Women, Why Do We Put So Much Pressure on Ourselves?

Emotional labor meets real labor

As you all know (hello, look around you), over the holidays, we relaunched APW. That is, we migrated ten years of historical data, rebuilt pages, checked bugs, and problems solved—general Level 8 stressful things. For those of you who haven’t relaunched a massive website, think of it as moving from one house to another: It feels really exciting when you see the new house and imagine what it will be like to live there. It feels like the tenth level of hell when you’re trying to pack and unpack 350 boxes, wondering why you have so much damn stuff in the first place.

Anyway, as you might have noticed, I had the word “holidays” up there. That means I was trying to move my whole virtual house, while still doing the emotional labor of Hanukkah and Christmas for two small children and our extend families. (I have many lovely feminist, task-sharing things to say about my husband, but managing of holidays and gifting is not on that list of virtues.) And really, that should have been enough. I made a plan to pack myself away to some sort of day spa over our team’s winter vacation, and then just tried to hunker down and get through it—with as little panicking as possible. I had, thank God, pre-gamed my holidays pretty decently, so while the stress was bad, it could have been way worse.

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But as I was sitting at my desk, going through endless to-do lists and doing battle with my anxiety condition, I noticed the other list of things constantly churning through my brain. Was I spending enough quality time with both of my children? Was I exercising enough? Was I eating healthily? (I started Weight Watchers last year, which is another generally positive story, but adding point counting to the mix was over the top.)

In my twenties, I watched a lot of What Not to Wear, and every guest on that show who was a mom would bemoan the fact that they never put themselves on the list, and I vowed never to be that person. And for better or worse, I am not that woman. In fact, I have myself on the list… all the fuck over the list. Right up there with caring for my kids, getting extended family nicely wrapped presents on time, getting teacher gifts, and making sure my employees feel appreciated, I have a tangle of a whole lot of me… too. I’m worrying that I’m eating right and my roots are touched up; I’m enjoying toddler ballet class and getting enough time with my friends; and I’m emotionally investing in calls with my business coach. I’m so all over my already extensive list that it’s possible there is no actual space for… sanity. Or just breathing for a second.

And I know I’m far from alone in this problem. Hell, I’m not even planning a wedding—though when I was, it added a whole other level of toxic to the whole project. And I also know that while the men in my life put pressure on themselves, they don’t seem to put anywhere near the same amount of pressure. In fact, they’re more than happy to put the kids to bed and sink into the couch, while I’m frantically ordering custom wrapping paper for the holidays. (Because that’s a thing I did. And I’d say I was sad about it except it was so super legit that I’m really not.)

And how can we not put pressure on ourselves? There is a whole world out there telling us to do more and be more (and making plenty of money off us while we do it). And that’s not even mentioning the new world of Instagram and Pinterest. And that world I understand, but it still gets me. I create content for Instagram and Pinterest, and I know that one effortless shot of my bedroom takes two hours and moving around half the stuff in the room to get. I’m friends with people with half a million followers on their beautifully curated Instagram feed, and I know they have anxiety conditions and piles of laundry on the floor just like the rest of us. With my job, I know that behind the camera is always total chaos.

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And yet, I don’t rest. I want my bedroom to look like the one I pinned on my Pinterest board, and my closets to look like the ones on The Home Edit. And frankly, they do, more or less, which is probably why I’m tired.

What’s the answer? I sure as hell don’t know, though I did enjoy a day spa experience over the holidays. Just a bandaid on the issue? Sure. But it was an enjoyable bandaid while it lasted. And I do know that the first step is talking about it.

So I’m throwing it to you, the smartest ladies on the internet. What pressures are you putting on yourselves? How do you try to bring it down a notch, and just be in the moment? What pressures have you just given up on, and flat out don’t care about? Because I, for one, could use some help.

Let’s Talk About The Pressure.

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  • Liz

    I made a conscious decision to refuse the parenting pressure and anxiety around being a “good mother”.

    I thought I had a lot of feminist rage *before* I got pregnant with my first. Turned out that was barely a drop in the bucket. The extraordinary volume and ubiquity of the judgement and opinions on childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting practices, how much time you spend on the floor playing, daycare vs. nanny vs. whateverthef*ckelse etc…. I just won’t do it. This may be one of the rare advantages of growing up in an abusive home; I may do better or worse on any given day, but the whole “I’m a terrible mother” narrative isn’t even an option for me. I know what a terrible mother looks like, and it ain’t me.

    Things will likely get more complicated as my daughter gets older, and when my second arrives this spring. But for as long as I can, I’m just opting out of the Parenting Anxiety Rollercoaster. If we’re all alive and reasonably content at the end of the day, I’m calling it a win.

    • penguin

      This is awesome, props to you!

    • ruth

      This is one of my biggest fears about having kids and I think your attitude is so so wonderful – I hope to be like you one day!

    • Anna

      As Husband and I have talked about having kids over the course of our relationship (which will likely happen sometime in the next couple years), I feel like I’ve been gently coaxing him out of a series of “but if you don’t want to give up X for your children, do you even REALLY want to be a parent” beliefs, one after another :-P

      First we had this argument about me not wanting to be a stay-at-home parent; he insisted that it wasn’t that HE wanted me to stop working when we had kids (entirely infeasible anyway given that my salary is edging towards three times his), but that clearly since I was so ADAMANT about not staying at home with the kids, that meant I didn’t really want them. Like, if I really wanted to be a mother, I should want to be a stay-at-home mother. It took quite a lot of talking to disabuse him of that notion.

      Since then, though, it’s come up repeatedly in random discussions about, say, our future children’s hypothetical extracurricular activities – he made some offhand comment about how if one of our kids became a swimmer, I’d be spending a lot of time at the pool. And I’m like… why would I be spending “a lot of time” at the pool, just because our child is a swimmer? Presumably I’d be doing some share of pickup/dropoff and occasionally spectating at important competitions, or whatever, but fuck no I’m not in general devoting my evenings and weekends to sitting through their activities. And he once again got all huffy about how it didn’t sound like I was enthusiastic about having children >.<

      I've made progress on this with him, but he's not the only one who thinks that the subsumption of my self into my children is the only real way to do motherhood :-P And, ironically, it's precisely that set of expectations that makes having children less appealing. I do want to have kids. I just need to still be able to be ME – even if I'm busy, tired, frazzled me – while I do it, not exclusively my children's mother.

      • Liz

        ^^^Absolutely. This mother-as-martyr model in which a woman must spend all her time and attention doting on and fretting about her children is a) new b) weird and c) as unhealthy for the children as it is for the parent. No kid needs someone breathing down their tiny necks all the time. And we don’t stop being people, with needs and interests, the moment we become parents. We still count.

        (P.S. I think the reality of parenting a newborn, which in those first few weeks is literally a 24/7 job without a break, will quickly change your husband’s mind about how an interest in the minutiae and logistics of childcare correlates to the desire to have children! Spoiler alert: most kid stuff is bone-achingly boring, no matter how much you love them.)

        • penguin

          My family always talks about motherhood that way – “kids come first”, “you sacrifice everything for your kids”, etc. It’s gross and makes it sound like women don’t get to be their own people after having kids – but men do!

          • Lisa

            Ugh, that phrase turns my stomach. I think it’s a generational idea as well as societal–I’m much more likely to hear it among my parents’ peer group than my own. It was a hard day when I had to try and disabuse my mother of the notion that I’d give up my entire identity once I had kids like she did. (I love my mom, and she was a great mother, but I want to have some of my own life still and not disappear into my children and their activities.)

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Only mothers are expected to have this level of commitment and sacrifice. Fortunately we all get to live our own lives and do what we want!

          • e.e.hersh

            Yes – this “sacrifice everything for the children!” crap is SO ENGRAINED. When you start making parenting decisions, it’s like the guilt comes fast and furious and it’s all because of this crazy, crazy sacrifice idea. Why have we decided that martyrdom is what makes a mother worthy as a human??

        • Anna

          We were hanging out with some of Husband’s high school friends recently, and one of them referred to my in-laws as “Mr. Husbandslastname and Husbandsfirstname’s mom”. I was pretty appalled and called the friend out on it. Friend justified it as, well, my father-in-law was the headmaster of the high school they all went to, whereas they only knew my mother-in-law through Husband. Which, okay, but also that’s not a coincidence either, and maybe think about how your default ways of referring to people reinforce societal expectations about how motherhood vs fatherhood affect one’s identity?

          As someone with some mental health issues that are best managed by staying busy with tasks that are challenging and interesting, I think of continuing to work after having kids, keeping my own hobbies, etc as basically a “put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you” situation. I’ll be a much better parent if I’m mentally healthy than if I try to give up everything for my children and descend back into depression and anxiety.

          Heh, yep. He’s still somewhat convinced that I will be so enchanted by our baby that I won’t want to go back to work. I’m like… sure, maybe for a few days or weeks, but actually caring for a kid is not exactly intellectually stimulating xP

          • Ashlah

            I’m back at work, baby is in daycare, but I stay home and watch him on Mondays. Nothing confirms my lack of desire to be a full-time SAHP more than those Mondays. I love it, and I’m so glad I get to do it, but it is draining!

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I am not gonna drag your husband and I don’t think you need to either but you do need to be honest and real about what’s he communicating and from what you’ve said, it’s pretty clear that he sees your potential roles as parents very differently.

            See your comment here:
            “He’s still somewhat convinced that I will be so enchanted by our baby that I won’t want to go back to work.”

          • Listen to people’s truths, is all I’m saying. And know if that’s what you want out of life. This stuff gets 100X more difficult when a kid (or kids) are in the picture. I’ve seen so many men just turn full patriarchy once the kids show up. I know I couldn’t live with that, and I’d be G-O-N-E.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            GIRL.

          • Anna

            I should clarify: I think he’s also convinced that HE will be equally enchanted by said baby, and is pretty sure he won’t want to go back to work. We’re past the point where he’s trying to convince me to stay at home with kids; that’s just too obviously logistically impossible. But it’s like he wants me to be wistful about the impossibility of me being a stay-at-home parent and make up for it by spending all my time and energy on our children? Like, he’s happy to stay at home but thinks I should be jealous that he’ll get to, rather than perfectly thrilled about my continued employment? IDK it seems to be more about the Enthusiasm he expects from me than the actual role he expects me to take on.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Enthusiasm often translates to actual expectations though. Frankly, what he wants either in enthusiasm or action sounds exhausting. So my beware comment still stands. I encourage you both to really interrogate that and work through that because once you have kids, it will be so much harder to do.

            I also don’t know if I believe he’s happy to be a stay at home parent. I’m not convinced there are too many men that really want that job and ALL it entails (more than just taking care of the baby- the cleaning, the cooking etc) no matter how progressive they are.

            Show him writings by working mothers who are not only NOT wistful about not staying at home and spending every waking moment with their kid, but are HAPPY and excited to get away from them everyday for awhile. He needs to see that this is a perfectly normal thing because I am seriously concerned for how this is going to play out for you. He doesn’t seem like a unicorn.

          • Anne

            Checking in as the daughter of a legitimately wonderful stay-at-home dad (and the wife of a man who enjoys cleaning way more than I do), to say that I think lots of men would really want that job, if they could get around all the weird complicated social expectations. Men are socialized to look down on domestic work, but I think it’s very doable to get beyond that and it’s not like all men are born innately anti-housework. But I agree that these issues run deep and it’s important to talk through them as thoroughly as possible before you are in the middle of it.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I think it’s possible to work through too but men also grow up in the same patriarchy and these issues run deep so women need to be real with themselves about what they think men are doing to enthusiastically do. Women do most of the domestic work. Period. Even when they work. Even when they make more money. Even when their partners stay at home. These are facts and anecdotes of the occasional amazing stay at home dad and husband don’t change that. Patriarchy rears up even in the most progressive men. So women need to be aware and proceed accordingly.

          • Violet

            Hear hear.

          • Anne

            Totally agree with you, absolutely, the data are depressing.
            I just try to be semi-loud about my childhood experiences because it’s very easy to automatically be cynical and assume that it’s impossible or hopeless to e.g. have a household where the man does more housework, when you don’t see counterexamples of what it can look like (which is also underrepresented in media, etc). My dad was not a stereotypical “progressive dad”, he held pretty religiously conservative views at the time he took over at home (and came from a very conservative family background), my mom just liked her job a lot more than he did. He didn’t really know how to cook, but he liked spending time with his kids and he’s obsessed with organizational systems, so it worked out well.

            Of course all of this is anecdote, but I just think it’s important to recognize that the range of human reactions and experiences on this topic is huge (same-sex parents of course have another interesting perspective) and you never know for sure what is and isn’t going to work until you talk about it and give it a try.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Yes it’a important to have these narratives because they do exist. FWIW I’m not cynical. I absolutely believe me can do this. I just think women need to be more realistic about what it takes to get there is all. We all individually have to fight for it so we can raise better generations of men. It’s a collective effort and I think a lot of us throw in the towel because it’s so hard. Nobody wants to do that much fighting. But we to. It’s worth fighting for. I tell every woman I know you have to be willing to fight for what you want. There will be tears. But no pain and sweat, no glory.

          • Another Meg

            This. I have a pretty darn feminist husband and we have an emotional labor/regular labor check in like once a month because work just keeps shifting as our schedules change and it’s damn nigh impossible for us both not to assume I’m the default worker.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            It’s tiring but probably less tiring than doing everything and being resentful about it.

          • Anna

            Yes, absolutely. I’m under no illusions about his unicorn status – he’s my flawed, biased, internalized-social-expectations husband. These conversations are ongoing and my IUD is not budging until I’m comfortable with his answers. But there has certainly been progress on these issues over the course of the conversations we’ve already had.

            I don’t know whether I believe him when he says he wants to be a stay-at-home parent, either (I think he’s picturing a lot more downtime than he’d actually have…); but I’m not super invested in him taking on that role vs. our kids being in daycare (which, as other people have commented, is itself a wonderful institution!).

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I commend your planning and awareness.

          • Anna

            Heh. We do our best :-P

          • Ros

            So I’m finishing up my maternity leave right now (Québec – 50 weeks paid leave, so I’ve been home almost a year). DOWNTIME?? *laughs hysterically* This baby either literally follows me to the bathroom and holds onto my knees while I sit on the toilet, or howls in general abandonment at the closed door.

            On a GOOD day I get enough down time to run a load of laundry and prep dinner. I check my blog feed while I nurse, and that’s it (and I maintain that it’s not downtime if there’s a human attached to me). And he wants to interact ALL THE TIME. I love him so much, but, man, I can’t wait for clothes that aren’t gooped up and spreadsheets and peeing alone and YES PLEASE.

          • GCDC

            I would also add that just because Husband grew up with his mom caring for him at home full-time doesn’t mean that he has to automatically prefer that. My husband’s mother provided full time care to him and his siblings. Our daughter is two now, and I work more than my husband does and he does more child care activities than I do. it’s been a long conversation to get to that point, but it works for us and he has NO lingering sense that one of us should stay home with kid or that I should automatically be doing x, y or z because that’s what his mom did. Yesterday, after a long day of work away from the house for me, and a long day or work plus all child care activities for him, I asked if he would prefer that I had a less demanding job, and he responded, “No! You’re happy. This works for us.”

            So this is a long way of saying that childhood experiences aren’t determinative, and not to give anyone a pass on holding views just because they grew up that way.

        • Antonia

          “most kid stuff is bone-achingly boring, no matter how much you love them.”

          Thank you for saying this! It’s like the best-kept secret of parenting. People talk about how “hard” parenting is, but it’s not like running-a-marathon hard; it’s assembly-line, watching-paint-dry hard.

