I’d like to talk about something that’s been coming to the forefront of my awareness for a while. Something I see with so many mothers. I’m even going to put my hand up and admit I do it too. I don’t actually think it’s limited to mothers but it is around mothers I see it the most. I see it arise time and time again. Why is it a problem??? Because Motherhood can be pretty darn lonely at times and this trait only adds to the isolation as we set ourselves apart from others, rather than recognising that we are all in the same boat. The ‘something’ shows up in a few different guises but what I see is this….
You holding yourself up to a completely different standard to that which you hold every other mother.
Requiring perfection from yourself when you cut everyone else so much slack
Judging yourself and your abilities waaaaaaaaaay harsher than you would your friends.
Beating yourself up for the tiny mistakes you make, telling yourself how incompetent you are because you can’t do something that, let’s face it, most people couldn’t. Giving yourself a hard time for something you would completely brush off as insignificant if a friend was in your shoes.
Hands up if this is you? Take a moment if you need, to really think about it. Are you guilty? Okay, so before you start beating yourself up about this too. STOP. Just reflect. Rather than allowing this to join the list of things you do but shouldn’t, how about we just bring some awareness to this pattern we have? How about we start noticing the occasions we do this. Catch ourselves, and change the message, change the story?
Chatting to a friend the other day I caught her doing this exact thing. ‘What would you say to a good friend if she was in the situation that you were in?” I said. “Wouldn’t you tell her to be more gentle on herself, to cut herself some slack?” The answer was of course, “Yes!!"
I’m not saying making this change is easy, albeit may sound easy on paper. The inner dialogue we have with ourselves as mums can be constant, and harsh. It would wear even the strongest of us down. The visions of perfection we see in magazines and social media don't help by adding to our (false) view and expectations of what reality should look like. Let’s be honest. Motherhood is hard. It’s messy, unorganised, unpredictable and, because I can’t overemphasise it, I’ll say it again, it’s H.A.R.D.!!!!! Even if we love being mums, and especially despite of the love we have for our children, it’s still hard. Life around babies and children, at whatever age, is, at times, tougher than my husbands old boots.
I’ll be completely open and admit that I’m probably writing this blog as much for me as I am for you. I’m a closet perfectionist and my inner critic certainly has plenty to say to me on a daily basis. I hear about how I should be more organised and on top of things, how I should get more done, should find more time to spend with the boys, should be more patient when they are ignoring, shouting at, or requiring things of me. I should know more about the various things going on locally (that everyone else already seems to magically know about), should be able to provide my son with lunches he ACTUALLY eats, should be better at x,y,z, shouldn’t forget the many things I forget. But do you know what??? That inner critic doesn’t actually serve me. It doesn’t make me ‘perform’ any better as a mother, wife, postpartum doula or yoga teacher. In fact if anything, it makes me less patient, less productive and less loving with the people I love the most. So I’m calling myself out, along with anyone else who has this trait and wants to make a change.
So how about we make a deal. I don’t want you to keep score or worse, use your recognition of this habit as something else to criticise yourself for. No, this is about having some compassion for the one person you are least likely to show compassion to. Yourself! When you catch yourself having this thought take a moment, take a few breaths, reflect on the bigger picture, give yourself a big hug and say to yourself “I AM ENOUGH” or “I AM DOING AN AMAZING JOB’ or “I AM DOING MY BEST, WE ALL ARE” or something else which resonates for you and also recognises how awesome you actually are…..and mean it. And if you can’t say it and mean it, then say it anyway and in time, that will change. Sometimes it’s okay to fake it ‘til you make it.
I'm sure that this is not my strongest piece of writing ever. I could sit with it and tweak it and rewrite it for eternity. But I'm not going to. I'm just putting this out there as it is. The reason I’m writing this today is that it is actually heartbreaking to think that there are so many of us out there giving ourselves such a hard time. So let’s be a little kinder to ourselves and in doing so we may find that we become a little kinder to others to.
Whilst pondering this issue I did some reading on the subject. Some deep, some not so. This piece touched me so I thought I would share it with you.
Until next time….
I’m Anne, Mum of two, Postpartum Doula and Yoga Teacher specialising in Pregnancy and Postpartum Yoga. I run Postpartum Preparation Workshops and Yoga Classes on the Sunshine Coast alongside In-home Postpartum Support and Yoga for new mothers who don’t want to settle with exhaustion and overwhelm being their introduction to motherhood. You can enquire about or book my services by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or click here: