Kicking the bar!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Today started out as one of those days that any working mother knows so well. My mom guilty rode so heavy on my shoulders that I was near tears from all the pressure that I voluntarily placed upon myself. Knowing that I needed a good kick-in-the-pants, I turned to the internet and happily found this little gem - a Forbes article "Dear Working Mother: Stop Feeling So Guilty!" by Margie Warrell. This thinking is what I aspire to both as a "working mama" and a mother in general.

"The bar on what it means to be a ‘great parent’ has been gradually moving up, and now it’s so ridiculously high that we’ve set ourselves up to forever fall short in scaling it. Accepting that for the most part, good enough is good enough, takes enormous pressure off of us to be the idealized photo-shopped image of the ‘perfect’ parent – the mom that the magazines imply that we ‘should’ be (there’s that word again!) Giving up some elusive quest to be a super-mother who does everything ‘just right’ is the only way we can ever have a chance to enjoy the journey of child rearing, without being anxious, guilt-ridden and exhausted. After all, it’s who we are for our children – happy, good-humored, and a role model for the values we believe in – that ultimately impacts them more than how closely we, our homes, or our meals resemble the front cover of women’s magazines. The reality is that you do not have to be a perfect parent to be a great parent."
But while her intended audience is the working mom, I think she speaks wisdom that all mothers in all circumstances can heed.
"What other mothers are doing is none of your business. Doing what works for you, for your children and your family to stay happy, good humored and connected is ultimately all that matters. Which is why it’s time to lower the bar to a scalable height, get off your own back, and reclaim your right to enjoy raising your kids. Doing so won’t hurt your children – will free up precious energy to navigate the journey of nurturing your babies into resourceful, well-rounded, and gloriously imperfect adults!"
Her article reminds me that happiness truly is a habit and that peace and acceptance do not come from our circumstances but from our hearts. I feel that every person's inner-child is "native to happiness" but that protecting our state-of-mind requires more and more effort as we grow.
Adding to this effort, I find that the internet is a double-edge sword that at times brings much needed camaraderie but also brings opinions from self-assigned parenting police.
"While some women thrive on critiquing other women’s parenting proficiency, the best mothers I’ve met have no need to throw stones at how others parent their children. They’re simply more interested in doing the best they can for their own. So while you can’t always avoid the righteous parenting police, you can choose to see their self-inflating opinions – on everything from disposable diapers to disciplinary tactics – for what they are: an easy way to justify their own choices and conceal doubt about their own parenting skills."
I wish that articles like this could forever end the mommy-wars. I get frustrated because I see so many commonalities between moms of all circumstances and I just want to scream "we are all in this together!" But an article such as this, while being something that every mother could benefit from reading, shortens its reach by addressing working mothers only. In a way, this limitation reinforces the divide by sequestering working mothers from stay-at-home mothers.
I think the truth is that motherhood is a wacky, life-altering, hormone-induced state in which women, with only nine months warning, find themselves stranded. We desperately seek life support as we navigate this unknown territory. Inadvertently, we isolate ourselves into groups in an effort to conceal our doubt and make sense of our new territory. But our mission is all the same - to raise great kids and to enjoy our days as mothers. And, bottom line, great kids and enjoyment stem from who we are on the inside and not what we are on the outside.
I can do this. I can give my kids the best of me - as long as I kick the bar by which I'm so tempted to measure myself and instead embrace my worth and praise my effort. After all, I would tell my children to do the same thing.
Do you feel that articles like this should be directed to all mothers and not just working mothers? As a mother, have you successfully "kicked the bar" and no longer feel that you have to measure up?
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