Monday, May 13, 2013

There's only so much you can do

Mother's Day 2013. Clean babies and matching pjs, courtesy of Grandma.
Mother's Day yesterday was a much-needed break. No, we didn't go off to the coast for the day or up to the mountains. We did, however, take a break from yard work and chores, and my in-laws babysat so Dan could take me out to dinner. All in all, it was a pretty great day! We went to breakfast with my parents after Mass, and I even got to lay on the couch for an hour while Dan cleaned up the house and played with the babies.

While I was relaxing on the couch (and feeling guilty about being in a horizontal position before 9 pm), I got to thinking about how we as mothers sometimes expect much more of ourselves than others do. Sure, there's always something that needs doing, and most days the list of chores feels endless. But in reality, what you see on Pinterest or even in a blog post can become the lens through which you view your day. So simply having dinner on the table doesn't feel like an accomplishment, because the meal wasn't worthy of an Instagram shot and you're using paper towels for napkins. I've written before about the dangers of living your life by others' standards, but it's possible to get caught up in this even if you're confident in your parenting choices. Around Christmas time, I saw a meme on Facebook that said something like: "All those other moms are posting pics of their decorations and baking reindeer shaped treats, and I'm all like, 'hey, I took a shower and kept the kids alive.'" The truth is, in the moments of exhaustion after a chaotic day, the latter two seem like a much bigger accomplishment! But I know when I read a blog post the next morning about a DIY project or a wonderful, healthy, home-cooked meal, I start to feel unworthy.

What's worth remembering in all this is that while one mom might cook fabulous meals, another bakes from scratch every week, another's house is worthy of a magazine spread, and another sews her own clothes, they aren't doing it all. You don't have to either. Raising and nurturing children is a job all in itself. I think we - at least I - tend to amalgamate these various moms in our heads and feel as though we're being evaluated constantly by a hovering Supermom who can do it all better than we can. I mean, think about it. If there really was a Supermom, she would be swooping down to sweltering parking lots, rescuing the mom who finds herself suddenly out of diapers mid-change, and soothing inconsolable babies at 3 am so the exhausted mom and the exhausted baby can get some sleep. She'd hardly have time to be judgmental!

So if there's something you find great enjoyment in doing, like sewing or cooking or organizing, by all means do it, and do it well. But don't hold yourself to an unattainable standard. Remember, there's only so much you can do. Give yourself a pat on the back when you check something off your list, and don't   lose any sleep -  or sanity -  thinking about how much better someone else does it.