Imperfect Motherhood Stories

with Maritere R. Bellas, Dr. María Dominguez, PhD, and Yuritzy Gomez Serrano


In honor of Mother's Day, I’ve created a podcast episode about imperfect motherhood with the intention of normalizing this "imperfection" while we're mothering, especially right now, as social media is highlighting of this idea of what a mom or a caregiver should be. This newer generations who are parenting are surrounded with an extra layer of pressure. We’re being super informed and by having all this access to so much information, then also comes the pressure. There’s also social media which often feels virtual bullying in a way. There's so much shame when for instance, people are taking pictures when they're not doing "good parenting”, and sharing it and shaming people socially. 

In a time like this, even though I come with several classes of developmental theories and psychology, and lots of trainings and a lot of work as a child psychologist, still, I feel like as a mom it's so much more pressure. I even asked my mom about this and in the 80s, there was not this pressure by other people, kids were expected to be kids and parents were expected to make mistake. But nowadays it's really hard especially for moms like me who were raised in the 80s and 90s, it’s a very different world than what we’re living as an adult.

It is my honor to share with you stories of some ex colleagues and friends, who are mothers, about an experience where they felt they were not being a perfect mother, and just normalizing that, and then sharing a message for all of you.


Maritere Rodriguez Bellas

Maritere Rodriguez Bellas is an award winning author, parenting topic expert, advocate of raising bilingual, multilingual and multicultural children.


Tell us a moment, a story about motherhood in which you felt like you make a mistake. And then what happened, and how do you deal with it, and what happened afterwards.

My son was three years old and he was in preschool. Both my husband and I worked full time outside the house. This particular day, it was my turn to pick up after school, but I was detained at work longer than I expected. In those days, there were no cell phones, and I was stuck on the freeway on my way to school. I was 45 minutes late to pick up my son. He was distraught, crying and the teacher had had to stay late because of him. I was mortified and felt so remorseful and horrible. I cried a lot that night. I felt like a really bad mom. My husband was very gentle and reminding me that it was not my fault, that I couldn't prevent the traffic and the meeting earlier, and that I was a great mom. A mom doing her best, and that the teacher understood, and someday our son would too. I accepted that he was right. The next morning, I sat with my son again, I explained to him in a very simple way that Mama was very sorry, that I loved him very much, that I knew how he felt, and that I would do my very best to never let something like that happen again. I also reminded him that I would always come for him, always.


What is the message you have to other moms who are feeling the pressure to be perfect?

Being a mom is the most rewarding of experiences, but filled with challenging moments. All we can do is our best and believe that that is enough. Take it one day at a time and don't lose confidence.


To more about Maritere and her amazing work, you can visit her website or over on Instagram @latinaboomermom.


Dr. Maria Mercedes Dominguez

Dr. Maria Mercedes Dominguez is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist that works with couples and individuals healing from depression, anxiety and trauma. In her coaching and consulting work, she supports high functioning couples, individuals and organizations with managing their inner critic, practicing assertive communication and enhancing emotional intelligence. Resilience is at the core of her work regardless of the hat she’s wearing.


Tell us a moment, a story about motherhood in which you felt like you make a mistake. And then what happened, and how do you deal with it, and what happened afterwards.

One of the big "mistakes" I made while mothering was when social distancing policy was enforced during the end of school year 2020. I was having a very hard time and just straight up failing, and ensuring that my kindergarten daughter was submitting all of her assignments on time, was attending all of the zoom meetings. I was having a teacher how to use all of this new technology, while also caring for my toddler who used to be in daycare full time, but was now at home because the daycare centers in our area had closed. And I was still running a private practice which I usually devoted 40 plus hours a week to. And my caseload was actually increasing at this time because as you can imagine the need for mental health services amidst all the anxiety and fear around the pandemic was so high. I felt like I was falling short in so many areas. And sometimes it just felt like I was straight up failing in most of the roles that I was managing at the time. I realized the expectations and the pace was not sustainable. I had to make very difficult decisions about how I prioritize my time. And I chose to pull back my work hours. So instead of working full time, I pulled back to half time, I changed my schedule to times that my partner who was an essential worker, so his schedule stayed the same would be home so that he was able to provide childcare, and I decided it was best for me to homeschool. 

The most important thing for me at this time was to create stability and safety for my family, especially during such like feeling like the world turned upside down times. And it was also important for me to have a sense of control over my time and what my days look like, especially since I am, we were all losing so much control in so many other areas of our lives. I realized it was time to learn more also about how business works, so I could continue to earn income, although the time I had available to invest had decreased significantly. And I never imagined myself being a homeschool mother. But where I am now and today, I can truly say that I'm grateful that the circumstances pushed me to the decision that I made, because the memories that I've created with my children while we're learning science and exploring nature, the pride that I feel knowing that I'm the one that taught my children how to read and identify shapes and patterns, the freedom that I have over my schedule now feels like such a blessing. And it took a while to get to this place. The place where I am now where it's something that I appreciate, and that I actually wouldn't change right now, if I could. But if I hadn't accepted my limitations, and brainstorm and really got centered on what serves us best and what's more important to us, I know I would have never gotten to this place.


What is the message you have to other moms who are feeling the pressure to be perfect?

If I were to share a message with other mothers who are feeling the pressure to be perfect, I would first encourage you to look and explore how you define perfection. And consider how much of that definition was something you created for yourself, and how much of that was defined for you. And a few of the clues that I pay attention to and encourage my clients to pay attention to, is if the image of perfection we've created in our mind is coming more from external sources, then our self-talk often tends to sound like, Well it's supposed to be this way, or I should have this. Clues that our ideals are created more from within is if our self-talk tends to be more I-centered - I am looking forward to this, I desire, I need, I want, I prefer. 

