Two lives

I sometimes feel I’m living 2 lives. Two personalities. Like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce, except I’m not that talented.
One where I’m a fully functioning adult. Responsible, conscientious and perfectly capable of not breaking a sweat when a moderately grimy 3-year-old wants me to come and see the “cake” she made me (ingredients: mud, sticks and my freshly laundered bed sheets). I smile and nod efficiently and always know where every toy/shirt/car keys/crayon has ended up. The world sees me as such a good mom and general human being, and I kind of dig myself then too!
And then there’s the other me, where I am walking around,  screwing up, jumping at small noises. Yelling when I could have been gentler and crying louder than my preschooler. Both hoping and fearing that any minute someone would tell me “Sorry ma’am, there’s been a mistake. You are clearly incapable of ADULTING. Return your adult card and we’ll see you next year!”.

There’s nothing worse than criticism, especially if it comes from a deep, dark place inside of you. That cold, cruel voice. Constantly telling you to stop slouching and Ohmygoodness, you’ve really gained some extra poundage around your tummy haven’t you? That second alter ego is a real bitch. Unfortunately, she’s me so I have to live with her and her hissing rebukes. She makes me second guess myself and I hate her for it.

So do you tell your inner self to shut up? I’ve tried so hard, and that doesn’t work. I’ve read self help books and self esteem books and even a couple of “self-introspection” books and none of those pages had an answer either. The best I gleaned from them was to ignore that voice or try to drown it out with success and joy.

With a lot of work, I’ve come to a peaceable solution. I’ve learned to coexist with my inner voice. I don’t squash the negativity and I don’t suppress the undesirable comments. Instead, I let that voice say whatever it wants and let those words wash over me. “You think I’m too fat? Ok… good to know. I’m not a good enough mother, you say? Interesting, but not soul-crushing.”

My perfect day is not when everything goes my way. It’s not when I love the number I see on my weighing scale or when I write the most sublime short story.

It’s when I breathe deeply and come to that sweet spot where I’m happy, even though I’m having an otherwise shitastic day. No tantrums and no whining repress those blooming buds of joy in my heart. I am even-keeled and confident, able to laugh at mistakes or having a cleansing cry about them. I’m able to yell at my kids without feeling like the worst parent ever because I know that in a minute, I will calm down and talk to them with more respect. I can quibble with my husband or eat an extra helping of cake, because, hey – there’s no problem some candles and lingerie will not fix.

As I grow older, I am starting to love myself more. Accepting myself as I am is easier and frankly less work. I don’t fight to fit societal/parental/Desi norms and it is honestly such a relief.

Yesterday was particularly hairy – I had not one, but 2 kids meltdown about trivial stuff and my husband had to be away on emergency call the whole day. The score at the end of the day wasn’t perfect. I had lost my temper and issued consequences no less than 3 times and at least one child decided to go to bed without finishing their entire dinner. But yesterday, I also doled out more kisses and hugs than usual. We learned some useful life lessons and made some lovely memories. All in all, a win, no matter what the scorecard says.

I sometimes feel I’m living 2 lives. Two personalities. But now they co-inhabit, careful not to overstep their boundaries and throw me off kilter. I need both of them. One makes me flawless and successful while the other makes me flawed and human. There’s no knowing which version of me will wake up stronger than the other on a particular morning. And honestly, it doesn’t matter. Because there’s always tomorrow.

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