Moms Under Pressure

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Somewhere in my youth, I must have believed that there was an actual “supermom” gene that fueled other moms but skipped me. As I was years into raising children, I became increasingly aware of my inability to balance everything. I was a mom under pressure who carried the heaviness of performing with perfection – maintaining a clean house, finding and excelling at a career, booking babysitters, working on your marriage, keeping a healthy sex life, and always going above and beyond. The pressure to be perfect or at least great at all of the above is exhausting. 

While striving for mothering greatness, we rotate the hats we wear and bury our identities with stow-and-go seating. Our mental health is constantly filtering the state of the world and our needs with the physical and emotional undertaking of keeping someone other than ourselves alive.

Motherhood is the single most scrutinized role in our modern society. Socials give us hours of reels dedicated to it, with every type of mom putting thirty-second snapshots of their day-to-day. There are the make-up-less and iced coffee-wielding moms shooting the teary monologue or the foul-mouthed middle-aged mom who leaves her followers with a good laugh and a life lesson.   Whatever my mood or whatever parental solidarity I seek, my algorithm delivers. It’s crucial to shine a spotlight on the state of mental health in mothers, recognizing both the struggles they face and the support they need when the iPhones aren’t recording.  

Motherhood can be an isolating experience, even through our “over-digitized connectivity” as a society. Mothers may find themselves disconnected amid the endless responsibilities of never-ending to-do lists. Social isolation is another factor that impacts mental health, contributing to increased anxiety, depression, and doubt.  

I’ve heard it said that to check in with yourself, you answer these three questions:  What are we thinking? How are we feeling about it? And how are we reacting to it? In our honest answers to these questions, we may uncover mental health challenges. Mothers may fear judgment or stigma if they admit to struggling with their mental health, leading them to suffer in silence. It’s essential to break this silence and create safe spaces for mothers to share their experiences, seek support, and access resources without fear of judgment or shame. 

Erin Spahr is a psychotherapist from North Carolina and the host and creator of The Feminist Mom Podcast. She offers three excellent ideas for counteracting the mental health crisis and burnout rate of mothers. All three are systematic, collective, and long-lasting.  

The first change she recommends is to examine the structure of how we live and work because it is not working. A 40-hour workweek just does not align with school times and calendars. Restructuring the work week could involve working fewer hours, using hybrid schedules, or reevaluating when work would take place. These full-time schedules are overtime, realistically, and create a job with a job. We simply do not have time to do it all. 

 The second change Spahr suggests is that our society takes responsibility for raising the next generation. It belongs to all of us collectively, and we must compensate those who care for our children with competitive salaries and benefits. Embracing the understanding that there is “no such thing as other people’s children” could revolutionize how we care for others.  

Spahr’s third challenge is to acknowledge the constant push of “intensive mothering”. This includes the responsibility of meeting every one of the basic needs of each child on a day-to-day basis, as well as doing the work to repair the inter-generational trauma that comes with cohabitation and building a family under one roof. The millennial and GenX generation is the first of the gentle-parenting and feelings-centered generations. Mothers are gentle-parenting their children, unpacking their own wounds, cleaning up after a partner who may or may not be working on their own trauma, and then questioning why depression and anxiety are bleeding out of them. The more mothers take on, the more accolades they receive. The more they “press through,” the more they are labeled as strong. It’s false hope, and it’s killing us.  

A day at the spa for a self-care day will not solve this. Creating a culture of support for maternal mental health requires collective action and advocacy. From policymakers and healthcare providers to employers and community leaders, everyone has a role to play in supporting mothers’ mental well-being. Policies that support paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and access to good healthcare that includes mental health coverage can significantly impact maternal mental health outcomes.

Mothers are the backbone of our families and communities. Nurturing their mental health is essential for their well-being and for the well-being of future generations. We need to release the pressure and continue to advocate for our well-being.  

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Katy Gentry
Katy is a studio vocalist and licensed special education teacher. Studio credits include Plank Road Publishing, Broadway Jr., Hal Leonard Publishing, and Shawnee Press. She has enjoyed singing the Great American Songbook at Feinstein's Cabaret with ATI Live and The Jazz Kitchen with the JoySwing Jazz Orchestra. Other theatatrical credits include Actors Theatre of Indiana, Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, Fireside Dinner Theatre, and Carnegie Hall. She holds a Masters in Special Education and currently works with the English as a New Language population in a suburb of Indianapolis.


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