“What’s clouding your view of seeing yourself as a good mom?” asks our guest writer today. Jen Berlingo, MA, LPCC, ATR, says there seems to be a shared sentiment among the moms she know, and it boils down to this: “Why does motherhood come so naturally to everyone else, when I’m just struggling through it all?”
Thanks Jen, for sharing your (licensed counselor) insights on this topic.
Regardless of the delivery, the message I hear is the same — we feel inadequate when we compare ourselves to other moms. Yet we still do it.
In the midst of the modern-mothering-as-a-competitive-sport phenomenon, I offer three actions you can begin TODAY to be more at peace with this life-rocking, energy-sucking, crazy-beautiful-miracle-blessing gig.
1. Catch self-judgments as they happen. Our inner critics are brilliant at projecting perfection onto others while berating ourselves. If you must, pinch yourself next time you’re comparing and idealizing a life you think you want. Like when you see a baby-wearing, breastfeeding momma buying organic kale and hemp seeds to make a green smoothie for her seemingly angelic six-year-old — remember that you didn’t see this woman an hour ago when she completely lost it because she couldn’t adjust the car seat straps while the baby was wailing and the kindergartener was putting boogers on the car window.
2. Widen your mom-confession circle. Creating authentic community around the struggles of parenting is what will end the habit of projecting parenting perfection. If we are honest about our experiences, it frees others up to do the same. When your Facebook feed conveys that every one is a CEO triathlete class-parent mom cheering their gifted kid on as star of the ballet — that’s just the public half of the story. As the saying goes, you are comparing your insides to their outsides. Eventually disclosing to a larger audience of moms (yep, maybe even on Facebook) can help to validate those silent sufferers who may be staring at a sunshiny computer screen that feels nothing like a mirror.
3. Break the cycle of comparison and inadequacy. Society (and certainly social media) perpetuates broadcasting the rosy side of the spectrum, which is guilt inducing when we inevitably experience the darker shades. Give yourself permission to accept the wholeness of the experience. Doing so is actually a sign of health.
Motherhood is an ongoing spiritual practice — an on-the-job, crash-course training in love and wisdom. And we moms are all classmates, feeling overwhelmed and uncertain with every pop quiz. If we realize that we’re each the imperfectly perfect prescription required for our own particular children, we’ll attain more congruency between our insides and our outsides, true self-acceptance, and greater embodied joy – all the qualities we certainly want to model for the little people in our lives.
I asked Jen to describe a drawing to go with the idea in her post here. She and I had a few ideas, but I wanted to ask what you guys would create if you could illustrate a graphic for this post.
LIKE this post if you think other moms need to read it.
Jen Berlingo, MA, LPCC, ATR is a licensed counselor and art therapist in private practice in the SF Bay Area She works with women wanting to know themselves better, with emphases on the transition into motherhood and on supporting caregivers in practicing self-care. Additionally, Jen facilitates creative, sacred mother’s blessing ceremonies to celebrate the profound rite of passage of becoming a mom.