I choose to focus on and I would encourage you to focus on what would serve you best. And what would serve you and the family best. I know many of us are socialized to not take our needs into consideration and put our family before ourselves. But I would encourage you to take the both in approach. Think about what would serve you and the family best because when we, the mothers, are functioning at a high level, when we are healthy, when we are radiant, when we are energized, then we're able to do and fulfill our roles and pour into our loved ones with so much more joy and patience. And we can prevent ourselves from feeling resentment and regret, and all of the other things that have a negative impact on our psychological well being and our relationships in general. So think about what will serve you and your family at the same time and make decisions based off of that and take action steps in that direction.


To more about Dr. D and her amazing work and offerings, you can follow her on Instagram @dr.dthemft. You can also find her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube as well.


Yuritzy Gomez Serrano

Yuritzy Gomez Serrano is an associate Marriage and Family Therapist based out of California. She works with women and femmes of color to support their trauma healing through trauma focused therapy and transformational support groups and experiences in order to support them in stepping into their power.


Tell us a moment, a story about motherhood in which you felt like you make a mistake. And then what happened, and how do you deal with it, and what happened afterwards.

I think one of the "mistakes" or the hardest thing for me, was the actual birthing experience versus the mothering but I guess that's part of mothering as well. I was dead set on having a unmedicated vaginal birth outside of a hospital, I was planning to do it through a birthing center and I wanted to not have any kind of medical intervention. There is a history of my family, my mom, she had four daughters, and all of us were born through a C section, and a lot of women in my family on my mom's side, had children born through C section, and I was dead set on not repeating that pattern. I took birthing classes and prepared the best that I could, in terms of mentally and physically preparing for it, from what I knew. 

My due date comes around and I start feeling like some contractions but nothing to the point where it was going into labor, and I was feeling on and off contractions for about 10 days. So that was really frustrating for me because every day, I would wake up and think, Okay, this is the day and contractions would begin but they never got to the point where I was in active labor. I started to have doubts in myself, I started to have doubt in my body and feeling just super overwhelmed. Until about 10 days after my due date, my water broke through on its own, and I go in, and I'm laboring for about 12 hours from the start of active labor. I'm in the birthing center and I can't get past 6-7 centimeters. 

At the birthing center, after 24 hours the water breaks, my midwife recommended me to go into the hospital just for fear of infection and things like that. I was pretty devastated that I had to go into the hospital. I was hoping that with the medication, getting an epidural, would help me still be able to deliver my baby through a vaginal birth. However, again, I was in the hospital and that wasn't the case. They had to come in and recommended that I go through with a C section. I had a doula, and I again, did everything in my power to have that not happen and it ended up happening. And I felt like a failure. I felt like this first thing as a mother that I'm supposed to do, which is birth my baby, I failed at it. And I was in a really dark place because obviously, I was going through these emotions, with hormones and with just being on medication. And then my baby had a tongue tie, so I had a lot of pain while breastfeeding. It really broke me the first month or so in postpartum. I was crying every day. It was very stressful. And I really thought that I had failed, that my body had failed me and I ended up getting to a point where I was able to accept that that's just was my experience, that I was able to accept that part of me not wanting to birth my baby the way that my mother had birth us, was this unconscious kind of desire to not be like my mother. 

I realized that even though I'm desiring not to be my mother, she is my mother. And like it or not, I am influenced and she is a part of me. When I accepted that, and also realizing that I can choose to engage or not engage with the tendencies that my mother has modeled and I have internalized, that's when I felt like really powerful, because I stopped fighting it. And I began to accept that, Yes, I can be like my mother but I can also make different choices and not end up like my mother. This is not to say that my mom is like this horrible person, but I wanted to be able to make my own decisions, I wanted to be able to be my own person and mother in a way that was a little different to the way that she mothered me and my siblings. 

This experience really helped me take a deeper dive in my trauma history, to be able to realize that there was trauma that I had not processed that was still affecting me. Because when I went back to therapy and realize that this really intense feeling around the birth was not necessarily due to the birth itself, a lot of it was, but it was due to this belief that I had internalized due to trauma and childhood about my lack of safety and about this fear of the unknown. If I had not gone through that, then I don't think I would have been able to go and process this trauma, which ultimately, was super helpful in processing and getting to the other side of it and realizing it. And so I am in the face of accepting that I am my mother, that accepting that I'm also my own person, and that I'm not perfect human being, a perfect mother. And that's okay.


What is the message you have to other moms who are feeling the pressure to be perfect?

And a message that I have for other moms who are feeling the pressure to be perfect is to understand that we are human beings, and perfection does not exist. And the striving to perfection can cause more harm than good, can cause more overwhelm than being able to sit and accept yourself for who you are. And if there is parts of you, or experiences, or things about you that you're feeling like you're unable to accept, I would invite you to question why. And to question where is that coming from, what beliefs about yourself, what beliefs about the world are you internalizing that make it so difficult, or make it so that you think you have to be perfect as a mother, or just simply as a human being.


To more about Yuritzy and her amazing work and offerings, you can follow and message her on Instagram @mftyuri. She’s doing a series of retreats for in April, May and June, focused on dismantling self doubt. If that's something that might be helpful for you as a mother, in order to help you embrace the imperfection.


Read Part II of the blog HERE where Gladys Aguilar, LCSW and I share our inspiring imperfect motherhood stories as well.


With Love,

Dr. Lydiana

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