Whether you were raised right by your own mother, or raised in a way that encouraged you to somehow be better at it, it seems that mothers always have to up their game. It also doesn’t help that society has evolved from just having to deal with the nosy, know-it-all neighbor to having a huge personal, global, and social network to contend with. Everyone’s got something to say about how you should parent, whether you are doing it right, and worse… what you may be doing wrong.
According to Suzi Abrera, TV host and mom of three, “There is always societal pressure on mothers. It just changes with the times. Now it’s more hi-tech, and so the ‘norm’ and ‘ideals’ of a mom is put out there on social media.” Society and our different upbringings have laid out a million expectations for mothers, but in a world of cookie cutter roles, where do real moms like us fit in? Here are some of the roles we are expected to play perfectly.
According to celebrity mom of two, Iya Villania-Arellano, sometimes moms don’t even notice how society may be pressuring them. Nowadays, it’s not enough to just be able to give birth and become a mother. It’s become about how you choose to give birth, whether you are strong enough to forego medication, or whether you are amazing enough to manage a water birthing method. Don’t even get us started on the whole breastfeeding vs. formula debate. Everything natural has become an almost dictated norm, with judgement and pressure coming from both ends of the argument.
It goes without saying that the pressure to become ever-ready, ever-present, and always available to cater to your family’s needs come not just from society, but from within the family as well. Just like butlers, mothers are still expected to know the family’s wants even before they ask for it. God forbid you have a long list of items to tick off in your head already!
Surely, mothers do find fulfillment in serving their kids, but should you fail to do your job, expect a dose of tongue-wagging coming from all directions. Have you ever been to a kiddie party and you didn’t instantly realize your child has some spaghetti sauce on his face? You know how you realized it? Because you felt the burning, Jedi-master-type stare of another mother, judging you for not having a bib or a napkin on the ready.
Decades ago, mothers were expected to be Martha Stewart. Cook up a feast during special occasions and put up a well-appointed home during parties, and you are all set. Then, the time came when bento box baons became all the rage. Imagine having to wake up early and mastering cutting up tiny rabbit ears out of radish? Insane. Nowadays, it’s all about whether you are feeding your child organic fare or–gasp–fast food chicken nuggets. Of course, new information helps guide mothers in preparing a healthier diet for their children, but there are those inevitable times when you just can’t fix up cordon bleu for dinner, right?
Actress Chariz Solomon, a mom of two, feels the pressure just by seeing other moms being able to spend more time with her kids than she can. As a single mother, she has to work doubly hard to be able to provide for her children, as well as manage a household wherein she still has to take care of her siblings. She barely has time to take care of herself, and has only recently started to squeeze working out into the mix. Mothers like her feel burdened by the lack of hours in a day, simply by seeing other mothers pulling it off with every hair strand in place. With the expectation to balance everything and still come out on top each time, mothers have to fight off that feeling of never being enough, just because you ran out of time to accomplish each task.
These days, it’s a sin to be seen as an unhealthy mother. Never mind that you just gave birth two months ago! Be prepared to be shamed for your post-baby weight. However, the pressure to become a svelte and sexy mother is fueled not just by all the “success story” billboards of celebrity moms who lost weight easily after birth, but it also stems from within. Actress Camille Prats-Yambao notes that sometimes, she feels the pressure to be fit because she compares herself to other moms. Given that she is currently in her second trimester, she tends to wonder how “some moms remain healthy and thin all throughout their pregnancy, or how easily they get their pre-baby body back in just a blink”, as if nothing happened. Can you believe some netizens would post comments on her page saying how she already looks like a mother…while she’s pregnant? Unbelievable.
However, according to Abrera, societal pressure does not always have to be viewed negatively because when relayed with genuine concern, it can even be a plus. She says, “Nowadays, more and more mothers have started to value their individuality and their intent to be fit alongside their role as mother and nurturer. And IMHO, a fit mom is a strong mom and a happy mom. And that can only benefit the family in the best way possible.”
Apart from nurturers, mothers are also educators. However, when you look at social media trends and hip motherhood sites, one cannot help but compare your ways of educating your child. There’s a bit of a push and pull when it comes to traditional education versus a more free-wheeling, experiential system. Villania-Arellano notes that mothers are pressured to be seen “not having a brat of a child, one who’s advanced in speaking, motor skills, and so many more! Of course a mom would want all of these for her child, but honestly, every mom has a different situation and you end up doing what you have to, even if it means doing exactly what you told yourself you wouldn’t do so your child won’t turn out a certain way.”
At the end of the day, society will think what it wants to think. But that doesn’t mean that we have to succumb to every whim and norm that is dictated to us. Just because it’s what people expect, doesn’t mean that you have to follow along and do it. If you’re too lazy to exercise, if you can’t afford all-natural or organic, if you’re too tired to cook dinner, then that’s okay moms. We don’t expect you to be perfect–because in a somewhat twisted sense, you are already perfect in your imperfection. And guess what? We think your family knows that too!