“What happens when we put too much pressure on mothers?”
Australian author Constance Hall, known for dropping serious truth bombs about motherhood, just dropped another one. Her recent post about how hard it is for modern moms to actually enjoy their children really hits home. Her words are a reminder that things are a lot different now than they were for our moms.
After having one baby (Hall has four children), she remembers asking her dad how the hell her grandmother did it with 11 kids. Yes, 11. Her father’s response was spot on and she shared the wise sentiment on Facebook.
“My dad responded that she wasn’t given half the pressures I was,” Hall writes.
“She didn’t have to go to the bank, the supermarket everyday, she wasn’t expected to look a million bucks straight after birth, and she never put pressure on her kids to have reached all of their milestones by the age of three weeks, have the house clean and own a Thermomix,” Hall writes. “She just hung out with her kids and enjoyed them.”
So true. If we weren’t so bombarded with societal and cultural expectations of what a perfect woman, wife and mother should be, we could breathe a damn minute. If we weren’t pressured to feel like we have to do a fuck-billion things for our kids, for our home, for our communities, and at work – we could actually enjoy our kids. Like really enjoy them.
“So how do we do it, with all of the pressure we are put under?” Hall asks. “Well a lot of us don’t actually enjoy our kids, we are only half present for them all of the time due to the constant pressure to have everything perfect.”
Ouch. I admit I’m half-present sometimes, and it sucks.
In what might be the most relatable itemization of motherhood and womanhood pressures, Hall lists all the ways she feels pressured, “To go to the gym, answer that email, pay that bill, cook that organic kale, blend it, get it into a patty so no one knows it’s kale, get to the doctors…. The washing! Petrol in the car…. colour your god dam greys! Make the kids lunches cos if you order them again you will be JUDGED!”
She’s exactly right. Honestly, we can’t win. Society says moms should take time to look and feel great. Go to the salon! Get that hair colored! Get that mani-pedi! Wait, but don’t bring your kids with you. Not when the sitter cancels, not when your partner works late, not ever, because what kind of selfish and vain mom are you?
The same could be said of moms staying fit or working outside of the home or a million other things we might pursue. Society encourages moms to do things and then, lobs criticisms about what kind of mother you are one way or the other.
All of this is noise and it’s shitty for everyone involved.
In Hall’s post she recognizes this, and touches on something very important about the chaos that plagues modern mothers: it’s taking quality time away from our kids. She came to the epiphany while participating in a listening exercise with adults.
“We partnered up and told a story; halfway through the story our partners were ordered to stop listening. They looked away, yawned, preoccupied their minds, replied to an email while we were telling them something we believed interesting.
“And guess how it made me feel? Boring, embarrassed for not being able to interest anyone, unworthy, and insignificant. Is that what this busy life is making my kids feel?”
Ugh, not good. So what can moms do to stop this cycle of pressure and guilt? Let that shit go and keep the eye on the prize: loving your kids.
“Today I woke up with a desire to take a deep breath and let it all go, I don’t really care about the new blinds I had ordered or making the house decent so that my mates don’t think I’ve lost the plot, ” Hall writes.
“But I really care about my time with my kids and how they feel about themselves.
“And I’m not going to let outside pressures and ‘Super mum’ ideals take that away from me.”
Because the truth is our kids don’t care if we’re super mom, they just care that we’re their moms, and that we’re there. Truly, there.