Great Expectations: Becoming A Mother
Whether we’re aware of it or not, most of us have some kind of vision of what motherhood will be like for us. Who really knows how we have crafted these ideals, but over time, perhaps influenced by films we’ve seen or baby catalogues displaying idyllic images of mother and baby looking radiant, we have often constructed some pretty high standards to live up to.
So what do we do with all this? We are approaching a fresh new role about which we actually know nothing about. We’ve never done this before. Who knows what we’ll be like as a mother, besides surely it’s a work in progress? Yet despite this fact, we bring with us a heavy load from how we’d ‘like’ to be to how we ‘should’ be and everything in between. Of course, at the back of our minds also lurks the determination not to repeat the so called mistakes of our own mothers and grandmothers before us. For some, our thoughts may wander to other issues such as the weight of responsibility a child will bring, which serves to nicely balance out the idealistic and blissful images.
Having previously worked as a hypnobirthing practitioner, I spent a lot of time listening to women’s fears and, the ambivalence of becoming a mother usually came up somewhere along the lines. Having to be responsible for another human being, not just for a few months, but for the next 18 years is a pretty daunting prospect! Of course within this often lies the fear of losing themselves, the girl they once were, as they take on a completely new identity which is set to change every single relationship they have ever had.
So consider this: You have innocently, and often unconsciously, created standards and expectations of how you will fare as a mother. This is normal and all well and good. The trouble comes when, much to our dismay, you fall short of these standards. It is worth remembering at these times, that it is Yours Truly who created these goal posts in the first place! You constructed an idea, a fantasy if you will, of what motherhood would be like for you, and as a result are in danger of having set yourself up for failure and disappointment…again, innocently.
How about an alternative approach: Letting the role of motherhood unfold for you naturally whilst remaining open to whatever occurs. It certainly makes for a richer and more fulfilling experience if you can roll with the highs and the lows without being too self-critical or having any set ideas of how things should play out. Remember, you made that bit up.
Be kind to yourselves. Give up on the illusion of perfect motherhood, whatever that means, and dive into the joy of being a mother, warts and all. There will be moments of frustration, anger and upset as well as feelings of love deeper than you have ever felt. So lighten up and remember to laugh as well as cry! This is just the beginning of the roller-coaster of motherhood but will without doubt be the most meaningful and memorable ride of your life.
Deborah Binun BSc MA MBACP Psychotherapist specialising in Tokophobia, Birth Trauma & Post Natal Depression www.birthfree.com