Monday, July 6, 2015

Permission To Be Human

Here’s the story:

1.       I drank a lot on the Fourth of July.
2.       I rarely drink excessively.
3.       Two or more cocktails are known to make me pretty hyper-goofy-crazy-wild-funny (Or so I believe. Maybe others see me as stupid-obnoxious-loud-ridiculous-annoying).
4.       I had a blast.
5.       I’m a terrible mother.

I’ve had Shame Gremlins whispering in my ear, all day long…”You are a bad mother. What kind of mom gets intoxicated with her kids around? Good mothers remain in control; aware and alert; sober. Shame on you, Jackie. You fucked up. What are some of those party-goers thinking about you now? What are they saying? Do you have any idea how harshly you are being judged right now?”

All day, I unconvincingly force-fed my mind the self-compassionate remarks I know I am supposed to lovingly tell myself (except mine came out monotone and not loving at all). “You are not a bad mom. You are entitled to let loose once in a while. You didn’t commit a sin. This one incident of ‘bad judgment’ doesn’t make you an irresponsible mother. How often do you do this? NEVER. Why do you care what others might say or think? Your kids aren’t even aware that you were not sober. You weren’t sloppy-falling-over-slurring drunk. You were just happier-crazier-wilder-goofier-funnier than usual. Stop beating yourself up. You didn’t commit a crime. You didn’t hurt anyone or endanger your children. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not a sinner. You are a good person. It’s okay.”

Everything I read; everything I preach; all of my life’s mottos and mantras…I know I should put them into practice at this very minute. These are the times that I’m supposed to remember to:

Forgive yourself and forgive the past as Iyanla Vanzant suggests.

Nurture yourself with self-compassion and self-love as Brené Brown recommends.

Don’t take things personally; what people say or think about you, has nothing to do with you. It’s their own issues that cause them to pass judgment on you as don Miguel Ruiz writes.

What others think of me is none of my business as Deepak Chopra says.

Embrace your imperfections and release the shame as Brené Brown preaches.

Let it go as Elsa sings.

As is in my nature, I’ve tried to find the life-lesson in all this. What am I supposed to learn and come away with from this? Why is this eating at me and affecting me so much?


Becoming a mother came with a boatload of self-imposed expectations. One of those is “A good mother does not get drunk…But especially not while her children are around. Ever.”

That rule comes from the values and beliefs I was exposed to as a child. I never saw my parents drunk. Actually, I never saw any of my family members drunk. Everybody drank wine or beer, but it was only at dinnertime and for the sole purpose of accompanying the food. No one ever drank with the intention of having a good time, letting loose, and getting intoxicated. 

Alcohol was not necessarily viewed as a bad thing. In fact, I was served alcohol occasionally as a kid. I was allowed to have a little wine mixed with seltzer water if I wanted. On New Year’s Eve, I was given a glass of champagne to toast with. Sometimes, I had sips of vermouth and seltzer at dinner parties. However, I was taught that alcohol was to be used responsibly and never to be abused. Being drunk was low-class, bad, ugly, and unrespectable – especially in a parent. No one ever said those things to me…I just sensed them. They were unspoken rules and beliefs.

But after an entire day of beating myself up, I started wondering though…
What if they were wrong? What if what I did yesterday was not low-class, bad, ugly, and unrespectable? What if maybe, just maybe, my mom or dad or other family members were once drunk in front of me and I didn’t even know it – just like my kids didn’t know it about me yesterday? What if all I did was have a whole lot of fun? What if I accept that the opinions of the party-goers really don’t matter? What if I let go of who others think I’m supposed to be and just embrace my flawed-self? What if I start believing that what I think about myself is what matters most?  What if I forgive myself? What if I give myself permission to be human?

When I did the e-course for The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, she said “When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver.” I can clearly see that is what I’m dealing with today. I broke one of my own cardinal rules on what it means to be a perfect parent and the shame and fear I am feeling are making their presence known in this little head of mine.

