November 27, 2007

Being My Whole Self

I watched a movie that I recorded from Lifetime tonight. It was called More of Me, starring Molly Shannon as a mother of twins who wishes there was more of her to go around to her career, twin children, and husband. In classic TV fairy tale fashion, her wish comes true, and out of a 3-panel mirror comes one of her to be the mother, one to be the career woman, and one to be a sex kitten to the hubby. Each of the alter egos end up spinning out of control, and going to extremes in their particular area. By the end of the movie, she realizes that she needs to be "my whole self" in order to be the best person she can be.

The movie was, I think, intended to be a comedy. It certainly was funny. But, it made me think. As a single mother, although all mothers do feel it, I often find myself wishing things were different. When I'm at work, I feel guilty and want to be home taking care of my children. When I'm home with my children b/c they're sick or something, I feel like I'm letting my employer down. And at least twice a day, once at work and once with the kids, I wish for some "me time". I feel as though nothing and no one gets as much of me as they deserve, or need. When I take time for myself, even something as simple as a bubble bath after the kids are in bed and sound asleep, I feel as though something somewhere is being neglected. I'll sit in bubbles up to my neck and think about how I should be in bed, resting for the early morning ahead of me.

But as I watched this movie, I realized that even though I feel as though I'm letting everyone down, I'm not. I need these different parts of myself in order to be what everyone needs. I wouldn't be a good mother if I never had any experiences outside my home and my children. How can they learn anything from me if I have nothing to teach them? And without work, and a little quiet time, I wouldn't appreciate my children as much as I do.

We often focus so much on what we aren't doing for others, what we don't have for them, what we can't do, can't find, can't say. We think more about our perceived failures than our true triumphs. I'm not one of those perky, dimpled smile people that drives everyone nuts with their upbeat attitudes. But I do think that the power of positive thinking has some merit to it. Maybe instead of focusing on what we don't/can't do for our kids, spouse, employer, friend, family member, neighbor, etc., we should focus on what we already do for them.

And there's something else that I had pointed out to me today:

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn't looking , I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't. When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, 'Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'

That was sent to me in an e-mail at work. And although you can tell it's meant to be a reminder that children are watching, I think it's something to keep in mind for everyone. I think we all do things that we don't think other people notice, but they do. More than that though, I think we do things for others that we don't realize matter so much to them. A simple thank you for a job well done seems like nothing to us, but the person we're thanking might take that thank you as so much more b/c they're having a bad day, or week, or month.

With those thoughts in mind, and bedtime looming near, I think I'm off to do some guilt-free yoga. And tonight my mantra will be "I can't be what everyone needs unless I am my whole self".

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