Have you ever had that moment in your mothering journey when you feel like you just can’t do this anymore? When you realise you’ve reached your limits and you’ve nothing left to give? When you can’t continue to do things the way you’ve been doing them?
I have, and it taught me a huge and controversial lesson about motherhood. That my children can’t and shouldn’t be my number one priority! Told you it was controversial!
My son was 9 months old when my health deteriorated to a scarily low point. I’d started my motherhood journey from a place that many of us do. From a place of self sacrifice. Believing that a good mother is one that puts her child’s needs before her own. That a good mother wears a badge of martyrdom with pride. I’d somehow been conditioned to believe that putting my own needs into the mix would be at the detriment of my child’s wellbeing. Can you relate?
We receive all these unconscious messages about motherhood. Some are explicit like the quotes your find about motherhood that claim ‘motherhood is the choice you make everyday to put someone else happiness and wellbeing ahead of your own’. These cultural messages exist everywhere. But some messages we receive are implicit. Such as the secret judgements we make about another mother if we see her put herself first.
When my health hit rock bottom I was forced to admit ‘I can’t do this anymore!’ That the model of motherhood I’d believed made me a good mum, was actually completely unsustainable. It took this challenging experience to realise that sacrificing my own needs for my child’s needs doesn’t make me a good mother.
Now let me be clear. I love my children with every fibre of my being. So saying that our children shouldn’t be our number one priority is not a measure of our love for them. I’m also not talking about putting ourselves before their safety. There are times when we absolutely have to put them first to feed, protect and care for them. What I am saying is that each of us has needs. And constantly ignoring our own needs to prioritise our children’s isn’t a sustainable model of mothering. It leads to overwhelm, burnout and often unspoken resentment.
Mothering from this place leads to a deterioration of a mother’s wellbeing and self worth. It’s a lose-lose game because we suffer, and as a result our children suffer too.
This is about changing the paradigm by which we mother. It’s about saying we love our children AND we love ourselves. It’s about saying we can be amazing mothers and also put our own needs as equal to our children’s.
It’s about mothering from a place of nourishment for ourselves. That by nourishing ourselves first we can mother in an even better way…… a more sustainable way. That the world actually needs us to show up from a place of wellbeing. And this starts by us showing up in our homes from a place of wellbeing.
Now that I have a little girl I feel even more passionate about this. I’d like her to know that if she decides to have children she’s not expected to sacrifice herself. That she can be a great mum whilst also following her dreams and meeting her needs.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as I know it’s a controversial one!
We’re genuine, like-minded women, just like you!
We’re a community, reinventing how we combine work and motherhood without sacrificing our sanity and wellbeing.