(A post I wrote almost 3 years ago, and I don’t think I ever posted it anywhere- it was written as an “audition” for a writing gig I didn’t get. But, I offer it here to you all today. Please go tell some mom you know (or yourself, if it applies) that they’re a fantastic mom. Say it with feeling.)
I am a fantastic mom. I am a fantastic mom. I am a fantastic mom.
I keep repeating this over and over to myself in the hopes that when it comes down to it, I’ll believe it. I’m going to be a mom in approximately 11 weeks, and while I think I’ll do a pretty good job, at this point I have to wonder if I’m going to keep that opinion. You see, every mom that I know, every single one, thinks that she’s a bad mom. Those that stay at home, those that work, those that are taking care of other people’s kids as well as their own. Every single one, at some point in my hearing, has voiced the opinion that somehow she’s doing something wrong.
And why? These are women whose kids are bright and vocal, kind and thoughtful. Women who manage the juggling act of getting laundry, housework, and cooking done, while still managing to get the kids out to play or settled down for a nap. If they work outside the home, they still somehow figure out how to make each child feel loved and cherished. They manage these huge feats, and somehow, they feel like they don’t measure up.
And I know the thought isn’t just in their heads, there are always plenty of people around to judge someone else’s mothering. Why is this ok? For some reason people think they can accurately know how someone is doing in this huge, intricate world of being a mom, based on just a small amount of observation. Motherhood is one of the only jobs where the default gauge of how you’re doing rests solely on someone else’s actions. And not just anyone—your mothering skills are judged on how a child, still learning how to behave and control themselves, acts like an adult. If a child hits someone, or screams in the supermarket, refuses to be potty trained, or doesn’t want to do their homework, their mother must be a bad mom.
But it’s not even just that. If a mother works outside the home, decides to breastfeed, decides not to breastfeed, sleep trains, doesn’t sleep train; someone will tell her she’s wrong and label her a bad mother. Is it any wonder all the moms I know are second guessing themselves at every step?
I think what’s going on is a problem with respect. On some level, people realize that the role of motherhood is one of the most important in the world. There’s respect for the power and influence that mothers wield over their children, otherwise why would everyone worry so much about whether or not they’re performing up to a standard? What seems to be lacking is a respect for actual mothers’ efforts. These women are pouring their heart and soul into their work with their children, because they know how important it is. In jobs outside the home, workers are evaluated on their work ethic and their performance. They get positive reinforcement all the time. Moms work their butts off, but there’s no honest evaluation process to gauge how they’re doing, just the voices all around and in their own heads telling them that they must be doing something wrong.
I see it happening all around me, and have no reason to believe I won’t hear those voices too. So in preparation I just keep repeating, I am a fantastic mom. I am a fantastic mom. I am a fantastic mom.