        • Ros

          Yes. Kids deserve to live and explore without a parent breathing down their necks and supervising every move and interaction. Yes.

      • Amy March

        It’s so convenient for him that you’re the one who has to enthusiastically embrace doing all the work!

        • Anna

          He thinks that he already has embraced doing all the work – which I think is partly fair (he’s just more enthusiastic about the day-to-day of dealing with children than I am; I mean, for one, I could never even be a high school teacher, and high school students very rarely spew bodily fluids all over the people supervising them xP), and partly him thinking more about the cute parts of caring for children than the tedious, exhausting parts.

      • Violet

        Just tell him you want to be a father who happens to be a woman. Somehow they’re allowed to want kids without wanting to do all the “jobs” of parenting.

        • Her Lindsayship

          this is perfect

        • emilyg25

          Best.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          Best. Comment. Ever. You win ALLLL the awards.

        • Anna

          Heh, this makes me think of that classic essay I Want A Wife: http://www.columbia.edu/~sss31/rainbow/wife.html

          But also: yes.

          (And I’m not even saying I won’t do the “jobs” of parenting! Just that I don’t feel the need to be excited about them :-P)

        • GENIUS

        • Em

          This is actually exactly how I feel about children.

        • Mary Jo TC

          I remember saying something very similar before I had my first: “I want to be a parent the way a man gets to be a parent.”

        • Nora

          OMG THIS. When my husband and I started talking about kids I had a bit of a cry-meltdown saying “I just want us both to be the dad!” He did not really understand what I meant, but it feels SO REAL.

      • Zoya

        “clearly since I was so ADAMANT about not staying at home with the kids, that meant I didn’t really want them”

        I HATE this expectation so much. So, so much. Your last paragraph is really the thing that gives me pause about having kids–I’m terrified of losing my identity and just becoming “mom.”

        • I don’t want to claim in any way that parenthood is easy, so don’t read me wrong. But you have a choice on how you define yourself. I don’t think of myself as a mom during workdays, and I don’t think my co-workers do either. I turn parenting brain back on at pick up, or if something comes up. And I absolutely also turn it off when out with girlfriends, or what have you.

        • Jess

          This is/was a big fear of mine also. As more of my friends have kids, I get to see more of them still being THEM (even when their kids are around), and it feels more doable.

          Meg has responded the same way to me probably dozens of times, and… I think I’m starting to believe her.

        • e.e.hersh

          I’m not going to lie – as a mother, I feel like I run into this a lot. Not with my spouse (thank goodness) who understands the exhaustion of child-rearing, but with other people – friends, family. There’s still this pervasive idea that if you don’t love every moment of motherhood (and post frequently about it on social media), you just shouldn’t have even had kids in the first place, and what’s wrong with you? I feel like it’s becoming my life goal to beat this idea down to the dirt.

      • Oh hell no. If it’s so important for someone to stay home with the kids or spend time at the pool, he can quit his damn job.

        This stuff gets harder when you have kids, so I’d really dig through it and make him super uncomfortable and angry about it NOW, because it’s so much easier than doing it with a screaming baby in your lap.

        • Anna

          To be fair, his more recent take is that if we move to a house with a yard and get a dog, he’ll happily be a stay-at-home parent himself. Which I think to some degree still comes from a place of anti-daycare bias based on the fact that his mom stayed home with him (and he has a tendency to assume that whatever he’s familiar with is the Best Way of doing things…), but sure, I’m not going to complain in this case xD

          • Daycare is legit. Just want to put a vote in for Daycare whenever I can. It is so lovely that my kids have their own social lives and friends, and adults they’re super bonded to… that’s all theirs.

            (Also, my mom stayed home with me and I hated it. I still remember being bored to tears and begging to go to preschool full time. So clearly I have my own personal bias dating back 30+ years.)

          • emilyg25

            High-quality daycare is seriously so awesome. I feel like ours is really a mini community.

          • Trinity

            Yes yes YES! My daughter loves her daycare. She and I had to stay home the last couple days because she had a bad cough, and when she finally got to go back to school today, she was all smiles and leaping toward her teachers and the other kids. (And she’s only 9 months old!)

          • Jess

            I loved daycare. I have friends whose kids love daycare. I have friends who love to send their kids to daycare.

            Basically: DAYCARE IS GREAT.

            (Also we should pay daycare people better, and we should make daycare accessible for more people. KTHXBYE)

          • Laura C

            Daycare is so good. I love that he comes home knowing things I didn’t teach him and surprises me when he busts out a “sorry” or “thank you” or very specific views of paper towel use. I love getting pictures of him pushing his classmate along on a toy car. I love having time away from him and then every day having the feeling of being glad to see him (and having him be glad to see me) at the end of the day.

            (Posting as a guest because Disqus isn’t letting me log in right now for some reason.)

          • Julie

            My former mother in law once declared to me and my ex spouse “When you have kids I’ll be watching them during the day. MY grandchildren will NOT be going to daycare.”

            I was so annoyed by this! I was raised by a mother who ran her own business and I was in daycare at two weeks old. Guess what? I loved it and turned out great. I believe I said “What’s wrong with daycare? I went to daycare.”

            When I shared this story with friends, though, all I heard was “Be grateful! Daycare is expensive!” I’m not one to turn down free childcare for then-future hypothetical (now hypothetically non-existent) children, but it was still a rude and presumptive thing to say that BUGGED ME.

          • Ashlah

            I’m totally bugged! Daycare is expensive, absolutely, and we are privileged to be able to afford it. I love my relatives, and I understand that they love my baby, and I am happy to have them babysit sometimes. But daycare workers are educated about child development and they’re able to devote 100% of their day to the kids. They offer a level of stimulation that well-meaning, loving relatives can’t provide. Not to mention the various social benefits and the strengthening of his immune system (which sucks right now, but feels beneficial in the long run). I won’t act like I never feel weird about daycare, but I mostly think it’s pretty terrific.

          • Ros

            With that level of presumption, I’d say that daycare is expensive, but sometimes the cheapest way to pay for things is with money.

          • Another Meg

            Hell yes for daycare. I was only on my own with the kid for 2 weeks of maternity leave and I just couldn’t wait to pay someone to watch my kid. Now, he’s 8 months old and I am exhausted just hearing about all the things they do with him each day. I love my kid, which is one of the reasons I am happy to pay professionals to care for him while I do the thing I am a professional at.

          • Ashlah

            It’s amazing how much they’re able to do with the kids at daycare! I visit on my lunch break and observe, and I’m so impressed. With only one infant, I’m capable of like a tenth of what they do with 4-8..

          • Another Meg

            Not to mention the socialization I would never bw able to replicate.

          • Daycare is AMAZING. I legit love our daycare and our teachers. They are all about early childhood development and excited about it the way I’m excited by data analysis. My kid started walking at 10mos because of daycare – she was trying to keep up with her friends in her class.

            I was a daycare kid, and now as a parent, I sing the praises of daycare everywhere I go. My kid spends her day in a place that she loves, and Mama and Daddy get to go to work, and everybody is happy (for the most part).

          • Nora

            YES THIS. I had the same experience with my mom, begging to go to daycare— being stuck at home with an intellectually frustrated mom who is staying at home because it’s the “right thing to do” is not all it’s cracked up to be, and kids are smart enough to feel that.

          • Violet

            Absolutely! I think both daycare and a parent staying at home are great options. But ideally as that: options. Not everyone can afford a parent to stay at home, and sometimes the economics can’t make daycare work. Which SUCKS because they have different pros and cons, and families should be able to identify which work for them psychologically and then make it work financially. I’d love to see a child care credit that could be used either way. As a kid, I loved that my mom stayed home with us (and she loved it, too), but as a parent, get me the hell out of this apartment so my kid can be socialized.

          • guest

            I know Meg loves daycare, and that’s fine. So does everyone else on this thread, which is also fine. But the overall impact of this thread is to contribute to the terrible parenting pressure that most mothers feel: Daycare is the way, the best way! Everyone doing it another way is doing it wrong! I so so wish that people would feel free to choose what works best for their families without having to justify that choice.

          • Zoya

            Curious…if a yard and a dog are prerequisites for him being a stay-at-home parent, did he also consider them prerequisites for you staying home?

          • That is also my honest question, after reading this several times for clarification.

          • Anna

            I mean, I don’t particularly want a yard or a dog (apart from the whole I-want-my-partner-to-be-happy part), so I’m not too concerned with whether the yard and dog also made an appearance in his (former?) fantasy life where I’m a stay-at-home parent :-P I suspect that it was all there in the same suburban ideal he was thinking of? But probably not a prerequisite, no. (And honestly, in this weird counterfactual, I’d probably rather live in a two-bedroom in an urban area than somewhere with yards – I’d need a drink at a real bar real bad in this scenario – and I’d rather not also have a dog to care for on top of children xP)

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            If I were you, I would talk to working women who have stay at home husbands. Women still tend to do the majority of the work even when men stay at home. This is something you need to be aware of if you were to go down the road. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of equal.

          • SS Express

            This this this this this. I recently read The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb – she’s an Australian writer, but the things she talks about are pretty universally applicable and actually a lot of the stats come from the USA too (because there is more data available). Men who stay at home full time do about as much housework per week as women who *work full time*.

          • BettyGemma

            I LOVE that book and I adore Annabel Crabb. Cannot recommend enough.

          • SS Express

            Isn’t she just the best! I like her other work too (esp Kitchen Cabinet!) but I hope she writes a follow up to Wife Drought soon.

          • Another Meg

            Behind every feminist man is an exhausted woman. You’re doing the lord’s work having these hard talks.

      • flashphase

        whoa. what does he see as his role as a parent? why would it be so different from yours?

        • Anna

          I should clarify: I think he also expects the same degree of commitment from himself as parent. It’s not “you need to be all-in on parenting while I sit back and relax!” so much as “I’m all-in on parenting, why aren’t you?”

          Which, like, good for him? I think wanting wholeheartedly to devote yourself to your children is one perfectly legitimate choice on the range of feelings one can have about parenthood. But it’s definitely not how I feel about being a parent, and there’s definitely some pressure from him to be a “good mother” the way he envisions it, which would entail making motherhood a lot more central to my identity than I’d prefer :-P

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I meant to post this comment above here:

            I am not gonna drag your husband and I don’t think you need to either but you do need to be honest and real about what’s he communicating and from what you’ve said, it’s pretty clear that he sees your potential roles as parents very differently.

            See your comment here:

            “He’s still somewhat convinced that I will be so enchanted by our baby that I won’t want to go back to work.”

          • SS Express

            So…he thought you would both become stay at home parents?

            I actually don’t think wholehearted devotion is a legitimate choice. I honestly don’t know a single family where a parent has taken this approach and it’s worked out well for the kids – or the parent, obviously. I mean, I don’t think we should legislate against it or anything, but I don’t see it as one of many equally reasonable options either. But I might be biased because I’ve seen this in my husband’s family.

          • Anna

            I think he thought we should both want to be stay-at-home parents – because that’s what good parents want? or something? – and went through a phase of assuming I would do it because that’s what his mom did, before realizing that was unrealistic and that if either of us was going to stay home with kids it would be him.

            It is definitely possible and not at all uncommon to take that sort of devotion to a place that’s unhealthy for both parent and child, I agree. I was hyperbolizing a little bit there :-) I meant more along the lines of “it’s fine if your children are your first priority in life” rather than “it’s fine if you have literally nothing else going on in your life besides your children”. The dispute between me and Husband is more first priority vs. middling priority than only priority vs. having other things going on in life.

            [Posting as guest because Disqus is having issues.]

          • SS Express

            Man it’s funny the assumptions that we (by which I mostly mean men) have before we question them. But it’s great that he’s questioning them! And that you’re “helping” him do that – I know from experience how exhausting that can be.

      • Jess

        I get that sort of “one day your time will be doing X” stuff from co-workers a lot. I like to counter it with a “Maybe R will be the one spending time at the pool [EXTENDED SILENT STARE]”

        Obviously this would go less well in a relationship, but I still feel better after I do it.

        • penguin

          I love this response, especially the silent stare. I used a similar strategy when people at work were (purposely?) not getting the fact that I didn’t change my name when I got married. They’d make comments and say “oh what’s your last name now?” and I’d just repeat my name and stare at them deadpan.

          • Zoya

            Yes! I’ve done the same thing with friends–more lighthearted, but definitely playing dumb and then dropping the rope.

      • SS Express

        So not into the “if you really wanted your kids you’d quit your job to be with them” thing. It doesn’t even make sense! Like, can you only have a piece of cake if you’re prepared to eat the whole thing? Are running shoes only sold to people who’ve signed up for marathons? Should companies stop paying their staff because anyone who really wanted to work there would do it for free? You can genuinely, even desperately, want something without having to want all of it all the time at the expense of anything else ever.

      • Sarah

        This sounds so fucking exhausting. Solidarity – I have a lot of reasons for not wanting children, and about half of them are my husband.

    • Antonia

      Good for you! I have a 2-year-old, and I have constant mom guilt — especially with regard to his TV consumption. (The amount, not the content — “Daniel Tiger,” not “Boogie Nights.”)

      • I know this is really in the water of modern middle class parenting, but I’d totally encourage you to think about what it would take for you to opt out of this kind of mom guilt… if that’s something you want.

        (My kids watch plenty of TV btw. If they don’t turn out fine, that’s not going to be why ;)

      • savannnah

        IDK. My mom raised us on a steady stream of brilliant but R rated movies and we turned out ok.

        • Jess

          Yeah, same.

          I still have a love of really well shot or well scripted movies thanks to seeing stuff above my age.

        • penguin

          Yeah now that I think back on it, I probably started watching crime shows and R rated movies too young… but whatever honestly. I think I turned out OK.

        • Lisa

          Whereas I was not allowed to watch all manner of TV and movies and have had to educate myself on many pop culture references as an adult!

        • I saw/read so much R rated content when I was a kid but the only thing that ever messed me up was… The bog of eternal stench from Labyrinth.

          • savannnah

            Watched it when I was 4 and it scared the crap out of me- coincidentally not while under the supervision of my mom. I did go to 2nd grade Halloween as Al Pachino’s character in Scent of a Woman though. That one is on her.

          • Angela’s Back

            I love this! Last Halloween my friend dressed her totally bald 2 year old girl named Ripley as Ripley from Alien 3 (when Ripley is also bald throughout the movie)–awesome because Ripley is a total badass and also it was a really easy costume, just baggy pants and a tank.

      • Jessica

        I was raised by Nickelodeon and ABC’s TGIF lineup. Like, reruns were my babysitter in late elementary school. I think I turned out OK.

        • AP

          Ditto.

        • SS Express

          Same. My parents both worked full time, and I watched a TONNE of television. I turned out to be a nice, normal, smart, educated person and honestly not that big a TV-watcher in adulthood. I actually think all the TV I watched growing up helped develop my emotional intelligence and general knowledge about other cultures.

      • Jenny

        Genuine question. Is mom guilt the same as worry? I occasionally check in with myself to try and figure out if I’m spending emotional energy on feeling guilty. I don’t know that I feel mom guilt of if I don’t do x I’m a terrible mom, but I do worry, is letting him watch tv as a wind down activity before bed making his sleep worse? Is the fact that he only consumes vegetables in pouch form a problem I should work on? I think it’s normal to worry about your kid’s well being and how they turn out, but it’s probably not super healthy to be making yourself feel guilty about things you think are probably ok. Not that you asked for advice, so apologies for offering it unsolicited, but one thing my husband and I both do is check in with each other about things we are feeling guilty about. If we both have a concern we resolve to a. try it another way for a while and then reassess (i.e. let’s try offering 3 different vegetables at dinner for a full week and see if anything changes and assess from there, check in, he ate 0, definitely not worth our time, pouches are fine for now), and/or b. make a note to check in with the pediatrician (sleep issues), and or c. decide it’s fine as is. It has really forced both of us to decide if we actually think things are problems we should be worrying about (and then do something about it if the answer is yes), or if it’s not something we want to address we have to let go feeling guilty about it.

