No one is perfect. And while this cheesy mantra is well-known and repeated profusely, we all instinctually strive for perfection, regardless of how unattainable it is. That for some reason, under a blubbering curtain of humanity, perfection is right at our core if we just try hard enough. For mothers, this disparity can be especially glaring. Being a parent catapults you into a world of getting your kids to school, cooking dinners, car seats, organizing playdates, babysitting arrangements, and raising tiny humans to full-grown adults. In this maelstrom of motherhood, the pressure is on to be the perfect mom that all children would want to have. And suddenly, small mess-ups seem like traumatic failures; demonizing ourselves for packing peanut butter, or being late to drop off, or forgetting to dress up your kid for pajama day at school.
Well, at Safe Life Network, we wanted to write every mother a letter. For Mother’s Day, here’s to all the mothers who’ve been hurt by perfection, and what it means to really be perfectly imperfect.
To the mothers who went back to work after giving birth, do not for a second feel guilty about working toward a better future for your child. You are not a bad mother for having obligations to pay bills. When it comes to balancing a career and motherhood, you often feel like you’re coming up short. But just remember, there does not have to be guilt in that. Tell your children that you love them often, and you’re doing your best to support them.
To the mothers who stay at home, you should not for a second feel inadequate. While we are living in an era where double-income households are frequent, you may feel caught in a silent war with working moms and stay-at-home moms. But just remember that it’s not a competition. Every parenting style is different, and your choices are solely yours alone. If you feel inadequate, unproductive, or guiltily overprivileged when you really are not, then it’s time to stop and look at the bigger picture. You’re a mother, and choosing to spend more time with your children is never a choice you should feel bad for.
To the mothers who like one-on-one date nights with their husband and leave their newborn with a sitter, do not feel like you’re being selfish. When you become a parent, you’re a parent for the rest of your life. Not just until the kids are eighteen. Your body changes. Your world changes. As fleeting as these solitary moments are, it’s perfectly fine to relish the time you have without your child. After all, taking some time to focus on your livelihood and happiness will have a positive influence on your parenting style.
To the mothers who feel like they just aren’t adding up, you need to know that there is no quick guide to parenting and happiness. That optimal success doesn’t rely on a Pinterest idea, or a glorified dessert table, or artificial displays of mommy dominance. That maybe, when you get mommy-shamed, it’s not a reflection of you, but rather of the shamer themselves. A great deal of bullying stems from insecurity, and perhaps the mother pointing fingers needs some help herself. If you get rid of the shame, the lies, and the feigned authenticity, you can remember what the truth looks like. You find what you are both built on. Motherhood. That’s where you find true safety, and true warmth.
To the mothers that find themselves shaming other mothers, know that you’re not that bad either. Inevitably, we all do it. Whether it’s carried through instinctual thoughts or blatant remarks, it happens. But mothers should not be pit against each other. Above all else, it’s important to know that women and mothers are the biggest allies for other women and mothers. With everyone’s experiences – successes, non-successes, blunders and all – united mothers have all the necessary tools to build each other up. Let’s start doing that.
And finally, to all the mothers, have a happy Mother’s Day weekend!