Calling all moms!!! I bet if I took a poll today to ask if you were a perfect mother, almost 100% of you would say no. I also bet that if I took a poll to ask if you know a perfect mother, practically 100% of you would say yes. How can we all feel so imperfect but see perfection in mothers all around us?
The Myth of the Perfect Mother
There is such an illusion about being a perfect mother. But in reality, no one is perfect at motherhood. It started in the 1950s with June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver) on TV. June dressed impeccably and always had a beautiful dinner on the table when her husband got home at 5 p.m. Her boys caused mischief in the neighborhood and at school, but any trouble caused was always resolved by the end of those 30 minutes. To the untrained eye, June Cleaver seemed like the perfect mother.
Back then, mothers only had TV to compare themselves to other mothers. Carol Brady (The Brady Bunch), Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show), and Donna Stone (The Donna Reed Show) were all characters created to epitomize the perfect mother. Before the internet existed, TV created an idealistic image of motherhood.
We still have TV cultivating an image of a perfect mother. Have you met Rebecca Pearson (This Is Us), Kristina Braverman (Parenthood), or even Beverly Goldberg (The Goldbergs)? But I think what differentiates today’s TV families from the 1950s is that producers and writers are not afraid to show a glimpse of imperfection or chaos. Even Rebecca Pearson has flaws!
Social Media Perpetuates the Myth
I would venture to say that social media is today’s primary culprit in creating the illusion of a perfect mother. Mommy influencers abound. And I applaud those who show what real life with children looks like. So many moms, though, show only the highlight reel of their life. And it’s important to remember that is just what it is – a highlight reel. They may have the most perfectly curated and posted mommy and me photoshoot in their story, but behind the scenes, that toddler might have thrown the biggest tantrum putting on that outfit.
As a mom, I’ve struggled with insecurity a lot, stemming from seeing the “perfect image” of moms on social media. One of the biggest motherhood lessons a friend shared with me was not to be afraid to mute or unfollow anyone at any time if they don’t serve you. It was like she permitted me to unfollow everyone that fueled my insecurities (as a mom or otherwise). From then on, I stopped letting people I didn’t know influence me. And I focused on creating authentic connections with moms that I trusted.
Build Real Friendships With Real Moms
Finding a group of other moms with whom you can be honest and open is important. I happened to build those relationships online in a small group of moms who all have children around my son’s age. I can be vulnerable without judgment within that group of women. I’ve come to trust many of them as some of my best friends. You might find connections with other moms in a group online, through your child’s daycare class, or perhaps at a kid’s activity such as music class or gymnastics.
Your mother, mother-in-law, or another mother figure in your life may also be a great resource for you. While raising kids in 2021 is far different than in the 80s and 90s, the trials and tribulations of motherhood are consistent throughout the generations. Influenced by social media or not, every mother (young or old) can relate to the loneliness and isolation of being a new mom, the frustration of being a toddler mom, and the fear of the unknown as your children become school-aged.
Let Go of the Illusion
The bottom line is that there is no perfect mother. Imperfection is part of the adventure of motherhood. If you get bogged down and frustrated by seeing seemingly perfect mothers out and about, it is time to reset your expectations. Muting or unfollowing triggering social accounts is a great place to filter out expectations versus reality. Also, seek out your mom tribe. Whether it is a small group of close girlfriends, a Facebook mom group, or mothers, you look up to in your own life. This tribe must be as open and honest with you as you are with them. They are a great sounding board and can help keep your expectations in check.
Keep all of this in mind when you get overwhelmed with motherhood! It’s so easy to get drawn into social media and forget what reality looks like. Remember that perfection in motherhood is just an illusion! You are the most perfect imperfect mother to your child(ren).