This post talked about joy and happiness in parenting based on an interview of Jennifer Senior that I heard on Fresh Air. I want to continue to reference that interview in this post as well. It's a long interview, 38 minutes or so, but I really do recommend it. It was so interesting.
Something that really stood out to me in Senior's interview was the part where she talked about "being the standard." She said that men and women tend to have wildly different viewpoints on how good of a parent they are, and that it's because, as with so many things, they approach the question differently. She said that it was really put into words by one father, when he said that when he is in charge of childcare in his home, he thinks of himself as the standard. So, basically, he's measuring himself against himself. Women, on the other hand, tend to measure themselves not against themselves, but against others. And in today's connected world, we women have millions of other women we can access instantly to compare ourselves with. We end up thinking we are not doing a good job at parenting, because we lift up others as the standard, rather than making the best that we can do our standard.
Wow! I found this to be so deep! :D I guess in some ways it's kind of obvious, but I feel like I got so much out of this tidbit. I try to stay pretty positive about my parenting skills, but I have found that I can start to feel blue about my qualifications and it seems like the internet is out to make me feel like a failure.
For example, a friend asked me to join her facebook group for eco-friendly, attachment parenting sorts of moms. So I did. I mean, we cloth diaper, which is pretty green, right? And we don't co-sleep, but I surely love to babywear (G naps in her Moby wrap as I type this). So I figured I could fit in and learn new things. Well, to be honest, I think being in this group is making me feel worse instead of better. I am clearly not living as green a life as I could be, which is making me feel guilty. I don't DIY or craft or find miraculous new uses for stuff around my house, so of course, I couldn't go to the DIY exchange get together they had this week. I'm not out and about doing activities that are enriching to me, G, or the community. I'm feeling crappy and I really do think it's all because of this stupid facebook group. It's making me feel like there is this standard of green attachment parenthood that all these other moms are living up to that I am finding impossible. It's making me feel like my best is not a good enough standard to measure myself with.
Telling myself that my best should be my standard (or better yet, Christ should be my standard?!) is something I'm trying to do more now, when I start beating myself up. It really can be so easy to look at others and not see yourself as good enough. Things that have occurred to me just in the last few days include:
I am not a good enough blogger. Everyone blogs more than I do.
I am not maintaining my in/fertility perspective well. I am acting and thinking like I'm fertile now, and I don't know if I am or not! This makes me just as insensitive as the people who never struggled with fertility in the first place.
I am not a very good Catholic. It's been ages since I went to confession, but not since I received communion. I have not been doing anything to help the body of Christ. I feel so guilty (maybe I am a good Catholic, then? Kidding, kidding).
It's time to tell myself to remember what my standards should be. They should be me being my best self, not me trying to be like other moms, other bloggers, other people. They should be Christ and his mother Mary. My inspirations should be just that, inspiring, not defeating. Time to quit a certain facebook group and find myself a Lenten reconciliation service, perhaps. Do you ever find yourself in this spot? How do you move out of it?