How often do you look under the bed? This is the thought that came across my mind as I was crouched at the bottom end of the bed while my husband tried to put our 20 month old daughter back to bed. She woke up as I was in the room so I had to quickly disappear so she wouldn't see me. The joys of motherhood right? As I crouched looked at the stuff underneath the bed like the yellow sandal that she was wearing earlier, the Peppa Pig bag that she was playing with and that sock I’ve been looking for all day because she took it off and I couldn't figure out where it was. I started to reflect on my motherhood journey so far.
Motherhood comes with a lot of excitement for some woman as they embark on this new journey of being responsible for a brand new person in world. They dream of the hopes they have for their child or children and what world they would want them to grow up in. The things they would protect them from and how they want their innocences to last till eternity but often in this space as mothers we forget to look internally at ourselves and introspect from a personal level what this new change will mean, what challenges it will bring and how best to tackle them.
Change always brings with it a level of discomfort and like many moments of true change in life motherhood challenges your mental health. Feelings of overwhelm, guilt and anxiety can soon take over leaving mothers lacking confidence and self worth.
Lets start with the exhaustion. The mothers who came before you might have told you about being tired but there is nothing like the actual experience of it. I called it chronic exhaustion because it builds up over time and one or two days of rest doesn't make it go away. The sleepless nights, the constant worry and making sure everything is ok. Most mothers carry the burden of being care givers to the whole family and although they may have support in the form of a partner but they still carry the responsibility of making sure that the household is held up.
Guilt a concept most mothers will identify with as it’s become synonymous with motherhood. A feeling of doubt and anxiety or uncertainty that mothers especially new mothers experience when they feel they are failing or falling short of expectation. This expectation can be internal or external constantly questioning I am enough.
It goes without saying that a lot changes to a woman's body when they have a child. The obsession that our society has for new mothers to quickly regain the body they once had is huge. This unrealistic expectation is pushed further by images of celebrity mums who quickly bounce back after having children. The truth of the matter is everyones body changes over time and motherhood adds to those changes. Recognising and accepting these changes and working towards a healthier body imagine will help mothers as they walk their journey towards mental wellbeing
Mental health difficultly is an internal struggle and the changes motherhood brings are challenging. Focusing internally on our lived experience of mental health difficulty allows us to recognise when we are faced with these challenges and work towards more positive mental health.
We’d love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below sharing your thoughts.