One of my favorite things in my role of a therapist is to help people uncover and continue to create a connection with their true self. No matter what stage of life, I love journeying with others to a place of deep resonance where they can say, “ah yes, this is right with my soul.” Whether it be a decision they are making, relationships they are nurturing, or how they are showing up in the world…I like to get to a place with clients where it feels “right.”
Although I love working with people from any stage of life, I have a special sweet spot in my heart for mothers. Why? This is not just because I’m a new mom in the thick of preschool and toddler years. Yes, that has a lot to do with it! But a big thing I’m seeing is although I spent time with various mentors and therapists throughout life trying to build an intentional life, to this date nothing compares with the work needed in this area once you become a mother. Life gets turned upside down when a little one enters your life! Recently I started connecting with doulas in my area because of this passion to work in this stage of life. I saw a quote that reminded me of this phase of life:
“No one warns you that while raising your baby, you are also raising a new version of yourself.”
I love this because we often focus so much on outward things or on things very specific to the new child in our lives: their nursery, their clothing, the strollers, their sleep schedule, how to start feeding solids…the list goes on. I’m not denying their importance! Getting a jogging stroller has been a game changer for our family with all the time we love spending outside!
Yet, the work I love and I believe is often overlooked is the becoming of the mother. When you birth a child you really do birth a new version of yourself. I love reading about the world of mental health, but I also love looking into various educational philosophies. One of my favorite things about the Waldorf approach is their emphasis on parents being their child's first teacher. Their advice for the younger years? Work on yourself. Pay attention to your own healing, self-growth, and emotion management. You don't need any set formulas for what to say or what classes to get your child in. Just pay attention to your own well-being and in that act you will be taking care of your child.
Our role as mother is so important for our children to learn about safety and belonging. When I think about all the different roles in life we can hold in life, I don’t think there is any role that comes with more opinions (or judgements) from others. It often comes with a “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” place when making decisions. Let me give a few examples:
You’ve chosen to go back to work because that’s what suits your personality or financial needs = “How dare you be so selfish and give up this time with your child?”
You’ve chosen to stay home with your child and put your work outside the home on hold = “What about finances? How will you make ends meet? Don’t you think they need more socialization?”
You’ve chosen to breastfeed = “When are you going to stop? Make sure you don’t nurse for comfort. Never nurse to sleep.”
You’ve chosen to bottle feed= “Did you try hard enough? Do you think they will get the nutrients they need and you will form a close bond?”
You might notice I picked two different choices for the same topics. Both routes can lead to questioning from people. A lot of times, no matter what choice you make, you could have a naysayer in either direction. Two times it hurts the most: 1. When the choice didn’t feel as much as a choice. Example: despite all your efforts, breastfeeding just didn’t work out. You got the lactation support, read all the blog posts, tried until your nipples were cracked and bleeding, but it didn’t work. So when you hear the comments it just hurts a little bit more (or a lot more). 2. You did in fact make the decision from a place of great intention and consciousness because you realized it fit with your values and who you wanted to be as a mother. So when you make a choice and receive comments from others, it can feel like a rejection of you.
After having my first child, one thing I realized pretty quickly was how fierce I became with setting boundaries. You can read about the changes that happened in me HERE. That “mama bear” mentality really kicked in. I’m incredibly grateful for that assertiveness that has continued to grow. Yet I’ve seen how important it is to continually take a look at my boundaries. It’s an ongoing process. If you’re someone who might need some boundary work, check out my boundaries workgroup!
If you’re a new mom, or even if you’re not, I hope you can find the courage to show up as the real you in the weeks and months to come. It can feel extremely vulnerable, but I know spending time in hiding can lead to great pain. Making the decision to show up and live based on our values can lead to a life of greater joy and more peace.
Happy rooting, everyone!