Friends can be an amazing inspiration. The other day my friend (not a mom at this point) asked me if I’ve read a certain book and then she quickly tried to drop the question, ending the sentence with major “nevermind”. Well, I love me some neverminds. After a couple of minutes, I broke her and heard “because I remembered that you surely have no time for reading as a mom”. Welcome to the Motherhood Myths World!
I understand where this is coming from and I know she didn’t mean anything snarky, so I simply ignored it. Especially that she knows I have three kids and I often mention how hard it is to find the time for anything. But what made me think was how sure she was of her conclusion and how heavy her “as a mom” sounded.
How many years it has to pass until we’re done with all the motherhood myths?
You are mom so you…
- …have no life.
- …don’t enjoy sex anymore.
- …have to hate “Baby Shark” (You guys, I love baby shark. It buys me coffee time and my daughter looks absolutely adorable when she dances that!)
Let’s go through some most popular (according to Google) motherhood myths and let’s try to redefine them into reality, shall we?
If you’re just skimming through the list, please do yourself a favor and check my last paragraph with my mama advice for you. Thanks, Lovely!
Motherhood myth #1
A mother should give birth to a child naturally.
I don’t even know where to start. Natural labor as in vaginal labor? Or without the medication like Pitocin or epidural? Or maybe not at the hospitals? Sure! Let’s get back to the caves! This is so surreal I don’t even want to waste my time. Mother is a mother, as long as you love your children, you care for them, it’s nobody’s business if they were born through C-section or if they were adopted.
Motherhood myth #2
Breastfeeding is natural, every mom can and should do it.
Seriously, I think I will explode writing this post. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea. But on the other hand, I believe there are moms amongst us who really need to read it.
Feed your child. Whichever way you’re able. I believe mother’s milk is best for the baby, especially if you’re healthy and eat all the right stuff. Plus the bonding during the process feels amazing. That being said I inform you with all the responsibility: I fed my oldest son mostly with formula. Because natural doesn’t mean easy and it might actually be done the wrong way. And that’s what happened in my case. I missed my window to produce enough milk for my boy and I dealt with guilt for a long time.
It’s your choice. Or, (oh irony!) sometimes it’s not your choice. We live in the 21st century. Your baby will be just fine, breast or formula.
Motherhood myth #3
Maternal instinct will kick in as soon as you become a mom.
That’s definitely my favorite one! Ten years. That’s how long I’m waiting for this instinct to visit me. This motherhood is so natural statement has also a cousin called mother always knows best what her child wants. I decided to group those, hopefully, you don’t mind.
Being a mom is quite complicated in case somebody didn’t notice. Some stuff you can learn from the books or the internet, some stuff you just have to feel, some other must have been learned the hard way, with time and experience. I’m sorry if this ruins your dreams but there’s no magic spell that activates when your child looks at you for the first time.
Yes, there is an undeniable bond between you two. Yes, you probably feel all the love in the world but then again, maybe not yet. It’s nothing wrong to be scared instead of crazy happy when you get your baby to hold for the first time. Usually, it’s such a mix of emotions that you have no idea what you’re really feeling anyway.
I don’t honestly know if I have this maternal thing worked out. I have my survival instinct and since I love my kids they are kind of under the umbrella of I will always protect you, plus I teach you how to survive on your own but it’s not like I had it all figured it out on day 1.
And about that mom knows what a child wants – I think we all think we know what the child needs but do we really? Come on! Wasn’t it mostly guessing between he’s hungry/she needs to be changed/just hold him/she’s cold? And this lovely baby looking at your tired face when you’re rocking him back and forth for the second hour already and all he wanted is to be scratched in a toe. Yeah, mom knows best! [Although it’s a universal truth that we have great instincts and especially in the beginning what your baby needs is you! So I’d say 50-50 truth for this one?]
Motherhood myth #4
You should love every single second of the mom’s life.
Excuse me? Even the one when I am sick, I am breastfeeding, so I cannot take anything to feel better, my nipples are bleeding, and I am woken up for the fifty-eighth time, it’s 3 am and I just stepped on the Lego block and I am supposed to do what? Enjoy it? Yay! Thank you, motherhood.
