We’ve all heard stories about a legendary woman who supposedly cooks delicious organic dishes worthy of an Instagram photo, with ingredients she grew herself. They say she’s an expert in syncing her circadian rhythm with her baby’s sleep schedule, effortlessly maintains a perfect balance between family and work life, always has time to please her partner, and even studies to get a doctorate in educational psychology! Well, it’s time to set the record straight: that perfect mom doesn’t exist. She’s just a social construct.
The myth of the “perfect mother” encompasses a set of beliefs and expectations about the ideal motherhood that feeds on social pressures, unrealistic portrayals in the media, and our family experiences. The problem arises when many mothers compare themselves to this unattainable ideal and feel guilty when they realize they are just regular women.
The harm that these myths can cause is well-documented. Developmental psychologist Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan from Ohio State University revealed that mothers who guide and compare their parenting skills to the social ideal are less attuned to their children’s needs. So, worrying about not being perfect is counterproductive and only makes things more difficult.
Being a mother is a perpetual quest to find balance between joys and challenges, just like in any other human relationship. It’s also about developing a new aspect of your identity and a continuous process of getting to know each other and growing alongside your baby.
The moral of the story? Don’t worry if there are inconsistencies between your experience and the “shoulds,” “nevers,” and “always” that come with the myth of the perfect mother.
Instead of getting down on yourself when facing a new challenge, focus on your efforts and learn from the situation. That will undoubtedly set a great example for your baby!