Man Hairs, Magnifying Mirrors and Parenting

I thought I had done a great job. I was attentive, thorough, present and thoughtful — and had all the most important bases covered. I was confident. I felt proud. I may even be so bold to say that I had a little “mom swagger” in my step.

Yes, I got all of those little wiry, unsuspecting suckers. Success! I put the tweezers away and left on our much anticipated vacation.

However, unbeknownst to me I had been the fool. It wasn’t until that night as I was washing up to go to sleep that I looked up into the florescent, hideous light of the 10x magnifying mirror in our hotel bathroom and gasped in horror.

How all of those man hairs had sprouted on my chin in one day was shocking, appalling and highly confusing at best! How did I miss these? How did I walk around like this all day, (most likely all of the time since this was my biggest masterpiece of a tweezing performance), and nobody said anything?

What an epic fail on my part. Humiliating.

Quickly deflated, I got up close and personal with this mirror and went to town on those little invaders that seemed to be laughing at me as I bitterly plucked them away, one by one.

This magnifying mirror, hyper-focused and exaggerated on one area, made me see all of the flaws. All of the hairs I missed. All of the insecurities. All of the failure.

As I was angrily tweezing, I started thinking about how any time we shine a spotlight, a magnifying glass, on any area of our lives, we see all of the things we missed. All of the things we could have done better. All of our “not good enoughs.” All of our accomplishments seem to absorb into the not-so-good.

Observing from a distance we may feel proud, seem like we have it together, like we are pulling it all off and doing a pretty damn good job without messing anything up too badly.

But then we hone in on one aspect of how we parent — how we missed signing up to volunteer, how we had lunchables in the car for dinner twice this week in between activities, how that 8:30pm bedtime they should have somehow always turns into 9:15pm, how the patience we promised ourselves we would have today as we rolled out of bed instantly evaporated the second we heard the kids bickering before we even got downstairs.

We forget to see the big picture. All that we are doing right. How, overall, we are absolutely crushing it. We forget to notice all of the great we are doing when we turn on that 10x ultrabright light and shine it shockingly at that one area to expose the insecurities and unrealistic expectations lying beneath.

So, as I was philosophizing while tweezing I decided to turn that off awful light, push the mirror back to the wall and take a giant step back. I looked in the mirror from a healthy distance and I could no longer see the glaring imperfections. I didn’t look so bad anymore. Deep breath. The fast-motion-montage of all of the mistakes I make and all of the places I can improve quickly faded.

When we dissect any area of our lives we will see all of the mess in the details. The chaos. The not-good-enoughs.

I propose to you that we avoid the magnifying mirrors unless we intentionally decide to focus in for a particular reason of improvement. I propose we take a step back and celebrate our wins, all we do WELL, all of the strength, the accomplishments and the great efforts.

Man hairs or no man hairs, I walked out of the dark bathroom with my swagger back.

Breaking News Update – 4 hours after writing this post …

Here’s the scene: We are just back from our trip and I’m snuggling with my 8 year old son in the backyard, on a beautiful day, swinging together in the slightly beat-up hammock, watching our 4 month old Newfoundland puppy chase after an old popped soccer ball. Miles looks over at me and softly puts his hands on my face and says, “Mom, I love how the sunlight is shining on your face.” I tear up, think about the post I wrote and how I must be doing a pretty great job after all. I follow it up with a question, “What do you love about it, sweetheart?” And then he shares his answer … “It’s so cool because from this angle it looks like you’re trying to grow a beard.” Yep.