        • em

          Related to worrying about food, I know a mom whose child was INCREDIBLY picky at about age 7-8. He would barely eat anything (he has some sensory issues, so it was beyond your typical pickiness). She was really stressed out about it, and her stress was stressing him out, and the whole thing was terrible so she just threw up her hands and just fed him tons of gummy vitamins instead of trying to get him to eat his vegetables. He is really no worse for wear… a bit skinny, but not shockingly so. And she’s found that now that the pressure’s off he’s becoming more adventurous.

          • MC

            I was an extremely picky eater growing up and basically didn’t eat vegetables until I was 19. My parents made me take vitamins every day and made sure that I generally ate enough food. Now that I’m older and I eat pretty well I am definitely healthier, but I was fine as a kid. And I was so stubborn that they really could not have forced me to eat anything I didn’t want to eat!

        • rg223

          I think of mom guilt as coming from an external force and not from observations of your specific child (feeling guilty because of what your parents, or another mom, or a parenting blog said), while mom worry is coming from an internal place and based on observations of your child (which I think is what your food worry sounds like). Obviously, this isn’t an exact science, because internal worry ultimately comes from external messages of what your kid should/shouldn’t be doing that you have internalized at some point. But I do think worries that come from “mommy intuition” are very different than “mommy guilt,” and I try to pay a lot more attention to worries based on my own observation rather than anything that comes from mommy judging.

          • Violet

            Such a good distinction and helps me understand why I worry while simultaneously giving zero fucks about the opinions of others (outside of his pediatrician).

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          I think mom guilt is intertwined with worrying because of the messaging women as moms get. We are constantly told we have to be feeling guilty so inevitably, we end up feeling that way. I find guilt as a mom to a totally useless emotion and I refuse to honor it. So to parse through that, I check in with myself and ask “am I worrying about something that is reasonable given all of that data that I have?” If the answer is no, I chalk it up to being mom guilt and in the mental garbage can it goes. So to take your tv example, if I had data that my kid was sleeping fine, wasn’t tired and cranky during the day, then I would conclude the worry about the tv was really guilt and move on.

    • Zoya

      I have a good friend who’s currently pregnant, and I really admire how she’s navigating the “what you can/can’t eat” thing. She took a look at the recommendations, decided how much risk she was comfortable with based–sushi yes, deli meat no–and gave herself permission not to worry otherwise. Any fussing around, “Should you really be having a sip of that cocktail?” is met with a shrug.

      • Lisa

        I love that attitude. I’m trying to get better at giving fewer cares and not explaining myself more than necessary, but it’s a constant battle.

      • Antonia

        This was me too. My first child was stillborn, and it had absolutely nothing to do with anything I did or didn’t do. My second pregnancy I was like, You know what? FUCK. THIS. I’m going to have a glass of champagne on my birthday because it has caused the death of exactly zero babies ever.

        Also, those food recommendations are arbitrary AF.

        • Lisa

          I read Expecting Better on the advice of the commetariat here, and it really made me feel so much better about the expectations and pressure on pregnant people to do everything by the book (as it were). Basically it boils down to moderation, which is important generally, and not just for those gestating other beings.

          • SS Express

            I’m obsessed with Expecting Better and I’m not even pregnant or hoping to be.

          • Jan

            Oh, I have never heard of this book, but I’m going to look into it. We are nearing the time where we want to start trying for a baby, and I have been desperate to get my partner on the same page as me regarding this very concept. He’s totally bought into the idea that once you’re pregnant everything suddenly becomes a minefield, and I really don’t want to deal with him being a panicky mess when I get pregnant because I ate a freaking salmon roll.

          • Lisa

            It was a godsend. The author is an economist whose job is basically to evaluate whether a study is of good quality or not so she goes back to the science and interprets the studies that led to all of the pregnancy rules.

            And on the salmon rolls: raw salmon has more than enough omega 3 fatty acids in it to outweigh the mercury concerns. It’s actually great for fetal brain development! I think there only a couple of mercury-heavy fish like swordfish that didn’t have enough of the omega 3s to compensate for their mercury levels. There was a very helpful chart in that chapter!

          • Jan

            Thanks, I’ll check it out! I was briefly pregnant about eight years ago (ended in an early miscarriage), and spent hoooouuuurs scouring the internet for info on sushi and seafood generally while pregnant. It’s my favorite food in the whole wide world and I was so happy when I learned that most of it is perfectly fine to eat, as long as you’re getting it from a reputable source.

      • savannnah

        If anyone gets too caught up on all of the many many rules and even hospital regulations for pregnant people- they should just take a look at how different the recommendation are between the UK, US and Canada from no sushi to all the ‘do this procedure or your baby will go blind’. Ex. all most all laboring moms in Europe can eat. Something to think about when the crazy sets in.

        • Another Meg

          Especially as their infant and maternal survival rates are higher than ours…

        • Zoya

          As my friend pointed out, if deli meat is a risk for pregnant women, it’s also a risk for everyone else.

          • SarahRose472

            Pregnant women’s immune systems are actually different than otherwise healthy adults and they are actually more susceptible to get sick from listeria, which is the alleged concern with deli meat.

            That said, the deli meat ban is still bogus. Listeria is extremely rare, period, and if you look up what recent sources of outbreaks are is just as likely to be something like spinach as turkey slices. (I happily enjoyed plenty of sandwiches with deli meat throughout my pregnancy)

          • Violet

            Third trimester was allllllll the hoagies over here.

          • Jan

            omg. Now I want a hoagie and I’m decidedly un-pregnant.

          • Violet

            Oh, I would not let that stop you!

          • Lisa

            If we were to not eat everything that has ever had listeria, the list would be so much longer than deli meat. Can you imagine telling a pregnant woman (or any woman really) that she isn’t allowed to have ice cream?

          • Anya

            Deli meat/unwashed spinach/etc and listeria is particularly dangerous as it can cross the placenta. A woman might have a mild case of food poisoning, but the fetus might be dead. This goes for the whole “don’t clean a cat”s litterbox” because of toxoplasma.

            With that said, I don’t understand why people would toss their cats out.

        • DR

          Yes! I’ve traveled to Europe while visibly pregnant twice. I was regularly offered alcohol and “risky” foods. Here in the US, I’ve been snidely criticized for drinking some coffee.

      • Another Meg

        Good for her. Good prep for parenting.

    • GIRL PREACH. That’s how I feel when people talk about terrible moms. I grew up around terrible parents. That shit has nothing to do with your playground snacks not being organic, or watching too many cartoons, and I won’t play that game.

      And I don’t know if it gets more complicated. I have a two year old and a five year old, and while I do think about making their childhood happy, mom guilt is a game I do not play. I think when you come from a not easy background, it’s pretty easy to just disengage from that noise.

      • Emily

        In human development research they call this theory “good enough parenting” (LOVE) and it is a thing. Essentially the theory says that yes, after basic love, nutrition, safety, some learning/, etc, you’re good. Probably the exception is special needs kids, who might thrive in a very particular environment, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here.

    • Another Meg

      At my baby shower, someone told me that our job as parents is to keep them alive. At least for the first few years. It was the best advice I’ve received and it’s kind of my mantra when my kid is covered in snot and wearing weird mismatched clothes and clearly hasn’t had a bath all week. He’s reasonably happy and alive. Goal for the day accomplished.

    • macrain

      In general, I do not think of myself as being a “good mom” or a “bad mom,” and instead I’m just… a mom!

  • Amy March

    I decided to not care about eating organically from farmers markets. I think it’s better and it also doesn’t fit into my life. I got tired of beating myself up about just buying food at the grocery store.

    • Katie

      Amen to this. I’ve been torn for too long between responsible shopping and… just not having enough goddamn money to buy all things organic.

    • sofar

      Ah yes. Planning trips to the farmer’s markets and using stuff from farmer’s markets before it goes bad takes up a lot of physical time and headspace.

      Sometimes I’ll get up on a Saturday and stock up on farmer’s market meat (which can be frozen). But I haven’t done that in months.

      My grand plan to get up on a Saturday, stroll through the farmer’s market and then spend a day cooking delicious meals for the week was never realistic.

      • Amy March

        Yup. I’m totally not opposed to them and love to go when it works for me, but it just doesn’t always!

        • Alli

          I definitely thought I could subsist on local food from farmers markets, but now it’s just a fun Saturday activity if I feel like getting up to go.

      • Katharine Parker

        Going to the farmers’ market is so enervating that I never want to cook afterwards.

    • penguin

      The closest we get is doing a seasonal CSA, so we go once a week during the summer to get vegetables/produce. Other than that we don’t fuss about buying things labeled organic.

      • Lisa

        And our CSA comes to us! There’s a generous pick-up window on Thursdays at the liquor store right by our house, which makes for a great excuse to find wines and beers to go with the food we’ll be cooking.

        And by “we” I mean my husband because I blessedly handle very little of the emotional labor around cooking/meal-planning.

        • penguin

          That’s great! Half the time (at least) my dad picks up the CSA since we share it with him. If he didn’t, I don’t think we’d be as good about getting it.

        • Jess

          “great excuse to find wines and beers” I mean… this is pretty much exactly why I have the wine buying habits I do. I have to walk THRU the wine to get out of the produce section. It’s not my fault I buy veggies and things are on sale!

    • Zoya

      I love going to the farmer’s market, but my struggle is always about buying enough stuff to last me through the week. In general, I am just not great at the “big once-a-week shop” thing, even though it’s supposedly a big money- and time-saver. Learning to cut myself some slack and just buy whatever looks good/exciting at the market each week–in the moment, with no big agenda–and then stop by the grocery store as needed during the week.

    • I did too. I still feel like I should whisper that…

      • Amy March

        I think there’s a lot more pressure about this on the West Coast!

    • My husband usually does our shopping, and he pretty much has a hard-line against the farmer’s market – It doesn’t fit into how we usually do meals and isn’t worth a major overhaul.

    • Angela’s Back

      For me, maybe organic is better for you but the grocery store is better for my bank account sooo yeah. Not to mention the less stops and lugging of produce through the streets in cute canvas bags, the better.

    • Anya

      I feel SO guilty whenever I buy produce from a super market – but dear lord, I just can’t devote every weekend to farmer’s market.

    • Antonia

      If I never hear the words “local,” “seasonal,” “artisan,” “farm-to-table,” or “simple food prepared well,” it will be to soon…

    • Noelle

      Honestly? I’m just proud when I make it to the grocery store, period – so you’re doing awesome :) The most we do is a CSA in summer.

    • SS Express

      Yes! We live right near a lovely local greengrocer and a butcher and a whole bunch of Asian supermarkets and Macedonian delis, but we buy the washed and chopped veggies in plastic bags and the ready-marinated meat with cooking instructions on the label and serve Ainsley Harriot just-add-water cous cous on the side. Sorry (but actually not even) but relaxing in the evenings is a bigger health priority than lowering my sodium intake right now! COME AT ME PETE EVANS.

      • JLily

        Same. I actually love farmers markets and cooking (when I WANT to) but sometimes I just need to make dinner quickly and all that chopping doesn’t always help me decompress. Oh it’s $1 more for pre-chopped? I will take it and thank you for allowing me to outsource some of that labor.

        • SS Express

          I love cooking too (sometimes) but man, even when I have all the time in the world and am cooking purely for recreation, the rinsing and chopping part is not a highlight. If I can avoid that I absolutely will. I used to think “why pay more when I can just do it myself for free”. Now I think “why do something I hate when I can just pay to avoid it”.

    • Bsquillo

      I have given up a lot of pressures surrounding food in general recently. A couple years ago, I used to be a mostly-paleo eater who always had a plan in mind for dinner when I woke up in the morning. And then I got busy and…just didn’t have time to cook as much. Or shop at more than one place (if ever).

      And you know what? I felt guilty for a while, until I just didn’t. It’s food, not a moral litmus test. Do the best you can, even if that’s ordering a pizza at the end of a long week because you just need to put some food in your face to keep living.

      Also- online grocery shopping for pickup or delivery is my NEW FAVORITE THING.

    • Alyssa

      I’m not a mother and I realize there are time management issues associated with raising children that I don’t have to worry about and this allows me more time to think about food shopping and cooking. That being said, there is more to life than your own personal comfort and convenience. At the risk of sounding high and mighty, I shop at farmers markets because supporting small local businesses is extremely important in this time of oligarchy and monopoly in our country. I like knowing that my money is going straight into the pocket of a farmer who practices sustainability and environmental stewardship. Most grocery store produce is grown in Mexico and South America by what basically amounts to slave labor. Not to mention the enormous carbon footprint of shipping the produce to America, produce that could easily be grown on our own soil.

      We’re talking a lot about children here so lets not forget that they are our future and it is our duty to hand down to them a healthy planet.

      • Amy March

        Yup, definitely sounding high and mighty. This is a whole thread about letting go of guilt, not piling on other people’s decisions and lives.

  • Ezza

    I’m newly pregnant and struggling with stress over what’s to come, and how the heck I’m going to balance it all. Things that are OK now when it’s just me & my spouse & high maintenance dogs, seem scary and unsustainable when I look to the future with us + a kid.
    It kinda feels like it did when we first moved in together, when I’m less stressed about how things are right now, and more stressed about how things will be… forever. I think it’s going to be taking it one day at a time, as we briefly talked about last night, and making small changes, one at a time, that will hopefully translate to big changes.
    My spouse explaining that obviously he’d take the dogs out, even though one of them only currently poops for me, and how it will suck for us all, but it’s something he’ll need to do if I’m breastfeeding and busy, was a revelation. We’ll get there! I just get overwhelmed sometimes.

    • I mean, the good thing is (I found, and a lot of my friends have found), is once the kid arrives, you get far more ok with balls dropping, because it’s just NOT ALL GOING TO HAPPEN. I got much more chill after kids. Obviously pressure is still an issue, but it’s oddly better.

      • Jenny

        Agree, I think having a kid (and for me pregnancy) really helped me figure out what I wanted to focus on, and drop the stuff I felt like I “needed” to do. I also got way way better about letting go of control, I was more likely to outsource my tasks (either to husband/friends/family, or to a company) to help keep me sane, and as it turns out other people can shop, and cook and I can eat it (and keep it to myself that if they’d just chopped the onions smaller and browned them a little it would be better :) ).

    • SL

      I was here not that long ago – I just had a baby a month ago and have three high maintenance, high energy dogs. Surprisingly, it has been easier than I thought. It took some adjustment for the dogs, and some practicing, and my husband is great about stepping up to do whatever needs to be done. I don’t feel like I’ve lost myself, and I don’t feel like I’m drowning. I still love my dogs as much as I did before I had a baby (this was a legit concern for me). I don’t feel like they’re being neglected. I pop the baby in the carrier and then take them all out for walks one at a time (which is great for exercise and also great for my sanity). I also stocked up on special toys and treats for that first week of having the baby home to help their stress levels and to give them something to do when I was less able to spend time with them.

  • H.P.

