I am a mom to five wonderful children. I often hear “I don’t know how you do it!” or “You are such a laid back mom” which often send me feeling like a fraud because I rarely feel like “I am doing it” or like a “laid back mom”. The truth is motherhood has not come easy to me, it has been a difficult love/hate relationship with myself.
I was raised as a female child in a family with very outdated traditional values to only have motherhood as a goal. It was a hard constricted bringing up that had modesty laws, backward values of self negation and constant reminders that women were to serve men. I remember when I turned 16 and pressure to think of marriage passively aggressively ramped up. It became unbearable and I struggled emotionally a lot. All I was meant to become was a mother. Somehow I felt like I could never be free and myself and a mother as well. I felt that if I ever were to become a mother and enjoy it I would be giving in to what had been expected of me and that my community had been right all along and I finally had settled into my appropriate role.
This level of expectation sadly initially poisoned motherhood for me. I felt broken and faced with an impossible choice. I loved my baby daughter but I was far too young and did not know myself confidently enough when I first became a mother. It was hard, I suffered from post natal depression and I struggled. It took me years to come to terms with the damage I had experienced with my bringing up and “shed” the shackles from it. Finally I came to a very important conclusion. The secret to motherhood.
Motherhood is unique to each individual that experiences it. It is beautiful if you have the chance to make it yours. It is a relationship unique to you and your child. You both deserve to gain from it and grow with it. There are practical aspects to it such as making sure your child is fed, clean, clothed and cared for but just as important are the emotional aspects of it. You need to make choices that feel right to you. There are countless traditions and philosophies surrounding motherhood, parenting and childhood and it can be so overwhelming, there are so many friends and family members willing to share their experiences and it can be hard to feel pressured in following their way and worrying over offending well meaning relative. But they are not part of your motherhood relationship. Only you and your child are.
The truth to all this is that so long as you love your little one, take care of them and keep them safe they will grow, but the best thing you can do is figure out your own way to be in this relationship and enjoy it. It might be that being a stay at home mom is your way or working or a combination of both, whichever is what works best for your circumstances and your mental health is right and only you can be judge of that. I remember that with my second child I was a better mother going back to work on a free lance basis while working with my twins was detrimental to my well being and not as good an experience looking back. With my youngest the right balance has been staying home, holding her through her nap times because I want all the milky snuggles and I have really come into myself as a mother to know what is right for both of us and shed any outside expectations so long as we are both thriving. It works, she is such a happy and confident little person.
So here it is, the secret to motherhood is you, following your instincts and blocking out the outside voices. You can learn a lot and pick ideas from all these people around you, books and blogs but make sure you select what feels right and what you enjoy doing so you and your little one can thrive. Maybe you both will love dancing to soft music before bedtime or snuggling with a book, maybe you will love an evening walk or lying next to each other nursing quietly to sleep your little one. Whatever is right as long as you are happy, because a happy healthy relationship is the best start you can give your little one and yourself. Happiness is the secret to motherhood and only you know what it looks like to you.