|We’ve all heard the tales about a proverbial super-woman that supposedly cooks organic and Instagram-ready gourmet food she grew herself, was innately masterful at synchronizing her circadian clock with the baby’s sleeping-and-napping schedule from day one, is able to achieve a professional-family life balance without sweating, always has time to spice things up with her partner, and effortlessly holds an honorary PhD in Psychopedagogy. Well, let us repeat this loud and clear: the “perfect mother” doesn’t exist. She’s no more than a social construct.
The “perfect mother” myth encompasses a series of beliefs and expectations regarding a motherhood ideal that’s fed by our society’s pressures, unrealistic media portrayals, and family experiences. The problem is that many moms weigh themselves against this unrealistic representation, and guilt pops up when they find themselves to be ordinary women.
The detrimental role of these myths is well documented. Developmental psychologist Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan from Ohio State University found that mothers who guided themselves by comparing their parenting skills with the social ideal were actually less attuned to their child’s needs. So, in fact, worrying about being “perfect” is simply counterproductive and ends up making things more difficult for you.
Becoming a mother is a perpetual balancing act between the joys and the struggles, just as any other human relation. It is also the development of a new aspect of your identity and a continuous process between you and your baby to get to know each other and grow together.
The takeaway? Don’t fret about the inconsistencies between your experience and the shoulds, nevers, and always of what the “perfect mother” is supposed to be. Instead of putting yourself down when struggling to meet a challenge, focus on your efforts and what there is to learn from them. Undoubtedly this can set a very good example for your child!