I recently heard that who you are in high school largely determines who you will be when you grow up. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do think that some of the voices and harsh looks I got from the “Mean Girls” of my teens have followed me straight into my thirties. The one thing that’s different is the subject matter has (mostly) changed.
I’ve been bickering with them today. Here is our conversation:
Mean Girl 1: You’re feeding him that?
Me: It’s what I have.
Mean Girl 2: But you didn’t make it.
Me: I gave him food I made and he wouldn’t eat it. You were here. You saw it.
Mean Girls: unimpressed eye rolls to each other
Me: What am I supposed to do? He wouldn’t eat it!
Mean Girl 2: Make something else.
Me: He never eats the food I make him.
Mean Girl 1: Then you’re not doing it right.
Me: How am I supposed to do it differently?!
Mean Girl 1: I’ve never fed my child anything I didn’t make.
Me (to self): Crap.
Mean Girl 2: You’re wasting money on food.
Mean Girl 1: You need to expand his palate. Expose him to new foods.
Me: He’s picky. Has been picky since birth! I offer him new things all the time. (shrilly) He rejects them ALL THE TIME!
Mean Girls exchange looks and walk away giggling
Me: I suck.
You know, writing it out I can see how ridiculous this is, but it’s something I deal with all the time. These are statements that I have actually heard people say, but my insecurities twist them into voices of condemnation and failure about me. They stick to me like the burrs in our overgrown backyard that I have to pick off of Jack’s pants. I take them personally. I compare myself to other people who make their own organic baby food, or only use cloth diapers, or throw elaborate birthday parties, or keep immaculate homes or have their baby weaned by twelve months because it’s weird not to, or… oh my word, I’m exhausted from the bickering! I’m discouraged from the voices! It’s time for them to end.
No more comparing. No more “shoulds.” No more! It’s time to shut down the voices.
One of the reasons I don’t do all of those things is because I just can’t. There I said it. I can’t. I have limitations. There was a brief time nearly two years ago when I celebrated my limitations. Recognizing them gave me freedom to be myself. I recognized what I was capable of doing and for a couple of weeks I lived there. I stopped trying to be what magazines, baby web sites, television, and even people I know said I should be. That was a short lived moment of glory, but it was good. I believe it’s possible to live within my limitations again.
One of my mentors posted this on Facebook the other day:
If we have been fortunate, we have had mentors that have taught us to embrace the unique gifts/talents given to us. And even more fortunate is the mentee who has learned to embrace her limitations simultaneously. Otherwise, she will never experience the richness of interdependency. Instead, she runs the risk of acting as if she were God, able to give all things to all people. Embracing one’s limitations is not an act of selfishness. It is instead a high form of selflessness. It does require saying no, but if done well, the no is said alongside saying yes to something else.
(I think she should write a book.)
Reflecting on Laura’s words, I realized…
I can choose to read a chapter of Farmer Boy (by Laura Ingalls Wilder) to my four year old son instead of sweeping the floor or I can encourage my 14 month old to walk instead of washing diapers. I can laugh with my husband because I’m not stressed out about pureeing squash. Recognizing I can’t do something and saying no to it actually gives me the freedom to be myself.
The Mean Girls might still scowl and roll their eyes as I pay for much of our baby food (this one’s really getting to me today), but you know what? My baby is full. He’s happy. He’s fed.
And I have peace. Because I did what I could.