Is it realistic to think that you can navigate motherhood without paying attention to your ‘own journey’ and general well-being?
I can’t think of one Mum who hasn’t felt completely overwhelmed and exhausted at some point.
Mothers across the board are feeling wrecked.
Not that I think motherhood should be all cupcakes and rainbows…
It just seems a little out of balance, to say the least.
Motherhood Is A Massive Transformation!
Your body changes. Your life changes. The way you are seen by others, changes.
You are thrust into serious sleep deprivation, alongside the most responsibility you’ve ever experienced, and the most love.
Your body is hurting… or at least recovering. You are fumbling your way through breastfeeding, nappy changes and trimming tiny nails. You slowly master the art of putting your baby to sleep, creeping away, missing the squeaky floorboard.
There are well-meaning parenting books and ‘Mum‘ blogs. Health visitors and grannies look on sympathetically and let you know that ‘it WILL get better’. But it’s not always that convincing.
While you can’t ever imagine having uninterrupted sleep again; being told by a local onlooker, ‘That you’d better enjoy it while it lasts!‘… is depressing!
Is this it! Is this what motherhood looks like?
What Does Motherhood Look Like To You?
Motherhood isn’t just about parenting. There’s no ‘go to’ parenting system that will work for everyone anyway.
It’s a growth pattern. It’s a deep relationship, not just with your children, but to yourself.
A contract with the universe.
Motherhood is a training ground for your ‘mother-rocking-inner-divine-guru’…. Or if you’re not into that kind of thing, for your ‘best, most authentic and powerful self.‘
Every adult human on this planet has something that they have struggled with. It’s the nature of our world.
We are told that happiness comes with a good salary… Our schools distance us from our passions and desires… The excessive, addicting, and consumer nature of Western ‘progress.’ Our brains have been calculating and storing risk factors daily since we were born.
So how can we go through such a significant shift as motherhood, and not prioritize finding balance or peace with the things we struggle with the most?
Isn’t it essential that, as mothers we cultivate a good awareness of our internal landscape?
For example; do you have the ability ‘to know’ your emotions before you get swamped by them and lose it at the kids?
Can you be honest about where you struggle?
Are you aware of your ‘expectations and underlying beliefs’ about… well, anything?
Yes, about Motherhood, but also relationships, health, happiness?
What I’m talking about is how you are ‘on the inside’. Because whatever you are struggling with on the inside, (that you don’t consciously address), will eventually manifest itself in your children.
Philip Larkin says it best:
‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.’
Likewise, your choices, actions and beliefs will also affect your kids.
You might say: ‘Well, whatever I do will affect them somehow… it’s natural for children to rebel against their parents.’
And although it’s their right, as a child, to turn away from you at some point, and exhibit risky, boundary pushing, or self-sabotaging behavior; it’s not an excuse to refuse to deal with your own sh** as a parent.
Larkin continues: ‘But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats…’
Our parents didn’t live in a climate of holistic nutrition and self-development, (unless you grew up in California, or in a hippie commune in Wales). But you do. We do.
As parents we have more opportunity for change and conscious reflection than ever before! And the best news is; it’s easier than you may think…
6 Simple Steps you can take to upgrade your experience of motherhood, go beyond cultural expectations, and feel more in alignment with your true self:
1. Find a practice that connects you to your version of inner peace:
Be it yoga, or walking. Meditation or Tai Chi. I am talking about a shift up from a night in front of the telly with a bottle of wine. By all means, do that too if you enjoy it, but back it up with something that supports you… (I’ve never heard of ‘a yoga hangover’ or ‘meditation munchies.’)
A regular practice is an invaluable way to reset your emotional clock and to tune into what’s going on for you.
2. Let go of the idea that this stuff is cheesy or embarrassing:
Doing ‘the work’ isn’t just for hippies anymore! It isn’t just for the hemp lovers and vegans. (Anyway, hands up who isn’t a hemp lover and ‘vegan…ish’?)
It’s crucial that we are aware of the impact that we can have upon ourselves with just a little bit of willingness.
Sometimes, being honest and open about this stuff is ‘a little uncomfortable’. It isn’t always in our nature. There are always going to be people who find honesty about emotions ‘unintellectual, ‘fluffy,’ ‘woo-woo,’ ‘hocus pocus, a waste of time, or quite frankly, embarrassing!
I’m willing to call that out.
This attitude is a remnant of the Victorians, (Gawd bless ’em). It’s dismissive of anything that doesn’t lead to profit and industry. It has the hallmark of patriarchy.
While it’s still worth having a discerning mind, (there are still snake oil salesmen), it’s time to start shifting your focus.
This airy-fairy psychology stuff, is now backed by the more socially appealing study of Neuroscience.
Meditation changes your brain. As does sitting by the water, playing music, breathing practice and feelings of gratitude. It all works.
If you need a way to get in charge of your stress and emotions, don’t be afraid to be cheesy. The Neuroscientists will be cheering you on… and so will I!
