I Stopped Trying To Be The Perfect Mom
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I am currently taking a break from it for the month. In all honesty - and Instagram is not the full blame here - it was making me miserable. As hard as I tried to fight against it, I started comparing myself and my life to others - especially other moms.
Especially to “perfect moms.”
This mom has her kids on an all organic diet. That mom seems to be put together all. the. time. That mom’s house seems to always be spotless. This mom looks like her toddler actually lets her sleep. That mom has a bangin’ body. This mom is #flawless and I bet she woke up like that. That mom seems to always have the sweetest date nights with her man. And this mom’s business is booming.
To be clear, almost all of the moms I follow don’t try to put perfection out there. And I know logically that none of these mamas’ lives are perfect, and that they have struggles just like everyone else. But it can be so hard to not feel like I have to have all of my stuff together and be the perfect mom, too. Especially when my personality and default is to try to do it all and to do it all perfectly (my Enneagram is Type 2w1 aka The Helper with the drive toward the perfection of Type Ones).
With the combination of my personality type and me comparing myself to others on social media, I put this pressure on myself to be the perfect mom (and wife). Even before Eli was born, I vowed that I would:
have an unmedicated natural childbirth
have Eli in cloth diapers only
never let Eli have screen time
maintain a spotless home
cook all of our meals and they would be completely healthy
continue to take care of my appearance (hair, nails, makeup, clothes)
succeed at being the best wife ever!
The list could seriously go on and on. From day one I tried to do all of that, and I believe that’s also part of the reason why I developed postpartum anxiety. And while the hardest part of postpartum anxiety went away after a couple of months, I continued to suffer from it (in a very mild sense) until about last month because I seriously tried to do it all and with no help.
I would try to take care of Eli, while doing my virtual assistant work, while also trying to make sure that our home was immaculate and that our healthy dinner was on the table in time for when Toby arrived home from work. Then, I would stay up late at night to finish work or catch up on what I didn’t get done. This led me to be extremely exhausted, prone to getting sick, feeling like a failure, and resenting my family.
The pressures I put on myself to be the perfect mom caused me to stop being grateful for this wonderful gift of my little family, and to start being miserable. I went from being grateful for the miracle of finally having a baby to feeling completely overwhelmed and burdened. Some days I truly sat back and asked myself, what the heck did I get myself into?!
That sounds so horrible to admit, but I’m done pretending that motherhood is always roses and sunshine. Sure, motherhood is one of the biggest blessings and gifts God has given me, but it’s so hard some days. And I honestly made it harder by not being honest with myself and others by trying to act like I was Super Mom and that nothing could bring me down.
So last month, I decided to cut the crap and be honest. I am not Super Mom. I am not perfect. I am not meant to do and be all the things. I can’t do and be all the things. So I’ve let some things go and I am continuing to let things go day by day. I no longer strive for perfection.
Let me show you what that looks like for me right now:
Taking a break from Instagram and unfollowing people who make me feel inadequate, envious or uninspired.
Stop trying to live up to the impossible standards that myself and society has put upon me, and to stop feeling guilty about that.
Letting go of my YouTube channel. As much as I want to help mamas out there be able to work at home and be there with their littles, I have too much on my plate right now to devote to coming up with content, filming, editing and all the things that come with being on YouTube. Maybe I’ll be able to come back to it, but for now, it’s on hold indefinitely.
I’ve accepted that my home will not be 100% as clean as I want it to be 24/7, and that there are more important things to focus on right now. I read a quote in this book last month that stood out to me: “It’s possible for a mom to be more worried about the stains on her couch than the soul of her son...” Wow!
I am more honest and vocal about what I can and cannot do, which leads me to ask and accept help more. Seriously, we moms were never called to do it all on our own. It really does take a village to raise our littles. Strive to "do the work of one and not hold yourself to the standard of 10."
It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve taken off that heavy and burdensome Super Mom cape, but let me tell you: I feel SO much better and I’m starting to enjoy motherhood. Sure, there are definitely still hard days, and days I feel like I am failing at everything, but I give myself grace. And sure, I still 100% strive to be an intentional mom, but that means focusing on what’s truly important.
I didn’t get to that pile of laundry that’s been sitting on the couch all week? That’s okay because Eli and I had lots of quality time this week. Eli had more screen time than I’d like today? That’s okay because I was able to finish my work so that I can give him undivided attention tomorrow. I had a complete mommy meltdown and yelled at everyone today? That’s okay, because there’s always tomorrow.
Why am I sharing this?
Because I think there are some other mamas out there feeling the same.
You’re comparing yourself to other moms on social media. You’ve bought into the lies that you have to be the perfect mom, or Super Mom, and do all the things. You aren’t enjoying motherhood.
And I want to let you know that you aren’t alone. I want to remind you that no one has their stuff completely together. And I want to encourage you that if you do let some stuff go, and only focus on the truly important things, that the world will not fall apart.
That’s the biggest part right there that I have to remind myself of daily: the world is going to continue to spin if I go ahead and let go of some burdens. The world isn’t going to fall apart, sis. And those other moms who we fear might be judging us are either secretly struggling like we are, or are honestly too busy to think (or care) about how we are parenting.
So breathe, mama, and unburden yourself. Stop being the perfect mom and just be the happy, intentional mom.
Next week, I’ll be sharing some tips on letting go and unburdening ourselves. But in the meantime, let’s chat: do you feel the pressure to be the perfect mom? What are some expectation you and/or others have put on you?