We all have Mommy Issues. It's the first question a psychiatrist asks. "What is your relationship like with your mother?" No matter how old you are, it all comes back to your mom. Even if you have a fantastic relationship with your mom, there is something, even if you don't realize it, that you took from her that hurts you in some way. I have money issues from my mom and I'm sadly passing those issues onto my kids. I'm really trying to stop because I know first hand how much it sucks. (Sorry, Mom) I think part of all of us having "mommy issues" stems from the pressures put on moms.
There is a ton of pressure put on moms to be perfect. Perfect moms don't yell. Perfect moms have spotless houses. Perfect moms can balance a successful career and also be room mom and president of the PTO. Perfect moms never swear. Perfect moms are always neatly dressed and their hair and make-up is, well, perfect. Perfect moms decorate for each holiday. Perfect moms always have fresh homemade cookies or other baked goods for their families every day. Perfect moms have perfect figures because they somehow find time to work out (and actually enjoy it!) for 2 hours every day. Perfect moms always, always have happy kids. Perfect moms do not have children the throw temper tantrums. Perfect moms have perfect kids. If you are not perfect, then your child will have issues.
Needless to say, I'm not perfect. Anyone who looks at me would never get the impression I am perfect. I am a t-shirt and jeans girl. I don't even own nice clothes. Seriously, I have to borrow stuff when I got out somewhere nice. The only time my hair is done is when I'm on my way home from getting it colored. So right there, perfect is out for me. The sad thing is, I have guilt over this. I have never been the one who likes to take time and do my hair or make up every day. Occasionally, yes, it's fun, but not on a regular basis. So why is it that now I'm a mom I feel like I should change this about myself? I look at other moms out and about and they have perfect hair, make up all done and super trendy clothes. I have hair in a pony that, if I happened to be in a crazy mood, actually got washed or brushed. I have no make up unless it's chapstick and I'm in jeans and t-shirt, or this time of year, sweatshirt. To make it just a little better, you can usually bet whatever it is that I'm wearing, it's grey. I see that "perfect mom" at the store and first I think, "Who the hell goes to the grocery store in heels?" and, after that, I just feel frumpy. That's only the physical pressure of being of "perfect mom".
In reality, I honestly do know at least 2 perfect moms. It's amazing, but I do. They are the people that you pop in unexpectedly and their houses are still spotless, their kids are doing a quiet activity, and they look as though they should be in a Parenting magazine. I don't know how they do it. I also know a ton of moms that, on the outside seem perfect, but they aren't. They are the people who want to give off that image so they are up at 5 am doing hair and make up after going to bed at midnight or after trying to their house and everything perfect. I am not concerned enough about image to not sleep. The thing is, there really are not that many "perfect" moms out there. So why is it that society makes the majority of us feel like we're doing this parenting thing all wrong? Really, look at how many parenting books are out there. There hundreds of books that parents read because, somewhere along the line, it has been put into our heads that other people know how to raise our children better than we do. It has been put into our heads that we are not good enough and we need help. I've read the books. Know what I took from them? Nothing. OK, not entirely true. I've taken snippets here and there. I read one book about raising happy children that made total sense in theory. Number one thing was that you can not raise happy kids if you don't do things for yourself that make you happy. Got it. Understandable. It's like the oxygen mask on a plane, you have to secure yours first before helping the child you are traveling with. In practice though, who is going to watch my kids while I go off and make time for myself? Who is going to pay for it? It would be awesome if I had disposable income or help, but I have neither of those things. I'm lucky to get date night with Husband let alone actual free time to do something just for me.
Motherhood has somehow become a competition of who can make the cutest snacks or have the most creative birthday parties or whose kids can be in the most activities or who has the nicest house. I promise you, I will never win those competitions. In fact, I've given up participating, and with that giving up, comes a small twinge of guilt. Really? Guilt over if I put grapes and goldfish in a plastic bag, secure them with a clothes pin in the center, color the clothes pin (preferably by dying it with all natural coloring of some sort), and glue googly eyes and antennae on it as opposed to just tossing grapes and goldfish crackers into their lunch box? Does no one else see the problem with this? Yes, I do cute,fun projects with the kids from time to time. Yes, I bake cookies and brownies occasionally. Yes, I vacuum my house no less than once a day (but I promise you it will never win a tidy award, even if you can eat off my floors). Just because I do those things doesn't make me any better than the mom who does not do them and it doesn't make me any worse than the mom who does those things and more.
Motherhood is hard enough without all the extra outside pressure to be perfect. Fatherhood doesn't have these expectations. Fathers are expected to be in pictures every so often and provide for their families (and yes, I know that if you are a father struggling to do this, you have guilt as well, but my point is that there seems to be less societal expectations for fathers). If a father goes above and beyond this, they are glorified. A dad brushes his daughter's hair? Father of the year! A dad coaches his kid's little league team? Father of the year! A mom does those things and it's just to be expected because that's what the mom should do. I tell people that I don't cook on the weekends and Husband does and there are oohs and ahhs about how fantastic he is and how much that helps out. Yes, it totally helps out because I hate cooking. Yes, I completely appreciate it. No, I don't take it for granted. But do I get the oohs and ahhs over cooking every other night and trying to come up with new meal ideas that everyone in the family will enjoy or at least try to eat? Nope. Why? Because I'm the mom, that's what I'm expected to do. I tell people Husband has no problem with me going out while he watches the kids and he's suddenly SuperDad. He's "letting" me go out and doing all the "work". Again, I don't take this for granted. I adore Husband. I fully admit I hit the jackpot with him, but why is it he's donned a SuperDad for watching the kids a couple hours every three months while I get my hair done and I watch the kids every.single.day and don't even get a "keep up the good work"? Oh, that's right, it's because I'm the mom and it's what's expected of me.
The thing is, this mom stereotype doesn't care if you are a working mom, stay at home mom, mom of 1 or mom of 6. It doesn't care if you are single, straight, gay or other. It doesn't care what your race or religion is. This mom stereotype spans everyone. None of us get off guilt free. Even if you are doing everything correctly and are truly the "perfect mom", there is still something you have guilt over because that's what society has taught us. It's taught us that we're just not doing it right. You can scoff at society and not care what anyone else thinks, but guess what....that guilt, it still creeps in. It's not right and it's not fair, yet I don't see it changing any time soon. Why can't we all just support each other instead of trying to one up each other? Until that changes, we'll always have "mommy issues".