Being a parent makes a person highly aware. Aware of middle-of-the-night breathing, the size of the cut-up carrot chunks, the ingredients in fruit snacks. It also makes us highly aware of our own behavior, and if you’re me, your flaws. There’s one, in particular, that I like to call the “But Complex.”
It happens with little things, it happens with big things. It happens nearly any time I get the chance to own a job well done, and it goes a little something like this:
“Your kids are so cute. You’re doing a great job with them!”
Oh, thanks. It may seem that way, but I’m not, really. They’re incredible kids, but I’m pretty sure I’m failing a little bit more each day and I fear I just may ruin them.
Or, at work: “Hey, that project you did? Great job!”
It may seem that way, but I really didn’t. It’s mediocre work at best. Thank you for not looking more closely.
“Those snacks you made for daycare were so cute!”
It may seem that way, but I didn’t come up with the idea. I saw them on Pinterest. I wish that had been my creative brainchild, but nope.
“You look fabulous!”
It may seem that way, but I really don’t. I assure you, if you could really see me, you’d see how flawed I am. How wrong I look. How much I need to change. How much I’ve let myself go. But thanks!
“That article/poem/whatever you wrote was great!”
Oh, that? Thanks. It might seem like it was good, but it wasn’t. I assure you. I just won’t let you read anything else I written so you don’t find out that I’m a fraud who just happened to produce a lucky page.
“Oh hey, (insert any compliment here.)”
Thanks, BUT (deflect, deflect, deflect here.)
And, perhaps the worst of all, “Mommy, you’re the best mommy ever.”
Oh, honey. It may seem that way, but someday, when you’re big, you’ll realize that I’m just…not.
I don’t say it, of course, but it’s always there. That little voice. For me, and for many other women who really are fabulous but just can’t let themselves truly know it.
Why the struggle to own our power, our talent, our strength? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that of all the gifts I want to leave my children, this isn’t one of them. They deserve to feel confident and wear a smile when they say, “Thank you!”…because I don’t ever want them to know how much that “but” weighs.