    When I find myself spiraling into self-hatred because of all the things I’m not doing (working out enough! pursuing my hobbies! reading enough!), I try to take a breath to remind myself of all the different ways where I am currently kicking ass or at least being moderately successful. “I have a degree and a job with benefits!” “I eat vegetables sometimes!” “I remember to buy toilet paper before it runs out!” No accomplishment is too small in those instances.

    • Noelle

      Yeah, I absolutely do this too, especially in those times where I feel like I’m failing at life.

    • SS Express

      I keep a list in my phone of Things I Have Achieved for times when I feel like I’m not good enough, as well as a list of Nice Things People Have Said To Me. Some are big important things and some are small and trivial, but they’re all helpful when I need concrete evidence that I don’t suck. Works a treat!

  • Eenie

    I’ve decided to stop caring about planning trips to see my husband’s family. I just don’t have the emotional bandwidth to manage his relationship with his family. If he wants to visit, I do my very best to go with or encourage him to go without me. I plan all logistical aspects of the trips to see my family (with his input since we have friends that live nearby), there’s absolutely no reason he can’t do the same for his.

    • sofar

      YES. I make sure we are around for his parents’ birthdays (because it means a lot to them, and they have done so much for us), and that’s IT. Sometimes his parents will bemoan the fact that we take nice, longer, just-because trips to see my family. And I’m like, “Yep I plan those. And your son could do the same and plan trips to you guys, but he just never seems to have the time, oh dear.”

    • penguin

      Yeeeep. After a blow-up with my husband’s parent’s while we were engaged, I realized I was taking on a lot of emotional labor dealing with his/our relationship with them, and visits, and calls, etc. So I just… stopped. I don’t remind him to call, I don’t organize visits, I don’t send his mom notes just to say hi or see if she wants to go do something. Pretty much the only thing I do is remind him to get them stuff for Christmas. They’ve commented on how they see us less and hear from us less than they used to and it’s like HMM I wonder why that is?? I figure they’re my husband’s parents – if he wants to talk to them or see them, he will!

      • Lily

        I’ve taken the same attitude recently. Even the “emotional bandwidth” of the Christmas presents is too much. I’m expected to pick them out (by his parents, not him) because they always assume he must be working or too busy. I also have a demanding job, and it is not my job to keep up the in-laws relationship with their son. Exhausting.

      • lopma02

        Totally agree. His family, his responsibility. Same thing in reverse. My family, my responsibility.

    • Zoya

      It was really emotionally hard to do this, but when my mother-in-law was ill I drew a very strong line in the sand with my husband. She was the social secretary for all gatherings with the immediate family (her husband and three sons), and I told him I would not be taking up that baton as the wife of the eldest son. I would support him emotionally however he needed, but managing his relationship and visits with his family was entirely his job. Now that she’s gone, it’s been gratifying to see the men in that family really stepping up to handle visits, milestone holidays, etc.

      • Major props, that sounds like a hard line to draw. That’s awesome they are stepping up!

        • Zoya

          It was *tough*. Especially since we were all so sad, and my FIX IT WITH EMOTIONAL LABOR sensors were pinging hard.

          • ssha

            Gah- I have those sensors.

    • Lisa

      Yep. I’m trying very hard to let go of any expectations that I will manage my husband’s relationship with his family. I used to remind him of every familial milestone with increasing frequency up until the day of, but I just couldn’t manage it anymore. Now I might remind him of something like “Oh, your mom’s birthday is coming up” or “Father’s Day is this weekend so I’m going to send my dad a card. You’d need to get yours out tomorrow if you want to do that, too.” It’s up to him to deal with that stuff now.

      • Anna

        I’m so fucking glad that this is something my husband is really good about, because despite being generally pretty organized and on top of things I’m somehow terrible at dates. He reminds me about Mother’s Day & Father’s Day, he’s way more on top of his parents’ birthdays than I am for my parents, he literally even reminded me when it was my sister’s birthday (it’s two weeks before his).

        It kinda makes me wonder what else he’d turn out to be really on top of if I didn’t do them. But any tasks that currently consistently fall to me, if I just stop doing them, he won’t just organically pick them up; it requires a whole long discussion about balance of responsibilities… maybe if he’d just never discovered in the first place that I would do those tasks most of the time, it would be different :-P

      • JLily

        I let my husband go ahead and make any and all arrangements with his family. He does the same for me. His boss’s wife was flabbergasted when he told her he buys his family’s Christmas gifts. His answer was, well, I know them best so I know what they would want! How reasonable.

        I read an article the other day where a mom was lamenting about “losing” her baby son to his future wife in a letter to said future wife (which–problematic in many ways…it was “suggested” for me on FB–probably too much pregnancy research lately) and one of her thoughts was “One day you’ll remind him to call me on my birthday.” I had to really resist not commenting OR YOU AND HIS DAD COULD TEACH HIM TO MAINTAIN HIS OWN RELATIONSHIPS.

        • Lizzie

          omg that article… *headdesk* *headdesk* again for good measure

    • emilyg25

      Same! It’s a little frustrating because sometimes his sisters in law or mother will contact me to set up arrangements. I’ve just gotten good at turfing them over to him. We didn’t meet till he was 47 years old—surely they don’t need to go through me now!

      • Lizzie

        Ahhh that stuff drives me NUTS. I’ve lost all my fucks about it and now just literally say “Hm, you know what Aunt Judy, Mr. Lizzie will be able to tell you whether we’ll be there for Thanksgiving and what dish we could bring!” and then tell my husband to handle his aunt. Heh heh.

    • savannnah

      I’m trying to navigate this right now with some caveats. My husband comes from a midwest family that is very much no news is good news and he speaks to his parents maybe once every month or so. Most of their communication is initiated by him and he is sad about this after spending time with my family. My family are Jewish New Yorkers so I’ve already spoken with my dad 3 times today (which is also not for everyone) So we not only have different emotional labor expectations but also different cultural expectations about family relationships and what those look like. We decided that communicating more to his family is a goal for our immediate family, at least for the next year or so, not just because it makes him happier (or because we get serious life/medical news in the form of weeks late texts) but also because we both want there to be an expectation that we will call more often and expect calls back. We are also the only part of the family that does not live in their home state.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      Good for you!

    • I also don’t plan any meetings with my husband’s family–that’s on him to do, and he does a pretty good job because presumably he likes seeing his family. (They are also local while mine is not, so it’s not that hard). My favorite thing though is that I’ve just stopped going to some of these events and it’s been so great (it’s not even about seeing his family–I wouldn’t mind that, but I just have no desire to take public transportation for an hour to watch a college volleyball game for a school no one in the family attends–it’s great that they like it but I am much happier most of the time just reading at home.)

    • PAJane

      YEP. So much yep. The furthest I’ll go is, “What do you want to do about your family for X holiday?” The answer is usually that he doesn’t care, which is fine, because then I’ll just plan what we do with mine, and eventually he’ll step up and make decisions if he really cares about getting together with his side.

  • ruth

    I relate to all of this so hard! One of the things I’ve been experimenting with lately s just….doing a lot less housework, and questioning how much really needs to be done. I read an interesting study that was a different take on the well known statistic that women do much more housework than the men they’re married to / share a home with. The study showed that single women who live alone also do much more housework than single men who live alone; the rate is about the same. The standard advice is always to get men to do more – but what if women just did less? My husband posed this to me and encouraged me to just… do less… it worked for him living on his own for 10 years. Lately I’ve just been letting go a lot more, making peace with the fact that my house will always be a mess – because I’ve chosen to spend my time writing books and instead of having a picture-worthy home. I’ve also realized that I can leave dirty dishes in the sink a few days and no one will die, that beds never actually need to be made (it’s actually healthier that way) and that I will get my emotional fulfillment from my writing and my relationship, not from the “life changing magic of tidy-ing up.” (And we pay a wonderful couple to deep clean our house once a month.) I’ve certainly found articles that back this approach up, that living in a messy home (within reason) is actually healthier and is a healthier environment for children, reduces allergies, etc… (maybe I’m just looking for justification!) We do the minimum to function in terms of sanitation, safety, bill paying etc…. but only the minimum. It’s been wonderful to get some of my time back for things I genuinely love doing (because chores are certainly not one!) But then I still feel this guilt – for not having these zen, de-cluttered environs, for not living “like an adult” – guilt that my husband just…doesn’t feel. I’m not sure what to do about it either. But I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    • I know that it’s really stressful and draining for some people to have messes around, but I’m such a big fan of the “does this *actually* need to get done” strategy. It’s applicable in so many situations!

    • emilyg25

      Yes! I feel strongly about this with parenting. Speaking generally, men get a lot of flak for not planning perfect birthday parties, investigating all the different schooling options and extra activities, not picking perfectly matching outfits and neat hair, etc. etc. But none of that stuff matters that much! They’re not worried about it because it’s not important.

      • Angela Howard

        Do you really mean that men get flak for this? I don’t think men get any flak for this & if they do any of it, they get kudos. However, women are judged for not doing any of these things.

        • penguin

          I figured that was a typo, that men DON’T get flak for that stuff.

          • Lea

            I read it as “women do this stuff, and then complain about the emotional labor and wonder why their men aren’t helping, when what they should be doing is just NOT doing it just like their husbands”. Men don’t get flak from society, they get flak from their partners.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I love this and I do a lot of the same thing, for many of the same reasons…with the result that I never want to have anyone over our house because I’m ashamed to have them see the clutter and dirt. The idea of having a guest sets off a lot of cleaning and tidying and stress. If I could let go of that part of it, if I could be ok with others seeing my house like this, then it would be totally fine. I think it has more to do with my vanity or the way I want to present myself or want people to see me, and the way social expectations work, than with any real logical reason I have to feel this way. After all, if it’s good enough for us, why shouldn’t it be good enough for our friends. (but also maybe I should see about paying someone to do deep clean once a month. That sounds amazing)

    • PAJane

      As a relatively lazy person who fails pretty hard at housework, maybe I’m actually ahead of the curve on this one?

  • ruth

    p.s Meg, I am SO so happy you shared the fact that it took you two hours of moving around stuff to get that beautiful bedroom shot on Instagram! I recently joined and have been feeling really depressed seeing how clean and tidy everyone’s homes appear compared to mine – which is has piles of laundry and clutter and electronic crap everywhere. I know intellectually that Instagram is not real life, but it’s really good to hear the messy (literally) truth from someone I respect and trust. Thanks for sharing!

    • Did I say two hours? I mean, often it takes DAYS. We just came off a shoot that took a week!! And I am in and out of a lot of those homes on IG. On days they’re not being photographed there is laundry all over the floor.

    • Anne

      Yes! A lot of my friends say Instagram is their favorite social media, but I just find the whole thing so. intimidating. So I basically never post and only use it to follow interesting people…

      • Zoya

        AMEN. I find Instagram intimidating and opaque, except for the accounts that are just photos of kittens and puppies. Those are required reading for me. :)

      • Lisa

        Yes, people keep trying to pressure me to join more social media sites (specifically Instagram and Twitter) and use them regularly, and I…can’t be bothered? Like I spend enough time scrolling through Facebook and have plenty of other stuff I want to do so it’s not high on my list. I think it’s great that my friends enjoy it, and I especially like it when they crosspost their beautiful photos to Facebook, but I can’t/don’t want to find the time for more social media in my own life. It seems like so much effort!

        • Eenie

          See I really like instagram cause there’s not the “Your friend liked some random FB post” interspersed between the photos. I don’t really care if you’re going to such and such and event. I just want to see pictures of you/your children/your pets living your life in whatever way you choose.

      • I don’t do a lot of output on Instagram, but I really enjoy scrolling through pretty fake-happy pictures in a friendly little world where everyone is living their best lives. (Compare and contrast : Twitter where everyone is screaming at the top of their lungs and everything is on fire).

      • Mary Jo TC

        Yeah, I’m not on it because I’m afraid it would mess with my head too much and give me FOMO in every aspect of my life and an eating disorder and envy of the Jones’ house and credit card debt. Have not yet regretted it, don’t think I will.

  • Zoya

    A weird place that this pressure has showed up for me is around food and diet. This year I learned that I probably have IBS, and have had to severely restrict some high-FODMAP foods in order to get control of my symptoms. Because this isn’t an allergy or an autoimmune thing, and because my tolerance for trigger foods seems to vary by the day, my brain has somehow convinced me that my food issues are less “legitimate” than others, and that I’m just being a drama queen. So I find myself expending just as much energy as I ever did–maybe more–to accommodate the food restrictions of others around me, while downplaying and dismissing my own. (To the point where I will sometimes knowingly eat something that will make me sick, just so as not to make waves.)

  • Lagaviota

    I quit my draining job last spring, which was honestly the biggest and most important step I could take to remove myself from the cycle of doing too much –> having it not be enough –> beating myself up –> trying to do more.

    It was huge for my mental health, my relationships and my general physical well being, and now I feel way less crunched trying to do the little things that used to eat away at me (making the bed seemed insurmountable! Now it’s just a 45 second task without any emotional weight).

    Once I let go of my identity as being wrapped up in a job that was sucking my soul (even though there were a million reasons I should have loved it), it freed me up immensely. But it was a huge identity shift, and it took me months to feel ok with it. The pressure is real.

  • For me that “how can we not put pressure on ourselves? There is a whole world out there telling us to do more” is at the crux of this. And not in a social/psychic pressure way… Speaking fully pragmatically, for women to get anywhere still just takes a lot. I am in no way a type-A/high achiever personality, but any area of my life (day-job, video-work, sanity, relationships) that I don’t go HARD on instantly crumbles. In my experience, this is not true the same way for many men in my life who have similar skillsets/personality types.

    I think balance and giving yourself a break is suuuper important, especially for women but I also think the “women are so hard on themselves” thing can be a bit of a sale’s line in it’s own right — Like, we put pressure on ourselves because the other options are usually worse.

    • Violet

      I agree with you that there are legitimately things that are put on women that they have to do otherwise they’ll pay a real price. But it’s also sometimes easier to see from an outside perspective what pressures can be totally let go of and the world won’t crumble. I don’t have a perfectly curated Instagram, don’t put on a full face of makeup, don’t cook homemade delicious meals every weeknight, don’t have a spotless apartment, and on and on, and yet, my life is really damn good. It’s definitely not a “worse option” than if I did all those things.

      • Yeah, that’s fair… I mean, I’m totally in the same boat, I’m super messy and like, not only usually skip make-up and occasionally punt personal hygiene and it’s finnne.

        At the same time though, I think it’s easy to assume that the women with the perfect Instagram who contours everyday is doing so for trivial reasons or because she’s been brainwashed by the man or whatever. But in my experience, if a woman is putting a lot of energy into something there’s often a good reason for it.

        • Violet

          Your last line rings very true to me. I think that’s the benefit of a thread like this, to figure out what pressures you really need to address versus which ones maybe we’ve just sort of taken on without fully thinking through.

      • It’s funny what causes pressure for different people. I have a really nice IG feed and a full face of makeup, but those are the fun outlets for me. But then there are other things that feel oppressive.

        • Violet

          And this is TOTALLY applicable to wedding planning, too. Some people love crafts and would find DIYing centerpieces amazing. Others hate it and would only do it because they feel external pressure. Figuring out for ourselves what we want (which feels like fun outlets) vs what we think we’re supposed to want (which feels like pressure) is an individualized thing.

        • Angela’s Back

          so true, doing my makeup every morning *is* my daily self care… ha.

          • Anne

            This is exactly how I feel about the meal-planning/produce-buying discussion in this thread! That’s stress-relieving fun!

          • ‘Zactly. Also, my quiet time.

          • Ros

            … how do you get the kids to leave you alone while you do it?? I have both of them clamoring to see everything!

