It is meant to be the happiest time of our lives – so why do we feel so overwhelmed and disconnected?
There is a generation of mothers who feel as if they are coming last in every aspect of their lives.
Their days are filled with the heaviness of looking after everyone else. The concepts of self-care or ‘me time’ feels like a luxury only celebrities and Instagram it-girls get to have. Massages. Green smoothies. Yoga mats. As the kids run wild in the playgrounds, these mums sit, flicking through images on their phones and feeling even more frumpy and forgotten. And so they give up.
They get to the end of the day, exhausted and aching. They turn the TV on to numb themselves with mindless entertainment. They know they should sleep – it’s what they ache for all day – but if they don’t use these night-time hours to do something even a little ‘adult-like’, they’ll go mad.
It wasn’t meant to be like this.
Motherhood was meant to be a time of joy and chubby babies bouncing on our laps while we happily chatted with like-minded mamas in lush green parks.
We had expectations – and although we’d been warned about the lack of sleep and the death of our social lives, we didn’t know it was going to be like this.
I know. I’ve felt that way. I’ve compared my life to all my social media idols and come out hating myself. I’ve felt bitter about other people’s lives and angry that i’ve lost mine, and I’ve cried because I simply don’t know how I’m going to get it all done. I’ve been there. And I’ve listened and nodded along as hundreds of mamas shared these experiences with me.
What’s the point? they ask, sobbing.
It’s too big. I don’t have the time, the energy, the money, the support. I collapse at the end of the day and I’m awake all night.
I’m just surviving. I can’t possibly add anything more to my list.
I don’t know who I am anymore.
I’m not the person I want to be.
Until something breaks. It’s usually the body that we notice first – we seem to be able to run on broken minds much longer than broken bodies. It’s the niggling cold that never goes away; exhaustion; adrenal fatigue. For me, it was my thyroid. And then when that didn’t stop me, it was pre-term labour with my son that finally screamed loud enough for me to listen. Only when the body finally breaks do we start to take notice. We go to bed early. We get help. But while we know we need to rebuild our bodies after everything we’ve put them through, we fail to see the importance of our inner health. We miss our spirits altogether.
But let me tell you, those can break too. When you don’t find ways to nurture your own intuition, wisdom, thoughts and inner spirit, these too crumble. You yell at your kids. You disconnect from your partner. You hate your job, and you don’t believe in anything. You have no faith, no grace, no trust. And that is when you lose yourself.
It’s time we changed the dialogue motherhood.
It’s time that we questioned the idea that to be a good mum we need to always put our children first. It’s time we stopped putting such expectations on ourselves, got honest about what we really need, dropped the guilt and put our own oxygen masks on.
(An extract from Happy Mama: The Guide to Finding Yourself Again)
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