Osho Rajneesh an Indian mystic wrote, ”The moment a child is born the mother is also born. She never existed before- the woman existed, but the mother-never.” For many mothers, this new identity, as parent, quickly absorbs the women who existed long before she ever gave birth. Motherhood demands you place your own needs well behind those of your child and if you have more than one child this pattern can go on for several years. Taking care of yourself is critical to being an effective parent. This includes respecting your own needs, honoring your limitations and being honest about your dreams and goals.
Honoring your true self is an essential first step in creating a strong foundation from which to develop your parenting skills. A parent who has a strong sense of identity, separate from her child, a clear understanding of her personal values and a realistic vision of what she wants her life to include will have a better chance of being a happy parent. Living in alignment with your true self allows you to be able to enjoy the life long task of parenting you have signed on to.
This concept of integrity to self will allow you to parent without resentment. Believe me, it is easy to resent the sick child keeping you up all night. Or be angry with the child who needs to be at a sport’s game, forcing you to cancel your dinner reservations to the new restaurant you were excited about going to. Give yourself permission to be human! Not loving the mommy role 100% of the time is ok. It’s reality.
Somewhere along the line the idea came to be, that in order to be a great mother, we have to be a martyr and sacrifice our needs. Not only that, but we can’t even complain about our negativity for fear of being seen as an unloving parent. It’s as if some of us believe that the more we give up and suffer, the better chance our children will have to succeed. Unfortunately, this places a great deal of stress on us and enormous pressure on our children to fulfill all of our expectations in order to validate our efforts!
No matter where you are on your parenting journey, I suggest taking a few self-reflective moments to go over in your mind, or perhaps write down in a journal, what you need to support the woman you were before you became a mother.
There is no judgment because we are all unique and need different things. For most of us it’s time alone to do whatever comforts us; reading a book at Starbucks, shopping, a walk in the woods or getting a pedicure.
If you are craving space but don’t have childcare, maybe you can do a weekly trade off with a close friend who more than likely is feeling the same frustration and stress as you. If you start this when your child is young and are consistent with the routine, your child will grow to look forward to seeing her friends and being in a different environment, probably just as much as you look forward to having your time alone.
It’s also important to nurture your relationship with your husband. I often wonder how many divorced couples would be married today if they never had children. Becoming parents redefines both of you within your roles as a couple and places a lot of new stress on the relationship. This is particularly true as your roles before children change. More than likely rendering you at home whereas you may have been an equal provider prior to children.
Most likely, you also have different expectations than your partner as to what your parenting role entails. Often we unconsciously bring our long held beliefs ,rooted in our own upbringing, to our parenting roles. Because you were raised in different families, these ideas can be quite different between the two of you. If your frustrations or disappointments aren’t expressed, resentment starts to grow. Believe me, if you are angry with your partner because you feel like you are doing it all alone now, try being a single mother!
It’s definitely easier to take time to communicate your needs, frustrations, disappointments and dreams consistently with your partner now rather than later. Make a habit to set aside time when you are not doing chores or interacting with your child. You wouldn’t expect your child to thrive with little or no attention, so don’t place that unrealistic expectation on your relationship.
Now at the stage of life where I am the mother of two adult sons, I can tell you that I did experience the monotony of the tedious, exhausting days that felt endless at the time. But sitting here looking back, I can also tell you that the years go by so quickly. Believe it or not, there will be a time when your role as a mother will not define your days and you will need to know who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life. If you never loose yourself along the way of your parenting journey in the first place, it will be all that much easier to continue on your path of becoming all that you dream to be.