I recently heard a recording of myself talking to my daughter when she was two years old. I was scolding her, saying, “Now that’s exactly what I DON’T want you to do. I spent a lot of time making that food for you and I don’t want you to pour water in it.” I sound like a complete jerk. And so confident! It’s even worse when I hear her adorable little voice on the recording—so innocent and sweet. I can’t stand myself in that moment. And yet, I’m happy I heard it. It’s so easy to think I am more conscious than I really am, especially when it comes to my child.
If I overheard another mom talking to her child in that tone with the completely unrealistic expectation that a two year old would do anything other than pour water into her food, or should be concerned about how hard this self-important woman worked on making her food, I would judge her ruthlessly. And yet, clearly, I have been there and done that, and I have only myself to judge.
And judge myself I do. And then I judge myself for judging myself, because I know that how I treat myself is how I will treat my daughter. Case in point, that nasty voice lecturing her about her food is the same voice going in my own head all day, commenting on my own behavior, judging me. I don’t want to be judgmental with her, but how is that possible if I’m doing it to myself all the time? It’s a crazy little feedback loop that just keeps on giving. Now that she’s four and a half, she gives as good as she gets. Half the time, I wonder where her attitude comes from. The other half, I realize with horror that it comes directly from me.
So my goal this week is simply to notice the tone of my voice, both inside my head and out, and to own it—to see and accept how hard and critical and mean I can be. Then, for the coup de grace, I am going to try to love myself anyway.