In our age of social media perfection obsession, when almost every image we ever see is airbrushed, colour corrected, and filtered several times before it lands in our stream, how do we feel about our real selves? As Moms we're even more prone to feeling worse about ourselves when bombarded with so much fake perfection. We're already dealing with post-birth hormones, lack of sleep, plus the massive responsibility and weight of being totally responsible for the lives of our little ones. Being a Mom is a tough job. There are many rewarding moments, and the love is so great, but let's be honest: day to day parent life is hard. So, why are Moms putting pressure on themselves to appear like everything is always perfect in their lives?
I'll never forget the story a women I briefly met at a wedding a few years ago told me about her Mom. She appeared to be a very confident 30-something woman. When she asked what I did for a living, I told her about being a Mommy vlogger & blogger. She looked right at me and said, "I hope you're not one of these perfectionist Moms,” and she wasn't smiling or joking. I was a little taken back, but laughed and admitted to being far from perfect, actually quite the opposite. Although deep inside, I knew I was kind of lying, because I had my own struggle with trying to be perfect. She then told me how she had a terrible relationship with her mother, because she grew up in a home where there was no mess allowed. Her mother was an absolute perfectionist. She recounted how her mother would be furious with her if she was messy, or messed the house in any way. Everything had its perfect place and she was constantly cleaning or picking things up. Her mother loved to uphold the illusion of being the perfect housewife and Mom. Always the happy mom in public, at home she struggled with never feeling good enough and clearly put this on her daughter. So here we were, years later at a wedding, and she’s telling me this heart wrenching story about how she has no relationship with her mother. She's vowed to never be the same with her kids.
Martha Stuart's own daughter Alexis Stuart has written about how unhappy her childhood was with her mother. And Martha Stewart appeared to be the absolute best homemaker on the planet.
I'm not going to lie; I've struggled with my own "trying to be perfect issues," but trying to be perfect sucks. My overachieving landed me in the emergency room in a complete panic attack at one time. My daughter was 12 weeks old, we were in the middle of year-end dance rehearsals, and after attending three birthdays a weekend, it was just too much and my body and brain said NO MORE. On top of managing my kids, home and business, I was trying to get back in shape and once again putting too much pressure on myself. If you've ever had a bad panic attack you know what I'm about to describe, but if you haven't, take note. I actually thought I was having a heart attack or stroke. We were in the thick of a busy Saturday and I was on my own with the kids. About mid-day, I realized I had barely eaten and started to feel dizzy. I grabbed a snack, sat down and started to eat, but it was too late, the room started spinning, my hands and feet were tingling and my breathing took off. I was terrified. I told my kids to sit tight, trying to keep them calm, and dragged myself to the couch. I immediately called my husband to get home and dialed 911. I literally thought this was it.
All I could think of was this is how I am going to die. I lost my own Mom when I was only 11, so I will never forget this moment. Luckily for me, I was not dying, but I was having a very bad panic attack. My husband and the ambulance arrived simultaneously. They took me to the hospital to investigate, but I could tell the paramedics were not worried after they took my vitals. Even in that moment I was judging myself, embarrassed that I appeared to be some over-privileged stay-at-home Mom having a panic attack, but I knew there was a bigger issue below the surface. I was suffering from post-partum anxiety, exhaustion, and it came to a head. That was a life changing day for me. I'm going much easier on myself, and others these days. Trying to be perfect is a recipe for losing your mind as a mom. It's not possible, and it's not fun for those around you, especially kids. Kids need to be expressive and creative, they need to play and get messy. I'm not saying they shouldn't have boundaries and respect the home, but there's no place for perfection in parenting.
None of us are perfect. Not one of us. What we are is perfectly imperfect. So why are we so afraid to share our struggles with each other? Why are we always judging how others parent their kids, when we all have are own issues and hardships?
At the end of the day, we all love our kids and want the best for them.
So please, Mamas; the next time you look on Facebook, or Instagram, know this: There's most likely a mom just like you behind so many of those perfect profiles, just trying to do her best like you. It's probably taken her over an hour to get the right picture, the perfect angle, the perfect lighting, and she probably still doesn't think the picture is good enough. After she finally posts a perfect looking image, she will again judge herself on how many likes or comments she receives.
We get one life, one chance at all this, so just be happy and try to love yourself for who you are. Don't hate yourself for who you're not.