Bria has been really sick all week (which means it's probably good this baby hasn't come yet), in fact, I decided around bedtime tonight I should probably take her to the doctor tomorrow, since her throat hurts so bad she couldn't even swallow raw tofu or bread. Since she's felt sick, I've been helping her brush her teeth, because she has cankers along both sides of her tongue, and it scares her that she'll hurt herself. (Understandable. Cankers are the pits, man.) While brushing her teeth tonight, I kept telling her to stick out her tongue so I could brush the top of it, but she just kept leaning her head back, and every time I would try to brush it, she'd pull it back in, and then she just drooled all this toothpastey goo all over my hands. In the history of losing my parental patience, it wasn't so bad, but it wasn't exactly honorable either. I mostly felt irritated, so I snipped a little and gave her an unnecessary lecture. As she finished getting ready for bed and came into her room to get tucked in, her spirits were rather down. She's had a tough week. Due to being sick, she had to miss her school's Thanksgiving lunch party today (many, many tears were shed about this). At dinner she explained that she's school sick: "it's like being homesick, but you miss school instead." And, despite also being very excited, she is experiencing some anxiety about the baby's imminent arrival. Let's not forget the fact that she was in tears this morning because the last of our billion pregnant friends went into labor today, and as Bria lamented "it feels like our baby is never going to come!" (me too, Bria. me too.) So, it's been rough for sweet little B. The last thing she needs is her mom snapping at her because it hurts to stick her tongue out. So before she climbed into her bed, I knelt down, looked her in the eyes and said, "You're doing a good job." Her face relaxed into a small smile, and she gave me a huge hug. The last couple minutes before I turned out her lights and shut her door were a good bonding moment for us as we chatted and sang a song together. All it took was me telling her she was doing a good job.
As I've learned many times in parenting, the same things that work for kids often work for adults. Most of us could really benefit from being told we're doing a good job. Lots of times we may not even be doing our best, but we're usually trying. And it's incredibly validating for our efforts to be recognized. The last two weeks of this pregnancy have been emotionally taxing as we just wait for my body to spontaneously go into labor. Sam is the Ultimate Supportive Champion, and there are times when he tells me I am doing a good job, and it really turns the situation around for me. It's validating to hear the hard work I've done has not gone unnoticed, and it encourages me to keep it up. (Not like I have a choice with pregnancy. I mean, I just gotta keep existing.)
The next experiment is to apply this to affirmations and self-talk. Is it just as efficient to tell yourself you're doing a good job? I'm going to try.