It’s Okay Not Being a Perfect Mom
By Rebecca Berg, LMFT
Published at http://thegotomom.com/its-okay-not-being-a-perfect-mom-mentalhealth/
As mothers, we have many dreams for our children. There is much pressure from
society about how to be the perfect mother, and despite the best of intentions,
the reality is that the challenges of motherhood can, at times, be overwhelming.
The great news is we only have to be “good enough” according to
the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. And more importantly, we need to be ourselves,
no one else.
Motherhood is hard. And, yes, many times it can be overwhelming. But, it is
important not to make it needlessly harder by setting our expectations too
high for both our children and ourselves.
Our children look to us for guidance, containment, safety, and comfort. Our
role as mothers is to help our children grow and understand themselves so that
they can grow up to become happy, healthy, productive members of society. In
the journey of motherhood, there are daily challenges – some more manageable
In the introduction of Parenting from the Inside Out, authors Daniel Siegel,
M.D. and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. state, “As we grow and understand ourselves,
we can offer a foundation of emotional well-being and security that enables
our children to thrive.” Indeed, part of being a good mother is taking
care of our own mental health, so that we can bring that emotional wellness
to our family life and parenting techniques. For some mothers, this can be
challenging. We all make mistakes, getting overly frustrated, forgetting that
it was picture day at school, running late, feeling like there is never enough
time in the day. It is simply not easy with hectic schedules and juggling numerous
priorities in our daily lives. We are often excellent caregivers but not so
great at taking care of ourselves.
Some things to be mindful of:
- One of the ways we can care for ourselves is by giving ourselves
grace. Sometimes just looking at all that we are managing puts it all in
I’m a big fan of Mommy time-outs. Sometimes we just need 5 minutes to
decompress, breathe, and think. Don’t feel guilty for putting the
TV on just so you can have a few minutes of quiet or alone time.
- When we are present enough to notice how we react to our children,
we become more aware of the triggers and can work toward offsetting negative
or reactions. Recognizing what we need in those moments and being able
for help is incredibly important.
- Do things that help you to feel replenished. Sometimes a walk outside,
coffee with a girlfriend, a date night, or a playdate to break up the monotony
provide a new perspective, distraction, or much needed decompression.
- It is also important to have your identity established apart from
being a mother. Who were your before you became a mother? What goals do you
- If you still find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out, it might
be time to seek out professional help. A good therapist can give you the
to process your feelings and understand how your past is affecting
We all know that no one is perfect, yet somehow many of us strive for this
unrealistic expectation of ourselves. We have to be extremely careful not
to do this so that it becomes unhealthy or distracting to what’s most important
in our lives. Remember: do not measure your weaknesses by someone else’s
strengths. Know what you are capable of and celebrate the things which make
you uniquely you. Motherhood is a journey of ups and downs, thrilling joys
and excruciating lows. If we can take this all in stride, it makes for a
much more peaceful family life.
To illustrate this, here is a great example of a recent encounter I had with
my eldest daughter. A few weeks ago, we were driving in the car to pick up
her younger sister from preschool, and I realized I had forgotten about a deadline
I had later that day. Unknowingly, I must have muttered aloud because my daughter
calmly said from the backseat, “It’s okay to make mistakes, Mom,
because that’s how we learn.” I cried tears of joy knowing that
even though I still struggle with perfectionism, I have helped my daughter
to know it is okay and even beneficial to sometimes fail to learn from our
Mothering is not a single event or a snapshot in time but a journey. There
is a dance that we do with our children, sometimes quickly, sometimes from
a distance, and sometimes in an intimate embrace. We will all make mistakes,
but it is how to handle those mistakes with grace and dignity both for ourselves
and our children that makes all the difference.
More than anything, I want my girls to be real people who know they are loved,
cherished, and known. In order to do this, I have to know myself and really
dig into those deep, dark places of my soul to find peace, forgiveness and
happiness — and to remember to try to make time for myself every day…because
good enough is all I really need to be.
Rebecca Berg is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice
in Brea, Ca. With over 16 years of experience in the mental health field, she
is passionate about helping women, mothers of young children, and teens. She
enjoys helping her clients heal from the painful effects of trauma, sexual
abuse, grief, loss, anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. She holds
a M.A. from Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University. When not working,
Rebecca is trying to keep up with her energetic and lively two young girls
and make time for her husband of 11 years. To learn more about Rebecca, please