FIGHT­ING THE MOM GUILT

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - LIND­SEY M. ROBERTS

Mom guilt — that sink­ing feel­ing that there is not enough time to do ev­ery­thing and do it well, but if you don’t you’re a mis­er­able ex­cuse for a ma­ter­nal fig­ure — is a real thing.

And it’s only got­ten worse with time. Sure, the moth­ers of the ’80s and ’90s com­pared them­selves to the supreme Martha Ste­wart, but they knew, deep down, that she had a small army help­ing her stage those cute birth­day par­ties.

The moms of the aughts and beyond, though, find points of com­par­i­son in ev­ery blog­ger and tastemaker slic­ing out the best parts of their lives for dis­tri­bu­tion on so­cial me­dia. They have a hard time trust­ing that their less-than-pictureperfect way is just fine.

“The ab­so­lute flood of in­for­ma­tion both from ex­perts and from our peers on so­cial me­dia can feel to­tally over­whelm­ing for par­ents,” says Ju­lia Bos­son, a li­censed clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist in New York City and a mom to three kids age three and un­der. “Moms very of­ten come in and tell me the pres­sure they’re feel­ing as they’re see­ing what this other per­son does” for their kids.

Bos­son, who works with pa­tients on mind­ful par­ent­ing, has a few tan­gi­ble, take-home ideas to com­bat those ugly Neg­a­tive Nan­cies in your head and ac­cept that your lessthan-per­fect par­ent­ing is just fine. Here are her sug­ges­tions. Ques­tion your ex­pec­ta­tions “Are you set­ting stan­dards that are im­pos­si­bly high, that no hu­man can at­tain 100 per cent of the time?” Bos­son asks. Ques­tion, too, whether you equate one slip-up or mom­fail with com­plete fail­ure as a par­ent. “Can you find the grey — is there some­thing be­tween per­fec­tion and ab­so­lutely abysmal fail­ure?” Bos­son asks. Treat your­self like a friend “Stop for a minute and ask your­self what would you tell a friend in that sit­u­a­tion? If this were your clos­est girl­friend or guy friend strug­gling with this is­sue, what would you say to that per­son?”

It’s un­likely you’d chew a friend out for let­ting her child watch more than two hours of screen time on a sick day. Choose a mantra Find a say­ing that res­onates with you and write it down.

“Put it on your mir­ror, put it in your cell­phone,” Bos­son says. One could be, “You can only do what you can do.” Or, “That’s enough for to­day,” for when you’re too tired to wash that last dish in the sink at night.

Re­mem­ber that so­cial me­dia isn’t re­al­ity

“A lot of times when moms are feel­ing all this pres­sure, we’re for­get­ting that we’re see­ing a very small por­tion of other peo­ple’s lives,” Bos­son says. “You see this pic­ture of this per­fect birth­day cake, but what you don’t see are the three burned cakes on the counter.”

For ev­ery per­fect fam­ily pic­ture, there are 15 out­takes of tears and boogers. Model be­ing kind to your­self “It’s very im­por­tant for a kid to see mom be­ing kind to her­self, be­ing mod­er­ate, in­stead of be­ing all or noth­ing,” Bos­son says. “And hav­ing con­fi­dence to go for­ward and trust her way even in the face of crit­i­cism or im­agery that others are do­ing things so much bet­ter than they are.” (Here’s one thing we say in our house when the kids com­plain: “The only per­fect thing is God.”)

Don’t for­get self-care and self­com­pas­sion

Let’s ban­ish that mom guilt. Let’s keep prac­tis­ing putting it down un­til we de­velop that emo­tional mus­cle me­mory.

GETTY IM­AGES/PURESTOCK

Mom guilt is a real thing, and it’s only got­ten worse with time.

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