Comparing Yourself To The Perfect Instagram Mother (She Doesn’t Exist)
I was asked to speak at church this Sunday for Mother’s Day, and I’ve been thinking and thinking about what to say. I’ve been reading and making notes and discussing motherhood with friends and trying to sit still to formulate thoughts. So far, my ideas are still pretty rough, but I have found some good stuff in the process.
Remember the discussion we had a few weeks ago about motherhood and identity? I read a really interesting article in the NYTimes this week that extends that conversation. It’s written by a doctor, Alexandra Sacks, and talks about “matrescence”, a word I have never seen before, that means the process of becoming a mother.
She argues that matrescence needs to be studied by the medical community in a serious way, and she talks about 4 things to look out for during the process. One of those things is Guilt, Shame & the “Good Enough” Mother. Two quotes from the article:
“There’s also the ideal mother in a woman’s mind. She’s always cheerful and happy, and always puts her child’s needs first. She has few needs of her own. She doesn’t make decisions that she regrets. Most women compare themselves to that mother, but they never measure up because she’s a fantasy.”
“Consider the Instagram image of the pregnant and postpartum supermom: a nurturing, organized, sexy-but-modest multitasker who glows during prenatal yoga and seems unfazed by the challenges of leaking breasts, dirty laundry and sleep training. This woman is a fiction. She’s an unrealistic example of perfection that makes other women feel inadequate when they pursue and can’t achieve that impossible standard.”
I hope you get a chance to read it — and the comments too (they are unusually good) — because I’d love to discuss it with you.
Has motherhood been on your mind this week? Do you ever notice you’re comparing yourself to the “Instagram image of motherhood”? And how do you feel about Mother’s Day? Do you look forward to it? Or does it stress you out? I know there are many women who dread it. Maybe they’ve lost their own mother, or they long for motherhood themselves, but remain childless. And there are others who feel like Mother’s Day magnifies all their inadequacies, or brings up a painful relationship with their own mother.
If you could vote for Mother’s Day to go away, would you? And for those who love it, what does your ideal Mother’s Day look like?
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