I ought

‘I ought” is one of the most frustrating, imprisoning phrases in my life. And I say it repeatedly. I’m a sucker for “I ought.” I’m a rules oriented, black and white, cut and dried sorta gal and my legalistic soul yearns for the “oughts.” Give me the bottom line, what’s required, what do I have to do and get out of my way. I really don’t have the time or energy for the nuances and side trips and what ifs.

And I don’t have time or energy for the nuances because the oughts will consume every moment, ever dollar, ever scrap of energy left unguarded. And fight like mad for those already claimed.

A recent example of an ought that attacked:
I’ll have a good and helpful idea that may be beneficial to me or my family. For example, baking our own bread would be cheaper, healthier and yummier. We have a bread machine, I can toss the ingredients in the sucker at night and push go on my way to the coffee maker. Toss the dough in my stone an hour and a half later and by lunch we’ve got fresh bread. Yum.

And here comes the ought: take the idea, make it a rule, a requirement, a standard for decent motherhood, citizenship and humanity, wrap it in a brick and beat myself with it. Like thus: I tell a friend of my bread making ventures. This wonderful, godly friend who always seems to not only have her ducks in a row, but they’re all wearing matching bows and marching in step to “Stars and Stripes Forever” asks if I mill my own grain. Because of all the wonderful, healthy goodness that entails. And I really should because I’ll feel wonderful about all the healthful food I’m feeding my family.

Okay, I was feeling a bit proud at my domestic accomplishment. But now “I ought” to mill my own grain, because really this half-hearted effort is just a wee bit pathetic. I ought to have a mill and use a mill and know where to buy whole grain. Does the Little Red Hen live nearby? But where would I find an extra $200 lying around for the wonderful mill that I ought to be using?

Speaking of $200, I really ought to have our budget under better control and that silly banking error I made last month messed up our plans for a completely cash Christmas and I ought to have been more careful. And I ought to do more to bring down our spending anyway, oughtn’t I? Because one silly little error ought not be able to throw off the whole shebang. We ought to be debt free, have 6 months living expenses in the bank, a college account fully funded and well on our way to paying off the mortgage. Oughtn’t we?

Oh, and don’t get me started on what I ought to be doing with homeschool (education, learning, whatever. Some prescription canada de viagra people are even suffering from erectile dysfunction and also makes sure that the person is completely satisfied from the issue. It’s important to online levitra new.castillodeprincesas.com discover the main causes of rhythmic noise to be treated accordingly. Men being impacted by erection problems must obtain Penegra buy canada viagra really 100mg bank account that will become 30 to 40 minutes before you go while having sex. What are the best foods to increase testosterone? You can include foods cheap cialis 20mg like eggs, oysters, pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, pomegranate, carrots, watermelon and dark chocolate in your daily diet. I really ought to get the language right.) I ought to be more consistent diligent with science and we really ought to have been finished with history by now and I ought to be better about having drawing sessions and I ought to take the kids on more cultural field trips and they all ought to be proficient in three languages and the Bulldozer ought to be potty trained and Gigglemeister ought to be walking and I ought to be more consistent with everything and everybody.

Ought is going to be the death of me. Because really, it seems pretty evident that ought isn’t helpful. Goals, ideas, and suggestions can be helpful. They are supposed to keep me pointing in the right direction, not drive me from behind with a whip. Which is exactly what “ought” does. It doesn’t motivate and inspire. Ought condemns and belittles. Ought takes whatever good thing is in my hand and compares it to the imagined perfect. It sucks all the grace and joy out of the moment and fixes my eyes on tomorrow. Or the imagined tomorrow when all my oughts have been accomplished.

I know this. I know that ought destroys joy and leaves me with a thankless and bitter heart. I ought not listen to the oughts. I ought. No. I desire to be motivated by love and joy to do all that God has for me to do to the best of my ability. All that He has for me to do, not all that can be done by anyone ever. I desire to have a heart that chooses to the best I can because of the satisfaction of a job well done. I desire to pass on to my children the benefits of hard work and the joy of a well earned success.

I ought to kill the ought.

8 responses to “I ought”

  1. Laureen Avatar

    Oh my, I am laughing and nodding and I suppose I ought to link to this on my own blog, but before I do, I need to get my trackbacks in order and set up on Technorati but before that happens, my blogroll needs some pruning, and if I’m hacking into my template anyway, I ought to update my widgets…

    Yet another brillant post. You rock!

  2. Margaret in Oz Avatar
    Margaret in Oz

    This is the first time I’ve read your blog – thanks to L for the link!

    Apart from the actual word “ought” (I tend to be over-enthusiastic with “should”, personally) I am so with you on this one!

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  3. April Avatar

    Laureen, You and I *ought* to burn our oughts in effigy. Margaret, you *should* bring your should.

  4. Dylan Avatar

    Oh, please don’t “should’ve” on yourself! I know, it’s a bad, bad joke, but it makes me laugh. A friend told it to me when I was stressing out, so she is to blame. 🙂

    Seriously, I enjoyed this post!


  5. Renae Avatar

    And why am I now my husband? Hmm…I really “should” copy my link. Ha! I’m going to be a nickname from now on.

  6. April Avatar

    Funny! I “should’ve” remembered that joke. Thanks for the reminder. And yes, I was befuddled with the Dylan/Renae thing. Thanks for setting me straight!

  7. sunniemom Avatar

    Well, I was so inspired by this post I commented on it at my blog- http://sunniemom.wordpress.com . I suppose I ought to learn how to do trackbacks properly though! Thanks April!

  8. dianne - bunny trails Avatar
    dianne – bunny trails

    Great post! Renae was awesome enough to share this, all these months later. I ought to thank her for the laugh. I actually live in the twin cities – Should’ve/Ought. 😀

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