I had an interesting conversation with a dear friend online this week. It started out being about breastfeeding (how so many women don't despite all of the evidence that it is best for babies), and then became more of an observation about our culture in general. We talked about how self-centered we are, infatuated with comfort and convenience, and so quick to give up when things get tough. Our society teaches us not to judge, and encourages everyone to do "what's right for them". In a lot of aspects, this is a good thing. But what about in cases where there is a clear "right" thing to do? One of the phrases my friend used, which she was told by a counselor, was "The right thing to do is the right thing to do, ya know?" This really made me think.
Now, I am a fairly shy person, and have always had problems standing up for myself or for what is right (at least in person, it's easier in writing). I really don't want to offend anyone or have them upset at me. But is this attitude really helping anyone? Would I, and those around me, be better off if I had the guts to confront people about serious issues? If more parents felt pressure to do the right thing, would that be so bad? Most people automatically get so defensive when confronted about parenting issues, instead of thinking about what the actual consequences of their actions might be. Why do we always feel such an incredible amount of guilt? Maybe sometimes people just genuinely want to help, even if they are, in fact, judging. Does that have to be such a horrible thing? My friend also said "Women already feel guilty about things like breastfeeding. They just need to know that it's ok to actually fix the problem. To go ahead and be mothers to their children. I know I needed that push." It's ok to try and be something better, to try and do the right thing when you are confronted with it. Accepting encouragement and making changes is a positive thing. Sometimes we need to lay down our pride for the sake of our kids.
I had a really hard time with breastfeeding when Judith was a baby (you can read My Breastfeeding Story via the link on the left column of my blog), but everyone around me pushed me to persevere. I hated it. I felt judged and inadequate, and I wished someone would tell me it's ok to give up and give her a bottle. But I was blessed enough to continuously be told that breastfeeding was best, and that was my only option. It was so hard at the time, and I didn't think I could do it. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. But I did it. And it made me a better mother, not just because I was feeding my baby the best food possible, but because that experience taught me that I could do ANYTHING. That it was ok to endure pain and suffer for a good cause. That my kids are worth it all. That parenting is hard work, and I can't pawn it off on anyone else. I wouldn't have learned those lessons by giving up.
I know I've probably offended someone by now. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I really don't want anyone to feel guilty or bad about themselves or past decisions, there's nothing anyone can do about that. Everyone has their own individual story, reasons for their decisions, and experiences. All we have is right now, and we can choose to make changes right now, and for the future. If you're offended, I'd encourage you to take a moment and think about why you feel that way. But that's not where I'm going with this.
The conversation I had with my friend made me think about myself. How often do I make excuses? There are so many things that I should do, that I just don't. I have my list of excuses; I'm too tired, I don't feel up to it, I had a rough day, my feelings are hurt, I'm afraid, I don't know how, etc. I know and accept that my feelings are real and valid, but should they be allowed to derail my life? My grandmothers didn't have that option. But my generation seems to constantly grope for reasons to be lazy. I'm not saying I should kill myself in order to keep an immaculate house, but I probably could do better. And hey, if I did better, I might even feel better.
Tonight (Monday night) was very rough. Dave was out and I put the kids to bed myself. It took about 3 hours to tidy up the house, give the kids a bath, get them dressed, teeth brushed, books read, all the while trying to nurse, burp, or console Ruthie (she was NOT in a good mood). At any given moment there was at least 1, if not 3, children screaming and/or crying. Most of the time I was crying too, but I didn't have a choice, I had to persevere, keep pushing to get things done, and try to keep it all together. I was so frustrated and exhausted. But right now, now that it's all done, I'm glad I did it and feel much better. I was really tempted to skip tidying the house, but now that it's tidy I have a great sense of satisfaction. I would have felt like crap waking up tomorrow to the mess. I'm glad I didn't give in to the excuses to quit that were running through my head.
In the past I have struggled with depression, and I know back then I wouldn't have been able to push through and get everything done like I did tonight. But even if I were to become depressed again, I don't think that would give me the right to wallow in it. My kids deserve better than that. Having been through that already, I know that there is help out there, and it would be up to me to get it. I would have to talk to my doctor (naturopath) about it, and seek counseling, even if I didn't want to. It's hard to find the initiative to get help when you're depressed, but you can do it.
I really want to work on my discipline. It's severely lacking in my life. I could use the excuse that I have 3 kids, and yes, my house will never be perfect because of this, but I bet I could do better. I want to organize my time and my life better, I'm sure that would help me be less stressed, and allow me the freedom to be more present in each moment, and have more focus on the task at hand. There are some moms I know that get SO much accomplished in a day, without losing their minds, and I want to be like that. I want to give more to my husband, my kids, my house, and myself. I don't want my feelings and circumstances to own me.
Anyways, it's late, and my brain doesn't have much juice left (there I go making excuses again!), but I hope this makes sense. I just want to start holding myself to higher standards. I don't want to motivate myself with guilt, I've had enough of that in my life, but rather with the possibility of something better. I'm tired of these lame excuses holding me back.