How hard is it to have an idea of what *should* be happening, how we *should* be reacting, what we *should* be accomplishing, and how we *should* be parenting and then feel like you *should* know better how to figure out how to do it all?
In moderation, comparison and the *shoulds* act like a series of checks and balances of who we want to be, guiding us in the direction we want to go in so we can get farther along the path of what type of person we want to be. As in, “I should go to bed now rather than watch another episode on Netflix so I’m not a cranky nag in the morning.” And it’s true. As much as I would LOVE to stay up until midnight watching just one more episode on Netflix, my goal is to be an emotionally present and safe Mom. Those two don’t work. I *should* go to bed because of who I want to be.
But there’s other pulls we, as Moms, and I imagine humans, struggle through. I’m guessing I’m not the only. The downside of comparing ourselves in the interest of self-improvement is that it is so easy to get carried away with what we should be doing that we lose ourselves completely. Perhaps if the should involves a question, it should be a red flag.
“She works a full week and still manages to hold her household together and have three kids. I should be able to do that too.” Should I be able to do that too?
“Money is tight and other women choose to or need to return to work. Maybe I should just suck it up and go back to work too.”
“Wow. She raised her kids alone, working three jobs and still managed to finish her master’s degree…all on a pre-union teacher’s salary. What kind of a weak person am I that I even wonder whether I should finish my bachelor’s degree program part time right now?”
Guilt creeps in knowing that others might struggle more with fewer options…that others are more capable of being involved outside the home…wondering if one’s priorities are placed correctly…
Shame follows, not being able to answer some of these seemingly simple questions. Indecision.
Doing well at something feels good. Success feels good. Success does have the wonderful characteristic that it can be defined though.
So, today, I take back ownership of defining my success. I have a much clearer idea of who I am when I don’t doubt myself. I’m letting the questioning “shoulds” be and instead take up a new question: “Am I creating something positive with this decision?”
I felt guilt knitting because I have the time. But I am creating…knitting a sweater for my son.
I felt guilt taking my son to the lake to watch the water sparkle and honk at the geese….because I have the time when I know others don’t. But I am creating a strong body for myself and wonder for my boy in doing so.
*Should* is going to get redefined around here.
I have two good reminders to do so too…
Question readers: Is there a *should* that you’re struggling with or have struggled with? How did you deal with it? Absolutely. (see above ;D). I hope to deal with it by addressing the situation I find myself in rather than compensating for every hypothetical or unfavorable situation I or others might find themselves in…to work with my strengths and weaknesses toward my own and my family’s goals.