I love being a mom. I am grateful that I am able to be around my kids almost non stop. That doesn’t mean that I want to be around them all.the.time. Or that I have to be smiling 24/7. Suggesting that mother should feel joy and happiness in every moment of her life is crazy in my honest opinion. You are allowed to feel all the feelings. And that goes not only to moms but all people. Nobody is 100% happy all the time.
Motherhood myth #5
It’s ungrateful to miss pre-children life.
Is it ungrateful when college student misses the simplicity of high school’s tests? I think I don’t even get that one. I love to look back to the times when it was just me and my husband, our endless dates, and easy peasy travels with one bag. It doesn’t mean that I would take back the time and change my decision about having kids. I look forward to what the future brings, but I don’t forget the past that made me who I am now.
Motherhood myth #6
A mother is responsible for the happiness of the family.
How modern, huh? It’s not just dinner anymore. It’s the general well-being.
I will not open the pandora box of genders and roles in the family, there’s no point. Let me tell you though – if mom is the one who spends the most time at home and with kids, she will be kind of the center of all. Does it make sense? She knows who likes what and everybody’s schedules. But the idea that mom should be fixing everybody’s moods and so-called, is too much to handle for me. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness.
A family is a collection of individual units. All have an impact on each other. Mom is just a cog in the machine. Just saying.
Motherhood myth #7
A mother should focus all of her attention on her children’s needs.
Okay, hear me out. I am an overprotective parent and I am aware of that. I agree that when a woman decides to become a mom, she takes on a huge responsibility (same thing with fathers btw!) and she is supposed to focus on her kids. But again, the idea that she will see only them and she will live their lives is beyond me.
Moms make sacrifices for her children but they do not sacrifice themselves. They are not some kind of victims here.
Motherhood myth #8
A mom who invests in her own desires takes away from her children.
Yes and definitely no. It seems cruel, but if you think about it, you’ll see it. Moms should invest in themselves, I have no doubt about it. I am the ambassador of you are your own person, you should love yourself statement. But within reason.
If you neglect your child but you have a Prada purse, your hair and nails done because you need to feel good, you misunderstood the self-care concept big time.
If you feel bad because your little one is in the preschool while you are studying to get your diploma, you need a hug, applause, and some big inspirational quote on your bumper sticker. You take nothing from your child.
Motherhood myth #9
A child’s bad life choices are Mother’s fault.
That one is “gooood”, real mom guilt trigger. I wonder what do you think about it, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment under this post.
You were given a blessing, you were given a mission to bring up this little cutie and prepare him/her for his/her life. Read that again HIS/HERS. They are their own people. They will make decisions, some of them you will like, others will not get your approval, but you know what? Your children don’t need your approval when they are adults. Because, you know, they are adults.
If through your kids’ childhood you were living your life according to your core values, giving them an example of how to deal with problems with faith, grace, morality and so, it’s only natural to expect them to do the same. But your children make their own choices and after 16-21 years under your wings, they are responsible for all of the consequences. That’s why you kinda need to use this time wisely.
Motherhood myth #10
Motherhood equals fulfillment.
This particular myth is a subject for a post I’m planning to write soon, but here’s is a short version of my opinion.
Being a mom is very fulfilling. I’d dare to say it’s more fulfilling than a new painting for a passionate artist, because of its unique nature. Remember this meme “ I make people, what’s your superpower”? That’s what I am talking about.
However, people are complex organisms. We all have different passions, different ambitions. Nobody is to judge if one woman is adequately fulfilled in motherhood or maybe not enough. Let people be and make their own choices.
It’s just like the other popular belief many overwhelmed moms share that only a career can really empower. That’s just another BS. There’s no onlys, nevers or everys here. Read this paragraph above again. I’ll wait.
Ready for the next one?
Motherhood myths #11 & #12
Choosing to stay at home means you gave up your life or you’re unmotivated or uneducated or whatever.
as well as
Choosing to work outside of home means you don’t love your children.
