I come from a long line of women who do too much. And I know that’s true of most of us. We work full time jobs, take care of our families and homes, volunteer, have side projects and still find time for our friends. And then we add to it. And add to it. And add to it.
“How hard is it to make 2 dozen cupcakes? A birthday only comes once a year!”
“Sure, I would be happy to help you create your website – let’s meet for lunch.”
“I really want to make sure that we are documenting our family’s growth and experiences – I’ll just stay up later and work on this photo album.”
Sometimes, we manage it all beautifully. But other times, we overload ourselves until we collapse. This can take many forms – less tolerance for frustration, greater irritation, loss of sleep, loss or increase in appetite (usually for quick and unhealthy foods), headaches, stomachaches, and more. Why do we do that to ourselves?
I think part of the problem is the culture of the day. Mommy-blogs can be fun and inspiring reads, but they can also cause us to compare ourselves to others. And that generally means that we are comparing their best to our own worst. We look at photos of someone else’s pottery barn styled home and children beaming with joy over fresh baked mini apple pies with hand churned whip cream and compare it to our pile of unfolded laundry, bickering kids and pasta-from-a-box dinner and feel like we are failing at this game.
It’s so easy to fall into that hole.
But is that reality? Can any home be perfectly neat and styled all the time, with angelically behaved little ones and the constant aroma of fresh baked goodness wafting through the air? Of course not. But very few people are putting up pictures of the reality of their lives – it tends to dissuade sponsors, I suppose – and many of those blogs are actually businesses. Which means they are selling you something – an idea, a lifestyle, whatever. And if you want to know what shade of blue that bedroom is, here’s the intstructable for how they DIY’d the hand painted border motif with handy affiliate links to Benjamin Moore paints. All to often, we buy into it and the next thing you know, we are up at 1am trying to make marshmallow cloud icing like we saw on Pinterst for our daughter’s girl scout troope sleep-over jamboree.
But is that really what you want your life to look like?
I know that I want more time with my family, more energy at work, and to have time for my own creative endeavors and socializing. Is staying up until 1am trying to perfect an icing technique honoring those goals or is it trying to keep up with the pressure to be a hyper-stylized Martha Stewart in skinny jeans?
I’m not saying that homemade is bad (I love to bake) or that mommy-blogs are the cause of all this stress (I love getting inspired by creative projects and before/afters). What I am saying is that I find it really helpful to sometimes reflect on what my goals for my own heart-felt life really are versus what I am stressing out about accomplishing. When they aren’t in-line with each other, I know I need to seek a compromise.
I, for one, am not willing to compromise my family. Not even for Instagram.
~ Jessica S. Campbell, LCSW