The more time I spend in this world as a mother the more I realise that we set these impossibly high standards for ourselves; standards of what motherhood is and how it looks to be “good” at it. We use all sorts of ways to create these standards and most of these things we have very little or no control over.
I will have a drug free natural birth.
I will breastfeed.
I won’t bribe my children.
I will never shout at my children.
I will stay home and raise my children myself.
Then we judge and beat ourselves up because we fail to live up to our own and by and large societies incredibly unrealistic expectations. We sit back and hate ourselves for letting ourselves down as things don’t go exactly as we planned. We live in the cage of our own judgement and shame because we failed to live up to some crazy, ill founded expectations. Expectations of things we invented when we had no idea what we were talking about! From these failed expectations we then allow ourselves to feel like we are failures as mothers and sometimes even as women. We tell ourselves we are not good enough and we let ourselves believe and be negatively influenced by the thought that society is judging us too.
Sometimes we don’t even do anything wrong, our bodies or things outside of our control let us down or make the way we thought things would be impossible, impractical or quite simply unsafe. We still unwaveringly judge and berate ourselves over those things too. We constantly want to explain ourselves to anyone and everyone as to why we aren’t doing things the way we “should”.
I don’t know any mother that isn’t really actually trying to do her very best for her children. None of us can get everything right all the time, that’s not realistic but instead of allowing ourselves the space to learn from our mistakes and grow into our role whilst taking the unique little creatures that we are caring for into the equation of what is best we judge and guilt ourselves into a bad place where we can’t even think about what’s best for anyone because we are so busy telling ourselves how bad we are. If this is our strategy we really are fighting a losing battle.
We may have been mistaken but we do our best. Next time we think uncharitable thoughts about what another mother is doing let’s tell ourselves that about her choices. She may be mistaken but she is doing her best.
“I failed” we tell ourselves instead of “I am human”.
“I’m not a good mother” we decide, instead of “I got it wrong but I will learn something valuable from this and grow and change things for the better from here.”
This being a mom is a tough gig, I’m going to practice more compassion and kindness toward others and myself. I know it’s what I want when my decisions aren’t perfect.