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I put on a full face to sit around the house sometimes. It’s so relaxing.

        • Cellistec

          I only started wearing a full face of makeup after a (female) colleague cocked her head at me and asked how I was feeling, then went on to describe how I looked like I didn’t feel well, something about my undereye area blah blah. It’s that kind of passive-aggression BS that makes me resent putting pressure on myself to wear foundation every day. But now if I don’t wear it, I feel insecure, so I lose either way.

          • UGH. Pro-tip Susan, no one wants your unsolicited opinion on their freakin’ undereyes. Good grief.

          • Ashlah

            Dude, that’s barely even passive, it’s pretty damn aggressive to tell someone they look sick and tired and specify exactly why. Not cool at all.

          • Cellistec

            Word. Also, it wasn’t just a colleague, it was my great-grandboss. So I felt like I couldn’t school her on why it was so rude.

          • Ashlah

            Ugh.

          • Eenie

            I hate these comments. It’s actually why I really try not to wear makeup to work everyday (and by makeup I mean tinted moisturizer). Cause then the one time I don’t feel like wearing it everyone is so concerned about if I’m sick.

        • Jess

          Me, most of the time: Not gonna do my make-up, dudes don’t gotta put on make-up, I’m good.

          Me, meeting up for a girls night when I haven’t done my face for a month: ALL THE HIGHLIGHTER AND LIPSTICK. I AM A GODDESS MADE OF SEPHORA PRODUCTS.

          Sometimes, I just like getting glitzed up. But I definitely don’t wanna do it every day.

          • Jessica

            Thought of this while reading your comment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJaaLXZwmsU

          • Ashlah

            She is hilarious! 😂

          • Jess

            “Contouring is for women who want to leech the souls of their ex-lovers!” Yes! Love this!

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            “If men find out we can rearrange the bones of our face, we’re finished.”

          • Noelle

            I loled so hard at this.

          • Alli

            We’re constantly quoting this video in my house. I don’t even wear makeup but I relate??

    • That is stone cold truth. I have to be 5X as good at business to get anywhere as a woman. If I was a WOC, add another 10X.

      • I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman or because I’m an immigrant Not From Here or because I look young or what, but sometimes I look around at others who do what I do and see it’s mostly white male artists who are getting most of the work. And to be honest, sometimes it seems a little closer on the sliding scale end of “emperor with no clothes on” than pure genius. Maybe that’s harsh, but iin any case, the work is not necessarily as developed as I would have expected based on the buzz I hear about it or anything I get excited about thematically. I’m often left wondering, huh, this is what people support financially through grants or other funding? I wonder if maybe those prominent artists just got the right people to support them and their work and then the doors open up? At this point in my artistic career, the only option I see is to keep working hard without the same support network and try to make it happen anyways. But it sure can be exhausting…

    • SLG

      Truth. I am so tired of the pressure to kill it at work (as in, I personally want very badly to kill it at work), plus the added pressure of never knowing whether the latest setback was because it’s a patriarchal world or because I genuinely didn’t deserve that promotion / bonus / what have you this time around. My brain is always trying to figure out the reason, and I will never be able to figure it out. It’s exhausting, and it’s just the world we live in.

  • A.

    The other day I lost it crying at my mom because she brushed away some dust from my baby’s foam playmat and said, “Oh there’s some dirt on here!”

    In my mind, she was actively criticizing my housekeeping which has fallen by the wayside, to put it mildly, in the past couple months because my baby won’t nap in her crib. In reality, she was just…brushing away a little bit of dust and didn’t at all mean that I was “raising my daughter in a pigstye” (as I sobbed that she was accusing me of). She reminded me that my house is clean (which it is…mostly; the baby areas anyway), it’s just not organized and with an 8 month old baby that’s really not the end of the world.

    I have some level of executive dysfunction to begin with, so keeping an organized home is already a battle for me. But I often feel like a failure when I see a pile in the corner of my eye while playing with my baby. It’s hard to be Super Mom and I really envy the women who pull it off so (seemingly effortlessly).

    But like they say, there’s no way to be a perfect parent but a million ways to be a good one.

    • rg223

      There’s a concept in child development that doesn’t get talked about enough called “the good enough parent,” which basically says children will thrive as long as their needs are being met a lot of the time (as opposed to ALL of the time). So you really don’t have to stress about small stuff at all. Learning about that was incredibly freeing for me, and your last paragraph made me think of it!

      • Violet

        Ha. Nobody talks about the “good enough parent” because it doesn’t sell any books/overpriced baby food/elaborate infant toys….. While praying on insecurity, on the other hand, sells mucho product.

      • ZLMT

        Yes — D.W. Winnicott! It made so much sense when I read about it in grad school way before I was a parent, and now even more so since I am.

  • Anon

    I’m not going to feel bad about not video chatting with my baby for my in-laws. My husband does it 1-2x a week with them and that’s plenty. Just because my mom sees my baby more than they do doesn’t mean I need to try to fit a Skype session into my already insanely crammed week with people I have an awkward at best relationship with. I send photos, videos, and text updates…that should be more than enough.

    It’s a little hard because my husband is the one who wants me to make that effort, but it’s just not going to happen. His parents are too exhausting and demanding for me to deal with in that capacity. I will make other efforts, but not that one. And it’s liberating to say it.

    • Laura C

      I don’t know how old your baby is or a whole lot of other variables, but I will say, with my MIL in India for several months now while our son is at an age where he eats breakfast sitting in his high chair pretty much on his own, setting up the ipad and letting them Facetime is actually making my life easier — he has someone paying attention to him and so he stays happy longer while my husband and I run around getting ready for the day. But definitely before this stage I found it a total hassle to have to facilitate their Facetiming and I rarely did it.

    • My strategy has been that my husband manages the relationship with his side of the family. His mom wants to Skype with the baby? He needs to be the one who handles that. His mom wants photos? He needs to send them? He wanted to go to Atlanta for his homecoming, so he was responsible for planning the trip and he did it willingly. I purposely don’t do some of the emotional labor because I’m trying to prove a point – if it’s important to him, he’ll get it done. And in turn, I won’t bitch about “how” it gets done, as long as it gets done.

      • SS Express

        Totally! We don’t have kids yet, but the “your family, your responsibility” rule is how we approach pretty much everything else. He buys his parents’ Christmas gifts and finds out what time his sister needs us to babysit our niece, I shop for both our outfits for my cousin’s costume party. It’s not that I don’t get along with my in-laws, it’s just a sensible way to split the emotional labour. If he wants them to video chat with our future kids he’ll have to find the time to do it because that has nothing to do with me!

      • Eh

        The more I step away from dealing with the emotional labour with my inlaws the better my mental health is. They can still get to me with their BS when they ignore our boundaries or lie about things, but I don’t stress about making plans with them because that’s my husband’s job. I don’t worry about communicating with them, because that’s my husband’s job.

  • PeaceIsTheWay

    I think it’s easy to conflate ‘putting pressure on myself’ with ‘doing what I want’; the former is stressful and the latter is a privilege but the line between them can be blurry. Since it’s not actually possible to do EVERYTHING I want to – spend all day with my husband and son, write novels, travel the world, end poverty, promote world peace, etc. – I try to be clear with myself about what is MOST important to me (and to my family, because family is most important to me), and focus on those things. Something that helps me is to remember that life has different seasons, and I don’t have to do everything I want to today, or even this year or this decade.

    Things that are NOT important to me, and which I don’t feel guilty about ‘neglecting’ despite external societal pressure: daily makeup, regular hair removal, mani-pedis, social media

    • Bsquillo

      This way of putting things really resonates with me. I am just a naturally ambitious and curious person, and I want to DO ALL THE THINGS. Excel at my career. Grow as a musician. Start a business. Build and maintain healthy relationships. Stay politically engaged. Have kids someday. Mentor younger people in my field. But it’s not all possible at once! A lesson I’m trying to learn this year is that it’s important to say no sometimes, even when all the opportunities and options presented are good things.

  • Antonia

    I don’t exercise. When I go to the doctor and she asks what I do for exercise, I give her my honest answer: “Nothing.” I take the stairs at work, and that’s it. I actually enjoy exercise! It lifts my mood, makes me feel good emotionally and physically, boosts my immune system and improves my sleep. A hard run or a hot yoga class is the BEST.

    And I still don’t do it.

    I have a full-time job and a 2-year-old, my family lives thousands of miles away (so no “hey, can you watch my son while I get a quick run”), my husband is self-employed and puts in 50+-hour work weeks, and my son usually goes down for bed at 10 p.m. There just isn’t time to fit in exercise. I could get up at 5 a.m. and hit the gym before work, but yeah — ain’t happening. (I also can’t afford a gym membership or fitness classes (see: self-employed spouse).) Not ideal, but it is what it is. I’m honest about my lack of physical activity and have basically absolved myself of feelings of guilt at this point.

    • Zoya

      Oh god, not exercising as an overweight woman is a CONSTANT source of guilt for me. I keep feeling this pressure (culturally, and also subtly from my mom and doctor) that I should be constantly doing whatever I can to keep my weight down. Which, like…I’m working on it, but also there’s been a lot of life stuff in the past year that I had to focus on instead. Thanks for the reminder to try letting go of that guilt…

      • Antonia

        I have found that exercise has had zero impact on my weight. ZERO. I’m a little “softer” due to the lack of exercise, but I’m actually smaller/weigh less than I did when I was much more active.

        • Violet

          Yes, and the research would back you up on this. Exercise for endorphins, heart health, mental acuity, socializing, but don’t exercise to lose significant quantities of weight. “Eat less, move more,” is just not borne out by the data.

    • Anne

      I have become a pretty regimented runner in recent years (as in, I get very anxious and cranky when I don’t exercise), but I think in the fitness community there is a total devaluing of the “good enough” compared to the perfect. Taking the stairs counts for your health! Not being a stress mess counts for your health! Chasing your 2-year-old counts for your health!
      Reminds me also of this recent NYT article about whether it’s better to exercise every day or get enough sleep: http://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/08/well/sleep-vs-exercise.html

      • Antonia

        This used to happen to me too! I would get super anxious and cranky if I didn’t exercise, and my muscles would feel “tight” and uncomfortable — almost like full-body restless leg syndrome. It’s funny, though — when you stop exercising, your body just adapts. Not saying you should stop running — if I had the time, I’d absolutely be more focused on exercise. But I don’t exercise and feel fine.

      • rg223

        I was going to reference this article too! This article is giving this busy writer/mom/woman life.

    • PAJane

      Similarly, I’ve accepted that I’m probably never going to get back into running. I did it, I enjoyed it even though I wasn’t very good at it, and then I stopped for some legit medical reasons. After that I kept pressuring myself to get back into the same routine, to push past the 5k level I had previously reached, to think of myself as A Runner again. And it’s not going to happen. I’m a person who used to run. I’m ok with that.

    • JLily

      I think this idea that exercise is something you do regularly or don’t do can cause guilt/anxiety, at least for me. As fully-formed adult I have decided that there are times in life where it is comepletely ok to not have an exercise regimen, and other times where I need it for balance or mental health or because I want to feel strong. It doesn’t mean that I will never exercise again, and if I get in a habit I am totally ok with knowing that the habit won’t last forever.

  • Her Lindsayship

    So I was trying to think of something I decided to stop stressing about to add to this convo, and all I managed to do was stress myself out about how little I’m actually bothering to stay on top of. *laugh-cry emoji* Realtalk, I feel like I will always be balancing between putting too much pressure/guilt on myself and just not really doing anything because I’ve decided to stop putting too much pressure/guilt on myself.

    One thing I’m not allowing myself to feel guilty about is paying for Blue Apron deliveries and the occasional takeout meal. My husband has virtually zero interest in meal planning, and works late enough that sometimes it’s either I cook dinner by myself or I order takeout for us. And sometimes I cook dinner, because it’s healthier and cheaper and whatnot, but sometimes I get takeout! Who cares! I love not caring about it.

    • Lexipedia

      OMG Blue Apron/Hello Fresh/now Plated (my fave) deliveries have done so much for my relationship. S is not a confident cook, and shopping is something that we can’t seem to manage to keep up with during busy work periods. Until we started meal kit delivery I did 95% of our cooking because I was faster and more confident about working with no recipe (S always does the dishes). Now we cook together, or switch on and off cooking alone with it at about a 60/40 ratio! Like, twice in the past week I’ve just needed to chill after work, which usually would’ve meant takeaway. Now I had healthy-ish dinners and leftovers for lunch that I didn’t contribute to at all. We’ve been doing it weekly since October 2016 and it’s great for us.

    • JC

      THIS. I’m sitting here at work and *ahem* it’s incredibly boring and not at all fulfilling. But you know what? I refuse to take on more projects, more worries, just because *high achiever* or whatever. I’ll do something that I want to do when I want to do it, and not a moment before.

  • LBWazi

    As I sit here reading this article, I’m hustling to finish my dissertation with 5 weeks to go until the final deadline. My 5-month-old is in childcare (hallelujah PTL), I have a lingering amount of baby weight I’d like to lose, sleep and workouts I’d like to have but don’t, and chronically terrible posture from everything mentioned above. But, generally speaking, I’ve been able to operate from a place of “I’m doing the things I want to do and caring about the things I want to care about” (and not caring about the things I don’t). Putting “pressure on myself” feels SO much different when I’m not living in the world of “shoulds.” “Shoulds,” whether internalized bs or external pressure, feel like a world of crap, as in: “I should be a mom that does xyz,” or “I should have lost this weight by now,” etc etc. When I frame the things I choose to put on my plate as active desires (“I *want* to finish this dissertation on time because I’ll feel like a badass and I’ll get to celebrate by drinking with my bestie in a gold sequin dress I saved for the occasion”), it isn’t exhausting in the same ways. I fully attribute my allergy to internalizing “should” statements as the result of many years of therapy…and I could really use some more to keep finding healthy ways to navigate all the different roles and responsibilities life brings. And delegating emotional labor at home? Whew. There’s always more room for growth there.

    • Anne

      Just wanted to say major congrats on your almost-finished dissertation! I’m currently writing mine, and pregnant with my first kid (due in July). I’m planning to take about a month completely off and then get back to dissertating part-time (because fortunately my husband has AWESOME paternity leave), but childcare will DEFINITELY play a major role in my goal of finishing the dissertation by April of 2019. I like the idea of framing what you want as active desires—no, everything *can’t* get done, but I’m hoping that focusing on tangible goals will help me get through the large amounts of writing I need to get through before the end of June.

      • LBWazi

        Anne, you’re amazing! You’re in such solid shape if you’re already writing now and your little one isn’t due to arrive until July, and it sounds like you already have a stellar plan to stay on track. A few little tidbits of advice based on my recent experience:
        1 – setting tangible writing goals during pregnancy was so clutch for staying on track. Nothing like having the due date looming to stay motivated! But build in some flex, especially towards the end, when your energy and motivation may take a dive. I saved some relatively mindless tasks for that last month, rather than expecting to bust out polished prose, and I’m glad I did.
        2 – I was also thinking I would take off roughly a month (it sounds like such a nice, long time, right?), but a month goes FAST and your little one probably won’t be in much of a predictable routine by that point. I did a few tasks here and there during the first 6 weeks, but didn’t go back to a regular work schedule (25 hrs/week) until 2 months. My partner stretched out his paternity leave by going part-time for those 2 months so that we were both able to spend quite a bit of time together with the baby. Also, babies don’t get their first round of shots until 2 months, and many childcare providers preferred to wait to care for our daughter until then.

