Updated: Aug 19
Understanding What the Ultimate Vision of Motherhood Is....
Ever since we were young girls, society has taught us how we ought to look, dress, speak, and present ourselves. That marriage and child-rearing should be the sole life goals we aspire to, while minimizing our passions and remaining small in our thoughts. That we should be successful, but not too successful, have ambitions but not too much that we thwart the ego of men. As women, we dictate our own paths and thus for those of us who are married and/or desire to have children or already do, another form of pressure is placed on us. When we enter the stages of motherhood, society places yet another form of pressure on women in terms of how to be the perfect mother.
There is no perfect path to motherhood, although many new moms may subconsciously think so, which places this heavy weight on us that should have never been there in the first place.
On October 31, 2017, TIME Magazine published a cover article called “The Goddess Myth. What’s the Goddess Myth You May Ask?” Well, it’s the perfectly poised, graceful, and gorgeous mother whose child-rearing is above reproach in correspondence with the best of studies and advice from experts. This is the ultimate vision of motherhood. Well, we’re here to debunk that myth. There is no perfect path to motherhood, although many new moms may subconsciously think so, feeling a heavy burden that should have never been there in the first place.
In the TIME piece, Margaret Nichols, a 40-year old new mother of a seven-month-old had this to say about the pressures that she felt in preparation for her pregnancy: “I prepared so much for the birth, but the one thing that’s not talked about as much is how much support we need, and how vulnerable we are afterward.” The author then goes on to say, “Like millions of other American moms, she had been bombarded by a powerful message: that she is built to build a human, that she will feel all the more empowered for doing so as nature supposedly intended and that the baby’s future depends on it.”
Furthermore, Catherine Monk, a psychologist and associate professor at Columbia University’s Medical Center, whose research focuses on maternal stress added, “There’s a crescendo of voices saying, ‘If you don’t do X or Y, you’re doing it wrong. It’s obsessive, and it's amplified by the Internet and social media.”
If you’re a mom you may have already gone through these expectations during the time of your delivery. If a mom-to-be, you may be experiencing some of these ideas at the moment. That breast is best and that vaginal delivery is the way to go. If you get an epidural then you're weak, and every waking moment after your delivery should be spent with your baby. But remember to remain beautiful and radiant throughout it all! No slip-ups! Always poised and camera ready.
On top of that, it might feel like hundreds of people are rambling in your ear with advice. Your mom, your mother-in-law, doctors, friends, family, as well as internet experts, mommy bloggers, and pregnant celebrities like Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian as the end all be all. Many mothers are frantically pursuing this idea of the ultimate pregnancy and new motherhood experience. TIME revealed (in the same article) through a survey involving 913 new mothers that more than 70% felt pressured to do things a certain way.
If we allow these ideas and ideals to be our standards, they then intersect into the thought processes affecting our lives. This shift seeps into how we view ourselves, others around us, and especially other moms, leading to a nasty cycle of condemning rather than supporting one another.
We say breast is best and that, as mothers, we should breastfeed our child up to two years. Yet we (as a society) still do not condone breastfeeding in public. We look down upon a mother who has to return to work after having a baby, shaking our heads in disapproval. We throw side glares when a mother fails to have stocked organic and gluten-free food in her kitchen. We think, “what a terrible mom” when her child is crying for two minutes without getting soothed. Quite frankly, it’s disheartening, destructive, and oftentimes a load of crap.
At the end of the day, isn’t the goal simply to have a health baby and truly relish the beauty that is motherhood?
Yes there will be trials and hardships and sometimes unexpected curve balls thrown our way. That’s just life in general. However there is so much light that comes from your child that will shine over those dark, terrifying, and lonely moments. If all the mothers that have come before us had the solutions to our problems, none of us would be in this predicament. There’s a challenge to motherhood unlike anything we will ever face, and there is so much beauty in it if we allow ourselves to live in it.
So here are our major takeaways for any new moms and moms-to-be:
First and foremost, you should feel empowered to make your own obstetrical choices. Yes, everyone will offer advice, but take it with a grain of salt. You choose what makes you comfortable and what you think would make you most at peace with your pregnancy. The funny thing is that all the advice in the world is cyclical, similar to that of fashion and food trends. At the end of the day, you’re the one carrying a beautiful human being and should be able to be happy through as much as possible.
We’re here to tell you that you’re doing the best you can with the knowledge you have. All of the parenting books in the world cannot align with the path that you are taking as a mother. And that’s okay!
Lastly, as mothers, we all know the struggles and the pains that arise throughout the prenatal and postnatal periods. Let us be bold examples for our children to have the difficult conversations, empathize with one another, and offer support. Let us break the cycle of shaming and ridiculing one another, and instead embrace and encourage with love.
So brush off the disapproval and do what you think is best for you and your baby to live a happy, fulfilled life.
With warmth and wellness,
Your EmmaWell Team