Should is a dangerous word
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10 NASB
Now that’s what I call a mom on the fly!
Well, you and I might not officially run marathons, but we both know our feet fly at a marathoner’s pace most days. So many things we must do; a few things we want to do; and countless things we should do.
You know, should is a dangerous word. It’s a stress-filled, pressure-packed slave driver. It ruthlessly inflates the bulk of a mother’s to-do list, often crowding out healthy sanity-essentials with guilt-induced clutter.
“I should go to that parents’ meeting; in a weak moment, I said I’d be treasurer.”
“My mother thinks I should cook a big dinner every night like she did.”
Our shoulds may be fueled by self-comparisons with friends and neighbors, subtle cultural messages, high expectations imposed on us by church, civic, or family members, or maybe even unrealistic regulations we’ve self-inflicted to become a perfect mother. . .as if that fairy-tale creature really exists.
But as every woman striving to squeeze into last year’s skinny jeans knows, more isn’t always better; sometimes it’s simply overwhelming. You know, we can be whelmed without being overwhelmed. Whelmed is livable; overwhelmed is strangling. We just have to recognize that we truly do have the power to choose which shoulds are potential coulds. . .and then unapologetically embrace the woman our choices make us.
Only then can we clear the choking clutter and take a deep, cleansing, reinvigorating breath. Whew. The pressure is now manageable.
Once when I was playing baseball with my preschool grandbuddy, Blaine, his mama started filming. Suddenly I couldn’t pitch the ball straight for love nor money. “Whoa! The pressure’s on!” I acknowledged, throwing the ball everywhere but over the plate. Blaine, wise beyond his five years, calmly laid down his bat, reached for an imaginary faucet valve, turned it, and said, “Okay, Mimi. Now the pressure’s off. Play ball!”
Yep, sometimes we need to take the initiative to turn off the pressure valve and just play ball. Here are a few tried-and-true suggestions to stymie the flow:
**Be stress-smart. When you’re slammed into a stress mess, sit yourself down and have a calming cup of your fave hot beverage and a snack (not baby carrots—something satisfying but not too fattening so you don’t add calorie remorse to your stress baggage). Close your eyes. Tune in to Papa God’s loving presence. . . His heartbeat. . . His peace. Slap guilt to the curb when the tyranny of the urgent attacks; you are important. Everything else can wait a few minutes. I promise you the world will not end while you regroup. Unless the kids start a fire in your panty drawer.
**Move to the front. Promote yourself off the back burner. Don’t argue, girl, just do it. You may sacrificially place yourself there routinely, but your Creator doesn’t. You’re a front-burner person to Him. He wants you to enjoy this marvelous gift of life He’s given you, not sludge through it. So it’s time to add a little fun to your day. Write yourself into your schedule for an hour of something you enjoy a minimum of three days a week—walk in the sunshine, bike a woodsy trail, sing, boogie, dig in your garden until you find Papa God there, get your nails done—whatever tingles your toes. Put that beautiful smile back on your face. And speaking of pots on burners. . .
**Avoid BOOP—Boiling Oatmeal Overflow Phenomenon. BOOP is one of my Coty Near-Facts of Science (theories not yet proven by actual scientific studies but nonetheless known by women to be true). You see, I postulate that women are like pots of oatmeal; at the beginning of the day we simmer—little manageable bubbles of stress rise to the surface and harmlessly pop. But as the day progresses, the heat escalates and the oatmeal boils higher and wilder and meaner until it overflows and spoils everything around with a nasty, ugly, sticky mess. The key to avoiding BOOP is to know when to remove the pot from the heat.
**Be a dipstick. The Lord puts only enough fuel in your daily tank for you to arrive safely at the destination He’s routed out for you. All the detours you add will either run you out of gas or land you in a ditch. Check your tank, review your destination, and then engage in the Three Ps: Prioritize, Plan, and Pace yourself.