As a mother, I often feel like a failure.
My first child was born 11 years ago. Since then, my life has continued to be a journey of learning, growing, and understanding.
As a new parent I often questioned whether I was doing things “right.”
Society holds parents to unrealistic standards and ideals. When I succumb to these ideals that are put forth by the mainstream narrative, I set myself up for failure.
Given that I was pregnant out of wedlock, to society’s standards I have been failing since my first child was conceived. The judgments and stigmas became stronger after I had another child and failed relationship with her father, because now I had two children, from different fathers.
It’s 2023, you might say, people do not judge you on whether you have a child before you are married, or if you have two baby fathers.
Yes, yes, they do.
A tragic part of this reality is that people close to me, with whom I have shared my heart’s stories, have judged me in this way.
But who decides what a great mother is? Why have I somehow bought into the societal ideals of motherhood? What is this ideal mother?
I’ve done some digging, and it seems that the ideology of motherhood is influenced by patriarchy, technology, and capitalism.
What I have come to believe is that mothers are nurturers. They are kind, caring, affectionate, calm. They run the household, making sure that every aspect is cared for. The space itself is tidy and organized. Mothers make the best food, cater to the needs of everyone, and will solve every problem you have. We see it in movies where they have the “picture perfect” family.
There are mothers who do everything I listed and completely align with mothering in that way. I too would like to be and do everything above, but am I a bad mother because I cannot fulfil these ideals?
I have often been left comparing and questioning whether I am enough and believing that, as a mother, I am a failure because I cannot live up to the ideal that was created by our society.
I felt the need to write this because I struggle daily as a mother. I feel judged daily for not being a good mother, because I am late, I do not keep house, I do not like to cook, my children stay up late, I struggle to discipline them and on and on.
However, through writing this and exploring this narrative I have come to realize I am judging myself. I am holding myself to an unrealistic ideal.
I often dream of the ways in which it would be better to have a partner alongside, helping raise my children, supporting me and making me feel better about my shortcomings as a mother. Then I realize that, at times, a partner can be just another person upholding the idea of what a mother “should” do, and be.
Whether alone or in a partnership, motherhood is difficult. Try to be easy on yourself and know you are not a failure because you do not live up to your own — or society’s — ideas of what makes a good mother.
I took an online course through Positive Parenting Solutions and found it extremely helpful. If this does not align with you, try to find something that does, and do not be afraid to reach out for support if you’re struggling with the overwhelming reality that motherhood can be.