When you have to answer yes

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A few nights ago, I ate dinner with a genius, a lawyer, an investor, an astronaut, and a guy who holds more degrees than I have children. I think I understood about half of the conversation, and my contribution to the evening rested solely on my anecdotal knowledge of the Friday Night Lights cast filming their show in Austin, TX–the hometown of one of our dinner mates.

We spent the weekend in New York City, celebrating my husband’s graduation from a very fine school, the kind of school astronauts go to when they’re done circling the earth and want to add more letters to the space after their name. So, I spent quite a few days in the company of a lot of smart, intellectually curious people who asked me questions like “Do you like being a stay at home mom?” and “Can I get you another drink?”. Yes and yes. Make that two drinks–one for me and the other for my inferiority complex.

I’ve read a lot on the internet lately about women feeling inferior to other women they see online, particularly those whose blogs they read or whom they follow on Pinterest. This didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but then again I’m not known for my ability to throw fastidiously planned parties or knit a set of matching sweaters or bake a cake in the shape of a dinosaur. I don’t aspire to live like Martha Stewart, especially after that whole incarceration incident. She is living proof that too much time in the kitchen leads people to engage in criminal behavior.

But, put me in a room of bright, accomplished, educated people and I wear the feeling of not measuring up like an itchy wool sweater. It rubs me raw and suddenly I don’t know what to do with my hands and nothing seems to fit and I have to answer puzzled adults and their easy questions with a quiet yes. I stay at home with my kids. Yes, my vocabulary has regressed to that of a seven-year old. And yes, while one of you hovered like a god over the surface of the earth, I spent hours bribing little people to use the potty with a half-eaten packet of M&M’s.

Yes, I will take that drink.

The desire to do something more, to be more, and to accomplish more is a feeling I know too well. It’s a slow burn–one that should grow  from its close proximity to people of passion rather than be extinguished by them. I don’t have a passion for baked goods or housekeeping or staying in any one place for too long. I don’t want to sit and burn slow while others chase higher learning or exquisite art or the surface of the moon. I want to be aflame, and answer them with a confident yes, I am raising up three incredible human beings and yes, I am pursuing my art and yes, my fingertips will skim the stars, only in a more stay at home mom-ish less astronaut-y kind of way.

How about you? What are you saying yes to these days? How do you feel about Pinterest, or inferiority, or people who carry a Mensa card?

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  • It’s funny, but I think this should be the oldest profession on earth and not THAT other one :). Because we can all relate. At least I know I can 🙂

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Agreed, Amy! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Love this! It is easy to compare ourselves to others, whether academically or in the mommy-blogger world. I love your humor and the way you say this. 🙂 Sharing!

  • anjuli

    well, i’m feeling doubtful at times that what i do is important. the correct answer is, ”yes,” what i do is important as a stay at home mom. but the feeling is contrary. i get jealous when i see other people traveling about the world and i get frustrated when i forget how to do basic math because my brain is in a million other places. i know it’s a season. and maybe one day i’ll miss it and one day i’ll have time to travel and go back to school. but some days are boring and slow and long. i think saying, ‘yes,’ to this season is accepting that life will be this way some days: a mix of hard and dreamy.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      It’s a bittersweet season. I understand every one of your frustrations, and while we’re doing important work, it doesn’t always feel that way.