Did you think that once you left high school you would ever feel peer pressure again? Well, it’s there, whether you call it peer pressure, mommy pressure or keeping up with the Joneses…the real question is do you succumb to it or have you finally realized that it doesn’t matter?
You know what I’m talking about… remember way back when, as soon as people heard you were pregnant, the onslaught began…are you drinking a glass of wine? Did you just eat that piece of sushi? Don’t tell me you’re getting an epidural, it’s so bad for the baby... you should really make your own baby food because all that processed stuff is so bad…Are you going to keep working after the baby comes, because it’s good for kids to see their mom working…Oh no, you shouldn’t work, because it’s good for the kids to have you at home…Ugh.….Leave me ALONE!!!!
Why do people they feel they have the right to impose their thoughts or opinions on new moms or any one for that matter (probably, because they have nothing better to do and they think that what they have to say really matters to you….NOT). If I wanted to know what you’re thinking, believe me, I’ll ask.
I tried not to let those little snippets of advice bother me, but when you’re a newbie mom, those comments start to fester and soon you’re questioning yourself and wondering if you’re really cut out for this whole mom thing.
I can remember when my daughter was just a toddler, listening to all the moms talk about THE pre-school to enroll your child in….it’s the best, how could anyone think about putting their child in another school.
Shoot, I thought (being a new mom and falsely thinking I didn’t know what’s best for my child), I better check it out and make sure I get my daughter into this so called amazing school; otherwise, the other moms are going to think that I don’t care about her future and I might destroy any possibilities of her ever succeeding and becoming a contributing member of this society. I’m already way behind…she's 2 already…. (Seriously? Was I the only one who thought this way?)
How many of you have thought to yourselves as you sat in a playgroup, smiling at all the other moms, nodding your head in agreement and secretly thinking… Oh my GOD!!!! That’s it. My child’s doomed! She’s gonna be flipping burgers at the local grease pit when she grows up…She’s not potty trained, Max is potty trained… she’s not reading, and Hillary’s been reading since last week….crap, she’s not even speaking in full sentences like Taylor! (your head starts to spin and your stomach begins to churn…panic ensues).
When you get home, like a complete maniac, you seize the computer from your husband’s hands and scour the internet for information on how best to potty train your child in three easy steps. You buy phonics cards and DVDs to teach her how to speak and just for good measure, you put the French language DVD into your shopping cart too, so you can one up the other moms…showing how diverse your family is (ok, maybe that’s going a bit too far). In the mean time, your husband thinks you’ve fallen off the deep end, and is trying to remind you that your child is only TWO!!! Relax honey….RELAX!! I can’t relax! Do you know how far behind we are? Do you want to support her for the rest of your life?
Mommy pressure at its best. But wait, it doesn’t stop there…
Now that your child is enrolled in that coveted so-called amazing pre-school (and it’s costing you an arm and a leg), how many of you think to yourselves, that you might be slightly inadequate as a mom? You glance around at the other moms and you start to get that sinking feeling that you’re not up to par. Tommy’s mom is doing this and that for the class, while Ashley’s mom is heading up this group and that committee….you’re slacking kiddo… (And how in the world do they always look so put together? Damn it! I need a new haircut).
So, what do you do? You start pitching in, telling the school that you can help them with anything they need and you start volunteering for various committees so that you too are a concerned parent, actively involved in your child’s education. (By the way, don’t forget to get the laundry done, clean the house, pay the bills, buy the groceries, wash the dog, take the kids to their activities and have a healthy dinner ready on time.)
Take it from a mom who has been around the block a few times. Don’t fall victim to the perfect mom perception. There is NO such thing. Believe me, I’ve tried to do it all, making homemade baby food, organizing play dates and five star luncheons, sewing blankets and quilts for the needy and anyone else I could think of, crafting, working, cooking and…eventually, crying because I couldn’t do it all perfectly and I hated my hair cut.
We have the power to make our lives easier if we just come clean — admit to all the other moms that we are not these Picture Perfect-Super-Talented-Can Do-Moms, with perfectly coiffed hair and expertly applied makeup.
Let me be the first to be honest with you. I am a crazed mom of three kids and one dog that drives me absolutely batty. I have a thousand things on my plate and my daily calendar is always full. I drive my kids to school with my PJs on and my hair sticking up at all angles. I can’t, for the life of me, keep my house tidy. No matter how many times I vacuum and straighten, papers and magazines are always strewn across the counter and I’m constantly picking up my sofa pillows from the ground (FYI – only buy sofas that have cushions securely attached to the body of the couch).
My laundry basket needs to be the size of a garbage can, because it’s always overflowing and it’s been a good day if you reach for a shirt and it’s not wrinkled. I try to tackle the ever growing mountain of dirty dishes, just to be defeated in the next round as my kids find it necessary to grab a new cup every time they want a drink of water. The beds are almost never made, the kids rooms are always covered from floor to ceiling with clothing (beware of the rolled up socks….ohhhh….smelly ).
I’m constantly repeating myself, not because I like to hear myself talk, but because my family tends to tune me out when it comes to homework, practicing their instruments, cleaning their rooms or taking baths.
Junk food? Yes, I buy junk food…I let my kids eat cookies, brownies, chips, dips, ice cream, fries (I can’t resist Mickey D’s fries) and a whole slew of other processed foods. And our meals, hmmmm...that can range from anything in a box or a can to something-kinda-sorta fresh.
Do I feel inadequate sometimes? Yes. Do I compare myself to other moms? Yes. Do I feel like I sometimes want to scream and throw things? Yes. And do I cry? Yes.
I’ve cried behind closed doors, frustrated that I couldn’t stay on top of things, thinking that I suck as a mom and that I’m doing a terrible job. But now, after having been a mom for 12 years, my advice to the newbies… Trust yourself.
We are not in a competition. We don’t need to do it ALL. What we need to do is do what’s right for our families. Stop worrying about what others are thinking and doing, because trust me, if you take a closer look, they’re not doing it all either…something’s gotta give.
* This is an article I wrote for an online news site