criticized for it anyway

One of the growing trends that I see on lots of blogs that I love right now is conversation about feeling external pressure to be something other than what they feel they are intrinsically. They feel like everyone else has it together, and that they are somehow messing up. My favorite way that this has been stated was in this post by a woman I don’t know directly:

If you answered yes or no to even one of the above questions, then I’m sorry, but you clearly aren’t a good mother. Not as good as the mothers who either did or didn’t use one or all of the aforementioned parenting tools. You’re like, the Amber from ‘Teen Mom’ of mothers. Jeez. Why don’t you know how wrong your choices are?

Both Eleanor and Heather had it right. Every Mom I know is out here trying to compare themselves, and their children, to the other ones around them. They want to know that they are doing it right, and that they are “ok” in relation to others. Here’s the thing, there is NO RIGHT. That is why there is no manual. There are no instructions. There is no one right way. Most of us are out here doing the same thing: trying to be accepted. Here’s the glitch: there are always going to be haters. There is always someone that will disagree with what you believe with your whole heart. You can’t change their mind. You must simply trust in what you believe, and evaluate your life, goals, etc based upon YOUR values. Politics, religion, parenting, sexuality, marriage rights, finances, shoot – what flavor or ice cream is best, which channel on the radio rocks or relaxes more than the others, what to do on a Saturday night… These opinions are deeply personal, and held with both hands by those whom have convictions about them. So what are you supposed to do if you’re not to seek approval?! I’m learning that you can attempt to seek your own approval. You can attempt to evaluate life on your own terms, to simplify life’s distractions, and to realize that you are not a jerk whisperer. You can’t win everyone over, so agree to disagree sometimes. Everyone has baggage, and everyone leads with their highlight reel. Don’t compare their best efforts at impressing the world with those parts of yourself that only you know about and recognize as less than worthy. No one knows what you are “supposed” to be like in life because there is no expectation of who you will become that is universal. Your mom and dad have different expectations, your kids, your spouse, your co workers… All different. So what do you do? Your best. That’s all. If you can look at yourself and feel like you’re doing the best you can based upon your own values, life experience, and resources, then you’re golden. Now if I can keep telling myself this over and over and over, maybe I can mute the “feel bad feelings” as Girl would call them, when someone decides to preach it to me as if I asked for a sermon. Maybe I will also remember, that nobody asked for my unsolicited wisdom either, and give some compassion. Everyone is working hard at something, and if they aren’t then they should be. So lets all just give up the facade of trying to be uniform and celebrate one another’s strengths. Together, using all of our strengths, we can get much more done than if we remain separate attempting to fix our weaknesses. Perhaps the strength that we most need is the courage to ask for help. I’ve learned this repeatedly over the last three years, and for some reason I felt called to write it in today’s post. Maybe you needed to read it too? Just Sayin’…