Good Enough Mother doesn’t have a therapist – I have a website.
That means, by extension, all of you play a huge role in my mental health. And here you were thinking you were merely reading my blog!
So Monday morning showed up today with its big, hairy, disorganized self. I overslept and missed my workout. I was running late and, because neither kid set their alarm, they too, were running late. There were showers to get, hair to comb, clothes to find, followed by socks and shoes that could be anywhere but the closet. Oh crap, did someone say breakfast? Today it was leftover spaghetti.
Poor Casey, who is inherently organized just like her father, was hounding me all morning to make sure I wrote a check for $12.50 and completed the permission slip for the upcoming field trip. There was also the form for picture day, which is Wednesday (of course, I have yet to get any information on that from her brother, who, surprise, is more like me than his father). But the kicker was the emergency care information sheet that was supposed to be turned in when school starts. Did my kids have it on file in the school office? No. Why? Do I even need to answer that?
So it was against that backdrop that I saw on our sister site, Remotepatrolled.com this clip of comedian Bill Burr talking about women who describe motherhood as the hardest job in the world. I’ll admit it provided a much-needed laugh for me this morning.
He’s right of course, there absolutely are jobs more difficult than being a mother. Astronaut, deep-sea fisherman, coal miners just to name a few. But to Bill I would say this; in none of those jobs do you have the close contact for the amount of time with an individual that you do when you’re raising kids. You know what that means? Your screw-ups have the potential to impact someone for the rest of their life. Try to fall asleep at night with that on your brain!
The pressure we deal with comes from three main sources, kids, society and ourselves.
KIDS: From the moment they take over our wombs until they drive off to college the pressure is constant and fierce. Before they can talk, it’s the wide-eyed pleas for the newest toy or a sweet treat. When they’re babies we long for them to talk and when they finally do, we long for them to shut up. You know why? Because soon after they learn to talk, they start talking back. That gradually gets worse until they become adolescents, at which point we beg whatever alien abducted our mild-mannered, sweet child and replaced him or her with a sarcastic, eye-rolling know-it-all to please bring our baby back.
SOCIETY: This is the part that really chaps my backside. It’s the completely unrealistic expectation placed on us by society. Like the (false) idea that once we have kids it’s all about them and they should be the center of our lives. Or that motherhood is always a fulfilling experience that we will enjoy 24 and 7. Or that we should stop pursuing things that we are interested in because all of these other people take priority. No, no and no.
Yet, far too many of us buy into the complete hype that if we don’t do those things or feel a certain way then we are bad mothers. Well I call BS! Being a good mother does not mean you lose who you used to be; I would argue retaining a portion of that person makes you a better, more well rounded mother. It’s okay to say no and not feel guilty and it’s imperative that you spend time away from family, if for nothing else, then to recharge your batteries. Think of yourself as a pitcher; how can you continue to fill everyone else if you yourself are empty?
OURSELVES: Now listen to Good Enough Mother. I want you to put out of your head, every story, every movie, every preconceived notion of what you think a mother is/should be and step right on up to reality. Unless you are beating or neglecting your children, you’re probably doing a pretty good job as a mother. My own mother used to tell me that if you compare yourself to others you will always be disappointed. That is so true. So forget that your sister-in-law’s baby was sleeping through the night at three weeks and potty trained at eleven months. Forget that a certain housewife lost her baby weight in less time than it takes to bake a cake Her reality is not yours. Ask questions when you have them but listen to and trust your instincts; they will help you become the mother you were meant to be.
The motherhood stakes are high and it takes a special woman to answer that call. So thanks for the laugh Bill and reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. Good enough is just perfect.