During this week before Mother’s Day, we are starting to see messages about Motherhood pop up all around us. My mom is my best friend and despite our distance, we interact daily with phone calls and blessed smart phone picture-sharing. So, it has nothing to do with my relationship with my mom that most of these thoughts about Motherhood MAKE ME GAG. I think there is a fine line between inspiring improvement and inspiring guilt. So much of the constant rhetoric about motherhood makes a lot of us feel like we will never measure up. When people describe the qualities of a *perfect* mom, I can’t help but look at the list and see a list of my weaknesses. All this made me want to write a different kind of article about Motherhood to remove some of the contradicting expectations we’ve carried around for years.
“Good moms have messy floors and sticky kitchens” or something like that. You’ve seen it out there floating around or maybe you’ve seen “Excuse the mess, we are making memories”? These quotes are meant to make moms feel good about letting our homes go in honor of quality time with the family. These quotes don’t feel so good to the moms that manage to keep the kitchen clean, but worry they are failing somewhere else.
Then there are the magazines and blogs full of pictures of beautifully and *perfectly* kept homes, TV shows depicting “real” family homes with everything in its place and stylish decor. As much as we hear the feel-good quotes floating around out there about embracing the mess, we only seem to SEE evidence that the opposite is true everywhere around us.
Let’s not forget the women we see (or think we see) who raise *perfect* kids with *perfect* homes and manage to be rock stars too. These women run marathons, head up the PTO, run successful businesses, advance at work, and write amazing blogs about organizing and homemaking. (I have to laugh at the last one. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t have it all together all the time.)
So, we look to these fictitious examples and try our best to do it all, and we mask what we think are failures. When we are expecting people over to our homes, what do we do? We clean up first. “Oh, you just happened to stop by right after I did the dishes and vacuumed, what a coincidence.” This type of cover-up just piles on to what we are already thinking: we are not good enough.
We compare our normal with other people’s best, so we never measure up.
When it comes to balancing family life, housework, and personal fulfillment, most of us float around somewhere in the middle, which is actually a great place. The problem is that we aren’t happy there. We want it all. We expect ourselves to give the kids endless attention AND create a perfect house AND climb every mountain: but these crazy expectations are IMPOSSIBLE and we need to stop perpetuating the madness and projecting these expectations onto ourselves and the other women in our lives.
We are too busy worrying about what we are not, to realize that this BALANCE everyone speaks of and strives for does NOT exist in any of the extremes. Balance IS accepting our imperfections.
We need to improve ourselves without beating ourselves up.
Sometimes our feeling of guilt is a tool for improvement, but guilt is often misplaced. When we feel guilt for just being ourselves or not doing something perfectly, the guilt stops us from moving forward, continuing the vicious cycle of feeling like our best is not enough. Any other recovering perfectionists out there know exactly what I mean.
My wish this Mother’s Day for all the mothers I know is to give yourself a break. I think most of us KNOW that there is not one correct mold for motherhood.
Now is the time to feel okay with our particular mold.
What do you think about all the “motherhood” themed stuff out there?
From my home to yours,
TONIA L.CLARK :~o) (@whynotmomdotcom) says
Oh my goodness Mary! Spot on! It seems like we really need to figure out where our ‘happy medium’ is, stop comparing ourselves to everybody else and just do the best we can however we can. I remind my daughter constantly that her friends all have different Moms and every Mom has different rules including me. I’m trying to be the best ME I can be without the comparison. But with all the ‘noise’ out there, it does make it difficult indeed!
Krysta - KrystaSteen.com says
Amen!! Love it! 🙂
Yes, Mary! I think you and I have discussed this. I call myself a “recovering perfectionist” all the time. I have to remind myself of the “recovery” part constantly, or I make myself miserable. The fact it, we all do “it” differently. My version of clean is probably your 7th circle of Hell, but I probably have other gifts that would represent a struggle for you. Maybe not, since you’re so awesome, but let’s go with that theory to keep my from my perfectionist misery. I love this post. It’s like you pulled it straight from my brain!