It started for most of us back when we were little. Little girls. You know, the “be a good girl” mentality. Heck, if we weren’t told that directly, we most certainly got the message through our upbringing: if not by our parents, then by the larger culture.
The “good girl” mentality caused some serious struggles that so many of us as grown women are dealing with today. What does it mean exactly to be a good girl? While there are variations to this for each of us, growing up we often heard:
Don’t be loud.
Be kind to everyone.
Smile. Be pretty.
Always be polite.
The list goes on.
We internalize these messages to mean…Our needs don’t matter. Put other people first. If you are anything other than a “good girl”, you aren’t good enough…therefore be perfect (or else).
So it’s no wonder so many mothers strive for perfection and in turn have trouble asking for help.
Asking for help suggests that we’re failing and can’t figure it out all on our own but that notion is in direct conflict with being “perfect”. So we don’t ask for help; instead we suffer alone, drowning in overwhelm and burn-out.
And the spiral continues. Then we have moments of rage or anger outbursts and we feel horrible, if not ashamed, of those too. The “good girl” is really failing herself and she also deeply believes she is failing her children too.
Not to mention, we live in a culture that values hyper independence, success and outcomes. Culturally, we encourage strong independence, being able to do-it-all and the hustler mentality, go-go-go. We don’t talk about rest as an essential part of our well-being nor do we talk about community as an integral part of our self-care.
The messages we continue to hear as women only perpetuate the need for a mother to “do it all” on her own and love every minute of it.
Here’s the thing.
There is no such thing as “perfect”. It’s an invisible and moving target. And what’s worse, is the shame spiral that follows every time we miss the mark; and that’s frequently when we have so many unrealistic expectations of ourselves.
What if I told you that asking for help is really a superpower, mama?
Being able to say “I need help” is a sign that you know yourself really well; you know your limits, what’s within your scope and it serves as a signal that “I matter”. You are beginning the journey of acknowledging your own self-worth.
And if that reframe isn’t enough to entice you to begin thinking differently about your relationship with the four letter word, “H-E-L-P”, then try this on for size too.
“Motherhood” is our collective experience of mothering in our modern society; it’s the culture and environment that we mother in. If in this realm of being, we, as mothers, continue to foster the expectations for ourselves of being perfect, having it all figured out, doing it solo, then we are causing part of our own suffering. We are part of the problem; not the solution.
When we post IG perfect pictures of our family…
When we showcase our orderly, clean houses to our mama friends (when we’ve scrambled endlessly hours before to clean)...
When we cry behind closed doors and wipe away our tears alone…
We send the messages not only to ourselves, but to other mamas, that we need to keep this masquerade up.The mask of perfection in mothering is one so many of us wear without slowing down enough to know…we’ve got other options. We actually have the choice, Mama. We can choose differently for ourselves and in turn, all mothers.
It just requires something a bit scary at first and that’s being vulnerable, Mama. Yet when you go there, when you share your realness with others, it opens doors for connection.
(Side note: loneliness in motherhood is also an epidemic so risking vulnerability can create the connection you might just be missing in your motherhood journey too.)
When you show up vulnerably and acknowledge that you could use some help, you allow for another Mama to more easily say, “Me too”. And when that happens, that fear of rejection, that shame you’ve been carrying that you somehow aren’t “good enough”...will begin to melt away.
Asking for help, Mama, is your superpower. Not only is it a strength within you, but it also makes it okay for other Mamas to do the same. It’s a step towards shifting the ideal and perfect mother archetype that so many have internalized as the only way.
And it also shows your little ones that they don’t need to be perfect too. And what a great model for them.