Do you feel like you’re constantly comparing yourself or being compared to some perfect mother ideal?

Do you struggle with guilt and feeling like you’re constantly falling short as a mother?

You’re not alone, lovely.

We are parenting in an society that places excessive pressure on mothers and that constantly highlights all the ways they aren’t measuring up. 

There’s a reason that you feel so much pressure and judgement. There’s a reason that you feel like you can’t ever win, no matter what choices you make.

The reason is the socially constructed myth of the perfect mother. She’s an accumulation of ideas about what women and mothers should be like from the past and present. And she’s evolved into something completely unattainable. 

Who is the perfect mother?

There are many elements to the perfect mother myth. Let’s look at some of the main ones. The prefect mother:

  • Is the primary carer for her children 24/7
    • Is endlessly self-sacrificing, putting her children’s needs about her own
    • Seeks advice from experts over following her own intuition
    • Gives endless time, energy and money to raise her children
    • Is completely satisfied and fulfilled by motherhood (she doesn’t need anything else to be happy)
    • Is always composed and calm
    • Is responsible for meeting all her children’s needs –  physical, emotional, social, psychological, developmental, mental and spiritual 
    • Looks good, stays fit and bounces back to her pre-pregnancy body
    • Attends to her husband and keeps the romance alive
    • Keeps a clean and tidy house
    • Breastfeeds her children
    • Disciplines her children with a mere look
    • Cooks highly nutritious meals for her family from scratch
    • Plays with and entertains her children.

Interestingly, in modern society, the perfect mother also contributes financially to the household, which is at complete odds with being the primary carer for the children 24/7. 

Are you exhausted just thinking about that!?

I certainly am.

Individually these things are often widely accepted (even though some of them are still unrealistic on their own), but when you put them together, they are completely unattainable and leave mothers exhausted, depleted, resentful, angry, anxious, overwhelmed and unhappy. And feeling like we’re failing. As women, we are expected to give our whole selves to mothering but also be more than a mum, because mothering work is undervalued in society. 

It’s no wonder you’re feeling the pressure. 

Additionally, in modern society most children are raised by mothers alone in their homes. They do all this, and they don’t have the support they need to bear this load. 

It’s not you, it’s the expectations

We know from research that developing secure attachments with our children, requires us to be well resourced so we are actually able to regulate ourselves, be present and connect with our children. In fact, it’s logical that if we are well resourced we do better in all areas of our lives.

Imagine that you had a battery. If you were well resourced, you would be recharging regularly, and to 100% (or close to it). Instead, when faced with these unrealistic standards to live up to, we end up forgetting to recharge ourselves at all, or only have time to recharge a little, which over the long term impacts our health and wellbeing. 

When we don’t live up to the myth of the perfect mother we blame ourselves. We think we need to try harder or do more. We feel like we can’t ask for help because everyone else seems to be managing and we don’t want to burden anyone, so we end up silencing ourselves and pushing on. Thinking we’re the only ones failing.

But it’s not your fault. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s the expectations that are the problem. They are setting us up to fail. 

Release yourself from the expectations

Once you see the expectations for what they are – socially constructed and unattainable, then this is your invitation to make a choice for yourself. 

These expectations are both overtly and subtly communicated to us from childhood through our own parents, other people in our lives, advertising, stories, social media and even the medical and education systems, just to name a few sources. We have internalised many of these expectations, so we believe that they are our own expectations. 

But now you have the opportunity to really question what you believe makes a good mother. You get to define success for yourself and release yourself from the pressure of this socially constructed myth.

Take a few minutes, grab a pen and a piece of paper and answer that question for yourself. 

Here are some questions to help you:

What is most important to you as a mother?

How do you want your children to remember you and their childhood?

What feels true and right for you in your role as a mother, partner and woman?

What do you need more of in your life?

This is just the beginning of a journey of coming back to yourself, rediscovering who you are now and what matters most to you, so you can be the mother, partner and woman you long to be.

Louise is the owner of More to Mum and is a certified Mindset and Life Coach and Matrescence Facilitator. She works with overwhelmed mums who are ready to release guilt and perfectionism and live a calmer, more intentional life that makes their heart happy.

Louise loves to help mums rewrite the beliefs that create perfectionistic thinking and behaviours, uncover their own truth, strength and grace, and rediscover themselves so they can live with more intention, freedom, ease, confidence and self-love. She supports mums in understanding their unique matrescence journey – the complete transformation of a woman as she becomes a mother. With nearly 20 years of experience in adult learning, Louise also loves to teach through her blog, speaking engagements, online courses and workshops. Louise is mum to a spunky little boy and step mum to 3 fantastic young adults. 

SPECIAL OFFER – Until 31st May 2021, mention Melville Mums and book a 90 minute consultation session with Louise for the price of a 60 minute session (not to be used in conjunction with any other offer).

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