Dear Mother Who Is Trying to Do It All,
You are an amazing mother and person. You are not June Cleaver, effortlessly gliding across your perfectly waxed kitchen floor, freshly baked cookies in hand, sporting high heels, pearls, and an impeccably ironed apron. Nor are you Peggy Bundy, lounging on the couch watching endless TV while smoking and eating bonbons. You are a real person doing the best you can to meet the impossible standards society (and ourselves) have set.
Motherhood and the environment in which we are raising our children has dramatically changed in the last several decades. Many of us are undertaking this daunting task without the support of family around; we are creating our own villages. The expectations of what mothers provide has also changed. In the 1950s only 19 percent of mothers of school-age children worked outside the home. Today that number is 70 percent percent. However, there is constant pressure to blend these two ideologies. On one hand, mothers are supposed to embody both emotional and financial independence, be hard working, determined, and educated, and flaunt a physique maintained by weekly (daily!) visits to the gym, yoga, or with a personal trainer. On the other hand, mothers are also supposed to offer emotional, mental, and physical support to our offspring, be neither helicopter parents nor too hands off, create healthy and balanced meals in our clean and organized kitchens, and ensure our children are neither overscheduled nor under-stimulated. Trying to be this contemporary women and mother is exhausting and, quite frankly, impossible.
So today I invite you to reflect on all your amazing accomplishments! Many of you have created another human being, carried and birthed that person, and are lovingly raising that child to the best of your ability. You are offering all the love and guidance that you can muster, and even that will vary from day to day. Next time your inner critic or the voices of people around you start to criticize or judge your mothering, please remember you can only do what you can do. There is no script to follow to help you get everything neatly and humorously tied up at the end of the day. You are just one person. As you lay down to sleep, please remind yourself that you are an amazing mother and person.
Debra Flashenberg is the founder and Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center. She is a certified labor support doula, Lamaze Childbirth Educator, and certified prenatal yoga instructor. She is continuously in awe of the beauty and brilliance of birth and is the proud mother of her son, Shay and daughter, Sage. Visit prenatalyogacenter.com for more info!