I have always enjoyed a rather inflated self-image and have often entertained thoughts of grandeur. I had myself convinced that if I wanted something bad enough, I would find a way to have it; however, with my superior intelligence I had learned how to live happily without most things. Studies show that most people think they are better than most people. Basically everyone thinks they are above average…so I know I was not alone in my erroneous thinking.
The dating scene did little to jolt my reality. Despite being an overweight teenager who pined away for several boys who were obviously disinterested in my tomboy looks and brass personality, I still believed that I was quite the gem and one day some lucky boy would see it. A failed marriage followed by a three-year relationship where I got dumped by a jobless hillbilly (oh snap) did little to make me question what exactly was so amazing about me. I felt bad for those guys; they had just lost the best thing they ever had…or thrown it away. Fools! Even when it took me months to convince my current husband that he was in love with me, I still never wavered from my belief that I was pretty much incredible. I knew I would be an awesome wife, a super mom, and would altogether rock at life. I had no real evidence to support this belief. By the time I was 25 I had worked and quit 27 jobs and was a homeless overweight divorced drinker who was thousands of dollars in debt. I was a prize!
It seemed no matter what life threw at me, it couldn’t shake me. I got knocked down but I got up again, and each time I felt taller than before. Watch out world, you’ve never seen anything like me before!
….and then I had kids.
“I’m average.” I told my husband one day while folding laundry. It hit me pretty hard and it was oh so depressing to realize. “You’re great, wife”, my husband offered (not looking up from his video game). It was the moment that it all came crashing down. I was not super-mom; I was struggling just to be mom. Having children made me want to be that perfect person I had always believed I could be if I had a reason to be. Now I had a reason, and I was failing. I can’t keep my house clean, I can’t keep my husband happy, my children don’t listen to me, no one is getting any sleep at night, and everybody eats crap all day. I was supposed to nail this. I was going to take my perfect children to play groups while other moms murmured “How does she do it? Look at her homemade organic healthy snacks that her children love. Wow, she looks so put together and her children are such good listeners. She is better than us; let’s go be her friend.” Nope, I make having 2 kids look like 6. I come flying in with one under my arm crying, chasing the other one, still in my pajamas and searching my backpack for a piece of candy to lure my hooligan back with.
Day by day my self-esteem began to drop and soon I suffered from low self-esteem. I was convinced that I was a crappy mom, a dud of a wife, and completely incapable and unqualified for the daunting task at hand. I really felt like a total dingle berry and I pitied my children for all that they would suffer being raised by a total loser.
The guilt of failing these incredible people I promised a home to was so overwhelming. Under the weight of that immense guilt came more to be guilty over. I was depressed! My body ached, my heart was heavy, and everything was hard…no, impossible. My sister suggested I start jogging. “Ha, if you see me running its cause someone stole my beer” I laughed. The demands of life continued to weigh me down, and I carried on trying to hide my complete and utter incompetence as best I could. Maybe no one else would know that despite having everything I ever dreamed of, I was miserable.
Six months ago I gave in to my sister’s harping and started jogging. It felt ridiculous. I’m 185lbs of sheer indulgence and there I was rolling down the streets. I was self-conscious and exhausted, but I kept at it. To my great surprise my confidence slowly came back. I swear that jogging has worked a miracle in my life! I know it sounds crazy, and I would be the first to knock it, but it slowly began to create a balance in my world. It pulled me out just enough to see things as they were and not with the hovering of an immobilizing depression. Six months later, I’m still a grand 175lbs, but now when I run down the street I’m all “Eye of the Tiger” baby, and I like to end with a Rocky fist pump and some air punches to boot.
This all transpired over the course of a year, and I have realized something very valuable. I am average. But being average isn’t all that bad. People are pretty incredible and we, as mothers, have an amazing capacity for loving our children. I am proud of being average. I am surprised daily at what I am capable of and, despite my discouragements, my love for my children never lets me waiver. Now that I’m average, I feel a weight has been lifted off of me. My expectations were so much to carry, but now I am free to use that energy to benefit my family and not my ego. I have embraced a new chapter in my life of balance and growth. It is an amazing thing raising children; you just can’t help but raise yourself along the way.