Letting Go of the Perfect Mother Version

December 16, 2023

Vanessa Leveille

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I'm a therapist-mom who writes in hopes of helping moms of color navigate the matrescence journey and create a more harmonious and fulfilling life.

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Hi, I'm vanessa

Motherhood. It’s a tapestry woven with love, laughter, and yes, even a fair share of chaos. During moments of laughter and storytelling, there is a constant pressure that looms. This pressure is to be the perfect mother.

Societal expectations and social media create an elusive ideal of motherhood. This ideal is more like a magazine cover than real life. The perfect mother bakes flawless cupcakes. She handles tantrums with calm. She remains serene despite the chaos.

But here’s the truth, Mamas: that image is a cruel illusion. It leaves us drowning in guilt and comparison, forever chasing an unattainable mirage.

It’s time to rewrite the narrative. It’s time to stop chasing perfection and accept imperfect motherhood. Embrace the messy and beautiful reality of being a “good enough” mom.

black mother and child at table

The Roots of the Perfect Mother Myth

Where does this myth of the perfect mother even come from? A web of historical expectations, societal norms, and social media.

History teaches us that mothers were supposed to be selfless. They were expected to take care of their families and keep a perfect house and appearance. Just watch any show from the 50s and 60s; those oldies always showed mothers being the perfect housewife and even sold it too!

Meanwhile, society continues to hold mothers to impossible standards. We’re expected to be CEOs of our households. We supposed to juggle careers, childcare, and domestic duties with superhuman grace. Social media doesn’t help at times either. It showcases the joys of motherhood and sometimes hides the challenges like tantrums and sleep deprivation. It paints an idealized picture that ignores the messy bits, such as tears of frustration.

For women of color, the burden is heavy. They navigate not only the societal expectations placed on all mothers but also the cultural norms and racial stereotypes that add another layer of pressure. They’re expected to be the perfect mothers, the perfect daughters, the perfect wives, all while battling systemic inequalities that make their journey even more challenging.

The Impact of the Perfect Mother on Mothers of Color

When women of color become mothers, they face many challenges. They have to deal with cultural expectations, stereotypes, and inequalities. Cultural norms say they must follow strict roles and meet traditional expectations. Stereotypes make it even harder for them to be the perfect mother. Systemic problems like racial inequalities and limited resources make things even more difficult.

Trying to be the perfect mother while facing all these obstacles causes a lot of stress and tiredness. It’s really important to have diverse stories in the media. When there aren’t enough different stories, women of color feel more isolated and inadequate. We need to recognize and address all these challenges. This will help break the idea of the perfect mother. It will also empower women of color to have a more real and achievable vision of motherhood.

The “Good Enough” Revolution

But here’s the good news, Mamas: there’s a revolution brewing. A revolution whispers a liberating truth: striving for “good enough” is essential. Striving for “good enough” is not just acceptable, it’s essential.

Psychologists, such as Donald Winnicott, teach us that a mother doesn’t have to be flawless to be good enough. The goal is to give children reliable, affectionate care. This helps them become self-reliant and adaptable. Motherhood is messy and beautiful, filled with unexpected detours and belly laughs from spilled cereal.

Unmasking the Lies of the Perfect Mother

Let’s dismantle the myth of the perfect mother brick by brick:

  • The Instagram-perfect home: Our children crave genuine connection, not spotless floors. Embrace the chaos of daily life. Let creativity soar. Laugh together over spilled juice boxes.
  • The zen master of tantrums: Meltdowns are inevitable, not personal failures. Take a breath. Provide a safe space. Remember, superheroes can’t control tantrums.
  • The ever-present smile: We are humans, not robots. It’s okay to have bad days, cry in front of your kids, and show them it’s okay to express the full spectrum of emotions.

Building Your Toolkit

Now, let’s arm ourselves with the tools to embrace “good enough”:

  • Cultivate self-compassion: Be your own best friend, not your harshest critic. Be kind to yourself. Forgive your mistakes. Celebrate your successes, big and small.
  • Set realistic expectations: Ditch the Pinterest boards and Instagram reels. Define “good enough” for you, set achievable goals, and focus on self-care. A well-rested, happy you is the best gift you can give your child.
  • Surround yourself with other mothers who understand the journey’s joys and struggles. Build your tribe. Share stories, offer support, and remind each other that you’re not alone.
  • Embrace the unexpected: Every day is a unique adventure in motherhood. Embrace the unexpected challenges, the unexpected changes, and the funny moments. These moments create memories that are more meaningful than any posed picture.
  • Celebrate the little things. Notice the joy in your child’s eyes as you read them a bedtime story. Hear the giggle that erupts from a tickle fight. Feel the warmth of snuggles on the couch. 

These are the moments that make “good enough” motherhood extraordinary. The brushstrokes paint the masterpiece of your motherly love. It is imperfect yet vibrant. Although unscripted, it exudes grace.

Forget the pressure to bake Pinterest-worthy cupcakes. In your kitchen, let flour-dusted faces play and create lopsided treats. These treats will taste sweeter because they’re made them with love. Hold your child close. Let empathy flow. Remember, being present is enough.

And yes, it’s okay to cry. You can shed tears over a burnt dinner or a missed deadline. Exhaustion is common due to the relentless demands of motherhood. Your tears do not show weakness. They prove your vulnerability, humanity, and love’s depth. When you express your emotions, you teach your child a valuable lesson. It’s important to feel all your emotions. Recognizing our flaws is a sign of strength. Even superheroes cry sometimes and that’s okay.

Embrace the unexpected, Mama. The unscripted moments are messy and real. They weave the tapestry of “good enough” motherhood. These moments are more precious than any curated Instagram feed.

Redefining Your Motherhood

Remember, the moments that show your value as a mother are not captured in flawless photos. They are the gentle embraces in the dark. They are the whispered tales shared at bedtime. They are the calm support during injuries and heartbreak. The unwavering love shines through in countless little ways. It builds a foundation of trust, security, and connection. No Pinterest board or social media filter can replicate it.

So Mama, raise a glass of lukewarm coffee, because let’s be honest, that’s usually what we have. Let’s celebrate the messy masterpieces we are. Let’s abandon the idea of perfection. Embrace the concept of “good enough.” Let’s create our own vibrant portraits of motherhood. In this world, laughter is more important than clean floors. Love is more powerful than curated social media feeds. 

In the words of Donald Winnicott, “The good-enough mother is the one who is there most of the time, good enough.” And that, my dear mamas, is exactly who you are.

Seek Support from a Therapist Who Understands Your Unique Needs

If you’re a mom of color in Massachusetts or Texas seeking compassionate and culturally sensitive therapy to help you navigate motherhood, I invite you to reach out to me. I specialize in working with moms of color and can provide you with the support and guidance you need to navigate the challenges of Matrescence and create a life of harmony, fulfillment, and joy.

Fill out the form on my contact page so we can chat more and explore how I can support you on your journey.

Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. I’m here to help you overcome challenges, thrive as a mother, and discover the strength and resilience that lies within you.

If you want to learn more about the journey of becoming a mother, called Matrescence, download your free guide today and embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

Click link here to download the free guide.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog post. What resonated with you most? What questions do you have? Share your insights and experiences in the comments section below.

Together, we can create a supportive community for moms of color, sharing our journeys, encouraging each other, and finding strength in our shared experiences.

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