This last weekend, we celebrated moms.
Being a mom is hard work, so it’s good that we celebrate them. They are pretty important.
But I also have heard a rumor that being a mom is pretty fulfilling work. Somehow, between the late nights, the laundry, the messes and the noise, there is a lot of joy.
My wife and I have been trying to make her into a mom for a long time. But she worries that it’s not the joyful, fulfilling job that all the moms make it out to be. And I say, “Honey, look at the moms we know. They don’t go out to nice restaurants anymore. They have baby food stuck in their hair. They look frazzled and sleep-deprived. Their lives are by every measure worse now that they have kids. Yet they say they wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
That is amazing that kids can make moms give up everything and be glad to do it.
But I’ll tell you ladies something.
I’m glad I don’t have to be a mom. No matter what happens to me, I’ll never have to worry about accidentally becoming a mom.
And it’s not that I won’t someday help with midnight feedings and poopy diapers.
I don’t think I could take the sheer, competitive nature of the sport that mothering has become.
A Flood of Expert Opinions
When I was being raised in the glorious 1980s, the decade of big hair and shoulder pads, my parents read their share of parenting books. There were a lot of resources for nervous parents from proven experts, on everything from potty training to discipline.
There were also plenty of moms who got along without a ton of expert advice. For moms without books, there were grandmothers with no shortage of advice and home remedies.
And when mom felt confident enough, she put the books on the shelf and dealt with her kids as she saw fit.
Today, it just seems to be different. The experts aren’t just the people on the bookshelf.
Today, there are tons of parenting experts because in the age of social media, anyone who is a mom can be an “expert” on the art of mothering. It’s not just the seasoned doctors and counselors who get to share their opinions. Everyone gets to tell everyone else what is the “right” way to be a mom.
What A Good Mom I Am
Now, the flood of information sharing and advice isn’t all bad. But here’s where I see the pressure really ratcheting up for you moms.
For most of our moms back in the day, their mothering decisions were made in relative privacy. Whatever kind of diapers they chose was between them and our butts. Whatever kinds of foods they provided for us was their business. Mothering was a humble, gentle, private affair between mother and child.
Today, mothering is a much more public affair. It isn’t just that moms of all stripes are sharing positive information. It’s that every aspect of mothering, every decision a mother makes is now a badge of honor, a point of pride, something to add on a Facebook profile to prove to the world that I am a good mom.
You use sustainably sourced cloth diapers? Better put make sure everyone on the internet knows it. What’s the point of using crappy diapers if no one knows your good deeds?
You can afford to buy only organic food? That belongs on Facebook for sure.
What’s that? Your husband’s salary is enough to support your family, allowing you to homeschool your kids? Great. Make sure everyone in the world knows you’re the best mom ever.
Today, the mark of being a good parent is not so much in the godly children we are raising, but rather the food we can afford to put in our kids’ stomachs, the clothes we can dress them in, whether they sleep in our beds or we let them “cry it out.”
In essence, parents are able to make a big show over all of the external aspects of parenting and make them out to be “the right way.”
The Secret Is No One Feels Like a Great Mom
The thing about moms is that I know you are sensitive.
It takes sensitivity to be a mom.
And all of this boasting about everyone’s good mothering doesn’t inspire you to be good moms. It only adds more pressure to you. It makes you feel inadequate. It makes you feel judged. Because you see how you really are as a mom, and you get to compare yourself to the filtered, Instagramed, internet version of all the other moms.
I suspect that very few moms out there actually feel like great moms.
They are just trying to keep up with all the other moms who they assume have it all together. They are wracked with doubt. They hope they aren’t screwing up their kids.
I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I could take the pressure of everyone saying “This is the right way to do it” and knowing that I’ll never measure up. If I were a mom, I don’t know if I’d believe my reassuring husband and be able to ignore the flood of superior mothering that I’d be comparing myself to.
I’m lucky that if I’m ever a parent, I’ll be a dad. Everyone will just assume I’m incompetent, so there’s no pressure.
What do you think? Has mothering become more pressurized?