My older daughter is in an ultra competitive stage. She wants to be “first” at everything. First to brush her teeth, first to put her pajamas on, first to arrive anywhere (though, ironically, never first to eat her vegetables). For her, these “firsts” are her version of small victories and she celebrates each with zealous innocence.
I, too, have started celebrating small victories… maybe with less zealousness, and certainly with less innocence, but small victories all the same. This process of benchmarking steps of the journey came to light just before my first baby was born. A friend whose daughter is one year older than mine told me that while on maternity leave she set small goals for herself… take a shower, throw in a load of laundry, take a nap. On a normal day, or under normal circumstances, these goals would be mundane. But, as any new mom can attest, each of these tasks can be an insurmountable obstacle in delirious sleep-deprived days. Rather than seeing the entire day and all its ups and downs as a cumulative series of triumphs and tribulations, I chose then, and still choose now, to celebrate the small victories in life.
As I delve deeper into the blogging world, readers continue to ask me how I find the time to write my posts. As a wife, mom of two kids under four and full-time employee of a non-profit organization that is an hour commute each way, it’s no easy feat. But, I see my blog as an opportunity to set goals for myself. It began with the goal of starting a blog. (Check!) Then it was writing my first three posts. (Check!) Then getting 100 likes on the Finding Mom(me) Facebook Page. (Check! And thanks!) That same friend who told me about her goal-ridden maternity leave was so shocked that I had found the time to blog that she said she’d pay me $100 if I got to ten posts (this is post #11. So, check! And, B, pay up… just kidding!)
My biggest inspiration in celebrating small victories is a childhood friend whose husband experienced an unthinkable and inexplicable act of violence almost two years ago. Since that day, Abby and her husband T.C. have fought an uphill battle in every realm of life as they’ve experienced the effects of traumatic brain injury, including countless medical procedures, intensive speech therapies, and the heart-wrenching responsibilities of rebuilding the relationships in their family, not just between one another but also with their now three year-old son. As Abby documented their journey in a blog, first as a way to update friends and family about T.C.’s medical progress, then as a way for Abby to express her emotions, thoughts and experiences, and now as a resource for other families going through similar ordeals, I’ve seen her celebrate the seemingly smallest of victories as the biggest accomplishments, and rightfully so. In those first hours, days, and weeks, those moments of victory were proof of survival. As they’ve progressed, they’ve become proof of forward momentum. Abby’s ability to celebrate small victories kept her going in the darkest days, and she now shines a brilliant light of inspiration.
As I listen to my older daughter snore, and my younger one cough from the remnants of the toddler cooties she has been battling all week, I’m celebrating the triumphs that got me through today, and putting the tribulations of the day behind me. Parenthood is a series of small victories – an effective bedtime routine, an accomplished family outing, a successful negotiation with a toddler. Rather than sweating the small stuff, I celebrate it. A single day could be made up of multiple victories. Even with a few missteps, most days I net positive. And that’s pretty good.