What is with our obsession with achieving mommy perfection? This is a question I’ve been considering since starting my 2016 project, The Ultimate Mom Challenge™. We see the evidence everywhere: mommy wars, the parenting book phenomenon, the constant uproar from the media over good parenting gone bad, etc. Good Lord, my Ultimate Mom Challenge is the very incarnation of the point!
I read an awesome TED article that indicates this is a cultural tendency, and one somewhat unique to the United States. Other countries aren’t quite so irresolute over their parenting practices, and seem more confident in their ability.
I’m not criticizing this American phenomenon. In fact, I’m probably more guilty than most. My entire Challenge is to implement different practices towards becoming a better mother, for goodness sake! When I first told my husband about my Challenge idea, he said he was excited for me but truly didn’t understand why I questioned my parenting skills as they stood.
First reaction… awww. He thinks I’m a good momma! Second reaction… why do I question my parenting skills, anyway? Third reaction… why don’t men question their parenting skills at all? Am I right?
But here’s the thing: when I first became a mom, I expected things to be more intuitive. I really believed the skills, the attitude, and the behavior of a great mom would just come to me. I waited and waited. Nothing. I learned that for myself, becoming a mom was something I would need to work on and develop probably my whole life. Which sucks a little bit when you are counting on waking up one morning with your brain hardwired for perfection.
So now I’m on a mission to be a better mom, whether that’s a good thing or not. And there is no shortage of parenting book and advice out there. I’ve already delved right in, and I’m amazed by the conflicting advice on how to raise a child. Spanking vs. no spanking, positive redirection vs. time outs, helicopter parenting vs. let the kids learn the hard way. How is it 2016 and we don’t have a proven formula for raising a smart, self-sufficient, loving, happy child?
I suppose in a way it would be a lot easier if we lived in a country where we all parented the same way, disciplined the same way, and educated the same way. But that wouldn’t be America anymore. And it’s important to remember that one of the great things about our country is we are free to choose how we want to raise our children, and raise them based on our own values, something other cultures might not feel as free to decide.
I know I have a lot to learn about my capabilities as a mom. Perhaps that’s why I’m so determined to read the books, to try the methods, and to learn what works best for me and my family. Because at the end of the day, I don’t want to screw this up, I want to be a rock star mom. Sitting back and hoping it all just works out isn’t how my momma raised me. And it’s not how America became a great country either.