“An exemplary or exceptional mother, especially one who successfully manages a home and brings up children while also having a full-time job”.
The reality of parenthood is overwhelming, stressful and draining. As the sleepless nights all roll into one, many parents just aim to get by. Gone are the expectations they may have had prior to parenthood, where basic tasks such as getting a load of washing into the machine or preparing a home cooked meal are considered a victory. Keeping up with the Jones has never been harder, with many parents sharing their parenting triumphs for the world to see on Facebook; “Johnny used the potty!”, “Sarah said Dad!”, “James took his first steps!” This however has magnified the struggles for parents who have difficult children or have struggled in taking to parenthood.
Mothers are expected to not only bring home the bacon, but cook it as well (and look sexy while doing so….and preferably in lingerie, make-up and heels…and then hit the gym to keep that body toned).
Modern day parents have high expectations placed on them, expected to (among other things) make, bake and spectate as well as maintain a loving and supportive relationship with their partner.
Many mothers in particular experience conflicting social expectations, often being told to stay at home, further their career and be involved in their children’s lives and after school activities. Mothers are expected to not only bring home the bacon, but cook it as well (and look sexy while doing so….and preferably in lingerie, make-up and heels…and then hit the gym to keep that body toned). -This causes many parents to spread themselves thinly, believing that this will help them to be able to achieve what they think all parents unrealistically achieve.
With these expectations, many mothers feel an immense sense of guilt. Research suggests that the pressures placed upon parents actually have the ability to cause mental and social disorders such as depression, leading to long term damage. Virtual and online peer pressure can leave parents questioning whether they are making the right decisions when raising their child, and any move considered unorthodox by others can leave the parent with not only a bruised ego but questioning their abilities. A 2012 Ohio State University study demonstrated that “parental perfectionism” often led to lower self confidence in women and greater stress in men. My friends Jessica and Anja (mothers of one), and Laura (a mother of four) recommended trusting ones intuition when it comes to parenting. Jessica said “Trust your instincts because everyone and their sister will give advice and opinions on what you’re doing wrong and what they did right”. -(Everyone is an expert on your life; it’s important to know when to draw the line and trust your gut.)
If you are looking at ways to counteract the overwhelming feelings of parenthood;
Connect with like-minded parents. This will help to develop a new normal, one that is in fact accurate to the trials and tribulations of being a parent.
Be honest with yourself/ your family, and if you have one, your partner. Are the expectations you have on your child’s upbringing realistic? Are they based around exaggerated ideals seen on social media? Are there other ways you can still provide what you need to your child in a less overwhelming manner?
Speak to a counsellor. Get support when you begin to feel overwhelmed as a parent. Realise that feelings of shame and guilt are unfair on yourself when you are doing everything you possibly can to provide for your child. Seeking help does not make you a bad parent.
Switch off from social media. Being surrounded by unrealistic expectations can leave you feeling depressed or doubting your abilities.
Take your ‘Super Parent’ cape off and put it on a hanger in your wardrobe. Or even better, toss it away! Accept that you cannot physically do everything expected of you and enjoy focusing on the most important things to you and you children. Sometimes you might have to forgo freshly baked goodies at the school picnic and four after school extra-curricular activities and instead read to your child or sit them in front of the television while you take five and refresh.