A Question for the Mom’s Out There

Mother's Day
Something has perplexed me for a while now and I thought I’d pose the questions to my readers.

Okay, so I don’t have many readers yet, but I figured I’d pose it to the Internet and hopefully some new readers stumble across my blog and take pity on me. 

The question is about my better half. But before I ask it, let me give you a very brief description of my wife.

Simply put she is amazing. Unsurprising to anyone who knows her she has had amazing career success and holds a prominent role in the company she works for. She is well respected at work and makes vital decisions on a daily basis.

More importantly, she is an amazing mom. This isn’t just my biased perspective. The other day my own mother commented to me at how impressed she was with my wife. How she’s done a great job with raising our boys. I reminded my mom that I might have had something to do with it, which she immediately dismissed and continued to go on about how great my wife is.

Still Don’t Believe Me?

To ensure you don’t think my objectivity is impaired, allow me to give a few examples.

My Kids: Can we play with the paint?

Me: No, it’s too messy.

My Wife: Yay! Let’s get messy!

My Kids (in the dead of winter): Can you take us to a playground?

Me: No, it is way too cold out.

My Wife: Let’s get you bundled up. (Proceeds to take them to the playground and stand out in the cold for 45 minutes while they play).

When I’m in charge of dinner night:

My Kids: What’s for dinner?

Me: Ummm…how’s buttered bread sound? You can wash it down with some ketchup.

Also Me: Stands in front of the fridge for five minutes then frantically calls my wife – ‘What should I make them for dinner?’ She not only helps me figure out what to make them, but also knows exactly where everything is hidden in the fridge.

When my wife is in charge of dinner night:

My Kids: What’s for dinner?

My Wife: I have an organic free-range chicken in the oven. It is hormone free, antibiotic free and has undergone 6 months of intensive therapy to ensure it is angst free. It’ll be accompanied with locally sourced vegetables prepared to each of your liking.

Okay, so you get the point, my wife is in fact amazing.

What’s more amazing is that she allows me near the kids.

So here is my question: why is my wife a more insecure parent than me?

Despite my shortcomings as a parent, I actually happen to think I’m a pretty good dad. My wife on the other hand, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary usually feels like she is failing as a mother.

I don’t think this is unique to her. I’ve spoken with other mothers who have echoed her perspective. Twitter is full of mother’s who use humor as an outlet for this feeling. But why is the feeling there in the first place?

Is the bar set too high for mother? Or too low for fathers? Is there some kind of poisonous societal message out there targeting mothers that I’m somehow unaware of?

I genuinely don’t understand.

I find being a parent is a hard enough job without having to deal with crippling self-doubt. So if there are any moms out there who want to help this ignorant dad out and let me know what I’m missing, I’d really appreciate your comments.

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day!

Moms: Let me know what you think? Is this a familiar feeling? If so, why do you think it exists? If not, have you seen it in other moms or is my sample size just too small to make such a generalization?

Dads: Is there a discrepancy in how you see yourself as a parent and how your wife sees herself? Why do you think this is?

22 Comments

  1. So far there have been no sirens or flashing lights in my kids’ lives, so I’m calling that a success. Maybe my bar is too low, but I think I’m pretty good at the dad thing. My wife does WAY more with and for my kids, she’s more patient, understanding, and empathetic with them. She’s a better parent all around, but if we scored ourselves I’m sure I’d come in higher 😂. I have no explanation, but would like to wish your wife a happy Mother’s Day. Sounds like your family is lucky to have her.

    1. Thanks Ty! I appreciate you weighing in. We most certainly are lucky to have her. It sounds like your wife is pretty amazing as well. I hope your family has a great Mother’s Day!!

  2. This seems to be a fairly common situation. I can see some similarities to us in this post. Is it that all the expectation is on the mother to be a good mother, whereas us fathers tend to get a pat on the back just for turning up? Maybe this is changing a bit, as attitudes towards traditional gender roles change. Maybe.

    1. Thanks for commenting! It does seem like there are higher expectations on Mom’s. But I think you’re right, we’re not living in the 50’s anymore. So maybe this insecurity is just a remnant of how mom’s have been portrayed for so many years. I appreciate your input!

  3. Well, I’m not technically a mom yet…but I think this post speaks to women in general (as much as I hate generalizations). There are no expecting forums (at least that I’ve found!) for dads to second guess every decision they’ve made. But that’s basically all they serve to do for expectant moms. I think a lot of the information out there programs moms to want to do better, fix things, and improve…instead of celebrating what we’ve already done right. And since my baby was advanced enough to pick out a card and get me the flowers I wanted for our front yard, maybe I should be less critical of myself these last 9 weeks?! 😉

    1. Totally agree. I think the mom community is much larger than the dad community. But that could be a double edged sword. The more voices that are out there the easier it is to compare and contrast and that leads to the second guessing you mentioned. Great insights!!

