The Emotional Challenges of Motherhood:
I coach many mothers and expecting mothers and while they adore being a mother and can’t wait for their new baby to enter this world, they often have a fear of being ‘just a mother’.
I hear this phrase often and when I get to the underlying issue – the various emotional challenges are around letting go of their independence and their identity – often as a successful career woman.
Further emotional challenges are loss of freedom (mostly financial) and the pressure to raise balanced children in a world that is fast changing where parents are having to work that much harder to cope with the increased competition for good schools, gruelling entrance exams and ever increasing technology changes, as well as all the normal historical challenges of drugs and the right and wrong crowd.
The concept of a life long responsibility for another human being, and the awareness of the fragility of a mother’s own existence can further add to a list of already complex emotions.
Add to these challenges the fear around loss of mental stimulation and the need for more than coffee mornings, play dates and trying to produce a birthday cake that beats the one at the previous week’s party.
Patience is often a very challenging emotion for mothers to embrace as they just can’t operate at the speed and level of efficiency they did before having children and for many A-type personalities this can be extremely challenging.
For working mothers, there is the additional pressure of not letting their new-found role of motherhood affect their work. I see many working mothers suffering with guilt that they are not able to be there for their child.
Re-connecting with your own identity:
Women mainly come to me for coaching because they are looking to re-connect with who they once were before having children. They want to honour their own goals and values and give something to themselves, as a mother’s role can be a tireless one of selflessness and a permanent feeling of giving – often leading to exhaustion.
An important way for women to maintain their identify is to separate their roles out of mother, wife, friend, sister, career woman, athlete etc. I find when women spend all their time being solely a mother, wearing what they often refer to as ‘mother’s clothes’ and not making time to take care of themselves can lead to lack of confidence and low self esteem.
Low self esteem normally shows itself in the area of intimacy and sex. I have so many mothers tell me that they don’t feel attractive after having their baby, as they can’t shift the weight, or are just too tired for sex and feel pressurised to fulfil that part of their relationship. The challenge is that when effort isn’t put into the relationship, it ultimately leads to its downfall when many women find themselves being single mothers.
Now I know some of your reading this will be saying – I don’t have time! I can’t afford help and I am just too tired to do anything about it. No doubt you can add more to this list. But, and here is the but, we all have a choice as to how we live our lives. There is always time if we think smarter, and the thing I find mothers are the most guilty of is not asking for help.
You get no awards today for being a superwoman, you just get tired and eventually sick. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It is about recognising what you need in order to operate at your optimum and to have enough energy to give to others, you need to first ensure you have enough energy for yourself.
When planning ahead, I always say to clients – you need to play the movie. Sit back and watch the movie of what you would like your life to look like.
So think about the various roles you play and how you would like them to look – what would you need in order to mark them 10/10. Then look at where you currently are against that role and mark yourself out of 10 in terms of how satisfied you feel. The difference between those two numbers is the gap you need to close.
Goals are achieved by taking one step at a time, getting to that next number until you are where you want to be. A dream is a dream but a dream with a plan and a timeline becomes a reality – motherhood while it is a gift and a dream, can also be a nightmare if you are constantly exhausted, on the back foot and feeling like you are always failing.
Just like your new baby is learning to balance in its new world and everything is done one small baby step at a time so is the journey of motherhood. As a mum you are learning to find that balance between the magic of motherhood and that part of you that you want to keep hold of. That part of you who has led to you being the woman you are today.
It is all about taking one small step at a time, delegating and asking for help. If you are about to have a baby or have a newborn our comprehensive New Baby eBook will help to guide you with supportive check-lists to help you on your way.