I was playing Battleship with my daughter Sasha tonight, and she got very frustrated when the weird flat ship that looks like a garbage barge wouldn’t stay on the board. In case you also haven’t played since 1977, the peg board on which you stick your little ships is now vertical and needlessly fancy. I might be misremembering, but I think it was horizontal back in the day, which boded better for the ships staying put for the bombs to hit them.
Anyway, after trying and failing to keep it on three times, she got fed up and said she didn’t want to play anymore.
Good Mommy angel sitting on my left shoulder: “This is a teachable moment! She should learn to manage her emotions and not give up when something isn’t going perfectly! Call upon your vast God-given reserves of maternal patience and encourage her to persevere!”
Bad Mommy angel, sipping a glass of wine, hacking her way through an entire wheel of Brie on my right: “F**k it. It’s almost bedtime. Kid’s tired. You’re tired. iCarly is on. Cut her a break. Have some cheese. She can learn that lesson some other time, maybe in school, where you won’t have to teach it to her.”
In the end, Bad Mommy angel more or less won out, although I did make Sasha clean up the game, and resolved to talk her through it next time.
Still, I could almost hear the inevitable Fox News commentator ranting about how kids these days are weak and dependent and how that will lead to the future failure of this country in the global marketplace and it’ll all be the fault of cheese-eating moms like me who didn’t lay on the tough love when we had the chance.
But here’s the thing: I come from a personal culture of self-improvement and perfectionism, and my default in my teens and 20s and into my 30s was to do whatever it took to become better/smarter/prettier/thinner. Some of it was unhealthy and most of it was a waste of energy and time, most of all because there was no such thing as good enough, so I never got to feel good. It’s taken me until I became a happy Formerly to give up on the idea that I need to be constantly improving myself. It’s a huge relief, and I get to eat a lot more cheese now that I’m done believing that I have to try so hard.
The latest area in which I’m trying to let myself off the perfectionist hook is parenting, but that’s tricky sometimes when you do want your kids to strive for…not perfection, of course, but doing their best. Or maybe it’s OK that they don’t do their best all the time. I’m not sure. I’m still finding my balance.
Of course whether you need to improve in a particular area depends where you start–I needed to calm down and give myself the opportunity to be human like everyone else. And there are certainly those who don’t try hard enough and give up too easily. But because I still have a bit of the self-improvement slave driver in me, I thought, why not make a list of things I suck at, that I’m perfectly fine with sucking at.
Mine is below. PLEASE tell me what you suck at, and why you don’t really care that you suck at it.
1. I’m a sucky cook. (But I’m an excellent dishwasher loader, so it usually works out.)
2. My handwriting is terrible. Big whoop.
3. I have never sent out a holiday card. No one cares! I think they’d care if I did and then stopped, but I’m under the radar of expectations on that one.
4. I need a calculator to tabulate a tip. Old me: You should be able to do it yourself. New me: That’s what calculators are for.
5. I often have inappropriate feelings for a given occasion. Luckily I’m not bad at keeping them to myself.
6. Winter sports–feh! I excel at lanyard, however.
7. Quite possibly marriage, although I’m not quite willing to concede that one.
Oh, gee, there are too many to list. I suck at writing when it’s bedtime, which it is. Please, celebrate your suckitude in the comment area.
January 18, 2011 at 10:08 am
Oh my goodness, the angels we have them with parenting, eating just about everything. My bad angel wins a lot too. Looking at my desk I suck at filing, bill paying and photo album making. I wish I didn’t care I sucked at them. Although if I really did care my desk wouldn’t look like this. BTW I gave a shout out to Formerly Hot in my “well read” blog. Check it out foodtrainers.blogspot.com. Would love to know what your reading list looks like. I am sure it doesn’t “suck”.
January 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm
I utterly suck at decorating — not that it’s a secret to anyone who’s ever visited my home. Other moms are so great at creating ambience from a Japanese screen and a couple of Pottery Barn throw pillows…my house basically comes in one color, blue; and one furniture style, OLD. Friends with feng shui always walk in, squint, and say, “Don’t you think the sofa maybe belongs on the other side of the room?” Well, maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but the one certainty is that I don’t give a rat’s butt, so it’s staying where it is. Now sit down on it and tell me if you think I ought to hang a velvet painting of dogs playing poker above my poorly-placed TV.
