Photo by City of Keller, Texas at www.flickr.com

I have decided that these three words, never, always, and every, can at times create unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Perhaps a few examples will help you understand. The following statements are things that I have actually heard, but I that think women rarely should listen to.

“She never complained.”

In reference to women who have gone through incredible trials, like cancer, or to women who have their husbands gone for extended periods of time, I hear the word never, and I think never, as in not complaining once. Perhaps I’m a literalist. My instant reaction is to compare myself. I think of the many times I call my husband to vent about the stress of being in charge of four rowdy hooligans. Is there anything wrong with feeling overwhelmed by life and expressing frustration, whether you have a huge trial or not?

“She is always happy.”

I have heard this said about people who smile a lot. While I think someone can be a cheerful person, can anyone always be happy? Isn’t getting angry, irritated, or grumpy once in awhile just part of being human?

“I love every minute of being a mother.”

Every time I’ve heard this, it’s seriously put me into a state of shock for a few minutes. I can understand enjoying the times when kids are getting along. But what about when you’re changing a toddler’s dirty diaper and his twin brother decides it would be fun to try to scratch his face and throw toys into the poop, all while you’re trying to wipe that toddler’s writhing body? Is it possible that someone actually likes all the crazy, stressful moments of motherhood? I’m not so sure.

“She never yells/yelled at her kids.”

I can’t tell you how much this statement haunted me for a number of years. To think that there might be moms out there who are patient enough to never get angry and yell. For so long, I would feel sooo guilty when I lost my temper with my kids. I would re-play the moment in my mind again and again, wishing I could be like the supermoms I’d heard about. I have since decided that I’m okay being a mom who yells once in awhile.

“Her house is always clean.”

Is this possible with small children on the loose who sometimes create destruction faster than you can clean it? Believe me, I could definitely raise my standards of cleanliness, but I will never aspire to having a house that doesn’t look like kids live there.

“I have a personal devotional every day, waking up at 5:30 in the morning.”

I know you’ve heard about the superwomen who decided to wake up really early to get their personal worship time in. Maybe that works for some people, but I’ve decided my family is much better served by me sleeping longer and thus feeling happier and more rested. I do try to spend some time with God every day, but it ends up being most days, rather than every day.  Some days I feel tired and distracted and feel little inspiration. I know that I will not be one of those people who learns something new every time they read their scriptures.

“She looks like she never was pregnant. “

I know there are some people who have totally flat abs after having their fifth child, but most of us look like we had a baby for months (or years) afterwards. Maybe that’s okay. Do we have to put pressure on ourselves like that? This actually makes some women feel like they can’t go back to outside life until they fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes. If that was how I felt, well, I never would have gone back out.

If you don’t have issues with guilt and perfectionism, consider yourself lucky. I am slowly and over time changing my expectations of myself as a mom. I’m realizing that I will not always be nice. I do not have to do everything right. I can’t say that I will never make mistakes. Are we good, loving mamas? Yes. Perfect supermamas? Maybe not.

QUESTION: Do you have unrealistic expectations for yourself because you compare yourself to others?

CHALLENGE: Make a list of the five best things you do as a mother, even if you don’t always do them!

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