Giving up the ghost of the Ideal Mother on

In a conversation with a woman friend recently, she blurted out that she wished she could be done with all the burdens of being a mother. She wants her life and her time back. She wants to feel entitled to say no to the demands of mothering and yes to herself. And I felt what is very familiar and similar to this.

We’re trying to outdo the parenting job that our (divorced) parents did and this is where our expectations of what a “good” parent enters the exhausting and unreasonable equation. My single working Mom hadn’t been there to cook me breakfast or be home when I got home from school. So of course these are things I say “sure” to. Even though my children aren’t asking me and I’m asking these things of myself. Because no one but us would ask us to do all that for the sake of our kids. Only we would.

Giving up the ghost of the Ideal Mother on

Somehow we’ve formed this ideal edict that sacrificing our needs for the “good” of the children was the way “better” parenting works. Except it’s not. In fact, it’s effects are the opposite if you wanted to model self-compassion and a reasonable life expectations to your children. You’ll end up raising mini-martyrs if you model ignoring yourself.

In all the self-help manuals for motherhood, I don’t remember reading any chapters on how to neglect yourself to be a better parent. The resentment that many of us have begun to feel around motherhood is really us telling ourselves that we feel resentful of our ridiculous ideals but we don’t know how to back out of them. Balance requires equal amounts of energy dispersed. I won’t mind making those blueberry buttermilk pancakes this weekend if I also know I’ve got a special lunch and a wine-tasting book ending those pancakes for this coming Mother’s Day weekend. Woo hoo!

Happy Mother’s Day to All of you Mamas out there for

keeping all of us alive and happy!

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  1. This is my own philosophy as well, but I still get the guilties now and then. Thank you for a good read. The post fits into my Same Moon Shining explorations…

  2. Love your perspective, Shalagh. I’m also trying to fit self-care in, while making sure my son’s meals are healthy, he plays in nature, he gets to swim practice…it does get exhausting. Self-care as a daily idea is something I’ve been trying on…for me, it’s small steps to breathing freer. p.s. Is that a color-changing car? We have those!!

    • Standards on that coast may be higher but I’m sometimes quite ok with frozen pizza and a DVD. Funny thing is, kids don’t care. They just want our undivided attention for like 13 minutes and then they’re good with whatever. For me, I had to start prioritizing regular pedicures and eyebrow waxing to let myself know I was worth it and I could afford it. The car is Finn McMissile from Cars 2. No color changing but that sounds cool! Thanks and Happy Mommy’s Day to you Blair!

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