My inner critic wins tonight

Tonight I’m a rotten mom.

A few weeks ago I completely forgot about a Flat Stanley project in my son’s preschool class.  As I described earlier, this had the potential to send me reeling, but I managed to recover without coming unhinged over it.  This was definitely progress.

But then…I realized that not only had I forgotten about the project, I couldn’t find Flat Stanley anywhere.  I tore the house apart but no luck.  I know at some point, Flat Stanley was on my kitchen counter – but unfortunately that could be said for most paper that enters the house – so that didn’t narrow it down much.  I even tried to let my son take the blame for it (cue Horrible Mom Music) but he insisted that he had given it to me.

At some point, I decided that Flat Stanley was gone, and the project was over, and I would just sweep this one under the carpet.

Until… I realized that I was missing my daughter M’s spring pictures (which were actually quite lovely for once).  She was freaked out that she would get in trouble for not turning in her picture money.  I was freaked out that we would have to pay for a whole packet of pictures.  I contacted her teacher, who said I could turn in the money later, but still no pictures.

I started to put the pieces together and it occurred to me that I was probably missing a whole stack of papers.  A stack that had probably gotten scooped up in a cleaning frenzy.  So I tore the house apart again, looking for the missing stack of papers.  I prayed to St. Anthony and promised him money, as any good Catholic girl would do.  But the papers haven’t turned up.  My best guess is that they went in a bag which mistakenly landed in the trash.

I tried to do what I had done with Flat Stanley – decide that the papers are lost, the damage is done, and sweep the whole thing under the carpet.  But I can’t.  I keep coming back to the voice that tells me it’s horrible to misplace all those papers – especially papers that are important to the kids.  That it’s irresponsible and not at all Good-Mother-ly.

Sigh.

To be truthful, this isn’t the first time that my lack of organizational skills at home has caused me to lose something.  But there were always extenuating circumstances before.  Like the fact that I had three very young children.  Or that my husband was gone for months and months at a time, and I was a single parent.  But the kids are older now, so that doesn’t carry as much weight.  And the husband?  He’s home all the time now too.  I could tell myself that I’m doing the best I can to keep plowing ahead through my depression, and that some things may fall by the wayside.  But even that seems like an excuse.

I know that I should be forgiving of myself.  Shit happens.  Things get lost.  Flat Stanleys end up in the trash.  But I feel like I’m just making excuses.  I can’t figure out where the line is between self-compassion and letting myself off the hook for being irresponsible.

I shouldn’t have lost that stack of papers.  I shouldn’t be so disorganized.  My kids shouldn’t have to suffer because I did something stupid.

I’m even ashamed to share this, anonymously, with any blog readers out there – many of whom are also, of course, anonymous.  How ridiculous is that?

I know there are tools I could be using to head this off.  I’m sure if I re-read other posts or comments, I could probably reel myself back in.  For some reason I just can’t tonight.  I’m conceding defeat.

Inner critic – you win this round.

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14 thoughts on “My inner critic wins tonight

  1. Disappointed in the match result but hope you trounce inner critic in the league. (Hmm, does that even make sense, I’m not into sport talk)

    Schools send so much stuff home it’s hard to keep track of, I often feel swamped.And it’s not like you had any visitors in the holidays causing you stress and extra work is it? Big hugs for you, sounds like you’re having a rubbish time.

    At times like this I try to remember what my children’s social worker friend has said to me more than once. Her sign of a good parent is cleanish bedding on the bed. Apparently some kids sleep on uncovered dirty mattresses and don’t have duvet covers. This horrifies me. And reminds me that in the grand scheme of things my kids are being looked after ok.

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    • Thank you for that dose of perspective. My standards have dropped considerably since having three kids and realizing the extent of my depression – but sometimes they may still be too high. “Cleanish bedding on the bed” is a good thing to remember when I feel like I’m falling way short of the mark.

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  2. Aw….I feel like that when I’ve lost money through my own negligence – a parking ticket, or losing my wallet. A friend cheered me up once about parking tickets – she said she factors them in as part of the cost of owning a car. That means they’re expected and normal, making me feel better. Maybe you could factor in the cost of lost items as part of the cost of having kids? lol. Trying to help here. You care a lot, and that’s the prime qualification for being a good mom. Not tidiness.

