched from looking like an evil genius to a generally happy woman. Because I was happy. Because acting the part on the outside changed something on the inside.
I am overweight. The wii tells me I border on obese because it is rude and doesn’t know how much fun I am to be around. So, periodically I decide to do an athletic event to make my body healthier and prove to myself that I’m capable of doing hard things.
The last time I did this was summer of 2013. I completed a sprint triathlon and while training I got into the best physical shape of my adult life. It was amazing and then I slipped back into some of my old habits and here I am 25 lbs heavier and super frustrated. I want to be where I was two years ago. Now.
But I can’t get back there immediately. I didn’t get there immediately the first time. What I can do is make small changes. And small changes take time. So do I wait until I’ve trained for three months and lost weight to brand myself an athlete? No. I put on my stretchy pants, drink my water and all the while think athletic thoughts.
“I’d better stay hydrated. Oooo. Good thing this magazine has an article dedicated to nutrition for athletes. They must have known I’d be reading. As an athlete, I probably shouldn’t eat a third cupcake, considering my body craves healthy nutrients and such.”
I tell myself I love working out because I know I do love working out… when I’m fit, and even though I’m not fit now, I won’t get there unless I can get over the rough beginning. So I fake it.
In order for this to work, you have to forget about yesterday and tell yourself that today you will be accountable and follow through. Today you will fill a new role because today that’s who you are.
Set a small time frame and then expand.
I will be an athlete for the next ten minutes, think athletic thoughts, do athletic things, eat athletic foods. Then maybe I’ll be an athlete for an hour if that felt good. How about being an athlete from now until bedtime, which will be early because athletes need their sleep?
So if you want to be a super mom, a better listener, a more focused employee, or an avid reader, get your gear together and play the part. Nothing produces a change in behavior as effectively as a change in behavior.
Have you ever wondered how you would fare if you were evaluated in your role as a stay-at-home mom? Since you are the boss and the employee, try giving yourself an “employee” evaluation and start seeing how much your efforts are really worth.
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