Every mom feels like a failure at some point. Constant social pressures, unrealistic expectations, and that annoying neighborhood mom with the perfect house, perfect kids, and perfect hair don’t help either.
These feelings of failure, guilt, and inadequacy usually pass when you’ve had the chance to grab a full four hours sleep or eat an entire meal without having to share with your toddler. Then you go and ruin it all by logging onto your social media accounts and seeing all of those toned, sculpted bodies, beautiful Pinterest parties, and amazing handcrafted Halloween costumes for the entire family.
How do these women do it?
A: They have access to some secret mom sorcery?
B: They are not really human but are actually holograms secretly developed by the Illuminati to keep women down and prevent them from taking over the world.
C: The universe is trying to show us how well everyone else is doing just to highlight what failures we are.
The answer is D - None of the above. Those photos and comments you see every day are select snapshots of people's lives. Few people post the picture of their front room after an unexpected snow day when they have tried to work at home, one child has spilled popcorn, and another has decorated the cat with glitter. Hardly any of us post to Facebook to say “Had a really poop day. Didn’t even manage to brush my hair, I’m, covered in baby spit-up and the dog was sick on the floor. Kids are having cereal for dinner”.
Either that or they are the one in a million mom who has the combination of genetics, skills, or an army of helpers. Just remember one thing when you see those photos or posts. Those women are mom’s too and putting them down for being perfect is the same as someone putting you down for being imperfect. So grit your teeth and smile and congratulate yourself for being a good enough mom, because that’s what we all are.
In the meantime, here are some of the times when social media makes moms feel like failures.
15The Serene Breastfeeder
Breastfeeding is no stroll in the park. Before you try for the first time, you assume you just hold your baby to your boob and ‘Hey Presto’ you’re breastfeeding. Nobody lets you know about the wriggling, the kicking, the screaming, and that’s just you. Once you both get the hang of it, if you’re not suffering from swollen milk filled boobs because your baby has inconsiderately slept through breakfast, then you have cracked nipples and milk stains on the front of your favorite shirt.
It’s not surprising then that this photo of Gisele caused a stir back in December 2013. Posted on her social media account it shows the mom of two having her hair, makeup and nails done while she breastfeeds her one-year-old daughter. All of this she does without a hint of her other boob leaking down her front, her older child insisting they have to go potty right now or having to interrupt the feed because someone's at the door.
14The Breathtaking Birthday Planner
You have planned the perfect party for your little one's first birthday. You and a couple of close friends and family members, maybe a balloon or two, a homemade cake and lots of fun, laughs, and love. Everyone enjoys themselves, you have super cute pictures of mini-me poking a finger in the birthday cake icing, and you collapse on the sofa content at a job well done.
Then you make the mistake of flipping through a few social media feeds while you wait for the kettle to boil. There, front and center, are pictures of the birthday party your arch nemesis “Perfect Mom Down the Street” just ‘threw together at the last moment.' You hate her, and suddenly you feel like a failure for not putting on a huge party. Stop right there. Do you now why? You should stop and think about what a great time you just had with your family and friends.
You don’t need an original color co-ordinated theme with invitations, high chair decorations, and inventive finger foods for every age group. You already nailed it, your party was just right, just like you.
13The Poised Yogi, Baby Balancer
I know many people who love yoga and could not do without it in their lives. I am pleased that they have something that fulfills their physical and spiritual needs in this way but it is not for me. That said, it is easy to feel like a failure when you cannot carry a cup of coffee from the kitchen to the sofa without spilling it, and you see pictures of svelte moms balancing their babies in unfathomable yoga poses.
Try to remember; those photos are probably one out of 50. The posted photo is the only one where a child wasn’t crying, or picking their nose, or attempting to climb down and escape to a home where they are left alone to eat cheerios off the carpet in front of the TV.
Baby balancers are not the kind of mom you should want to be; you should want to be the best mom you can, and that's all you can ask of yourself.
12Effortless Elf On The Shelf Genius
You bought an Elf on the Shelf because you thought it would be fun for your toddler. “It’s cute,” they said, “It will give you moments to share forever,” they told you. What they didn't say is that it becomes a way for you to feel like a failure when you see all of the super creative ways other moms place their elves.
For those who don’t know, you move this small felt elf to a different position every night in December so your little one can discover it and be awed and amazed. There is an entire subculture devoted to it, literally thousands of Pinterest boards packed full of bright ideas.
Remember, just because you didn’t spend 45 minutes last night setting up the perfect Elf on the shelf diorama for your three-year-old to look at for three seconds, smile and walk off to watch Paw Patrol - it doesn't make you a failure! It makes you normal, so don’t sweat it.
