Let's ditch the super mum facade!
This is a notion that many (not all) women cling proudly to, the martyr, the “I must put everyone else first”. I can manage working a full time job, run the household and all the chores, keep tiny humans alive, do the school drop off’s, maintain a social life of some kind, have a fabulous loving and connected relationship, appear to have it all together on social media, create businesses on the offside, look after the pets, look after elderly parents, keep appointments, keep up my spiritual practice, exercise most days of the week, run a charity, volunteer at school, you see where I am going with this, the list is endless so I’m stopping there. And, “If I can’t do all these things well damn it, I’m going to use all my energy and self-worth trying to”. “By doing this, others will think that I am together, I am kind, I am a super mum, I am giving, I am perfect. This will help me be enough”.
Here’s an idea I would love for you to consider – I wonder what would happen if we let the rope go? The rope of having to do it all and somehow stay put together.
I have some news, and this may crush the inner you who needs to save everyone and do it all. You can’t control other people’s perceptions of you, and you can’t do it all. GASP. “What!?, So you’re telling me that even though I do all the tasks in a day, day after day and put myself at the very, very bottom of that long task list that people won’t have this great opinion of me?” They won’t love me anymore for it? I won’t be more fulfilled? Yes, this is exactly what I am telling you. It’s quite the opposite.
For a long time before you were here in the year 2019 women have been nurturing, giving, quite literally dying before putting themselves on their priority list. They develop chronic fatigue, they develop post-natal depression, there body starts to develop auto immune issues, they commit suicide all before they will ask for help or realise they can let the weight of the world go. Extreme. No, this happens. It is still happening. Now just so we are on the same page, I love being nurturing, I am a very nurturing and giving person. I never want that to change that about myself. However, when I comes at a cost where I am depressed, depleted, anxious, and struggling with motherhood, well that’s where I have decided to draw the very strong line. I’ve had enough, and I think many of you have too. How can we go around calling ourselves “feminist’s” or “women who speak up for what’s right” and then go and do the very things day after day that cause us to become a shell of ourselves? Then we are no good to anybody. We are not fully alive and present. We don’t even stop for five mins to sit still and hear ourselves and our spirits speaking to us.
Where did we go wrong as a society that this is the norm? That we are praised for being able to “try and do it all” that memes about coffee and wine to “sustain” us are the norm and even “funny”. Turn any corner and you can find a group of Mum’s who will put their hands up and say I’m exhausted, I’m just so tried, I just don’t know how much longer I can go on without help, or friends, or a passion.
This is not new I understand that. We have patriarchal suppression that most of us are working through or don’t even know existed. We have social conditioning to plough through, we have wounding from our family and social aspects of our own worlds to work through. We have financial issues, divorces to work through. I get it. I do.
BUT – Let, me tell you a secret, in case you have not heard it here first (which I highly doubt is the case) – YOU CAN DO ANYTHING BUT NOT EVERYTHING! This is despite your personal situation right now as we are all at different stages. Regardless of your stage you can not do it all.
I had a friend that I use to see a lot say to me when I went to her with a problem “we are all just surviving. You can’t expect to thrive when you have young children”. I brought it for a while and it made me feel so much better to know that everyone else was feeling crappy and just surviving too. But then I realized this was not my truth. This was her truth. I wanted more, and I still want more. My more is a life where it’s quieter, more meaningful and with soulful relationships and passions.
Now let’s get something clear here, feeling good (most the time, not all the time) happens because we make it. I have been out this morning with my eldest boy. We went to the creek down the road because I am pre-menstrual and finding hard to be around humans today. But I also went there because I needed to stop. My body was begging me to stop vacuuming, stop, cleaning up and breaking the boys fights up and just leave the house into nature! With one child, not two. I left him with my husband. It worked. I have become self-aware enough to know when I can have anything (which this morning what I needed was some quiet) but not everything. I had to choose between a clean house and peace of mind and my sanity restored. You have that choice too. Everyday.
A thriving life doesn’t happen magically. It’s not some ah ha moment that falls from the sky and hit’s you over the head. It’s sitting with yourself and respecting yourself enough to say NO. I’ve had enough. I am stressed or anxious or depressed so I must need to work through my feelings and work out what I need to help me live a better life. I have had enough of being on my way to a burnout (if you’re not already there). It’s saying Husband or friend can you please take these children for 30 mins because I am on the way to a bad day if I don’t have some space to clear my head. It’s calling a friend and saying can you please come and help me as I’m not handling all that I have going on in my life right now (this is so much easier said than done. I am useless at this, but I promise it will help.) It’s putting a movie on for the children without feeling guilty and instead of having another coffee to stay awake instead resting next to them on the couch and shutting your eyes for a bit or bringing them into your room with a quiet activity and saying, “mum needs a rest so she can play with you this afternoon”.
Once you realise that when you start loving yourself, respecting yourself, realising that you are worthy of being a Mum or woman that THRIVES instead of merely SURVIVING then and only then will you start to put measures in place (often with the help of a professional) to have a life that is sustainable. Simpler, less multitasking (this is a whole other blog post together, multi-tasking is bad news for stress levels).
These measures that we need to put in place slowly and progressively, not all at once, these will look different for every one of us. Here is some ideas – letting yourself rest (if you don’t have time to rest when you need to then you have to simplify your life as sleep dep is so dangerous, but rest if you are a new mum should come above all else), talking to yourself kindly, walking away from negative people or drama that saps your energy, asking for help, seeing a professional phycologist or nutritionist or anyone who can help you on this journey, setting boundaries over what you will accept, eating better, exercising a little each day, even if it’s for 10 mins, unfollowing all the people that cause you to feel bad about your life compared to theirs on social media, dropping the juggling act, saying no, saying yes sometimes to things like help, taking measures to clean up your surroundings and make your home a space that you enjoy, mediating, sharing workloads, taking a night off from cooking if it will protect you from falling apart today. Whatever measures that feel right to you.
Can you imagine putting some of these measures slowly but surely into place and then in turn our children witnessing a mother/woman becoming? Oh my, tingles just thinking about it. Imagine them seeing a generation of women who loved themselves enough to look after themselves by having healthy boundaries and raising emotionally healthy children.
You’ll know the women already doing this by the way they hold themselves and by the energy they are giving off. Once that transformation takes place if you let it, then you can decide how much you take it on and when. YOU GET TO DECIDE. It will become easier to bounce back from bad moments during a day or week if your life is simpler. We were not designed to cope with the loud and constant world we live in.
I am starting to respect myself enough to strive to be whole, not happy all the time, but whole. Happy all the time is not real. I wouldn’t want to be happy all the time as I would never appreciate or learn anything from being happy all the time. Whole means, crying and breaking open some days because I’m human, whole means not taking on things that I know I can’t handle, whole means being compassionate some days and selfish other days. It means having light and dark and this is ok.
We all must make choices, there is no magic pill or answer. It’s a number of habits that we form overtime to create a great life. Just you and the measures you take. This will not be easy. This is the harder road. The one less travelled. The path requires you to be uncomfortable and often. This path requires self-awareness and responsibility. But this is what being a human is all about. It’s not easy all the time but letting go of the need to do it all over time will make it easier.
If you are feeling unhappy then please get support:
Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to online, phone and face-to-face crisis support and suicide prevention services. Find out how these services can help you, a friend or loved one.
13 11 14
Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood.
1300 726 306
Need support or information around depression and anxiety, for yourself, a friend or family member?
1300 22 4636