        But otherwise, dissertating with a baby has actually worked out really well. Realistically, I can’t write for more than a focused 25 hours per week anyway, so I feel like I’m staying on track but still have time in my day for self/sleep/baby. Good luck!! You’ll crush this.

  • I can dodge many parenting pressures because I know what bad parenting looks like. “I’m such a bad mom” is a phrase that’s absolutely not allowed in our family even as joking self-deprecation. Screw that noise, I do my darn best everyday and some days are better than others. That’s life. I worked with high level executives who would pull that and it’s just weird.

    But I DO put a ton of pressure on myself with regard to our money. My health is pretty bad which gives me extra motivation to try and craft a financial plan that allows us to retire or go to part time work only in the next, say, ten years, so that we can enjoy our lives as partners and enjoy our family. But there’s only so many things I can do a day to solidify our financial position and there are lots of things I have no control over. And yet.

  • emilyg25

    I stopped looking at activities for my three year old to do. I was adamant about him taking swim lessons last year because I have serious fear of the water. He did great, but we realized that we really hate the obligation of a weekly class at a set time/location. Sometimes one of my mom friends will mention gymnastics or something and I’ll look into it and then remember how much I hate weekly classes. And spending money. And how little he really gets out of it. Nope.

    • Jess

      I love how different things help different people!

      Setting up a reoccurring thing that has a set time and location is the gift I give to myself. I kind of love that it does not work for you at all.

      Life and its rich tapestry and all that.

    • Sparkles

      Also, he’ll be fine! It’s probably better for him to have quiet time in a familiar place anyways

  • Lily

    I personally have decided to cut back pressure everywhere, a little at a time. I’m having a “me first” type of year. I want to consistently put my own needs, mental, emotional, physical, above whatever else the world demands of me today. I want to prioritize the “me time” over cooking dinner, helping MIL entertain every weekend, demanding work problems that aren’t actually urgent, and wedding planning. There’s too many days last year where I skipped the things for me (gym, manicure, whatever) because I felt like I had to stay late at work, had to take care of wedding stuff fiance promised to do, do laundry, or generally make everyone else’s lives a little bit easier.

    I actually had a great conversation with fiance about this issue, and we’ve agreed to identify a few areas of our lives (like housework, trip planning, etc) that he can be more proactive about, so I feel less stress to have it all together all the time.

  • lopma02

    Maybe because I’m a bit older, but I feel no pressure to live up to the social media image. Don’t get me wrong, I used to feel pressure about weighing a certain amount or having my house look a certain way. Now it’s more – can I still fit into my clothes (I refuse to buy the next size up) and what am I willing to do to keep a clean house. Maybe it’s because I had a minor health scare, that made me change my ways. I took a look at my life and culled out or delegated every single thing that was pressuring me and wasn’t worth my energy. I still take a critical eye to my life when I start to get a lot of anxiety or stress.

    • Violet

      Age and health scares can definitely do it, but so can growing up incredibly uncool. My parents wouldn’t allow a lot of really common things, so we never knew what the cool tv shows were, couldn’t wear the cool light-up sneakers, didn’t own the cool toys, etc. It was annoying at the time, but I think it’s a really big reason why as an adult I’ve always been able to just do my own thing and drown out the noise. Practice, basically.

  • theteenygirl

    My husband pointed out to me one day while I was bawling my eyes out scrubbing the tile in our bathroom that maybe.. maybe I didn’t have to be so stressed about keeping a clean apartment. That’s when he convinced me to have a housekeeper come and do a “deep clean”. It took a lot of convincing – because I went from feeling guilty that the apartment wasn’t super clean to feeling guilty about PAYING someone else to clean for me. To pay someone to do something for me that I SHOULD be able to do myself for FREE made me feel absolutely horrible. But she came and cleaned the apartment so well that we are having her come once a month and added a line to our budget. It has taken so much stress off knowing that I can do a superficial clean once a week, but I’m not going to be scrubbing for hours. I definitely still feel guilty about it though.

    • Anna

      I mean, this exact anecdote makes it pretty clear that cleaning your apartment yourself wasn’t “free” – you were just paying for it in time and stress, rather than money. Time and stress are worth money. It sounds like this was an excellent tradeoff and you definitely don’t need to feel guilty about it.

      • theteenygirl

        An excellent point! As a budget conscious person in my mind, free = no money so I’m really liking the idea of paying in time and stress. I will think about this.

        • Zoya

          To quote Captain Awkward, “sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money.”

      • Zoya

        To quote Captain Awkward, “sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money.”

  • Carrot

    There are a lot of things that I really want to be doing, like exercising and having a clean apartment. But I’ve had to sort out the “want to be doing for long term sanity and health” from “have to do right now to function in the short term.” My anxiety disorder kills my appetite and I’ve lost some weight in recent months, so my priority has to be cooking to appease my appetite and not feeling guilty about buying more expensive groceries if that’s what sounds good.

  • sage

    The wedding is in three days. I am taking off work starting tomorrow. Parents are coming in tonight. Bridesmaid coming in tonight and staying with us. Plan is to pick up sister (MOH) from airport tomorrow before spa trip but the roads may be icy. Grandparents can’t make the wedding anymore bc my pops fell. Trying to finish a couple work tasks and manage to stay calm but it’s a lot y’all! I’m letting everything be imperfect from now on!!!

    • Zoya

      Congrats and good luck!! I hope your grandfather is all right.

      • sage

        Thank you! He is well and recovering. He fell two weeks ago and was recently released from rehab. But between that and the flu my grandma had last week they just can’t make the trip right now.

  • anony-nony

    In the last several years I’ve made peace with letting go of a lot of things. Always dressing cute or having my hair done, always having the house clean (or nearly clean) and well decorated. Always keeping up appearances. I gave that up a while ago And the emotional labor of holidays? Nope. I helped my husband think of a gift for his mom, but that was about it for me this year. And while it’s not ideal, and I’m sure a lot of people would judge me as lazy or not giving enough of a damn, it sure is nice to be the only woman I know who isn’t constantly exhausted/stressed out/resentful.

    Of course I don’t have kids yet, which will be a whole other ball of wax when it happens. But for now I’m cool with doing the minimum most days.

  • Jess

    The pressure I’ve let go of over the last several years of hard work and therapy is managing other people’s emotions and experiences. I’m happy to change my plans if you want to suggest doing something else, but I’m not going to search out fifteen options in the hopes that something makes one person happy. I’m not going to take on somebody else’s hurt feelings. I’m not feeling guilty just because you’re mad at me for something I didn’t do.

    It’s been really, really huge to feel some rewards of that work with my mom.

    This year (and in the future), I’m hoping to start letting go of my fear of failure a little more. After the “Why am I so lazy” Ask Polly article (https://www.thecut.com/2018/01/ask-polly-why-am-i-so-lazy.html ), and a few work-and-life-crises over the last couple years, it has Become Past Time.

    I often give up on or put off starting things, resulting in a big bundle of procrastination and issues and crisis situations. And, like the not-so-nice guy featured yesterday, I can feel a lot of shame about it, hide it, and make the situation worse.

    So, I made a big list of the types of things that made me freeze up, a big list of how I feel when that happens, how I act, how I talk to myself, what I’m afraid of happening. I freeze up when people are paying attention to what I’m doing and when I’m doing something I’ve done wrong before. I am most scared about what happens when I fail – how that failure will impact how people feel about me, whether they will still accept me.

    I’m hoping to let go of the idea that I can “be enough” or “not be enough” and the pressures of trying to earn belonging.

    • MC

      +1000 to that Ask Polly response – I read it a couple weeks ago and it has been seriously ruminating in my head.

      • Jess

        It was some truth at a time I needed it, that’s for sure.

  • Anya

    I have a lot of this. I just went through “I should do more workout because, god, I gained so much weight,” “I should take on more projects at work”, “I should cook more so I eat healthier”, “I should spend more time with my pets”, “I should call my parents more” … it’s been ongoing. The reason for the sudden freakout was because the end of last year had at least a week of travel a month, but it’s a new year, so I SHOULD BE BETTER.

    And then I remembered what my therapist told me. Which is the fact that I (and I suspect other women) overuse the word “should.” It’s putting pressure and obligation onto yourself; and if you don’t make it, well, you failed. So I was not allowed to use that word for a whole month.

    I looked at my list of “shoulds” and separated them. The truth is there were no shoulds. I workout to manage my depression/anxiety, but if there’s a day I just want to sit home and knit rather than another scheduled thing on the calendar – that’s fine. I would like more projects at work, but having space to breathe after 15 hour days is also nice. I enjoy cooking, but I can also order in if I don’t feel like it one night. Nothing was the matter of life or death. Anyway, I’m sharing this in case this helps someone else. If you find yourself using the word “should”, stop and reassess.

    The world constantly tells us what we should be and what we should do. We can rephrase it.

    • Ashlah

      I find myself thinking a lot about how “I want” to do certain things, and the disappointment I feel when I’m not doing them is more manageable (and more motivating) than the feelings of failure surrounding “shoulds.”

      • Anya

        Agreed: “I want” or “it’d be nice if” is definitely better than “I should.” It also helps me articulate and prioritize things.

    • SLG

      So true. Some of the best advice I got recently was to replace the word “should” with “could.” My husband and I have both been trying it. Not only does it reduce the pressure we feel, it also makes those sometimes-annoying married-people conversations into comical moments: “So, one of us could take out the trash…”

      • PAJane

        Haaaaaa haha, that sounds so passive aggressive.

        • Violet

          My middle-school brain went to, “…or we could have sex instead.”

        • SLG

          ha! Yep, in print it does. In the right mood, it makes us both laugh because the other person is like “or, we could do it tomorrow because we’re tired,” and then we both laugh at the fact that we’re genuinely considering it optional to take out the trash.

      • GCDC

        Yes! I had a similar epiphany recently. My phrasing (in my head) was always “X needs to be done,” as in, “the counters need to be cleaned” or “the dishes need to be put away.” I recently changed it to “I would like the counters to be cleaned”, etc. It has made a world of difference. If the counters don’t get cleaned, meh. It’s not a failing, it’s because I’ve made a decision to prioritize something else instead.

  • Loran

    I think my pressure comes from caring. I care so damned much about so many things. I remember my mother telling me that she wished I wouldn’t get so invested in things because I was bound to get hurt, and my teenaged self rebutted that it was worth getting hurt over and over and over to feel the joy of things, too. 20 years later, I understand better what my mother was saying, and sometimes I wish I could care less, too, but there is always this voice inside me whispering “… but the joy!”
    I care about doing a good job, even if my job is not my passion. I care about my family and friends and my health and my dog (not in that order, necessarily, all the time). I care about where I live. I care about cleanliness only so much that it stresses me the fuck out if it’s too nest-like. I care about nature, and urban development. I care about politics and art. I care about learning and teaching and playing (which is both learning and teaching!). I care. And because I care, I want others to know I care, and often, to care with me. Because I care SO MUCH! I have feelings, and strong opinions, and acres of research and fascinations and I want to share them all with You, and You, and especially YOU!
    I come with food when family is ill (or when I’ll be there supporting family or friends for more than 3 hours and I need to eat). I come with presents I picked up just because I saw it and thought of you and laughed or smiled or cried. I come with arguments and stats when I know you receive love in a good debate. I come with arguments and stats and PASSION when I think you could benefit from learning something I know, and hopefully I learn in the process, too. I come prepared with your schedule and mine, because I want you to know that I’ve taken your needs into consideration. I come caring and wearing my heart on my sleeve, and it can be an exhausting way to live, but it can also be oh, so worth it. And sometimes, I need to care more about me, and show me how much I care. But that’s harder. I know me, and I always think “me” can wait, because “me” is busy caring right now…

  • Latika

    I haven’t been able to read all the comments, so maybe someone already brought this up, but when it comes to motherhood, it’s easy to feel damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I am at home with my kids full time right now, by choice. i often feel judged by others who think that in staying home with my kids, I’m completely wasting my college and grad degrees and 10+ years of professional work experience. In low moments, the judgmental voice has been the one in my head. But I’ve decided to say f*** that bullsh**, along with all the other judgmental crap society places on mothers and we place on ourselves. I’ve got too much else to focus on to be worried about whether other people think I’m wasting my life.

    • e.e.hersh

      I’m just here to say that I feel judged for *not* staying home with my kid and when I read threads like this it makes me wonder why we ALL (no matter which way we go) seem to feel so crappy about child care! What is the perfect solution, if staying home AND going to work both seem to make moms feel awful?! Argh!

      • Latika

        EXACTLY. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. So I’m trying to do my part to stop the damning, starting with the voice in my own head. It’s not easy, though.

    • Sparkles

      I am also a SAHM, and I also have those thoughts in my head about wasting my degrees and not contributing to the workforce, bad feminist, etc. My worry is that I’m not getting all the traditional house stuff done even though I’m staying home. Like shouldn’t I be able to keep a clean house, I’m here all the fucking time! There’s a small voice that tells me I’m not getting it all done, because I’m getting the important things done– taking the kids outside and to classes and making good food and spending time with my husband in the evenings, keeping caught up on Midsomer Murders. But I still feel so inadequate! Like honestly, I have no idea how, or even if, people who work full time and have kids also keep a clean house. I feel like I’m doing it wrong!

      My therapist and I are working on this, but seriously tell me your secrets!

      • Latika

        So here are my secrets:

        1) I don’t get it all done, either. Not even close. My house is messy most of the time. I’m working on small things to help reduce the mess a bit, like decluttering so there’s less stuff to deal with or getting better at putting things back as I use them, but mostly I’ve just had to work on accepting that this is my reality right now. I spend a lot of time at home with a 1yo and 3yo. They make a lot of messes. I could spend all day every day cleaning up, but I choose not to.

        2) The big secret – I have a housecleaner who comes twice a month. I feel a bit embarrassed about this/spoiled, but I also feel like it is absolutely worth the money. I have the same voice in my head that you do – shouldn’t I be able to keep this clean myself?? But when it comes down to it, this is something we can afford and it takes stress off of me and my husband. So at the end of the day, I don’t feel bad about it. I feel grateful.

        3) The biggest secret – I have no other secrets, and I’m not sure any other mom does either. I think it’s so easy to look around at everyone else and wonder, how the hell do they do it? How do they always manage to have healthy snacks for their kids, while I’m over here digging a month-old bag of cheerios out of the bottom of my diaper bag? How do they always look so put together and get their kids into cute outfits with their hair brushed, when everything my kids and I are wearing is rumpled and covered with questionable stains? How do they balance a high-powered career and parenthood so effortlessly, while my house always looked like a tornado just went through and I don’t even have a job? The cycle of measuring ourselves against everyone else and coming up short can be never-ending and toxic. I don’t have any answer or secret, other than trying as much as possible to listen to that small inner voice that says “You are enough.” I feel you, I’m in the trenches with you.

  • MC

    A friend posted this article recently about why the concept of “wasting time” is really flawed and it was exactly what I needed to read this week: https://advice.shinetext.com/articles/why-wasting-time-isnt-really-a-thing/ I’ve been talking to my therapist the last few weeks about how I feel like I’m generally not doing *enough*, whatever that means. Even though I work full-time and volunteer a few places and run half marathons and spend time with friends and and and…

  • rg223

    I’m not fretting about whether to have a second child or not anymore. I’m about 99% sure we’re not having any more kids, despite the societal expectation being put on us to have more than one, and frankly, the expectation that I had of myself to have two. I had a kid, and I love him, but right now I feel very much BTDT about having another baby. Turns out I like working on my career and enjoying the family I currently have more than I like the idea of adding another kid to the mix. If that changes, cool! But I’m done worrying about it.