And we’re back to: people make their choices because those are their lives. Mothers are people.
If any of these limiting beliefs concerns you, the best thing you can do is self-reflection. Do the quick check-in with yourself, review your personal philosophy. Look back at your life and ask yourself are you happy? Is everything going according to the plan?
And then take action. Either continue what you’re doing or make some changes. Whatever you decide don’t let those mom myths damage you.
Motherhood myth #13
Other moms are handling parenting or housekeeping better. They do it the right way.
Suuuure. Really? Don’t let this little gremlin called the grass is greener at my neighbor’s lawn live in your ear. You didn’t expect such a crazy sentence here, huh? We are all hot mess one way or the other. It’s just a matter of finding the way of life that gives you happiness or maybe at least some comfort.
Do you see other moms welcoming uninvited guests with the smile? Does it make you frustrated because you don’t have people over because of the clutter? Do something about it then! But don’t waste your time for despair. I bet those other moms can’t cook anyway 😉
And by the way, there’s no such thing as parenting the right way – one method will be perfect for the one child and a complete fail for the next one. Ask me how do I know.
Motherhood myth #14
Mothers should seek balance
Yes! And a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, just right after they catch the white rabbit. In case you’re still wondering what is my opinion on balanced motherhood and you just need to know, click those lovely pink words.
Honestly, balance is not possible. It’s more like tug-of-war. Once you are able to focus more on the kids, the other day is more about housekeeping, a week later it will be your job, maybe someday you’ll have time for your husband too. And then the cycle starts over.
But hey, if you’re one brave mama, be my guest, seek balance and tell me later what that looks like!
Motherhood myth #15
You are a good mom only if you are perfectly organized and have everything under control.
I’m sure organization skills are helpful. Very helpful. But really? Would you honestly tell your friend that she is a bad mother because she overslept so her child had to eat paid lunch instead of homemade? Would you think bad about yourself if this happened to you? Are we back to the mom guilt issue?
And the control part? Well, I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to controlling, but I dare you to find one mom, the one that you would honestly call a good mom (whatever that means), who would answer you “yes, of course” when you ask if she had everything under control. Seriously! If you find her, let me know, I’d love to make an interview with her and publish it on the blog!
Motherhood myths #16 and #17
Mother is able to take care of her child. Asking for help is a weakness.
Asking for help when you need it is a voice of reason.
There’s this saying “it takes a village to raise a child” and it’s not groundless. Look around. Now, when it’s no longer popular to live in close communities or multigenerational houses, how many people feel lonely. And I don’t mean alone, I mean sad because there’s nobody around. Stay at home moms are terribly lonely if they don’t have a tribe of mom friends. God only knows, how many of them are clinically depressed.
Not being able to pee in private does that to people. Imagine if there could be someone in the room to play with your toddler when you discretely go to the bathroom. Dream, isn’t it?
On a similar tone, there’s that popular opinion:
Moms should not complain when it’s hard.
Let me express myself with a modern art called the GIF.
Girl, if that helps you, complain away. Just find a supportive audience, the one that will lift you up, not the one who’ll pat your back and will start complaining with you.
Motherhood myth #18
Scientific research always outdoes “the guts”.
Now, just to be absolutely sure I’m clear on that: Research, science and all that good stuff are great. Are needed. They are worth attention and being taken into consideration.
The books, the Internet, the parenting magazines, everything your friend heard somewhere – yes, think about it.
And then focus on your children, their needs and, I’m sorry my dear Husband, who is a scientist, go with your gut. Unless your intuition always fails you, then do the opposite.
I’m not saying that if the whole world is yelling “sugar is bad and we have the science to back it up” you should completely ignore it. I’m saying, check the sources. Do your own research. Think, if one oreo cookie is pure evil or maybe the whole box? Use your own reason.
Funny story with parenting and research – Have you heard about dr. Ferber’s method to solve children’s problems with sleeping on their own? It’s basically step-by-step letting the child cry it out. Widely popular in the 2000s. In 2006 the author himself modified the technic admitting that different families need different approaches. You can read more about it if you’re interested.
