My husband used to say to me, “Everything doesn’t have to be perfect” or “You need to lower your bar” and I’d think (yell at him), “Perfect? It’s not even close to okay and your suggesting I’m aiming for perfect? Lower my bar? I’m trying to get the bar off the ground!” He was super annoying, and right (also super annoying). But, I couldn’t see it.
The explosion of information and choices has skyrocketed our options and expectations. I’ll use a tiny example, brushing your teeth to explain the issue. I typed “how to brush your teeth” into google and got approximately 123,000,000 hits. No big deal? What are my chances in those 123,000,000 hits that I could find something that said how I am currently brushing my teeth, or caring for my kids’ teeth, how many of those 123,000,000 would say I’m doing it right? Likely, zero. And, if I asked my dad, grandma or someone else from an older generation, how many of them would say I’m doing it right?
The conversation would look a lot like:
Me: How should I brush my teeth?
Me: What’s the right way to take care of my kids teeth?
Dad: What the hell are you talking about?
Dad: Do you brush your teeth?
Dad: Do the kids?
Dad: What the hell is wrong with you?
123,000,000 inputs on how to do something, how not to do something, what you are doing wrong, what can be improved, what you should buy to make it better, the incredible risks of doing it wrong, the disturbing images and descriptions of failure…
I couldn’t get my bar off the ground because I had too many variables, too many choices, too many options, too many ways to fail. My kids don’t brush their teeth at a 45 degree angle, they don’t floss, how often should they be brushing? What happens if we are doing it wrong? “8 Mistakes we make brushing our Teeth and How to Fix Them (WebMD)…
There is a hidden negativity in nearly all of those 123,000,000 articles, and that is the incredibly loud message our generation is constantly ingesting: you are doing it wrong, you are failing, you need to do better, be better, buy more, you are not good enough.
We need to simplify.
That conversation looks like this:
Me: Do your kids brush their teeth?
Now teeth brushing is a bit of a silly example. And it would be funny, if not that every single thing we do, say, think, live, ignore, buy, decide wasn’t under the same magnifying glass.
Unless you are a dentist or hygienist, then likely brushing teeth isn’t up in the top most important things to you. But, even reading this article is making the old wheels turn, you’re asking yourself if you are doing a good enough job, you’re remembering that article you read about charcoal, and remind yourself to look into that, you’re re-evaluating your kids teeth brushing habits, looking for improvement or worse, flooding yourself with guilt. A 45 degree angle is floating around in your mind.
This needs to stop.
We cannot handle that many messages attacking EVERY. SINGLE. THING.
Its overwhelming. This is Overwhelm. The big bad monster telling us we are garbage.
I have never taken a moment to pat myself on the back that my kids brush their teeth. Instead, I’ve been busy re-evaluating everything I have ever done and yelling at myself to do better. I question fluoride; I cringe at the mess of white toothpaste all over the sink and trailing down my black cabinet and give myself shit for not cleaning it up, I focus on the days they don’t brush their teeth, I question if they brush often enough, I feel guilty about yelling at them to stop running around and get into the bathroom to brush your teeth! And that inner dialogue, that was happening most nights. No wonder I couldn’t crawl into their beds and settle in properly for a cuddle and a bedtime story. With that storm in my head, and over what?! NOTHING!
Do your kids brush their teeth? Yes? Good. The end. And, they lived happily ever after.
Well, at least until they finished brushing their teeth and the very next thing happened and we start the you are garbage process again.
Now I understand what “It doesn’t have to be perfect meant” and what “lower your bar meant”. Cut out the noise and look at what is essential and important – specifically, to me.
If you are a dentist, this topic will likely sit higher on the important to me list. And that’s cool. Focus on what is important to you. Do you and do it fully. But, you cannot do it all.
My kids can’t have dentist’s kid level teeth, they can’t have nutritionist’s kid level diet, they can’t have baseball player’s kid level of skill. I can’t do it all.
But my kids brush their teeth, most days. And, I’m sorry little dude, you’re not making it to big leagues – you got the short end of that parent stick. But, I am going to stop doing a shit job of a thousand things and start doing an excellent job of a few. Like bedtime stories. That is more important to me than 45 degree angles, charcoal, perfectly clean bathrooms and 123,000,000 other things.
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