GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Earning the label 'The Perfect Mom' is tough. Does she exist? The pressure to be her certainly does, especially as expectations surrounding motherhood continue to rise.
Well, moms, sometimes you have to realize it's okay to order pizza instead of cooking a homemade meal. It is acceptable for your child's PJ's to be on past lunch and it is alright if you're not the president of the PTA.
Are you perfect? Probably not...but the fact that you're worrying about being a good mom means you probably already are one.
Kaisa Ruiz, a mother of four, says success in motherhood boils down to preparation.
"If we didn’t plan things ahead of time, it would be total chaos," Ruiz said. "It's stressful."
Rebecca Gorbena, a mother of three, agrees. With her twins Colton and Aria, Gorbena's plate is full.
"I think there are moments where you just lose it," Gorbena said. "I think I feel it the most when I’m in a grocery store and my kids are starting to melt down, so there’s this moment where all of the sudden you feel all of these eyes on you, like 'is she seriously going to let them cry that whole time?'"
Being a good mom is hard. Being perfect, is even harder. Society paints 'the perfect mom' to be a well-dressed career woman who never shows up late, a gourmet cook, who manages multiple schedules, and always puts her kids before her job. Now, this of course is not reality, but more and more women continue to struggle when they compare their lives with others and with images of perfection.
"You’re always comparing yourself to someone that you think is doing things better," Tressa Hollinger, a mother of three from Sparta said.
Turns out, comparison destroys joy and according to pediatric psychologist, Brittany Barber Garcia, perfection doesn't exist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be the perfect or ideal mom for YOUR children. And, if you mess up, that's okay. Barber Garcia says modeling imperfection is important.
"Your kids need to see you be imperfect. They need to see you’re okay being imperfect and they need to watch you figure out how to roll with those punches," Barber Garcia said.
When it comes to comparing yourself to others, Barber Garcia says it may impact interactions with your kids.
"That’s going to not only impact how negatively you feel in the moment, but it’s also going to impact how you interact with your kids on a day-to-day basis as well," Barber Garcia said. "Kids feel how their parents feel, without us even telling them."
Barber Garcia suggests mothers cut themselves some slack, adding it's hard to be a good caregiver when carrying so much stress.
"I don’t think there’s much support for moms in society at all. Moms seem to be the ones to hold it all together," Hollinger said.
When life gets tough, remember moms are tougher.
"In reality, it doesn’t so much matter, 'are we doing it perfectly?' What matters is 'are we helping our children the most that we can and giving the best that we can?'," Barber Garcia said. So although the perfect mom doesn't exist, a mother that loves perfectly, certainly does.
Now, if the worry of being a 'perfect mom' is ringing a bell with you and the stress is becoming too much, experts say you should take it seriously. It could be a sign of a greater problem like anxiety or postpartum depression. If that's happening to you, Barber Garcia suggests seeking support. Contact your OBGYN, your pediatrician or a local therapist for help.