{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} – On Dents and Self-Compassion

~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life, as inspired by the women at Like Mother, Like Daughter~

{Pretty}

At Jonathan’s urging, I stepped outside into the blue twilight. The door closed behind me, sealing in Abby’s excited babble and Katie’s continuous monologue and the steady noise that comes with raising children, closing me off from the warmth and the light and the bustle. I stood in the growing dark. I watched the colors fade through the trees and saw the first stars appear and relished a moment of calm and of peace before returning to the busy beauty of tending a family.

I tease Jonathan for his love of the moon: back when we had more free time on our hands, he would pick up the camera and fill its memory card with nighttime shots. As I came back inside after capturing this image, he said to me, “You know, don’t you, that the mist is to you what the moon is to me?”

(I freely admit: he’s right.)

Though she has giggles and silliness to spare, more often than not, when faced with a camera, she chooses to be serious.

(At least this time she let me take it, and didn’t turn away.)

{Happy}

Rain! After a sunny and warm December and early January, we’ve had a few good storms in the past week (with more on the way). Little girls and rubber rain boots and sticks and mud and mess – what could be better?

I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions this year, and the “One Word” idea, while nice, didn’t work for me last year (more on all that, perhaps, in a post to come), but I did think about the shape of my days, about the ways I can grow and learn and be more purposeful in different areas of my life. One of those ways was to be more engaged with Katie – to find activities we can to do together that will help her explore the world and find wonder and beauty in it. (I’d planned to do this in the fall, but it got lost somewhere, along the way). Nothing elaborate most days, simple things we can do in ten or fifteen minutes, after she wakes up from nap.

This was one that held her attention for quite some time – she made multiple paintings, and then went on to make hand prints and explore finger painting, once she grew tired of the rubber bands.

Our “projects,” as Katie calls them, have been a hit: the first question she asks now upon waking is what project we’re going to do today. Which is good accountability for me.


Shaving is a family event around here. Because why wouldn’t it be?

In the past six weeks, Katie’s had a rough time with separation – from Jonathan, especially, but also from me. We’ve tried a variety of things to try to help her in this, none of which have seemed to make much difference. Until this week, when, in a moment of inspiration, I suggested that we could exchange pictures with Daddy throughout the day. So far, it’s worked beautifully (and I’m praying it continues to do so!) This picture was in response to one Jonathan sent of himself in a similar pose.

{Funny}

My spice shelf finally reached the point where I could take no more: tired of not being able to find anything, of never knowing what we had, I pulled everything out and sorted and organized. And discovered I have enough chili powder to last for years.

I put everything back, carefully arranged and sorted by name, and vowed to get in the habit of always returning jars to their exact home. (Just as I do every time I clean the spice shelf).

Another one of our projects: a “telephone” from string and plastic cups. Abby, always wanting to be just like her big sister, got in on the action with her own cup (sans string), pressing it up to her ear and jabbering excitedly while Katie and Grandma talked.

{Real}

I had a few “oops” moments this week.

First, to Katie’s dismay, I preheated the oven for bread, forgetting that I had put the last of our sugar cookies in there for safekeeping. (We often store baked goodies in the oven – both to keep them away from curious pets and to shield them from young eyes – but I usually remember to check). It wasn’t until I smelled the lovely aroma of burnt plastic that I realized my mistake. Ziploc bags (and iced cookies, for that matter) don’t fare well at 450°F.

Second, to MY dismay, in a moment of rushed carelessness, I put a dent in my brand new electric pressure cooker. It’s cosmetic – the inner heavy-duty metal casing holds the pressure – but it’s a cosmetic flaw that I see and kick myself for every time I use it.

Perhaps this is good for me, though, having that dent there. Perhaps it’s good practice in letting go. I’m prone to be hard on myself (in some areas, anyway; in others, I’m prone to give myself far too much grace). The day after I did this – the day after! – after I had apologized to Jonathan multiple times for my carelessness (to which he responded, “It’s not a big deal. It’s just a thing.”), I listened to a podcast titled “Quiet Your Inner Critic & Practice Self-Compassion.

As I listened, what struck me most was the idea that how I treat myself is a model for my girls, that it teaches them how to treat themselves. I know this, of course. It’s scary, sometimes, to hear my words or my tone reflected back to me, to note the ways these two small girls seem to watch and absorb everything I do. But as I was lamenting the dent in my appliance, I was focused on my own mistake, not on what I was showing them. When I stopped and saw my self-criticism through my girls’ eyes, dwelling on the dent in a kitchen appliance became ridiculous. Childish, even.

(Which raises the interesting question, too, of why “setting an example for my girls” is a more powerful motivation for me to change a harmful behavior or institute a good one than my own physical or spiritual or emotional well-being is, but that’s a question for another day).

(A final aside, in the interest of transparency: the dent still bothers me when I see it, and probably will for some time to come. But I’m working on letting go of that.)

Those are some of the {pretty, happy, funny, real} moments around here this week. How about you? Capture any contentment lately?

Family and Parenting, This Thing Called Life

Tags: , , , ,

2 Responses to {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} – On Dents and Self-Compassion

  1. Sandy Palmer says:

    I remember when I did the exact same thing long ago – with Jonathan’s birthday cake! I’d made a cake like a clown or jester, with icing, and candies and curling ribbon decorations. Do you know what happens to curling ribbon at 450 degrees? It wasn’t pretty, and made for a very sad little boy. Oh, my.

  2. jywatkins says:

    My mom uses her microwave as a desserts cabinet, lol. You always have to remove cookies and pie and whatever else before heating up food. Love that picture of Katie and Abby shaving, so cute!

Leave a Reply