The Struggles of Motherhood: No Mom Is Perfect

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you have school-age children and are dealing with the struggles of motherhood? Do you have a fear of inadequacy when you compare yourself to other moms?

The struggles of motherhood, especially during the school-age years, are demanding. You’re faced with a slew of paperwork, events, and demands on your time, and no matter how much you give, other moms seem to be giving more and doing better.

Keep reading to learn how you can deal with the struggles of motherhood.

The Struggles of Motherhood

Once you get past the baby stage and you’re a seasoned mother, there’s more bad news: You experience the struggles of motherhood general. Being a mom, especially during the school-age years, is demanding. You’re faced with a slew of paperwork, events, and demands on your time, and no matter how much you give, other moms seem to be giving more and doing better.

It’s easy to feel like you’re falling short, missing out, and not doing as good a job as other moms. But comparing yourself to other moms and families is a recipe for feelings of guilt and fear of inadequacy.

Hollis experienced these negative feelings because, as a working mom whose life is a juggling act, she wasn’t as present at school activities as other moms. She tried to make up for it by volunteering as much as she could, but still felt she wasn’t doing enough and the struggles of motherhood got her down.

She came to the realization that to be a successful mom, she didn’t have to be like any other mom; loving her children and doing the best she can is all she or any other mother can do.

In fact, what made her “different” in the eyes of her kids will make her cool and unique later. She decided that she and her family were doing “pretty good,” and pretty good is better than trying to fake perfection. 

Parent in Your Own Way

The author shares the lessons she learned in the hopes of uplifting other mothers who are experiencing the same struggles of motherhood.

  • Being a perfect mom is a myth, but being a pretty great mom most of the time is doable. Parent in the way that works best for your family. There is no one best way to parent; there is no one best way to be a mother.
  • Stop worrying about other people’s perceptions of how you’re doing. The goal is to raise good people; your daily work will make sure that happens. Some days you’ll kill it, others you’ll fail. There’s always tomorrow. Keep trying.
  • Focus on the things you’re doing well, which are evident in the traits of the children you’re raising. Imperfection is OK. Some moms are awesome at some things; you’re awesome at others.
  • Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. A handful of days when you’re not mom of the year won’t make or break your kids. Your intention to do well is what will see them through.
  • Focus on what you’re good at. During the crazy demands of school-age years, find the things you’re good at and focus on those things. For the rest, do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up if you miss the mark. What evokes “mom joy” in each of us can be very different. 
  • Stop comparing. You have to choose not to compare your family to other families, or your children to other children. Fight your fear of inadequacy because it stops you from seeing all you’re doing right. 
  • Lose the guilt. If you’re a working mom, constantly questioning your choices and feeling guilty does no good. To pull yourself back from mom guilt, ask yourself, “Would I ever want my child to feel this way?” Would you want them to pursue their passions but then second guess their choices because it doesn’t look like what’s on everyone else’s social media feeds? Do your best with the time you have, choose your battles, and make an effort for the stuff that feels truly important to your child.
  • Take care of yourself. One of the struggles of motherhood is taking care of yourself. You have to keep yourself sane to be a good parent. Give yourself alone time; get away to see friends, get a manicure or go for a run.

Tips on Not Feeling Like a School Mom Failure

When you feel like you’re falling short as a mom of school-age children, consider these strategies.

  • Look at the evidence. When you feel like you’re doing everything wrong, take a look at your kids. When in doubt, look at how strong your bond is with your kids and how well they’re doing. Cut yourself some slack.
  • Make friends with all kinds of moms. Even the moms you’re comparing yourself to likely are dealing with the same struggles of motherhood that you are. 
  • Focus on quality. When you focus your energy on quality time with your kids — playing, hanging out, cooking — you remind yourself that you’re doing a good job and to erase your fear of inadequacy.
The Struggles of Motherhood: No Mom Is Perfect

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rachel Hollis's "Girl, Wash Your Face" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Girl, Wash Your Face summary:

  • Why you should accept that life can be messy
  • How seeing that you're in control of your life can help you live more joyfully
  • The 20 lies you might be telling yourself

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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