The 3 C’s of Discouragement

The 3 C’s of Discouragement

 It’s 4 Am. A 10-minute search for clean socks using only my cell phone light brought me to the realization that I did everyone else’s laundry but my own. Sigh. A quick trip to the bathroom, reminded me not only do I need a shower but I am also out of deodorant. Double sigh. I head over to my computer to finish the article I was going to post today only to find that my cat threw up, and my last remaining clean sock found it.

Is there such a thing as a double double sigh?

Blue Mama Tip:

Hide away a spare pair of mom socks.

I’ve Been There

It’s 4:25 AM and I’m staring at my post about internet privacy that I have been working on for 2 weeks. It was a well written article, with good points and great information, meant to solve problems and bring followers. I spilled my first cup of coffee when I tripped on the dog, and soon my whole house will be up. I still have no socks and no finished post. My shoulders slump. I have a headache and my feet are cold. The sun isn’t even up yet and already I feel discouraged.

I sit here with my freezing feet thinking about all the things I didn’t get done yesterday, and already today isn’t looking so good either. I’m staring at my article. I started this blog to encourage other moms to stand up, smile, and find new ways to get things done, and I can’t help but wonder what does Internet privacy have to with that?

Now, is Internet privacy important to everyday life? You bet. Trust me, I like my privacy so much that I wish I could borrow Harry Potter’s Invisibility cloak for my house. Yes. Seriously. I will send out that post at some point because privacy is something I value. It just won’t be today.  Because today, I value something more. Discouragement.

Wash the plate, Not because it is Dirty, not because you are told, but because you LOVE the person who will use it next.                                  Mother Theresa

It Happens.

It doesn’t matter where you live, the status of your bank account, your education, or how many children you have. What does matter is that, as a mother you are guaranteed to get discouraged. You are certain to have days where you wonder if you are invisible to the world as a woman. You will wonder if you are really doing the best you can by your family, and you will have at least one moment in your life where you wonder if you have lost your mind or if you should just toss in the towel. I am writing today because discouragement happens and when it does it can easily lead us down a path that takes us far away from the very things that make being a mom rock. So, what do we do? How do we find our way back to where we want to be, and how do we fight being discouraged?

Yes. Those are real pancake bits.

Photograph by Blue Mama

Dirty Dishes

I once went on a 3-day dish washing strike and let me tell you it wasn’t pretty. Ten people use a lot of dishes and they were EVERYWHERE! There wasn’t counter space in site or a single room that didn’t have some dirty dish in it somewhere.

That’s what happens when I get discouraged. It starts taking up more space in my life and my home than those dirty dishes. Discouragement will happily fill every free space you give it and keep your mind as cluttered as those counters. When someone contemplated using the dog’s bowl to eat out of, I realized three things.

  1. My strike was over.
  2. My family is a bunch of lazy bugs.
  3. My discouragement is going to act just like those dirty dishes. It will sit right there affecting my whole family until I get up and do something about it.

The 3 C’s  

Did you ever get parenting advice from a single person? Yeah… I look them straight in the eye, nod my head and didn’t hear a word they said. Know why? Because, I know, that they don’t know. When they start the conversation with, ‘Oh, I know all about kids…I did after all have a puppy once.’ They’ve lost me. I’m gone. I am raising a family, not a puppy, and the need to stop talking.

I have found that my discouragement seems to linger around three words. Compare. Compete. Criticize.

  Compare.  So you have 2.5 minutes to go pee in private and you grab a magazine. The Food magazines are full of picture perfect meals and fully stocked fridges. Your fridge has miscellaneous condiments in it and you are just hoping to put together enough dinners till payday. Woman’s magazines are full of woman wearing a full set of clothing and makeup. Your clothes have unidentified substances on it. Home magazines are full of well-kept gardens and dirt free floors. You just know there is something sticky stuck to some floor you forgot to mop somewhere.

Your eyes quickly scan the pages. It’s attractive. It’s pretty. You want it. You say to yourself, ‘I could BE this if only I was like…’  There it is again. Discouragement.

