Expectations, schmecpectations

Last week, a woman named Sarah Buckley Friedberg posted a long list of advice from society to working moms that quickly went viral on Facebook. Here is just a subset:

  • Go back to work 6-8 weeks after having the baby.

  • Keep your mind on work.

  • Make sure to break the glass ceiling and excel at your job- you can do anything a man can do!

  • Also breastfeed for at least a year. So take 2-3 pumping breaks a day at work, but don't let it throw you off your game or let you lose your focus.

  • Also, lose that baby weight and get back in shape, as quickly and as gracefully as possible.

  • Maintain a clean, Pinterest-worthy house.

  • Be fun. Be firm. Read books. Have dance parties.

  • Ensure the kids are learning to swim, play an instrument, read, ride a bike, be a good human being, eat vegetables, wear sunscreen, drink enough water, say please and thank you.

  • Most parents are volunteering at least once during the year, would you like to come make a craft with the kids?

  • Date your spouse! It's important to keep your relationship alive and fresh.

  • Oh hey you should have a hobby too. It's important to have "you time".

  • Also be well read, keep up with the latest pop culture and tv shows, and keep an eye on politics

  • Make sure to have friends. Social time is SO important.

  • Self care though. SO important.

  • Get off your phone, turn off the TV, and enjoy your life. Enjoy your kids. THESE ARE THE GOOD TIMES make sure to love every minute of life.

Taken individually, a lot of these things can sound appealing and worth striving for. But put them together, and they become a set of impossible expectations that can easily leave working moms feeling overwhelmed and not enough.

This is not just about working moms, though.

My 14-year-old could make a similar list of the contradictory expectations we place on students and teenagers.

My husband could make a similar list of the impossible standards we use to judge men, husbands, and fathers.

And I bet you could make a similar list for yourself, too: All the ways that society says you "should" be, the yardsticks you're measured by, the ridiculous expectations for how you are supposed to look, think and behave.

What are some of the contradictory standards and expectations that you've experienced based on your own demographics?

More importantly, how do you prevent those societal messages from bossing you around and making you feel bad? How do you remember that you are fully free to be you, no matter what?