‘I’m fine when I’m at work Monday to Wednesday, but I dread the thought of spending time with my kids on Thursdays and Fridays. I feel so guilty – I’m not like all the other mums who seem to love being a mum’ said Tara to me in a consultation.
In admitting this to me Tara was courageously addressing the ultimate parental taboo. Tara was acknowledging that for her being a mum wasn’t necessarily the thing that brought her the most fulfilment.
So often as mums we berate ourselves for our failings as a parent and disregard all the good that we do. We see the media propaganda regarding sunny days parenting but the reality for many is that, at times, it can feel a long, hard slog being a mum – especially when our children are under five – and, crucially, it’s a role that some of us are better suited to than others.
The key here is in recognising that we can love our children dearly but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are always going to love the job or the tasks that being a parent brings with it. They are two separate things and some people are inevitably better suited to the ‘job’ part than others.
Yet motherhood is the only role you’re not allowed to complain about or dislike. A doctor who is unhappy in her work is not a bad doctor, but a mother will never escape the same judgement.
Equally if we view motherhood as a job it is unlike any other –no sick pay or annual leave for instance. We may be used to achieving competency and mastery in our careers and getting recognition and reward – but the same cannot be said for the job of being a mum and we can set ourselves up for disappointment if we expect the role to give us the same kinds of recognition or satisfaction.
Investing in a relationship
As Amy Tiemann says in her book ‘Mojo Mom- Nurturing your Self while raising a family’ motherhood is not a job; it is a relationship. In our roles as mothers we are investing in our children – but the return on our investment won’t be apparent until years later when our children will be fully grown.
In this sense rearing children can be likened to paying all your money into a savings account, you know you’ll be glad you did it, and the rewards will be massive in the long run, but sometimes you feel you’d be happier if you could just spend the money now.
Instead we need to acknowledge ourselves on a daily basis for all the acts of kindness, care and attention that we give our children whilst paying equal attention to our own need for fulfilment and growth.
We need to find ways to express ourselves and recognise when developing ourselves, through our passions and our careers, can be a blessing and a salvation so we don’t get lost in the monotony of motherhood’s chores. Ditch the guilt and see our own needs as equally important. It’s healthy to invest in ourselves in equal measure to that we give to others.
How about you?
What’s your experience of being a mum? Are you looking for more fulfilment besides this role? Please share your experiences in the comments box below, I’d love to hear them!