The Journey to the Unmasked Mother Takes Time
Masks and the wearing of masks have been a topic of discussion that we may not be rid of anytime soon. However, many of us wear invisible masks in our everyday lives to cope with the pressures of life, to hide from the painful realities of life and many others.
Here are the three masks and what it might take to remove them for good…
- The Perfect Mom
This amazing mom is comparing herself to moms around her and second-guessing much of her parenting. Her focus is on everything being just right; appearances, meals, clothing. Her home, children and family have the appearance of perfection. However, the stress of keeping up this facade is wearing on her.
Removing this mask requires vulnerability. I know, it’s not my favorite thing either, along
my motherhood journey, the goal of perfection has robbed me of peace. Let’s set a new goal. Instead of asking, “Is she a better mother than I am,” let’s purpose to be a better mom today than yesterday. Things don’t have to be perfect to be great.
- The People Pleaser Mom
The goal of wanting to make everyone happy and not ruffle any feathers can be suffocating. This mom says yes when you need her, even when she knows she should say no. She is overextended, overcommitted and exhausted. This mask provides the greatest means of escape from difficult conversations with almost anyone. This amazing mother would rather be angry with herself for making another commitment than have you angry with her.
Removing this mask requires some soul-searching. And during that search, the first thing to look for is the word no. I often say the word no is a complete sentence. In fact, it becomes so difficult for this mom to say no, that even when saying it, it’s followed by an apology and reason why. Saying no and setting boundaries around your time is self-care and does not need an apology or explanation.
- The Hidden Mom
The hidden mom will often turn down new opportunities, relationships or even her own dreams because of “the kids”. It may sound like this: “Well, when the kids leave home then I will …” or “Once the kids are all in (or all out of) college, then I’ll be free to …” She doesn’t mean to hide. Her goal is to give her children the best life possible while sacrificing her own dreams. Newsflash, it is possible for all of us to go after our dreams and to create and conquer goals, simultaneously.
Removing this mask requires acknowledging that it’s OK to have goals and things you desire to accomplish in addition to being a mom. Mom is a hat we wear, it’s not the only hat we wear. Start showing up for yourself in real ways. Put yourself in ink on the family calendar instead of pencil. You wouldn’t think of erasing a doctor’s appointment or other commitment for your child. Treat your goals and commitments with the same respect. And remember, you don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep everyone else warm.
- The Unmasked Mom
This mom is the goal! She has a healthy awareness of the masks in her own life. She respects order and balance without striving for perfection and control. She leaves room for the unexpected and wants her family happy and whole, but not at her expense. She sets appropriate boundaries without the need to explain her yes or her no and feels no guilt when doing so.
The journey to the unmasked mom takes time. Removing one mask may reveal another, but that’s OK. Living an unmasked life is a life of authenticity. Reframing our negative self-talk to positive affirmations and expressed gratitude leaves little room for guilt and shame.
Deborah Porter is a sought-after, influential voice on parenting, motherhood, self and soul care. She is a champion for moms everywhere and works with mothers globally to guide them through the process of learning to be gracious with themselves without the need to compare their motherhood journey with anyone else’s. Deborah is a certified life coach and regular contributor on CBS Virginia This Morning. Her advice column, Balance Life with Coach Deborah in Washington Parent, helps parents navigate the chaos, find their balance and not lose themselves in the role of mom. For more information visit www.deborahporter.net. Deborah’s complimentary Confident Mom e-book and additional tips are available here.