Updated: May 8
Let me establish that while the following was written for moms, I also mean all women, all caregivers, because often we all experience struggles that stem from the same place.
It has been my experience that MOST of the time, when a mother is simply being honest about how hard early motherhood can often be, the most common responses (from moms and non-moms alike), are something like:
"But, you are going to miss this so much!"
"Cherish it while you can."
"It doesn't get any easier either."
"The bigger they get, they bigger the problems."
First of all, Thanks but no thanks Karen. I don't know if you noticed, but that is not very helpful right now, in this stage that feels very much like I am literally chained to smaller humans. While there are moments of pure bliss, there are also moments when all I can think of is one day emerging from this phase. Your gaslighting my experience and redirecting the conversation to how grateful I should be (and therefore insinuating I am somehow not appreciating this time) is NOT helping, lady. It is however succeeding at making me wonder if there is something wrong with me because of how hard this feels.
It DOES get easier.
And it has NOTHING to do with how long you've been a mom, and how old you're kids are.
It gets easier for the mother who is conscious and intentional about prioritizing her mental and emotional wellness. Life and mothering will always feel hard if you feel like shit all the time. Whether that is due to anxiety, stress, overwhelm, lack of down time, lack of support, depression, chronic pain, unresolved trauma, resentment, anger, strained relationships, if you're not able to prioritize self care as a means to self-regulate in order to move through and grow from your challenges, if you're settling for the circumstances that are unsatisfactory, if you're repeating unproductive patterns that are not serving you - things will always get harder, for parents and non parents alike.
But, it DOES get easier when you're committed to working on yourself, since You are the Manager of your own wellness.
Just like in any other relationship, your children (or partner or loved ones) will continually challenge you or trigger you. They are holding up the mirror. You can fight what you see, you can run away. OR - You can take a look at yourself and learn something. Get intentional about how you want to feel everyday. So that when you do take a look at yourself and experience those growing pains, the grief and discomfort that may come next is more manageable each time. So that you can endure the transformation and come out evolved and ready for more.
How would it feel to create space for prioritizing your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness?
And not only so that you can show up more optimally for others, but more importantly showing up fully and boldly in your own life. Moms are often also sold the fill your own cup First story, insinuating that the reason for caring for ourselves is so that we can care for others more optimally. But, showing up authentically and unapologetically as your fullest and highest Self will set the stage for your children to one day do the same. By prioritizing your wellness and self care, you will model that as the "thing to do" for your kids. That is more guidance than you could ever offer them while setting an example of self sacrifice.
SO here's the question -
Do you have a hard time prioritizing the things that make you feel healthy and happy? Do you wait until everyone and everything else is taken care of before doing something for yourself? Does that perfect scenario never seem to present itself?
When you do eventually prioritize yourself, do you feel guilt? Do you check your phone repeatedly to see how long you've been away from the kids? Do you rearrange your schedule to make time for family members even at your own inconvenience?
That, right there, is the trauma of:
"Self care is selfish."
"A woman should sacrifice her needs for her family."
"A woman who thinks highly of herself is conceited."
That is the trauma of women (still) being taught that prioritizing others over themselves is not only honorable but somehow adds to their value. As a women in this day in age, sacrificing your needs may very well add to "society's" value of you and may even portray you as a saint to the world, but continuously deprioritizing your needs sends a very different message inward to your True Self. It's a message that says you're not worthy of living authentically in your fullest expression.
Do you feel this? Take a breath in and then exhale for a few moments. Connect to the sensation and where you feel it.
These messages we absorbed are so engrained, and they are still alive in our bodies. That's why you feel it your body, and that's why we have to heal in and through the body.
I know it's a lot right now. The overwhelming list of expectations and responsibilities. People deciding for us what we can and cannot do with our bodies.
But things actually will get easier.
When we practice mindfulness and body awareness so you can notice when you're triggered.
When we can then stop self medicating with food, substances, and dopamine hits that are taking the edge off because we have healthier practices that can soothe us when we are on edge.
And speaking of edges - when we start to put that newfound self worth into action, we can actually feel our edges again. I can feel where you end and I begin. I can release codependency. I can draw the line around what I am willing to take on and what I am not. I am communicate my boundaries.
When you finally understand that anger and resentment are emotions that signal your boundaries are being crossed or are non-existent.
When we can use the signal of a trigger to guide us where new boundaries need to be set and where we can ask for support.
When we can expand comfortably into the space we choose to take up without over-pouring from a cup that runs dry.
When you release the pressure of creating the perfect human (or life) and aim to simply hold space for every aspect of the unique individuals you are raising.
When you start forgiving yourself for all of the above not quite doing the trick, and you find yourself screaming at the top of your lungs again.
When you realize your still just figuring things out and everything that you do as a parent, you're technically doing for the very first time.
When you start allowing your children to see your flaws and vulnerability.
When you realize you aren't in fact in control of much, and can release the pressure to get it all right on the first try.
Then and only than do things get easier...
Because you are actually living and connecting wholeheartedly.
Because your are embracing both your strengths and your flaws, resolving to show up imperfectly in parenting and beyond.
Because you have learned to slow down and notice the opportunities to learn and connect instead of looking for ways to protect and control.
Because your emotionally regulated enough to see the beauty and even the humor in the midst of all the whining, tantrums, demands, noise.
Do you know what's not easy? What's really friggin' hard?
Doing all of the above "work" alone.
Momming is hard. But we can do hard things. When and only when, we have the support we need.
We are meant to co-regulate and co-create as humans on this planet. We are not meant to do this thing called life in silos - let alone parenting, which should be a COMMUNITY effort.
As women, we naturally hold space for each other. It's a major part of our feminine strength.
I am feeling called to hold space for more women in a private 1:1 structure, guiding you through a holistic healing journey offering mentorship, nervous system regulation through yoga, meditation, breathwork, and somatic work. Please connect with me to see if we're a good fit to work together.
I'd also LOVE to reintroduce here the Self Care For Moms online program, which includes replays of the previous workshop, journal prompts, workbook, a mindfulness meditation, and more. This is available in the Programs section of the site.
I also invite you to explore the upcoming launch of Somatic Soul Care - a virtual community for yoga, coaching and body based healing. Also check out the events and yoga section of the website for way that we can practice self care together in person.
Then, one day, when spring is finally in the air, and the sun is lighting up the backyard, even though your head is buried in your phone and you're not even having a very good "mindfulness day", your first born will ask you unprompted to practice yoga with her in the grass. So you do. And so you unapologetically commend yourself for a job well done.
You enjoy a moment of pure, organic gratitude. Not just for the moment itself, but for yourself. Because you know it wasn't easy, but it's getting easier.
(That's my story- what will yours feel like? I'd love to know! Reach out at email@example.com)