January 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm
I suck at remembering where i put things (not all things). Then I get so ticked off that i can’t find it, I berate myself for forgetting (I swear it still isn’t me, someone has to be moving this thing from where I last put it) but then i said to myself the other day “screw it! I’m not knocking myself out anymore for forgetting…everyone does it and I’m 1 year from 40. eventually everyone will stop being disappointed mom forgot and will just expect that i forgot and i’ll finally get some slack!”
January 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm
1. I suck big time @ staying focused while @ work (Case in point.)
2. I suck @ staying focused while cleaning the house. Ex: I start by wiping the kitchen counters, remember that there is food to be tossed in the fridge, see that the dishwasher has run its cycle and needs to be emptied & reloaded, which reminds me that the laundry needs to be switched out & another load (sorted then) thrown in, which reminds me that I meant to take the dog’s bedding out of the crate and wash it, which reminds me that I need to go in the basement to get her a new pillow to lay on in the meantime. Once in the basement, I see the litter boxes that needs cleaning out and glance over at the pantry that needs to be purged and rearranged and I see brownie mix and I remember that I promised the bf I’d bake him some and see only 4 cans of crushed tomatoes which means I need to add them to my grocery list. Which I haven’t started on yet but will when I get back upstairs. Once back upstairs, I go looking for notepad & pen and see that one of the cats threw up in the living room window. I go to get a paper towel & use the last one on the roll. Rather than be like the rest of the people I live with, I go to the storage closet to get another roll. All out. Back down to the basement to bring up a few rolls so I can throw a couple in said closet for back-ups. What was I doing again? Oh yeah-the cat puke – living room. Crap-I REALLY need to vacuum in there. And dust the tables & entertainment center. When getting out the vacuum, I see what a mess the coat closet is. Really need to get to that, too. After vacuuming the entire house, I see that the filter is really nasty and needs a good shaking out. While I’m at it, I take the garbage & recycling out to the garage. Man-the garage is a disaster. Start to sort through a few boxes then I realize that I was going to clean the HOUSE, not the garage. Go back in to house to see that the dog has peed on the floor and the cats have knocked over a plant. Yay me.
Time to start cooking dinner.
January 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm
i suck at driving in the snow/ice – very happily worked from home today, not sure how to dodge bullet tomorrow…….
January 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm
i guess i also suck at being patient – i think i may have (just formerly) posted comment twice….sorry
January 18, 2011 at 9:25 pm
1. I am the. worst. present-wrapper. EVAR. Seriously. I can just manage to get the wrapping paper to look okay on a completely rectilinear, regularly-shaped, hard surface — i.e. a book. Other than that, I’m completely hopeless, from estimating how much paper I’ll need (either WAY too much or 1 inch too little — aaaarrrgggghhh!) to folding neatly, taping. Doing a ribbon? Pointless. I console myself with the thought that it’s the present inside that counts. Well yes, I suppose the thought DOES count, too, but seriously — it’s the present inside that counts.
2. I don’t keep a neat workspace at the office. I’m not really okay with this, but I’m in denial about how much time it wastes. Is that the same as being okay with it?
3. I am the owner of two brown thumbs. Plants that do terrible things in one life are reincarnated in my garden in the next. Luckily, since the invention of industrial agriculture and the return of farmers markets, my doom-bringing gardening abilities don’t need to make many plants suffer at all.
January 22, 2011 at 10:58 am
I suck at grocery shopping. I hate doing it as it seems like such a waste…I mean, in 6 or 7 days you just have to do all over again. 99% of the time I forget my list, and even when I do bring a list, i either get it mixed up with an old list I have in my purse or i forget to look at it and then don’t end up buying the right things.
January 22, 2011 at 11:51 am
I suck at assembling anything. Ikea furniture? Forget it. On a good day, I can change my vacuum cleaner bag…maybe.
I don’t care–that’s what husbands are for. (Which reminds me, I used to think I sucked at marriage. Turns out I just married the wrong men.)
January 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm
I suck at organization. And cleaning. And pretty much anything that I’m not interested in.
January 23, 2011 at 7:47 am
I suck at getting my kids to clean up after themselves. Wish I didn’t, because then I would have to clean up after them so much.
Also, present wrapping. Just don’t do it well and don’t understand the enthusiasm and energy some people manage to throw into it.
Loved this post!