Fear is something that everyone seems to avoid, deny or even fear. It can leave you feeling paralysed, helpless and worthless when you want to do something but are too afraid. There are many fears out there, probably almost as many as there are people in the world. However, for this blog I am going to talk about a fear I have experienced, that I know many other Mums have or are experiencing and I am going to give you some tips on how to overcome those fears.
I don’t know about you but when I found out a couple of years ago that I was going to be a Mum in less than 9 months, apart from giving birth the main thing that was on my mind was reading as much as I could so I could be the perfect Mum when my little person was born. I had this vision in my head of what I thought the ideal Mum was; always loving, compassionate, connected, empathetic, there for the baby at every beck and call to meet its needs (obviously this isn’t everyone’s version of what a Mum should look like so please insert your own values and ideals).
So as I devoured the books that held my beliefs of how to be the perfect Mum, I built up in my head what I had to do, how to do it and when my baby finally did arrive I wasn’t thrown into the deep end, but my feet weren’t touching the bottom. I had some notion of what to do based on the theory I read, but as with all things I believe you can never truly understand something for yourself until you have experienced it yourself.
Here I was with a newborn, recovering from giving birth and putting what I knew into practice. I was so adamant and stubborn that I was going to raise this child to be the most compassionate, kind, cooperative and independent child so that he could reach his full potential. I knew I didn’t want to “mould” him like a ball of clay, rather I wanted to be there to guide and support his natural talents; the unique gifts he has been born to share with the world.
The birth went beautifully and I was happy with the process, however, I had a few afterbirth complications that traumatised me and probably added to the feelings that would soon come about not being good enough and worthless. From here I slipped into a minor state of postnatal depression (which I have since let go of and released). This was caused by several factors, the afterbirth complications and my desire to be the perfect Mum. It took me a while to release that while I wanted to be there for my son all the time, it was also important to look after myself, even if that meant 5 minutes a day. I soon became overwhelmed and depressed that I was failing as a Mum because I couldn’t do everything; look after my baby, clean the house, make meals and still have a small amount of time by myself.
Thankfully these feelings weren’t a long-term issue for me, and I began to release my fears. The first thing I would like to address as the most important thing is the expectations to be this ideal Mum, when I let go of this expectation and just went with the flow the fog began to lift. I then started using some of the tools and techniques I have used over the years. Even though I knew these at the time, as the saying goes it is easier to help and love others than it is to help and love yourself. Learning to devote time to helping and loving myself was a hard lesson I had to learn, I didn’t want to be one of those Mums that is more focused on her own needs than the needs of her child. I realised though that in order to be the best Mum I could be I had to dedicate even just an iota of time to myself so that I could then pass those same feelings and qualities onto my child.
Tips From Me to You
Here are the things that got me through the dense fog to the clear blue sky:
- Family support – it is important to always ask for help, you are never alone on any of your journeys and if you are it is a choice you have made. So my husband and other family members got behind me and cooked me meals, helped out and offered me emotional support to meet my needs, so I could be truly present to my son and his needs.
- Awareness – this is a big one for me. I was so focused on being the perfect Mum that I was out of sync with my own needs and as a result my parenting suffered. So whenever I felt a certain way (powerless, helpless, hopeless, not in control) I would re-centre myself by focusing on my breathing and bring my full awareness to the present moment and what was going on inside me. This only took a moment to re-ground myself and amazingly I found that I could then give that same level of awareness to my son.
- Ditch the perfectionism – this is so important, by putting myself on a pedestal to be the most perfect Mum I lost site of what was really important; enjoying the present moment and being with my son. There are two theories either no one and nothing is perfect or everyone and everything is perfect. Take whichever resonates with you. All we can do is be the best we can be, no one else has the right to expect more and that includes you. Go with the flow, if things come up for you note it down and release it through your breath. If you find it too difficult or re-occurring seek professional support.
- Ask for help – most people have the belief system that asking for help is a sign of weakness. One thing I have learnt and now truly believe is that asking for help is courageous. Why? Because it takes courage to ask for help, it can be harder to ask for help then to sit there suffering through any crisis. You are never alone, so make that phone call, write that email and ask for help the people who love you would much rather offer their support than to see you in agony. It took me some effort to get off my high horse and admit that I needed help. I was stubborn and wanted to show that I could do all these things by myself. I then realised that this mindset not only hurt myself but it also affected my relationship with my son and everyone else because I was dragging them down with me. I appreciated that I wasn’t the only one on this journey of parentdom and my husband was equally as much of a parent as me, our parents were also first time grandparents and wanted in on the love, joys and happiness that only a new baby can bring.
I hope you find some words of hope, wisdom and support in this article. I would love to here what your experiences are and any tips that you found useful to overcome your need to be a perfect Mum. So please leave a comment below or send me an email.
Remember you are never alone, always loved and doing the best you can.
Love & Gratitude,