Anxiety and High Expectations Sabotage Your Joy as a Mom

Do You Let Anxiety and High Expectations Sabotage Your Parental Joy?

Do you feel guilty for not spending enough time with your children? 

Like the most of today's mothers, you probably juggle various duties and try to meet impossible tasks. Although you are working so hard and accomplish a lot, you most likely feel like you don't measure up to the standards in any of your roles.

Do you ever feel guilty for not spending enough time with your children? What about the fact you don't look like the billboard model you just passed by on your way home? Perhaps you find yourself struggling to finish all the tasks your job is demanding of you?


Trying to measure up to iconic role models can cause anxiety for many women

It's not surprising you feel like this. Besides the high expectations in the workplace and society in general, we women are raised to strive to achieve more and to feel self-critical when we don't meet those expectations.  This kind of mindset can affect our emotional health and diminish our ability to feel happy and satisfied.  Moreover, continually trying to measure up to the ideals or peers in your community can perpetuate anxiety and depression, especially if you are already prone to it.

With the best intentions, our parents raised us with stories about mythical or historical cultural icons to which we are supposed to aspire. As these icons represent some incredible qualities and achievements women can strive for, yet they also may lead to unreasonable expectations.  These unrealistic expectations can perpetuate anxiety for many of us.

The problem is, that while our parents and educators were telling us all those stories, they neglected to acknowledge the limitations and humanity of these women we are supposed to look up to. This kind of idealization may lead to a sense of inadequacy for many women. One of the significant functions in which women feel inadequate nowadays is motherhood. Motherhood is a source of insecurity and unreasonable expectations for many women in addition to an already stressful modern life.

Iconic mother figures: unrealistic cultural feminine ideals of how motherhood should be

Ideal mothers in folk tales or literature are often presented as women who are pure, innocent, and self-sacrificing. When we listen to stories about mythical or historical figures, we hear only the highlights of what they are known for.

The pinnacle example was the biblical figure, Mother Mary, the virgin who gave birth to Jesus. Who can measure up to this ideal? Not only was she a dedicated, loving mother, but she was also a virgin. Mother Mary is, of course, an extreme example of chastity, a quality that generations and generations glorified in their tales.

This notion of purity isn't only prominent in Catholic influenced cultures. In many other cultures, women's sexuality is a taboo. Mother role models are often presented as chaste and self-sacrificing.  In spite of the sexual revolution we went through, society still expects us to be giving, loving, wise, and immaculate.

Dalila Jusic-LaBerge, Anxiety Treatment

Mythical role models reinforce the notion that women should focus on self-sacrifice

Another issue with the presentation of mythical or historical role models is they didn't tell us about the other aspects of their lives.  Nobody wondered if Mother Mary had an ideal weight, shiny hair, or if she was able to graduate Suma Cum Laude. But, we ordinary women want to be it all, the best mothers, career women, be in the best physical shape, etc.  Thus you may feel you lack in these roles.

This kind of simplification can lead to an existence of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, and it discourages women from being authentic. We women are cultural and through our family upbringing set up to feel unhappy and guilty for not measuring up. Our upbringing can affect our long-term mindset, which may lead to perpetual guilt and feelings of inadequacy. With all of this, it not strange that women are more prone to anxiety.

Impossible tasks that modern mothers try to accomplish


Dalila Jusic-LaBerge, helping modern moms deal with anxiety

Women are striving so hard to be the best mothers they can. In that quest, they follow all the possible advice, by the latest research, which tells us how we should raise our children. Besides this, women, try so hard to make sure that their children go to the right school,  wear appropriate clothes, sleep in the proper position, eat appropriate nutrition, etc.

None of this would be a problem if we didn't obsess over these things and feel inferior because we are not naturally born knowing how to take care of children. It's the most natural thing to want the best for our children. However, when we are so involved in trying to follow all this advice, we may lose a sense what's best for our children and ourselves. If you are preoccupied with figuring out how to accomplish everything, you may lose the ability to be in the moment and be attuned to your child. And this is what they need from you the most.

Anxiety prevents you from focusing on what matters the most

If you focus on all these crazy trends and try to measure up, you may miss the main point, the connection with yourself and your child. The most precious thing for both you and your child is to be together. What matters is that you are present and in tune with them.

Another problematic issue may be that you are struggling with old hurt and anxiety that stems from old trauma.  This old pain may prevent you from being able to enjoy your relationship with your children. This may lead you to try to compensate by providing external things, with the noblest intentions, to be the best mother you can be.

Many women feel guilty for their inability to spend enough time or provide everything that they see is the best for their children. And, this is just not possible to accomplish in todays society. You may even know it, but you still feel guilty

How to deal with anxiety that's become a significant part of your motherhood and life in general


Dalila Jusic-LaBerge, Anxiety Treatment for women

Attitude

Remember the right attitude is essential. Just accept yourself. Your children adore you just the way you are. Know that you will make mistakes with your child. Your child doesn't need you to be perfect, but to be authentic. When you make a mistake, own up to it. This will allow your child to feel safe expressing their emotions.

Dalila Jusic-LaBerge, hllping mom's with anxiety

Remember what matters

Your child will be OK even if you don't spend all your desired time with them. They won't always remember times you didn't spend with them. Instead, they will remember the good times you did spend together. If you let the guilt take over, it's going to be hard to spend quality time together. Know that you are good enough for your child. They look up to you no matter what. You are everything to them, just the way you are, especially while they are young.


Dalila Jusic-LaBerge, Anxiety Treatment

Remember self-care

If you are feeling too stressed out, it may be too hard to spend time with your children. Taking time for yourself first may be a good idea. You can relax, do some grounding practices or work out before spending time with your children. Doing this will help you deal with your problematic day on your own so you can enjoy your time with your children. Remember, besides spending time with you, your children thrive when their mom is doing well. So, take time for yourself.


What are your thoughts about modern motherhood? What are some of the challenges modern women face?

If you  think you struggle with anxiety, I can help you feel better

Book a free 15-minute consultation to see how working on reducing your anxiety can help youfeel better. This can be your first step towards enjoying relationships with your children.  

About the Author

I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Oak Park, etc. I specialize helping divorced women transition from despair to a joyful life.

  • It can be hard to let go of past hurts and traumas which can like you say, make it challenging to move forward. Thanks for sharing some practical tips we can all add into our days to better manage anxiety and the pressure we place on ourselves.

  • Great blog! Modern moms are often judged by ridiculously high standards.

    • Exactly! They feel like they need to be the best in all the aspects of life, and even when they excel, they still don’t feel like they still don’t feel like they are good enough. We need to normalize more balanced life.

  • Naz mo says:

    Thanks for shedding light to this important topic. The struggle is real and many people feel a shame because they cannot keep up on this unrealistic expectations.

  • J. Rosenberger says:

    Good article. I found it informative.

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