Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Patience and compassion (and a little less whining)

I've been working with kids, in some capacity, for close to ten years now. Even before that, I tutored and taught my friends and classmates for as long as I can remember. I've always considered my strength as a teacher to be my ability to see each student as an individual, to give people what they need and not necessarily what the curriculum says they should get. Being fair means considering each circumstance and doing what is appropriate, not expecting people to do things they are not capable of.

So why can't I see it when it's me?

I'm not Martha Stewart, nor am I Crystal or Meredith, as much as I admire and respect them both. I can't get my grocery budget down to $50 a month for two of us. My apartment doesn't look like it came out of a magazine. I don't know how to sew an apron, nor could I probably concentrate long enough to finish one even if I had instructions.

And you know what? That's okay. My laundry is done. I have dinner on the table every night. My apartment looks presentable enough that I don't mind having company. I work a few hours a week, enough that I feel good about it. There's money in my savings account, and that number is growing every month. If I'm more tired than I used to be, I should rest and sleep more. If I want to work on a quilt or knit a blanket, I have time; if it takes me 2 years to finish something, that's okay too. If my best friend on the other side of the planet needs to talk to me at 6AM, the housework will wait.

Instead of setting unrealistic expectations and ultimatums for myself, I need to treat myself with the same patience and compassion I would treat one of my students. Instead of setting hard and fast goals and then feeling let down, I need to see what each day brings and do the best I can. The goal is progress, not perfection, something I'd be proud to hear one of my kids realize.


wil said...

Too often we are too tough on ourselves. I catch myself doing the same thing. Funny thing is I have almost unlimited patience when dealing with others.

Great post!