IN OTHER WORDS | “Should” is a Four Letter Word

The word “should” should be taken out of the dictionary. Or, at least designated as a four-letter word despite its’ whopping six letters. I find myself often, and unpleasantly, at war with “should” and I am tired of it. It’s my own fault. I know I “shouldn’t” beat myself up so much, I “should” do this,  I “should” do that. It’s hard isn’t it? I’m not the first to call “should” to the carpet and I won’t be the last. But I will try to understand why, at least for me, this word is so hard to get away from.

I hold myself to incredibly high standards when it comes to, well, many things. Being a mother, a woman, a wife, a writer, a human being and member of a larger community. It’s a big responsibility. Especially when I keep falling short of my “shoulds.” What are they, you ask? Well, there are a number of familiar ones such as “I should make better and more creative dinners for my family.” Or, “I should write more, with more discipline, with a better schedule, using better words.” Or, “I should be more attentive to my husband, ask less of him, give more to him, somehow be better for him.” Or, “I should recycle more, give more to charity, walk rather than drive, give up my parking spot, flip people off less in traffic.” See, it’s endless.

So, this tendency to continually fall short of my own expectations means, quite simply, my expectations are too high. No one is out there measuring me, counting how many words I write daily, checking my meals for percentage of organic ingredients, reporting me to the peanut butter and jelly police because my kids are going to OD. (They love it by the way, what they don’t love is a cranky mommy.) There are two problems with my expectations. One, they are too high, and two, they often don’t correspond to what’s really important. It’s time for a change. I suppose I could do (or not do) all of those “shoulds.”

I could also be OK with what I do and realize that I am doing the best I can with what I have in the moment. I’m a good person. I’m a great person, but by what definition? Really, at the end of the day, I have to account only to myself. My family loves me and accepts me, as do my friends. I know if I screw up badly enough in any one area of my life, it’ll come back at me somehow. So, let’s take that out of the equation, because I don’t see myself committing a crime or adultery or flipping off a guy with a gun and getting shot. Rather, it’s time to I work on being OK with who I am, what I do and when I do it. I really should, don’t you think?

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