Mothers. Your job is HARD.
Those of you who have newborns and toddlers have the responsibility to keep these little creatures alive (and undropped, which can be challenging when they’re determined to get down and put that bug they’ve just seen in their mouth!). Those of you with preschoolers? You’re dealing with toilet training and nose-picking and shoe-finding and “Johnny! Put the iPad down!” over and over and over and over. If you’ve got kids at primary school, you’re dealing with poo jokes and maths homework and excursion notes and sport and “Johnny! Put the iPad DOWN!” over and over and over. If your kids are at high school all of the above still applies – you’re now not just focusing on it for their benefit but also for the benefit of the other people that will come into their lives, because at the end of the day? You’re doing all of this just to try to produce an awesome human being capable of discovering and pursuing a rich, fulfilling life.
I have had the privilege to meet so many mothers over the almost 4 decades of my life. We all have our triumphs, joys, stresses, and struggles. Some of us work full or part time outside the home as well as within. (Did you know that the average mother works the equivalent of 2.5 full time jobs??) Some of us have children or partners with significant health issues. Sometimes it’s us. Sometimes our lives or the lives of people we love are at risk. Some of us are practically parenting on our own (even with a loving partner in the house). Some of us worry about where the next mortgage payment is going to come from, or what meal we can put on the table that our children will actually eat.
If we're lucky, we find a group of like-minded people, where we feel safe enough to actually say:
“Hey, this stuff is hard. People keep telling me that you can have it all but maybe not at the same time. Well, right now, I don’t have it all. I don’t have it all together. Do I really deserve to have it all? I’m moody, cranky, and I’m not always there for my kids. I do all this stuff for them and my family and not once do I get a thank you (except when it’s societally coerced on Mother’s Day and abandoned the rest of the year). When there’s a problem I’m the one who has to fight for my kids to be seen because no one else is seeing it until I tell them about it twenty times!! I changed my life to have kids – what am I supposed to do with everything else that I am as well as “mum”? I’m running from home to school to work to sport to dinner to bed and the next day it’s just on “repeat”! Is this all there is for the next ten, fifteen, twenty years? Am I invisible to the rest of the world because I had kids? Is it really too much to ask for a little support? What happened to me?!”
How does that feel, to let that out safely?
Most of us minimise the hard stuff. It's a coping mechanism, that makes it easier for us to carry the load and get through every day. Unfortunately though, minimising can be like building a castle wall - it keeps us safe and contained and busy, but brrrr! It can be cold and dark and lonely in there.
So here's what I really want to tell you.
You do deserve to be seen, to be cared about, to be known. I want you to know, mama, that I see you. I respect you. I admire you. You are absolutely worth every second of my time and attention and support and admiration, and the time and attention and support and admiration of the people around you. Whether you’re the lady who I chat with at the checkout, who smiles at me at the park, who glances my way at school assembly, who cheers on my kid for me at the sports field, who gets that file for me at work, or clicks “like” on one of my posts – even if I don’t know you, please believe that I can still see you. That I want to know you. That you are worth knowing.
Let’s acknowledge everything around our mothering. I know you have joys – let's rejoice in them! I know you have grief – let's look at it honestly and mourn. I know you have struggles – lets talk about them, support and encourage each other, and figure out ways to share the load.
Thank you for taking on the endless demands and the mental load and juggling that chaotic diary. Thank you for all the time, effort and energy you pour into your children, for trying and growing them up into amazing, awesome humans.
We so appreciate your effort. You are loved. You are worth every moment.
Some resources for you if you're sensing the pressure at the moment.
Blog: What to do when Mother’s Day is more about grief and pain
A mini-retreat for people juggling life, work and family: Master the Mental Load: a Half-Day retreat
Half a day at a stunning absolute oceanfront retreat in Bundeena NSW, giving each carer/worker/business owner tried-and-tested tactics to take charge, deal with the mental load (of all that stuff above), bounce back faster, and recover what really matters! August 29th. See link for more details.
Stress Mastery: The First Step video series or handout
Mind Hack series