These days, I can’t decide if I should laugh or cry. I usually go with laughter because it’s just a better alternative. Plus, I am not a pretty crier. (I am also not one of those lucky women who glistens when they sweat, but that’s a whole other conversation.) This laughter-over-crying thing applies to so many things in my life, but this week, it was something I was thinking about in relation to my idea of myself.
I was shopping for clothes—yes, in an actual store!—and the paltry selection reflected the post-pandemic scene I’ve now come to expect anytime I hit a mall. Yep, I know everyone shops online, but there’s something to be said for actual stores. For seeing these items in person. For touching them. For trying them on. For not having to schlep them all to UPS when you inevitably have to return half of them. My credit card is not a fan of that, and neither am I.
Anyway, it also doesn’t help that my metabolism has hit a wall in the last year, my body is changing and I hate nearly every single thing I try on. Which I have to keep to myself if I happen to be with my almost-8-year-old. I know that she’s watching me like a hawk in regard to everything, and I certainly don’t want to give her the body hang-ups that I inherited once upon a time.
But I digress. I was by myself on this shopping excursion, and I walked into a store featuring loads of options with clingy fabric. With necklines that didn’t allow for a proper bra. With sheer material and short hemlines and cropped tops and all things that I would have totally rocked once upon a time. (Except for the bra-less tops. I’ve always been a stickler about that.)
And I was remembering my 20-something self thinking that this would never be an issue.
If I gained weight, I’d just eat less and exercise more. It’s simple.
Yeah, I want to punch my 20-something self probably as much as you want to right now. And I’m pretty sure I uttered those words out loud. (Where’s the face-palm emoji when you need it?)
But it got me to thinking about all the other ridiculous things I used to think about all facets of life and motherhood. Here are some gems that I’m pretty sure the universe is enjoying right now.
I would never let my kids eat chicken nuggets. Once in a while, sure, but not regularly.
I’ll just make one dinner for everyone. I’m not a personal chef. If they don’t eat it, they don’t eat it. They’ll learn!
I’ll always make sure to follow strict screen-time rules in my house.
I’ll always splurge on beauty products. You just can’t cut corners on something like that.
I’ll always wear four-inch heels—yes, even when I have kids. I am not budging on this; they make me happy!
Please, don’t judge. I obviously now see the error of my ways. But beyond the obvious comedy of my naivete, there’s a pattern that so many of us fall into when we think about the future.
They’re as bad as “you should,” which is another pet peeve of mine. And just because we’re older and (hopefully) wiser, it doesn’t mean won’t fall into these insidious patterns again. There are just new stages of life to apply them to.
But I am going to try to stop that. Not only does it take us out of the moment and prevent us from living in the present, but it also makes us feel like failures when that time eventually comes. We have no idea what our life is going to look like in 10 days, let alone 10 years, and that is OK! In fact, it’s more than OK because maybe then we’ll stop judging ourselves and actually enjoy what comes our way.