The Tyranny Of Perfection And How New Mothers Can Avoid It

Never fake yourself just to look perfect because perfection is never real and reality is never perfect.

As parents and child care providers we often attempt to be as perfect or as close to perfect as possible.

When I had my first child, I forced myself to breastfeed her for as long as I could because A) my grandma from Israel told me that I had to and B) I believed it was the best for my child.

I also had my mom who came from Israel helping me, and she too wanted to make sure I breastfed my daughter. When things didn’t go the way I planned and I ended up with sores on my nipples and severe pain, I thought I had no choice but to continue to be as perfect as I thought I could be.

As my daughter grew I read every possible book about child development and spent hours and hours searching the internet to make sure I knew whatever it is that I had to know in order to best understand my daughter and her needs. Of course, being a nanny for almost 10 years provided me with a lot of experience, but having your own child and having to take care of her 24 hours a day is a whole different story. 

Very soon I realized I allowed everything I read and heard to affect me, and without even being aware, I found myself comparing myself to other moms and comparing my daughter and her development to other kids her age.

As the months went by, and especially when my daughter entered pre-school, I realized that I had allowed myself to be all consumed by this idea of perfection.

What does it even mean to be a perfect mom? Is there such a thing? I wondered. While the answer is loud and clear — NO — it wasn’t as loud and clear to me as a new mom. I was surrounded by incredible moms who devoted many hours to perfecting this idea of motherhood. 

New moms are often guilty of asking other moms questions about parenthood. While it’s great to have a network and learn from one another, what I found as a new mom was that we often spend so much time comparing ourselves to other moms, it turns into a competition of who we think is doing “the best job.” Some of the questions that I remember plaguing me back then were, “How long did you breastfeed?” “How soon after giving birth did you go back to work?” “Did you have a baby nurse?” “Which company did you use?” “How old was your son before he was potty trained?” “What pre-school did your daughter go?”

Striving to be the perfect mom can be very stressful and anxiety provoking.

What would it be like if you were just trying to be a mom? Not a perfect mom and not even close to perfect. Just being a mom to your child and embracing who you are while enjoying every moment with your child. What would it be like if moms stopped judging themselves and their imperfections? What if we got rid of the self-inflicted guilt? 

Here are four simple suggestions that I wish someone had given me when I first had my daughter:

  1. Don’t try to be perfect. In fact, expect to not be perfect and to make mistakes. 
  2. Enjoy being a mom and don’t allow whatever you are reading or whatever you hear from other people to affect how you raise your kids unless, of course, you believe in whatever it is you read or heard.
  3. Accept yourself as a parent with a unique style of parenting and always listen to your own intuition. Also, accept your child for the person he or she is.
  4. When you find yourself judging or comparing yourself to other moms, know that you DO have the power to redirect your thoughts and tell yourself that it’s ok to be just where you are — and that where you are at this moment is exactly where you are supposed to be.

You will soon find that when you do the above you will be less stressed and anxious and you will enjoy motherhood in a whole different way. 

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