Making My Way
I’ve written in the past about the word should – it’s a dirty word, and when it runs through my mind it brings along its friends – self-doubt and shaky confidence.
Five years ago I became a mother and I tuned out the world; I quieted the noise outside my head. I could not have cared less what people thought and Karl and I existed in our own little cocoon for a while. As I started to emerge and join the ranks of motherhood, making some new mommy friends, reading what others had to say, I suddenly thought to myself, “Are these the things I should care about, think about, ask about?” I never had, but I felt this odd awareness that perhaps there was some rulebook or manual that I had (like I do with so many other things) put in a pile and forgotten to look at… I realized I must have been doing it wrong. Except, that’s not what happened. I was doing it right, I was doing it exactly as I wanted to… and then I stopped, and tried to figure out what I should be doing.
I stopped trusting my instincts and instead tried to determine what the character playing the role of Mother in each scene would be doing. Making myself crazy in the process and being annoyed with myself (or the character I was playing) and not really understanding why…
I am so fortunate to have help with my kids – a ridiculous amount of help, in fact. More help and support than any girl could ask for; and yet, I’ve spent a lot of time running around like a chicken with my head cut off, doing the things I thought I should do (should WANT to do), even though ever fiber of my being was telling me to delegate!
Instead of becoming the mother who represents the person I actually am, I have spent much of the past five years trying to decide what I would do if I was the mother I’m supposed to be… “supposed to be” as determined by some set of standards I or the media or society has created. Not the mother I am at my core, not the mother that I enjoy being and feel confident about.
It makes things cloudy and uncomfortable. And I did this… without even realizing it. In part, I feared being judged. It makes perfect sense – I was judging myself, so naturally others were too. I was judging the way I acted, thought and behaved against this idea of how I SHOULD act, SHOULD think, SHOULD behave – if I didn’t even think I was measuring up, surely no one else could!
Huh, and now I’m back to the words “self-confidence”… it’s the key to this, and for me, the minute I look outside of myself or my home, my confidence can waiver. What I’ve learned in my years of working in the corporate world is that I can play by “their” rules REALLY WELL! And it builds a false kind of confidence. It built a confidence in me that wasn’t actually me. Each right answer validated what I SHOULD be (I was answering their question with the answer they wanted and in exchange receiving praise and recognition)… As it turns out, you can know the answer and still not be right! To a logical, straight-line kind of thinker, that is baffling to me. So this process of learning to parent, to love, to live the way I want to, forces me to reevaluate the way I “answer the question” and the validation a “right” answer brings to me.
I find myself not knowing how to end this blog… I started writing it last week, thinking that a strong or powerful conclusion would reveal itself to me. It has not. And perhaps that is revealing, maybe there is no strong ending or big conclusion, yet. The resolve is that I am not perfect, I don’t fit the mold I assume to be right. We speak often of comparing your insides to someone else’s outside and how detrimental and damaging it can be. Admittedly, I still do this from time to time. I’ll look at a woman, perfectly dressed, with children who are perfectly dressed and have their hair nicely done and I think to myself how I should have at least brushed Mia’s hair and maybe Karl’s right and Jake does need a haircut. As much as I’ve tried to fight the idea of who I think I should be (as a wife, mother, woman, sister, friend, business partner) these things are in my life because of ME and ME, whoever that is, whatever that means, is exactly what I owe to all of these people.