11Anything To Do With Gwyneth Paltrow
The gorgeous Gwyneth glow, her beautifully arranged pantry, her seamless “conscious uncoupling” from now ex-husband Chris Martin it’s all just too perfect. It would be easy to try and measure yourself against that of the Goop.com ‘curator’ and all round life guru Ms. Paltrow but remember, she has an entirely different life to you.
Her job and her lifestyles are one and the same thing. Gwyneth doesn’t have to take time out of her day to plan, shop for, implement and photograph the perfect pantry. No, she has companies falling over themselves to provide her with the products you can’t afford and wouldn’t have time to track down if you could. There are stylists and lighting techs to help ensure the photo is as perfect as possible. The lovely Ms. Paltrow spent time organizing this as part of her work day.
Can you imagine what you could get done if there was someone to take care of your kids, someone to procure everything you needed and you were paid to organize your pantry, your child's bedroom, or your laundry?
10Pert Pregnancy Bumps Under Six Packs
Everyone, I don’t care what they say, has body image issues at some point. Few of us can breeze through pregnancy without worrying, at some point, about weight gain, stretch marks, and the fear that we’ll never see our feet again without leaning forwards.
It’s no wonder that many pregnant women get home from work exhausted, flop down on the sofa, and feel terrible the moment they go online. You cannot avoid being assaulted by images of famous celebrities photographed with little more than a smile and a head full of beautiful flowing shiny hair while they display their perfectly formed bump and their stretch mark free thighs. If it is not celebrities, it’s one of the ‘pregnant six-pack’ women everyone has become obsessed about.
Try to remember those women are fitness models, again; it is their job to work out and look this way and they prep for photo sessions for weeks. They had a six pack way before they were pregnant and you are not a failure for looking like a regular woman. Far from it, you are growing a human being and keeping yourself going!
9Homemade Organic Baby Food Mom
We have all been there. Our first pregnancy and everything is going to be perfect. You will have an entirely natural labour with no drugs and maybe some gentle music to accompany your sighs as you push. You will only wrap your new baby in unbleached cotton clothes, and you will make homemade organic baby food and feed your little one with nothing else when the time comes.
Of course, by the time your child is six months old and you are juggling home, work, and childcare, your good intentions may not come to fruition and you may - gasp, shock, horror - one day feed your child store-bought food, directly from the jar.
This is entirely reasonable. You do not have to beat yourself up about it, and you don’t have to feel like a failure when you see all of your friends posting pictures of the ‘first spinach and white yams’ food they whipped up in the kitchen this morning. What you won’t see is the state of the kitchen, the fourteen failed attempts, and their baby spitting it out and refusing to eat it.
8The Faultless Day Facebook Post
It is Saturday afternoon, and you are in sweat pants, a crying baby balanced on your hip, and you are trying to eat a yogurt one handed while wondering what you can take out of the freezer and put into the oven for dinner.
When you finally get to sit down, you take a look to see what your friends are up to via Facebook. You see a picture of a smiley baby cooing on the grass while your buddy sits cross-legged behind her looking fabulous and smiling into the camera. “Wonderful day” it’s captioned “Caught up with the laundry and housework before I went to the park and played with Abby. Came home and had time to make a beef Wellington for dinner before we went out to the concert.”
There is nothing to be said about this except, you only have her word that all of this happened and if you are lucky, her baby threw up on her in the middle of the night.
7The Accomplished Organizing Mom
This one doesn’t kick in until your kids are a bit older - or maybe you have one at daycare but either way, the organizing mom is full of good intentions but can make you feel so inferior you want to hide away forever and never show your face again.
This mom will publish pictures of the silent auction prizes she put together. They will all be imaginative and witty, perfectly arranged and wrapped in cellophane with a professional looking bow on top. You will look through the Facebook group that has been created for you all to contribute and see beautiful plates of cookies; hand painted nic-knacks and lovingly handcrafted items for that perfect home decor look.
You feel terrible because you had planned to buy a gift card and stick it to a house plant. It’s all you have time for or interest in. This doesn’t make you a failure; it makes you the kind of mom who has no time to do this. When your children are grown, they won’t remember the gorgeous gift baskets for a daycare fundraiser, they will remember spending time with you. I know which memory I would prefer.
6Marvelous Halloween Costumes No Mere Mortal Could Ever Make
For some bizarre reason, our children's daycare decided to celebrate Halloween. These are kids three and under who don’t care about Halloween, but I suspect it is all a huge ploy for other moms to show off how fabulous they are and take the opportunity to make me feel like a failure.
