Motherhood is a full-time job, and a tough one at that. Checking mails, sorting bills, helping with school assignments, preparing meals, being emotionally and physically there for the kids, keeping the home clean and pantry stocked, and whatnot.
We are in no way saying that it is not a joyful experience, every mother swears by how she could give anything for that little embrace, or to watch her child sleep – but the enormity and continuity of these tasks can be overwhelming. The responsibility of fiercely loving an entirely dependent human can be scary, creating a longing to flee elsewhere for some ‘ME’ time.
Motherhood brings immense contentment, pride and joy, it also brings an undertone of regret, guilt, shame, frustration, helplessness, anxiety and depression as mothers give it their all to be ‘perfect’ for their kids. And we’re here to tell you, it is as normal as it gets. Of course, regret refutes the notion that the sole purpose of mothers’ lives is to continuously serve the family.
On the contrary, it helps to acknowledge mothers as humans who are owners of their bodies, thoughts and emotions. Let’s uncover why moms all over the world do not entirely enjoy the bliss of motherhood though they consider their children as their lifeline.
Failing to be the ‘perfect mommy’
What is a perfect mom? She dedicates her life to her children, loves them unconditionally, endures suffering in silence and fulfils every need without expecting anything in return. She is expected to be the sole caregiver in the family. She has to be a superhuman with extraordinary maternal instincts who never needs to communicate her feelings. Strict and universal rules dictate to mothers how they should nurture and provide even if they have their own unique and different parenting choices based on the environment they live in. These are not particularly enjoyable things to do.
The most important thing a mom has to do is to build a support network for herself. When you start talking to fellow mommies and hear their stories, you become a less judgmental person with every passing day, and it can slowly help reset the expectations to somewhat less unrealistic.
Inevitably comparing parenting choices
Every mother wants to be perfect. Many compare themselves to other moms to feel better about themselves and calm their own anxieties; while others find themselves in the middle of panic bouts because they have compared themselves to the so-called ‘perfect mother’ next door. Whichever it is, it becomes a competition and only leads to anxiety and unnecessary stress and guilt.
Looking to get off the guilt wagon? Convince yourself that there is no single right way to be a mother. Strive for your own personal best instead of comparing your style with other moms. Stay connected with moms who don’t judge you for being different. Accept sensible advice and step out of the imaginary race. You will start to feel more open and honest and find real support. Step away from the grind. An occasional fast-food dinner or take-out won’t kill anyone!
Failing to flaunt the ‘picture-perfect’ post-partum body
This one can be attributed to the media. We see celebrity moms get their flawless bodies back in no time. The reality of this is that your tummy is not going to be tucked in immediately, you might have stretch marks, you aren’t sleeping – making you look duller and your body is going through many changes that don’t make you the conventional ‘Instagram-perfect’ and you simply can’t seem to do anything about it.
If this bothers you, you should tend to your appearance. Take control. However, make sure you strike a balance between taking care of yourself and overdoing it to hide how you feel. Accept that you are beautiful in all ways. Remind yourself that your feelings take priority over how you look. Your body is slowly recovering and healing. Thank your body for coping with all the changes it has gone through these days. Take it slow and be kind to yourself.
You choose to struggle in silence
As magical as the motherhood journey might be, mothers are often caught in a space of shame, sadness and scary thoughts. It’s hard to answer, “Do you need anything?” when you don’t even know what you need or what can be helpful but you do know that you need something. You feel embarrassed and are not sure if your feelings require attention. You are also afraid that you will be labelled a bad mother or someone who is mentally ill.
Keep in mind that support is essential at this time to keep you going. Accept help from others to get rid of your anxiety. Do not hesitate to let your loved ones know what you need. Asking for help doesn’t mean you don’t love the baby. It is perfectly normal for you to have bad days due to exhaustion, hormonal changes, and day-to-day demands. Attend to your emotions and advocate your needs.
It is easy to see how any mother can become anxious with sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, societal pressures, and social influences. Mothers push themselves hard with a sense of high alert to protect their children and slowly drift into anxiety. Social pressure, lack of awareness and fear of losing their mind contribute to the silence of holding back negative emotions. They look and feel different. Depression sets in when they think they are failing as a mother. It goes undiagnosed, untreated and invites other physical ailments.
Mommies, permit yourselves those crappy days when nothing feels right. If you constantly feel that your negative emotions are getting the better of you, it’s time to let someone you trust know how you are feeling. Recognise and celebrate the good mom moments. Start to be mindful of the moments when you negatively judge yourself. Accepting this dichotomy of emotions will help you know that it is okay to be a messy and awesome mom at the same time.
(Edited by Neha Baid)