“Normalizing the Hardships of Motherhood”

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, the day when the ideal of motherhood is celebrated.

On this day, the day after, let’s look at some reality: “Experts say the United States has the most family-hostile public policy of any developed country, and sociology professor Caitlyn Collins’ new research shows among Western industrialized nations, American mothers stand apart for their stress and feel the most acute work-family conflict.”

“Combine a lack of public policy with a culture that bullies mothers for everything from breastfeeding in public to sleep training, and the generosity of a single holiday starts to pale.”

“We celebrate moms who work to meet society’s demands, who overextend to fill in the gaps, who never cease sacrificing for those they love. But is this the version of motherhood to revere?”

These quotes stood out to me in this USA Today article, as did the following:

“People think motherhood is inherently overwhelming because we’ve made that idea seem natural,” said Virginia Rutter, a professor of sociology at Framingham State University in Massachusetts and author of “Families as They Really Are.” “We normalize the hardships of motherhood. … This is now what’s familiar.”

I definitely felt the pressure of this when I was raising my children. I knew I would never measure up. I always expected to be subjected to criticism. I also expected it to be hard and terrible and unrewarding, especially when they were teenagers (which became self-fulfilling).

If you’re a mom feeling a teeny tiny stressed, if you sometimes or always are waiting for the smack down, if you just can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong or what you should be doing more of — you’re not alone. It’s not you. Start looking at your expectations of yourself — see where you can lighten up a little, give yourself a break. Do you need to be part of every fundraiser at the school? Do you need to be at every sporting event? Do you need to be the one to do the laundry? So many questions to ask!

Feeling compelled to always be on, to always be the mom, to put the children before all else, can be set aside for a moment. Consciously reject this belief. Feel the wholeness of who you are, of which being a mom is just a part. Feel gratitude for the richness that mothering brings to you, and feel gratitude that you and your life are so much more.

For a free copy of my #1 bestseller Surviving the High School Years with Your Sanity Intact: A Guide for Moms of Out-of-Control Teens, go to www.survivingyouroutofcontrolteen.com.

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