I can say with certainty that it started the day I packed up my jean jumper and got a haircut. I was never going to have a long braid and look adorable in that jumper. Damn Hope from Thirtysomething. I blame her.
The next step was admitting, to myself, that it was pretty ridiculous to return a perfectly adorable play mat for my first born, a gift from my mother, because it was, get this, different from the others in the playgroup. I returned it and got the matching mat. Seriously.
Finally, and I’m not proud of this, I had to admit I had a problem when, in the frenzy of Saturday morning tee-ball, with no boys’ size x-small cup in the house, I grabbed a light blue half of an Easter egg and told my son he’d be fine. He was, fine but humiliated.
It’s the standards I set for myself that have ruined more of my mornings than anything else. I’m not even that great. The house is neat but not tidy. I can make a huge amount of food and it’ll look good, but I’m not much of a cook. You know that one bite in.
Lowering my standards has been the best gift I ever gave myself, and my family. I just wish my older children could have enjoyed the new routine. They suffered through my experimental/judgemental 30s – triangle-shaped sandwiches, perfectly packed lunches with a ticket for milk, never juice; collared jerseys and no gym shorts to school; only perfectly behaved playdates. Heaven help them! The younger kids seem spoiled – tee shirts for school; yogurt in lunches thrown together themselves; no bed-made checks.
Next, I’m going to start lowering my standards for other drivers, people with dogs and my local town council members.
Julie DeMarco is a social worker in Fairfield, Connecticut where she lives with her husband and five children. Vote for Julie’s entry here.