Why do so many women struggle as new moms?
As a motherhood counsellor, I’ve noticed that it’s an especially big challenge for those women who have had successful careers and then in the blink of an eye (AKA many, many gruelling hours of labour ;) become stay-at-home moms, either on maternity leave or long-term.
As a successful career-minded woman why is it so difficult to transition to being at home with your baby and to really, truly enjoy it?
What if there is a fundamental disconnect between all that we learn to DO and value in school and the working world, and who we really need to BE to be a fulfilled and connected mother?
Society (especially the working world) doesn’t value femininity in the same way it values masculinity. And things have come a loooooong way for women themselves being valued in the western world, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking more about ‘feminine’ qualities being valued, like the archetypal Mother: nurturing, giving, present... in all the messy complexity involved with that.
In school and the working world, for the most part, “masculine” values are emphasized. We are taught to be organized. Efficient. To set goals and achieve them. To Think and to Do.
What are the values and qualities that are important in motherhood? What allows moms to really thrive and feel connected to their babies and themselves?
They tend to be “feminine” qualities like being loving and nurturing. Feeling. Connecting. An intuitive sense of knowing. An emphasis on Being rather than Doing.
Does this mean that there is something wrong with you if you have trouble connecting to these values and qualities? Some women worry they’re missing a ‘motherhood gene’. Does this mean that you can’t be fulfilled by motherhood?
Definitely not. These qualities are within you, they might not have been valued by yourself or others who have guided you (parents, teachers, bosses). To have a truly rewarding experience of motherhood you may need to start nurturing those qualities within yourself.
How do you do that?
Motherhood doesn’t function on a To-Do list. The simplest way to start is to Slow Down and just BE with your baby.
If you’re anything like I was after I had my first child, this might be really, really hard. You might get bored. You might think there’s something that needs to be Done. Yes, diapers need to be changed and baby needs to be fed and spit-up needs to be cleaned up. But after that and in the spaces between all of that you can Practice Being.
Try a Baby Meditation.
Sit or lie down with your baby in your arms, close your eyes and take a deep breath, and allow yourself to be in your body. Feel your heart open to your baby and connect on a deep level. Imagine your heart is joined with your baby’s heart. Stay here, connecting to your breath, your heart and your baby for a few minutes or as long as you like.
And like all meditation, it’s a Practice. Another opportunity to let go of an achievement- oriented mentality and to slip into a more ‘feminine’ state of being. The goal is not perfection. If you have trouble staying present with your baby, just bring your mind and your heart back again and again. If it’s really hard, let it go for now and try it again another day.
If you need more help with transitioning from the working world to motherhood, I offer individual and group counselling to new moms. You can contact me or book an appointment here.
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