Now, it has become just another part of my life I feel pressured by. Daily I check my Google Reader and enjoy the words and wit and wisdom of friends and strangers I've chosen to follow and I wonder why I can't think of anything to say myself. My life is full. Why can't I talk about it? I'm funny. Why can't I think of anything witty to share? Lord knows I have the most ridiculous thoughts sometimes. Why can't I put those thoughts into words and share them with the world?
It seems like more and more I've become aware of how much incredible pressure I put on myself to, ... whatever. Fill in the blank. Pressure to be funny. Pressure to be clever. Pressure to be profound. Pressure to do the f-ing dishes. It is everywhere! In so many degrees and to be honest, it is really starting to annoy me. Oh how I long for that time in my life when I didn't worry about what other people thought! Of course, when I really stop to think about that "time in my life", I realize I can't really remember a time when I didn't care what other people think. Hell, worrying about everyone else and their perception of me is one of the big reasons I wound up in therapy. But I digress.
But it isn't just the pressure I put on myself. Since I've become a mother I pay close attention to the blogosphere. I read my mommy books. I subscribe to magazines. The pressure is freaking everywhere. And it isn't just on mommies. Sure, I feel this pressure as a mommy. But I also feel it as a woman. As an American. As a human, for crying out loud. Like living on Earth these days means being snuggled up inside a pressure cooker and, wait for it, acting like you're not.
That's the crux of the problem. The biggest stress of all. That despite all this, pressure, in order to truly be the ultimate mother, woman, employee, or whatever, you have to act like despite all the pressure to be perfect, you truly are under no pressure at all. You must give the impression that it is no big deal and that this brilliance you achieve in every aspect of your life is really just a coincidence.
Take motherhood, for example. The ultimate example of pressure. In order to be a good, albeit great mother, you must feed your baby the healthiest options available. Surely you could never consider feeding your baby, your child, anything less than the best. Veggies at every meal? Of course. Fresh veggies? Duh. Organic veggies? Obviously. Local veggies? Only if you truly care about the ... world. I mean, if you don't care about the world at all I guess you could feed your child fresh, organic green beans from, (gasp!) California, but if you truly give a crap about the community you bother to live in than SURELY you will bother to buy local, farm-fresh, organic green beans picked THIS MORNING. I mean, come on, don't you care at all?
See what I mean by pressure? Do you know how expensive it is to buy
Regardless of what the topic is - food, clothing, discipline, education - the pressure is on for mommies to provide the best. We must carefully research each topic, weed out the nonsense, avoid the insane and overly zealous and ultimately deliver what is unquestionably the perfect specimen of childhood nutrition at every instance that our child opens his/her mouth. If we don't, well, we suck and have failed at parenting.
But that isn't even the real pressure. The actual part of the story that makes mommies cringe is not that we make the best decision about what we feed our children. The irony of the whole story is that we have to appear completely disinterested in the whole topic. Not only do you have to spend all morning researching the availability of organic arugula at the local farmers' markets, you also have to act like choosing the $6 per pound greens was merely an afterthought to your weekly menu planning. "Of course I thought about it, but I didn't think too much." It isn't that buying organic, local produce is something I worry about, rather it is something that just naturally occurs in my grocery shopping experience.
All around us we have to make the popular, worldly, educated choice but more importantly, you have to appear like choosing this option wasn't really a big deal. "Oh, you feed your baby canned green beans? Good for you! Where do you buy them? I mean, I usually get my green beans in my weekly produce box from the community garden down the street, but canned green beans would be so convenient! Aren't you clever for choosing something so innovative as canned green beans? Thank you for setting such a good example for mommies everywhere!"
What is so exhausting about this whole topic of disinterested perfection is that it applies to every f-ing aspect of our lives. The message is everywhere.
- Be green. Avoid BPA at all costs. Conserve energy. Recycle. But don't freak out about plastic bags or canned tomatoes or plastic water bottles at parties because really, you can only do so much.
- Eat well. Exercise. Look great in a bikini! But don't worry about your body too much because it isn't healthy to be obsessed about how you look.
- Honor your home. Nurture your family. Provide a loving environment for your children. But make sure you portray the ideal feminist by working full time, climbing the corporate ladder and stomping on any idiot that gets in the way of your career.
- Whip up a delicious spread of snacks for a crowd coming over to watch the football game, decorate your house in the appropriate team's colors and make favors of personalized football jersey sugar cookies complete with every guests' name but also be able to commentate the entire game and get really irritated by the idiot ref's call during the fourth quarter.
- Create the most beautiful centerpiece imaginable but make sure you can put it together with whatever you have lying around your house.
- Be able to debate the most complex political issue but also be able to recommend the most fashionable red wine to serve at your book club and know what your teenager enjoys listening to on the radio but also be able to identify the lead in the off-Broadway performance of Miss Saigon this weekend and how she compares to the lady who portrayed her last season and how to copy what she wore on the red carpet using what you can find at the local consignment shop and a packet of sequins purchased at Joann's with a 50% off coupon.
Yeah. That's pressure. Perform as if your life depends on it but make sure you act like you don't give a damn.
And then be sure to blog about it.