The world around us has cultivated a lot of unhealthy assumptions of what it means to be a mom. How we “should” act, think, feel, and conduct ourselves as women and as mothers.
HARMFUL ASSUMPTIONS ACCEPTED AS TRUTH
I didn’t wake up today thinking to myself “Gee, I hope I’m a crappy Mom today!” and I know you didn’t either.
But there is a huge discrepancy between being a good mom and striving to be the perfect mom—the mom defined by everyone else, the harmful assumptions accepted as truth. These assumptions, these “shoulds”, lead to unhealthy practices and leave moms overwhelmed, exhausted, and in distress as they chase the unattainable.
The top “A Good Mom SHOULD…”
traps to avoid
Here are the top “A Good Mom SHOULD…” traps to avoid:
*A Good Mom should…take care of her family first, over and above everything else.
Perhaps in a crisis! But should you be expected to drop everything, all the time, to put your family first? You probably don’t actually think that, but you may do it subconsciously. How many times do you find yourself cancelling your own activities in order to fix something for a family member-no matter how minor?
*A Good Mom should… sacrifice everything for her kids.
Yes, I used to subscribe to this belief too. But sacrificing everything leads to martyrdom. And does being a stressed out martyr, sacrificing everything in the name of her children, sound like the kind of mom you truly want to be?
*A Good Mom should… parent perfectly or they will scar their kids for life.
Oh my gosh, how do you even begin to parent perfectly? And scarring your kids for life—that’s a whole separate conversation. I have a parenting theory that I believe in and practice as best I can, but every child is distinct and every mama is unique. Society’s “perfect” equates to unattainable. Your perfect equates to what it is that works for you. Now that’s my kind of perfect!
*A Good Mom should… have a healthy supper on the table at 5pm every night.
OK, there is a lot of grey area here. We are responsible for what we choose to feed our children. It is advantageous to our health to eat an earlier dinner, and studies have shown numerous benefits to enjoying the evening meal sitting down as a family. So let’s not throw this one out entirely. How often does this happen for your family? If it’s not happening enough in your opinion, get creative about how it can happen. The responsibility does not always have to be yours—although you may want to take the lead.
*A Good Mom should… have her family activities planned to the minute, filled with child-centered activities.
I could go on for days about how our kids are overscheduled and over-taxed on a daily basis with activities—enriching and otherwise. How about putting something on that schedule just for you mama? How about turning down the umpteenth birthday party invitation-when your child never even mentions the kid that party is for? How about 1 less extra-curricular activity just for your sanity? It’s OK for our children to be responsible for filling their own time—it’s good for them!
*A Good Mom should… be a size 2 and flawless.
Nope. Been there, done that. A particular size doesn’t fix anything—I PROMISE you!!! As a mom I want to show my daughter what it means to feel good in my skin and in my body without obsessing. I want to show her that moving her body is important, but she doesn’t have to be a slave to the gym. And that personal hygiene and wanting to look good is all for me—is all about aligning my outside with my inside. I want to embody the kind of woman I hope she will become…flaws and all!
*A Good Mom should… have the perfect home.
Here’s that dirty word again…perfect. I soooo used to live in this trap, even though it kept me from what I desired most. I love to entertain. I love to cook. I love to connect with my friends. Yet the lengths I would go and the anxiety I would create for myself in order to get everything “perfect” was ridiculous. Perfect is not relatable. Now I know that as long as I’m surrounded by family and friends—it’s OK that my house isn’t “perfect”.
*A Good Mom should… find joy in every moment.
Having a life filled with joy is important. But there are moments that are just plain awful. Not every moment in motherhood or life for that matter is joyful. The question is just how much importance are you going to place on that awful moment or experience. Hint-the answer is very little!! It is crucial for us to feel all our emotions and let them pass through us without sidestepping or numbing ourselves to them. The more we allow them to come, the quicker they will pass.
*A Good Mom should… ensure their children are always happy.
We are responsible for nobody’s happiness but our own. We are responsible to teach our children the skills to find happiness. And we are just as responsible to respect and allow ALL our children’s emotions—just as we need to respect and allow for all of our emotions. And we are responsible to not contribute to their misery. But ultimately, our children’s journey is theirs to experience. If they are not allowed to be anything but happy—how will they ever learn how to deal with uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way?
*A Good Mom should… always have positive feelings about her kids.
Love them unconditionally—YES!!! Always have positive feelings about them—NO!!! You are human mama. Your kids will sometimes // often // frequently do things that displease you. To feel guilty about these feelings or to deny yourself of them will ultimately wreak havoc with your own well-being. Accept that we are all different and our children have their own free-will, and life will go on.
Are you enmeshed?
Have you found yourself enmeshed in any of these “A Good Mom SHOULD…” traps?
Every Good Mom at some point in her life has experienced these at some level, so please know you are not alone in feeling this way. There is no such thing as the perfect mom, there’s just you. And you are A Good Mom!!!