A Tale of Mismatched Earrings and Merciful Kindness

A Tale of Mismatched Earrings and Merciful Kindness August 24, 2018

A week or so ago, I walked past the kitchen counter and noticed a tangled pair of mismatched earrings.

MianShahzadRaza / Pixabay

Why would there be one dangly silver earring and one dangly gold earring bunched together like I’d purposefully worn them that way? 

Now, a couple of things before we go any further: first of all, as cool as it would be for my husband and the boys to sport dangly earrings from their ears or noses, that’s not exactly their style. And as hip as it would be for me to purposefully wear mismatched dangly earrings, I’m not exactly there yet.

Like, ever.

So, after staring at the earrings I remembered how I’d taken them off a couple of days earlier to hold a four-month old baby.

“You might want to take those off to hold her,” her mama had said, “or else she’ll pull them off your ears.”

“Good call,” I replied, taking the earrings off my lobes while simultaneously making grabs for the baby. I hadn’t noticed – nor had anyone else attempted to point out all day long, likely because of all the hipness oozing out of me – the mismatched earrings.

But when I saw the obviously mismatched pair two days later, a single stream of consciousness came to my mind: I’m still so tired I don’t even notice when I’ve adorned myself in two very different earrings. I still have to practice kindness to myself …and I have to try my hardest to show this kindness to others. Every single one of us is fighting a battle, after all. 

You may recall how I just wrote about showing kindness to myself, but I guess I thought I’d only have to show kindness for a week or two and then find myself miraculously healed after a couple of hearty doses of self-care.

But showing kindness to yourself doesn’t work that way.

Loving yourself doesn’t work that way.

Letting yourself be loved by others and by God doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes learning to color outside the lines means learning to be merciful to yourself, over and over and over again.

What does this mean for me?

I’m sleeping, a lot. I’m cozying up with a cup of Sleepytime tea, a novel and a snuggly pair of pajamas. Sometimes I’m falling asleep on the floor of the boys’ bedroom, after they ask me to stay for just a few minutes longer – and when this happens, I’m not beating myself up, because I know I need the sleep.

I’m reading, a lot. While I oftentimes joke about the fact that our youngest doesn’t go back to school until after Labor Day, and I can’t therefore work, the truth is that I can’t currently work. The part of me that needs and wants to create is not in a place to even be able to play with the words that dance around in my head. So right now, I’m using this time and space to slow down and fill up. (Need a good book? I just finished The Sun Does Shine earlier this afternoon and can’t recommend it highly enough. Might justice always win, might truth always prevail, might hope always shine through. Amen).

I’m snuggling with the ones I love, a lot. We’ve been strict about Family Movie Night, about holing up on the couch on Friday or Saturday night with take-out pizza and a Pixar movie. Maybe because the transition into kindergarten has been such a big deal for our little guy, he’s also been wanting to play Jack Jack and Elastigirl a whole lot lately – and Jack Jack, who’s the baby of The Incredibles family, wants nothing more than to snuggle with his mama, Elastigirl, on the corner reading chair. I know these moments won’t last forever, so for now, Elastigirl is putting her laptop and her book to the side, holding her most incredible infant son, and hoping he doesn’t use one of his 17 superpowers against her.

These are three small ways I’m not only showing, but receiving kindness and mercy and love to myself. And if last week’s mismatched earrings are any indication, I have a feeling that this kindness isn’t going away anytime soon.

So, I’m curious: How are you showing kindness to yourself? What does it look like it your life? 

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  • I like this so much–especially the part about sleeping, reading and snuggling. How I’ve been showing kindness to myself: Pauses to breathe when I don’t see what to do next, whether parenting the wee beasties or in my creative work. E.g.: A beloved project I’ve been working on for years was on the verge of an exciting step forward, and suddenly got derailed. I believe in this thing fiercely & am going to persevere, but instead of rushing to fix it, I let myself catch my breath for a few weeks. I’m making quiet lists with ideas on what to do now. Like you, I’m letting myself wait until they’re back in school. Pausing to breathe and consider, in ways big and small, has probably been the best thing I’ve learned this year. And now if I can just teach my 4-yr-old to do it when he’s jonesing for his brother’s Lego sets…

  • PS Congrats about this new blogging gig! I saw it in your email. I haven’t explored Patheos in a while and it reminded me I should.

  • Cara Meredith

    Thanks Jen – I hadn’t explored Patheos in awhile either. 😉

  • Cara Meredith

    “Parenting the wee beasties” – love that line!