Fighting those feelings of needing to “measure up” and dealing with those feelings of inadequacy.
Lately I have kind of felt bombarded with all the “advice” out there available at our finger tips. Everyone seems to have there own ideas about how to do things.
We have lists like: The top 10 things to do to be a good parent, The top 20 things that you should do with/for your kids, 5 things every mom should do to show her kids love, etc.
Now I have to admit I have been sucked into this trap of pinning a million How to’s on Pinterest, and reading them when I had time. But in all honesty, they never really make me feel better about the kind of mom I am. They never leave me feeling uplifted and renewed. I never stop reading them and feel this overwhelming feeling of passion on what I am going to change and become better at. Usually I end reading them feeling like I just don’t measure up.
I feel like I am a good mom, sometimes even a great one, but I read all these things and it paints this picture of what a “great mom” is and that picture is not what my life is. Each time I read them I feel the pressure building of what I should be doing and I’m not. I read something the other day, something that got me thinking a lot about this whole “measuring up” thing. The number 1 item on this list of how to be a good mom was, “Get up before your kids and be ready for the day, have their lunches made and a fun note for them.” As soon as I read this I immediately started thinking about how I don’t do this. And there is was, right off the bat, after having just read 1 item…. the foreboding pressure to try to measure up.
And as I was thinking about why I did not do these things and what/how I needed to change I discovered something….. I discovered that my life (and everyone else’s in the world) is different. I thought about how I have Graves Disease and how one of the hardest things for me in my process of dealing with the Graves is how I have to change things to be able to do the things I want. I would love to be able to get up before my kids and get ready for the day before they even wake up, but My husband gets up with our kids, he gets them mostly ready for school and I get up shortly before they have to leave. If I get up before then, I am usually in pain and dragging for the rest of the day. My head hurts, my heart races, and I feel sluggish and worn down. The Graves does this to me, its not my choice, but it is my choice on what I do with it. I have learned to discover for myself how to be a better mother while living with the Graves. I know that on the days when I do have to get up earlier I usually have to take a mid day nap to let my body rest so that I don’t end up having a heart attack. Noah getting up with the kids is one of the ways that we have changed our family life to accommodate to an unfortunate “wrench” that has been thrown into our everyday life.
Does me not getting up with my kids make me a bad mom?
I think I’m a better mom because I have realized the “non essential” areas for me to excel in so that I can realize the essential areas, and improve there. I know that by not getting up before them, that I can give more of myself when I am awake.
I know that by letting their Dad get them ready for school I am ensuring that the time I do get to spend with them is quality time, where I feel good and healthy. So am I not really measuring up to the #1 item on this list or am I simply measuring up to my #1? It is easy to get stuck trying to measure up to what the world see’s, what the world thinks, and what the world wants. This top 10 things list that I read may be what this mom thinks she needs to do to be a good mom, but does it mean that its what I have to do? Am I letting this women that I don’t even know, who probably is a great mom, dictate what I have to do to be a great mom?
Its a pretty painful process to look at the world around us and to hold ourselves up against another person and realize that we don’t quit measure up to them. Its rather depressing to look at people around us that we admire and feel like we just don’t hold a candle to them. We live in a world where people want to freely give their own advice ( you know, kind of like I am doing right now). They want to tell you how to live your life and how to measure up and raise the bar to perfection.
Well I have some pretty earth shattering news……
Are you ready for this?
You will NEVER measure up, when you compare yourself to the world around you.
You will never be as perfect as that lady over their who bakes these perfect cakes every year for her kids birthday. Or be as amazingly flawless as the lady who drops her kids off for school everyday, wearing makeup and with her hair perfectly done and her clothes gorgeously worn.
Because its not real….. no one is perfect.
Miss Perfect Cakes is holding her measuring stick up to someone else and in her mind she is not measuring up.
Miss Flawless is secretly very insecure and feels like she is just not quite good enough.
We all feel it.
We all do it.
We all can never and will never measure up.
Because the bar is always being raised.
The level of perfection is always just out of reach when you look at yourself through the worlds eyes.
There is a song by Mercy River called Beautiful For Me, that I just love and the first few lines of the song say:
“Every girl young and old has to face her own reflection.
