The Slippery Slope from Could to Should (Advent Unplugged)

December 2nd, 2011

Some days, she inspires me.
Other days, I hate the wench.

I read a really interesting article in the Washington Post this week about the rise of the “new domesticity” among young middle class moms.  My generation is embracing activities that our parents’ generation (and even our grandparents’) had somewhat abandoned during the women’s liberation movement.  Things like canning and knitting and raising chickens have once again become popular, even chic, among today’s moms.  And the article (written by a mom herself) was raising the question of whether this domesticity might once again start to feel restrictive.

It struck a cord with me because I feel like I’m one of those moms who is walking the balance.  I work full-time outside the home but want to embrace hands-on activities in the name of living green, living simply, and living (relatively) unplugged.

But sometimes it can definitely feel like a burden.

A blogger I read phrased it as the slide from “could to should.”  There are about a million cool ideas for “things you could be doing with and for your family” and it can be so easy to wander from — “Huh, that is something I could do” to “that is something I should do in order to be a good mom.”

For me, it’s things like the rainbow birthday cake.  Have you seen the rainbow birthday cake?  It’s a multi-layer cake with each layer a separate color, all frosted over with beautiful white frosting so you don’t see the rainbow until you cut it open.  The minute I first saw the rainbow cake on a blog, I immediately felt like I needed to make one.  Never mind that my family cannot (and really should not) make cakes.  I would be such a cool mom if I could make a cake like that.

It’s an emotion that’s wrapped up in the world of “mompetition” and a need to prove all the time (particularly if you’re a working mom, I think) that you are a great mom, able to effortless balance the demands of life, work, and family.  Making a rainbow cake would prove that to the world, right?

Ummmm….

The “Slippery Slope of Coulds” definitely appears around the holidays.  I could make all my Christmas gifts by hand and wrap them in parchment paper decorated with my children’s hand prints.  I could bake elaborate cookie plates for all our neighbors.  I could make my daughter’s Christmas dress (well, probably not).

But I’m not going to do any of those things because I am prioritizing this Advent.  I want to focus on the most important activities so that I don’t get burned out trying to fit in all the less important ones.

A few of my non-negotiable items include: an open house at the parsonage for the members of our church, a cookie-decorating party with my daughters’ friends, and going on a tour of Christmas lights.  Anything else is optional!

2 responses to “The Slippery Slope from Could to Should (Advent Unplugged)”

  1. Jaclyn says:

    I really love this post. Kater, as usual, I can identify with your need to be the "best" mom. But, take it from me, you are an amazing mom. You do more than most stay at home moms, AND you work. I love the idea of having a list of non-optional items! Making a list of priorities will help to identify what is REALLY important this Christmas season, and you'll feel a real sense of accomplishment, both for achieving the non-optional items and for limiting yourself so that you can really enjoy what is most important during the season: family and friends.

  2. Kate says:

    Thanks, Jaclyn! I'm really starting to see the value of formally prioritizing things. It's worth taking a few minutes to think about what you want to accomplish and why!

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