Did you go into motherhood with expectations?
Maybe you imagined days filled with joy and laughter as you snuggled with your sweet newborn and marveled at how she was growing and changing.
And what you actually got were long days filled with frustration and exhaustion while dealing with a colicky baby who barely slept.
Maybe you imagined you would breastfeed into toddlerhood… but instead you struggled with milk supply and only managed to breastfeed for 4 months.
Maybe you imagined life wouldn’t change that much once you became a mom… you’d still probably have plenty of free time to do what you love and have a social life after baby came.
Instead you barely talk to your friends anymore and you can’t remember the last time you did ANYTHING for yourself.
Most of us go into motherhood with dreams and expectations of what our experience will be like.
The reality is that motherhood is a wild ride of challenges and joys and you really never know what you’re going to get day to day, or even hour to hour.
But what if you’re at the stage where you’re realizing that a big expectation, hope, dream you had of motherhood just isn’t going to be a reality?
Maybe you’re feeling deep disappointment. There may be sadness, disillusionment. You may be blaming yourself or other people in your life. Or even your baby.
How do you move forward from here? From having your hopes dashed... to dealing with the realities of motherhood, of YOUR unique motherhood journey?
STEP 1 : Acknowledging Reality
Find a quiet moment to sit down. Acknowledge the way things are. This is WHAT IS right now.
STEP 2: Feel Your Feelings
Give yourself the time and space to allow all your feelings out. This is the way it is AND you have every right to your feelings in the middle of it all.
Feel the disappointment, sadness, longing. Feel the anger, blame and injustice. Let it all out.
Journal about it if that’s your thing. Cry to your best friend, mother or partner if that’s something that helps you.
Step 3: Shifting Your Story
Is there deeper meaning here for you? What are you afraid this situation means about you? What story have you been telling yourself (that probably isn’t true)?
Are you making it mean something about who you are- if you’re a failure, a good enough mom, if you’re worthy and lovable as you are?
These type of beliefs can run deep and might be barely conscious. They often originate from childhood. Recognize what you’re believing about yourself and ask yourself if it’s really true.
You’ll (hopefully) realize that it’s NOT true… of course you are worthy, of course you are lovable, of course you’re a good enough mom despite the challenges you’ve been facing!
If you’re having trouble believing the truth about yourself, ask someone in your life who supports you unconditionally to help you recognize the truth.
STEP 3: Acceptance
Once the emotional dust has settled it is easier to come to acceptance. Open yourself to the inner spaciousness that exists after you’ve moved through your feelings and recognized the truth about yourself (that you ARE worthy, and lovable and good enough just the way you are).
STEP 4: Trust in Your Process
Allow yourself to trust in a bigger picture. Your expectations weren’t met, but what is the bigger lesson here? Is this experience guiding your life in a different direction that you expected (but one that could be also a positive one)?
STEP 5: Moving On
What are your next steps? Let your intuition guide you to what you really need.
Do you need more help with practical or emotional stuff? Who in your life can support you with that?
Do you need a break and time to refresh and re-energize? Commit to taking better care of yourself. Here are some tips on how to count yourself in as a mother: Saying No! to Martyrdom and Yes! to Counting Yourself In.
Do you need to ask for help if you’re in a situation that feels over your head? There are many people out there offering wonderful services and support for new moms: doctors, midwives, lactation consultants, counsellors and coaches.
Recovering from your unmet expectations can be a challenge. And it can also open you up to new ways of getting to know yourself and moving forward as a wiser, more self-aware mother. Which of course can benefit your baby in so many ways! Instead of closing doors, allow yourself to move through your unmet expectations to new opportunities on the other side.
Are you still struggling with your unmet expectations? Does it feel like more than you can manage on your own? If you're needing some extra support (and most moms do sometimes), check out the services I offer for moms.
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Katherine Aucoin, Motherhood Counsellor
Hi Mamas! My name is Katherine and I'm a motherhood counsellor and a mom to two little boys. I'm here to offer tools, insights and support to help you be the best mom you can be for your children AND yourself.