Twirl around, stare it down, whats the mirror gonna say.
With some luck she’ll measure up but she might not hold a candle to the rest,
“Is that your best?” says the mirror to the mess.”
How many times have we done this?
How many times have we read a blog, looked at a magazine, read a top 10 list and felt like we just did not measure up? Or if we did measure up, we still didn’t hold a candle to the rest? Sometimes I feel like a total mess. I feel like I just can’t do it all. I can’t keep up with the world. I can’t wake up early for my kids because I have Graves….. so that means I am a bad mom. It means that my kids deserve better. My husband deserves better. The world deserves better. Sometimes I push myself to the breaking point because I feel like I need to attain this level of perfection because the world is watching. I kill myself everyday trying to be the person that the world expects. I read top ten lists and feel disappointed in myself because I just can’t quit reach “IT”, that distant perfection of myself is just right there, barely out of my reach. Maybe, just maybe if I reach far enough, if I push myself hard enough, if I stretch out a tiny bit more then I will reach it.
But no matter how hard I push, or how far I reach, that perfection is still, barely out of reach. Even when you think you have reached that perfection, it doesn’t last long because there is always something new out there. Some new thing we should do for our kids to be better moms. Some cool date night that we just have to take our husbands on to show them we love them. Some new fancy thing we have to own. And then all of a sudden with out even realizing it we have fallen back down again.
We have lost that firm hold we were so painstakingly trying to keep on perfection and we have fallen back down to the bottom to start all over again.
Well, frankly I am tired of it.
I’m tired of what the world wants of me.
I’m tired of feeling not good enough.
I’m tired of always striving to be perfect in the worlds eyes.
Its time to break free and Let Go!
I think that only then will we find ourselves again.
We will find the amazing person that we have trapped inside of us.
The one that has been screaming to be let out for so long now.
The one that we thought we were trying to set free, but really we were hiding.
It’s time to step back and rediscover ourselves.
It’s time to rediscover what really makes us great.
Who cares what the world sees.
Its time to start caring about what I see.
And realizing that what I see, is good enough.
I live with Graves every day. I am in constant pain because I have kidneys that don’t work right. I have a son who has Aspergers and with that comes an almost debilitating anxiety that he constantly has to fight. Each day is a battle for me. It’s hard enough to be who I want to be without adding in what the world wants me to be.
I want to be kind and loving.
I want to read books with my kids.
I want to tell them I love them and shower them with kisses constantly.
I want to laugh with them and make silly faces.
I want them to know that I am always there to listen.
I want them to know that I love them more then they could ever imagine.
I want them to know that with out them, I am not me.
I want them to know that I would move heaven and earth for them to be happy with themselves.
I want to yell less and sing more.
I always want them to know how great their worth is.
I always want them to know how incredibly proud I am of them.
I want to always be there for them, even when they don’t think they need it.
I want to cuddle them on the couch and fall asleep with them in my arms.
When I think about all the people who I have admired in my life time, and I think about how fondly they speak of their mothers, I don’t ever recall them saying,
“She always made me the best cakes.”
“She always made my school lunch.”
“Her makeup was always perfect.”
“She always got up before me and made sure she was ready for the day.”
“She was super fit and skinny.”
I usually hear them say things like,
“I always knew she loved me.”
“She was always their for me.”
“She was always proud of me.”
“She always was there to listen when I needed her to be.”
“I never doubt how much I meant to her.”
“She was so selfless and always did things for others.”
I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to say things from that last list of things. And who is to say how we achieve those things? Im not going to get all religious here…. (that’s for next week.) But I will say this, NO ONE, but ourselves and the Lord can tell us how we do these things. No top ten list can tell me whether I am a good mom or not. When I stop letting the world creep into my thoughts and I let me feelings guide me, I am better for it. I am a better mom because I have more confidence in myself.
This striving for perfection in ourselves drastically changes when we reassess our goals in life. Which list do you want your kids to say about you? When I think about the day I die (I know its scary), I think about the things that I want people to say about me. I think about the things that I want to hear. And believe me its not, “She made some awesome cakes.” I want to hear them speak of my internal value. I want to know that I was kind, gentle, long suffering, compassionate, meek, humble, caring and friendly. I want to know that people remember me because of who I was, not what I did or looked like.
