If you are a mother, there is going to be an underlying texture of guilt no matter what decisions you make. Unless you are a completely well adjusted woman who is impervious to the judgments of others, societal pressures will take its toll. If you work you are abandoning your child, if you stay at home your worth is questioned, if you feed them organic flaxseed crackers spread with self-righteousness you will be asked if it was local and harvested by woodland nymphs. No matter what we do as moms, we are picked apart and put under the microscope… and no one should have to see their pours that close up.
Yet here is the irony. As much as we are a product of our conditioning, we are also part of the society that is creating cultural standards. It is within our power to shift the conversation if we start talking about motherhood in more flexible and fluid way. There is no reason that in 2014 we should have a rigid definition of what it means to be the perfect mother. By now it should be painfully obvious that this ideal woman only exist in fiction while taking copious amounts of Valium.
Even though a woman’s relationship to her identity inevitably changes when she becomes a parent, motherhood doesn’t have to mean losing yourself in the construct. There are ways to maintain a sense of self within the context of “mommy-hood,” yet it will only be accomplish through actual support of the role of mother. She can’t be viewed as this omnipotent being who is infallible, but rather an ever-evolving being who is experiencing the process of parenting.
Instead of tearing each other apart like wolverines when other mothers make different choices than you, we need to actively take part in respecting the complexity of the experience. No matter if we are helicopter parents who spend every spare minute bringing our kid to Latin lessons and piano recitals, or hippy unschoolers who teach them what bark is made of – there are going to be successes and there are going to be failures. Our kids will inescapably appreciate elements of our parenting and resent others. That is the nature of the game.