Fellow moms, we've heard many things about motherhood that simply aren't true. No one is exactly sure how these five myths became so pervasive, but they are making us miserable. If you want to find more joy in motherhood, you have to acknowledge that these five myths are holding you back. It's time for all of us to let them go.
1. There's a right way and a wrong way to parent
Imagine all the doubt, worry, and confusion that we would eliminate if we quit thinking about parenting in terms of right and wrong. The mommy wars would go away entirely. In reality, there is only a right way and a wrong way for your family. Part of being a successful mother is learning through experience what works in your unique situation and with your unique kids. No two families need or want the same things, so we've got to let go of the notion that some mythical, perfect parenting tactic works.
2. You always have to like your kids
We have this ideal that (1) mothers instantly bond with their own children, and (2) they like them all of the time. Neither of those is necessarily true. While a mother always loves her kids, sometimes our kids do things that make us downright crazy. (It starts at birth and escalates from there.) It's human nature to get annoyed and frustrated with your kids. After all, children are a demanding breed. Don't beat yourself up for feeling bad about your kids from time to time. We've all been there.
3. Some women have it all figured out
We all have an image of the "ideal mom" lurking in our minds. We live under the illusion that someone, somewhere has calm, respectful children, a doting husband and an immaculate home. While it sometimes seems that our neighbor down the street has everything together, we all come with our own distinct baggage. Just because someone keeps a tidy house or has high-achieving children, doesn't mean she isn't dealing with her own demons. We should show a little more compassion to ourselves and to those around us. You never know what's going on behind closed doors.
4. Our kids' problems are our own
We mothers internalize our kids' issues and make them our own. However, our children come with strengths and weaknesses that have little to do with our parenting. Society teaches us that our lack of parenting skills contributes to our kids' hardships, especially for mothers of special needs kids or kids with challenges. We run the risk of taking up our children's cross as our own.
At the end of the day, we can teach, encourage and provide opportunities for our kids, but we can't force them to go in any direction. Our kids are born with their own free will, and they have to make the big decisions about their own lives.
5. We have 18 years to get it right
There's an enormous amount of pressure to get motherhood right. When our kids leave home, it's the ultimate test of what we've taught, but it's far from the end. Our relationship with our kids is constantly evolving, even after they've left home. It's never too late to become a better mom and improve your relationship with your kids.
We've got to stop being so hard on ourselves. The moms on TV and in movies bear little resemblance to us and our friends in real life. When we let go of our preconceived notions about how mothers should act or should feel we open ourselves up to becoming the better moms. Our kids don't need our perfection; they need our true selves — the good, the bad, and mostly the loving.