Trying To Be The Perfect Mom Will Kill Us All
By Glynis Ratcliffe
PHOTOGRAPHY BY monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images
May 12, 2017
I used to spend hours surfing Pinterest for new parenting, design and cooking ideas. I had hundreds bookmarked for my amazing future self, despite a complete lack of time to execute any of those ideas. So, these days I steer clear from Pinterest unless I’m looking for something very specific.
If only I were as successful at avoiding other social media accounts as I am (now) with that one. Social media is a double-edged sword for moms. On the one hand, digital communities help moms feel less alone in their struggles. Moms are sharing real-life stories on Facebook, Twitter, blogs — and women everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief, reading that it’s normal for kids to go through a carbs-only phase or potty-training regression.
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On the other hand, there is now an excruciating awareness of every single peer-reviewed study on the effects of screen time, red food colouring, added sugar, too much time away from parents, not enough time socializing and anything else one could study about children. There are popular blogs preaching one philosophy or another, with zero scientific backing, that are being shared like gospel. Then there’s the proliferation of celebrity moms touting impossible ideals on lifestyle websites and Instagram accounts. And let’s not forget Pinterest, everyone’s DIY source for the life they wish they had but don’t actually have time for.
[My mother-in-law] asked if I thought that moms today were more stressed out and anxious than previous generations, and I said "absolutely".
How is a regular mom supposed to keep up?
I was recently talking to my mother-in-law about my own anxiety and the guilt I often feel about my crappier stress-induced parenting moments. She asked if I thought that moms today were more stressed out and anxious than previous generations, and I said "absolutely".
I think part of it is that many of us are older — we're a generation of mothers who have lived longer before having children and who are more aware of the responsibility we bear when we bring children into this world. So many of us are trying to be the best damned mother out there, whereas a generation ago, moms were simply trying to survive, because motherhood is hard.
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That’s right, motherhood is hard. And trying to sugarcoat it with beautiful Instagram photos, Facebook updates or Pinterest-worthy birthday parties may very well be the death of us. Trying to keep our kids off screens while also attempting to bake healthy treats from scratch, drive them to umpteen extracurricular activities and somehow encourage them without tying their self-worth to achievement is exhausting.
I’m not advocating we abandon all of our standards here. I am, however, suggesting that we should all give ourselves a bit of grace in an attempt to reclaim our sanity. Yes, Whitney was right, and our children are our future, but first we need to survive raising them. So let's occasionally relax our high standards and let our kids eat chicken nuggets and tater tots in front of the TV. Then we can deep breath and take a few moments for ourselves.
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