I finished listening to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler several weeks ago, but something she said early on in the book has stuck with me long after the audiobook ended. It relates to motherhood specifically but I think its wisdom extends far beyond that. She writes:
“I have many friends who have had natural childbirth. I applaud them. I have friends who have used doulas and birthing balls and pushed out babies in tubs and taxicabs. I have a friend who had two babies at home! In bed! Her name is Maya Rudolph! She is a goddamn baby champion and she pushed her cuties out Little House on the Prairie style!
Good for her! Not for me.
That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”
Obviously I don’t have kids so I don’t have a stake in the motherhood portion of this mantra, “Good for her! Not for me,” but like I said, can’t we apply this more broadly?
I have been criticized more times than I like to count about the fact that I don’t work a proper job. Most often this comes from people who have no experience moving to or living in a foreign country wherein the most commonly used language is not English, nay, is not even a written language, so I try to take these comments with a grain of salt. But they still hurt.
“Good for her! Not for me.”
A confession: one of my private New Year’s resolutions this year was to stop critiquing baby names. It is so petty and shallow of me, but I admit I often poke fun at some of those wild and ridiculous names (and some not so wild and ridiculous names, but ones that I just don’t like) with seemingly little shame. But I am ashamed. It’s so rude and cruel and I don’t have a baby so I have no room to talk on the subject. That’s why I resolved to stop (note: I’m actually getting better at this).
So, “Good for her! Not for me.”
Another confession: When I was 22 years old I knew a girl from college who got married and one of the first things she said post-nuptials was, “I can’t wait to make my husband’s lunch every day and send him off to work.” This was said in full earnestness, no irony or sarcasm. I was off to live in Switzerland as an au pair and wanted nothing to do with committed relationships or marriage (yikes!) at that point and I was not shy about condemning her choices to other friends. Didn’t she want to have a life?! Wasn’t she looking for bigger and better things like me?!
Still, “Good for her! Not for me.”
There is a lot, I mean a lot, of judgment of other women and other people. I am so guilty of this (see above). But this mantra, “Good for her! Not for me” has really helped me release a lot of unnecessary stress and emotional energy about how other people are getting stuff done. Doesn’t it seem crazy to criticize what someone named their child? Doesn’t it seem wild to try to tell someone how to live their life? As if you have any idea of what’s going on or what factors are involved in personal family decision making?
Luckily, we don’t have to take ownership of anyone else’s choices. We can silently shake our head and move on, intervening only if someone is in true danger or harm. But that’s it! Otherwise, it’s good for them, but not for us.