It’s one of the most important lessons we all try to teach our children: don’t lie. Yet, as mommies (and probably daddies too, though I don’t have any firsthand experience!) we are guilty of lying all the time.
Oh, maybe you make a point not to lie to your spouse or your kids. Maybe you learned long ago how to be tactfully truthful and not lie to your friends, but there’s still one person most of us are lying to on a regular basis.
We lie to ourselves.
We absorb so many different thoughts about what it means to be a mom from myriad different sources—TV, movies, school, our own families, families around us, and even our relationships with friends, partners, and coworkers.
But not all of these messages are positive. In fact, in American culture, that ideal of the mom who “does it all” is pervasive. She’s a loving wife, a supermom, and CEO of a multi-national company. She bakes cookies for the PTA bake sale, leads her children’s scout troops, and plans romantic date nights with her partner. Plus, she always looks coiffed and manicured with perfect hair, glowing skin, and the body of a runway model.
And when we look at ourselves, we don’t measure up. We tell ourselves these lies about motherhood until they become Truth with a capital T. (That photo above is maybe not the most flattering, but it’s actually one of my favorites because it’s so real: baby is screaming, and I’m looking dazed and frazzled, thinking, “Really? You’re taking a photo NOW?”)
I realized this in a big way when I looked at the results of the survey I put up a couple of weeks ago. (You can still answer it if you’d like to! All responses are anonymous.) Several people answered the question about why they haven’t purchased a product to help with their meal-planning woes with some variation of, “I should know how to do this.”
Why? How? I mean, was there a meal planning 101 class that I missed in high school? Was it part of the driving test? As far as I know, nobody in my life ever sat me down and said, “This is how you plan a week’s worth of menus at one go.”
So why are you “supposed” to know how to do this? You’re not. It’s a lie.
But I’m calling you out, Mama. I’m calling Bull Hockey on that and all these other mommy myths so that you can clean up your act and stop lying to the most important person in your life: yourself.
“I should be able to do this on my own.”
Oooh, this is a biggie for me. I think of myself as a pretty smart woman. I have a college degree. I had a really high GPA. I read a lot of books. So when I can’t figure out how to do something, I start to feel like it’s my fault.
LIES! Some of the most basic things in life—planning and cooking meals, cleaning the house, making a budget—don’t automatically come into your life with instruction manuals. Our culture sometimes expects us to just magically know how to do these things, but I’m here to tell you, there is no shame in seeking out advice or help for anything, no matter how basic a skill you might think it is.
I’m releasing a new product next week that will help moms (and dads!) feeling overwhelmed by the task of providing lots of diverse, healthy meal choices for their kiddos, and I CERTAINLY don’t believe that needing a product like that makes you any less of a great parent!
“It’s not OK to need help.”
We’re supposed to do it all, right? Some moms feel guilty asking for help with anything—whether it’s hiring a housekeeper or asking her partner to do the dishes. But the truth is, everyone needs a hand now and then, and your family and friends would probably be more than happy to help you out—if they knew what you needed. In fact, I bet they would rather pony up and pitch in than have you feeling like a mommy martyr.
“Good mothers don’t get overwhelmed.”
It seems like Betsy down the street has it all together because she’s never late to a PTA meeting, her minivan is always clean, and her kids look like something out of a J Crew catalog. So you must suck if you calendar has more sticky notes than pages, your car has permanent Cheerios embedded in the floor mats and your kids look more like something out of Oliver Twist, right?
WRONG! Everyone gets overwhelmed sometimes. Let me repeat that: every. one. (Even perfect Betsy.) If you’re dealing with overwhelm, maybe it’s time to lower your expectations. And you know what? That doesn’t make you a bad mom, either. It makes you a real person.
“It’s important that I make everybody happy, all the time.”
Where the heck did this one come from, and why did women get a mega-dose of it? We tend to fall into this trap whether we’re saying yes to one more volunteer project that we don’t have time for, or our whining child’s demands for a different dinner that the one we’ve already prepared.
STOP. It’s time to just say no, honey. And no, it doesn’t make you an evil Bee. It makes you a wise woman who knows her limits and prioritizes her energies.
“If I ask for help, they’ll know that I’m not a good mother.”
I’ve been guilty of this one, too, worrying about what Other People will think if I do this thing or don’t do that thing.
A lot of times, we assume that Other People are thinking about us, when actually, we’re the last thing on their minds. It’s human nature: because we are naturally the center of our own little universe, sometimes our brains jump to the conclusion that we are a big part of Other People’s universes, too.
But in all likelihood? Whoever those Other People are, they are so tied up in their own underwear about their own problems that you barely even register on their radar.
And when you’re dealing with a real busybody who makes everyone else’s business her business, here’s the real question to ask yourself: Who are these Other People you’re so worried about impressing? Do you really care what they think? What will happen if they think poorly of you? Will it really impact your life at all?
In my opinion, darling, YOURS is the only opinion that matters. What do YOU really believe when you take all those Other People out of it?
“I’m the only one who can’t handle this on my own.”
When my baby girl was born, I had a ton of help. My husband took a week off of work; my mom, dad, AND sister came to stay for a week; and then my mother-in-law came to help for a week. I was up to my eyeballs in loving family who wanted nothing more than to help, to stay up with a crying baby, to take care of that poopy diaper for me.
And what did I do? I got up every time she cried. I refused help. I felt guilty letting my mom or my sister rock that little peanut at 2am—even though that was the WHOLE REASON they were there.
LET IT GO, lovely. As much as we would like to believe that we’re the only ones who can handle it, we aren’t. I read a statistic recently that a majority of women rated their husbands’ standards for house cleaning higher than their own—yet almost none of them were willing to delegate the housekeeping to him.
That’s just nutso-bananas, my dear. We’ve got to accept the help we’re offered and stop believing that we’re the be-all and end-all of whatever-it-is.
Because here’s the REAL truth, my friend:
Mommies are not saints. We’re not martyrs. We’re not superheros. We’re not supermodels. We’re real women, with real wants and needs and feelings that are ALL OK.
Even just bringing these big time lies we tell ourselves out of the shadows and into the light can offer us the awareness and freedom we need to live happier lives.
I want you to take some action now, Mama (because insight without action is useless): Comment below with one big lie you tell yourself about being a mom and how ditching it would make you free.