"Secrets are the spots in our lives where we are most devoted to being preachy." ~Penelope Trunk
Certain people in my life seem heavily invested in convincing me about their life choices. For instance, a stay-at-home mom I know frequently points out that the reason her children are thriving is because she's been so dedicated to their well-being, as if women who've chosen to work outside the home have not.
Another friend whose husband cheated (before I realized mine was too) defended her choice to divorce (though I wasn't judging her for it. I figured I'd divorce too) by citing all the ways in which it was impossible to reconcile with someone who had done such a thing. She later, in a moment of candor and after I'd decided to reconcile, admitted that she regretted the divorce.
In other words, the people who most vehemently defend their life choices are generally the ones most unsure about them. Please agree with me, their words say. Please tell me I'm doing the right thing.
We all fear making mistakes. I think the so-called Mommy Wars are nothing more than women at their most vulnerable trying to convince themselves that their way is the best way. Those who feel safe in their choices don't have a need to convince anyone else. Those who trust their own experience – and response to it – aren't threatened by someone choosing differently.
Life is messy. Husbands do sometimes cheat again (or never stop). Ex-husbands sometimes turn out to have learned a painful lesson that positively impacts their future relationships. Careers don't work out. Kids rebel. For all our best intentions, life generally doesn't go exactly how we'd like it to go.
Which is why it's so crucial that we make our choices based on what feels best for us, regardless of what those around us are telling us. They aren't the ones who have to live our choices.
If we're unsure what's best? We need to give ourselves some time to get clear. Or at least clearer. It might help to solicit advice from those who've proven wise and compassionate.
But everyone else? Especially those who don't know us, or are most certain that they know how everyone should be living their lives – and that includes headline writers for tabloid magazines? Know that their secret is that they're terrified. Acting certain is nothing more than a masquerade for fear. Judgement is insecurity with a megaphone.
The truly brave among us admit that they don't know what's right for anyone but themselves...and sometimes not even that.