Motherhood: How to Take it on and Not Die Trying
Motherhood is a unique experience that makes us grow and enjoy life. It’s also a rollercoaster of emotions: a vital stage of happiness, exhaustion, changes, and expectations that we must learn to control. Undertaking motherhood can go from something overwhelming to something really fulfilling, or to a stage of life where you experience both.
While we wait for the baby, we sense the changes coming and we believe that we’re prepared for them. However, the truth is that, when the time comes, many things can feel overwhelming. The baby‘s arrival is full of happiness and excitement, but aside from positive emotions, it also brings a total change in routines and priorities. It flips our world upside down.
Feeling that a big change destabilizes our life doesn’t necessarily mean that we weren’t prepared. It just means that it’s a process that puts us to the test due to its magnitude. Just like any other process of such importance, we need some time to adjust to the changes.
Adding such a significant role in your life and looking for balance may seem impossible, especially in the first few months. However, it is possible. In fact, we need to find balance in all of our roles in life in order to fully enjoy motherhood.
How to manage motherhood
There isn’t one unique way to do so. As a matter of fact, we could say that there are as many ways as there are mothers. But there are some things that we should take into account, especially if we want to manage the frequency and intensity of those dreaded moments of anxiety and turmoil.
Don’t try to fit into external criteria
Motherhood is full of pressure and prejudice. These come from stereotypes and criticisms that seem to establish what’s right and what’s wrong, what makes a good mother and a bad one. Don’t fall in this absurdity. The person who should determine if something is right or wrong is the pediatrician.
Don’t focus on what motherhood is thought out to be and focus more on what it means to you individually. Give it your own meaning because, if it’s built on external criteria, it will be difficult for you to feel good. Love is the foundation of motherhood and true love is always natural. Therefore, follow your own criteria and intuition. Make your own definition of what it means to be a mother and you’ll probably be the best mother to your children.
Fathers and mothers are different, but equally capable, necessary, and competent. If we assume that both parents want what’s best for their little ones, then why don’t mothers usually delegate and/or fully trust their partner’s abilities?
In many occasions, women take on the intrinsic responsibility of parenting. Mothers usually don’t allow fathers to get as involved in the child’s care and upbringing as they do. This is unfair. Later on, mothers end up complaining about it.
Having both roles is a mistake. It’s based on convenience and resignation. The responsibility of taking care of a baby shouldn’t fall on only one person (when it comes to two-parent families). It’s imperative to equally share the responsibilities.
As soon as we have our baby, everyone seems to have degrees in motherhood. They tell you and insist that you do things one way or another. It doesn’t matter if they’ve seen the baby for five minutes or two hours, everyone thinks they know what’s best. They even take the liberty of correcting or criticizing you.
This doesn’t stop unless you set clear boundaries, so the sooner you set them the better. The father and mother are the only ones responsible for the baby’s physical and mental well-being. Find the way to express your discomfort clearly and respectfully. Protect your motherhood with respect and don’t allow disrespect in the form of advice or opinions.
Deal with your guilt
Guilt is a feeling that arises in first-time mothers. The guilt of not being able to breastfeed, for taking the child to daycare, for arriving late, for the baby getting sick, for not enjoying more time, for feeling sad… an endless source of guilt.
Guilt can become a dead end for any mother. It’s not constructive and it never brings anything positive. You should change your guilt for responsibility and solutions. If you consider that you’ve made a mistake, just try to improve and do it better next time. If there was nothing to be done to avoid what happened, then you’re not responsible and it makes no sense to feel guilty. If you feel sad, irritable, or have a recurring feeling that you don’t enjoy motherhood, then stop and think. Seek out professional help if necessary and keep trying.
Save some time for yourself
Being a good mother means being with your baby 24 hours day. Many times we don’t allow ourselves some alone time because we don’t think it’s necessary or because we feel that leaving the care to someone else makes us bad parents. Successfully undertaking motherhood will also depend on not giving up on our individuality. We don’t need to give up our career, friendships, partner or leisure activities. What we really need is to learn how to organize and adapt our life to the new challenges we’re facing.
When we become a mother, we don’t stop being a person, so we can’t give up our individuality. We must continue taking care of ourselves. We shouldn’t ignore all the other aspects of our lives. Also, we need to feel good about ourselves in order to feel good as mothers. It’s a fact that happy parents raise happy children. Don’t let yourself go because, although being a parent is something precious and important, there’s more to life than just your role as a mother.
Don’t compare yourself
Motherhood is popularly said to be something marvelous, a unique experience. It’s true. What’s not often said about motherhood is that it’s a difficult stage of life when everything changes. We may sometimes feel that it’s overwhelming, that it’s not what we expected, and that we can’t go on. It may feel like a downward spiral of emotions, especially if we think that other mothers are fine and happy.
In the case of motherhood, you and your circumstances are unique, so there’s no space for comparison. Undertaking motherhood in the healthiest way is all about trying your best. What other mothers do doesn’t make them better or worse mothers than you. Motherhood is not a competition.
There are infinite ways of being the best mother
There are as many mothers as ways of managing motherhood. This means you should be a mother your own way, on your own terms. Give yourself the luxury of letting go of unnecessary pressures and allow yourself to enjoy it your way.
It’s important to understand that all the insecurities, doubts, and bad days are part of motherhood, as well as life. It’s also important to allow ourselves to feel and accept that not all emotions associated with such an intense experience have to be positive. In fact, it wouldn’t be natural if they were.
Motherhood is a precious stone that we polish every day. Before we became mothers, we were people. We should also remember that we’re the central axis of our own lives, the foundation our children build their lives on. To tackle the task of motherhood in a healthy way, all we need to do is be generous with ourselves.