Although there are some moms who make it a point to be painfully real about the ups and downs of motherhood, too many mothers hide their shortcomings in order to present a happy and near-perfect face to other moms.
Iím sure you know both kinds of moms. There are the ones who will admit that they just canít seem to get on top of their sonís behavior problems (and what mom with a son does not have to deal with behavior problems?), and donít mind admitting to their friends that they are on the verge of giving up. Then there are the moms who seem determined not to admit that they donít have the parenting thing down pat. You know that their children canít really be as perfect as they claim, but how can you possibly admit to struggling to a mom who claims that she has it all under control?
Unfortunately, moms on both sides of this spectrum suffer for the disparate picture presented. For the mom who feels like she is the only one who suffers from inadequate-mom syndrome, the lack of solidarity can prove crippling. For the mom who is determined at all costs to present the picture of a perfect child, the pressure can build up as well. The average parenting experience likely falls somewhere in between these extremes, but there is nothing like being a mom to blind you to that reality. There are certainly moms who are inadequate, and there are probably also moms who have been blessed with complete competency. I must confess that I donít know either one of these moms!
I realize that Iím talking about a very fine balance here. No one really likes being around a friend who complains constantly about her children. Certainly, no one likes to be around a friend who never admits ever to having experienced a problem or a challenge with her son. All moms would be served, though, by being real about what it means to be a mother. It truly is the hardest job in the world, and while I donít necessarily think it takes a village to raise a child, I do think that just knowing that someone else is experiencing the same things that you are makes the journey that much easier. Iíve earned a Ph.D. and Iíve been a mother four times over. I can attest to the fact that mothering is much, much harder than graduate school!
If I could tell new mothers anything, I would urge them to understand that they are not alone, and that anything they are going through now has been experienced by countless mothers before them. If you happen to have mom friends who look at you blankly when you talk about your sonís seeming inability to follow directions the first time they are given, I would strongly encourage you not to assume that their sons are perfect. Seek out the company of moms who donít mind sharing their own struggles, if for no other reason than that they might have found a solution to a problem with which you are dealing!
For your part, realize that admitting to struggling with a parenting issue does not mean that you are not a good mother! After all, you canít deal with the problem until you admit to having it!