This morning I cried. Sorrow for not being the mama I can be. Sadness for not putting joy into my daughter’s morning like I could have. Heartache at my own short-comings and lack of greater awareness. In all honesty, I hadn’t done anything horrible or perhaps even that hurtful. But I had been focused on the wrong things and behaved more like a drill sergeant as I sought to pack my daughter’s lunch and get her ready to go to a friend’s house. Instead of bringing playful energy to our day and enjoying our short time together as we prepared to go, I was brusque and business-like, leaving little room for connection.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

~ Brené Brown

For me, self-forgiveness is one of the hardest practices. Plenty of old beliefs still have roots dug in at places I’ve yet to weed. And my deep desire to lovingly raise my daughter frequently trips me up as a demand to do “everything right.” Sufficient work in personal growth means that when I do go unconscious, it doesn’t last and I eventually realize I was off track. Combined, these qualities mean that I want to be and do parenting really well, yet I know it when I’ve missed the mark and have come up as merely human — vulnerable, flawed, endeavoring, loveable, laughable, imperfect. Allowing my humanity in its “worst” form is hard — I’m working on it, yet it’s really challenging for me to offer myself that same grace of forgiveness that I can extend to others.

While I know this isn’t the case for all parents, I think there are many of us who are challenged to treat ourselves — the rough and rugged parts of who we are and how we behave — with compassion. I’m reading The Gifts of Imperfection, by researcher Brené Brown, and am finding that much of her message resonates with me. One of my goals in reading the book and doing this work is to learn to love myself no matter what. The unconditional love I offer my daughter — except when I’m tangled up in my stuff — is a gift I want to give to myself too. Not only will that serve me — and heal some of my own wounds — I trust that it will help my daughter learn a different way of treating herself than I learned.

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”

~ C.G. Jung