MOM STRESS DEFINED
Merriam Webster dictionary defines stress as:
a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.
Fantastic Mrs Mom defines MOM STRESS as:
a state of mental, physical and emotional tension resulting from being responsible for all aspects of a family’s well being and productivity.
Everyone experience stress. We live in a fast paced world that is competitive and puts a high value on achievement. That is definitely true. However, when someone comes over to the family home and it is a wreck they are not pinning that “failure” on dear old dad. No, dad is not mocked for his house keeping skills. That medal of shame goes around mom’s neck. That concept holds true in most fields of the family’s life.
THE ORIGIN OF MOM STRESS
I do not know if it is something that has been put inside of us and lays dormant until that first baby is born. It seems to me that the minute Nathaniel came screaming out of my C-sectioned stomach I realized all the areas in my life that needed improvement. Until that moment I had been pretty content with myself. My house is clean enough, we have plenty of money, and I know enough to take care of this kid. Now, I am holding a tiny little screaming human who is completely dependent on me to keep him alive. Well, that may be some of the reason why we moms feel the weight of the universe on our shoulders.
I do not know what happened. This girl did not ever want to be June Cleaver. However, now I had an over whelming urge to wear pearls and make a roast. Oh, and the pearls had to be beautiful and the roast gourmet. What in the world, where is this coming from? I never noticed it before, but all of my friends and neighbors family were pretty stinking fabulous. My family had to be just as amazing as theirs.
PERFECTION LEADS TO MOM STRESS
My kids have to be the picture of perfection. You know, well dressed, smart, talented, the kind of kid every family wants to raise. We need to have the best family picture. That I will then put on a Christmas card and send it out two days before Thanksgiving. It has to be the first card that arrives announcing the holidays. Moms have to do everything in our little one’s young lives to lead them to this kind of perfection.
I remember crying because I was not producing enough milk for Maddie and we had to supplement with formula. I was convinced I had ruined her life. She was not going to reach the pinnacle or perfection because of my short coming. My mind was blown on that Christmas day that I sat having a pity party about the lack of mommy milk. My great aunt came to comfort me. “Oh honey stop crying. You are going to do so many more things that will ruin her life. Don’t worry about this one.”
PROGRESSION OF MOM STRESS
Fast forward a few years, I am a mother of three (I managed to keep the first one alive with minimal damage). This chick knows what she is doing. No more stress in my life, right? And the answer to that is a big fat “No”!!! After the babies get a little older you have a new category to stress on, your child’s success. That is right, if junior does not make it to the top of the class it is mom’s fault. At least that is how I felt.
Can you imagine how far into the red my stress level went when my daughter’s teacher said she needed an IEP (Individual Education Plan) Becca was not progressing and she has a learning disability. What did I do to cause this and how can I fix it. That was my first thought. I knew I did not cause it, but my mom stressed out brain could not compute anything else. I spent years working with her one on one so she could be “normal.” What is this mom stress doing to me???
MOM STRESS CONTAINED
There is a happy ending to this story. After years of letting “normal” and “perfection” put me at the mom stress breaking point, I got it under control. Who is to say what defines a “normal family”? I finally learned that my kids will be okay even if we were not the definition of perfection. My house is not always clean, especially if we have a busy calendar. My family is less like the Brady Bunch and more like The Simpson’s, but at least we are entertaining.
The moral of my story for all the new moms out there is this. I hate to tell you there is always going to be mom stress. It is normal, even healthy. It keeps us on our toes and pushes a good mom to motivate her family to achieve their potential. However, do not let the pursuit of perfection enslave you. Live and let live. Do the best you can, and enjoy all the craziness that raising kids has to offer.