In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly a year into our “new normal” of remote schooling, zoom birthday parties, and a total lack of basic social activities, I admit things feel bleak. Last March, as schools closed down and businesses went virtual, I started out in blissful denial. “What a great opportunity!” I thought, “I can finally spend more time at home and focus on all the things I’ve been neglecting.” By summer 2020, I figured, things would be back to normal and I would be a new and improved version of myself due to all of my focused time at home.
In my case, the “things” I’d been neglecting included creating a Pinterest worthy House Beautiful. Also, I would update all of our photo books (or at least create some) and catch up on journaling. And I would stick to a much improved diet plan, work out more regularly, up my baking game, and generally be an all-around domestic goddess supermom. Easy peasy, I thought. Without any “distractions” like shopping or family outings, I could definitely accomplish all of my domestic goals.
Of course, as every mom who is living through this pandemic with me already knows, it didn’t happen. That’s not to say I didn’t try. I made a really strong start of it. But, as summer wore on and the return to normal didn’t happen, my energy and optimism flagged. Instead, I became anxious that I wasn’t keeping up with my goals. I started to question myself and my parenting in a way I hadn’t before. This self-doubt, in turn, led me to be less productive and question myself even more, leading to a predictable downward spiral.
So here we are in 2021, nearly a year later. The house is a mess and the girls are watching too much TV. I feel like I am failing. Or wasting this time – or something. The problem is, I made the same mistake moms have been making our whole lives. When things started to go wrong, instead of acknowledging my strengths and allowing space for my weaknesses, I thought: “I just need to improve myself! If I can just take this time to create a better version of myself, things will be okay. If only I were the mom I think I should be, instead of the one I am.” Sound familiar?
I have read so many wonderful articles about the toxic myth that we can have it all and be it all, so to speak – that mothers today are expected to be superwomen, an expectation which is unrealistic and detrimental. Mostly these articles are focused on the challenges of balancing career and family. The same principle applies to our caretaking. Regardless of whether we are full time stay-at-home mothers or work outside the home, we cannot be equally strong at all aspects of parenting. The perfect mom does not exist.
If you watch closely, you’ll see that your littles are proud of your unique traits and love you for them. Every mom has her special superpowers, but not every mom has the same ones. On the flip side, there will naturally be places where others are better than you, and that’s okay too. We can all learn from each other, especially moms. Being an at-home domestic goddess is not my mom superpower. I am more of an adventure/outing type of mom. At the beginning of the pandemic, it would have been better if I realized that staying home was going to be particularly challenging for me. I should have allowed myself some space to feel sad about that instead of trying to turn myself into a mom I wasn’t. Maybe if I had tried to plan more Covid-safe outings instead of updating photo books and re-organizing drawers, we all might have been better off during these challenging times.
So next time things feel tough, instead of trying to improve or change yourself to make things better, perhaps fall back on your natural strengths as a mom to carry you through. If you aren’t sure of your mom superpower, ask a friend! And, in the meantime, cut yourself some slack.
You Got This,