Stretch Armstrong had his 15 minutes of fame when I was a kid. He was a rubber doll whose claim to that fame was his elasticity. You could stretch him to extremes and he would eventually revert back to his six-pack abs self. I didn’t actually own one, but a friend of mine did. It didn’t take us long to decide—along with probably every other kid who owned one—that we would see if we could stretch poor old Stretch beyond his limits.
It didn’t take long till we met with success.
And you know what lurked inside Mr. Armstrong? Jelly. Well, I don’t know what the official substance was inside of him, but it was certainly jelly-like. It oozed. Poor old Stretch wasn’t invincible after all.
Over the years, I’ve found myself relating to Stretch—I’m sure you can relate, too. The pulling and tugging of life in many different directions leaves me ready to ooze all too often. Of course, if being stretched thin meant I actually was thin, I might be better able to deal with it, but…it really means that I may be one tug away from seeping jelly.
I know I fall into the trap of thinking that if I am not everything to everybody, I will let people down. People I love and care about. And who wants to do that? But if you think about it, not only is this a ridiculous way of thinking, it’s actually a bit prideful. Am I really that awesome that I can do everything for everyone? Pretty heady, don’t you think?
The origin of the phrase “be all and end all” is attributed to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and it has come to mean that if you are the “be all and end all” of something, you are the ultimate—there is no need to look further. Well, if you know anything about dear ol’ Macbeth, things didn’t turn out exactly as he had planned.
In fact, his thinking that he had to be the Be All was his End All.
And letting myself be Stretch Armstrong can be my End All, too. While I’m not hoping to assume the Scottish throne, I must come to terms with reality: I am not a superhero. Elastigirl resides elsewhere.
And that is okay.
And for every other person who is being yanked and pulled and tugged…it’s okay for you, too.
This means that occasionally, the word “no” should come out of our mouths in order to make our load more manageable. This means that sometimes people will be unhappy with us because we were not able to do something for them. This means that it is okay to lie down and take a nap when we need one. This means that pancakes for dinner can be an absolutely fine choice when it helps you survive the day’s schedule. This means…that you have permission to give yourself some grace and fall short of what you had hoped to accomplish for the day.
This means you can let yourself off the perfection hook that is a big, fat lie anyway. (More on that another day.)
Maybe what we should do with our Stretch Armstrong bodies is give ourselves a hug—because we could sure use one. Well, now that I think about it, that would look pretty weird. After all, we don’t want to look like we’re making out with ourselves. People would talk.
Maybe instead we should just lighten up and remember that we’re doing the best we can—even when it’s a far cry from where we really want to be. Because being the “be all and end all” isn’t the be all and end all after all.