A blog entry by Little Blue Bottle inspired me to echo her sentiments about her thoughts on the term “self-care” and how it’s perfectly fine to be just a mediocre person. That post spoke about how self-care is something necessary because we’re relentlessly chasing after something when in fact we shouldn’t even need it if we’re content being an ordinary someone. But sadly, in a digital era where images of perfect lives are dominating our feeds, we’re led to believe that we’re only capable of happiness if we can recreate the same scene—if we could only be like ‘that person’; if only we could have that; if only I’m as pretty as her; if only…
So we go on this blind pursuit of what we think will complete us, measuring ourselves against the benchmarks of what others define as success. For me, at some point, I even thought that being busy was a badge of honor!
It was only during an incident three years ago where I chanced upon my eldest telling her 1.5yo sister that she’s too busy for her, that I realize she was parroting what I’ve been saying to her. I went through much difficulty to have these gals and instead of treasuring their presence and my time with them, I was setting them aside in an attempt to carve out a career for myself. I was swayed by interviews of women who shared their stories about how they managed to have it all. I thought to myself, if someone else could do it, it shouldn’t be hard as long as I was willing to put in effort. Over time I only felt worse—finding myself physically drained trying to juggle both work and kids. I just don’t have enough energy and focus for my kids after an intensive eight to nine-hour day at work. It doesn’t help that the media portrays a perfect mother as one who’s a great cook cum a story-teller that wears a patient and nurturing smile while putting their kids to bed (even after settling the dishes and their homework) with her hair and light make-up all still in place. But after comparing notes with many other mothers, I’ve come to face with the reality that most mothers struggle to get through the day, and to get through a day without the kids pulling out their hair is an accomplishment in itself.
And so, I learnt to be realistic about benchmarks and my roles in life. As with most things, lowering your self-expectations help. If I need more energy for my kids, the house can afford to be a little messier; the kids will still grow well even if they have to eat out a couple of days a week; some text messages and work emails can wait; it’s alright to fall off the social radar for a while. Recognize that there’s a season and time for everything and that you won’t be able to please everyone. My personal learning is that something’s gotta give. I can’t do everything well at the same time so what are the couple of items I want to perfect right now?
Having come to terms with my priorities, there is one question that came to mind: “but doesn’t God call for us to be like the woman from Proverbs 31? That incredible noble woman who wakes up while it’s still night, who runs both the household and a business?” That’s a wonderful benchmark to have and I really do aspire to be like her. However, I am also clear that God has given us different gifts and calls us to different areas of His ministry. Not all of us are called to be her. We each have our own unique journey, according to His will. I think what’s important while we’re discovering our own path is to stay conscious of the pressure of keeping up with worldly benchmarks—they distract us from the benchmarks of God’s.