Friday, March 27, 2009

The danger of SHOULDS....

Momstheword posted today about the choice between "making it from scratch or just buying it" and described herself as falling off the wagon for NOT choosing to have her husband pick up a pizza on the way home from work rather than making a pizza herself that night. I would argue that, at least right now, where she finds herself on her journey has prioritized other areas above "making it from scratch" and that is just fine. Knowing that other people makes things from scratch shouldn't make her feel badly about not doing the same. They aren't better than she is, they are just at different points on their journey. This doesn't negate the value of "making it from scratch", but instead, recognizes that right now other things are more important to her.

Two years ago I decided to start making our bread at home, but I have to tell you, I almost certainly wouldn't have made that decision if I'd still been working full time. I still would see the value in home-made bread, but it wouldn't have been valuable enough to me at that time and place to have made it a priority in my life. My life has changed a lot since I worked full-time and I've reached a place in my life, however, where knowing how to do these things has become a significant priority in my life and I've been making it happen. It is that simple and that complex. Instead of speaking longingly about it, or admiringly of those who could do it, I've reached a place where I can and need to become one of those people. So, I'm constantly learning to make more and more things from scratch.

But that is just me...for now...and it has its limits...

I'm learning to sew more and more things, too, but I'm not even close to wanting to follow in Amy at Angry Chicken's footsteps and start making my own lingerie. Frankly, I'm not even tempted to try. At this point, I'm curiously reading her blogs about the experience and I'll even admit to be intrigued by the idea, but that is it. Yes, the fabric would cost less than I pay for a pair of panties, but I don't think the hassle is worth it...yet. Maybe someday I will want to give it a go, but maybe I never will. Who knows?

What I do know, is that we need to be careful of the shoulds... Reading Angry Chicken's blog and deciding that I should be making my own lingerie and that I'm a failure because I don't would not be healthy for me and it probably wouldn't be Amy's goal. Instead, I read her blog with a sense of wonder because, until she posted about it, it never occurred to me that I could sew my own lingerie. One more limitation has been removed and one more possibility introduced. How fun is that?

There are so many shoulds attached to our lives these days that we need to be vigilant. Possibilities are exciting, shoulds can become burdensome quite quickly. Whether child or adult, our lives seemed defined by the things we should do. Children should be in sports all year long, children should learn an instrument, children should be in student government, children should do community service, children should be active in their churches, children should be home for dinner every night with their families. Parents should participate in their children's sports activities, parents should do fundraisers, parents should volunteer, parents should go back to school, parents should provide a home-cooked meal for their families every night. Everyone should be focused on college and buying a home and being green and being organic and so on. Also, let's not forget that we are all (children and adults alike) supposed to be calm, cheerful and attractive while we live the frenetic pace set by a life of shoulds. The list of shoulds is endless and exhausting and trying to fulfill them all makes us crazy and, inevitably, feel like failures. It is simply not possible to do everything we should do.

Rather than making ourselves feel guilty about what we should be doing, it seems to me we need to focus our energy on the things that really are on the top of our priority list. If we really feel that we need to be doing something we're not, or falling off the wagon of our own stated goals, we need to look at our real priorities, not what we think our priorities are supposed to be. Once we figure out what we're really doing, we can understand better why our actions aren't actually following our stated goals. Digging deeper helps us uncover our real motivations for behaviors that don't seem to jive with our priorities. Maybe our goals are just that: stated goals, while our true goals have not been acknowledged. Maybe our shoulds are in the way of our real goals. Maybe it is some combination of both.

Using Momsthewords' example, perhaps the simple desire for internal restfulness and unhurried interaction with family and friends after a hectic day was more important than saving money on pizza. That doesn't mean saving money isn't important to her, but it doesn't mean it wasn't important enough. If she finds herself making that decision more and more, maybe something in her life has gotten out of balance and the busy-ness is interfering with her real priorities. For me, the feeling of guilt for buying pizza can end up masking frustration over some other aspect of my life having gotten off track. Maybe I overbooked or maybe I'm not feeling successful in other areas, but whatever the reason, I feel like I need something to give.

Maybe, just maybe, buying the pizza was exactly what she should have done...


momstheword said...

Wonderful post. You make me feel better about buying the pizza already! You are right I was to tired and just didn't feel like trying to cook something for dinner last night. I knew three hungry boys and one hungry man would apprciate pizza, not to mention me! Saving my sanity was more important than the money!

You are to right about examining our priorities. For years I kept thinking I should learn to sew, I should learn to sew. I finally admitted that while I loved the idea of knowing how, I did not want to take the time to learn it.

I learned in junior high but honestly never pursued it so didn't know much. I would still love to learn how, but only because I could save money by sewing things that I know I'm never going to sew.

generationsgoneby said...

I agree, sometimes others tell us we should be doing what they are doing because it makes their life better.

I read the underwear article and thought "Yuck." It didn't appeal to me. I just soon hit a sale before school starts back, buy enough for the entire family for the next year and move on. But I don't buy fancy mall underwear either. TMI as my youngest would say. LOL

I like a well organized house, but have come to realize my mother's cluttered house gives her comfort. She likes her stuff to be close by and out in the open. She doesn't like things put away because she can't see them that way. Open cabinets, and closets work better for her. We are just different in that way.

I personally plan one pizza night every three weeks just so we can stay home, eat pizza, watch a few movies, hang with the kids. But if I am especially tired after a long day at work, fried chicken in a bucket makes a lot less mess in my kitchen than frying it myself and I feel no guilt about the indulgence. I figure by the time I cook, clean up, wash dishes, wash dish rags, etc. I have probably broken even.

Now, I should be getting ready for Church, but I am not going to be because I am tired and I want to spend some time with God alone tonight, so I am going to finish my Internet surfing, have some quiet time, and then I am going to bed early. That's what I should be doing tonight.