While there is an idealized notion that motherhood is all positive and people may expect you to feel only joy, this may conflict with your internal experience, leading to feelings of guilt or other uncomfortable emotions. Ultimately, while motherhood can be an enchanting and beautiful experience bursting with moments of pride and feelings of reward, it can also be extremely taxing, and take a serious toll on your emotional, social, and mental health. If not dealt with in a healthy manner, this can lead to problems for a variety of reasons discussed below.
There are a few primary areas in which mothers of all ages and circumstances may struggle:
The Push for Perfection:
- Raising ‘em Right”: What is really the correct way to parent when one source says one thing and another says the opposite? In her book, Perfect Motherhood: Science and Childrearing in America, Dr. Rima D. Apple of University of Wisconsin-Madison explores how recent mothering practices have become far more individualized and subjective since the Nineteenth century, when the realm of science entered the mother’s manual. While moms today are often instructed to parent based on scientific conclusions drawn about the development of the “standard child,” the truth is that motherhood is an intuition-based endeavor, a shot-in-the-dark phenomenon that one can never truly prepare for. As Apple therefore describes, raising children is a consistent driver of doubt, since even the perfect mom will never know all the answers or make all the right choices. The true goal a mother struggles to achieve is how to balance her own knowledge and unique circumstances with the widely accepted standards of how the “perfect mother” should be.
- Measuring Milestones: Where do my children fall relative to his/her peers in terms of development, growth, and skillset? Most moms have at least once found themselves in the face of utter trepidation when they saw the other kids at Daycare teetering through their first steps while their own was still mastering the worm. Moms of all stages have well known the worry when their kid finally learned to babble “Mommy” right around the same time others were reciting Shakespeare and Thoreau. Later on, these challenges become more nuanced still when concerns creep in about whether your children have what it takes to achieve academic success or be the gym-class hero. While all of these thoughts are sourced in wanting the best for our children, it can be disheartening when we are led to believe time and time again that our best just wasn’t “good enough.”
- Role-Model Mom: Am I the adult that I want my children to grow up to be? Perhaps the most frightening aspect of being a parent is the fact that you are constantly setting an example for your children, regardless of whether or not you’re at your best. Sometimes this aspect of parenting is rewarding and the forced accountability for our actions can be refreshing. At other times, however, our humanity decides to shine through, and constantly having to monitor everything we say and do in front of our children can be suffocating.
Finding A Balance:
- So Long, Social Life: How can I devote enough attention and time to my children while also maintaining my social involvement and fulfilling my need for adult interaction? Even for the most loving and endearing moms, spending your days making funny faces and animal sounds can be exhausting. While you love spending time with your children, it’s painful to have to say goodbye to socializing with friends who can truly relate to and understand you.
- Round the Clock Entertainment: How can I make sure my children are constantly stimulated and using their time in the most productive ways? We would all love for our children to spend their days having quiet time, playing outside, or doing math problems, but sometimes, unless there’s a screen involved, our kids simply don’t find our ideas of spending time exciting. When there is so much pressure among moms to constantly entertain, monitor and pay undivided attention to your children, it’s difficult to shed the guilt you may feel about allowing them to develop more naturally or learn as they go.
- Making Way for Me-Time: How do I invest in my relationship with myself and my spouse when I am so emotionally and physically occupied with my children’s well-being? Whether you are a stay at home mom or work full or part-time, it’s highly likely that at the end of a long day the only thing you can think about is kicking back uninterrupted with a glass of wine. And you deserve to do exactly that. But when so many voices are calling your name and competing for your attention you may feel like you’re spread too thin and failing to meet everyone’s expectations. Being present for the people in your life is important, but it’s also important to create space for yourself and your own needs. Doing so will allow you to be a more calm, mindful, and enthusiastic parenthood who is better equipped to take on both the mundane and the unexpected chaotic moments that come with motherhood.
Whether you find yourself struggling with one or several of these motherhood challenges, the good news is you’re not alone. Motherhood is tough, and you’re doing the best you can. At Long Island Psychology, we are dedicated to helping moms identify and navigate the challenges standing in the way of effectively balancing their various roles and responsibilities. We are committed to breaking down the shame-culture surrounding motherhood and the stigma surrounding asking for help or advice. Through our work together, we aim to foster self-compassion, awareness and empowerment to establish boundaries that help promote self-love, self-care and fulfillment for all moms.
To learn more or to speak with one of our psychologists today, call 516-274-7876 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about our Garden City and Rockville Centre, NY locations, please visit our contact us page.