But the thing is, we all know there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We are all human. We are all inherently flawed. Our desire for perfection is a direct result of shame and the fear of not being good enough. In Daring Greatly, Brené writes: “My underlying fear of not being the perfect parent is driving my need to confirm that, at the very least, I’m better than you.” We need to remember this when we are faced with judgment by others. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Regarding shame, Brené says “When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.”
This is me…owning it and writing a brave new ending to my story: 

I got drunk on the Fourth of July and I had a blast and this does not make me a bad mother.

The End.


  1. Hello, dear lady! I love your post here. So much truth. This is self-compassion, something we all need to practice more often. Hope you've been well! XO

    1. Hi Lisa!! Thank you SO MUCH! It means a lot. I've been great, just kinda out of the blogging loop. I haven't been writing or reading blogs. Life suddenly got very busy a couple months ago. I hope to get back to writing regularly when summer is over and the kids are in school. :) Hope you've been well too!

  2. What a thoughtful post, all mothers need to hear this message. We put such unreasonable expectations on ourselves and then beat ourselves up for not living up to them... Oh, and I loved the quote at the end about our story defining us unless we own it. So true.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Gulara. It's a daily practice - to allow myself human moments in parenting. Again, I appreciate the comment.

  3. There are NO perfect people, Jackie. Extend yourself a bit of grace, sweetie. If you think you made a mistake, don't do it again. End of story.

    The world is still spinning today.
    And you and yours are safe in it.

    With heart,

    1. Hi Dani - Why is it so hard to extend ourselves the same grace we give to others? Believe it or not, I'm still struggling a bit with this one. The story of 4th of July came up again over the weekend. One of the party-goers who was intoxicated with me, thinks it was hilarious - the things we said and did that night. And yes, we were funny and goofy, but still...when she brought it all up to share with friends who weren't there, I cringed. I couldn't find the humor...only the shame showed up. *sigh* We are always our harshest critics, aren't we? Big hugs to you, friend and thanks for your support.

  4. I love this Jackie! "Becoming a mother came with a boatload of self-imposed expectations." That is so true for me. If I'm really honest, I'll say that my entire life has been ruled by self-imposed expectations and parenthood only intensified it. We were in the pool yesterday and a bee landed on my shoulder. I was holding my 5 year old daughter at the time and I freaked out and let go of her in the water. Mom FAIL! I could've spent a lot of time beating myself up for reacting the way I did but it wouldn't have done anything but chip away at a confidence that I need to be a good parent. I need to hold onto that confidence, not tear it to shreds. Instead, I apologized profusely to her. After she spit the water out of her mouth (she's a new swimmer but we were in the shallow end so she mostly landed on her feet), she smiled and jumped back in my arms. I can't promise it won't ever happen again because even through I have two bees tattooed on my arm, I still don't want a real one landing on me. ;)

    1. Thanks so much Karen! You're so right - it's not just motherhood that came with self-imposed expectations. It's my LIFE. So true. I giggled at your bee story because I'd bet all the money I have that I would do the same exact thing you did if a bee landed on me. I'm petrified of bees. (I must have been stung to death in a past life. haha) They're cute in illustrations and I even had a bee theme in my kitchen many years ago, but hell no, I don't want one on me! LOL! I guess the lesson in these stories is that even though we are moms, we are still human. And I think it's important for our children to know that, so that when it's their turn to parent, they hopefully won't be as hard on themselves. It's ok to make mistakes. XOXO

  5. I loved your post! As a mom, I can totally relate to that experience and your feelings of inadequacy as a mom. Bravo to you for changing your mind thereby changing your perspective! I'll drink to that! 😜


Hello Dear Reader:

If you comment, I will buy you a cookie. Not really. But we can both pretend I gave you one. To get you started...what's your favorite kind of cookie? Mine is chocolate chip. I especially crave them when I'm PMS'ing.