They needn’t bother. Every year my timelines are filled with photos of oh so bright Halloween costumes with a baby cunningly incorporated into a complete family theme. These pictures always have the entire family looking fantastic; they are smiling and having great fun together and look like they have been dressed by a movie costume designer.
My kids are lucky if they get a costume at all. One year I forgot completely, bought face paints on the 31st and made them into zombies. I may have failed at the pre and the effort but they still enjoyed themselves, and that counts as a win for me.
5Bodies Springing Back Instantly After The Birth
Most first time moms get toward the end of their pregnancy and can’t wait to be able to wear regular clothes again. Most of us know you have to wear maternity clothes for a bit after the birth, but then we see social media posts from women who have given birth a day or two before and instantly look like they’ve never been pregnant.
Here you are, six weeks postpartum and crying because you’re not back to your pre-pregnancy weight and able to rock the clothes you had before the baby. It makes you feel like a failure at possibly your most vulnerable time. You have broken sleep, you’re still recovering from the changes it took your body nine months to make, your hormones are flying everywhere, and you feel a mess.
You haven’t failed. You have brought a new life into the world. You and your family are adjusting to your new normal, and perhaps your body may never be the same. Does that matter when you compare that to what you have just achieved?
4Why Can’t You Look Like This With 3 Kids?
When I first saw this photo and caption my first response was “My excuse for what?” This type of social media post is a typical example of using words and images to make you feel you should be aspiring to be something you are not.
I have no problem if a mother wants to spend her time watching her diet and working out. It is none of my business what other mothers do, and I am in no position to judge anyone else either. What I do object to is the adversarial nature of this photo which is captioned to make you feel inferior and to make you think you should be like this mom.
When you look more closely into the story you will discover this mom had a book about diet and exercise to sell, she dieted hard for 10-12 weeks before photo shoots, ramped up her training two weeks before and would only have photo shoots in the morning, before she ate or drank anything to minimise any fluid in her body.
Personally, that is not a lifestyle I would aspire to, and you are a better mother to your child by being healthy then when you're prepping three months for unrealistic photos.
3Impossible Instant All Night Sleepers
“What’s wrong with me?” I’ve heard other mothers say “Why can’t I get my baby to sleep through the night?” This is usually two minutes after they have read a perky post by another mom saying how refreshed she feels because her two-week-old baby just slept right through the night without a peep.
There are many things to remember when you read these posts. One, you only have this mom's word for it that this miracle happened. Remember, some moms have such low self-esteem they write things like this to make themselves feel better and to have other moms envy them. Two, your definition of 'through the night' and theirs may be radically different. I once knew a mom whose baby slept through the night at an early age and was very envious until I found out she meant from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. That’s not through the night! Three, when your baby is waking to be fed, then they have a need, and you are fulfilling that need. Motherhood is not a race to see who can have their baby be ‘better’ or develop faster - it is a journey for you both to travel at your pace.
2Educational Crafts For Babies
If social media isn’t making you feel like a failure because of how you look, then it is making you feel like a failure by not being a multitasking crafting queen who makes endless educational toys to help your baby's brain develop.
In the same way, some people are skilled at cooking or writing, or problem-solving, some are skilled at sewing or other crafts. Just because you do not happen to be the kind of mom who can whip up a quick tag blanket for your child or a montisorri inspired wooden shape sorting tray doesn’t make you a failure.
Spending time talking with your baby, sharing simple books, playing peek-a-boo, these are all simple activities that babies have loved for generations. What little one doesn’t enjoy banging a pot with a wooden spoon while you make dinner? And that is just as good as some homemade drum set with brain stimulating patterns and multiple tactile tags.
1Everything On Pinterest - Ever
Pinterest and I have a love-hate relationship. I love the things I see and pin; then I hate the way I feel when I have been unable to recreate them. What mom can’t make a birthday cake for her child? I am a total failure.
Fortunately, this has become less of an issue since an entire “Nailed It” movement evolved with pictures posted on social media of everyone's terrible attempts to copy something on Pinterest. This has become very popular because so many of us try to create these amazing objects and meals and most of us fail miserably, so seeing others being open about their failures is reassuring. You are not the only one who cannot create beautiful little chick cake pops; I can’t either. In fact, the pictures above are the original cake pops I used for inspiration, how mine turned out, and finally how the kids and I adapted them to be monsters. We didn’t fail to make chicks; we succeeded in making something new!
Sources: Daily Mail, Buzzfeed, Pinterest, USAToday
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