Sometimes motherhood can be suffocating.
There. I said it out loud.
To tell you the truth I just stared at those 35 little letters and wondered whether or not to declare them. Would child services be round to investigate me? Would people think I was a bad mother? Does it undermine the crazy amount of love I feel for my little Goose?
No. Of course not. Yet I still felt a huge amount of guilt admitting that parenting is not all sunshine and rainbows. But judging by endless conversations with other mothers as well as my beautiful coaching clients, I am not in the minority. A hell of a lot of mothers are feeling ashamed about being overwhelmed by the enormous task of raising a human.
I don’t understand this Supermum taboo. Most of us freely admit when our jobs, relationships, diets or exercise regimes are getting on top of us but when it comes to moulding a healthy and happy person we all get tongue tied.
It is totally fine to be a little terrified at the enormity of parenthood.
It is more than understandable to be a bit shell-shocked at the massive changes to your lifestyle (and that’s not just when they arrive – but every new stage they go through from birth up).
It is okay to miss the pre-child act of toilet-time; a once sacred experience that now entails being clawed, laughed or screamed at or (my favourite) stared at with an intensity that is confronting and odd.
Whatever you are feeling it is okay.
What I realised after a lot of self-examination and people watching it that we put so much pressure on ourselves as mothers – a lot of it needless. A month or so ago I felt on the verge of a breakdown. I was exhausted from trying to play by all the rules and please everyone. So I made a decision to stop struggling and start living with flow, grace and ease. And my god what a difference it has made.
Sure I may not be crossing as many items off my to do list but I also don’t feel certifiably insane.
So if you are writhing around in an anxious flurry right now then I’d love to share these gems with you.
Are you happy and do you feel right as a parent?
I don’t like labels but for the sake of being succinct, I am an attachment parent. We co-sleep with Lucy, I spend a lot of the time wearing her, and she is with me most of the time. Apparently this goes against a lot of established conventions. I know this because a lot of people are more than willing to put their unsolicited two bob in on every facet of my parenting abilities. I have never had SO many people interested in the logistics and regularity of my sex life before.
I bowed down to the pressure at one point and decided maybe I was doing things ‘wrong’ – in particular regarding Lucy’s sleeping habits. So I tried controlled crying for 6 hours and absolutely hated it. It felt wrong and went against every fibre in my body.
I vowed never to do it again and NEVER to go against my own intuition when it comes to my child.
But this is not a debate about parenting styles. People make co-sleeping, controlled crying and every other sleeping style work for them. All I am saying is each to their own.
If something works for you and feels right – do it.
If it doesn’t – don’t.
And every time someone espouses their parenting techniques and disregards yours just ask these questions;
“Do I feel happy and right as a parent? Does it work for my family?”
Which brings me to my next point…
Be open-minded. Surround yourself with open-minded people.
Help out the sisterhood and don’t judge anyone else’s parenting style. If you are surrounded by people that judge you – get rid of them. If a relationship no longer serves you then cut it free and make some space for your tribe.
Express yo’self (not just milk)
On any one day I am juggling a million thoughts; blog ideas, chores, nutritious meal plans, budgets, developmental activities, socialising, entrepreneurship, fitness… the list goes on. And every mum could add a couple of million other subjects to the list; hopes, plans, dreams and fears. Living with that cacophony of internal chatter can be absolutely deafening!
Try and get in the habit of journaling every morning and night. Put pen to paper and just write to the bottom of your mind – get everything out. It doesn’t have to make sense, there needn’t be an order. You are just trying to release those thoughts and dull down the racket. Later on go back and read it and see if there are any gems that jump out at you – revelations, ideas or to dos.
Cannot tell you how much this helped my monkey mind.
Ooops… totally shouldnt swear in front of the kids right? But the naughty word was warranted because my god, children come with a lot of rules nowadays.
Except most of them aren’t really rules – they are judgements.
Of course there are some good ones in there: do not allow infant to play with open flames is a corker. But other than that it is what works for you that matters.
Whenever I hear a rule I ask the question – would my grandma have worried about it?
Would my grandma have freaked out if her child didn’t nap at the same time every afternoon?
Would my grandma have flipped out because she fed her baby egg before they turned one?
Would my grandma have been upset at the fact her bub wanted to fall asleep on her chest most evenings?
Decide on what principles are right for you and then follow your goose guidance and stick by them. Any other rules and expectations are null and void.
Downtime is essential
Never feel guilty about needing some time to yourself. Try and schedule in a daily or weekly time to be alone. This might mean waking up 30 minutes earlier to meditate, booking a day or two at day care, asking a family member for some help or just stealing away while the kids are asleep to read some trashy magazines.
You will come back from that small break away rejuvenated and better. Your child benefits from a healthy functioning parent.
Accept the fact that there will be days that you will get nothing done.
Your day will be totally out of control. And I can guarantee you that it will be the day that you have a million deadlines.
Your child will decide that the only thing that will stop them from screaming is sitting on your lap and looking deep into your eyes. For 8 hours. And don’t you dare look away.
I used to wrestle with those days until I decided to just surrender to it. Ignore the to do list and just delight in your child – play with them, go for a big walk, build a cubby in the lounge or just sit and study their features while they sleep on you. I am calmer and happier and in turn, so is Lucy.
Consider those days a long life lesson on the importance of presence.
Last and most important rule. It may sound trite and clichéd but you only get this moment once. These years when you are your childs’ entire world are fleeting. And really beautiful.
So when you feel the crush of the To Do list just remember that everything on there is there to facilitate your baby’s best life. Actually consider what that is. They won’t remember the messy lounge room. They wont remember the blog post you didn’t write the new dress they weren’t wearing. They won’t remember the time you were so buggered that they got a stodgy dinner. They certainly wont remember a little excess baby podge on your body.
They will however remember playing in the park, walking on the beach, playing under a colourful sarong and spontaneous picnics.
They will remember feeling loved.
Tell me, do you have any secret weapons for overwhelmed mums? Or are you feeling stressed yourself and just need to vent? I’d LOVE to hear your motherhood stories or revelations in the comments.