I’ve been a Mother for nearly 10 years. I’ve also been a Women’s Health Counsellor for nearly 3 years. During this time I’ve either experienced (or worked with) it all. Good. Bad. Ugly. And everything ‘mothering’ in between.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through my own experience, and through supporting women on their mothering journey, it’s that motherhood is quite literally one of the most unsettling journeys we will ever go on. It challenges women like NOTHING else. Am I saying motherhood is not ‘amazing’ and ‘beautiful’ and ‘inspiring’ and all Disney like? No! Being a Mum is the single greatest joy in my life. I just know there is a whole extra narrative that accompanies the physical component of motherhood. Another experience that accompanies the daily meal prep, clothes washing and taxi runs.
Motherhood can be unbelievably fulfilling.
But it can also be a great big pain in the arse broken hearted mess.
And that’s not because we don’t care, it’s because we care so, so much.
Usually in my line of work women come to me having hit rock bottom. They are exhausted. Overwhelmed. Hating on themselves. Criticising themselves and generally not enjoying being a mother anymore. These women are my kind. The kind I LOVE working with. The kind who let it all out, if not in the first session, in subsequent sessions.
They share the dark days, the negativity and the limiting beliefs that hold them back. They share the weight of expectations and of assumptions. And, they call the spade a spade. (Counselling success tip 101 - say it like it is!)
But more obviously these women share their struggle with not being good enough.
Not being fun enough. Relaxed enough. Cool enough. Switched on enough. Funny enough. Attentive enough. Creative enough. Interesting enough. Worthy enough. Hardworking enough. Career focused enough. Loving enough. Suzy-homemaker enough.
Their sad faces tell stories of a woman experiencing the torment of chasing a goal she can never achieve...
Motherhood perfection. Being the ‘perfect mother’.
Why a goal she can never achieve?
Because ‘she’, the ‘perfect mother’, doesn’t exist beyond the confines of the idealistic and perfectionistic fantasy land society has created. She’s someone the media and greater society have imagined up and sold to you as some obtainable life goal. What they didn’t want to sell you was the fact that the goal posts keep moving.
Just when you thought you were ‘good enough’ the chase was redefined.
Let me assure you that this ‘perfect mother’ isn’t changing stinky nappies at 3am or breastfeeding through cracked nipples at 5am. She isn’t showing up to that dirty pile of vomit on the bathroom floor. She isn’t comforting the child with night terrors or the child dealing with bullying at school.
That mother is YOU. The mother who gives it her all, at all hours. On repeat.
The mother who throws her hair in a mum bun and bravely faces another day of refused meals, stained clothes and disrespectful backchat.
The mother who finds a way to kiss and cuddle her kids when all she wants is personal space.
The mother who puts aside her own needs in order the meet the needs of her babies.
The mother who cries in the shower then reappears like nothing is wrong, just so she won’t upset her children.
The mother who finds a way to make ends meet, even when she fears she can’t.
The mother who gets up tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…
That mother is perfectly imperfect YOU.
You are the mother your children want. YOU are their physical manifestation of ‘perfect’. The mother who knows their favourite meal. Who knows how they like their hair done. Or how to prepare their cricket bag. You are the mother who helps with homework and plans their birthdays and special events. You are the one with that twinkle in your eye that tells them they’ll be ok, no matter what.
They know you are enough and now it’s time you do too.
Claw back your life. Do it YOUR way and buck the trend of mothering by ‘societal compliance’. You just need to do you. Motherhood is yours to define. To lay out and to enjoy.
Take pride in your work because you do a damn good job and it deserves recognition. First and foremost, from you. Honour your strength, your determination and your bravery.
Give credit where credit is due and never let ‘mum guilt’ lie to you. Mum guilt means you care. Remember that. But also remember that too much mum guilt is actually self-sabotage. It’s a tightrope you’re walking on and only you know the right balance for you.
Let go of “I’m failing” and embrace “I’m learning” and “I’m doing”.
Because you are brave Mother. You ARE doing. All of it. You are giving and giving and giving. And you are learning that taking is ok too, because you are worthy.
Look those hard “perfectionist” days in the face and laugh them off with the hilarity of modern day motherhood chaos. The same chaos that is YOUR beautiful story. Your family story. The story in which you are the author, illustrator and publisher. You hold the power to create and live the motherhood story that feels good for you.
‘She’ isn’t real. But you are. And you’re smashing it lady, right out of the ball park. You just can’t see the ball through the fog of the daily grind.
You’ve got this. And so do I. x
.... I hope this article helps you start to let go of the unrealistic and that it helps you embrace the you that your children love and adore. They see your worth and it's important you do too. If you need support, don't go it alone, I'm here for you... ready to walk your journey of self discovery with you. My counselling services are available Australia wide, you can reach out to me here. If you're curious about what happens in a first session at She you can learn the ins and outs here.
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Until next week...
Yours in better mental health,
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Erica has a passion for Women’s Health. She works with women who want to be heard, supported and empowered! Erica is a survivor of many life experiences. A Mum. A travel lover. A green thumb in training and an eternal optimist!