Mom guilt. If you haven’t very felt it – which I highly doubt – you’ve definitely heard of it. Mom guilt is that feeling that you’re just never doing enough. These days, it doesn’t matter if your kids are loved, fed, healthy, and generally happy because for whatever reason those aren’t the standards by which we judge ourselves. Now we look to the mommy bloggers and Pinterest and the magazine moms to see if we’re doing enough. As if we, as moms, could ever really be doing enough.
This world we have to mother in is actually pretty insane. It’s highly competitive but not externally so. Externally, we’re all supposed to embody confidence and a devil-may-care attitude. Internally, though, society has made it more than clear that we are supposed to be paying very close attention to what other moms are doing and when and why. That’s because motherhood is very public these days. Even if you don’t blog or share your family’s adventures on Instagram, you still have unprecedented access into the lives of strangers.
You see their living rooms and their birthday parties and their Saturday nights. You see their clothes and their trips to Amsterdam and their charming purebred pups. It’s a perfectly manicured reality that has been curated to within an inch of its life. What you seldom see are the outtakes. I have to wonder… Why are we so quick to believe in a picture of perfection in blog form when most of us moms pride ourselves on being rightly incredulous about magazine spreads and movies?
Research has suggested that the growing pressure to be picture perfect in all things can actually contribute to mental disorders. As in, trying to live up to some manufactured reality – think of it like virtual peer pressure – can make you anxious and depressed. You see another mom’s vision of what raising children ought to look like. What makes a home beautiful. How school and fun and games should look. And you try harder and harder but still always fall short of the external ideal you’ve taken to heart.
Browse the mommy-sphere long enough and you’ll bump up against hundreds, if not thousands, of supermoms. Blogging the hard stuff. Photographing the pretty stuff. Gushing about how much they love their gorgeous husbands. Looking ever-fabulous while pushing posh prams around beautiful places. Baking, crafting, homeschooling, sewing, knitting, coding, or running businesses as if their children are entirely autonomous beings who leave them with all the free time in the world. You may even have mom friends who appear just as picture perfect.
But are you ever seeing the whole story? Probably not. That external ideal is more than likely manufactured to some extent. We all curate our blogs, our Facebook posts, and our Instagram feeds. It’s mommy’s own marketing.
While you may be looking at that supermom and wondering why you can’t be more like her, maybe you should appreciate your relaxed take on motherhood. Being a supermom can be super stressful because sometimes – with emphasis on the some – it’s a mom’s perceived shortcomings that prompt her to do ever more for kids and home in a never-ending quest for perfection. Mom guilt? Let it go. Do what you love, whether that’s whipping up homemade pizza dough or calling Domino’s. You can be a great parent and still be nowhere close to perfect. Chances are if you can admit that, you’ll be a happier parent, too.