Lower Your Standards

The other day I was talking to another, younger mother.  She was at the intersection of overwhelm and hell and really concerned that she wasn’t being “spot on” with her kids. 

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend about 15 years ago, when her kid missed lunch on the first day of kindergarten due to a communication error between home and the school.  She still feels awful about that goof up.

At the time, I remember darkly suggesting to her that she lower her standards.  “At our house,” I confided, “we call it a ‘success’ if, at the end of the day, everyone’s airway is clear and no one has hemorrhaged out.” 

You think I’m joking.  I’m not.  Now that they’re older here is my new benchmark, “If, at the end of the day, no one has a parole officer or is in rehab, it was a good day.”  Truly.  I’m the mother of sons.  We put condoms in the Wheaties over here.  (Oddly, and in spite of the willful irreverence of their mother, everyone of my boys is doing just great, making a strong case for the existence of a higher being, by the way!!!!)


For some reason, we women are plagued (well, actually we plague ourselves) with unreasonably high standards for most of the things we do.  I’ve also observed that, even when we succeed at those high standards, we often still feel a sense of failure since “we must have set the bar too low if we were able to sail over it so easily.”

If you look closely, you will see that our masochistic approach to life is not really appreciated by the people we are bleeding out for.  So, if that is the case, why do we do it?  What are we hiding underneath of our drive to over-achieve?

If you’re exhausted by life, Lower Your Standards.  Decide that you will feel successful with achieving at LEAST three clicks below what you currently accomplish.  And – here’s the kicker – reveal your inferior intentions to your sisters.  Give them permission to underachieve, too.

The sky will not fall.  The world will not tilt on its axis.  And, maybe, you might even have a little bit of fun living your own damned life.


Love, Jenn

Photo: Flickr, Spierzchala

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15 Responses to Lower Your Standards

  1. Sandra Ahten says:

    Just what I needed to read today. I’m sooooo trying to write a book and having a hard time of it. And reading this made me realize that Hey! I’m writing a book. I’m not talking about, or dreaming about writing a book. I’m putting marks on paper. Just because I missed my deadline and spent and entire four days with just a confusing jumbled 3000 words last week, does not mean that I’m a failure. Thx Jenny.

  2. 🙂 sometimes we just need to say piss on the bar! For the rest of the day I havent’t got one!

  3. Ain’t it the truth? We Moms beat ourselves up needlessly over not meeting our own high expectations. I can tell you that in my case, while raising 3 sons, I lowered the bar continually! It was good for me AND for them! Great advice!

  4. Kristina says:

    As long as no one chokes on a condom while munching wheaties, what the hell?! LOL. Love you!!!!

  5. Tracie says:

    I love this…so very much.

  6. helen bogun says:

    i love this 🙂
    mother of just one teenager – can.t cope with martha and you, jennifer, but one can be a challenge too – ok i am single mom.

    a friend and myself had a saying that it was a successful day when we didn.t ended up in hospital. now at age 15 the risk is lower since they love video games more than sports ;D
    i know for sure that kids just grew by themselves, they know when they are hungry so usually mine ends up in bed well feed 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Lordy, love, we’re all on the same side. Some people say one is trickier because they never have any “fresh meat.” It’s all you all the time.

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  8. Amber Stepp says:

    OMG! I love you Jen! I actually have no children, and I just turned 40 last Sat. I was looking back at all the things I wanted to accomplish by this milestone, and realized, I have done most of them, without trying! The kicker was I let myself fail, which was very hard for me, being a “No one can do it as well as I can” type of person.
    I hear my sister’s stories daily about her kids, whom I love, and I thank GOD everyday for birth control! LOL! It’s enough for me to live through her and let myself off the hook that it’s ok I’m not a Mom, because I AM a MOM!

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