“You only get 18 summers”
Say, what now? Talk about putting a damper on enjoying the moment!
It’s as though others like to continually remind us how fleeting time with our little ones is.
And not to mention the pressure!
Oh, the pressure!
To love Every.Single.Goddam.Moment.
It makes us feel we need to be 100% present all of the time and love every single moment of motherhood
….because if we’re not, then we aren’t grateful for it.
Of course there are the obvious things like changing nappies for what feels like an eternity when your kids were babies
…and then there is the constant sleep deprivation so you feel as though you’re constantly walking around in a haze
…but there are the lesser spoken about times when you can’t quite put your finger on it, but being a mother just feels SO. DAMN. HARD!
These are the moments I’m talking about. Motherhood is tumultuous. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Some days are absolutely wonderful! They fill you with joy and leave you feeling as though it is the best thing that ever happened to you…then there are other times which leave you feeling upset, angry, resentful and simply just wishing for your old life back.
Motherhood isn’t black or white. There are many shades of grey along the continuum. It’s not about loving every single moment of motherhood… so when did we begin to believe that we had to or else we were ungrateful or a ‘bad mother’?!
Mothers under the lens of society
This pressure comes from patriarchal society.
This idea of what makes the ‘perfect mother’ is something ingrained in us long before the motherhood journey begins. We are conditioned through various comments and remarks to believe that we must act and be a certain way. Throw into the mix media – films, tv shows and even the “perfect lives” on social media – and it’s no wonder that you start to feel that it’s impossible to live up to such standards.
Society has conditioned us to believe that women should be able to do it all – care for the baby & family, maintain the house, have a job, have a social life, still find time to care for yourself… Oh, and don’t forget to be entirely present (that means no mindless scrolling on your phone), cherish every moment (including the relentless feeding at night) and feel eternally grateful for being a mother.
No wonder we feel the enormous weight of the world on our shoulders!
There is no woman on earth who does all this! And if she says she does – she is receiving great support from others around her!
This is so unrealistic and yet instead of this being acknowledged; mothers are left feeling guilty for not loving every single moment and as though they’re a failure for not being a superwoman!
When you’re sitting on the sidelines looking in, it’s so very easy to judge and imagine how you’d be in that situation. It’s how we’ve been conditioned to be growing up – to look down upon women and mothers who step outside the ‘picture of perfect’…however, when you’re in the thick of it all, it becomes apparent how much harder it really is.
It’s not until you’re really in their shoes do you come to realise how tough this gig is…and therein lies the disconnect.
It’s all about the child…but what about the mother?
Throughout history (and still in many cultures today), the birth of a child is as much about celebrating the mother as it is the baby.
Recall the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”?
The women within the community would step in to support and nurture the mother as she transitioned through the fourth trimester.
They would allow the mother to sleep. They would help to maintain the house; to cook; to clean; and to ensure the baby was cared for. Most importantly, the women would allow the mother to heal. They would nurture and nourish the mother, caring to her so she could care for her baby.
This has been long forgotten within western, patriarchal society. Instead the new mother is handed her baby, sent home to feel isolated and alone and try to figure out how to care for this beautiful little being (which doesn’t come with any instruction manual!) all what’s trying to recover from the birth itself on a couple hours of broken sleep per night.
Here in Australia we’ve been sold the dream of a giant house in the suburbs with all the toys. Often this is far from loved ones so physical isolation kicks on too. Sure, there may be an influx of visitors initially, but 99% of the time, they’re not here to visit you or to help…they simply want to hold your gorgeous new baby. Instead of being allowed to rest, you’re ‘playing house’ trying to feed and entertain your guests as they goo and gaa over your new little arrival.
Local Mothers Groups may help some women create a sense of community; however my feelings (and the feedback I’ve received from many other mothers is mixed) – in the majority of instances, the appointed groups simply mean the other women are just not ‘your people’ and instead you find yourself hiding behind a mask of your true self because you share different ideals and philosophies in life.
With everything going on during this post-partum transition, It’s no wonder mothers are unable to heal physically, mentally or emotionally, exacerbating the void between the life you knew before and the now.
So where does this leave the mother?
Tired. Sore. Deflated…all whilst trying to “enjoy their baby whilst they’re young”.
It’s no wonder mothers feel such guilt when they’re trying to do everything that is expected of them and yet they can barely function.
Surely there are some moments to enjoy?
Of course there are! And for me, motherhood has been the most incredible experience. It has been the biggest teacher in my life as I’ve learnt to trust my own instincts, my own beliefs and do things on my terms. It wasn’t easy; but doing the inner work has been so worth it.
I’ve stopped allowing others’ expectations of me to guide my actions. I’ve stopped being swayed by the judgmental comments or looks I may receive – how are they to know exactly what is going on in my world?
I’ve become comfortable with taking the time I need to focus on me and my own self-care so that when I am with my kids, I can show up fully in whatever capacity I feel that I need to.
I’ve become comfortable in setting boundaries and saying “no” or asking for help.
All of this growth within myself has allowed me to enjoy more of the moments that I have with my children.
It’s lessened the oscillation between the highs and the lows that I felt before with my first child.
Do they still occur?
Of course! I am human afterall!
But now I am kinder to myself and when I am having a shitty day, I forgive myself and allow myself to be. The house may be a mess but if I need to go for a walk in the fresh air, then that’s what I do because that allows me to love where I am and where we are as a family.
So let’s normalise not loving every moment of motherhood and not having to fit within the cookie-cutter mould!
Let’s acknowledge that some days it’s an absolute achievement to just have a shower and feed yourself.
Let’s drop the act of perfectionism and allow other women to peek at our messiness so they can feel comfortable in what motherhood truly looks like.
You do you, my love because you are the one who matters most in your life.