In the past two weeks I’ve encountered three social media posts about mothers who were feeling overwhelmed. I get it, motherhood can be hard and we don’t speak about it enough sometimes. But what I didn’t expect was the level of vitriol, unsupportiveness and backlash these women received in the comments section from TOTAL STRANGERS. I was appalled.
Here is what one mom said on Twitter:
Lately I’ve been so sick of being a mom I miss my old life, I miss not having to care for someone else everyday & having a child who just doesn’t listen to you make you feel unappreciated & I just hate my life right now.
A person responded to this tweet saying:
The police would have escorted me to the courthouse if my baby mama tweeted this. God be knowing who to try.”
What was even more frightening was that one of the moms – a single mother of two – who has been suffering from depression, ultimately took her life. This may seem drastic, but we will never truly know what this mother was going through and what ultimately led her to believe that this was her best option. People, even the ones who are responsible for raising tiny humans, are flawed beings, and we’re all going through it.
But the responses to these women online led me to want to speak up about some of the struggles us moms sometimes face and the level of compassion required to help us through it.
Truth is, it is almost next to impossible for a mother to feel and express unhappiness in being a mother. How could she? Women are trained to become mothers from a tender age. You’re a girl, you get the doll, you play house then you grow up, you find a man, you play house and the cycle continues – it is all fun (at least, until it is not and you realise just how much mothering takes out of you, how much your life changes). So without speaking from a place of love, trying to understand and encourage these women, we instinctively fall into a pattern of expecting them to only profess peaches and sunshine.
But here is the God honest truth – sometimes being a parent sucks, you have good days and you have crap-tastic days was well, and it is okay to feel overwhelmed, to need a break, to want to roll up in a ball and cry. Loving your children does not mean you will live in constant bliss. So, to all the moms out there feeling overwhelmed, know that self-care and your mental health are important.
Here are a few tips for you to preserve your mental health:
- Be gentle with yourself: There are lessons in every area of parenting and you are not always going to be a brilliant student. Extend some grace to yourself along the journey.
- Accept that keeping your child alive and healthy is just enough sometimes: You can’t always be a ‘supermom’; we all need a break or you risk reaching burnout.
- Find a tribe and connect with them: Having somebody to talk to who is experiencing the same thing too lessens the guilt and causes you to have healthy thoughts towards yourself. This bodes well for your child.
- Take care of yourself: It may seem obvious but as parents we sometimes focus so much of our energies on ensuring the children are good, we forget to ensure that we are also good – try not to forget it – take care of you.
- Know that it’s okay not to be okay: Not to be cliché or anything but Marshmello and Demi Lovato were definitely on to something with that song. Think of it as your theme song when things get tough. You’re not abnormal – embrace the feelings, process them, take a break if you need it, but do not feel guilty.
- Seek professional help if you need it: An important part of preserving your mental health is recognising when things aren’t going well and being honest enough with yourself to seek the help you need. If you need assistance processing your thoughts and feelings, don’t be ashamed to get it.
And to the mom bullies out there, expand your perspective, try to be understanding and see where the mom is coming from. Life comes at you hard sometimes and being a parent on top of that is extremely challenging – be kind. Also, know that many women already beat up on themselves for feeling like this and they do not need to hear it from you too. Just be compassionate.
The below image from MommysBundle gives perfect definitions for a good mom. Let’s normalize mothers admitting when they need help.