Researchers are changing their minds pretty often, their particular methods are trumped by others, and so on. Think about diets! Coconut oil is great, then after a couple of months, you hear it’s not. Must do paleo because research, but then keto because of well… research.
How many drugs are recalled every year? According to the FDA, on average around 4.5K!!! And aren’t medications made based on scientific research?
With time you get to know your baby pretty well. It would be nice to get some simple instructions to follow, but there’s none. Gain knowledge and use your intuition to guide you.
Motherhood myth #19
Good mother raises healthy, friendly, well-behaving and definitely not-crying kids.
Yyyyyy whaaat? I’m going to open a bad mom club then, I guess. All I can say is NO. Just no.
A good mother does her best to keep her children healthy and cares for them when they are sick. She teaches her children how to be polite, share, etc. as well as how to take care of themselves when other kids have problems with being polite, sharing, etc. Moms also freeze their butts off on soccer games so that little ones have friends to have play dates with and don’t even let me start on the not crying part!
How can we have a healthy society if we don’t let those little people have feelings? How can one expect for his daughter to find a decent husband if his “good mom” will not teach him how to communicate his emotions? It’s OK to be angry, sad, or frustrated!!! It’s what you do with it what matters. Let.the.kid.cry.
Motherhood myth #20
Mothers never should have negative feelings towards their children.
Oh, just look above.
Feelings are feelings. You have them, cause you’re driven by hormones. What you do with them matters.
My other friend, first-time mommy to a delightful newborn asked me lately is she horrible that at 4 am, when her daughter woke her up and was all smiles and ready to play, she pretended to still be sleeping. With my innate charm I answered “ yes, you’re the horriblest! what happened then?” Apparently, after some time the baby went back to sleep. Conclusions: 1st. She’s one lucky mama! 2nd. at 4 am she pretended to sleep, not pretended to strangle the baby. Why in the world that be horrible?!?!
Motherhood myth #21
When you become a mom you’re joining the mom club and all the moms are your true friends.
Are you surprised that I see it as a myth? You’re wondering where is the girl power, the solidarity of the ovaries?! Here’s the thing, I agree that you’re joining a very special club, you’re entering the mom zone and your brain will never work the same 😉
Remember that it’s human nature to want to present well outside. It’s quite hard to find new mommy friends because many of them want to be seen as they have their sh*t together. For many of them, a judgemental tone is a way to cope, so you can hear things like “yes, I heard potty training is hard, luckily little Tommy here was done with it before 2nd birthday. Your Mary is STILL not trained?”
It’s awesome to have a soulmate mom bff, I am just saying it’s not as easy as going to the playground and say hello. Unless you have some secret, then please share!
Motherhood myth #22
Mom has children’s eternal respect and attachment just because she’s a mom.
This one is a cold hard truth: relationships need work and the mother-child relationship is no different. Many times I hear “but why is s/he doing this to me (or not listening to me)”. For a child to trust you, to be always honest with you, open for conversation, first you need to do exactly that.
It’s heartbreaking when I talk to moms and they cry because their child loves the nanny or teacher more than them.
Giving them life is just the first step, it’s not a guarantee nor loyalty insurance. You need to invest time, love, blood, and unicorn tears. It’s hard. But think in the looooong perspective. Think about lovely little grandchildren who WILL visit you probably only if you have a great, close relationship with your child.
Be the awesome mom you would like to have.
All of the motherhood myths above are the limiting beliefs that somehow still hang over our heads. They are created centuries ago and passed on from generation to generation. You don’t need to realize it, they might simply work in the background, in your subconsciousness.
Those are damaging, guilt triggering opinions. On a surface, it sounds ridiculous but those unverified thoughts that just pop up in your head in the worst possible moments, have a huge impact on your mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-respect. On your well-being in general.
Be the mom you want to be. Or the one you would like to have. And leave all the myths behind. Good luck!
Go ahead and leave your “favorite” motherhood myth in the comments! And don’t forget to subscribe to my “Hey Mama” emails below for more thought downloads like that 🙂