A week ago I wrote about the guilt I experience over my everyday decisions regarding work, motherhood, and myself even though I know full well they are unwarranted and irrational. Sometimes (a lot of times) I can’t help but feel like I’m not making the best decisions and/or doing what I should really being doing. At times I can get myself worked into such a state and start feeling somewhat down and out on myself because for the life of me, I just can’t figure out why it is that everyone has their life together and knows what what they’re doing. Everyone except me.
That we always think we should be doing something more and something better is an idea that blogger WriterinSoul explored when she mused that “we’re not what we think we should be, even if we’re the only ones who know it. We fall short of the vision of ourselves that exists in our imagination because we measure ourselves against such omnipresent external forces as culture and media of which we had no part in making.”
This zeitgeist of “more more more” is not all bad as it can be the catalyst to positive change and self-improvement, but conversely it can give rise to the fallacious mindset that everything you do is not good enough when it is, in fact, perfectly fine.
Case in point:
While still nursing my son, I returned to work at two full-time jobs. I worked outside of the home during the day. My evening job was from my home office but still required me to close the door and be completely secluded from the kids and any household happenings and also to work until very late at night. I was, however, able to time my breaks so that we still always sat down as a family and had dinner together, and I was also able to come back out at bedtime to read a quick story to the Babes and kiss and tuck them into bed. Sometimes I was even able to get off a bit early and sit and spend time with the Hubs for a short time before we both passed out. This was good but I still never felt like it was ok. I was rundown and haggard and felt like I was seriously dropping the ball on being a good wife and mother.
During these times, how I wished so to be more like my friend. My friend, also a mom of two, who devoted her days to staying at home with her children and homeschooling (or specifically, unschooling). She shared wonderful Facebook posts of the things she and her girls had learned that day, the museums they visited, the new discoveries and connections her babies uncovered. I longed to be able to spend similar time with my own children. I wondered if my long work hours was damaging their young psyches and if I was being completely unfair to them.
Then one day, on one of my rare evenings off, my friend comes over to visit. The kids are playing happily and we are in the living room drinking coffee and catching up. Out of the blue, she turns to me and says something to the effect of “I admire you balancing your career and the kids. I look at you and feel like I need to get it together and do something with myself.”
Let’s just say it’s a good thing my mug was on the coffee table and not in my hand at the time. Stunned was not even the word. I was gobsmacked. I could not believe that this woman whom I wanted to be more like, was sitting here saying she wanted to be more like me.
What an eye-opener, or as Oprah would call it, an “Aha Moment”. In that moment we both realized the futility in second-guessing ourselves and the ridiculousness in always feeling like we aren’t up to snuff. Because no matter how different of a parent we are or how varying our daily lifestyle is, what we all have in common is that we love our children fiercely and want the best for them and that we’re all doing the best that we can. Regardless of the road we are taking, we shouldn’t beleaguer the point that we’re not doing it exactly like So-and-So. Seeing someone else do it differently should only exemplify that all paths are valid and have something to offer and that we should never be judgmental of anyone’s choices, least of all our own. There’s no one right way, and we’re not doing it wrong.
Of course this is all easier said than done. The whole point of my initial post was how you already know the guilt is ludicrous but still you feel it anyway. But at those moments when those twinges of self-doubt creep in, recalling this conversation, this epiphany, with my friend, helps tremendously in regaining the perspective that I am enough.
I am quite enjoying your blog. Your honesty and point of view is refreshing 🙂
I like the idea of borrowing ideas from other people, rather than wanting or trying to *be* them. There are always people doing better or more than I am and instead of feeling guilty, I’m trying to focus a) on what I’m doing well and b) how I might incorporate even small pieces of what the other people are doing.
And I have to return again to how selectively we compare ourselves. I don’t compare myself to people who live in the woods or who have gone to jail or who deal drugs, and yet if I’m going to play the Compare Game, I should – and not just the to people who seem to be doing better than I am. (Better I quit comparing entirely, but one thing at a time…)
Another very interesting post, Christina.
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Thank YOU for another thought-provoking comment! Well said, I couldn’t agree more. Your words will be something else I continue to remind myself of as well!
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I think we’re reminding each other!
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You are enough
Bruce, thank you 🙂
Your point that we are usually our own harshest critic is spot on. 🙂 We tend to think about how we could have done something different rather realizing life frequently requires us to make quick decisions otherwise we would become overwhelmed. Great post Cristina and thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much Dale, I appreciate your visit and your comment!