We’ve all said it. We have all uttered the words “I’m a good mom,” or perhaps we’ve encouraged ourselves to “be a good mom.” What does that even mean, to be a “good” mom? Well, it’s different for everyone, but a lot of us have found ourselves caught up in being the perfect mom, and the truth is, that’s an impossible standard! However impossible it is, it’s still an incredibly easy trap to find yourself in. Most of us become victim to it at some point whether we’re aware of it or not. But what exactly is the difference between being a good mom and being a perfect mom?
While I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers to this super complex and layered question, I do have my own experience and insights to share!
I was never one to be obsessed with perfectionism (or so I thought), so being “the perfect mom” never really appealed to me. I just wanted to be a good mom, that was all. No biggy. No need for the cookie cutter, “perfect” mom bologna…
Well that joke was on me because what I hadn’t realized was that I had my own ideas and standards of what a “good” mom was. It was programmed into me, driving, pushing, and forcing me to be a “good” mom, which of course meant being my own version of the perfect mom. This, my friends, was my way of creating absurdly high expectations and perpetuating perfectionism. I didn’t care anything about being your typical, perfect mom that was projected on TV and idolized in our culture, BUT being my version of a perfect mom was everything to me.
I had to make sure that I looked like I knew what the hell I was doing at all times. I had to be the courageous mom who always breastfed in public even when I was feeling vulnerable and wanted privacy. I had to always be head over heels for the stay at home mom gig I landed. I had to always keep my cool and manage everything myself even when my head felt like it was going to fall off from the pure exhaustion that being a new mom is. I had to stop wearing any clothes I deemed “inappropriate” for the modern, still fun, but also grownass woman I now was. I had to lose that baby weight ASAP, and portray my weight-loss journey to be mostly effortless (LIES, of course). I had to be there, kindly holding space or fixing “bad” feelings for Liam (my son) during every temper tantrum regardless of my emotional, physical, or spiritual state. I had to make sure he was eating “the best” foods all the time. I had to be present for his bedtime routine every single night, and many, MANY more “had to’s” that I am still debunking!
At the time, I was clueless about the corner I backed myself into. I wrote my exhaustion and irritability off on Motherhood. “That’s just how it is,” I told myself.
What a crock that was!
Now, just to be clear, I’m not saying that being a mom isn’t the most challenging, soul transforming thing ever (because it absolutely is), but I am saying most of us make it a hell of a lot harder with the impossibly high standards we subconsciously hold ourselves to. The standards that leave us feeling like a failure or never quite good enough. When I finally woke up and recognized that I was a slave to my own standard of “being a good mom,” AKA being the perfect mom, I felt freer and lighter than I had since before the whole Motherhood gig began. That freedom has been the gift of a lifetime and is what has led me here, sharing these 4 Truths of Modern Motherhood I discovered. These nuggets of wisdom are how I finally became my own version of a good enough mom.
Here we go…
Truth #1: You gotta get real with yourself.
Being real, or authentic, was a much easier concept to understand and embody for me when it was in regards to how I showed up as a friend, daughter, partner, etc. but I had no practice at being an authentic mom. This was new territory entirely!
Once I started to really look at how I was showing up as a mom, I realized it was time to take my son and myself off the pedestals I put us on… This meant taking my “know it all” ego out of the equation and researching. I ended up picking and choosing from an assortment of parenting styles that not only made the most sense to me but also aligned with Kyle and my’s values.
The consciousness shift that occurred allowed for a TOTALLY different parenting experience. As opposed to using all of my energy to fix my son’s feelings by either explaining why he shouldn’t reasonably feel that way (toddlers are super into reason by the way… *eye roll*) or distracting him with something else, I stopped taking his regular freaks-outs so personally. I learned to let his feelings be while offering him support and assurance that “this too shall pass,” just like I do with my clients and loved ones. Life began to flow much more fluidly after I got real and took the time to align my parenting style with our core values!
*Side note: I attribute much of this incredible energy shift to; Janet Lansbury and all of her conscious driven work on the Parent-Child relationship; the Montessori and Waldorf methods; and concepts from an awesome website that has since been taken down due to the creator being pulled in a different direction called Revolutionary Parent… Just in case you’re interested in what we adopted!*
I also began requesting and taking space when I sensed I needed it. Not in a way that’s intended to be perceived as punishment or withholding love but in a calm, self-care kind of way. I gave myself permission to ask my partner Kyle for a lot more help, like A LOT more. I stopped forcing myself to constantly entertain or play with Liam. Finally, I accepted that I no longer wanted to be a stay at home mom and got my little fella into daycare (a privilege that not everyone has, I’m well aware of). I started to become my own advocate for joy, connection, and purpose again instead of exclusively being the voice for my son. I remembered how to embrace the beauty and complexity of my humanity as opposed to shame it for not being good enough.
