The first time you hold your child in your arms, you promise them that you’ll do the best in your abilities to raise them right. As parents, we all try to honestly do just that, try and provide for our kids on all levels to the best of our abilities. However, since childcare remains a gendered duty even today in our society, the pressure to be an ideal mother, or rather the best mom ever, often sneaks up on the shoulders of women. Willingly or unwillingly, a lot of women end up desiring to be a perfect mom. But could they be setting themselves up for failure?
I remember a few days ago, I was having a conversation about the kind of relationship we as daughters share with our moms with a colleague. Both of us had a few grudges. Why didn’t she talk to us about why menstruation happens, and simply stopped the bucket at how to manage it? Why did she never initiate a chat about breasts, body image issues, pre-marital sex or consent in our teen years? After the conversation, I thought, “I’ll do this with my daughter. When she grows up I will have all the conversations that I thought I needed from my mom while growing up.” But then I found myself wondering, will that be enough? Will that make me a perfect mother, from my daughter’s perspective?
How to be a good mom? The question that every mother struggles with.
This exactly the thing that most of us don’t think of when we talk about motherhood, be it is a child scrutinising how our own mothers faired on the scale, or as moms-to-be and moms ourselves. Whether or not you are perfect mother is a matter of perspective. You may be doing your best, but people around you will always have ideas about how you could do better. Even your child might feel at some point of time that there is a gap between what you provide as a parent and what they demand. Maybe you think it is important to have conversations about periods with your daughter for instance, but what if they need you to pay attention to their mental health or the peer pressure they face on social media, or any other issue that isn’t on your radar?
This is the reason why mothers should cut themselves some slack. Because the same social conditioning that burdens women with the majority of parenting duties, also holds them accountable for the overall wellness of their child. Women have internalised this accountability and seek validation as moms with a sash that says that they are best at their jobs. While in reality, all of us are pushed into this experience untrained and are simply trying to draw from what we see around us.
Come to think of it, our moms may not have talked to us about periods, but they encouraged us study harder and sparked the desire in us to have a professional career- something that their moms might not have done for them. Your neighbour may be always lagging in submissions for school assignments, another mom may still find it hard to talk openly about sex and sexuality to her children because she has been conditioned to think of these words and subjects as “bad”.
Each mom has her own struggles. The fact that we do our best to overcome these barriers to provide to our children is what makes every mom special. So let us not push ourselves beyond our limits for the sake of that mythical perfection as mothers.
Let us share the burden of motherhood with other moms, let us encourage our partners to be more involved parents so that we can have a breather.
I think what every child deserves is not a perfect mom, but certainly, a happy mom, who isn’t stressed out or resentful about the job that she has to do, because of the pressure on her to ace motherhood, and little help and support to rely on.
The views expressed are the author’s own.