I recently read a parenting book that really spoke to me. Yes, I read a lot of books on parenting. I am in the thick of things with three little ones. Every day brings new challenges and new stages, and I feel like I am constantly trying to figure out how to keep up with it all. Some books I agree with, some make me confident that I do not want to do what they are advising. This time I found one that made me want to call up the authors and say thank you. I really want to give this book to all my mom friends. We all work so hard to be the best, well, everything we can be. And I know most of us still feel like we are falling behind every day. We aren’t though. We need to unmask the myths we pile on ourselves about motherhood and embrace the great job we all do. (Note: This post does contain amazon affiliate links. All opinions are my own.)
The book is called Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need To Knock It Off by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk. And the book is exactly that, it looks at myths we all believe about being moms. Things like we need to be a supermom, that motherhood should be the one and only thing that fulfills us, and that we should love every single minute of it all. The book has a biblical basis, meaning it does refer to scripture frequently. I am Christian, so this didn’t deter me from reading it. I don’t think it should necessarily deter others from different beliefs from reading it though. First of all you can skip some of the biblical references and still get the point of the book. I chose to look at it from an academic viewpoint. The passages used provide good examples of what the authors are talking about, even if the source isn’t your book if you will. Overall I wouldn’t set it aside because you have different religious beliefs, but that is just my opinion.
The biggest thing that I took away from this book came from the very first chapter. The authors use the end of Proverbs 31 to describe basically what I think all us moms think we need to be- the perfect wife, mother, person really. Even if you aren’t religious, give it a read. Basically this women was perfect in every way. We need to stimulate our children’s mental growth, imagination, and teach them social skills. We need to cook healthy, delicious meals from healthy and eco- conscious ingredients. We need to be there to support our partners and provide for their emotional needs. Don’t forget to foster a career while still being a stay at home mom (because you know, being just a stay at home mom or a working mom isn’t enough. You should really kind of be both.) While you are doing all this take some time to exercise, and add in a little ‘me time.’ This me time shouldn’t be watching silly tv while finally sitting down, it should fulfill you creatively and create something amazing that you could sell on Etsy (add that mom-preneur title in). It goes without saying your home will be spotless and your children will never, ever tantrum or act out. It sounds exhausting and impossible. And I know I feel like I should be living up to this.
The thing is, no where in that passage does it say this perfect women did each and every one of these things, every day, all on the same day. It reads like a list of accomplishments from a long and fulfilling life. It is a look back on all the good a woman has done in her life, focusing on the positive. Yet somehow the message I know I receive is that I should be doing it all, and doing it all the time. That is just not possible! Let’s just get practical here. There are only so many things a person can do in one moment. There are only so many moments in a day. It would stand to reason that one person can only do so much.
I like to think of it this way. Our children take 18 years to reach (legal) adulthood. During this time they are newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, children, tweens, teens, and more. We wouldn’t expect them to reach every milestone at one time, even in one year. It takes that full 18 years to get everything done. Why do we think we will hit all of our life goals every day? We can’t, and we won’t. We need to look at our own lives from farther away. Don’t just look at one day, or even one week. Maybe you the house wasn’t spotless this week. Maybe your kid was more Cheerio than boy because that is all he would eat. Maybe you are staying home instead of furthering your career. Maybe you let your children watch one show too many. But back up a bit more. Over the course of your life, heck even just over the course of motherhood there have been times when you did your best to make meals healthy. You cleaned with abandon. You spent time just being with your kids. You did it all. You were enough.
The book delves into all of the pressure I know I at least feel. The idea that motherhood should fulfill everything in you. (It’s okay to want to do things beyond mothering.) The feeling that if you do something differently you are wrong, or someone else is wrong. (There are a lot of ways to be a good mother.) The fear that if your child fails, it is because you have failed. (At the end of the day our children are their own people, not extensions of ourselves.)
I put this one down feeling better and more relaxed about motherhood. It made me want to keep striving to be and do my best, but remember perfection isn’t the goal. I strongly recommend reading this one.