I heard once that becoming a mother meant learning to live with your heart forever floating outside of your body. That is true in more ways than I ever could’ve first imagined. Along with the constant state of worry that we as mothers engage in as soon as we enter into parenthood, we are also expected to accomplish the impossible.
The expectations others have of us are not only completely outrageous, but absolutely unattainable. Forget “keepin’ up with the Joneses” — we’re trying to keep up with the Cleavers! Well, news flash mamas – Barbara Billingsley (the actress that played June Cleaver) spent her real life as a mom as a divorced single woman just trying to keep her head above water. Even June Cleaver could not be June Cleaver, so why should we?
As moms we are expected to take care of all of the basic needs of another human. We also must be their personal entertainers while maintaining an immaculate household free from any hazards, dirt and dust. We must teach our children perfect manners, and if they throw a temper tantrum (gasp!), we are expected to respond accordingly based on every individual onlooker’s personal discipline philosophy.
We must have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, a minivan and a sports car. We must have endless patience, never losing our tempers or raising our voices. Supper needs to be healthy, organic and never processed — oh, and it must look like it belongs on Pinterest. We must never let our kids watch TV or have any electronic devices and don’t even get me started on perfectly timed routines that are supposed to effortlessly carry us through the day.
We are expected to accomplish all this and more on little to no sleep, delirious with exhaustion, zero alone time to recharge and, more often than not, very little outside support. Oh yes, and don’t forget that picture-perfect smile so that we can post all of our wonderful little bundle’s milestones on Facebook.
So what gives mamas? Why are we feeding into this crazy perception of everything we are “supposed to be doing” and yet can never fully accomplish? What’s worse, why are we so freakin’ hard on one another and each other’s parenting choices? Aren’t we all just trying to do the best we can? Don’t we all want the best for our children?
The values I hope to instill in my child are about sportsmanship, not one-upmanship. When other people do well, I will teach him to cheer them on, not plot to take them down. When he does well, I will teach him to keep close the people that are happy for his success.
So I vow to lead by example. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little friendly competition in life. However, in the world of parenthood, it has gone too far. I’m throwing down the flag here. I surrender to the fact that I will never be the best baker at the school bake sale. I will never throw the best birthday party a 4-year-old could hope for. I will never give my child everything his little heart desires. And you know what else? I’m glad. I may not be the best mom in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of my son, I am his world. That’s good enough for me!