I am guilty of it and in 2.5 minutes I can ruin an entire day for my whole family. Why are we so bent out of shape by a photo? Magazine spreads are trying to sell you an idea. I however am trying to live something, and it’s called life. My fridge isn’t fully stocked because I live in a house with a small army, and they do stuff. Like say…eat. My food isn’t for show and if your fridge is empty, take a moment to remember that it’s probably because you fed your family this week.

Nurses wear scrubs because they know what they are likely to get on themselves during their work shift. They wear something that can get dirty and washed. Often. When you are standing in your closet wondering if you will ever see pretty clothes again. Don’t worry. You will. But right now, we are moms and we get stuff on us all day long, because we are working to raise a family. Every spot of something on your clothes means you lived today. It’s a memory that you did something to better your home and at the end of the day you can toss it in the wash and start all over tomorrow. Hoo-Rah!

Compete. Sometimes competition can be inspirational, and others it can be downright debilitating. Sometimes it takes me 2 days to watch an episode of something on Netflix. Sometimes when my daughter finishes a book before me, I get jealous that she has time to read. Sometimes when my siblings get to go out to dinner with each other and I can’t go I feel left out, angry, and yep, discouraged. I can’t tell you how many times I have sighed and thought, ‘well the younger me could’ve…’

The younger me could sleep all weekend, or watch a movie in 2 hours instead of 2 days. I would be exhausted after 8-hour shift. I never left the house without makeup and I could read two good books a week. Well. Great.

Well, ya’ know what?

This me… can drive 3 people back and forth to separate jobs. I can budget money and repair plumbing. I can cook an entire meal for 10 people including prep work with only one hand if I need to and it’s not even my dominate hand! This me, looks at a 15-hour shift in the eye every day. America might run on Dunkin’ but my home runs on me, and they depend on my positive attitude to keep their world healthy. This me has a family. When we put focus in the wrong place, you waste a lot time competing with someone you have already outdone several times over.

Criticize. At some point every mom comes face to face with criticism. Either their own or someone else’s.  Now, I know there are tons of people that believe in constructive criticism and believe it very beneficial, and I suppose for some people it might be.  As for myself, I think that I’m not quite sure how anyone thinks there is a beneficial way to be rude. I work very hard NOT to be a ‘if it were me person. For one, I’m not them, so how do I know if I were them what I would do? And two, if I believe something is good for my family, then I will have put time and research into whatever decision I made before I made. It’s called thinking. I do that. I bet you do to.

Criticism is supposed to be helpful advice on how to do something better. Here’s the thing. If you are a parent, you are going to question yourself because you are always going to want to make sure you did your best for your family. But when it becomes a daily habit, or when you allow other people to come in and start questioning your abilities, you leave yourself wide open to a big fat pile of dirty dish discouragement. Be confident in the fact that no one knows you or your family better than you.

When someone wants to offer up ‘constructive criticism’, take a minute listen to their key phrase. I have found that people who say, ‘I tried this and it worked for me’ genuinely seem to be offering up an idea that they found beneficial for them and want to share something good with you. When I hear, ‘Well, if it were me’, I find they usually have made a mental decision that their choice is clearly the best and that I should naturally follow suit if I want to be smart like them.

Having a Plan

There are always new things to learn and maybe more efficient ways to get things done and you already know the areas that need improvement but don’t worry, if it’s out there, and good for your family, you are probably already on it. The next time you question yourself, stop and give yourself a thumbs up. It means you care about your family enough to keep moving and improving and you haven’t settled for less than the best.

We can constantly be caught up and consumed with questioning ourselves, our value, our identity, and our abilities. Discouragement is bound to happen, and we need a plan of action when it does. Different things work for different people. Here at The Pancake House we love making friends and getting feedback. We know Momming is a dirty job and we are always working on new great ideas to make the journey a little sweeter and a little easier.

What do you do when your dirty dish discouragement takes over? Do you have some great ideas you would like to share?  Please feel free to drop us an email. We would love to read your suggestions.

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