I am not one for making New Years Resolutions typically, but this year I gave it a go and I have been surprised by its effect. My resolution was to be kind to myself (some days I settle for being a little kinder to myself than before).
I realized, like many women, I struggle a lot with holding myself to what I’ve discovered to be a completely and totally unrealistic standard. I cannot pin point exactly where I have picked up these expectations – but they exist! Some suspicions are media, social media, friends, family and Pinterest. I want to start this post off with saying everyone has their own little demon. I have friends who feel guilty for eating a cupcake (I will have 3). Some who can’t function with a messy house (I’ll get to that). Some who have trouble with their husbands after a long day. Some who feel guilty if they’ve been unable to breastfeed. Some who are struggling with their weight. Some who feel bad for sleep training. I could seriously go on and on, but you get the idea. We all have SOMETHING. We, as a society, have these ideas of what women should do, or be. And we all feel the pressure even if we don’t realize it at first *raises hand*.
I think that one day all this pressure to be ‘perfect’ can just catch up to you. At least it did for me. I don’t struggle with feeling like I’m a bad mom, but a bad housekeeper. I started noticing that I was less content and having trouble seeing the ‘bigger picture’-something I wasn’t used to struggling with. I noticed that if my house wasn’t as clean as I wanted it, I mentally abused myself. An internal dialogue of “Why isn’t my house cleaned properly. How come I can’t get it together?! This is your job, Laura, come on” started up. The house being clean thing is a bit of a touchy subject for me. I have had an anxiety disorder my entire life (not diagnosed until early adulthood) that manifested in OCD at one time (which is what led me to get the anxiety diagnosis in the first place). For me, the OCD was basically the manifestation of really debilitating anxiety and once I was able to get my brain’s chemicals under control it luckily just faded away on it’s own. But, for me, my OCD presented itself as needing to have everything clean (not because of germs, but because I wanted everything to look ‘just so’). You know when people say “I have to have a clean kitchen, I’m kind of OCD about it!” in a cute joking way? Well, I HAD TO HAVE A CLEAN KITCHEN. I was for real OCD about it.
So when my self degregating thoughts focused on the house not being clean enough a warning bell went off in my head. 1) This was not a good sign-that little OCD monster might be trying to come back into my life. 2) I would have to cut something out of my days completely if my house were to be as clean as I wanted and 3) I don’t have time for either of those things!!
Thus-the resolution was born. Be kind to yourself, Laura.
As I began replacing my negative thoughts about the messy playroom or piles of laundry, my perspective began to shift. I am only 30 days into this and I can see the beginning of a transformation in myself. I also seem to be acutely aware of how it’s not just me. I realized how unkind most of you are to yourselves in one way or another. I would never think to judge or scoff at another woman for so many of the things I criticize myself for. I wouldn’t be this unkind to someone else, would you? I’m sorry-but how are we supposed to be a size 2, toned, eat all organic food, make the perfect decisions for our kids and families, shuffle our kids to and from activities, eat dinner together every night, have a spotless home, be a loving spouse, craft our own home decor, have perfect hair and makeup etc, etc, etc. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I can do like 3 of those things in a day. Sometimes.
To finish this up I also want to touch briefly on how there is a trending message on social media about how we need to get out of these ‘mommy wars’. Madison Moms Blog joined in with this video. I think we all know that the unobtainable standards are just too high and too much pressure. We need to knock them down and be realistic.
I believe we, as mothers, are all doing our best. I know that somedays I have little energy for anything other than loving my child and sharing in her joys. She certainly doesn’t care if the dishes aren’t done or the laundry isn’t folded. She loves me and is in awe of her mommy regardless.
Be kind to yourself, mama.