Anxiety, uncertainty, insecurity, frustration, self-doubts, guilt, and exhaustion are common feelings shared amongst moms in the counselling room. When the role as a mother inevitably becomes exhausting sometimes, it affects the quality of their relationships with their children and further intensifies their fear of failing in their role as a mom.
In my counselling journey with many moms, I found that three main reasons often lead to overwhelming stress and frustrations during motherhood.
1. Unrealistic expectations of motherhood
Many mothers tend to set high standards and expectations for themselves as a mother because of the desire to give their children the best. For example, we often hear mothers say “I must be there for my children when they need me.”, “I must be calm and caring to my children.”, or “I should manage my career and parenting as others do.”.
Whether these expectations are from ourselves, family, society, or culture, these can easily put mothers at risk of self-doubt and worries.
2. Mommy guilt and the resultant lack of boundary setting
Mothers often feel torn between desiring to do something for themselves and their conflicted feelings about leaving their children alone. They might feel guilty for prioritising themselves, their career, or interests over their children, or even feel guilty for not wanting to spend time with them. This guilt can easily lead to shame and self-criticism, which results in the perception of labelling themselves as a terrible mom. These negative and conflicted feelings would impact the mental health of mothers.
3. Suppressing individual feelings
Another common observation amongst mothers is that they often judge their negative feelings or try to hide them to be “positive” for their children. They might feel that it is essential to create a positive space for their children. Hence, allowing their negative feelings to surface would only affect their children. However, it is really important to remember that negative feelings are normal and as likely to occur as positive feelings in our life. By allowing ourselves to embrace our negative feelings, mothers also model for their children that all emotions can be embraced and validated.
So, let us take some time to reflect on motherhood, take time to take care of ourselves, and celebrate the meaningful and rewarding role of a mother.
Below are some strategies that might help you move towards balancing motherhood and yourself:
- Take some time to reflect on your expectations of motherhood and check if they are realistic.
- Supermoms are not superheroes as they are humans too. Recognise your needs and feelings and be honest with yourself. Validate and permit yourself to experience different kinds of emotions. There are no right or wrong feelings.
- Most importantly, remember that your role as a mother is only one out of the many roles that you play in your life. Occasionally, allow yourself to step out from that role and indulge in your own me time. With that, you would feel more rested and recharged when you return to your role as a mother.
Happy mom! Happy children!
Psychotherapist & Counsellor