We have all settled. For a relationship not leading anywhere, a job we hated, a botched dye job, overpriced quinoa flour, a wardrobe of clothes we kinda like but not really.
On one hand, settling can be a good thing, it rustles up those parts of us that we let solidify into entitlement. When it becomes a way of life, though, it can slowly reign in our world of possibilities. Our perspective and abilities get smaller and smaller until we live a very limited, dull life with bad hair.
The word ‘settle’ applies to motherhood in the same way as ‘savour’. It is done in entirety and at the same time, not done at all.
When I first became a mom I fought it. I wasn’t going to settle. If I didn’t sleep enough, I would fight all day for a nap. Couldn’t get a shower? I’d dramatize the plight of motherhood over a frozen dinner to Conor.
All along I was trying to make motherhood something it just wasn’t and couldn’t be.
We only have each other to compare modern motherhood to, and so often we just see the highlight reel of everyone’s best.
When I was a new mom, I saw all these moms doing it all and making it look so easy. I felt like I was settling if I didn’t achieve all of the things! in one day! like all these other women. I’ve said before, what we see online is the accumulation of many talented lovely lives compiling into an uber model of womanhood and motherhood. Nobody is the whole package and most of us haven’t showered today.
By the time Dawson came along, I had a sappy mom-grin plastered on my face. I felt like I was finally enjoying motherhood. It only became easier in the sense that I stopped trying to outsmart it and flip it onto the mat to tap out. So often my motto would be, ‘well, I’m just going to feel tired today and life goes on’. I won’t even mention my questionable hygiene status, that’s what dry shampoo is for.
I was settling but it felt more like nestling into the life that was present before me – rather than a rigid, cold, unwilling settling into a life I wanted to change.
Because sometimes settling can be beautiful. It frees up our reserves that we squander on worry and martyrdom and invests these reserves into living.
When we settle for the things we can’t possibly change, it frees us up to change the things we are settling for and shouldn’t be . . . . .
maybe a house filled with the physical burden of ‘stuff’
possibly gives us permission to use our hands to create things instead of to consume things
or the need to put on a bra and some lipstick and just plain show up for life
even slowly changing simple habits so my future self doesn’t turn into my frenemy and make vaguebook statuses about me.
‘Settling for what you don’t deserve’ is a cultural mindset that pushes us to be bolder, bigger, better and ‘not settling’ can often result in positive life changes. But sometimes when we settle in motherhood we see with fresh eyes the simple indulgence we allow when we settle.
A messy table with kids tumbling from chair to chair during a dinner of nachos and smoothies might not look like it’s worth settling for. I might jazz it up and put some lit candles on the table, talk to whoever is sitting still for that minute and quiz Conor on movie quotes to distract from my stained sweats he lets me pretend I am pulling off by adding some lipstick.
And I realize I’m not settling for what I don’t deserve because this, right here, right now, is so much more than I deserve and I wouldn’t have it if I never decided to settle into it.