Wright Team | December 7, 2017

Myths of Motherhood:
Being The Perfect Mom Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

As we explore our past and grow toward our future into the life we want, we may start to realize how many false beliefs we adopted while growing up.

Motherhood is an adventure; one full of miracles, and doubts. These myths about motherhood create limiting beliefs, but you ARE enough. Embrace it!

These beliefs range from our expectations in our relationships (looking for the perfect fairytale romance), ideas about our leadership and roles at work, or thoughts on affluence, wealth and success.

Perhaps you’ve created an idea in your mind’s eye of what success looks like. Or perhaps you think speaking up at work isn’t your role and you need to smooth situations over or act as the intermediary between your boss and coworkers.

These roles or boxes we adopt in our relationships and endeavors limit us. Limiting beliefs hold us back from living the life we want. They keep us from discovering the answer to our yearnings and our personal truth.

Nowhere are these false beliefs so prevalent than when it comes to women and motherhood.

How many of us hold onto an idea in our head of how the perfect mom looks and acts? When we picture our idea of “the perfect mom”, we see our own mother, the mother on our favorite tv show, or a friend’s mom. In truth, no one is the perfect mom —not your mother or mine. All of us struggle from time to time.

Motherhood is a state of growth and development. It’s a time to explore and learn about ourselves, our drivers and motivations. It’s a great time to engage with others, discover our beliefs, our projections and unfinished developmental business.

The Wright Foundation has an upcoming FREE webinar!

The Myths of Motherhood with Dr. Gertrude Lyons

Join us on Friday, December 15th at 12pm CST for a special Idea Cafe: A Taste of Wright Graduate University webinar.

With all the “expert” advice bombarding mothers all the time, this is your chance to unpack the myths of motherhood and gain new insights on thinking critically for yourself and embrace all the true joys of your motherhood journey.

Sign up now – it’s FREE!

Some Myths About Motherhood

As a graduate student of Wright University, my dissertation was focused on the ideas and myths about motherhood that we set upon ourselves and blindly believe. By identifying and exploring the myths and falsehoods we can break away from them. We can start to move toward discovering our own sense of purpose and success.

We may also realize motherhood doesn’t define us. Our roles as a mother is only one layer of many. We aren’t limited to simply being a nurturer, or providing for and raising children. We’re able to live full and vibrant lives both as mothers and outside of motherhood. Motherhood is simply another layer, or lens to frame our lives and growth under. It’s another sandbox to play in as we adventure through life.

I’ve identified 14 myths about motherhood (although there are certainly others):

  1. The more a mother tends to the needs of her children first the better a mother she will be.
  2. A mother’s spouse/partner will understand that the children are a priority and that their needs come first.
  3. It is part of a mother’s job to put the needs of her children and spouse/partner first and then take care of her own.
  4. Children will be a source of ongoing joy and fulfillment.
  5. Children are a primary way for a mother to feel affirmed.
  6. When you feel insecure and doubt yourself as a mother, follow the guidance of experts in the field, your own mother, or close family members.
  7. Being a mother is an innate skill.
  8. A woman will immediately fall in love with her baby when she holds him/her for the first time.
  9. Motherhood provides a network of other mothers who support her in being the best mother she can be.
  10. If a mother is overwhelmed with intense feelings of anxiety or sadness after the birth she will likely need medication so she can function properly as a mother.
  11. A mother’s hurt/pain expressed around her children may limit or harm their development.
  12. Expressing any fear and/or anger around her children is likely to have a negative effect on them.
  13. Stopping short of hurting her children, it is best for a mother to stop them from expressing emotions if it upsets her.
  14. Parents should avoid any arguing in front of the children.

How many of us believe many of these myths? We may experience intense feelings after our child is born. We may believe when a little human is handed to us for the first time we’re supposed to immediately know what we’re doing. We may feel like we’re supposed to instantly feel a bond.

We may believe any feelings of frustration, irritation or negative emotions we experience toward our children or motherhood is “wrong.” We may feel guilty for these (perfectly normal and natural) feelings, question what’s wrong with us or why we feel this way, or feel hopeless our sad.

Like our limiting beliefs about ourselves, our relationships with our significant others, or our ideas about work—these beliefs hold us back and we may feel inadequate. Instead we should realize this is a false narrative we’re creating based on ideas we were exposed to early on. Exploring the “why” behind these beliefs helps us move forward.

Where Do Our Limiting Beliefs Start?

Our belief system is set very early on. Many of our beliefs are in place before age six. This system of ideas about ourselves and our world is what we refer to as our personality matrix, or simply our matrix. To get to the heart of these beliefs we must re-matrix ourselves.

We should break down our early ideas and start to reform and recreate them based on the additional life experience and information we’ve since gained.

When you think about how early on most of our beliefs are set, it suddenly makes sense why these aren’t correct. After all, we’re capable of so much more, we’ve experienced so much since childhood. Our life-experience plays a much stronger role in who we are now, today.

Yet, like traveling a well-worn path, we keep playing the same scenarios and setting the same expectations over and over. When you played “house” at age five, chances are you acted a certain way. You had certain beliefs about what a “mommy” looked like and acted like. Without realizing it, those same ideas still play out in your day-to-day role as mother.

Explore your relationship with your own parents.

Were you able to express your feelings and experience them being accepted and allowed? Were you encouraged to “calm down” or “stop being so sensitive?” Where you told to be a certain way, adopt a specific role within your family structure or encouraged to set aside your own needs and yearnings?

One way to identify these emotional hotspots or triggers is to notice when a situation elicits a strong emotional reaction or “charge” from you. For example, if a comment from your spouse about a messy countertop, or a suggestion from your own mother about your child’s hairstyle sets you off, explore the “why” behind it. Why did this particular comment or piece of feedback upset you? Does it reinforce limiting beliefs you hold about yourself, or false expectations you’ve set up? Do you feel disempowered?

All of our childhood experiences go on to shape who we are now, but we’re certainly not beholden or limited to them. Once we identify triggers and sensitive emotional charges, we’ll start to understand where are beliefs stem from and how to let go of myths and ideas of the “perfect parent.”

Like any great adventure or experience, parenthood is a platform for personal growth and greater understanding about ourselves. We can grow and nurture ourselves right alongside our children. We can play, explore, and discover through trial and error what works for us and what doesn’t. We’ll have fun!

There’s no perfect way to parent. When we let go of expectations and understand it’s part of the journey, we set ourselves up for greater satisfaction and success. View parenting as a developmental opportunity, not a test. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s messy, it’s interesting and it’s emotional. It’s also exciting.

As you go forth on your journey, enjoy the view along the way! There’s no handbook or rules about being a parent!

For more opportunities to learn and grow please visit us at the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming parenting program, or networking and personal growth event.

Click here to sign up now for our FREE webinar coming up on Friday, December 15th. We hope to see you there!

About the Author

Gertrude Lyons

Gertrude Lyons is a human emergence coach and adjunct faculty member at Wright Graduate University. Her academic career spans from a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting, a master’s in psychology from Antioch University, and a newly completed doctoral degree from WGU. Gertrude is wife and mother of two and resides in Chicago, IL where she continues to learn, grow, and develop her skills as a human emergence coach with the Wright team.

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Portions of this post are taken from Gertrude’s doctoral dissertation, Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering—A Curriculum Evaluation Study.