Why Being A 'Chill Mom' Is Complete BS

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I expected to face some pressure when I first became a mom. I wasn’t surprised there was pressure to breastfeed, pressure to give birth without pain medication, or pressure to look like my old self weeks after I gave birth. What I didn’t expect was that there would be so much pressure to, well, not feel any pressure at all.

I seem to have become a mother during the rise of the "chill mom." Do you know who I’m talking about? The mom who seems to not worry about anything, to just believe everything’s going to be OK for her kids no matter what. The mom who doesn’t seem ruffled when her kids have a meltdown in target or pee on the chik-fil-a slide, because she doesn’t believe things like this are significant or a sign that she is failing as mom. Honestly, I feel a lot of pressure to be a chill mom and it can be exhausting.

There seems to be a lot of value placed on this kind of "chill" parenting. It's as if there is something admirable about moms who don't think too hard about the choices they make. But honestly, when it comes to being a mom, I kind of believed that caring a lot about everything was just a part of the job description.

There is this appearance of effortless confidence the chill mom exudes. While I’ve never considered myself particularly uptight, it wasn’t until I started facing criticism for the choices I made and the way I made them that I realized the way I parented deviated from the norm. That's not to say it was better — just different.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

The first time someone told me to relax about my kids, I was a brand new mom. My daughter was transitioning to our church nursery, and she was dealing with a lot of separation anxiety. I wasn’t willing to just leave her, wailing, with two people she had never met.

That’s when the nursery worker looked me right in the eyes and said, “You need to relax. It isn’t going to hurt her to cry while you’re gone.”

There seems to be a lot of value placed on this kind of "chill" parenting. It's as if there is something admirable about moms who don't think too hard about the choices they make. But honestly, when it comes to being a mom, I kind of believed that caring a lot about everything was just a part of the job description.

That wasn’t the last time someone told me to chill. I’ve been scoffed at for choosing not to let my kids attend slumber parties. I’ve been pushed to expand my short list of people who are allowed to be alone with my kids. I’ve been dismissed when I’ve expressed worries about everything from childhood illness to excessive screen time to behavior or sleep problems in my kids.

I know full well that I have anxiety about some things that don’t matter to other moms, but it’s not as if my kids are living with a helicopter parent. They’ have a lot of freedom to play and we encourage them to be independent, but there are some things that matter quite a bit to me, especially when it comes to their emotional well-being. So when I feel like I need to apologize for asking a babysitter not to let my kid cry it out, for instance, it bothers me.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

I do my best to do what I believe is best for my child and that’s my prerogative. I think that’s what makes me the most uncomfortable about all of this pressure to chill: moms should never be criticized for doing their best to parent well. It isn’t really other parents' concern if I’m trying too hard or overthinking my decisions or being careful about who spends time with my kids. I’m their mom, it’s my choice, and I don’t really have to chill unless I want to.

Motherhood has been one long lesson that I should give myself the freedom to do what is right for my family and give other moms the freedom to do the same.

Of course, I’m learning not to care so much about what others think. Motherhood has been one long lesson that I should give myself the freedom to do what is right for my family and give other moms the freedom to do the same. I can’t second-guess every decision I make because of an eye roll from a friend or pressure from a family member. Instead, I’m getting better at digging in my heels, refusing to feel obligated to offer an explanation for my choices, and moving forward with confidence as the best mom for my kids — whether I'm a "chill" mom or not.