In a recent coaching session with a client, we talked about the pressure we feel when our family says things like: “my kids never acted that way” or “when I started trying, I got pregnant on the first try.”
I suspect as women move further away from intense periods of their motherhood, they’ll often reflect on all of the wonderful times versus how hard it was when in the daily grind. Maybe this is why they forgot that time when their child had a raging, embarrassing tantrum in the middle of the grocery store.
We know our family loves us, but when they say things like this, it does not feel helpful or supportive to our current experience as mothers doing the best we can. It leaves us feeling judged and inadequate.
These remarks are also born from societal pressures that expect mothers to be perfect. These women were held to very high standards, so it’s programmed into them. However, leaning into this same perfectionism is damaging because it keeps mothers stuck in a cycle of low self-esteem and anxiety.
I LOVE “The Perfect Mother” skits SNL does every Mother’s Day and was reminded of this again last week when they aired a new one. Whoever came up with the idea was definitely a mother, and using satire to bust the myth of family revisionist history is brilliant. My favorite skit in this series features Emma Thompson.
Next time someone says something along these lines to you, I encourage you to stop them and challenge them to think if that statement is true. Or, at the very least, let them know sharing this commentary is unhelpful.
If you feel the urge to make this type of statement to someone, shift your thinking and offer to lend your help and support instead.
There is no such thing as the perfect mother.