I Should… Be Present!

I “should on” myself a lot! This is what I call it because I tend to feel like crap when I do it too much. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I “should” be doing this or I “should” be doing that. It honestly sucks because the result is that I too often prevent myself from enjoying the moment I’m in.

My hubby was away for the better part of two weeks recently. He wasn’t just a phone call away. He was literally across the world away with a time zone difference of 16 hours. However, life was continuing at home. Having no extended family here, I often struggle when he is away. After all, I still “should” be able to manage it all. I “should” be able to maintain the pace of getting the kids off to school, teaching full-time, making sure everyone stays fed, getting home to rush the kids off to their after-school activities or arranging for rides, blog once a week, and everything else that I tell myself I “should” be able to get done, right?!?

schedules that I often believe "should" get filled

After all, the only difference is one person is out of the equation for a short time. I’ve heard people say, “Don’t have kids if you can’t handle the pace.”

Except I CAN handle it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel overwhelming on occasion and that I can handle everything each and every day. I especially struggle to handle everything when I am also busy “should-ing on” myself.

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Kids Have a Way of Clarifying What’s Important

It’s been cold here resulting in the kids having indoor recesses at school. I don’t know about you, but in my house the equation goes something like this:

Kids Indoors for Entire Days = Complete and Utter Craziness

Fighting and arguing over things that my kids would typically not fight over happens. Therefore, thinking it would help, I told my daughters they had to be outside while I was out for my daily walk. “It’s only for 30 minutes,” I exclaimed. I gave them the choice of walking with me or playing in the snow where I could see them.

One chose to walk with me. The other two chose to play in the snow. The problem? My 12 year old kicked my 8 year old in the leg at some point. There was no visible bruising, but the 8 year old was ticked! She was to play in a basketball tournament starting that evening, so I tried to lighten the moment by saying, “I don’t need to tell your coach you can’t play tonight due to injury, do I?”

My Daughter, walking alongside me without issue: “Maybe.”

I’ve said things like this before after hearing of an injury and it’s always resulted in smiles and immediate improvement. It is safe to say I was expecting her usual response. How did she respond instead? Well, she decided to up her game and improvise on her injury. Even though she was able to walk home with me with seemingly no issues other than complaining, this was not what continued on into the evening.

Game On

What happened? She decided she needed to start limping as we were walking into the gym for her basketball game… not just a little limp. No! It was a big, grossly exaggerated limp. “Dear Lord,” I thought, “Grant me patience! Surely this will end and she will forget about this act during the game. Just ignore it.”

No, I was wrong again! Somehow her limp continued to get worse. She could hardly even focus on the game. At one point, she even switched legs she was limping on. Yeah, it was bad! Thankfully, it was also out of character for her so I am hoping this means I never have to see this again!

My daughter at her basketball game
My daughter taking a shot at her basketball game.

My Immediate Reaction

While I secretly was freaking out inside wondering if she could somehow qualify for an Oscar with her outstanding performance, I decided this probably had a deeper meaning… one that I “should” listen to.

I was already “should”ing on myself that weekend. I “should” make sure my new blog post is ready. I “should” get more stuff done. I “should” have completed more projects during the week after the kids went to bed.

A Sudden Change in “Should”s

Suddenly, a bigger “should” took precedence. I “should” simply be present this weekend. The kids needed me and I needed me. I needed my patience. I needed my sanity. I needed to stop and breathe.

I decided to set aside all of the other “should”s and just be last weekend. There was a local home and garden show in which Todd Talbot, the realtor on the HGTV show Love It or List It Vancouver, was speaking. My kids love this show! I asked if they wanted to go and they gave me a definite, “Yes!” except for one who chose instead to go to a festival with a couple of her friends.

