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On women, pressure, and inadequacy

I randomly came across this post and thought that, especially with the holidays coming up, we could all probably use some of these reminders!

The other day, I got a pingback from another blog.

a photo book.

The author had read my post with tips for making a great photo book, and doing so had inspired her to write about how in her family, photo books are pretty darn low on the List Of Important Things.

(To wit: they have a wedding photo book that they rarely crack open.)

This got me thinking about how families vary so widely.

Obviously, in my family, we are pretty big on pictures. I love to take them and the rest of the family loves to look at them.

Scrapbooks and photobooks occupy at least a shelf and a half on my largest bookshelf, and interestingly enough, I never find a layer of dust atop the books because they don’t stay still for long.

Zoe in particular likes to carry armfuls of the books up to the sofa, where she settles in and brushes up on our family’s history. Her interest is not limited to books about her; she frequently looks through the books about family life before her arrival.

(and I know she reads all the journaling beside the photos, because she talks to me about pre-Zoe events I’ve scrapbooked about.)

A photo of a girl with mis-matched flip-flops.

The books bring me joy as well. The new ones are fun, but I think scrapbooks and photobooks become better with age, as the people and events move farther back into history, and memories become fuzzier.

The girls in white dresses in the grass.

Anyway. All of that is to say that in our home, we love us some photos and scrapbooks and photo books.


Please, please know that I in no way, shape, or form think that every household should be like ours. There are homes where cameras only emerge on holidays and where photos live in boxes in a closet, and honestly, I lose no sleep over that whatsoever.

It’s a little odd for me to say this, given how many photo books I’ve made, but I   just don’t think photo books matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

We love ’em at our house, but homes without photo books are not inferior any more than my household is inferior because I don’t garden (or sew my kids’ clothes or send out Christmas cards….)

Two glass containers of cilantro.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people (women especially) feel inadequate if they don’t have neatly organized albums.

(Interjection- Because women especially tend to feel inadequate if we don’t do All Of The Things that women are “supposed” to do, and because I am a woman myself, I’m going to address this from the perspective of a woman, while recognizing that this struggle is not limited just to women.)

Every woman has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and we cannot expect ourselves to have all of the strengths and none of the weaknesses.


Every woman has things she loves to do and we should not feel inadequate because we love something else.

For instance, some women rock at packing imaginative, creative Bento box lunches. For them, lunch packing is an art form and they enjoy it. But there is no reason for the rest of us to feel less than for serving up a sandwich in a baggie.

Some moms plan amazing themed birthday parties for their kids.

Some women are super great at coming up with fun outings.

Some moms sew fantastic clothes for their kids.

Some women earn a gazillion dollars a year with the business they started.

Some moms do lots of creative crafts with their kids.

Some women have mad clean house skills.

Some moms take amazing photos of their children every day.

Some women are insanely fit.

Some women are awesome at personal style, or at home decorating.

But the thing is, despite what you see on Pinterest, no one person is top notch at every single one of those things.

(and I barely scratched the surface of possible skills!)

I think we mentally take 30 women with various skills, mentally compress them into one woman, and then hold her up as our exhausting and impossible standard.

For the most part, I don’t think the blame for this lies at the feet of bloggers/Pinterest, because it is totally ok to share what you’re good at with the world.

(I do think there’s some onus on us bloggers to acknowledge our imperfections, even if we don’t choose to parade them before the world in great detail.)

But even if other people are to blame, we certainly can’t control that. We can only control how we respond to other people’s displays of gifted-ness.

So, when I feel inadequate or want to denigrate another mom’s strong suit, here’s what I try to do.

I remind myself that no one person is all strength and no weakness.

Every one of us is a mixture of the two.

(Even the women who are super good at hiding their weaknesses.)

A messy child's bedroom.

I remind myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect to bless other people.

I devoted a whole post to this topic a few years ago, but to sum it up:

Don’t give up on things just because someone else does it better. It’s all right to do just an okay job of cooking or crafting or decorating or dressing or documenting your kids’ lives.

You are in a unique place to bless the people in your path, and you can still bless people with your imperfect skills.

I try to see defensiveness for what it is.

Usually, when I am tempted to criticize what another mom does, it’s not because I actually think what she’s doing is stupid. It’s because I feel inadequate for not doing what she’s doing.

Recognizing that gives me a chance to remind myself of the #1 and #2 above.

I try to avoid temptation.

I used to read a cooking/baking blog written by a mom who seemed to be completely perfect.

