There’s no denying that we moms put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to meet the needs of those we love. We constantly work hard, sacrifice, and often battle a lot of self-doubt on how good of a mother we may think we are.
While we all have a subconscious image in our heads of the ideal type of mom we strive to be, social media can add to the guilt and doubt
One mom’s viral Facebook post reminds readers that we can free ourselves from the self-imposed pressure we place on ourselves as moms because in motherhood, “there is no trophy”.
Mom Ashley Gibson was in the throes of labor with her third son, & was in absolute agony. She was debating whether she should opt for an epidural or not, because the intense pain was becoming too much for her to handle.
As she tearfully debated the idea, her husband spoke four powerful words to her:
There’s no trophy, Ashley.
And he’s absolutely right. There’s no “winning” way to deliver a baby. Ashley’s husband gave her permission in that moment to give herself a break; he reminded her that she didn’t have to prove anything to anyone by giving birth sans epidural if it was too much for her.
While his words were obviously meaningful in the moment, they apply to far more than just childbirth.
Ashley describes in her post that the idea resurfaced as she battled a hefty amount of guilt over supplementing her newborn son Leo’s feedings with formula.
This is a great example of the mom pressure we put on ourselves. Too many moms have unfortunately struggled with this same guilt, as though they are somehow “failing” their baby by either not being able to breastfeed, or for not wanting to.
And once again, her husband’s words resonated in her mind: “There’s no trophy Ashley”. The self-imposed sense of failure that the breastfeeding wasn’t going the way Ashley imagined it was “supposed” to go had no place there.
We can achieve standards and awards in many areas of life- sports, work, academic society, etc. But in terms of motherhood, there are no trophies given for doing things the way we think others expect us to.
Likewise, there is no need to feel “less than” if we don’t do things the way others supposedly do it.
How many moms have been in Ashley’s birthing situation and felt this very same way??
I literally thought in that delivery room that I would somehow be “less than” as mother for tapping out and asking for the drugs.
That’s a LOT of unfair pressure to put on yourself- to feel like a failure right out of the parenthood starting gate simply because you didn’t give birth the way you…”could have”, “should have”, “like so-and-so did”.
Yet we moms do this very same thing in so many areas of our parenting:
Like there would be a gold medal or AT LEAST a gold sticker on my medical chart for having a natural birth.
So many of us find ourselves striving in vain for imaginary gold stickers -a seal of approval that we are somehow “good enough” to wear the title of Mom.
Gibson was fortunate to have her husband to remind her that in terms of motherhood, there is no first-place trophy. She encourages fellow moms to remember: we’re meant to live in community, not competition.
Ashley explains in her post that we create a lot of invisible trophies for ourselves to try & earn as moms. We set extremely high standards, and often feel that we’ve failed if we don’t meet these expectations.
Social media is a double-edged sword in terms of trophies. On one hand, it can provide moms with an invaluable sense of community.
But on the other hand, immersing ourselves in the glossy, seemingly-perfect snapshots of another mother’s life can make us feel like we’re not “good enough”.
Or as Ashley puts it:
Standards we try so hard to measure up to even though the contest is make believe and we were made to live in community, not competition.
The pressure we put on ourselves to be the very best mothers is often fueled by anxiety and stress, which can lead to feeling like we’re competing against other moms, trying to “one-up” them in order to corner the market on parenting.
Maybe you personally don’t feel that way, but even if that’s the case, you’ve undoubtedly seen that play out between other moms- both in real life and on social media.
Ashley lists a few of the most common “mom-competitions” that we can often feel pressure to achieve:
And these are just a few of the countless areas of motherhood that we think we have to master; as Ashley reminds us, “This list could go on forever!”
When we pressure ourselves to be the very best in any of these aspects of parenting, that pressure becomes a pressure-cooker. And that steam eventually gets released somehow: it either becomes self-loathing, or condescension towards other moms in order to assure ourselves that we are indeed “good enough”.
Both of these outlets are destructive- to ourselves and to other moms.
The end goal for mothers should be community, not competition.
Ashley Gibson’s post is a precious reminder to mothers that we don’t HAVE to strive for imaginary trophies, and nearly burn ourselves out in the process.
We have to give ourselves permission to relax, and to enjoy the motherhood ride. We may joke about the idea of kids receiving “participation trophies” in sports these days, but in terms of motherhood, every mom deserves a gold star.
Let’s be the type of moms that know there’s no first place award- we’re all playing on the same team.
Considering that Ashley’s post has already earned 24K shares in one day, it’s clear that mothers need to hear this affirming message.