I was sitting at the desk in our bedroom sobbing inconsolably. My husband came upstairs and found me – assuming someone I love had just died or that I’d found out some equally terrible news. But I wasn’t crying for a rational reason. I was crying because I’d failed to live up to the ridiculous expectations I’d put on myself.
It was the first week of summer vacation, and I had four kids under 6 at home. And I had set out to make EVERY.SINGLE.DAY of summer vacation magical. When my husband found me crying, it was because I’d failed to come up with enough activities to fill the “theme” I’d chosen for our break. I had decided it was going to be the summer of “Disney Days” – and that again- every single day had to be filled with thematic stories, lessons, activities, games, and snacks. I wish I was kidding. Sadly, I am not.
Back then, I was stuck in the mindset that I had something to prove. I was living with the false assumption that being the kind of mom who had thematic lesson plans every day of summer break was someone special. “They” would all see what a great job I was doing. I’d sure show “them.” (Who the heck is the “them” we’re always trying to impress anyways?) I was striving, hustling, and working myself into a frenzy all the time. And for what?
My kids didn’t need thematic snacks and backyard games to have a good summer. They certainly didn’t need a mom who was constantly stressed out trying to be the most Pinteresty woman of all time. Your kids don’t need magic. They just need you. Every day doesn’t have to be a day-trip, a trip to the zoo, or an afternoon of playdough and glitter(praise Jesus!). Spending time with my kids shouldn’t ever have been stressful. (And seriously, young kids especially are content with so little. I’m constantly amazed at how happy something like a popsicle makes my kids!) Just be you. Forget the lists of “must do summer activities” and the thematic days posted on social media. Those are other people’s highlights! That does not have to be you or what YOUR life looks like! Ditch the stress and just do you.
You have nothing to prove. (Read that sentence over and over again until it sinks in.) Stop setting crazy expectations for yourself – and please, stop comparing yourself to what you see on social media. Bloggers stage pictures carefully – and post content to get clicks and likes.(Trust me, I know!) What you see on Pinterest doesn’t always reflect real life. We have nothing to live up to. And trust me – as a former neurotic-hustler-for-approval, when you DO stress yourself out and go way over the top, no one shows up at your door to congratulate you. (Trust me, I spent a long time waiting for that gold star or my “atta boy” from the masses. They never came.)
A few years ago, I had a revelation. What if I gave up the hustle, and just decided that being happy was enough? I have to say – it’s pretty great, and I wouldn’t go back for a second. (Not even if you promised to show up at my door with that elusive gold star.) 😉 These days, I don’t think about what “they” will think. I focus on my family and what’s right for us – and just try to be present with my kids – and that’s enough. And my hope is that it will one day be enough for all of us.
Can you picture it with me? A world full of parents just doing what works for them without ever feeling the need to compare or “live up to” standards and expectations not based in reality? Just a world full of happy families, focused on love and quality time – not living lives simply to impress or garner approval? Let’s start today. Let simple be enough. Let being the type of mom you are – be enough. (Because it is.) You’re enough. You’re enough. You’re enough.