    • e.e.hersh

      Cheers! We just made the same decision too. One and Done can be amazing!

    • Ashlah

      Fist bump! One and done here.

    • Antonia

      Also one and done! Happily so. More happy hours (and sleep) for meeeee…

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      Another one and done here! Also people will never stop bugging you about it.

    • Liz

      Only child here checking in to say that it is awesome.

    • Both my husband and I are only children and we don’t mind it one bit. Our families are small (mostly) and lovely and we enjoy them.

      I love seeing families that also only have one.

      Good for you.

  • Suzy

    This article (and the comments) was really what I needed tonight!
    Just had a conversation with my fiancé about how I’ve been talking a lot in my sleep recently. I said ‘I think it’s just because there’s a lot going on in my head, my brain is still processing it all overnight. Especially now Christmas is over and we’re properly into wedding planning’ (3.5 months to go).
    He said ‘Oh I’m not really worried about the wedding. As long as everyone has a good time and we get married, it will all be fine!’
    … I know what he meant and appreciate the sentiment, but as we all know, these things don’t just organise themselves!
    And it’s by no means just the wedding- it’s the physical and emotional labour of EVERYTHING ELSE. I sometimes think ‘if I told you every thought running through my mind simultaneously, your brain would explode.’ Finances, full time job, freelance work, car, keeping up with family, remembering birthdays, exercising, trying to lose weight, trying to have quality time with fiancé, dishes, cooking, laundry, food shopping, wedding planning, and still beating myself up about all of it… I really don’t know what the answer is!

    • Lawyerette510

      Ugh, the “I’m not worried as long as everyone has a good time and we get married…” I finally sat my then fiance down and explained to him what all needed to happen for the bare minimum of executing that, and that is what finally got him to really step up and take some of the planning load. It’s like, yes flowers aren’t important for people to have a good time, but picking out what food they will eat and what drinks they will drink is and figuring out and communicating a schedule is, etc. Because he wasn’t socially conditioned to solve things, only to be happy to let other people (usually women) solve them, his default then (and to some extent now still is) “oh I’m not worried about it”

      TLDR: the answer that works (at least better than nothing) in my marriage is for me to communicate all those things I’m doing emotional labor on and putting effort into and stressing over, so that he realizes a lot of the things he thinks just happen, happen because I make them happen. Over the years it has changed his approach.

      • Suzy

        I have definitely started to do this over the past couple of months… going to have to remind him of the ‘list of remaining jobs’ I wrote a couple of months ago that blew his mind when he saw it haha!

      • Jess

        TBH, our weekly wedding meeting was a really great time to itemize labor. It would be like, “Here’s this document I made to cover what we have to pack” and “Here’s a template of the schedule for the day” and “I called X vendor”

        It also gave me a chance to say “Let’s make this list of stuff to do together” which helped a ton.

        Maaaaaybe I should make us have a weekly meeting again.

        • Lawyerette510

          Oh I love the idea of a weekly meeting. We have a monthly meeting, where we talk about finances and big picture stuff, but a weekly meeting would be so nice.

    • Zoya

      Who was it that commented on another one of these open threads about how “I’m the witch, I make the magic?” If your fiance feels like stuff is going to just work out, it’s because you are the one working it out.

      • Suzy

        Yes I remember that thread. My reply should have been ‘yes, but make a list of everything that has to happen in order to make sure that everyone gets there, has a good time, and we get married, and you will see my point’… but I just didn’t have the energy last night!

      • savannnah

        Haha that was me- nothing more frustrating than than feeling like your partner is both not thinking about how stuff gets done and not realizing you are doing it!

    • ssha

      “If I told you every thought running through my head…” Sometimes I detail my thought process for my spouse, but many times it’s just less exhausting to say “I’m good, how are you?”

      • Suzy

        Hahaha definitely!

  • Lisa

    So, I’m wedding planning right now, and I’m having a bit of a crisis about flowers. So, my wedding is big and nice – we picked a great venue that “doesn’t need a lot of decor”, but the thing is, it kind of does. We’re having 20 tables, so I need 20 centerpieces, and I don’t give a flying fuck if they’re flowers, but there needs to be something on the tables, or it will look cheap and weird with my multicourse fancy dinner. So, it feels like my options are “Pay someone to do something I don’t care about at a very expensive rate that I don’t feel comfortable paying” and “Spend a lot of time on DIY projects, figure out how to store and transport all these items” when what I want is an in between option where I get to not pay a lot of money, have small, tasteful, centerpieces and bouquets in whatever flower the florist deems is least expensive. I honestly don’t mind paying the delivery fees I’ve been seeing, since that’s a thing I understand is a hassle. it’s just the actual stupid flowers. My FI is like, “oh flowers aren’t important”, but he’s failing to grasp that I’m on his team, but we need something, and sometimes “not caring” about it is the most expensive way to go about it

    • SS Express

      Could you buy 20 cheap vases (Ikea does small ones for $1), give them to your florist and ask them to shove in whatever cheap flowers they like and deliver them on the day, and invite guests to take them home at the end? 20 large glass hurricanes and 20 big white candles, maybe placed on top of 20 round mirrored plate thingies, and just chuck them out after?

      • Lisa

        These are not the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. I haven’t picked a florist, because I keep getting quotes for like…$6k+. This is a stupid question but will florists let you do stuff like this?

        • Amy March

          Depends on the florist! Look for ones that don’t look fancy, that don’t have a meticulous insta, that don’t advertise heavily in the wedding space.

          • Lisa

            This is why I read this site! Honestly, storage space is at a premium for me right now and a lot of the DIY advice I read is like, “scour Michaels for deals!”. I’m probably willing to spend somehwere in the $30-50 range per table, and I don’t mind throwing a little money at the problem, and corporate flowers a GREAT idea. Luckily my venue has pretty colored linens, different colored plates, etc. so I can set up a kind of nice look with that alone. Greenery and maybe some white flowers around a candle is all I want or need. They can be fake TBH, I’m just very concerned with throwing an expensive wedding with all the bells and whistles, and then cheaping out on one thing, and then “looking cheap”, which is my mom and IL’s worst fear (also, they’re paying. Lump sum, we budget it, so every dollar that goes towards flowers is a dollar that goes away from something we actually want). FI’s been pretty good about wedding planning, but sometimes it feels like, ok, we both don’t care about decor, but I HAVE to be the one who “owns” it because everyone thinks I probably care whereas he can be like, “ehh whatever who needs flowers” and everyone’s ok with it.

          • K.K.

            I want colored linens and plates! (Where are you getting married?!)

          • Lisa

            New York Botanical Gardens :)

            (Which, I realize, makes it that much more insane that I’m like, “FUCK FLOWERS”)

          • Lara

            Candles and greenery are a great idea, especially if the venue provides flowers naturally! I’m getting married in the woods partly so I don’t have to decorate at all. :) Mother nature is an excellent florist.

          • savannnah

            Also think about candles- they are fancy AF and can be really cheap and make a big impact.

          • SLG

            Also? Eh whatever who needs flowers. I cheaped out on our program because I did not care, and neither did my husband or anyone else.

            Or if your mom and ILs care that much, maybe they’re open to being told “hey, our budget for this is $50 a table, please go wild, I will love whatever you pick out.”

            Obviously not all MILs are ok with requests like that, but if you truly don’t care about the centerpieces, I think it’s ok for you to do the absolute minimum or nothing at all.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            Another option, depending on who you know, is finding what I call an “amateur florist”.
            In my area, there are lots of women are either housewives or who have an unrelated day job, but who do things like cakes or flowers on the side for some extra money. They probably aren’t going to create masterpieces worthy of a magazine spread, but if you tell them “I’ve got $30 a table. Just do whatever will give me the most bang for my buck”, you’ll end up with something that checks ‘centerpieces’ off the list.

          • Em

            STRONGLY agree with this advice. The florist I ended up picking is just a regular suburban florist, who I never would have looked at otherwise if I hadn’t seen pictures of some amazing bouquets she did for a wedding at my venue last year. She’s been super responsive, very reasonably priced and very easy to deal with. Much better than the very expensive “floral stylists” I’d been talking too before (who do amazing work, but I think really want you to say “ohhh yes, I want to hang $20k of flowers from the ceiling.”)

        • Katharine Parker

          It will totally depend on the florist. Find one who doesn’t have a minimum order or whose minimum order is workable (not $5k). Maybe look to places that don’t specialize in weddings–think grocery store florists or places that mainly do corporate flowers. I would think about exactly how much you are willing to spend on each table–$10? $50? Ask what the florist can do for that amount.

          You could also do 10 tables with three candles on a mirrored stand and some greenery (which my venue would have offered us free to use, so ask them) and ten tables with small arrangements. Most florists will have small vessels for you to use or will be able to easily source some disposable ones or rented ones.

        • SS Express

          I suppose it would depend on the florist. If you already had someone to do your bouquets and buttonholes, they might be okay with plonking random flowers into supplied vases and delivering them along with the other flowers for a nominal fee – particularly if it was a more small-time florist. If you’re going with some big fancy florist they’d probably be less inclined.

          I get your aversion to a big complicated DIY, but my MIL did our bouquets and buttonholes – we got up super early the day before the wedding to go to the flower market and kept them in water overnight. They weren’t perfect but they still looked pretty damn good. The actual bouquet assembly part is hard, but putting a few flowers in a vase (i.e. not a big complex arrangement) wouldn’t be, if you have the time and access to a suitable source of flowers. The market was very cheap, like $3 for a dozen roses.

          If you went with a non-floral option you might be able to deliver it to your venue ahead of time, and either have them set up the centrepieces while they set the table or have a friend arrive 20 minutes early and quickly set them up. Depends on the venue, but if you’re having it at a traditional reception venue (and it sounds like you are) they can actually be really helpful and accommodating with things like this. I was planning to put fresh flowers on my cake after it was delivered to the venue but they told me their pastry chef could do it for free!

    • Zoya

      “sometimes not caring about it is the most expensive way to go about it”

      I’m convinced this accounted for about half our wedding budget. If I actually cared what stuff looked like, I would have done so much more DIY.

    • suchbrightlights

      I realize that you came here to vent and not necessarily for further options that Continue To Make This Your Problem To Solve, but our local Facebook wedding consignment group and city Craigslist are FULL of people selling centerpieces. If you do not care if they are flowers, would lanterns, geometric terrariums, candles do? Those kinds of things tend to be dime a dozen in this area, if you have online sale groups like that. Grocery store baby’s breath in Ikea bud vases or jars?

      • penguin

        Lanterns with a candle inside are a good way to fill up space in the middle of a table! We had flowers around our lanterns (MIL volunteered), but you could get a wreath of dried flowers or something from the florist to bulk it out if needed.

    • Lisa

      We used fiftyflowers.com and they have pre-made centerpieces, and you can buy cheap vases from them too. You’d still have to have someone set them on the tables, but they had fantastic customer service and arrived a couple days before the event (based on howl long the flowers needed to open while staying fresh).

  • Another Meg

    If one more well-meaning person tells me that mothers are more important to children than fathers I am going to scream. My husband and I are parenting equals, and most of that came naturally. But it enrages me to hear others constantly saying shit like this to me and belittling his role in our son’s life. Always asking me where my son is and who he’s with if I’m out by myself. Assuming that I am 100% in charge of my kid. He has a perfectly capable father who frankly is with him more often than I am.

    To balance it, I end up ladling on the praise, and that feels infantilizing, too. And the whole “aren’t you lucky your husband is such a great father” bullshit ends here. I’m not lucky. I chose a man who wanted to be an equal parent. It was in our goddam vows.

    I am lucky that this man exists, that every day we choose each other. But I did my homework before having a kid with him.

    /rant

    • Amy March

      Where is he? Hmm. Perhaps the wolves again?

      • savannnah

        My mom would always answer that question with an “oh shit!” and look around panicked.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I might start saying with wolves the next time someone asks me this. Sometimes I said “I dont’ know.”

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Thissss.

    • Liz

      Totally. My husband has been shocked by the difference in the way people treat us when we’re out alone with the baby. People tend to give me advice/corrections about what she’s wearing/eating/doing, and tend to treat him like the risen Christ – jumping up to offer seats, open doors, giant smiles, etc. Woe betide the first person who makes a “babysitting tonight?” or “Mommy’s night off?” comment to him. It’s going to be EPIC.

      • Ros

        Oh man, people can’t STFU around mothers.

        I got a comment about how I shouldn’t be on my phone because I should be interacting with my child (I was texting my husband the grocery list whi pushing the baby in a stroller) whole walking on a country DIRT ROAD the other day. (… after my reaction, I don’t think they’ll be saying that to other women. They might spend the next 15 years talking about how our generation has no respect tho #notsorry)

    • Violet

      Seriously! I look both ways, but if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, busybodies can rest assured that I intentionally picked a man I trusted to procreate with.

  • K.K.

    Ugh I am dealing with this so hard right now. I am probably 2-4 years from kids and I do not want to work full time while they are young. Sure, that position could change, but that’s what I want right now, and what I’m working towards. And that means I care a lot about what happens career-wise in the next 2-4 years in ways I don’t necessarily feel comfortable telling people.

    A coworker recently got assigned to a project of a type I really, really wanted. And I cried a little. It wasn’t that they were more qualified, just the timing of when other projects wrapped. No one’s fault. But they will almost certainly get another chance later, and there’s absolutely no saying I ever will if I take the step back that I’m planning to. And I’m just as smart and just as qualified and it hurts. I am making the decision not to do everything, not to try to be ‘perfect’, but that means there are some things I won’t get to do, and that makes me so sad.

    Thank you for writing this post.

    • NotMotherTheresa

      I’m in a similar boat, so all of the internet hugs!

      Also, I feel like this is a weird boat to be in, career-wise (at least in my circle). I have lots of friends who are total Lean In types, and some who have ~no~ definable career ambitions (other than perhaps to leave their jobs entirely), but it feels like I can’t really talk with either group about my situation.

      I’m not trying to make partner. I’m not trying to take over the world. I’m not trying to quit my job. I just want to be a in a place where I’ve proven myself valuable enough that I’m comfortable asking for flexibility.

      That said, how long have you been in your current job thus far? Because at least in my office, 2-4 years is an eternity in terms of opportunities/project cycles. Obviously that varies hugely from office to office and industry to industry, but lots of times, what ~feels~ like The Most Important Project Ever will come around more often than what one anticipates.

      • K.K.

        Thank you for the internet-hug. Here is one back. *hug*. And agree on friends mostly being not-into-their-careers or very-very-into-their-careers.

        My current project has been my current project for about eighteen months and will probably go another 6 or so. My two projects before that were about 3 years each. I will be changing jobs soon (more on that in some other post sometime) but not industries, so I don’t know how much typical project lengths might change. I’m not holding my breath. And if they don’t, that means my next significant project is almost certainly my last before kids, which puts a lot of pressure on negotiating it.

    • Eenie

      Have you talked with a manager or a mentor about the types of projects you want to work on in the next several years? I recently had the “what do you want to do in five years” talk with my manager. I was frank – in five years I need a job with less travel (something like 10% when I’m at 80-90% right now). But for the next 3 years I’m all in on my career, and I want to take advantage of every single opportunity. For the first time in my career, I have an actual development plan that should get me the skills and experience to transition to a position that is a lot less travel and more suitable to having a kid at home.

      • K.K.

        I look forward to someday be in a position where I can do this. It hasn’t really happened yet.

