Updated: May 17
Treat yourself like your child.
That’s right, that’s what I said.
Not as a child; as your child.
Not your inner child; the spawn of your very own loins.
No I don’t mean you should demand that someone feed you with a spoon. I’m not advocating that you throw yourself on the floor in the middle of the aisle in Waitrose/Aldi/supermarket of choice, melting down because you’re hot, and it’s busy, and they’ve sold out of strawberries - however tempting that might be.
I’m talking about the absolute unconditional love that parents show their children. Now, I don’t have children myself, but I am mummy to an amazing level year old mutt, so I think I know a thing or two about unconditional love (parents to humans sometimes get a little offended by this comparison - I am fully aware that a dog and a human child have some big differences). Not only that, I’m lucky enough to have been showered with unconditional love from my own parents.
When said mutt, Tilly, peed on my bed as puppy, what did I do? I chastised her for it, of course - she had to learn that that’s not how mummy enjoys being woken. But did I judge her for it? No, of course not. She was a puppy and she was learning. Did I love her less because of it? No, of course not. She was a puppy - what’s not to love? She could have pooped in my shoe and I’d have forgiven her (although I might have started hiding my footwear).
When your child makes a mistake, do you judge them for it? Do you hold it against them? Do you lie in bed at night thinking to yourself, “If only Little Jonny hadn’t done that thing three months ago he’d be a much better person?”
Do you admonish Amelia for speaking out of turn and wonder how it is that she has any friends at all?
When Charlie gets a bad grade at school, do you label them as ‘stupid’?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you almost certainly do not. Yes, you may chastise, maybe even punish them, in an attempt to keep them on the right path, so that they continue grow into good, well-rounded people, but parents don’t judge their children. (or their doggos).
“Jonny is a wonderful little boy, he just acts out occasionally because he’s a child and he’s learning.”
“Amelia is such a strong-minded little thing. I love her for that.”
“Charlie tries so hard and that makes me so proud of them.”
“Tilly gets so excited to see me that she has a little dribble sometimes - how sweet!”
Why can’t we apply this unconditional love, this lack of judgement to ourselves?
Why when we make a mistake can’t we see it as simply that - a single mistake that fades into insignificance when compared to the rest of our amazing qualities and achievements?
Why must we lament and re-hash that time seven years ago when we did something similar and “See! This proves that I’m rubbish at this!”?
Why must we play down our strengths and our achievements when we would shout from the rooftops the achievements of our children?
If you would like to see an example, here is a brief list of everything that The Mother believes that I am THE BEST IN THE WORLD AT:
Writing: news, blogs, children’s stories, my name, everything!
– Skiing (read about me to see why this may not be true)
– Speaking French (mange tout, Rodney, mange tout!)
– Speaking Spanish (¡Hola!)
– Dancing (particularly the belly and twerk varieties)
– Making lists…
This list is by no means exhaustive, and some of the points are dubious, but nevertheless, it is a short excerpt from The Mother’s List, which she can reel off with confidence. I feel quite confident when I say that Papa Sacha’s List is similar and just as long.
Why must that overwhelming pride, love, forgiveness and compassion be reserved for our children (or pooches)? Why can’t we show ourselves love, forgiveness and compassion? Why can’t we be proud of what we achieve and acknowledge our talents?
The truth is: we can. The only thing stopping you… is you.