3. Get honest about your blind spots:
Your kids will be perfect to help you with this:
Find yourself eating chocolate in secret while feeding your toddler carrots? Do you check your social media before you brush your teeth in the morning, and then limiting your children screen time until they’ve tidied their room and run 5k?
Or maybe it is something more subtle, more innocuous?
Either way, your children will eek it out of you. Those flaws, habits, or belief structures that you haven’t had to face up to yet. They will be exposed one by one, most lovingly, by your children…
They are breathing in everything that you haven’t dealt with, along with all they ways it affects your day to day habits.
It’s ok though! This isn’t a judgment. We all have our issues. The value is in our willingness to recognize and work on them if they are causing issues.
A great question to ask is: ‘What will change if I upgrade my habits, and what are the consequences of remaining the same?’
When you take responsibility for your blind spots and your struggles; life just gets better. It’s rigged that way! But also, let’s not forget, that you will be modelling a willingness to learn and grow to your children.
This is parenting gold dust!
4. Look out for friendships and relationships to support you in your exploration:
There’s a science behind this one too.
You are far more likely to achieve significant changes in your life if you have the support of others.
We are inherently social animals. Everything we do, from the moment we are born, is to work out how to stay as close as possible to the group. It’s to do with oxytocin… it helps with survival.
Have you seen the experiment where all the people in a lift are facing the wrong way? One person enters, unaware that everyone else is ‘in on the secret’. Eventually they succumb, and turn to to face the same way as everyone else!
If you want to start exploring your own limiting beliefs, or set up new lifestyle habits, it doesn’t always go down that well with the people around you. Those who know you, often expect you to stay the same.
It can be subtle, but making changes takes courage. So surrounding yourself with others who ‘get it’, is essential. And fun! You can do this locally, or online. Just find your support group, wherever it is!
5. Be ruthlessly compassionate:
‘Ruthless’ because it’s important, Compassionate because it’s a journey.
You have to mix the two, because anything you have to whip yourself into doing isn’t going to last, or make for a positive transformation.
As a Mum, you’re already an expert at this. You know, that tone of voice that says: ‘I love you, but don’t mess with me right now.‘ Now you need that voice for you too. For the things that ‘you know’ you need to deal with.
You know what they are… we all have something.
6. Face up to your spirituality:
There’s so much that we can’t explain in our existence.
If you’ve grown and birthed a child, then you are the very fabric of what is unfathomably magical.
Simply put, there is stuff going on that is bigger than us.
So however it feels right for you, don’t shy away from getting quiet and expansive somehow. Own up to your feelings on divinity, spirituality, religion, philosophy, astrology. Whatever. Just don’t be afraid. They haven’t burnt us at ‘the stake’ for years.
Your spirituality can be an intensely private process. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Seeing as ‘even going to the loo’ is often a group activity these days, you might enjoy the privacy.
Besides, you’ve got to have something up your sleeve for questions from a 4yr old! So you’d better get comfortable with subjects like Death, and God, and Sex and all the rest of it. They won’t let you off lightly.
If that sounds huge, or you haven’t got the time or energy to think about it right now… Don’t worry, you’re human…
But, if you’re getting that niggling feeling in your gut as you read this, then that’s a great sign!
Talking to someone who is willing to hear you can make it a whole lot easier. It’s more than acceptable to ask for help to shift an area of your life that’s bringing you down. We all need a little hand holding now and then.
( If that sounds good, you can join me here and bring a cuppa- or bookmark it for later when the kids are asleep. So tech savvy)
I am not suggesting you need to set a goal of being ‘perfect’ or enlightened. I am suggesting that we bring a robust sense of the importance of cultivating the mother within… Whatever that may mean for you.
What Is Motherhood?
Motherhood is awesome. It’s messy, tiring and ridiculous. It’s the training ground for women to evolve into strong, passionate, earth loving, deep thinking, endlessly loving, nobody’s fool, goddesses.
Those elemental female sages in sci-fi movies… They didn’t get that way by reading ‘Mum Blogs’, watching ‘Game of Thrones,’ or falling asleep in the back of yoga once a week. (Yep, so been there…)
I’m suggesting that there’s more out there for you!
If it’s hard right now, don’t just accept that motherhood is meant to be doldrums, peppered with ‘Instagram moments’.
It’s a rite of passage, and you are on it.
So be honest with yourself, get a practice that supports you where you need it. Create a ‘new normal’.
There’s no Prince Charming, or Fairy Godmothers (real or metaphorical) who can save you from the work. You have to do it yourself. You’re doing it anyway.
Weave in the element of magic, of ritual, or power. You have already rocked the universe with the birth of your child… and that was just the beginning.
Mothers ‘Rock‘ because we are the catalyst for positive change at a level that truly makes a difference.
So have the courage and DO THE WORK! (And for those of you who like to skim… I’m not talking about the laundry)
Listen to this video while you get supper ready for the kids and get yourself one of these gorgeous yoga mats for your breathing or yoga practice. It’s time to start rocking your ‘inner goddess‘ vibes.