Mums and Dads both provide an equally important role in the family. But today I am writing about Mums because the reality is, Mums more and more seem to be struggling with who they are meant to be these days.
Go back a couple of generations and we observe that Mums and Dads had very clearly defined roles. Once the kids came along, Dads were largely responsible for earning the money. Mums were responsible for keeping the home and children in order. Whilst women may have not been fulfilled with this role, they at least knew who they were meant to be. They had a clearly defined job description to follow, as did men. Easier to do your job when you have a clearly defined role to guide you.
Fast forward today and women are now supposed to be career women, full-time mothers, part-time workers, amazing lovers and everything in between. No longer is the job of being a woman clearly defined and whatever path you choose, there is either judgement, often self-judgement or guilt associated with the role. Mums often find themselves stuck in the middle of these roles and are deeply unhappy but can see no path out of the life they have found themselves in.
Naturally there are restrictions on which roles Mums can choose from due to financial constraints, age of children and lifestyle choices. Sometimes Mums want to stay at home and be full-time Mums but can’t due to financial needs. Sometimes Mums want to work a full-time job and can’t due to babysitting requirements. There is not much that can be done to alter these circumstances and we need to find a way to work within the choices available and still find a happy balance.
Balance. That is really what it is all about for women to find a life that is content if not happy during the childhood years. And the key to this balance is to be selfish. Yes that’s right, Mums often need to learn how to be selfish in order to find a happy balance.
Every Mum I have spoken to in my counselling room has stated that they can’t work as much as they like. Go out with friends, play sports and essentially make choices for themselves because they need to put family first. So Mums take on the role that is there and fulfil it with little thought to their own needs. Over time, Mums slowly find that they are not enjoying being a Mum as much as they thought they should and often feel like they have lost sight of who they are. Mum guilt plays a huge role in what choices Mums make too.
If Mum isn’t happy, then this will flow through to many areas in the family unit whether we like it or not. It is crucial that parents retain their identity whilst parenting and find a role that either provides happiness or at the very least, contentment.
The first thing I want to remind every Mum of is that it is ok to not enjoy parenting!! It is a really hard, challenging, rewarding, crazy, exhausting role. There are amazing parts of course and so much love but it is at times physically and mentally challenging and can be really lonely and boring too. And it is ok to feel this, to know this, to say this. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids, it just means you are an adult that requires different stimulation than what full time parenting provides.
So the first step is to be honest with yourself and work out what makes you happy. The second step is to find small ways to achieve these things. Keeping in mind that it is all about balance. Maybe working two days a week is enough to fulfil the need you have to feel mentally stimulated and have the social interaction with other people. Perhaps playing a sport one night a week is enough for you to feel that you are still retaining a part of you. There is no set answer, there is only what works for you the individual and whatever it is, it is ok!!
Your kids, your partner, your family, they will all benefit when you find a life that offers you enough to still be you. You are a person, you matter. Try and be a little bit selfish and watch your family thrive of the real you.