"There's only one thing that I know how to do well
And I've often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that's be you,
Be what you're like,
Be like yourself"
It's a silly little song, but it has a cute message. Be what you're like. Be like yourself!
As I got more involved in playgroups, PTA and other events where mostly women congregate, I noticed one thing. We compare ourselves. We can do it in either direction (looking down on someone, or looking up to them.) However, most of us tend to have pangs of jealousy or envy when we see the woman who *seems* to be able to do it all. We see someone who is fit, well dressed, has cute and well-behaved children, someone who has a clean house, cooks dinners every night, volunteers in every capacity, makes homemade gifts and party favors and actually has time to read or take classes. There are people who exist like this. There are people who genuinely do this and do it well. Good for them.
The old story is that we don't know what is really going on in their life. What we want is for there to be a dirty secret. They have a bad relationship, they are secret hoarders in the rest of their house or they are on crack. Of course all this is negative, and I would never wish that was the case for anyone. Thinking that someone who appears perfect on the outside has this secret does help those who come off as anything but perfect. But it keeps the vicious cycle of comparison and jealousy going.
In this circle I see two types of people. Those who emulate and want to be that perfect mother and those who ridicule the lifestyle, making jokes about eating kids eating Cheerios off the floor. Actually, I hope there are 3 types of people, those who acknowledge we are a little of both. We can try to do better - clean the house, make healthier meals, volunteer more and at the same time be realistic noting that some things fall to the wayside, like folded clothing, stylish hair-dos and exercising everyday.
I enjoy the humor in all this, and there is plenty out there in the blog-o-sphere. But in the end, I have learned that we are all different. We can't try to be someone that we aren't. We can appreciate the person who has the ability to organize the fundraiser, and we need to acknowledge what we are good at. We might be great at reading stories in the library or helping with trays in the cafeteria. We don't need everyone to run the PTA meeting or cut out all the turkeys for Pre-K. We do what we can, and we base it off who we are. If you are at a point in your life where helping at the school isn't possible because right now you are taking care of twin toddlers and washing cloth diapers - then that is where you are and you are where you are needed.
We also need to find that time of our life where we are ready to step out of our comfort zone and trust that we can try something new. We don't have to be a copycat of that woman we look up to, but she can provide motivation of what we could do with our life to push ourselves just a little more. In the end, you have to be you, and be like yourself. I can't handle watching other women beat themselves up because of what they observe another woman do. I am not that woman, and I don't want to be her. My life, my husband, my kids and my lifestyle was made for me. If our life isn't making us happy, then it's up to us to make any changes we need to make our life what we want it. Not what we think it should be, but what we want it to be.
Be your self. Live your life.
I'm going to end with another favorite quote - from Dr. Seuss.