This is a post that has been on my mind and heart for some time and I felt like I needed to get it out. No one can quite prepare someone for motherhood. It’s definitely a learn as you go kind of job where you think you have the hang of it and then everything changes. As my kids have gotten out of the baby stage and into the preschool years I have noticed the guise of perfectionism in motherhood. It’s something we all do. We all put on this show that we have it all together and that we are the perfect moms. In reality, I feel like most of us are drowning in expectations.
The Guise Of Perfectionism In Motherhood
When Liam was born I felt like I was thrown into a job I didn’t have the qualifications for. I babysat and nannied for over a decade and still when I was handed this tiny 7 lb human I carried for 9 months I thought to myself “how can they just let me have him with no experience??” It’s kind of like being thrown into brain surgery when you never went to medical school, you don’t feel like you’re ready to be in charge of the procedure.
Something I noticed quickly was that motherhood has a LOT of expectations. We are expected to raise these tiny perfect humans, with perfect clothes, and shoes, and perfect athletic abilities, and cognitive and social skills, and in reality the pressure gets to you real quick. Liam’s first year I wanted everything to be perfect: I wanted perfect family photos, and perfect holiday cards, and perfect pumpkin patch pictures. I remember taking Liam to the pumpkin patch at 8 months old. I was dead set on getting our holiday card pictures that day. I set him down in the hay by the pumpkins and he screamed his head off. Our holiday cards were still cute but I felt so disappointed.
Then his first birthday came around and I basically killed myself to have this picture-perfect party for a child who would never remember it. It was wonderful and perfect but I think he would have been just as happy with a cupcake and just us.
Charlotte came into the world right before Thanksgiving 2019. If you do the math she was only a few months old when the pandemic hit. All the ideas and plans I had for her first year were gone. We were going to go do all the things I didn’t do with Liam because I struggled with such horrible PPA (postpartum anxiety) that leaving the house alone most of his first year was something I could not do. When her first birthday approached I was devastated I couldn’t throw the huge party I had planned. It was almost as if God was like “yeah I am not letting you do this to yourself again, she’s fine with cupcakes and just you.” You know what? She was. She had no clue it was her birthday and the backyard party with just immediate family was fine.
All this to say, as mothers we are given the most impossible expectations to live up to. We have to have the perfect matching holiday pajamas, and the perfect back-to-school photos. We have to do ALL THE THINGS for every single holiday and milestone or we feel like failures. It’s exhausting. Truly. I love my children and I want to do all the things and have all the memories for them but at what point do we collectively as mothers say “enough is enough.” It’s OK if your perfect fall photos are a fail. It’s OK if your child is 2 and not talking. It’s OK if your child doesn’t start to walk until 19 months. Social media has ruined milestones for us because we are so caught up in what everyone else is doing and what our children are not doing.
The guise of perfectionism in motherhood has gotten so beyond out of control and honestly, I am not different because I only post the good moments. I only post the perfect first day of school pictures and not the tantrums and bribes to get them. I only post the beautiful holiday photos and not the arguments that took place 5 minutes before.
When you scroll through social media and you start to feel that tinge of guilt that you didn’t have a first day of school-themed charcuterie snack board for your kids remember that you’re the perfect mom for YOUR kids and even if you don’t make every single milestone Instagram worthy you’re still wonderful.
How do you feel about the guise of perfectionism in motherhood??