She had a demanding job, a couple of small children, still managed to cook and bake ALL the time (with perfectly decorated cakes and cookies!) and she beautifully photographed all of her food for her very professional blog.

grumpy Christmas cookie

Two Christmas tree cookies.
(cookie decorating at our house: no royal icing is ever involved.)

What did me in was that none of this perfection was diluted with any disclosure of weakness.  And even though I knew she had to have weaknesses, reading her blog just brought on serious feelings of inadequacy.

So, I unsubscribed.

I think that if a blog is making you feel inadequate rather than inspired, it is totally okay to admit that you’re not strong enough to handle it. Stop reading that blog and spend your internet minutes consuming material that fuels you and brings you joy instead.


So. How do you handle feelings of inadequacy that come from comparing yourself to others? I’d love to hear!

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Sunday 14th of November 2021

I'm so sorry to hear that you felt minimized and unseen when you read my post, and I appreciate the feedback.

As this is your first comment, I'm guessing you are not a regular reader. So you probably don't know my whole story, but just in case you do come back to check: I'm currently back in college, working on prerequisite classes so I can get my RN, so I definitely do think that women can be good at things outside of babies and housework. Once I get my degree, I hope to spend many years helping patients and their families. One of my girls is currently in school to be an aviation mechanic, and I'm super proud of her for that; there are many ways to make a difference in the world, and those ways do not all happen at home.

And I'm not worried; not every blog is for every person, and it's up to you to decide whether mine is or isn't for you. :)


Saturday 13th of November 2021

This post is so fascinating... I don't think about ANY of the things you describe particularly as "talents," or not doing them as "shortcomings," and it fascinates me that a corner of the universe thinks of things like ordering takeout or having a child with a messy bedroom as a "failure" or "weakness." I am so sorry you guys tie yourselves in knots of self loathing over this!

FG as a side note, I know your primary readership is mostly women, but I'd encourage you think beyond strictly domestic spheres of expertise. There are lots of things women can be good at that have nothing to do with babies or housework. I recognize that I am not your target audience, but as someone with many talents outside the domestic sphere your post made me feel minimized and unseen. Don't worry, I won't be back. :-)

Valencia Canales

Tuesday 9th of November 2021

I so needed to hear this. I am always feeling like I need to be perfect at everything but I need to keep reminding myself what you just wrote, very beautifully written.


Monday 8th of November 2021

This feels very timely as I'm reading "His Needs, Her Needs". The domestic support section is daunting. We've got 5 kids at home right now, 4 under 7 years old and one teen. The two old enough to be in school are homeschooled. It is encouraging to take in the message of you can't be good at everything. Thank you. :)


Monday 8th of November 2021

Hugs to you. I have not read His Needs, Her Needs, so take this with a grain of salt: Mr. FG and I found that a lot of well-meaning Christian marriage books had advice that was super unhelpful and unnecessarily gendered (for example, they seem to think the 1 Corinthians 7 passage applies to only one spouse, not to both!). So, if the advice in His Needs, Her Needs is of that sort, chew up the meat and spit out the bones. If it feels like someone's tying a heavy load on your shoulders that you can't carry, it's probably not good advice.


Monday 8th of November 2021

I don't relate to any of this. I am pretty strong in who I am as a mom and wife and women, and I don't really care what other moms/wifes/women do, to be honnest. I am grateful to feel this way most of the time. I also avoid most social media such as facebook, Instagram, etc, who is the worst (people picturing a perfect life.... yeah, yeah, sure!). For example, my MIL is very neat, and I am not. She was over at our house this weekend and we were able to joke about it, without me feeling insulted. I KNOW I'm not a neat person, so why try to compete with someone who is?? I CHOOSE where I spend my energy and cleaning more than a regular amount is not where I do. On the flip side, my daughter is dealing with mental health issue, and her son is dealing with it too. She does not do much expect let him talk about it. Me? I'm super-proactive, already in talks with a doctor, psychologist, etc. So, see, my strenght is there. Is she a worse mom for it? Absolutly not! I don't really ''get'' this thing about women in general actually, this need to be ''all that'', to show off how amazing we are at all things, to show other women (because it`s always about the other women, let's be real) how fantastic our life is.... WHY? I'm a very '''real''' person, what you see is what you get, flaws and all, and I'm HAPPY to be showing this to my daughters, so that maybe (just maybe!) they will grow up understanding that they don't have to please and get validation from anyone else than themselves. And that they are perfect as it is, flaws (which I call ''challenges'') and all!


Monday 8th of November 2021

Not everyone who places high demands on themselves does so to impress other people.


Monday 8th of November 2021

Well, I think this is a rare and healthy attitude. Good for you!

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