      Your baby really is advanced, I hope no one compares their unborn baby to yours, they wouldn’t stand a chance. Happy Mother’s Day!

  4. As a Gen X mom whose kids are both “adults” now (18+) one thing I am glad we didn’t have when my kids were little was Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest – you name it! Mom’s can feel really inadequate when they see what others are doing. It becomes a contest that can really make Mom’s doubt their abilities and decisions. I’m competitive but not in terms of “Mom-hood” 😉 My kids have thrived with a working Mom who earned two advanced degrees and a doctorate when they were in school. I missed the Mother’s Day tea on occasion and I served them mac & cheese and hot dogs at least once a week. It sounds like your wife is a rockstar – and even if it is a hard sell, keep trying to convince her. Sounds like your a pretty great Dad too 🙂

    1. Thanks Vicki! You’re so right about social media. I think it often does more harm than good. I also really appreciate you pointing out that it isn’t always the day to day decisions that matter. Ultimately the end result we all care about as parents, is that we help our kids become the best version of themselves as adults. The example we set for them is likely more impactful than anything else we do. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

  5. I agree with Vicki for sure.

    I am a mom of an two kids, so I will try weigh in. Yes, this a familiar feeling for me. I told my husband about your post and he told me once I figure out the answer, then let him know. He knows all too well that I have dealt with insecurity as a mother even though he is a wonderful husband who tells me all of the time how great of a parent I am.

    I think part of the reason that it exists is because often moms tend to put too much pressure on themselves.

    When my son had his first school party in Pre-K, the moms who decorated and volunteered for the party went all out. I am talking extreme decorating and there was even a huge cupcake tower…for a Pre-K Halloween party. It was just too much for me. So, I immediately realized that I didn’t want to try to keep up with an expectation like that. I think Pinterest and social media are to blame for this.

    For me, I do not have a Facebook account which really helps. And I take a relaxed, simple approach to kids birthday parties, school functions, and just raising our children in general. I also don’t worry about or concern myself with what other moms are doing and the choices they are making with their children.

    It sounds like your wife is awesome and i think it is great that you wrote this post! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Brittany. I am so impressed that you don’t have Facebook! My wife is forever saying she needs to shut down her account, but keeps getting pulled back in.

      I totally agree on your take with kids parties, I’m blown away at how elaborate they are. Unnecessarily so in my opinion. It’s also easy to spend a small fortune on kids parties, which is a whole other issue.

      By the way, I think your husband is right, you sound like an amazing mom. Your kids are lucky to have you!

  6. I am generalizing heavily, but women most certainly do a lot of comparisons inside their head. She may be Wonder Woman, but she’s also looking over her shoulder to see what Super Girl is doing right? There is a lot of second guessing and Monday Morning quarterbacking on what you could have done better or what small little sacrifice you may have had to make to cut corners and not do things ‘perfectly’. I agree with some of the sentiments above that in the world of Pinterest and Facebook, that it’s almost a 24/7 battle between the image you have for yourself of what you want the world, your house, your child to look like and what your personal filtered version looks like.

    I think it’s incredibly sweet that you honor her and tell her what an amazing job she is doing. In the end, the most important thing is love. In parenting and in marriage. It seems you both have that in spades but we all need a little reminder from time to time. Hopefully you provided that reminder to her on Mother’s Day.

    1. Love the example, this certainly sounds familiar. I’ve never been a big fan of comparing because ultimately it will always be an apples and oranges comparison. You’ll be comparing the intimate knowledge you have of yourself to the image someone else wants the world to see. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and encouragment!

  7. Thanks for your post, I enjoyed reading you article.  I’m a mom of a 1.5 year old son, and we have another one on the way.  I recently put my career on hold, and quit a demanding job to be at home fulltime.  I think our society puts a lot of pressure on women and it can be hard to feel like you fully measure up sometimes.  Women are expected to be great at the career, be a great mom, look a certain way, etc.  I think there’s a less wide range of expectations for men.  Gender roles and society definitely play a role in this.  As the cliché goes, we’re expected to have it all. Personally, I got to the point where it was too much and I had a difficult time managing all the stress of demanding job while juggling the demands of being a mom.  I’m not saying being a stay at home mom is the answer for everyone, but it’s what made sense for our family.  No matter what, we’re all great moms. I think as women we need to be even better at supporting each other!  It’s funny because even before I quit, I had other people inquire about what I was going to be doing and making suggestions.  You should join this, do this with your son, etc. I feel like we justify our value by how busy we are or what we’re doing. There’s a strange value we place on each other based on what we’re doing or not doing.  In the meantime, I now feel some guilt for “just” being a stay at home mom. I know it’s completely bogus and I shouldn’t feel this way.  I felt guilty when I was working, and I feel guilty now that I’m not working.  Anyways, it’s a great reminder that we need to be a lot easier on ourselves (and others as well!).

