I recently took dinner to a friend from church. She just had her 5th baby and 5th c-section. She answered the door and she looked FABULOUS. She was dressed cute, had makeup on, her hair was curled…the works.
I complimented her appearance and she said something like, “Well, we had our two week checkup today. I couldn’t take all the kids to the pediatrician looking run-down and haggard.”
I knew exactly what she meant.
Every time I take my family anywhere I put so much pressure on them and myself.
I fix my hair and put on makeup. I frantically try to find something to wear that is cute, clean, somewhat stylish, happens to fit my postpartum body, and also provides easy access for nursing.
As for the kids, I ensure they’re clean and well-dressed before we leave the house. Then, on the way to wherever we’re going, I spend several minutes reviewing appropriate behavior for whatever setting we will be in.
When we get back in the car from wherever we’ve been, I review every detail of their performance that could have been better. I even include my poor husband in the review.
It’s insane. (The above description of my behavior really doesn’t do it justice. That’s the sugar-coated version. I’m really kind of a lunatic.)
Because we have a somewhat large family, people often say ugly things to us in public. Over the years, I’ve worked really hard to try to eliminate everything that strangers can possibly critique or use as ammunition against us when we’re out an about. I guess I figured that if we appeared perfect, they wouldn’t be able to say anything ugly.
But the truth is, it hasn’t worked. Even when my kids are looking pristine and on their very best behavior, people still say ugly things.
So I quit.
Or at least I’m trying to.
I’m really trying to quit putting on a show for everyone. I’m really trying to just be us, for better or for worse. I’m really trying to stop making myself and my family crazy.
I certainly still expect my kids to behave appropriately, but I’m shifting my focus. I’m teaching them to behave appropriately because it’s the right thing to do, not because I’m worried about what some stranger might think or say.
I’m done keeping up appearances for the sake of my family.
…And because I’ve finally realized that I can’t control what other people think, say, or do anyway…no matter how hard I try.