Why Every Mother Deserves Presence
Nov 25, 21
As I grow closer to bringing my second child into the world, I feel like I'm being asked to redefine again, what it means to be a mother, for me. I also become more aware of the difference in what our society leads us to believe a “good” mother is.
Recently I saw a meme somewhere online that was glamorizing the supermum archetype.
Pedestalling the women who prepare all the home cooked meals, keep a tidy and clean house, have well-behaved children, a well manicured appearance, are present with their child/children, and perfect partners.
We all know there's far more we could add to that list when it comes to what is expected of us in today's world.
Who are these women we compare ourselves to? Do they really exist?
Did you notice the above list didn't even mention the emotional wellbeing of the mother?
There have been many pieces written on the unrealistic expectations we hold ourselves to, or feel others hold us to. Each of us will feel slightly different pressures, and yet we all feel them; whether others view our circumstances as perfect or not. Comparitanitis doesn't discriminate.
Our culture tends to idolise a kind of supermum/martyr rather than see the real mother. As if we are measured by how selfless we can be, or our rest and worthiness is something we earn and someone else is always doing it better.
It is an ongoing conversation for all of us. Just as much as it is a journey of shedding the expectations and finding your own truth in it all.
You would think this latest trend of self care and cup filling would have had an incredibly positive impact on mothers taking care of themselves, but has it? Or has it just added yet another layer of things on the “to do” and “compare to” list?
When did taking care of one's basic human needs become known as self care? Something to immediately post about, or to compare with other mothers?
My truth is that each day is different, what I am able to achieve will change every day. One day I may be able to say I got three of them, another day it'll be one. This doesnt mean on those days you've failed, or on the other days you did better. Holding ourselves to the standard of nailing all achievements every day can feel self defeating. Even the fact that different stages of life will ask different things of us.
I’m in the thick of the early child rearing years and having an understanding of how important these are in the healthy development and wellbeing of our children, I’m at a place where ticking the one box of “being present with my child” is an important task in and of itself and if that is the single box I managed to tick that day, then I consider I’m doing well. Being present with my child also means being present with myself. Which can feel like one hell of a task on it’s own.
Don't get me wrong. I still feel the urge to tick off “all the things”. I think it's so ingrained in most of us mums. I'm also a virgo who loves to have things organised and tidy, and ticking off lists feels like a sense of accomplishment. It's always helped me declutter my mind too. So the journey of surrendering to a different way of being in “mum life”, and discovering a new found sense of accomplishment in other ways can be a challenge; not to mention figuring out how to declutter this new found “mum brain” that likes to “think of all the things”.
The idea that we are supposed to just keep adding things to our “neverending to do” lists without taking anything away from each phase of life we are going through can feel like a real energy drain.
I now completely understand why you see young families with washing everywhere and dishes in the sink. For me, that stuff needs to take a backseat when such tasks like raising kids arrive.
The process of figuring out what takes a break from being on your list is not always an easy task, and sometimes for others it happens without even having to think about it.
Most of us burn ourselves out before making much needed changes to our list.
By the time we reach a point of burnout, we have become so disconnected from ourselves in our pursuit to stay busy fulfilling all the tasks, that we haven't picked up on the warning signs our bodies had been giving us to slow down and reassess things.
One of the sacrifices of doing all the things is that the busier we are, the further away from ourselves we get.
Many days I have finally sat down in the evening to suddenly realise the tension I had been holding in my shoulders all day, or that my toe hurt from being stubbed hours ago. My attention was elsewhere, and everything was moving so fast, it really felt like there was no time to slow down.
What a peculiar thing to think. No time to slow down.
How often do you take a pause? It's something I'm intentionally bringing into my daily life again.
Surprisingly, I didn't have any problems being present with myself before becoming a mother (and inheriting these beliefs that life had to be busy, and that I had to do all the things and earn my rest and worthiness).
It feels quite uncomfortable to admit that those have been unconscious beliefs I’ve carried with me. Even more uncomfortable to know that they are there.
I do wholeheartedly believe we are in a very powerful time right now and that more and more mothers are redefining what it means for them to be a mother, and the kind of life that feels right for them. I absolutely support this shift, I'm here for it, and I'm walking it with you.
These questions may seem simple, but watch how they can interrupt the story running in your mind that you may not be aware of. I use these when I catch myself needing a check in.
“Why does it matter to me?” or “Who am I trying to gain approval from?”
I specifically like to ask myself this when I'm cleaning before someone comes to visit, if my son leaves the house with a dirty face or something on his shirt, or if I catch myself thinking I'm not doing as well as <insert another mother>.
“How is my body feeling at this moment?” and “Is this having an impact on the current situation?”
All too often we are feeling tense, rushing, stressing, and not only unaware of it in our bodies, but also unaware of how much it’s affecting the experience we’re creating outside of us.
Your presence is so very powerful, and you deserve it just as much as anything else on your list. Truthfully, you deserve it more.