Throughout our lives, we encounter many stages that make us feel lied to. For example, someone once told me “College is the best time of your life!” This same person also had said that high school would be the best time of my life and neither of those statements rang particularly true.
So, when it comes to motherhood, it is no surprise that people build up impossible expectations– but when we fail to meet these long-held expectations as mothers, we start to feel like we are failing somehow. Women begin to take solace in the fact that they are not the worse mother alive and, in vain, attempt to point out the flaws in other moms to mask the ways that they think they are failing. But this is a cycle that needs to end, and the first step of ending the cylce is to address some of the parts of motherhood that are total lies.
Lie #1: You will, 100%, love every single second with your baby, and only bad mothers get frustrated with their children or babies.
This is perhaps the biggest lie that women today are told. We see moms on TV who never are frustrated, who never have applesauce in their hair or look like they might snap any second. Those TV moms “have it all.” But you know what? Those TV moms aren’t real.
What is real is the fact that you might be going days without a full night’s sleep, and your child will not stop screaming and crying. You might be incredibly frustrated, and that is okay. The important thing to remember is that when you are frustrated, it is completely okay to walk away and take a moment to compose yourself. Being a mom is hard work and getting overwhelmed sometimes just means that you are a human.
Lie #2: The first week home after having a baby is breeze.
Whoever started this lie, clearly never had a baby. Your body, whether you delivered vaginally or had a C-section, has just been through a MAJOR change and you are experiencing immense stress. Add a crying baby on top of that and prying well-wishers and you have a recipe for a rough week.
There also still seems to be a stigma around post-partum depression, which can lead a lot of moms to feel just plain bad and afraid to ask for help– especially right after they have the baby. Lets call a spade a spade and just admit it– the first week home is rough.
Lie #3: You’re a bad mom if your child isn’t on a gluten free, vegan diet.
Raising your child to learn good eating habits is important. Raising them to choose colorful fruits over colorful candy is what I consider a win. But, if your child is caught with a French fry in her mouth, you are not a bad mom. Kids can be incredibly picky eaters, so sometimes it is a win if they eat more than one bite of anything at all.
Still, there seems to be this shaming that happens with moms. It is like a contest: “Oh I only let my daughter eat quinoa for breakfast.” or “Oh I would NEVER let my child drink more than half a cup of juice a day.” Meanwhile, you feel terrible because your daughter is three and going through a major “decaf coffee” phase (which is actually just whipped cream and milk in a Starbucks cup to match yours), and even though she eats nothing but fruits and vegetables, you realize that a three year old with a Starbucks cup is frowned upon. But guess what? You still are not a bad mom.
Lie #4: Your birth plan is the most important thing ever and any deviation is the end of the world.
Having a birth plan is a great idea– it can solve some of your anxieties about giving birth and if it all goes as planned, can be a great thing. But sometimes, your baby doesn’t care about your birth plan. You child may be breech or you the cord might be wrapped around their neck and they need an emergency C-section. The important thing to remember is that not matter how you give birth, you still did it and you still have a beautiful baby at the end. Dwelling on the things that happened that made you unable to stick to the plan doesn’t help you in the long run, really.
If you have to have a C-section, the good news is that you can try a “Natural” or “Gentle” C-section so that you can still get that much needed bonding time with the baby.
Lie #5: You have to do it all, and have it all.
Since when did “having it all” become such a big thing? Women can do anything we put our minds to, but when it comes to having children, it is okay to need to take some time away from other routines so that you can settle into your new role as a mother. That doesn’t mean that you don’t still “have it all” or that you have any less, it just means that you know your priorities. By the same token, if you love being a career woman and you can juggle your family, your career and all of your other demands without needing to drop something, power to you! The beautiful thing is: you can do whatever you want and shouldn’t be judged for what you have or what you do.
But lets get back to Having it All. “Having it all” implies that you have the perfect husband, the perfect children, the perfect home (which is ALWAYS spotless and ready for company to come over), the perfect job, the perfect car– just the perfect life. That all sounds great– heck, I would love to have all of that! But that isn’t really practical or real. And once you have it all, there becomes an immense pressure to KEEP it all. So instead of focusing on “having it all”, we should start by focusing on having what we need and want from life. Do you have a happy child? A spouse who loves you? Food on the table? Then congratulations, you have it all! All of the other stuff is secondary.
So, next time you are scrolling through Facebook and seeing posts like “Just went for a 9 mile run before the baby woke up! Now off to gluten-free-mommy-and-me hour!” just remember, you are doing a great job. Whether you are in yoga pants, pajama pants, or professional work pants, you are killing it at this mom thing.