    1. Thanks for your candid comment Erin. This is exactly the dialog I was hoping this post might inspire. Watching my wife have similar struggles being a working mom, it does feel like a ‘damned if you do damned if you don’t’ situation. The bar for mom’s just seems to be set unrealistically high. It’s an impossible thought experiment, but I’d love to see how dad’s would respond to the same level of expectation that mom’s have to deal with. I don’t think I’d handle it very well.

      I think your son is incredibly lucky to have a mom that is so self aware. I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  8. That is a super interesting point. Although I’ve noticed this before it never occurred to me why the discrepancy between the genders should be questioned. That is how ingrained I am as a modern day 25 year old.

    My first reaction is basically dismissively (in a nice way!): “why is this a discussion? Duh, she’s a mom – a woman. Half of us have ridiculous self image issues our whole lives and still hate ourselves in one way or the other.” And then I pulled back and scared myself because…my god that’s my first thought? That’s how ingrained it is to be as a woman to be so dismissive of something that should be brought up and discussed? I feel sad with myself right now….

    1. Thanks Lily – You are not alone, I think this mindset is ingrained in all of us. Part of my hope for this post is to challenge that reflexive response and ask ourselves why is it that women in our society hold themselves to such unrealistically high expectations (whether through motherhood or simply existing).

      I think a lot of good points have been raised about societal expectations, social media, and the like. I know we won’t change society or social media over night, but I do hope we can change mother’s (and women’s) perception of themselves. I really appreciate you reading and taking the time to respond with such honesty!

  9. In my opinion this phenomenon occurs because of the combination of several reasons. Traditional gender roles causes different expectation against mothers and fathers. While some think if a mother works hard she could not be a good enough mother because she don’t have enough time for the kids. However a father who works really hard IS a great father because he sacrifice everything for the family. Society will get through this phase in the following decades, but now it still holds tight. Secondly women are more inclined for over analyzing things, which can happen because of these expectations. And they are very efficient in it because most women are extremely good at multitasking, while we, guys are more focused on one thing (or is it just me?). So women can double checking everything while doing anything else. Don’t get me wrong I don’t blame you ladies, actually I think this is a superpower, the only question is if you use it for good or “evil”. This is not right or bad, this is just how our brains work. (Recommended watching: The Tale of Two Brains from Mark Gungor). Happy Mothers Day!

    1. Thanks Peter, I appreciate the insights and the recommendation, I’ll be checking it out.

      Expectations and gender roles definitely seem to be part of the problem. I hope you are right and the next couple of decades will help balance the scales a bit.

      I’d never thought about the multi-tasking angle before, but think it’s an interesting observation. I’ll run that one by my wife to see if it resonates with her! Thanks again, always good to hear from you!

  10. This is a very familiar feeling. My mom and I have discussed this quite often.

    Perhaps it started when we were told we could do anything we wanted – be a mom, a wife or a sex goddess, have a career, take care of the household, volunteer to be homeroom mom, juggle cupcakes, slay ninjas, etc. Which in our minds translated to we should do everything and we must do it all well. And because that is impossible, we face insecurity in many if not all areas.

    My children are both adults and I’m not sure the feeling will ever go away. Although I do say my kids are the one thing I did right. 🙂

    I hope your wife and family had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

    1. Thanks Amy! I hope you had a great Mother’s Day as well!

      You make a great point, being empowered to “do it all” doesn’t mean you have to do everything. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to do any of it perfectly. I appreciate your insights, thanks for sharing!

  11. I think it’s inherent with our biologic roles that women are predisposed to be harder on themselves with parenting than men are. If you think historically women were more apt to be domestic engineers than actual engineers so they were much more involved in raising kids as men were out working and gathering while they were more protecting their offspring. I think it’s a very 21st century problem and one new to our culture as talking to my parents they didn’t have the same experiences.

    1. Interesting perspective. Bringing in the whole nature vs nurture debate, which I think is also being supported by the criticism social media has received on this issue. Thanks for the addition to the conversation, I appreciate you checking in!

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