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Permission to Suck

You know when you get a song stuck in your head? And it won't go away. Here's mine:

"But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights I don't know anymore..." Fun

You're welcome. Feel free to pass it on.

This week I auditioned for a show. It is called Listen to Your Mother, an annual collection of readings about motherhood, performed of course, on Mothers Day. The guidelines for the audition were simple. The piece you read had to be written by you, be about motherhood, and be under five minutes long. They said they were looking for compelling stories, ones that "only you can tell" Of over 80 pieces, they plan to pick 14 that "fit together in some kind of flow."

Of course, my piece was about raising my daughter in a karate dojo. What else would I write about?

I don't know how my story fits in with those told by other mothers. I do not have a child with special needs like many of the mommy bloggers I read. I am not in recovery from something, except for my own neurosis. Maya's birth was only a momentous life altering experience to me and my family, not the rest of the world. I do not have a funny playground story, a heart-wrenching tale about breastfeeding, or a collection of mommy fears everyone can relate to. Or rather, I have all of those things, but none of them are as meaningful to me as the martial arts world that surrounds me and my daughter on a daily basis. 

Besides, anyone can talk about diaper blowouts and late night tantrums. But how many of the women auditioning are black belts? How many run a karate school? I figured it was what set me apart from the masses.

I am not an actress, unless you count pretending to be a frog while jumping across the dojo floor with my three year olds. I haven't auditioned for anything since the fifth grade when I tried out for a solo in that year's graduation performance. The song was Total Eclipse of the Heart. Lets all spend a moment picturing me with hair as short as a boy (after a horribly traumatic lice epidemic, my parents cut off all my hair) singing "Once upon a time I was falling in love. Now I'm only falling apart..." And so on. You gotta love the 80's. 

Unfortunately, the fifth grade me didn't get the part.

The morning of this more recent audition, I had a cough, a scratchy throat and the achy muscles that are indicative of the plague. I seriously sounded like someone had punched me in the throat, something that didn't actually happen this week since I have taken no classes to speak of. I was also exhausted. Perhaps they thought my raspy voice was sexy? Perhaps they were looking for a droopy eyed karate mom with larygitis?

It wasn't terrible. I mean I was no Louis CK but they seemed to like me. 

That was three days ago and I am just now starting to feel like myself again. Not 100 percent, but much better. Thank god.

I tend to get anxious when I feel sick. Yesterday, while on the subway, I gave some thought as to why. Is it my overactive imagination? (My neck hurts, must be meningitis. Is the pain in my tummy a cancerous tumor? And so on.) Or was I just a bit sleep deprived? The truth is that I can usually ignore the silly overreactive part of my brain. What I really get stressed out about is that I wont be able to do the things I normally do every day. I wont be able to train. The classes I teach will be terrible. I will be a crappy mom. The house will be a disaster. I will ignore my husband in favor of reruns of ANTM and my fuzzy blanket. There it is, in a nutshell, a perfectionists biggest fear, that when I am sick I will SUCK AT EVERYTHING!

I know I can sometimes put a lot of pressure on myself. So this week I did something truly revolutionary. I gave myself permission to suck. Instead of forcing myself to hit the mats at noon I lay in bed. Instead of trying to teach the best, most innovative classes every day I just did some karate with some kids. Matthew did a few extra chores and even taught one of my classes for me when I had no voice. Maya watched an extra show or two. I got a lot of sleep.

I may have sucked at everything else, but this week I ROCKED at being sick!

Which is actually very good for me. I don't normally do sick well. I don't take breaks when I need to. I like to just push through. But sometimes it is better to embrace the suckiness with all your being. To trust that taking a few days off from being superwoman won't result in everything falling apart. That I am good enough at what I do.  Because I am.

So I went to the dojo free of all expectations. You know what? I didn't suck. Turns out that me at 75 percent is not half bad. I mean I wont be winning any awards. But people seemed to understand. The kids tried extra hard to be good. One of the parents bought me a cup of tea and another one brought me a bag of cough drops. (Thanks guys!) No one pulled their kid out of class in horror. Most people probably didn't even notice a difference.

I even took the subway home. But if I had taken a taxi that would have been ok too.

I guess that's what I stand for. Showing up. Working hard. Being the best me I can be on any given day. Pushing myself to the limit.

And trusting myself to know when I shouldn't.  Loving myself either way.

Now that is something all moms can relate to.

So I auditioned for a show this week. I don't know if they are going to pick me, but hey, I put myself out there. I showed up. I did my best.

That is all you can ask of anyone really.

Besides, I know you all think I am pretty awesome!

I'll keep you posted....


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