This is an issue that comes up regularly – for me and for lots of other mums as well at the family centre and on my Facebook timeline.
Common themes in the life of many mums seem to be juggling, guilt and tiredness and all three can be constant or they can come and go. And as women we can end up feeling torn between meeting the needs of our family and meeting our personal needs as well.
We live in a judgemental, social media driven society where people always have something to say. As mothers we are criticised and we can feel judged for how we give birth and then how we feed our babies, when we go back to work, how many days we work, if we stay at home, how we raise our children, for having a routine, for not having a routine, blah blah blah – the list of contradictions is endless and the feeling of never quite getting it right can be all consuming.
So where does that leave us mothers, us women who can be judged far more than the dads and who can be left questioning what we are doing. I can be left drained from questioning if I’m getting it right and I am a fairly confident parent! I can also be left drained from meeting their needs and often putting theirs before mine because they have needed looking after. Most of the time I thrive on the chaos of family life and I am well versed in putting aside what I am doing to comfort and respond to my kids – that’s my job – but I am still a person behind the parent and I also need to focus on taking a break, on putting me first, on getting some balance back and on actually knowing what I like to do for me.
Having a family and being a mum enhanced my life, it gave a meaning to my life that was lacking in my 20s. Despite all the various challenges I, obviously, adore my children and being their mum is the most important role in my life but I have always been driven to do something for me – retraining and setting up a new business – but even that was built around meeting the needs of my family because they always come first.
I can only speak from a mum’s perspective and I know how tough it can be to be the only one who can settle the baby, the only one the toddler wants when she hurts herself, the only one your child wants when she has a fall out with friends and the only one your teenager wants when she is feeling lost or when her heart is broken. All of this is of course the greatest privilege in the world but there still needs to be time to be off duty, for some head space and to do things just for us, Sometimes there needs to be something beyond playgroups and school runs, homework and soft play and sometimes there needs to be something for us without having to compromise. And that’s where the conflict can come into it – we thrive on being mum and we love our kids but we also want to space away to be us.