Truth #2: Self care is more essential than EVER.
After I opened the “get real” flood gates, I noticed how little time I took for myself. I felt immense guilt about wanting time away from my son, so I would rarely participate in anything that didn’t involve him. It took some serious digging and committed reflection to figure out where that guilt was manifesting from, and it turned out that the “mom guilt” was actually covering up a deep sense of shame. After I made the connection to shame, AKA the not good enough button, I was able to start uprooting the false programming that had me wired for severe mom shame.
I worked through the limiting beliefs that weighed me down and consciously fashioned a belief system around Motherhood that was far more empowering. It’s foundation being: self care. I learned that self care was about so much more than a girl’s night out, an occasional date night, or a bath accompanied by a glass of wine or essential oils. Don’t get me wrong, I totally dig all of those things and certainly consider them to be a form of self care, but holistic self care goes much deeper than that. It is something to be integrated and woven into our daily lives in a more subtle but much more powerful way.
Self care means taking responsibility for the balancing and nourishing of our minds, bodies, and spirits no matter how busy we are. It means setting boundaries with our children, along with everyone else. It means building an intimate and loving relationship with ourselves. It means acknowledging a busy or stressful day and allowing yourself to take a guilt free nap or lay down and watch an entire TV show in the middle of the damn day! It means choosing to live in the present moment as much as reasonably possible. It means reaching out to ask for help because we all need help every day. It means choosing to plug into your spiritual practice on the regular. It means being aware of your “self-talk” and kindly evaluating when and why it may be self-pitying or self-shaming. It means lovingly, not aggressively, holding yourself accountable to growth. It means practicing self compassion every. single. day. It means choosing to be vulnerable and to deeply connect with your surroundings. It means growing your self-awareness so that you can identify what it is you may need in a given situation to keep/get your cup full, or full-ish, because there is no one size fits all self care kit. Your self care response changes based on the situation, your energy level, your environment, and butt tons of other variables. But what self care really is, is just the expression and practice of unconditional self love, and boy is it a practice, every. damn. day! #practiceoverperfect.
Truth #3: You must continuously refocus on what really matters.
Motherhood is not about saying the perfect thing to our kids when they seek advice or never losing your temper in the heat of the moment. It’s about letting them know that while you are human and don’t have all the answers or keep cool as a cucumber under every stressful situation, you are there for them to the absolute best of your ability.
You are there to let them know they are loved. You are there to be a shoulder to cry on or cry with. You are there to show them you aren’t perfect, so they know they don’t have to be either. You are there to teach them to take responsibility for their own actions by showing them how you face the truth of your role in every situation. You are there to let them fall and experience pain, not to always save and protect them from it. You are there to show them how to get back up without shame in order to see the priceless beauty and value gained from their painful experiences.
Truth #4: Forgiveness is key.
It’s quite possibly the most challenging of all 4 Truths, rivaling self care, but that’s because the reward of achieving it is so unbelievably glorious. You may think I’m referring to forgiving all the crazy, stupid stuff your kids have done or most certainly will do, but you’d be wrong. Of course that is important, but generally speaking, it’s fairly easy to forgive our kids most of the time. We love their guts after all.
I’m talking about the kind of forgiveness that applies to everyone else in your life. Forgiving the big and small injustices from all, especially yourself, is absolutely crucial in Motherhood. Each time we truly forgive someone for whatever wrongdoing they may have committed, we grow in immeasurable ways. We are stretched to be more compassionate, empathetic, and accepting of the human condition, and those traits truly have the power to transform this world into a more peaceful and loving place. Not only do we achieve more peace and growth through the forgiveness of others and self, but we also show our children the power of letting go and moving on. Surrender and acceptance are two of the most valuable lessons we can hope to pass on to our kids. After all, they will be the ones running this planet soon enough, and just imagine if they were hardwired for surrender and acceptance as opposed to apathy and conflict. This world would most certainly be on its way to a more harmonious and love based future.
There ya have it you majestic Momma! 4 Truths to Modern Motherhood
Of course there is no one way or clear path to being a “good” mom… However, there are some Universal Truths to Motherhood, and really to humanhood, that can be applied to your life in order to be your own kind of awakened, conscious, and totally good enough mom. We will never be “perfect,” and we were never meant to be. Instead, allow yourself to be good enough. We are all on this roller coaster together sisters, so let’s vow to enjoy the ride by once and for all doing away with this silly idea that we should be perfect. Pardon my French, but fuck perfect! : ) #practiceoverperfect
Toodles for now friends,