20 October 2010

Things I've Learned - Fail Better

This morning I managed to stand up in the shower for ten whole minutes without needing to sit down. I've been so sick the last few days that everything but breathing has fallen by the wayside. There are any number of reasons I've been ill: The Imp's in daycare, a seething petri dish vector of disease if ever there was one; I've been taking on too much, running around trying to be all things to all people; but mostly I think I just had a little almost-breakdown in the last two weeks.

I've been thinking a lot of my past work in project management - there comes a time, on a troublesome project, when you just look at the patchwork that's been done to fix problems as they come up, and stop everything. Look at things from a new perspective, assess as objectively as you can, and then decide to tear the whole thing down and start over fresh. That's what the last two weeks have been like for me on an emotional level. And suffering through The Cold Virus of Doom That Will Not Die has slowed me down enough to really deal with some things for the first time.

A couple of weeks ago I connected some dots and gained some insights into the roots of problems I've struggled with all my life. Issues of fear, of giving up before I even try, of reacting with towering anger to minor setbacks. To an outside observer, what I'm going through doesn't look like much, but internally it has shaken me, rocked me to my core. I've had to rethink my approach to everything: relationships, business, and especially to parenting. Looking at patterns from my childhood and sifting out that which is good to pass on to The Imp, and finding a way to acknowledge and discard that which is not.

I don't have any pictures of me sick. So here's one of The Imp.

I think turning 40 has been a catalyst for much of this introspection. Realizing I don't care what people think anymore has opened the door, but it's events of the last couple of weeks that have really knocked me down and made me figure out how to pick myself up again. The revelation of the the source of so much of my anger has given me the freedom to consciously change the way I react when The Imp is acting up. A couple of mornings ago as we were cuddling before breakfast, I said to him, "Let's have a good day today. No hitting, no kicking, no scratching, no pinching. And no shouting. What do you think? Wouldn't that be great?" He looked at me and very seriously said, "And no naughty corner."

My heart: breaking.

"That's right. No naughty corner. Let's be gentle with each other today."

"Okay, Mommy."

And not for nothing, the last two days he hasn't hit me once. We've had two whole days without a trip to the naughty corner.

Despite me being so physically ill I could barely manage to bundle The Imp off to daycare in the morning, things have been better than I have any right to expect.

I'm not saying everything's magically all better now. I will struggle, I will fall down, I will fail utterly. But right now I'm feeling like the falling down won't be the calamitous, paralyzing thing it's been in the past.

Sometimes you really do need to stop what you're doing and tear it down. Rebuild from a stronger foundation, fail better next time.

And be gentle with each other.

I just hope next time it won't take getting the plague to make me see that.


  1. You sound GOOD. Really good. And wise.

    Thank you for sharing your insights. To failing better!

  2. Sickness is always a sign of something. I'm older than you and have yet to be taken totally down, which I think is what I really need: a good old-fashioned bottoming out.

    Corners turning... Nothing like kids to force you to face your demons. Oh that and a new business!

  3. Amber's right you sound really GOOD. Like the fog has cleared and you see things more clearly. Its a shame it took a dreaded lurgy to help you in that but whatever it takes right?