(this is me, makeup free, no fancy clothes or cute hair.)
Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE making my kids cakes, and throwing big parties and decorating my house. I even love fashion and makeup. These are things I enjoy, not things I am good at. Just things that I like to do, for me and my cute kids. Not for the world. But for me. My daughters first birthday was an “owl fantasy party” for me. I dreamed of the day I could have a girly party. I put nap time, and bed time hours into making my dream party. I only invited 2 families. I did not care that no one was coming to see all my work. I did it because I found joy in it. But alas I have found myself doing many other things in life that I don’t find joy in, simply because I was trying to measure up. Or because I thought my kids needed it. And instead of being enveloped in joy and satisfaction in the end, I usually felt like whatever I did was still not good enough.
Why, oh why, do we do that to ourselves?
Shouldn’t we be doing things that bring us joy?
Shouldn’t we be reading things that uplift us and renew us and help us feel confidence in ourselves?
The world will always be there telling us that we are just not good enough.
So all we have left to do, is to STOP LISTENING!
Just let go!
It’s then and ONLY then that we will find true joy, true peace and true satisfaction.
Because then and only then will be be doing things because we have sat back and reassessed our own lives, based on our own lives.
No top ten list can ever tell me how to live my life.
Only I can do that.
Only my Father in Heaven, and I can say who I need to be and more importantly who I want to be.
No one knows what life circumstances you have.
No one knows what kind of battles you fight daily.
No one can tell you how to live your life, because they have no idea what your life is like.
When we silence the world around us, we are able to discover what we are worth in the Lords eyes and in our own eyes.
So today I yelled at my kids, but I also cuddled them. I read a book to them and I let my son fix my hair for me, because he desperately wanted alone time with me. I let my kids stay up late because we were cuddling and watching Harry Potter. I didn’t get up before they did and have their lunches fixed for them, but I did tell them how much I loved them and kissed their precious little heads every chance I got. My face broke out in acne and my hair just wont cooperate, but my 2nd oldest son told me multiple times how beautiful I looked, he even gasped when he saw me. I gave out punishments, and had several “talks” with my oldest. My 4 year old told me at least 2 times that he hated me. But he also told me I was the best mom ever.
I can look back on my day and see all the ways that I just didn’t measure up.
I can see everything I did wrong and feel like a failure,
I can see everything I did right and feel like I am worthy. I can see the changes I want to make in my own life, because I know who I am and what I have to work with. I can push myself to become better, based on the bar that I decide is attainable for myself. I can look back on my day and know that I am improving everyday. I can know that I am constantly a change in the making. There is a better version of me, its in there somewhere, and I will find it. I’m not through living my life.
I’m not through learning and growing. There are so many things that I want to be. I want to be more patient and loving. I want to give more of myself and be less selfish. I am constantly reassessing my life and who I am and who I want to be. But I do that based on what I am and what I see inside of me….. not based on what the world see of me, or claims I should be. We need to constantly be working on creating the best version of ourselves. We are never done learning. There will always be something we see in ourselves that we want to change. But we must always remember to do that within ourselves and to silence the world around us. We make those changes and learn the things we need to learn because its for our own good, because its what we decided we wanted to change, not because Miss Awesome Top Ten blog list maker said its who we should be. And not because its what the newest Parenting magazine claims we should be. It is time to boldly let go of the world and find faith with in ourselves. Its time to see our own individual worth and forget about our worth in the worlds eyes.
Find yourself and realize that you do measure up.
Sorry for the novel… I have just had a lot on my mind lately.
I have been feeling these things and want to express my feelings for awhile now, and then I heard this song titled LET GO, by Mercy River and I felt like it was finally time for me to say how I was feeling…. I can’t find the music but I did find the Lyrics for you.
From the album Higher
I also want to say that I am not discouraging reading top 10 lists or parenting advice. There are some great things out there.
There are beautifully written pieces that can uplift us and bring joy to our lives. I'm just saying that we need to be careful about what we read, and more specifically about what we internalize.
Here is a beautifully written piece entitled Drops of Awesome that did uplift me and help me to see that what I am doing is good enough. That I don't have to be "perfect" to be wonderful.