When you think about your life as it is now, how do you feel?
How do you want to feel?
How similar or different are your two responses?
I don’t know about you, but motherhood was not quite what I thought it would be. Somehow, I thought it would be easier and simpler. I thought it would slot into my existing life quite neatly and that I’d go on coping and managing life as I had before.
This is neither good or bad. It just is. It’s different.
Was motherhood what you thought it would be?
Building our expectations of motherhood
Our expectations of motherhood are built from childhood.
The way we were mothered.
The way our mothers spoke about themselves and their role.
The things they gave up, or committed themselves to.
The way they looked after themselves.
As we get older, we also notice the things that society says about mothers.
How employers view and treat mothers.
What other mothers around us do.
What social media, books, the internet and advertising tells us about mothers.
So many things influence our expectations of motherhood, often without us even realising the messages we are receiving.
Many modern mothers grew up being told that they could do it all – career, family, marriage, hobbies, travel, and so on. So many of our mothers neglected their own needs, while caring for their children. We were taught that success comes from hard work. That busyness is a goal to strive for. That multitasking was smart and efficient. That professionals (and the internet) have all the answers. And, many of us were given the impression that choosing to look after our children full time was no longer good enough.
Then we find ourselves in reality…
Consequently, when we arrive at motherhood, many of us think that it will slot quite neatly into our existing lives.
We expect that we will:
- Continue to work (commonly after taking a break).
- Continue to travel, socialise, exercise and give time to our hobbies.
- Snap back to our pre-baby bodies.
- Be able to rely on the strategies that helped us succeed in our pre-baby lives, such as control, perfectionism, multitasking, busyness, and pushing ourselves to the limits when demands are high.
- Continue on with our lives with baby in tow.
You and I both know now that it’s not quite that easy, is it?
Let’s take a minute to acknowledge that it’s not all sacrifices and surprises. There’s so much love, yes. There’s plenty of beautiful moments with our children. There’s creating your own family.
None of this is diminished or invalidated if you are feeling like the reality of motherhood is not meeting your expectations. Motherhood is full of very real and valid contradictions. These wonderful things exist and are true AND our world is turned upside down. WE are turned upside down.
This is our matrescence. The long and gradual process of becoming a mother. It’s a process that continues long past the moment when your first baby enters the world. It lasts through all the stages of motherhood, as your children grow and you continue to evolve.
You see, you’re not alone in this. This is part of the motherhood journey.
Is this the life you really want?
So, at some point you may have realised that your expectations are not being met.
You might be dealing with overwhelm, stress and exhaustion. Time for yourself may be near impossible to find. You could be wondering where your connection with your partner has gone and trying to figure out who you are now and what makes you valuable in the world. Perhaps you can’t quite work out how you could be so capable in your pre-motherhood life when you now you second guess yourself constantly.
Are you measuring yourself against your pre-motherhood measures of success and feeling like you’re falling short? Are you pushing harder and harder to prove yourself?
Are you holding onto old dreams because it’s hard to let go of something you pursued for so long, or because you don’t know what your new dreams are?
Are you approaching life the same way as you did before and wonder why it’s not working?
It can be really uncomfortable to admit that what you wanted before no longer feels right. What you pursued for years, no longer fits your values or makes you happy. Or that the way you created success in your life before no longer helps you.
Lovely mum, this is so normal. Many other mothers are feeling this way too.
Ask yourself, is this the life I really want?
If a YES rises within you without hesitation, then I am SO happy for you. No doubt, you have made many decisions and taken action to make that happen.
Perhaps you’re living a life that’s pretty close to what you really want and some minor adjustments are all that are required.
But if instead, you’re experiencing a deep longing for something more, or something different, please know that you aren’t alone.
This is your time to choose
The good news is that your matrescence is a time of looking within, growing, learning about yourself and redefining who you are and how you fit into the world.
This is your time to revisit your priorities and values and ask “are these still important to me?”.
To revisit your dreams and wonder “are these still my dreams?”.
To look at yourself and ask “what are my strengths now? what are capabilities have emerged that I never knew I had? What do I want to believe about myself? What brings me joy?”.
These are deep questions, I know. The answers may not be immediately apparent. That’s completely ok. You don’t need to have all the answers. Just KNOW that the answers will come to you. That this is YOUR time to find the answers. Your answers may evolve and change over time. Sit with the questions. Journal about them if that appeals to you and be open to whatever comes.
A simple way to start: how do you want to feel?
Living the life you want is a choice, lovely.
Even if you don’t quite know what that life looks like right now, you can make a choice to let go of the old dream and be open to finding the new one.
Let me share a simple way to get started in identifying and creating the life you really want, from today.
Ask yourself these two questions:
How do I want to feel each day?
How can I create more of that feeling each day?
You don’t have to wait for your life to change, to feel the way you want to feel. Start cultivating the feeling now, and the rest will follow. Start really small, so that your success is inevitable. Just one little thing each day to help you feel the way you want to feel. You could even do the same thing every day if you want, until it becomes more of a habit. When you need to make a decision, ask yourself, which choice would help me feel the way I want to feel? Always come back to how you want to feel and it will start to become a reality.
P.S. If you have been wanting to make changes in your life and you don’t know where to start, or feel you need more support to make it happen, I’d love to help you! Send me a message here and we can have an no-strings-attached chat about what could help you create the life you’re dreaming of!