The Pressure School can put on Moms (and Dads)
How often do you find yourself saying you need more hours in the day to get through everything expected of you as a mom? How often do you long for the day to end, so you can just collapse on your bed? How often do you question whether you’re a good mom? How often do you feel you’re just not coping? You look at all the other moms at your child’s school who seem to have it all together, so you push yourself further because you think there is some sort of standard to keep up with. I’m sure many moms (and dads) can relate to my list of what makes me question my mom abilities when it comes to school duties.
“Repeat after me: I am NOT a bad mom. I am a GOOD mom having a bad day.” – Natalie Hoage
One of my biggest challenges is extra murals. There are compulsory sports, and then those voluntary ones your children are interested in. They are all on different days, creating chaos in your schedule. Certain sports have match days with away games. So if the school doesn’t provide transport, you have to collect your child from school, take them to the match, stay or collect again when they’re done playing. If you have more than one child at school, as I do, you are juggling between your children’s schedules and you could easily have – as is the case with me – three different schedules for your children every day of the week.
What about school events? These days, the school social calendar creates pressure on parents all by its own. There is school fun/carnival day, market day, carol evening, exhibition days, productions, mom and daughter campouts, dads and lads campouts, lifts for outings, etc. If you don’t attend them, your child is disappointed. Let’s also not forget all the fundraisers…
There is also the last minute or sudden school requirements, which drive me completely over the edge. This happens in one of two ways. Either the teacher wanting something the next day for a class project, or on your way to school in the morning, your child says he or she needs a pirate hat for a drama class on the day. I sometimes feel the teacher’s expectations of parents are unreasonable at times. Our children, on the other hand, think that mom can miraculously produce a pirate hat during the drive to school…
What about at the beginning of a term when a mountain of books come home to be covered. You have three days to a week to get this done. But the idea of covering books every day is so overwhelming, you decide to do it all at once into the early hours of the morning. Depending on your child’s age, they might not be able to help. Or the book once covered by your child looks like it has already been through an entire school term or year, so you feel it best to do it yourself because you worried about what the other children/moms will think of your child’s books.
Then there is the outside of school activities – parties, playdates, and sleep-overs.
All this pressure, and so much more leaves you feeling inadequate, frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and you find yourself sobbing sometimes. You try to rationalise why you feel this way, you try to explain it to your partner, all the while you feel worse – less adequate, a lot more of those other feelings that ultimately make you feel like a bad mom. You find yourself in a repeated cycle of producing more perceived shortcomings as a mom. I know this is what I did and sometimes still do when I forget that:
- It is okay to have good and bad days.
- I don’t need to keep up with other moms or compare myself to them.
- All the guilt I have is self-inflicted. It doesn’t come from my partner, or from my children.
- Raising children can be stressful, and it does cause anxiety. I need to breathe and let all the bad thoughts go.
Overall, each of us should judge the efficacy of our parenting based on our children’s happiness. Do what you can in your way. Make all your parent duties work for you and your family. Through the years, mostly being a fulltime working mom, I have been asked by many how I do it because I apparently made it look easy. It never has been and still isn’t. My response though has always been – you just do. What else can one say! Remember – what you think you see in others and having it all together, is not the reality.
Until next time…
Yours in Adapting & Being