On Sunday at a women’s meeting at Church, we had a discussion on Motherhood and why motherhood matters. It wasn’t long until I retreated into my own reverie. I’m sure others were too because it wasn’t long until those in the room started thinking and commenting about what they could have done differently to be the “ideal” Mother. I began thinking if only… I had more time, less work, less children, older children, less distractions, more help, more money, more support…[add in your descriptive term of choice], then I could be the “ideal” Mom.
What is the ideal Mom and what is keeping us from feeling like we’ve achieved it? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I will try to tackle it a little bit over the next month.
Mostly, I feel like we care more about being the “ideal” mother than our kids do. They just love us, how we are, flaws and all. We spend so much time worrying about how we could be better or more like [so and so], we forget to be in the moment with them and truly see ourselves the way they do. What message do we send to them when we show them through that who we are as Mothers is simply not enough.
What Does Ideal Mean?
Comparing Ourselves to Others
I’m not sure why women do this, but we often compare our worst with our other female counterparts’ best. We think they are ideal and we are not. Social media plays into this quite a bit, but we did it well before social media was in the picture. There’s always that family at church with the perfect kids wearing the perfect clothes while having the perfect hair sitting next to their perfect parents who hold hands and hug constantly gazing up into each others eyes. This was the family I always wanted when I was growing up, but not what I got (and I’m ok with that). I was convinced I could conjure up this ideal life with my own children and husband. Not so. I consider it a successful Sunday if no one fights over bathroom time, one child has their hair done, and no one has thrown up on me that day. Which situation is ideal? Who decides what is ideal? Is ideal impossible or unchangeable (for example, once I’ve reached the ideal will I be satisfied or will I want more)?
I’m not saying I don’t try to have that “ideal” I once wanted, I just never quite get there. I don’t necessarily think the ideal is impossible, but why can’t I achieve it?
I once had a good friend tell me she hated coming over to my house because it was always clean and it made her feel bad about herself. That comment actually really hurt my feelings, because first of all, my house is not always clean – that’s an impossible standard with 4 young children. And second because it made me feel like she couldn’t relate with me and judged me unfairly. So unfair, that I had to look within myself and see that I do it too… all the time! We all have different strengths, different weaknesses, different circumstances, pasts, and personalities. We can’t be compared because we are different! This lady’s house was clean sometimes and sometimes messy. My house was clean sometimes and sometimes messy. It’s reality.
Read this article if you struggle with comparing yourself to others. There is lots of helpful and practical advice in it for women.
Please post a comment if you have anything to add or would like to start a discussion on this topic. I will try to continue it in the future!