Magnus had his 5th birthday party this weekend. His real birthday is Wednesday. He’s an 11:11 baby, born the 11th day of the 11th month. I take this as a good sign, but I want to share something else with you.

Birthday parties have been a source of anxiety for me since Magnus’s first one. His first birthday I was still consciously limiting his sugar intake, so I was freaking out finding a cake recipe that would be delicious but not be super sugary. I spent at least a month scouring the internet researching recipes.

But let me tell you about the insanity of his second birthday. I bought 2 Wilton cake molds. One was a tractor, and one was a race car. I bought gel food colouring. Two shades of blue for the car, orange for the tractor, grey for the wheels, and black for the tires. Of course, I’d also have to have white for the windshields.

I made TWO gluten free cakes. One was vanilla (the tractor) and one was chocolate (the car). Again, I researched for the BEST cake recipes because they could not suck. I read all the reviews and finally settled on 2 recipes that were extremely high rated.

Magnus was napping when I needed to prepare the cakes, so I carried all the bowls, measuring cups and ingredients into the unfinished part of the basement (the furthest place from his room). Under the bare fluorescent light was the washer and dryer which is where I set up and prepared the cakes with a hand mixer, praying not to wake my birthday boy up.

Then I made SIX shades of icing for the cakes. This was the WORST. Buttercream was crusted onto every flat surface of the kitchen. Icing sugar settled into a layer of dust on everything. I had multiple spatulas, icing bags, and bowls on the go. I swore I would never do this to myself again.

I made trays of snacks for our family that was coming for Magnus’s party, cleaned and scrubbed my epic mess in the kitchen, and made sure everything was perfect.

Guest were supposed to arrive at 1pm, and at 12:55pm I was still in sweatpants, my hair in a top knot, and I had no makeup on yet. I frantically finished the last few touches, ran into the bathroom slamming the door behind me to get ready as our guests were arriving. I was panting, sweating, and swearing at myself for not having it together by now. I should be better than this.

You see I have this thing I’m recovering from. It’s called perfectionism, and it’s mean.

The voice that rises from perfectionism is the Inner Critic. For me, this voice is a “she,” but of course it can be any voice, male or female, and sometimes it’s a familiar one like a parent or teacher. It’s totally normal and we all have one…even if it is a pain in the ass.

On this day the Inner Critic was doing its finest work. It told me I was a shitty mom because I spent all morning baking instead of spending time with my son. It told me I should have been better at managing my time, I sucked at cake decorating, and I didn’t plan well enough. It said I should be ready by now, a good host doesn’t keep their guest waiting, and over and over again it said in a hundred different ways: I wasn’t good enough.

This voice is closest to our most uncomfortable feelings of shame and self-blame. It cuts right into our self-worth.

In the Soul Strategy Sessions did an exercise to name the Inner Critic and learn tools to deal with it.

But an easy way for you to work with it is simply to notice and name the Inner Critic’s voice when you see it, “Ah, there’s that voice that say’s I’m not a good enough mom again because I’m disappointed with how the day has unfolded. Hi, mean voice, I see you.”

Then, look for another voice, because I promise you, there is one! It’s the one that says, “Tina, everyone makes mistakes and it’s okay.”

By naming the Inner Critic you create space from it, so you are no longer consumed by it. This is the essence of Mindfulness, noticing the thought and seeing it as simply a thought. Say hello, and just notice that it’s there. By creating space, it gives you room to listen for another voice, a kinder voice, and choose another thought.

This helps us see that the Inner Critic is a PART of us, and not ALL of us.

We can practice saying hello and listen for another voice.

Keep an eye out for the critical voice and find that other voice inside of you.

If you’re curious what happened with Magnus’s second birthday, of course it was fine…but I did get rid of the cake molds. This year I made Magnus funfetti cupcakes.

Tell me in the comments, is your Inner Critic male or female? What bullshit stories does it try to say to you?