Rather than follow what my head told me I “should” be doing, I followed what my heart told me I needed to be doing. I took 3 of my 4 kids to the home and garden show. Afterward, I picked up the other and took all 4 of my kids out for supper, celebrating something about each of them. It felt great honoring my heart and simply being present with my kids… way better than “should”ing on myself ever feels!

picture with Todd Talbot from the home and garden show
2 of my daughters and me with Todd Talbot, the realtor on the HGTV show Love It or List It Vancouver.

Support for Others Who “Should On” Themselves

I read an article once suggesting to approach tasks with the question, “Am I doing this because I want to or because I should?” If it’s because we should, then determine why we believe that and what will happen if we don’t do it. I have yet to implement this for myself, but think it may be time!

A few days ago, I came across the book The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna. I was intrigued by it from the moment I first read the title and opened it up. This book certainly contains a lot of thought-provoking points which I love.

I’m not sure how many of you watched the Oscars recently. I personally loved when Hannah Beachler exclaimed the following during her acceptance speech,

“I did my best and my best is good enough!”

Hannah Beachler

After all, isn’t that what we all are doing?


In Summary

I think we, as parents, all likely “should on” ourselves at times. Sometimes it motivates us to continue to move forward, complete projects, and get things done. Other times, it prevents us from enjoying the gift of the current moment we are in. I decided to change my “should” list last weekend and know it was the best choice for both me AND my kids.

So, in the future, should I miss publishing a blog post one week or other things I “should” be doing, please know there may be an internal struggle between my head and my heart involved. Sometimes my need to just be will win out and I’m more than okay with that. My internal struggle last weekend resulted in the creation of awesome, fun memories with my kids.

Is there anything more I “should” have been doing in those moments? Certainly, nothing that would have been as important. For this reason, I refuse to feel guilty that I didn’t get everything done that I planned to. After all, there is nothing I “should” feel guilty about in honoring my need to simply be. I needed it AND my kids needed it! It is just too bad that I needed my daughter’s exaggerated limp to give me that lesson.

How is my limping daughter today? Don’t worry. Her limp magically went away as quickly as it came. Perhaps my choice to be present with her had something to do with her miraculous recovery?

I should be present; I should do this; what should I do; should vs must #whatshouldido #ishould

How About You?

Do you “should on” yourself a lot? If so, do you guilt yourself about it? How do you work through it? Please share in the comments below.

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  1. I don’t necessarily believe in New Year’s resolutions or a word for the year but this is the mom goal I set for myself for 2019 — to be more present with my kids. To put my phone down + my computer away more. To snuggle, hug + hold them (They’re still little enough that they allow me to do that.). To read with them, make blanket beds on the floor + watch movies with them. To. Just. Be.’

    It’s only March. I won’t say it’s been a total success or a failure. More like somewhere in between.

    I do think it’s important, though — to be present.

    1. It sure is! Our presence is not only valuable to us, but to our entire family! Good for you for setting this goal for the betterment of everyone! 🙂

  2. I had to laugh out loud about your daughter’s limp. I have been through that, and I’m sure will be through it again. Kids are funny about things, and you’re right–as long as we do our best, our best will be good enough. No matter what the outcome is. Limp or no limp!

  3. There are always things we think we SHOULD be doing. It’s hard to prioritize so just being in the present can be the best breath of fresh air we need! Loved the read, thanks for sharing!

  4. I used to should myself all the time. And it just made me feel like I was never ever enough. Now I could myself. I could do that, it makes me choose actively and accept the choice. But I still always have too much to do!

    1. That’s great! I am definitely hoping to improve in this area myself so am happy to hear it can get better. 🙂

  5. I do this all the time! I’m a big fan of mindfulness so I love the simple idea of saying I should be more present, and then doing it! Glad your daughter is OK 😉

  6. All the time, mama. All the time. It’s so hard to doubt yourself at the end of a long, tiring day, but at the same time, I try to remind myself that my kids know I’m trying the best I can, and I know they’re just trying the best they can too 🙂

  7. I hate it when I “should” myself…which is all the time. Right now I should lay my toddler down in bed to nap so I can clean…but snuggling is so much better! 😊

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