According to Pinterest and what we see of Joanna Gaines on HGTV, you—wife and worker and volunteer and mom—can have it all. Smart, athletic, and totally well-rounded children, Instagram-worthy decorating vignettes throughout your house, a loving marriage partnership with regular date nights, career accolades and awards, plus a small business or hobby (or all of the above) that allows your passions to overflow…
The truth is… Oh yes, you can!
But here’s the hitch: you cannot have everything you want all at once. (In case you disagree, remember that Pinterest is a collection of millions of photographs and Joanna Gaines has teams of people helping her 24/7 with her family, career, store, gardens, bed and breakfast and TV show… And whatever else I missed).
Ladies, sisters, let’s set each other free! Free from the misguided, societal-imposed and nonsensical notions that we have to multitask 18 hours a day and say “yes” to every request that comes from inside and outside our homes. Free from striving for perfection in every aspect of our life.
We must—all of us and all together—stop buying into and perpetuating the belief that we are valued by how much we do, by the clothes we wear and how on-trend our homes are decorated, by the degrees we have, the talents we display at gardening and sewing and cooking for large crowds, and our “I can do it all, all the time” attitudes.
Inside, we must honestly admit: we are hungering and thirsting for freedom! Freedom from the striving and the doing. Freedom, even, from the desiring… Because, for many of us, the desiring is self-imposed based on what we think we should desire rather than what we actually do desire.
We. Are. Enough. The way we are today. Right now. And so is every other woman, and we have to let each other know. We have to relinquish our ideas and expectations and judgments of what each other should look like, and just love each other.
Sure, it’s great to have goals. It’s healthy and important! Don’t discard your dreams; just let them unfold as your life unfolds. Pursue each one, but do it when the time is right. Pursue them appropriately, meaning not at the expense of all the beauty we are and we have right now. The beauty we must be present for, and can’t be present for if we are thinking all the time about what we must do next.
And, yes, we must grow personally, in every way. We want to be a better person tomorrow than we are today. But we want to do it honestly, building on who we are.
Don’t discard your dreams; just let them unfold as your life unfolds. Pursue each one, but do it when the time is right.
Let’s reject the weightiness of judging ourselves based on who we think we should be, what we should be doing, and how we think others are judging us. We were created with our quirks, our preferences, and our passions. We have been gifted our friends, jobs, spouses, kids, and homes… And all the messiness and imperfections that come with our possessions and our people. We must use all of our assets wisely and love others well. We cannot do that if we are consumed with stuff that doesn’t matter… Like doing everything right, and filling up every minute of our day and thus draining our soul, the very thing that makes us unique and special.
If we’re brutally honest, we all have plenty of distractions: our things, image, positions, body size, house size, and our ability to portray perfection; our skill at pretending we have it all together… All of it consumes so much of our thoughts and our time.
Maybe we should simply focus on accepting ourselves—right now, where we are, as we are. Let’s love the woman we are, the mom we are, the wife, teacher, lawyer, volunteer, friend, neighbor, the single woman, empty nester, the lonely wife in a new city… Not the one we want to be someday, but the one we are right now, in this very moment.
Let’s just be who we are today and do the tasks we’ve been given in a way that speaks love to ourselves and to those around us. Let’s walk in a way that demonstrates hope for tomorrow, but more importantly, a cherishing of the now. A cherishing of us and a cherishing of other women—just as they are and where they are.
Besides, that’s the only way we’ll feel good enough to move forward, isn’t it?
For women in our culture, there is no greater weight than the one of expectations. We place it upon ourselves and others without any reason or right. Expectations that say, “You can have it all!”
Lay them aside.
Love what’s present.
Run this race called life… But do it one free and thoughtful step at a time. Those steps will eventually bring the new things. The “have it all” things.