Self-Care for Mothers

Where do I begin? Has anyone achieved self-care, without the guilt, while being a Mother? I meet mother after mother who just constantly put themselves last. Last. We strive to give everything, and to be everything, and to just give and give and never think of ourselves. Like a car flooring it for years, and never pulling over to check the engine etc. Inevitably we eventually burn out. Either in a small way, or in a big way. And yet, instead of burning out and recovering, getting some rest, we just keep going. Broken. A bit shut down. Bitter. Annoyed. We may have lost our sense of fun. Exhausted. But it doesn't even register anymore. Who out there cannot relate! Going and going. Putting everything in our lives first. Year after year. Decades. When we do finally stop and ask ourselves, what is it that will make us happy, we have long since forgotten. It may feel like we are kind of dead in a way. Just existing. Whatever has gone on for us, an accumulation of grief, hurt and loneliness often, starts to build and we may seek help through Therapy.

But isn't it so socially acceptable for mothers to be like this? Isn't it kind of expected? A woman becomes a mum and give it a few years, for many women, her life force dwindles slowly, usually. What about the motherless mothers out there, the sisterliness mothers, the friendless mothers. What a taboo subject. Mothers don't usually talk of their hardship, or pain. Their loss, their loneliness. I think it's because from the moment you become pregnant, you learn pretty quick moaning or any kind of truth telling about how hard it all is, is quickly shusshhhhhed by many of our fellow women. I hear woman after woman tell me their deeply painful experiences of pregnancy, labour, child loss, child rearing alone, and how there is no other female around to support them. To hear their pain. It is most definitely frowned upon to 'complain', and women are supposed to accept the often horrendous experiences that go with motherhood silently and with a smile.

Most women speak to me of their frustrations at being the over burdened and over worked. Carrying the emotional load of parenting all by themselves. Carrying the financial worries. Women are expected to put up and shut up. At an enormous cost. Health and mental stability. God it is hard. Where are the good examples for us women out there? Where are the women who won't play this game? The good example of how to meet your own needs and those of your family. How to fill yourself up so that you can give 'more' to everyone else? Women usually gossip and put down women like that. Those women are targets. Who does she think she is!! Is she 'happy'? You can't be happy, meet your needs, and be free as a bird, when you have children! Right??! What's wrong with her!

Okay, so really, we all know this as women. I talk with women all the time about this martyr thing we are all supposed to do. And what is so frustrating is, we have bought into it. At least if you are run ragged, exhausted, have given every drop to your family, that means you are doing your best right? Right? Do you ever have those moments, where you think it might all be a bit unesseccary? Seriously. I know you have! Isn't there another way! I wonder, can we figure out how to make ourselves happy and fulfilled, to meet our needs and live a fabulous life, and give of ourselves to our loved ones too? Let's choose it.

For each woman it is different. A few questions to help:

1. What makes me, me? What are the things I could list, that I could easily say, Oh that is so me. For example, ballet, running, singing, travelling, writing, reading, going out with friends.

2. If I could do one thing everyday, that would deeply connect me into myself and/or make me happy, what would it be?

3. What brought you joy in your life before you became a mother? What made you feel joy?

4. Self-care such as salon visits and shopping are quite ineffective in my opinion. True self-care is having an opinion and backing yourself up. Saying enough is enough. Letting things die that should, and letting things bloom that will.

What about the guilt of thinking about yourself? The guilt of leaving your child(ren) to spend time on yourself, the guilt of spending money on yourself, the guilt of not being there while you are off thinking about yourself. So I think this is where a good mantra comes in handy. I personally like, "The more full I am, the more I have to give". or "The happier I am, the happier I can make everyone else". Words like that. It's like the only way you can trick yourself into meeting your needs is to sell it from the viewpoint of meeting other people's needs!

Remember, you are not alone, in feeling so utterly exhausted and empty. The path of motherhood is rough, and often lonely. Take some time to examine why you need to start changing how you view what a good mother is. Take some time to reflect on how being happy and free and contented is an enormous gift to give to your children. Work to let go of the guilt with kind mothering words to yourself. Choose it.

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