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