And why I hate the word
“Should” is a dirty word. It elicits guilt, anxiety, restlessness, and distracts us from the present. Yet, it’s probably the word moms wrestle with most.
“I should be cleaning.”
“I should have let them make the mess.”
“I should contribute more.”
I should fix my hair and do my makeup.”
“Should” makes us feel inadequate. “Should” is thrown in our faces every time we turn on the TV or scroll Instagram. “Should” is the toxic ex we should do our best to avoid. You know, the one who consumed you completely in high school, killed your self-esteem, and cost you years of your youth trying to rebuild a healthy self image.
I’ve been wrestling with “should” an awful lot lately, as I’ve stepped back from freelance work and the extra money it provided us. I want to dig in again, feel useful, feel intelligent, but dammit, I’m exhausted. The motivation just isn’t there, not for articles, blogging, or pitching jobs. I don’t have it.
I’m only sharing because I think other moms struggle with the need to feel useful. They listen to “should” in their thoughts at night when their head hits the pillow. Whether it’s the yearning to have it all together, get another degree, apply to one more job… Every mom feels like she could do more, and that’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s hard to always be chasing something.
It’s not like I have a magic pill or remedy to fix my relationship with “should.” I only offer the comfort in knowing you aren’t alone if you struggle with this too. For me, it helps to dive into creative, something that doesn’t necessarily pay, but offers a sense of accomplishment. It also helps to toss the phone and play with my kids, uninterrupted, immersed in whatever farm project we have going on that day.
“Should” always comes back and it probably always will. I guess it’s a symptom of being the high-functioning anxious type. It’s been there since I was little and grew louder with age. It feeds on recognition and praise. Get the A, win the trophy, land the new skill… Maybe that’s why it’s so loud now.
Motherhood is a quiet journey without a stage. No one sees the diapers, the scraped knees, the constant feeding. And no one hears the constant nagging, voice of inadequacy, or screams for help hidden behind yoga pants, unkempt hair, and a sink full of dishes.
It sucks. I don’t have a flowery phrase or words of wisdom. Sometimes life just sucks and you have to feel it to move on, to grow. But just know, there’s no singular way you “should” deal with it. Try everything. Find something unique to you and when you do, lean into that hard.