Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lowered Expectations

Honestly, who doesn't love this? If you don't, then your childhood must have been sparse, at best, and cruelly absent of culturally relevant material for later therapy sessions at worst. Or perhaps just pious.

Anyway, I can't even think the phrase without hearing the theme music. (And no, our parents didn't know we were up watching MadTV at 11 pm on Saturday nights. Crazy rebellious tweenagers were we.)

But honestly, I've gone so far past where I'd imagined I'd be, in terms of a functioning adult responsible for the care and feeding of smaller humans, that I think my bitchy 17-year old self would have slapped me. Or judged me harshly and self-righteously from the safe and rosy perspective of inexperience. Case in point, I just freed my firstborn from his filthy highchair prison and commissioned him to go and 'spread your shredded-turkey laden hands all about the house.'

Call me crazy, but it makes me feel like I'm thismuchcloser to being a little bit, oh, I don't know, in control when I'm at least pretending to give the orders. Or saying things that are more or less inevitable 7.8 seconds before they happen, thereby imagining that I actually instructed my son to pull clumps of hair trimmings out of the bathroom trashcan and transfer them neatly into the nearby laundry hamper. (What, we do home haircuts for the men in this house. White trash much? At least I'm not using a Flowbee.)

Take yesterday morning, for example, when I furtively glanced about the frozen food section before snatching a 1lb bag of Foster Farms chicken breast nugget pieces from the case and burying them at the bottom of my cart. Whose approval I might have been seeking was not entirely clear, but I felt intensely the shame of buying breaded, processed meat to feed my precious child, and so down to the cretaceous layer of the cart they went. Under the (nonorganic) bananas and romaine lettuce (look at me, everyone, I feed my family produce!)

I may or may not have been thinking about a recent online admission of guilt that came up in my facebook stalkerfeed recently admitting to the purchase and distribution of nuggets to a minor, and the mild panic I felt at the realization that my own shameful protein-enforcing strategy was actually a punishable offense in the online momosphere. Ugh.

So it turns out, much of the expectations I have for myself as a wife and mother hinge mainly on the perception of outside observers of our family, either actual or perceived. I don't really think anyone else is looking into my shopping cart tallying the proportion of complex to simple carbs present and judging my size and appearance based on my slovenly consumer habits, do I?

Honestly, I really do. And I think it's largely a result of the amount of time I spend admiring/stalking/voyeur-ing/comparing other mother's lives/habits/routines/wardrobes, mostly on the internets. Have women always engaged in a little, ahem, healthy competition/comparison making?


Has it gotten a whoooole lot easier to do so on a regular basis without recognizing the inherent disorder in said behavior, and, more importantly, what it reveals about the state of one's own soul?


It's almost like a more passive form of gossip or a more innocuous version of coveting. I'm not saying it's making me a terrible mom to take notes on what others are doing with their broods, but it does incline me towards an unhealthy amount of navel-gazing, in addition to producing heightened levels of jealousy and anxiety. And that ain't good.

These impossible (for me) standards I find myself measuring my mothering against are not only unrealistic, they are actually keeping me from the very real and (often) mundane task of accomplishing God's will for my family for that day. I can't read another Bible story to my toddler because I'm busy researching ways to catechize the young child based on Montessori techniques incorporating Theology of the Body. And I'm looking at mommy fashion blogs. And that's why dinner isn't ready, either.

Come to think of it, some of my most stressful and least-satisfying days as a homemaker have been days that were filled not with busyness and chores but with hours of online ogling, HGTV-watching, Facebook photo-scrolling 'research.'

Except all I have to show for it is ghetto taco salad (a house specialty) for dinner for the 3rd night in a row and a complete lack of energy and/or enthusiasm for my life by the time my husband is home.

Maybe my expectations don't need to be lowered, per se, but rather, personalized and custom-built to reflect the needs of my family and my vocation. And maybe I can get closer to achieving that ideal through prayer as opposed to another episode of House Hunters.

I didn't mean to go preachy on this second inaugural entry, honest. I had every intention of filling the page with witty remarks about things I can't believe I am letting slide with my firstborn and how I went to the gym without makeup this morning and was totally fine with it.

That is, until I realized I wasn't wearing earrings either.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Is your email linked to your comment? I'd love to respond to you directly, but I can't if it's not!