There’s no such thing as a “perfect mother”.
If there is one thing that is almost as hard as actually mothering a tiny baby, it’s dealing with society’s expectations of motherhood. It’s navigating the communal conversation about what a good mother is and what a bad mother is.
Good mothers breastfeed. Bad mothers use formula.
Good mothers rush into the room when their child cries. Bad mothers leave their babies to cry it out and soothe themselves.
Good mothers do tuck shop duty. Bad mothers barely make it to assembly.
Good mothers stay at home with their children. Bad mothers place them in child care.
Good mothers sacrifice themselves upon the altar of their children. Bad mothers put their own needs ahead of their child’s.
“A mother is someone who never puts herself first. A mother is someone who wants the best for everyone except herself and that is the quality of selflessness that marks out motherhood and which we celebrate today.”
There is so much wrong with this sort of thinking.
It’s sexist, asking women to de-identify in order to be good mothers. It harkens back to a mid 50s ideal of family that barely functioned in that day and age, let alone now. It flies in the face of decades of research and thought that points to self-care being key to successfully caring for others.
We must be careful in our public conversation about good mothers. We must avoid unrealistic definitions of good mothers, we must avoid entrenching the myth of the perfect mother.