I am very lucky to be surrounded by supportive women who share the same “no holds barred” approach to discussing our parenting experiences. But I’ve heard so many stories from women about the pressures they feel in living up to the carefully constructed images that other mothers present.
You know the ones…claiming to never have sworn, or yelled, or lost their temper. Sprouting about getting a full night’s sleep every night with their newborn. Comparing the milestones of your children with theirs. Constantly posting updates on how wonderful their life is and how motherhood is a dream. These are usually the same mums that are making the judgement calls on putting your child in daycare or being a stay-at-home mum, preaching whatever opinion suits their situation and putting down anyone that does the opposite.
Ah good luck to them! If this perfect little world really does exist for them, consider them the one in a million - the winners of the parenting lottery. I’m happy for them, honestly I am! But as for the rest of them, let’s get real. You seriously have never ever, not once wanted to lock your child in a room and run out of the house screaming? They’ve never pushed your buttons so much that you’ve lost the plot and yelled ridiculous statements like “what is WRONG with you?” two inches from their face? You’ve never rewashed the laundry three times, or let dishes pile up for a week? Never sat in a corner crying wondering how you got to where you are? The statement “I’m failing” or “I totally suck at being a mum” or “I can’t do this” have never crossed your mind?
So flip it 'round and think of it a different way. Instead of comparing yourself to these women, or buying into their opinions and mind games…think about how hard it must be to be them. Imagine waking up each day and lying to yourself and everyone around you about how ‘easy’ everything is. Imagine never getting any help because no one thought you needed it. Imagine how hard they must work to ensure that their house is pristine so as to leave no hint of struggle. Imagine how difficult it must be to maintain the facade. Urgh! No thanks! I’ll take second guessing, guilt ridden, slightly lunatic, warts and all mum over that any day.
If you ARE one of these women – please stop. Women have come a long way in recent years, and a lot of them have fought really really hard to get us equal opportunities and rights. Stop sabotaging our gender! We should be banding together, not putting each other down or creating unnecessary competition and pressure. We need to support one another, prop each other up, share our struggles and celebrate our successes - together as one. It’s a modern world, there’s a lot of pressure on mums to be a lot of different things now days. Please stop adding to that pressure!
If you’re right smack bang in the middle of being dragged into this comparison game…get off the train! Now! You’re tired, you’re vulnerable, you’re susceptible – they’re preying on you! Don’t let them get their teeth in. It’s not too late! Run - run really really fast in the opposite direction. In fact, run over to Mama Pyjama on facebook – read the blogs, read the responses from readers – there’s a whole community of real, supportive, honest parents out there. Get in amongst it and save yourself the pain of trying to live up to unrealistic expectations.