As a psychologist dealing with children and parents, I have come across over 100 mothers on a one-on-one basis over the passed year. Once inside the clinic, the door closed, and its just me and mom, the confessions begin. I am not surprised to say that while parents come to me for guidance I too have learnt and continue to learn so much throughout my experience and for that I am grateful. I am writing my learnings from both the perspective of a psychologist and mother as well, as I can’t resist relating and identify so much to myself as parent, and so I will be address ‘mothers’ as ‘we’. Below is based only my honest and humble opinion, no facts or studies have been conducted but rather my clinical observations of the majority of mothers I have seen and dealt with. Here are my 3 main learning’s from working with mothers:
**DISCLAIMER: Slight information has been changed for protection of client confidentiality.**
We seek perfection
Motherhood enlarges our heart 1000 times from its original size. Instantly we have so much more love to pass around, time to give and unconditional efforts to spare. While many mothers know this, several disregard that motherhood also highlights our flaws as well, we fall back on dishes, being on time and almost always forget taking care of ourselves when really, that is part of the deal of parenting. It IS messy, it IS exhausting and it IS a lot to take it and that is OK. Fact is though, mothers are human too, we make mistakes and while we strive so hard at being the best mother for our kids, mom guilt can sometimes overcome and when it does, shake it off, cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself, you are allowed to be perfectly imperfect.
We feel like we don’t “fit in” most of the time
There is so much pressure in this idea that mothers need to have it all together and figured out. As a result of this fallacy, a hidden pretentious approach exists between mothers, one that only moms will understand. It’s almost like a coded language which sounds something like this “I spent the whole night making gluten free oat cookies for my sons to take to school, then after drop off I’m hand-making their school performance costume while I do my nails, setting up their fun activities for when they come home and of course reading to them 5 times a day to foster creativity. I just don’t understand mothers who aren’t ‘hands on’.”
Mom, you have nothing to prove. I am that type of mom that asks for help cause I can’t do it all on my own, that doesn’t give my kids lots of activities in their free time, that’s too tiered to cook so eats leftovers from yesterday and that type of mom that remembers the groceries when we have none in the fridge. This is who I am. I’m also insanely in love with my kids, kiss and hug them (sometimes forcefully) because they’re just too cute, I’m an honest friend, sometimes an emotional wreck, I keep it more real than ever and a very late-min type of person.
If someone doesn’t accept you with your flaws, they don’t deserve your beautiful qualities either. If you are surrounding yourself with friends that make you feel ashamed of how you parent or feel the need to pretend to fit in, you don’t have to put up with it, make new friends.
We all have problems, if you knew what everyone is going through you’ll really want to take your problem back.
In this day and age, it’s become so easy to ‘seem’ perfect. A plastered smile there, a ‘picture perfect’ post here, a brag about how ‘lucky’ someone may seem, and you’ve boxed them into the perfect mom, wife, parent, sister, host, business woman, cook, fashionista there is. FALSE. Perfection doesn’t exist. Everyone, yes, everyone is going through troubles, challenges and issues. Everyone does face hardship no matter how ‘perfect’ they may seem on the outside. Everyone fights their share of struggles every single day, just like us too, and most probably even harder troubles than the ones we usually worry about. The ‘perfect’ fashionista might be going through a divorce, the ‘perfect’ cook might be heavily grieving her parent’s death, the ‘perfect’ business woman might be doing her best to stay away from her abusive husband, the ‘perfect’ influencer with 300k followers might be suffering from depression and feeling like the loneliest person on the planet and the ‘perfect’ wife might be struggling with her child’s diagnosis of developmental delay. Never believe everything you see or hear, whatever everyone’s case may be, just remember, everyone is doing they best they can with the knowledge they have.
Bottom line the following summarize things I have learnt from working with several mothers this year. Mom guilt can sometimes overcome and when it does, shake it off, cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself, you are allowed to be perfectly imperfect. If you are surrounding yourself with friends that make you feel like ashamed of how you parent or need to pretend to fit in, make new friends. Finally, never believe everything you see/hear, whatever everyone’s case may be, just remember, everyone is doing they best they can with the knowledge they have. Let’s all aim for a more real, judgment-free and honest parenting journey. Until I share more, same time next year, I am here for you.