Mindful Mamas Aren’t Perfect So Stop Acting Like We Are

mindful mama carrying child on back

“I am purr-fect.” Take a deep breath, and say it again, as you conduct your routine of morning asanas to start yet another beautiful day while your child zenfully sleeps in the next room. If only! In reality, your toddler is a tiny tyrant who woke you up before the crack of dawn. Now, you’re trying to deep-breathe while figuring out your routine for the day. Mindful mamas are still going to grin and bear it in public — because that’s what society says we should do.

When that fails, I’ve been guilty of logging into social media only to be reminded of the things I’m doing wrong. Perfect Instagram Moms hold their smiling babies tightly, declaring why you should stay away from formula and pacifiers. Is it so wrong to feed your baby formula for the weeks that household chaos erupts, and you barely have time to brush your own teeth? No.

When your child has a tantrum, do you post about it with a photo of a smiling child? The audience only reads about the pleasant point hours later when they finally calmed down. Sometimes, that photo is of the crying. It doesn’t matter. Someone will take it the wrong way, whether you intended to share a win amid a series of bad days or not. 

Mom guilt emerges online and offline, revealing a status-quo concept of martyrdom-perfectionism that works at cross purposes. Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. While it can motivate, its presence in the idea of mindful parenthood creates a toxic subculture, only making parenting more difficult than it has to be.

Mindful Mamas, Chill With Your Perfectionism

Perfect moms aren’t so perfect. That’s a fact most mindful mamas will emphatically nod about, but in the next instant a hot topic comes up about vaccinations, baby wearing or essential oils, the ones who nodded along start shaking their heads and shaming other moms. Everyone has a hot button topic, and that’s fine for your family. Do moms shame other moms to also distract from the fact they’re not perfect, either?

It’s not that mindful mamas set out to appear holier-than-thou, but their health-oriented habits and Valkyrie battle cries make them look that way. Some concentrate on the Super Mom persona on social media, consciously or unconsciously, to have a point of reference that makes them feel more capable as moms, partners, employees and individuals in daily life. I’ve been guilty multiple times — using social media as my reminder that I’m not a bad mom by posting photos of the good stuff and even humble bragging.

In a Parents survey of 2,000 participants, 79 percent stated other parents overshare on social media, but only 32 percent feel they personally overshare — 61 percent also thought parents brag too much online. Bragging extends beyond PTO meetings and mom groups to online these days, and the art of bragging consists of the “humblebrag,” in dismissive or self-deprecating language of waking up so early and sacrifice to make your kiddo’s gymnastics competition. The suspicious ones are easy to spot, but wins are still important to celebrate.

Tender moments, overcoming fears and taking those first steps create bursts of pride in everyone, and social media is an important tool for family and friends to keep track of each other. However, turning Facebook into a Baby FakeBook isn’t an end goal that should be celebrated.

A Bad Day Is a Bad Day

Mindful mamas, you need to take a deep breath for yourself, sure, but on any given day, realize it’s OK to hold your breath and turn red. It’s OK to say an expletive under your breath when some butthead cuts you off with your diaper-wearing baby onboard — I speak from experience. It’s OK to rage in stuck traffic with your green juice pressed tightly between your legs while you endure yet another round of “Dora the Explorer” songs.

Fortunately, more mindful mamas post their hard days online without feeling the need to put smiley face stickers on what is simply a bad day. Everyone has bad days, and it’s human to admit that a bad day is a bad day. Not every post or comment has to a life lesson, nor do mindful mamas need to project their life lessons on everyone else, intentionally or unintentionally.

Likewise, social media streams and texts between mom friends reflecting wins are good to be celebrated as such. Check your mom guilt baggage at the baby gate when you scroll through social media posts, post your own or share mom news — especially IRL (in real life) with other moms.

Mom Guilt Is Heavy-Duty Stuff

Leaving that mom guilt at the baby gate is heavy-duty stuff, heavier than your baby plus baby gear. Whether you’re a new mom or a mom of five, mom guilt is easy to catch and hard to banish.

Most days are a mix of good and bad, but your little one remains a blessing. When you next share online or offline, consider this mom surrounded by other women at the airport when she had a breakdown with her crying child. These women were all strangers, and they formed a circle around her, unorganized and only prompted by their sympathetic hearts. Each of the women soothed the mom and child with something she had with her, whether a song or something to play with.

Imagine yourself as the mom or one of the women surrounding her without judgment, only empathy and love. Life happens. Mom guilt is heavy-duty stuff, and perfectionism is a double-edged sword for mindful mamas.

It’s OK to drink your green juice and get angry in traffic at the same time — it doesn’t make me or you any less of a mom or woman. Breathe, whether mindfully or not. The essence of mindfulness is taking moments for what they are, without detracting from who you are.

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