Jenny wrote an entry on her Chronicle blog (entitled "I am worthy") inspired by the amazing work of Dr. Brene Brown, who is a researcher, writer and professor in the area of social work. Specifically, Brown encourages her readers and followers this month to focus on why they are each worthy of love, acceptance and respect.
As Jenny the Bloggess points out, that's a tall order. It's easy to knock ourselves down, especially (I believe) as women. We're quick to take note of our bad habits, our flaws, our countless imperfections. But we rarely reflect on what makes us amazingly, uniquely, truly ourselves, and worthy of love for that reason.
Here's my attempt.
(Still here. Just thinking. Hard.)
(Holy crap, I had no idea this would be that tough.)
Like Jenny, I feel like I'm a "good mom and a nice person," but lots of people could say that about themselves, and it doesn't really feel like a big deal. Who DOESN'T love their child, right? So that's not really enough.
All I can think of is that I have always loved people without reservations.
If I love someone, I do it with my entire heart. I hang it out there. Does it sometimes get banged around? Absolutely. Has it been stomped on more times than I care to admit? You bet. Is it worth it? Without a doubt. I couldn't be any other way if I tried. I was in a relationship in grad school where I tried to hold back parts of myself because the guy I was dating seemed closed off, and I wanted to "protect myself from getting hurt." That was a fruitless exercise, and if I learned nothing else from that relationship, it was that it's impossible for me to love someone only halfway.
Most recently, of course, I can see this essential truth of mine at work in my relationship with my son. He's only two, but when I think about how my love for him has changed and affected me, I'm completely knocked off balance by it. Sometimes the people close to me have worried that I am too much into motherhood, that I neglect myself and my personal development, that I ignore opportunities for my own relaxation and peaceful recharging, and I have to admit that they make some excellent points. But here's the thing -- I don't get a do-over for this period of his life. I don't get to try it again if I fail him in some way. So if he's needed me to be his primary source of comfort and security, or if his growth and development have required me to attend to him when I might have been pursuing other interests to date, I can't regret my choices. If the only one I might be selling short is myself, then I'm ok with that for now.
As I read over this entry, I have no idea if I've found what makes me worthy of love or not. I think what I've described instead is the attribute of myself in which I take the most pride right now. And even though I said it wasn't enough to be "a good mom," I guess that's what I feel like I have going for me. I'm tremendously lucky to be surrounded by people who understand that sacrifice and who allow me to adapt my relationships with THEM according to what I want to give my boy. My husband, my mother, my brothers, my family, my girlfriends, my friends -- all of them have graciously allowed me to focus on being a mom, and helped me in sustaining our respective relationships in new and sometimes more fragmented ways.
So I guess what I'm saying is -- to me, what makes me worthy is in part due to what the people I love are willing to let me explore -- the life-changing, axis-redefining experience that is motherhood.
And like Jenny, I can end my entry with the following words:
"I am worthy because of you."