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    • Thanks for the chuckle. 🙂 The cost of lost items could definitely be rolled into the cost of having kids! Along with diapers, and food, and college, and the things that they lose, too! Maybe you’re right that caring is really the main thing. Ok, ok, I know you’re right on some level, but why does that seem so hard for me to internalize? More awareness, I guess. More awareness, then better reactions in the moment, and keep plugging away at it. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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      • I think you’re doing well. I was thinking about your question,which applies to me also. I think it’s because we have an inner tormentor, critic, harsh parent – whatever you want to call them. So we can see a self-criticism is irrational, but even if the critic agrees, they will then look for something else to criticize. It’s a deeper problem than irrational thinking IMO.

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  3. Sigh, one of the side effects of depression. I have ADD mixed in with mine. The major mind thrashing I perform on myself for being so disorganized kept me in a constant cycle of disorganization. Not that I’m mastering the paper stuff, but it is getting better. Hang in there.

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    • Thank you for the support. I don’t envy you having to manage ADD at the same time. Have you tried anything in particular that has helped with the organization? Just curious. I need to come up with a system to help me with the paperwork. The mind thrashing is another story. 🙂

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  4. I’ve actually been stressing and trying to find my missing spare keys this week. I’ve torn my place apart top to bottom, twice, with no luck. I have no kids so no blame there. It’s all on me and my disorganization. In a way, I think it does tie in to depression, though. I go through cycles where I am so depressed that I can’t stay on stop of anything. Things pile up everywhere and I just can’t manage. Then I feel better and go on a cleaning frenzy and things disappear. Not sure there is much comfort in this comment except to say that I understand. xx

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    • There’s a lot of comfort that comes with those two little words – “I understand”. So thank you for that. 🙂

      I think you’re right that some of the disorganization can come from the depression. There’s the lack of motivation, lack of energy, and then anxiety over the accumulating pile of things that have been neglected.

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  5. Pingback: Emotional Hangover | One Depressed Mama

  6. Gosh your writing sounds awfully familiar, both the doubts about your tone and general lack of confidence. I know it’s easy to say because I am on the outside, but you are being too hard on yourself. Things get lost, as you realized. Nothing to do but move forward. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. Having been where you are, and knowing that i will be there again, I know that these intended words of comfort have little impact unless you yourself believe it. The thought that occurred to me as I was reading this post was that you hate yourself (sounds so harsh and maybe I’m wrong, maybe I am projecting my own challenges on you) and are looking for reasons to support this belief, like losing papers/projects. If that doesn’t sound too off the mark, maybe the harshness of it can help you see that you are worth loving. Let me know what you think. I am no psychologist (although I’ve been to my fair share), but that’s what struck me while I was reading.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

    PS: I visited because you started following my blog, and now I’m hooked, so I am following you.

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  7. Elizabeth – thank you for finding me here! 🙂

    I appreciate your reading and sharing your thoughts. So many times I can realize that I’m being hard on myself, but it doesn’t change the tape in my head (and presumably in my heart as well). I can’t quite figure out how to really push through the rational stuff to change my fundamental beliefs about myself. I hope I will get there in time, but it’s still a bit of a black box for me now.

    I admit that the word “hate” sounds very strong to me. Is self-hatred a separate sort of thing from sometimes scathing self-criticism? I’m also mulling over your idea that one could have a poor view of oneself and then look for things to support that. Has that been your experience? It seems opposite from what I’ve assumed to be the dynamic – that my life experiences have led me to form a view of myself (albeit too critically). Rather than my inner self looking to justify its awfulness.

    It’s late and I can tell my brain is beginning to go in circles, so I’ll leave off there. 🙂 I’ll definitely be chewing on these ideas more. Thanks!

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    • Scathing self criticism might also be it (you know yourself better than I do…obviously…so you will have the better handle on what’s going on inside.)

      To answer your question, I think it’s both: experience provides the basis for the belief and then once you believe it, you look for ways to confirm it, to keep it alive because even though it doesn’t make sense, your subconscious doesn’t know that and is invested is perpetuating it until you find ways to teach it otherwise. Again, not a psychologist. Just my very non-objective experience based on years of being depressed/anxious, going to therapy/day programs, and my own analysis while writing my book.

      Fondly,
      Elizabeth

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      • In a weird circular way, that makes sense. Amazing how much power the subconscious can yield! I don’t think mine goes as far as self-hatred but there are definitely some deeply rooted feelings that I don’t measure up. Thanks for the thoughts!

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