Being a woman seemingly comes with a lot of external and internal judgment. We have to be everything, yet nothing. We have to accomplish all and nothing. We're expected to act and be and do certain requirements, yet it's never enough or it's way too much.
Now before everyone gets all defensive or launches into attack mode, this isn't meant as a complaint about being female. This is a moment of introspection and observing the reality of being a woman.
In a recent article on babble.com, a woman admitted she recently had to pay a babysitter so she could finally shower. Let that sink in for a moment. She paid so she could bathe in her own house. "Do you know how pathetic that makes me feel? How ridiculous it feels to admit that? How slightly angry it makes me that showering costs me valuable and precious money?" she said.
For her, it had been a week of normal chaos, plus huge work projects, plus sick kids, her husband out of town and some other drama. It was a recipe for no shower, among other struggles. She then explained how everything women do comes with a tradeoff.
As with most things, there's a tradeoff -- positive or negative. Want a baby? Sacrifice your pre-baby body and your sleep. Want/need a job? Sacrifice time at home with your children. Be a stay-at-home mom? Sacrifice the extra income and professional successes.
Some women have children and some don't. Women who have kids are judged because people think they've settled to stay at home, or think they "gave up" doing something important in the community, or let their education go to waste. Women with no kids are seen as selfish for not bringing life into the world. Or women who have children and work are seen as not devoted enough to their family. We can't gain approval regardless of what we do.
When a mother leaves town for a few days, she likely makes sure all the laundry is clean and put away, the fridge is stocked, meals planned, schedules written out and color-coded, rides arranged and has over thought every little detail of their day-to-day lives to make sure everything goes well in her absence. And then she worries the entire time she's gone. And feels guilty for being gone. And then comes home to more chaos. It's the tradeoff.
We feel pulled in so many directions. Be the perfect Pinterest mom, exercise like your Instagram depends on it, love your husband like you've been through marriage counselling, bake like the food bloggers and make sure your house is magazine ready. Be feminist, but not too feminist. Dress fashionably, but not high maintenance.
Everything we do comes with a price.
It's not that men don't do a lot. Personally, my husband brings in the bulk of what it takes to pay the bills and take care of our family. He works hard to keep up with yard work and car maintenance, and he's skilled enough to fix most of the appliances or other things when they break. He's also a great husband and father to our children. He does a lot, but much of it comes without the tradeoff. The unending guilt. The constant judgment of too much/too little.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and variables to factor in to every individual situation. But, as a whole, men and women are given different rubrics to be judged against.
It is what it is. People will judge, and they're going to have some opinion no matter what you do. So just do you. Do what you need and what is best for you and your family. It doesn't matter if you work or stay at home, whether you have kids or you don't, if your house is cluttered or organized, if you great at homemaking or if you call a housekeeper -- you have to do what works for you. Go on a trip and let the kids and husband step up and take on a little extra responsibility -- it's good for them and they can do it.
Stop listening to the outside voices telling you what you should be. Stop listening to the voice inside you that constantly berates you for not being good enough, because you are enough. You're doing your best. If you feel fulfilled and happy and like you're being the best version of you, then you're being you.
Even if your order takeout three nights this week or if you make everything from scratch, if you call a housekeeper or leave it messy, if you drink caffeine in lieu of sleep, and even if you pay a babysitter so you can finally take a shower, stop judging yourself or letting others judge you. Stop the onslaught of negativity and live happily and comfortably in your own skin. Do what you have to do to make it all work.