This is what my house looks like right now. Go ahead, judge me. I know you want to. I judge myself. I cannot stand the sight of my living room most of the time. I am sure you feel the same. We all have this secret shame about the state of our home, the laundry and various other obligations that fall under mom's responsibility and yet we continue to ignore the problem. We consistently try to live up to the ideal mom image and assume we are the only ones failing. We are not.
Expectations are the number one cause of stress. Comparing yourself to an unrealistic image of motherhood creates anxiety and overwhelms every mom. This ideal woman has well behaved kids that are enrolled in every activity imaginable. She is either pursuing a meaningful career or is heavily involved in various community activities. Her house is spotless and she feeds her children home cooked meals made from organic ingredients. In addition, she always looks like she stepped out of a salon. I cannot speak for anyone but myself here but if I get a shower three times a week, I am golden!
I am not Martha Stewart. When I make a nice meal or happen to do something crafty, which is admittedly rare, I get a compliment from my mom like "you are such a Martha Stewart" as though she is the exemplary model for women. It is important to get some perspective on this idea. Martha Stewart's own daughter, Alexis Stewart wrote a book about life with her mother. She writes: "Martha was not interested in being kid-friendly." Yet, many of us are trying to live up to that standard. I have nothing against Martha, in fact I am flattered when my Mom makes the comparison. The point is in order to have perfection in the home with kids, you need to make that your primary goal and that is not the case for me.
How do we fix this? Eliminate your expectations. Set clear and realistic goals for yourself and your family. Forgive yourself for falling short of that elusive Superwoman who only exists in your mind. Superwoman is too busy fighting crime to raise a family. This is not a debate about whether or not you can have a career and raise a family, you absolutely can. This is about feeling like you have to strive for excellence in every single aspect of your life.
Give yourself a break. If you would rather play with your kids then clean, do it! Their appreciation for your time will last much longer than the tidiness of your home anyway. If you want to work on your business instead of doing the laundry, then leave it for another day. It will still be there when you are ready. If you want to advance in your career, quit your job, spend more time with the kids or hire help then go ahead. Do not judge yourself for doing what feels right for you.
Happiness is different for everyone. No one's ideal life looks the same. Some women have a career they feel passionate about and they get the help they need at home. Other women prefer to stay home and do not feel like they are missing anything professionally. Both scenarios are fully capable of creating well adjusted children who feel loved. Do not let anyone dictate what happiness looks like to you. Figure out what kind of life you want and work towards that with every goal you set. Let Superwoman fight her own battles.
Patricia is the creator of the epic summer event Camp Mom, helping Moms ignite their inner spark through fun and learning.