Do you feel like it is impossible to be a good mom? Do you feel like you're the only one who is struggling? Do you sometimes feel like other moms have things so much more 'together' than you do?
Sometimes, we all feel this way. Even that one mom on Instagram with the perfect hair that you admire so much. She just doesn't snap any photos on the bad days. No one takes a picture when their child is crying.
The problem is, there are so many myths about motherhood that we have bought into that seriously just need to die:
Good moms can 'do it all' effortlessly
Good moms are happy with their children all the time
Good moms bond with their children right away
Good moms have good children
If you've ever heard some of these myths about what it takes to be a good mom, it is no wonder that you are struggling! No one can possibly meet up to all of these ideals that we have in our minds about motherhood!
It isn't your fault that you are feeling stressed when you are trying to live up to these impossible standards of what it means to be a good mom. Some of the messages that we get from society are just messed up.
Good moms aren't Superwomen
This is the myth that every good mom can 'do it all' and manage her career, family and home effortlessly, without having any help. The idea that moms can do everything seriously needs to die a flaming death.
No one can do it all, at least not perfectly. Sometimes not even well.
We all struggle when we have multiple hats to wear, and especially when we have multiple kids to manage.
I remember when my oldest had her first sleepover after my little one was born. Our youngest was about 2 months old, and Gary was home with her all day. I went to buy snacks for my older daughter's sleepover.
When I got home, my usually-calm partner was in a panic, and told me, "you can never go to the store again!"
That wasn't the only time that we - yes we, not just me - struggled with having to balance driving an active teen around for her social life, and having a young baby at home.
As a nursing mom, I had to make sure that I was home from work every day on time, so that my little one wouldn't miss a feeding. We didn't always have enough milk supply on hand at the house for me to get home late.
This meant there were times that I had to make compromises on taking my older daughter to go somewhere, so that I could keep up my feeding schedule with my youngest.
When you work outside the home as a mom, you are doing triple duty.
You have to make sure that you do your day job, pick up the kids on time from childcare, then come home to make dinner and clean the house. These three realms of duties can be difficult to juggle even in the best of times.
It seems like there's always something that suffers, and it's a trade off in what is most important to you and your family. You have to decide at some point what you are just going to let slide.
For me, it was making dinners (for the brief period that it was my responsibility) because I am a terrible cook, but really good at ordering take-out.
Your family may have different needs, but trying to create balance when you're doing the work of a full-time mom and full-time employee is challenging for sure!
Good moms aren't happy all the time
The myth that good moms are happy all the time might come from the 70's when there were lots of benzo's going around. Who knows. But this is another damaging myth that hurts any mom who feels unhappy, especially with her kids.
Here's the thing. No one can be happy all the time.
Were you happy all the time pre-kids? Me either. I don't think I know anyone who is happy all the time. So, the expectation that you suddenly have to be happy all the time because you're a mom is just plain stupid.
We all have bad days. We're all unhappy with our kids sometimes. That doesn't make us bad moms or bad people. It doesn't make us bad mothers either.
Sometimes kids can be irritating. They want things their own way all the time, especially when they are small. Or when they're teens. And they get defiant when they don't get their own way.
How are you going to maintain a perfectly sunny attitude with all that going on?
The idea that we have to be happy with our kids all the time is not something that comes naturally to anyone. It's perfectly normal to be upset with your kids sometimes. That doesn't make you a bad mom.
Not all moms bond with their children right away
The idea that to be a good mom you have to bond with your baby right away is just downright absurd. Did you bond with your partner right away? What about your best friend?
I'm going to guess probably not.
Your relationship with your child is just like any other relationship. While some moms may feel a close bond with their newborn right away, many others don't. It's perfectly normal not to feel intense love right off the bat.
The myth that all moms fall in love with their babies right away seriously needs to die. Not everyone stares dreamily into their baby's eyes for the first time and falls in love instantly.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,
It’s close contact and attention to your baby over time that create bonding, not just in the minutes right after birth. Bonding is not a once-in-a-lifetime event.
This can especially be true if you had a difficult labor or recovery. Giving birth is like having a major surgery. You might be given pain killers. You're exhausted and not at your best physically or mentally.
This can stop you from bonding with your baby right away too.
Just because you didn't bond right away doesn't mean you are never going to bond with your child. I'm sure you love them now, and have a special relationship with them.
Taking some time to bond with your child is perfectly normal and doesn't make you a bad mom.
Good moms don't always have 'good' children
Whether in terms of behavior or appearance, you can be a good mom and still not have a child that measures up in other people's eyes.
The myth that to be a good mom your children have to be perfectly well behaved, and perfectly groomed at all times needs to die.
Both of my kids have spent most of their childhood wandering around with perpetually uncombed hair. And it isn't for lack of my trying either. They both just go through phases of flatly refusing to have it brushed.
That was the best thing about my older daughter hitting middle school - she finally started brushing her hair.
Plenty of kids have behavioral problems too. If you find your kid acting out either at home, with friends or at school, it isn't a sign that you are a bad mother. There can be a ton of other things going on.
According to the Child Mind Institute, common causes of children having behavior problems are:
Sensory processing problems
That the kid didn't have a perfect mother didn't even make the list. The only caveat to this would be if the parent was abusive or neglectful and caused the child's trauma. Other than that, 'bad mother' isn't an excuse for a child's problems.
I had a coworker whose child had conduct disorder, and I know that both parents of that child, as well as grandparents, tried their hardest with the problem behaviors. The poor kid got thrown out of several schools, and was in therapy, but that doesn't mean that they had a bad mother.
Sometimes, there are just things that kids do that are beyond our control. We can't force them to act perfectly or look perfectly all the time. That is just a battle that is just impossible.
Pressure on moms to be perfect
When it comes to these motherhood myths - and more - there are hundreds of ways that moms are expected to be at top performance every day.
The pressure on moms to be perfect can be soul crushing at times. Especially when you are having a bad day, and you start to feel ashamed of yourself for not measuring up.
We ALL have those days.
No one can be perfect all the time, and it shouldn't be expected of moms by society either. All of these harmful motherhood myths just need to die, so that moms can come back down to earth and be human, instead of trying to be super women.
It is hard enough to parent, without the added guilt that you are doing everything wrong, and the fear that you are going to scar your child for life!
When we compare ourselves to the ideals of what it means to be a 'good mother' we are often going to find ourselves falling short. However, it is these harmful myths in society that are to blame for our feelings.
Once we learn to stop comparing ourselves to these ideals, we can focus more on ourselves and our kids, and stop worrying about being perfect. Being happy is so much more important.
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