Motherhood can be all-consuming; not only do we have to take care of the basics, the day-to-day tasks of feeding, clothing and cleaning our little people, but we also often feel that it all has to be done with a smile, selflessly, creatively and for many of us, perfectly. Naturally, mothers feel responsible for almost every aspect of our children’s lives, we worry about their self-esteem, academics, health, safety, social skills, minor scrapes and skirmishes and the list goes on. We strive for the best, yet in reality we can't do it all and it's the trying to do it all that is taxing on our mental health.
So why do many mothers feel this pressure to get everything right? And why do other cultures seem to elude this angst? An interesting read about this topic is Judith Warner's book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. She explores why North American moms feel that they have to perfectly handle everything alone, and therefore are left feeling tired, powerless, and dissatisfied. She then examines how culture is helping to preserve this.
For many of us it is important to challenge our own culture of self-prescribed ideas about what makes a good mother. It is also important to keep our pride in check. Maybe we won't host a tree trimming party our kids will tell their kids about, we might fail to sell any, let alone the most magazines for our child's school fundraiser, we might also fail miserably at always looking the picture of calmness and perfection; and that's okay.
We also can’t compare ourselves to everyone else. Facebook is often lives that are airbrushed, no one is doing everything they are pinning, and tweets, at 140 characters, do not provide the whole story.
What can be done is to be mindful about why projects are being taken on, what is being posted and what is planned. If it is to protect or project a certain image, it might be time to re-evaluate. Maybe we will also rethink the occasional homemade yule log or Christmas stocking if it is a little less Norman Rockwell and a little more WWE Smackdown during its preparation. I think my daughter might prefer a store bought whatever, if it means calmness and joy in the party planning stages of an event. Additionally, be mindful about how we are supporting our friends who might be drowning in a sea of expectations and think about how to encourage them to care less about what others think and enjoy the moment.