When the SHOULDS get too loud

Holiday break is coming to a close. We haven’t had our normal schedule for two weeks. This, in theory, sounds lovely each year and I’m very fortunate my work gives us this time off. But by the end of the two weeks I am CHOMPING AT THE BIT to get back to routine.

I am not a free time kind of gal. I need structure. I need to get up and get dressed and do the deal each day. Part of that stems from being a Virgo. Part of that stems from being an alcoholic. Part of that stems from needing to bathe regularly with a purpose. I’ve always had a struggle with vacations. It is what it is. Left with too much free time, I would be a filthy dirty no good vagabond in no time. And while I did spend a portion of my life doing just that, I have no desire to go back.

So I have certain checkpoints in place to make sure I am accountable on all fronts. My job. My husband. My meetings. My writing. My family. My friends. These days, my kids. To a large extent, social media. I mean, do you know what happens when I don’t post for a day or so? People send out search parties. And I am grateful.

So on a break from the everyday routine such as these two weeks have been, I get, HOW YOU SAY, a bit squirrelly. The “shoulds” get too loud.

When the shoulds get too loud. What do you do? I was shoulding all over myself.

My brain tells me:


Wish in one hand and “should” in the other and see which one fills up faster.

I didn’t listen to the shoulds this break.  We are capable of changing our behavior.  The feelings may still be there, but we don’t have to act on them. I felt them creeping in and banished them in quick order.

Should is a terrible word. No good can come from should. It implies disappointment from expectation. Shoulds come from all angles. Others and yourself. Shoulds happen from an early age and for girls and women, they are very different than for me. Men have them, don’t it twisted, but it’s quite different. Schools, activities, APPEARANCE, relationships, jobs, pregnancy (INFERTILITY) and then child rearing. The shoulds are on attack from all sides. Shoulds get me drunk. If I were to listen to them.

There’s a saying in the rooms that when you live with 1 foot in the past 1 foot in the future you should all over today. OKAY, it’s really, you “shit” all over today, but for this point, I will say “should”.


Not today. No way.  Tears of gratitude are a should I will never ever let go of. HOPEFULLY.

What I do NOT have are the shoulds about my kids. At least not yet.

I am away from my kids just enough to be fully engaged and present when I am with them. I am away from them just enough with work, meetings, dates, girlfriends, that I get to miss them. I work on myself and bring that slightly more patient and loving version back to them. 3 days a week, I go to work. 4 days a week and every night I am with them fully.

I go out at night after they go to bed if I can help it, because I hate missing bedtime. But lately, if I do, it’s okay. It’s always harder on me than it is on them, they’re fine. I was shoulding myself about bedtime. I had missed it just a few times their first two years, but then the month of December, I missed it three times and I was feeling lousy. But not them. They were great. So why did I do that to myself? It runs deep, this shit.  I had to excuse myself and give myself permission to have my own life.  It benefits all of us if mama has her own life.

I wrote about what happened when I stopped asking for permission a while back and it resonated with so many people, particularly women, and I believe this “should” nonsense still resonates as well. No matter how far we come, no matter how enlightened we are, and spiritually fulfilled, it’s still ingrained in us.

Because gods forbid we just be. Just be still and present. Just be ourselves and in the moment. It is hard damn work being present in the moment and I fail. Often. But there are many more times lately when I don’t fail. When I am there. Right there. Fully present and committed to the person and the moment at hand. And my life is so much richer for it. All the “shoulds” can go pound sand. For I am at the end of a two week break from routine and I’ve had the pleasure of spending such great time with my kiddos and I am better for it.

What happened on this break?

  • I didn’t write. Anything. The book or the blog. I just took a break. And as antsy and as many late night notes I scribbled down, it still was good and healthy to take a break.
  • I was on the floor with my kids. A LOT. And my healthy body allows me to do it. I am thankful.
  • I was engrossed in my family, immediate and extended, and as much as chasing around two toddlers allows me to be, I was present.
  • I read books.
  • I watched movies.
  • I hung out with my husband a lot. I really like him.
  • I didn’t organize shit.
  • I didn’t clean.
  • I didn’t unpack.
  • I fully enjoyed my kids. I FULLY ENJOYED MY KIDS. And they quite enjoyed me. I have millions of memories, pictures and videos to prove it. Also, millions of moments that weren’t recorded (which is harder for me – PUT THE CAMERA DOWN ALREADY).
  • I didn’t get dressed every day. I didn’t shower and put on make up and fancy clothes. That’s hard for me too.

We enjoyed the holidays in our very own home with our very own family for the first time and it was lovely.

IMG_4160 (2)
We spent our very first holidays in our new home and all we got was this adorable ornament!

I get to go back to work 3 days a week on Monday refreshed and thankful to be there doing my own gig.  You may hear me belting out hallelujahs from the elevators in the Sears Tower for the return of the routine.

I am present. I am sober. I am grateful. I am.

No shoulds were given any extra thought on this break. And we are all better for it.

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