A Should-Free Zone

Yesterday I shared a post from the past, one that I first shared on Miranda’s blog in May 2011. That post contained the seeds for the Mama’s Comfort Camp, which was 9 months old yesterday, and was the perfect thing to share with you all on the day my “baby” was ready to be born.
Today I am so grateful to be sharing a guest post by Miranda. Can I tell you how much I love her? Nope, because words won’t do it justice. Her blog Not Super Just Mom is one of my favorite places online, and it’s every bit as good as its name! Since I found it two years ago it provided me with countless hours of comfort. And I’m so excited that she is here today. 

Passing the mic to Miranda:


It’s not a secret that I hate the word “should.” In fact, if I could abolish it from the English language and all the other languages I would.

It’s a word that’s caused quite a bit of grief in my life.

“You should just…”

“You know what you should do…”

As a new mom to Joshua, every piece of unsolicited advice was a pang of guilt in my heart. Hearing what I “should” do while trying to navigate the waters of what I wanted to do made life muddy and confusing. It all filled me with doubt about my ability to mother.

I gave in to the shoulds more often than I–er–should have.

When my second child Emma was born, well, this time around has been different. Sure, some of that comes from actually having experience. But a lot of it comes from knowing that ultimately, my husband and I are the ones who have the only say in how things go.

After Emma was born, I decided to ignore the “shoulds.” Full stop. No more listening to others tell me what they thought I should do when they weren’t the ones here to actually deal with whatever it was I was dealing with. On the whole, this has been a much different, much more confident experience.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still hear the shoulds in my heart. They creep in from time to time so that I become the source of my own guilt.

“You should be doing more to stimulate her learning!”

You should be teaching Joshua ___________.”

“She should be sleeping on a schedule!”

But you know what?

That has to end.

If I’m expecting the rest of the world to stop should-ing me and each other, and if I’m making an effort to stop should-ing others, shouldn’t I extend that same courtesy–that same kindness and grace–to myself?

I should. Totally.

And so should you.

(As much as I hate that word, it’s sometimes the best word for the occasion. ::sigh::)

Instead of second-guessing our decisions, worrying about the what-ifs and maybes, let’s trust ourselves a little more. Let’s believe in ourselves and our abilities as mothers and women and friends.

Let’s make our lives should-free zones and let go of the guilt that comes from having expectations that are based on some ideal of what motherhood and life should be like.

Let’s live our own ideal lives based on what we believe in our hearts to be right and good for us and ours.

Let’s go with our gut.

I’m all in. Are you?

– – –

See what I mean?
Thank you for this post Miranda, I’d like to put this part on a T-shirt:
Instead of second-guessing our decisions, worrying about the what-ifs and maybes, let’s trust ourselves a little more. Let’s believe in ourselves and our abilities as mothers and women and friends.


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29 Responses to A Should-Free Zone

  1. Excellent and important post, Miranda! (Thank you, Yael, for having Miranda here!) I forget which episode it was, but I first heard the phrase “shoulding all over ourselves” on Sex and the City and LOVED it. So perfect, ya know?

    I’m going to make it my NY resolution to stop shoulding all over myself.

  2. Im so glad i found this post. As a first time mom living in a joint family in a third world country, i listened to way too many shoulds. And those shoulds n the guilt really exacerbated my ppd/a. Im trying now to eliminate guilt from my life. its a difficult battle.

  3. I’m almost 60 years old, but only heard the phrase, “should free zone” last week. A light bulb went off. One of my (now adult) children struggled with addiction for years. The “shoulds” I heard in regards to that chronic crisis you wouldn’t believe. But I now believe the shoulds that did the most damage were the ones we unknowingly used on our son. The shoulds and should nots that were really do’s and don’ts without giving an opportunity for independence to develop. Do’s and don’ts can boomerang on us as odd’s. Oppositional defiant disorder. I have to confess that I can move straight to an ODD feeling after one too many shoulds, even after all these years. It’s really nice to have the concept of a “should free zone” available. A little space inside my head that can exist even inside a physical “should” zone. I will invite friends. Thank You

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