Moms are human too


Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world—respecting that labour means granting women some much-needed space to be human. 

We romanticize the overworked, exhausted, do-it-all mom. Any mother short of being at the end of her rope is called selfish when compared to those women who work themselves into the ground. She’s made to feel inferior for not accomplishing the impossible. 

When they inevitably fall short of this ideal, moms are left feeling guilty and inadequate. 

Mom-shaming is often self-imposed, and it’s understandable when “doing it all” feels like the bare minimum. However, maintaining an identity distinct from the role of mother is essential to a healthy mother-child relationship and a woman’s mental health. 

Parents shouldn’t be shamed for setting boundaries or depending on the help of others to stay mentally healthy. Wanting some personal time as a mother is met with scrutiny from society, yet women who don’t want children are also shamed.

We hold mothers to a classist and misogynistic standard. Assuming all mothers play on an even field completely disregards the personal circumstances that challenge parenting capacity.

For example, not all mothers have a partner to share parenting responsibilities or have the necessary income to support a child. Single parenting is a challenge faced disproportionately by women, as many single mothers live below the poverty line. 

On top of socioeconomic barriers, motherhood may now be a more isolating experience than ever. We don’t have the same relationship with our communities as in the past; childcare responsibilities often used to be shared with friends and neighbours. 

Today the workload is greater, but the pool of people with which to share it has shrunken drastically. Women now are expected to devote as much time to their children as women who lived in the 19th century, with more responsibly and less support. 

Historically, the beauty of motherhood has been over-emphasized. As reproductive rights are challenged, it’s important to be honest about the experience so the fantasy of motherhood doesn’t mislead potential parents. 

It’s better to be brutally honest about the realities of raising children than to downplay the negatives while hoping declining birth rates will magically tick back up. 

This isn’t to say hardworking single mothers shouldn’t be celebrated, but moms shouldn’t have to display super-human abilities to receive praise for what they do. 

Men are capable parents, but a consistently low bar for dads, combined with the impossible standard for moms, means men more often receive praise for basic parenting tasks. This discrepancy has been recognized for decades, but society has been slow to respond.

For most of human history, motherhood has been conflated with female identity. 

It takes a conscious effort to remove that bias from our conception of women. Not only do mothers bear the responsibility for their own mistakes, but often those of their kids, too, as society perceives children as the product of their mother’s domestic labour. 

Inevitably, children stray from the ideals that some parents—or society—project onto them. No one’s to blame when this happens, yet somehow mothers are scapegoated more than fathers. 

This leaves frustrated, burnt-out moms struggling to find communities of fellow parents willing to admit they’re also imperfect. People worry asking for support will make them neglectful or ungrateful for having a child. 

Labour is labour, whether domestic or outside the home. Somehow, over-committing has been normalized and even expected for working moms. No model for motherhood should encourage sacrificing mental health for the benefit of others. 

Women are punished for being involved parents and shamed if they’re not involved enough. 

Gentle parenting, a popular approach in Western society, focuses on addressing children’s feelings rather than directly correcting their behaviour. In some parenting communities, not adopting the “right” parenting approach means isolation from other parents. 

Striking the right balance is no easy feat. There’s enough guilt associated with being a mother; we should be minimizing it instead of adding to it. 

The well-being of mothers is in everyone’s interest. It’s time we start acting like they matter.

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