At some point after having my first baby, I felt a heavy pressure to be the perfect super-mom. I’m not entirely sure where the pressure came from, perhaps because many of my friends were first-time moms and we were all aiming for our too-high expectations of what stay-at-home motherhood meant. The strive for perfection may have been exacerbated by the ability of fellow moms to post photos of the adorable kids, happy families, perfectly healthy lunches, and perfectly groomed selves on Facebook. Surely, the never-ending pins of perfection on Pinterest cemented these expectations. Regardless of where, why, and how this expectation came to be, I was definitely suckered into the unrealistic black hole of Supermom.
I busted out my label maker and bought cute baskets to maintain Pinterest-worthy closets; I dressed my daughter in cute outfits that coordinated with her blanket (and pacifier – oh yes I did); I did my best to actually get a shower and put on normal-people clothes. I put on a smile and tried to “enjoy every minute” knowing that my little girl would be “grown before I knew it!” Meanwhile, I had a nagging thought in the back of my head… how in the world am I going to keep this up for the rest of my life?! Surely, this was how life as a new mom was supposed to look, right? Right?! Lucky for me, I got a valid excuse to let it go.
When my daughter was six months old, I found out I was pregnant with baby #2, and in the ensuing weeks of exhaustion, nausea, and moodiness I decided that Supermom I was not and Supermom I no longer wanted to be. I just needed to keep my baby girl alive, my soon-to-be baby healthy, and me at least a little sane. No more striving for some ideal that I thought I “should” be. I’m not a Supermom; it is what it is. If someone didn’t like that, well, it had nothing to do with anyone else.
Now, approximately seven years later, we (moms in general) have swung to the opposite extreme of expectations. I have recently come across several blogs shouting the importance of “I’m messy and you should be too!” All of a sudden (or maybe it’s been a gradual shift and I’m just more aware of it now) there seems to be a push to strive for a chaotic, messy, and slightly disgruntled attitude about motherhood. While letting go of the desire to present our lives as similar to Pottery Barn Kids perfection as possible, there seems to be pressure to now participate in the “My Life is More of a Hot Mess Than Yours” competition.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love love love the idea of mothers having the freedom to be genuine. To embrace who we are as women, mothers, and wives… the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful… is the best thing we can do for ourselves and each other. I love the acceptance of the messy side of motherhood as I definitely land on the chaotic side of the motherhood spectrum. The problem I do have with this pendulum swing from perfection to hot mess, is the judgments that seem to be attached to both extremes. Now that we have finally seemed to recognize and accept that not all moments of motherhood are wonderful and delightful, we have also begun to shun those mothers who do actually celebrate the moments that are “perfect.”
For example, if a crafty mom sends her child to school on Valentine’s Day with perfectly perfect valentine’s for the rest of the kids, another mom is ranting about how over-the-top it is. If a mom chooses to prioritize a clean, tidy, and well-decorated home, she’s labeled as disingenuous and her priorities skewed. If a mom cuts her child’s sandwich into a fun shape and makes fruit art at lunchtime, she’s deemed to be one of those moms…. “Too much time on Pinterst.” Heaven forbid a stay-at-home mom shows up at school drop off at 8am in non-yoga pants…. most likely she will receive a few glares and strange looks from fellow moms who chose not to get dressed up for school drop-off.
So where does that leave us?! Well, technically right now, it leaves us with me being judge-y about other moms being judge-y about other moms just doing their thing. That’s a whole lot of judge-y. And that’s NOT the point.
The point is….. as women and mothers…. “IT IS WHAT IT IS.”
Whether or not your house is messy, should not reflect on anyone but yourself. If it’s tidy, great. Cleaning is obviously important to you. If it’s not, great. Cleaning is obviously not your top priority. IT IS WHAT IT IS. If you go to a friend’s house and it’s a mess, embrace it. Who cares?! The fact is, it has nothing to do with you. If your friend’s house is tidy, embrace it. Who cares? The fact is, it has nothing to do with you. The same goes for the mom who has the craftiest invitations and the mom who gives the plainest store-bought ones; the mom whose child could be a model for Gap Kids and the mom whose child is wearing the same cowboy boots every single day; the mom whose house is well decorated with throw pillows and art, and the mom whose house is well decorated with toys and laundry. IT IS WHAT IT IS, and it has nothing to do with anyone else.
Let’s stop judging…. Whether it’s the good, the bad, the ugly or the beautiful. If you see a mom do something you think is amazing, give her a compliment instead of making a snide comment, “Ooooh, don’t you always do just the craftiest thing?! Of course you would make us all look bad!” That’s really not a compliment and there’s no good reason to make another mom feel bad for doing something great. If you are a mom who happens to be able to do some of those extra-fancy things, I encourage you to make sure you are only doing it for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of your family… it shouldn’t be about what other people will think of you or the expectations you think they have for you.
So… if another mother isn’t quite living up to your standards (whether they are high or low), try to remember… IT IS WHAT IT IS and it has nothing to do with you.