I'm an Uncrustables Mom

Learning to Lean Into My Maternal Strengths

· Motherhood,Joyful Counseling,Parenting,Women's Health,Therapy

Blog Origianlly Published with theCityMoms

The formation of how we view ourselves as mothers comes from so many influential spaces. Our mothers, grandmothers, friends, media, culture, and religion or spirituality all play a part in our identities. While these influences can be incredibly helpful to lay the groundwork of our motherhood image, I’ve personally found they can also hold potential to feel stuck or like we aren’t getting it right.

Through lots of personal work, the Uncrustable Mom was born. It’s about so much more than a frozen little sandwich, but I’m glad to have a physical representation of all the work I’m doing in therapy! For me allowing myself freedom to be an Uncrustable Mom means I give myself a break from the domestic framework I held with such reverence. I can sometimes feed my children an Uncrustable rather than a home cooked meal and that is just fine. By allowing myself to let go of what I thought I should be and live into what I am is all part of creating a motherhood image that feels authentic, even if I’m going to get criticism for Uncrustables having too much sugar! 

I fully understand that getting to do the work of untangling a motherhood image is a privilege I have that not everyone does. Because of systemic inequity, many mothers must focus solely on survival in motherhood. However, I hope as a collective society we can find ways to prioritize and create space for equity in motherhood. Even in our daily lives, I hope we can find ways to share stories with a mother at the playground, engage in joyful noticings of our humanity, and normalize and validate the diverse experiences we have as mothers.

If I put my therapist hat on for a minute, I believe there are a lot of outside forces that inform how we act and what we do on a subconscious and conscious level:

  1. Research shows we behave the way we do because we observed those behaviors growing up from family or friends. If we didn’t like those (behaviors) we may swing really far in the opposite direction. Shifting patterns can be difficult but begins by noticing patterns in ourselves and being curious—Ask yourself, how is (fill in the blank) serving me? If you notice that the pattern resonates and is helpful to you, keep it! If you keep doing the same things and it causes a lot of stress, you might think about possible alternatives.
  2. As a mom I am learning that I can be loyal, loving, and empathetic to the generations above me, while allowing myself to make alterations to how I mother. My mom would have never served us Uncrustables for lunch. She was a magician at and using every bit of food creatively, which is a skill I admire. I had a lot of guilt for using convenience food even though she has never judged me for it. I wasn’t doing what I was observed and was taught, which caused a lot of guilt and feelings of being disloyal. I recognize now that I can gift myself ease, so I can focus my energy where I want to in motherhood.

Once we’ve untangled some of our family patterns, we have present-day influences that are always there. There is potential to get locked into specific media algorithms that “reel” us to death about the perfect motherhood image, the best parenting strategies, etc. There can be so much noise. And I don’t know about you, but it’s noise that isn’t always welcome in my brain but seeps in anyway. Please don’t get me wrong. Social media can also be incredibly connecting, we just must be compassionate with ourselves and how we metabolize the information without shame, or feeling like we can’t ever get it right. And in real life, lots of us compare ourselves to others to see if we are measuring up. I think it’s okay to observe others, but when it gets tough is if we are constantly judging ourselves as not good enough. I’m sure there are 1000+ reels out there telling me how many GMOs an Uncrustable has, the sugar content, or how there’s no fiber in the bread. And again, that was a barrier to cross! 

Not all maternal voices speak to us in ways that are encouraging. It is worth seeking out the women in your life who help you feel like you can be yourself and hold you accountable when you’re too hard on yourself. If you aren’t in a season where making friends is easy, there are lovely online communities and women writers you can tap into.

When I need a supportive voice I always turn to the wisdom of one of my favorite maternal figures, Virginia Satir. She’s old-school and considered the Mother of Family Therapy. Her poem, I Am Me resonates so deeply with my experiences as a woman and mother and I encourage you to take a moment to read her poem here if you need encouragement, direction, or a trustworthy maternal voice who will encourage you to be your beautiful, multidimensional self.   

What I’m trying to practice little by little every day is self-compassion toward my multidimensional and evolving image of a mother.

I can be a career mom, who sometimes serves her kids delicious Uncrustables, and doesn’t make it to every game or practice, who buys Halloween costumes from the store, and gets too wrapped up in social media from time to time, who is a great soccer coach and music teacher, and values consistency but is somewhat inconsistent, who is learning to love herself more deeply, and who loves her children fiercely and hopes they always know that.