Thursday, September 18, 2014

Measuring Stick

Measuring Stick

Here's a little Throw-back Thursday for you all... Inspired by the talk I gave this morning... So here's the blog (from that inspired me to dig deeper in today's talk;-) Enjoy!

There is a height chart at the door of Daniel's preschool, and every time we drop Daniel off and pick him up, Nolan has to measure himself.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Now, I am not sure if it is because I say, "Wow, look how big you are!" each time he measures himself, or if it is because there is just something in us that needs to measure ourselves.

If it's a combination of the two, then that brings up something interesting.  We need to measure ourselves in order to be given the reassurance that we are growing in the right direction.  Now, I've noticed that for some people, it doesn't necessarily matter if we get an external "Look how big you are!"  But we do need to know where we stand.  I do.  I need to know where I am with everything.  Don't you?

I find myself doing the same thing Nolan does at Daniel's preschool.  Every day I assess my home.  Failure.  Ugly window treatments.  Clutter.  Laundry all over the house not put away.  Dishes in the sink.  Not put away.  Goobers and crumbs on the floor.  Toys.  Toys.  Toys... with no place to go.  You are on the very bottom of the "beautiful home" measuring stick, Emily.

I find myself doing this with motherhood.  Daniel was screaming at and beating up Nolan yesterday after Jeff left for work.  When his time out ended and I asked him what was going on, if he was sad because Daddy was gone, he started to cry and said this, "I am sad because I miss Daddy and it makes me feel better to be mean to Nolan."   Talk about a measuring stick.  Talk about my childhood.  I am sure I am to blame for this.

What a weird thing sibling rivalry is too... It's all about establishing a pecking order.  Who is the favorite?  Who is the best at this?  Who is better at that?  Amazing how it develops our personalities and puts up roadblocks for things.  Amazing how there exists a measuring stick there too.

The worst thing about operating with a need for a measuring stick is that often I use other people's comments to be my measuring stick.  Someone gives me a compliment on my shoes, eyes, smile, and suddenly I'm a few notches up on the physical attractiveness measuring stick.

I don't take the time to work out for a week.  I look in the mirror and notice that I have been wearing sweats all week, trying to look like I'm going to work out, but really just wind up looking like a slobby SAHM who has let herself go...  6 notches down on the physical attractiveness measuring stick.

I conduct a training.  Something intelligent somehow comes out of my mouth during the presentation.  A teacher writes down a comment about how great I am as a presenter.  Way up on the measuring stick...

A teacher makes a comment about how I made them feel excluded from the conversation or how the curriculum isn't this or isn't that (something I don't actually have a lot of control over..) but still... WAY down on the measuring stick.

And one part of the problem is that people are a horrible measuring stick.  People are emotional and irrational sometimes.  Not to mention that our opinions are all very different about what is funny or clever or inspirational.   Our expectations of each other are all over the place.  Not to mention that we can't define what makes a good_________, but we sure do judge each other when we think someone else is a bad_________.  Right?

I can't always put into words what makes a good writer, good mother, good wife, good cook, good friend, good teacher, good presenter, and I can't think of myself as a good--any of those things.  Unless someone else says that I am a good_________.  And  I can only try for a repeat performance when other people say, "Wow, you make great carrot soup."  or "I really enjoyed your blog about________ the other day."  And if someone says something good about my writing or my cooking, I keep cooking.  I keep writing.  I keep the things that push me up on the invisible measuring stick.  I don't even attempt the things that push me down on that same invisible measuring stick.  And yet, there are voices in my head pushing me down on that measuring stick.  I don't need anyone else to push me down.  I put myself there...

So... how come I can't just create my own measuring stick for myself and stop relying on what others say or seem to think?

Because I'm my own worst critic?
Because I have completely unrealistic expectations of myself and of others?
Because I'm completely unreliable with what I deem as good writing, good mothering, good... based on my feelings of the day?

How come I can't just get rid of the measuring stick?

How come others can't just raise my stats on the measuring stick?
How come I don't just raise others' stats on their measuring sticks?

I keep trying to do that.  I keep trying to write little notes or say the good things I see in people to raise their invisible measuring stick status.

But then I get in a bad mood.  No one raises my measuring stick status.  I start new birth control and my hormones go crazy and I hate my life.  I scream at my kids and send my own measuring stick status into the toilet.  I get so wrapped up in my own failing plummeting invisible measuring stick status that I stop looking for others' good things to raise them up, and I look for their crap to push them down.  Or I push myself down because I forget to look for their good.  And...

Again, I am an unreliable measuring stick.  What if I had a reliable measuring stick that didn't change?  What if that reliable measuring stick loved me and treasured me despite all of the ways I don't measure up?

Huh... guess I do.  What if I actually accepted at trusted that?