Maternal Health Month, Maternal Health Month 2014, may is maternal mental health month, motherhood

No Pressure

Coffee mugs saying, “You probably don’t recognize me without my cape.” T-shirts with a shield standing for Supermom rather than Superman. Photos of gorgeous women receiving hair and beauty treatments while breastfeeding a baby below a smooth decolletage.

These images can be taken one of two ways. We can see the strength of mothers, their uncanny ability to make seeming miracles happen for the little ones who look up to them, the beauty inherent in their life-giving and nurturing ways. We can feel the immense pressure of an ideal to achieve that leaves us primped to within an inch of our skin’s elasticity, our patience pulled out like a piece of taffy, and pissed.

It’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed and fall into the second category. I don’t care about being perfectly coiffed, as my crazy, silver-tinged curls would attest, but I allow the unseen hands of unrealistic expectation to tighten their choke-hold around my neck. I feel I have – and often, try – to be all and do all for everyone. The reason it’s so easy for images like these to inform our mothering decisions is because they appeal to the deep-seated love we have for our families. Naturally, we want to do our best for them, so it’s a seemingly natural progression for that slight tweak toward perfection.

The unconditional love of our children unwittingly feeds into this phenomenon. Take this on-line post, for instance:



Unswerving devotion. Disciple-like adoration. Unadulterated trust.

The keeper of socks. Seeker of single ones. Holder of pebbles, lost teeth, lucky pennies.

“Mom, where is my [insert any pertinent object here]!?”

It’s not a God complex. So much happens throughout the day where we are the be all, end all.

Which is fine – if you’re a well-adjusted, level-headed, simpatico kind of person.

Horrific if you overthink things, catatrophize things, can’t cope with things, can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning.

If the thing Mom can’t find is hope, all really is lost.

If you or someone you love falls into this category, please help them get the professional help they need.  Contact an organization or individual like the ones below:





7 thoughts on “No Pressure

  1. Jennifer, I know we won’t ever be able to know how many mothers you help by writing so openly about a subject that sometimes feels like it’s the last tabboo, which is so absurd. Mothers aren’t perfect, and the more we act as though there was a standard they need to be achieving, the more difficult it will be for them to ask for help when they’re in need. Good for you, for helping to pull the walls down a little and expose mothers for what they really are. Just people. Seemingly tireless, almost superhuman at times, but not quite — they are people and they need to know they can reach for support without being shamed.


  2. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    Parenting is just tough. No question about it. Mothering, I figure, is uniquely difficult – and not simply because of the oft-times ludicrously idealistic notions we see of motherhood. That you see and realize the absurdity of it is a point in your favor, for sure, and I’ve no doubt your family is totally the beneficiary of your wisdom.


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