Me: How was your day today, Charlie?
Charlie: Well, I painted with Lori. And I didn't put rocks up my nose.
Sounds like a successful day in the life of a toddler. Personally, I wish that my definition of a successful day involved having the impulse control not to stick inorganic material into my nasal cavities.
Hell, most days I consider myself a success if I don't have a panic attack over something. Elizabeth lipped off to me? OMG, she is going to rebel and start using bath salts and get pregnant with a crack baby. Alexis didn't want to eat dinner? She is going to become anorexic and die from related heart disease. The dog threw up? He has heartworm and is going to die and then Charlie is going to lose her mind and become a serial killer. So on, and so forth. A constant battle against my crazy. Against the forces that exist only in my own mind that tell me I am not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, professional enough, woman enough, strong enough. Sometimes they even tell me I am not crazy enough. What are you complaining for? There are people who are hallucinating about demons from hell raping them anally and you are stressed over not being able to control your thoughts and anxiety and depression?
My successes in life are ones that people frequently point to when they want to highlight individual success in an attempt to downplay systemic oppression. (Incidentally, there is no quicker way to bring out my crazy than to try to do exactly that. Or to force me to listen to anything sung by Katy Perry. Either/or.) I was a teen mom. I not only graduated from high school, I graduated a year early in the top ten of my class (again, despite the best efforts of my high school to get me to quietly drop out). I graduated from college with honors. I got my Master's degree, then my independent counseling license. I am a homeowner with buttloads of debt. I live a solidly middle class lifestyle. I survived having to bury a child and miscarrying multiple other ones. I successfully advocated for my own health and got potentially life saving treatment.
All of those things, however, don't matter if I can't function. If I can't enjoy life. So I take my medications. I constantly challenge myself; my irrational thoughts. I actively seek out fun and laughter. I surround myself with contentment and things and people I enjoy. I seek out the absurd and look for the humor. I cherish the perspective that comes from the innocence of my children precisely because it gets taken away all to quickly.
So yes, Charlie...it was a good day. Keep on not inserting rocks where they don't belong. Mama is proud of you. But mostly, I am proud that I was able to tell you that rocks don't belong there, and that I am still here to hear about your painting.
I survived. That is my success.