“It doesn’t get better, you get better”
“IT doesn’t get better, YOU get better” Joan rivers
In talking with a dear friend, colleague and fellow transformation seeking mama today, I was joking about how in the midst of the insanity of mothering I have recently been feeling like my attitude that ” things can always be better” is perhaps not so serving for me. In fact maybe it’s driving me a little nuts. Why you ask? Oh, I have a two year old, that’s why! Oh and I also have a two month old. I am also not getting sleep (due to the two year old, coincidentally, not the newborn) and in general my sweet, talented, super incredible and communicative, connected and present little magical toddler has also been beating me up. Literally. Figuratively. Emotionally. Physically. Kicking me in the face while he’s figuratively kicking me in the ass. That kind of thing. It wears me down. I’m not gonna lie. It ain’t easy. No, in fact, it sucks. He doesn’t suck. HE is awesome . But this kicking, hitting, general physical craziness sucks. bigtime. But the good news is that I am a firm (maybe the firmest!) believer that things can ALWAYS get better! I believe there is always something we can do to weave gold out of our challenges. So I have been adjusting things and shifting things. Reading endless amounts of books on child development and parenting (some of which are so amazing they have hugely influenced and helped me!) learning about crafting nurturing environments, simplifying my stuff and my spaces, getting my son into a better rhythm, getting him more sleep and adjusting his nutrition. Shifting and working constantly to better things. I’ve been bettering things that I did not even think needed to be better until now. And things ARE better! I love the feel of the new environment I’ve created at home. I love having a no media policy for my son and spending tons of time creating cool art projects with with him instead of curious george being a part of our family. And I love learning about everything I’ve learned about recently. I love the process of taking on something big. I love that today we had craft time and he made cool stuff and then we had an impromptu dance party because a cool banjo song came on and we ate snacks and laughed and it was glorious!! It had gotten better! My work has payed off!
And then he kicked me in the head (again). And then he smacked his 2 month old sister in the face (again). And then she screamed (again) And then he pushed everything off the table. And then it was all back to THAT craziness. And then I felt defeated. All over again. “He slept so well! He ate breakfast! His room is so calm! We were dancing to banjo and eating grapes! He loves the banjo and eating grapes! What is happening?! ” Followed immediately by “oh god I suck. No matter what I do, I’m not figuring this out. I don’t know what to do. I suck . I’m failing. I’m a mess. I’m trying and nothing is working. How am I soooo tired . God I’m tired ” and on and on and on.
And so is the roller coaster. The seeking to make things better and the slap in your face that you can’t control any of it, least of all a strong willed big presence 2 year old boy.
AND THEN (as in right now), I remembered Joan Rivers. Oh Joan! I love love love you Joan!
And I remembered Joan Rivers and I remember what she said …
“Things don’t get better, WE get better”.
And despite always knowing this I forgot. Or maybe I thought it was what I was doing. I thought in all my shifting I was actually trying to better myself but the truth was I wasn’t. I was trying to make everything around me better. I was trying to control things I can’t control. I was trying to make consistent thing that aren’t going to be consistent. I was trying to solve challenges that aren’t meant to be “solved” .
Now, of course I’m working on myself . I always am, hence Awakened Feminine’s very existence. And of course, learning and shifting my environment and growing to meet the demands on me, that is definitely going to have a huge, positive effect on me.
But it wasn’t my focus. And that’s the key. All of the externals were my focus. My son and what he’s going through and how I can help him, has been my focus. Creating a better environment and routine has been my focus. But how I am caring for myself on a deep level, and what I’m doing to meet these new challenges on an inner level consistently, that would be a more fruitful focus. Because the extent that I can access my own power is something I actually can always control, and the more power I access, the “better” I become, the more amazing my experience of life is. No matter how much my two year old challenges me, I wont be worn down by it. No matter how tired I am, learning how to access my power in a state of depletion can only make my life better. It will only have awesome results. No matter how little time I have, learning how to make time for myself, my own self care, pursuing my own work outside of motherhood, it can only have a beautiful effect. I know there is a whole way of thinking that we should just accept things as they are, we should love ourselves as we are, we dont need to be anything more than we already are. And that’s true.
AND, I believe that we can always benefit from some deep self reflection, some hard core honesty about what we want in our lives and what we can do ourselves to get there, and some fearless, bad ass action to get there. Maybe we are facing something difficult in our lives and we have every excuse to feel frustrated or defeated or have a hard time. But my question to you is, who suffers when we allow ourselves to be excused for feeling like shit? We do. We suffer, and in my experience we end up waiting for the hard time to pass, for “things to get better.”
But the truth, if you ask me and Joan, IT doesn’t get better, WE get better.
Watch the clip of Joan here, with the almighty Louis CK. And although they are speaking of comedy, we can apply it to any we are doing, to our vocations, to motherhood, to anything.