Cut Yourself Some Slack

Happy Monday, HB!

I gotta keep it 100 with you. I love my daughter, Lyric, and … sometimes I wonder if she’d be benefit from having someone else as her mom.

There. I said it.

This is the ugly story that pops into my head every time she cries and I can’t console her. This is the nasty self-loathing that makes me feel ungrateful and unworthy whenever she throws a tantrum, especially in public. This is the awful diatribe that makes me go into the bathroom and weep silently.

About a month ago, we had a particularly hard week. She was teething, running fever and super cranky (and rightfully so, I might add). We weren’t getting much sleep. It felt like we were back to the newborn days.

To add to our already full plate of ailments, she had an eczema flare-up that Saturday night.

Non-stop itching. Welts. Scratches. She’d fall asleep and 30 minutes later wake up screaming. I used the tools in our eczema arsenal and nothing worked.

There we both were. Helpless, frustrated, exhausted, miserable.

Real talk: I’d trade places with her in a heartbeat, so she wouldn’t have to experience that discomfort. I know that I can’t shield her from illness and tough times, but that does not mean that I don’t wish with every fiber of my being that I could. After all, she’s my baby.

I love her very much, but I often feel like I didn’t inherit the mom gene. Mama Terry has the mom gene. My grandmother has the mom gene -- that superhuman ability to mother, soothe, console, entertain a little for hours on end. I often feel really awkward and not very maternal at all.

I’ve said it before: my daughter is my greatest teacher because she reveals to me the parts of me that need my self-compassion.

I spent the majority of that Sunday crying. I called Mama Terry and thankfully she came to our rescue.

I could sense that, in the midst of the sleep deprivation and defeat, I was being given a gift -- the opportunity to go deeper, the chance to feel to heal. After all, that’s what I’m always preaching to you, HB. Now I had the chance to walk it like I talk it. It sucked AND I made myself stay with the feelings instead of trying to ignore them or bury them.

I realize that, in these moments of feeling helpless and frustrated, my imperfection gets the best of me. I cannot stand feeling helpless. It triggers my irascibility. I am a go-getter, a problem solver, a fixer. When I am unable to immediately fix something, I become angry.

In this particular instance, I wasn’t angry at anyone or anything in particular. Not at Lyric. Not at myself. I wasn’t even angry at the situation because it’s a part of life.

I just felt angry.

As I let myself sit with the fire of my anger, a funny thing happened. It unraveled and revealed what was there, at the root of it all: fear.

The reality is that I am batshit scared.

Motherhood has introduced me to a very tender, vulnerable part of me (that I didn’t even know existed) and this part of me is scared of pretty much everything-- scared that I’ll mess it all up, scared that I’ll mess her up, scared that something bad will happen to her, scared that I am not enough and that I don’t deserve to be her mom.

Even now I feel the sting of fear as I write this to you.

Instead of berating myself or comparing myself to the women in my family, I said to myself, “Okay, this is how you feel. Now what do you need?” (I learned this technique from Kelly Seibert).

What I needed was my own compassion. I needed to let myself cry a lot. I needed to go really slow. I took a hot shower and slathered on my Honest Beauty Mud Detox face mask (because that’s my very small self-care luxury when life feels like it’s going too fast and I can’t keep up). I let myself watch an episode of Charmed (my guilty pleasure Netflix show that I sneak in, here and there). I treated myself tenderly and I cut myself some slack.

Why am I telling you this, HB?

Because I hope that you’ll cut yourself some slack this week. You may not be dealing with teething toddlers and eczema. You may be struggling to pay the bills. You may be pulling all-nighters at work. You may feel like you’re drowning in your relationship. You may have just moved to a new city and you’re struggling with loneliness. You may be feeling overwhelmed with trying to figure it all out and you may wonder if you’re enough (strong enough, successful enough, beautiful enough, etc).

Whatever the case may be, I hope that you’ll take a moment to check in with yourself, to sit with and examine what comes up for you with loving kindness (no matter how ugly or uncomfortable it is). I hope you’ll ask yourself what it is that you need and, most of all, I hope you’ll give it to yourself.

I hope that you’ll cut yourself some much needed slack.

Now it’s your turn. Hit reply and let me know where in your life you need to cut yourself some slack.

I’m cheering for you. Like you just slathered on your favorite face cream and turned on your favorite show.

LaTisha Cotto