  • Noelle

    I feel like my complaint is petty compared to everyone here who’s a parent but…here goes. I run and exercise regularly – 4-5 times a week usually. I recently joined a gym to escape running outside during the worst parts of MN winters, and it’s brought out the comparison shame like never before. Feeling like *everyone* is running faster than me on the treadmill, feeling like I will never be as in shape as the 20-something women that never look like they break a sweat (oh to have that metabolism back). It’s brought me way down the past couple of weeks. (I’m sure being stuck inside hasn’t helped, and treadmill running is just the worst, but ugh gym life.)

    I’m thankful we can afford a gym membership so I don’t have to deal with subzero temps right now, but I’m also thankful more mild weather is ahead so I can get back on the trails and run without distractions and (try to) stress less about pace. I signed up for a marathon in fall so I need to really make peace with the idea of “doing fitness right” before then.

    • Jess

      Fitness is such a capital-T-Thing right now, and everybody has opinions and studies and “facts” that they want to tell you about how you could be doing it better.

      Learning to let go of the comparisons and feel comfortable in your own body and enjoy what it can without qualification do is hard freaking work.

      As an aside – I wish I could have never broken a sweat when I was 20. I have always been a drippy sweat monster if I get my heart rate up. Sorry, not sorry.

  • Lara

    I SO relate to this. This has been me for years – tons of pressure imposed only by me to have it all together, to be a perfectly supportive partner and a perfectly cool and sensitive step-parent and a Pinterest/Dead Poets Society- worthy teacher and an effortlessly admirable hostess and fit and well rested and organic and on and on and on.

    And then the bottom fell out of everything. A health condition that had only been sort of problematic (a bad hip) became all consuming. I had to leave my job. I had major pelvic reconstructive surgery. I was rendered disabled and completely (in my mind) useless. There was a long (ongoing) period where I grieved my essential-ness. Who would inspire the pre-teens? Who would clean my house? Who would make nutritionally balanced vegetarian meals for the stepkid? Who would shave my legs?

    The answer: whoever else wants to. If I let them. And I had no choice. I let other people feed me, bathe me, sweep my floors, fill my freezer with food, bring me tea and then change my sheets when I spilled it in bed. I had no choice. I was completely vulnerable, and, grateful as I was, I hated it. But I learned one of the most essential lessons of my adult life: the world will spin without me. People step up. People won’t always notice all of our efforts at perfection, and people (and yes, this is assuming you have good people) will not judge you for being human. I was – am- incredibly lucky to have amazingly helpful friends and family, and a beautiful, patient man by my side. I am 9 months post op and am still very limited. I hosted Christmas with my in-laws and my partner’s kids. My partner cleaned the house. I ordered Thai food. It was completely chill and easy and it would not have been better with better foliage and handcrafted appetizers. It was totally fine. I keep telling myself that I need to remember this when I return to work and ‘real life’ (though shit has been pretty real!) I am enough. I do enough. We are all doing much better than we think. <3

    • NotMotherTheresa

      I’ve been fortunate(?) enough to mostly learn this from my mental health struggles, but yeah, this. All of this.

      Particularly as women, I think a lot of us never quite shake the feeling you have in junior high, where you imagine that THE WHOLE SCHOOL is talking about the weird wrinkle in your skirt, your mom’s awkward laugh, and the way that your dad wore his dorkiest tie when he came to pick you up from soccer practice.

      I’m prone to depression, and I’m also prone to exacerbating those depressive tendencies by overdoing it when I ~am~ well, leading to massive burnout, which in turn, perpetuates the cycle. Fortunately, I’m making progress towards a more balanced life, but if there’s one thing I learned from years of cycling between Ultra High Functioning Super Woman and Doesn’t Get Out Of Bed Or Shower Woman, it’s that not only does the world turn without me, but once a bare minimum is met, nobody really notices the rest.

      Do the people around me notice if I quit going to work, quit showering for weeks at a time, and completely quit cleaning or making dinner? Yeah. It’s kind of hard to ignore that. Life will go on, but everyone will notice.

      But using store bought pie crust? Meh, usually people are pretty happy about the whole “We have pie now” thing.

      One of the things that’s really helped me is learning to establish sensible minimums for everything, and recognizing that anything above that should only be done if it’s for my *own* satisfaction. Showering twice a week and wearing clean clothes is important. Looking Pinterest worthy to check the mail is not.

      • Lara

        Don’t sell yourself short. Learning this through mental health challenges is NOT an easier version. I originally opted out of even bringing up this part, but a huge side effect of my surgery was a massive mental downward spiral. My usually mild and manageable tendencies toward anxiety and depression became full fledged depression and panic disorder, and I was constantly pitting the two pains (mental and physical) against each other (‘This is worse – no, this is worse…’). Neither is easier, and both interfere with my ability to do life the way I want to. BUT – there is the slightest benefit in this regard to the physical pain. Right now I use a cane (and you better believe it is floral and fabulous) and it gives people a visual. People see me coming and (usually) get out of the way, offer their seat, etc. Physical pain is more comfortable for other people. It’s more straightforward. I can blame a lot on my physical pain. Mental health is often invisible (and oh, we get so good at hiding our mental pain) and it can be a lot harder to make people understand. People aren’t always so sympathetic. And if your anxiety makes you even more worried about how people perceive you, the pressure is much worse, because it is so tangled up in our basic functions.

        It’s hard being a person. And you never know how extra hard it may be for someone in general, or on a particular day, whether they are dealing with some kind of pain or stress or heartache or sick kids or a shitty boss or self image. It is so hard to be compassionate (especially to ourselves) but so, so necessary.

  • Sarah E

    I have so much to say (that I started to say on Instagram), and I need to hit the hay soon, so I’m going to unload before scrolling through everyone else’s genius.

    I’ve been re-reading Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. Re-reading because more than a year ago, when I read it for the first time, it was so full of revelatory YES and OMG THAT that I could hardly put it down. I sped right through the thing. This time I’m taking my time, and making margin notes and holy hell is it congruent with the therapy I’m doing the reckoning with my life I’ve had to do this past year.

    First big takeaway was the sense that while I’m pushing myself to be better, go farther, prove my abilities, whose game am I playing? If I’m just trying to beat the guys at their own game, or score a win over patriarchy on its own terms, then I’m not going deep enough, I’m not changing the paradigm. I’m a competitive person always out to one-up my perceived enemies, but the outside proving is completely irrelevant to my inside worth. Ugh, this was more earth shaking before I typed it out

    Second huge takeaway, literally from this morning, is that this struggle happens over and over again. I keep highlighting in the book any reference to the passage of time. When the author describes her experience over weeks or months or years, I keep drawing to that, as in it takes fucking TIME. And we continue to go back through the awakening/the lessons/the struggle again and again. It’s not a one-time “Done! Beat the monster!” kind of thing.For me, even calling it a “journey” or a “path” indicates an end-point, which just doesn’t exist (besides death). The only place to GO is inside. It ties directly back into a quote from the Bhagavad Gita: “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the Self.” When the closet is organized, the exam passed, the house decorated, the meditation practice established, nothing is magically solved. Enlightenment is not an end-point, but a passing state like everything else. Life is just the struggle, over and over again. Learning better, responding to different needs at any given time.

    • Lara

      Yes! And we will keep learning the same lessons over and over for as long as it takes for us to get a handle on them. And then we’re not done – we have to go deeper. Thanks for this. It’s so east to get caught up in all the shit that we can easily forget that most of it is just our own shit.

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  • JLily

    I’m late to the discussion but I’ve been thinking about one aspect of this lately, so here goes. I grew up in a household where being stressed out was not only the norm, but busy-ness and piling too much on your plate was the ideal. Similar to how our society praises long workweeks and how being tired is cool (although I think there is a shift happening there).

    Anyway, I’ve decided that is not for me. I try to allow myself space to focus on a few things, which I decide are the most important to me at that time, and allow some empty space for reflecting or relaxing. For example, I went to grad school a few years ago. I focused on learning a lot at that time and did not worry about developing hobbies or working as I did it, I didn’t pressure myself to travel a lot, or know everything that was happening in the world, or read a lot of novels. If I am stressed out about the thing I’m focused on, for me that is not a waste of energy; if I am stressed out about something else, I let it go as much as I can. The last few years have been a sort of recovery from that intense time of learning, and my focus was on developing my career, my relationship with my now-husband (and the wedding!–thank u APW), setting up my house (yes, all hail Pinterest!), and setting up what I think of as my adult life, basically. Now that I have done that to a large extent, I can re-examine, ask my self how else I can improve, and what I want next.

    So basically, I am done feeling guilty about getting everything done all at one time, and trying to look at life as a series of seasons, each for learning something new, each for a new focus.

    • SS Express

      Oh my god I totally feel you. I hate this stupid thing where being stressed and busy is something to brag about (I do agree there’s a bit of a shift, thanks to the new “wellness” trend). When smartasses say things like “where do you find the time to [bake for fun, watch tv, read, get my nails done]” I like to say, in an equally condescending tone, “hmm…people ask me that a lot and I really don’t know, I just don’t find it hard to fit it in” and let them reflect on their own poor time management. Like, I don’t think it needs to be a competition, but if you want to turn it into one you’re gonna lose. I work at a government agency now where we have standard hours and a genuine commitment to flexibility and work-life balance which is awesome – if you do too much overtime people question why your boss isn’t allocating work appropriately – so fortunately the Stress Olympics aren’t popular here.

      I’m all about the seasons too! Sometimes you grow your career, sometimes you improve your fitness, sometimes you work on your marriage, sometimes you learn Arabic, sometimes you get into Korean beauty, sometimes you watch a lot of Netflix and colour in. It doesn’t have to be everything all at once. I think this is the real path to balance.

  • Bsquillo

    Late to this discussion, but I’ve been thinking about all of this a LOT recently. As women have gained more rights and opportunities throughout recent history, it feels like new pressures are only added, and nothing is taken away. In the 1950s, there was the pressure to be a model mother, homemaker, and wife. Move into the 1980s-90s, and women are allowed to pursue careers in earnest…but now they must be superstar employees AND rockstar moms. (This was my mom, the model high-achieving working mother.) Now, I feel like we’re getting to a place where perhaps people are becoming more open-minded about women’s choices related to career and motherhood…but on top of all that, ARE YOU TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF ENOUGH? In the RIGHT WAY, as prescribed by this week’s Insta-celeb or magazine mogul? It’s almost as if self-care becomes this weird pressure of its own.

    • SS Express

      Absolutely! Is it because we can allow women to give less than 100% at work or at home if it’s in the interest of *wellness* – because kids need their mothers to be healthy – but we can’t allow them to do it just because they like it better that way? And/or because, like all the other messages we get about the right and wrong ways to Woman, the “you don’t have to do everything all the time, do what’s right for you!” messages are coming primarily from people who have an interest in selling us something – a yoga class, a spa package, kale?

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Yesss!!!! Also, it seems like 99.9999999% of those “You don’t have to do everything all the time” messages are coming from people who are successful and privileged enough that if they don’t get it done, IT STILL GETS DONE!

        Feeding your kids an organic salad you purchased at Whole Foods and letting the nanny pick them up from soccer practice once a week while you’re at yoga doesn’t exactly come with the same guilt (or societal judgment) as feeding them Cheetos for dinner and letting the 11 year old babysit the younger three while you go to yoga.

        I swear, if I see one more post from somebody who’s idea of “learning to let it all go and focus on the things that matter” consists of “downsizing” to a cheaper 2,000 sq. ft. luxury apartment and “only” signing the kids up for violin, Mandarin, golf, and sailing lessons, I’m going to lose my mind.

        • Bsquillo

          YES x 1,000. “Letting some things go” is called survival for MOST people and families. But gritty day-to-day survival doesn’t make for a pretty Instagram feed.

        • SS Express

          Omg yes!

    • NotMotherTheresa

      Also, I feel like this “open-mindedness” about career and motherhood adds another weird layer of pressure…you can choose to focus on career, you can choose to focus on motherhood, or you can try to juggle both, but regardless of which path you pick, you have to do it the ~right~ way.
      For instance, it’s okay to forgo kids to try to become the next Hillary Clinton, but if you never make it past working in the Accounts Receivable department, then you’re just a sad failure.
      Or, you can forgo a career in order to focus on your children, but if you do that, you can’t exactly let yourself gain 20 lbs., drive an aging minivan, and send the kids to school with Lunchables. No, you have to be Pinterest Mom Extraordinaire, complete with perfectly styled hair and a family that eats organic kale with every meal…that you grew in your own yard. As a family project. That you Instagrammed.
      Occasionally, you can “slack off” a little in either/both of the above areas, but if you do THAT, you have to do so in a ~meaningful~ way. You can live in a cheap-ish apartment, skip private schools, and forgo the 70 hour work weeks if it’s to be a yoga instructor who travels the world with your family. You can’t do those things to give yourself more time and money for watching Netflix and ordering takeout.

      • Bsquillo

        Holy cow, yes. The pressure to assign Meaning to every. single. choice. I think because we know as women that we’ll be scrutinized for any choice we do make, so best to have a defense in our back pocket.

      • SS Express

        So true. I have a job I like and I think I’ll get promoted a couple of levels in the near future, but I’m not doing anything particularly impressive or earning buckets of money. I don’t plan on quitting work or going part time when I have kids, and I really feel like I need to grow my career significantly before having kids so I have a “good reason” to keep working. I mean *I* am okay with putting my kid in daycare to keep working at my alright job, but I already know *people* will be weird about it and say bullshit things like “it’s not like she needs the money” (my husband, in addition to being a man, is a lawyer so he has TWO good reasons to keep working). But I also know people would be weird about me staying home full-time, because even though I’m good at baking I suck at craft. Either way I won’t be doing it right. And I don’t even do yoga!

        • NotMotherTheresa

          Oh man, I feel you!

          I ~sort~ of lucked out in the job department. I don’t actually do anything impressive or Meaningful TM or particularly lucrative, but I have a job title that sounds like it ~might~ be impressive and lucrative, so I’m hoping that will give me a bit of leeway in terms of *people*.

          But ugh, why can’t it be socially acceptable to admit that I want to stay at my job simply because it’s an okay job, and because I would kind of rather do it than wipe runny noses all day? It’s not an Amazing Job. I’m not becoming a billionaire. I’m not saving the world. But like, it has reasonable hours, and I (usually) like my coworkers, and it lets me buy things without feeling like I’m spending my husband’s money. How is that NOT adequate justification for a job?!?!?! (Because I sure don’t see men having to explain why they kept their unremarkable middle management jobs after having kids…)

  • march hare

    My husband is a feminist, and we’ve had many many discussions about emotional labour. He tries really hard to be an equal partner — he does. The problem, as I see it, is that he just doesn’t *care* about/ *notice* stuff as much as I do. I mean, he doesn’t give a shit if the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in a few days, and the bookshelf is a little dusty, if he hasn’t had time to hit the gym regularly, or work on his hobbies for a while. Whereas, with those same things, I’m hyperventilating about my bad time management/housekeeping skills, berating myself for not going to the grocery store for fresh veggies, and not giving enough time to my weekend volunteering and O MY GOD I AM A MISERABLE FAILURE AT EVERYTHING.

    I mean, husband always pitches in for stuff and has a long list of separate chores he does happily. But he doesn’t beat himself up if he can’t. For example, one of the things he’s in charge of is weekend meals. But if he doesn’t have time to cook some day, he’ll just order some nice/healthy takeout and not plunge into a spiral of guilt about NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH, WHAT KIND OF AN ADULT AM I thoughts that go through my brain all the time.

    Sometimes, I truly think my life would be easier if I took a page from my husband’s book and stop caring if things are less than perfect. Ugh.