I’m going to tell you a story today. Of a girl who was full of mischief and adventure. She loved driving at the speed of lightning and getting into trouble. She saw everything as an adventure. Getting stuck in rain in the middle of the road with no hope of the car moving? Nothing better than that! Getting chased by traffic police? Amazing. Everything gave her an adrenaline rush because she didn’t know responsibility. She could live her life without a care in the world and loved every bit of it. Then she became a mother, and everything changed.
Responsibility. It came crashing down on her like a mountain and she held it up as only mothers can. From that carefree girl, she suddenly transformed into someone who planned every minute of the day for the baby. The girl who didn’t have a set time to wake up now had a million alarms throughout the day to put the baby to sleep, feed, and change diapers. Yes, she had alarms to check for diapers too and everyone made fun of her. But you see, she was learning responsibility, and for someone who had never experienced it, it was overwhelming. She couldn’t imagine anything going wrong with the little life that had been entrusted to her.
Everything was about the baby. The mother’s whole day revolved around him. Is he okay? Is he sleeping on time? Is he getting enough sleep? Did he wake up on time? Is he feeling too hot? Do I need to layer him more? What if he catches a cold? Is he hungry? Why isn’t he crying? She worried about him so much that she often stayed up at night just to look at his chest moving up and down for the simple comfort of knowing that he was okay. She LOVED her baby more than anything else in the world but she was overwhelmed and didn’t even realize it.
A couple of years down the road, she forgot any and all troubles she faced and decided to have another child. Responsibility doubled and this time, she started to bend over a little. Like every woman, she decided to straighten her back instead of sharing the load. Isn’t it the norm? A mom is a superwoman who can do it all. She felt like she had to live up to those expectations. Otherwise, what would people say? How would they appreciate her superpowers if she showed weakness?
She continued being the perfect mother but you know what happened? She forgot about herself. She lived for those children but her hair started greying. Her relationship with her husband lost its spark. They started arguing endlessly about the smallest things and cracks started to appear in her fairy tale marriage. I’m going to pause the story here and go all the way to the end. What do you think happened in the end? When the children are older and have their own families. Do you think she managed to stay in the relationship? Most importantly, do you think she is happy today?
The short answer is yes. Do you want to read how she got here though? Because of the way she was going, the answer was never going to be yes. She’s happy now because she changed a lot of things and now I will tell you how she got here.
She started indulging in self-care
She started putting herself first. Do you ever wonder why there are more depressed women in the world than men? Men always put themselves first. Women put everyone else and their families and even their cats and dogs before themselves. Not really, but you get the point? She started putting herself first and it worked wonders.
She accepted help
This part is tricky because to be able to accept help someone has to offer it. You have to have a strong and supportive circle for that. If you don’t, then just ask for help. It’s not that difficult and it does not make you less of a mother. She simply started realizing that she is not the only parent and she does not have to shoulder the entire responsibility the whole time. She learned to take the burden off and share it with those willing to help her.
She started taking some time off
This is separate from self-care because many women wouldn’t even think of this when they are told to indulge in self-care. They are so accustomed to not thinking of themselves that very often even their self-care involves their children. She started going on long drives alone just to freshen up her mind. She had started having date nights again to reignite the spark with her husband. She also started going out with her friends again.
She realized it was okay to bend the rules
She used to have a lot of rules. The kids have to be asleep at 8 so she couldn’t stay out later than 7. She couldn’t go for late-night dinners or movies and she left every wedding early. After bending the rules, she slowly started to realize that the world didn’t crumble apart. The kids were fine and no one was judging her.
She started a hobby
Everyone needs something to do that freshens them up and takes away the frustrations of daily life. She could have taken up any hobby but she decided to run. Running helped give her time to recharge and spent some energy that would have otherwise been used in scolding her kids or arguing with her husband.
Do you see what happened with my story and how it has a happy ending? This is not my story. But it is definitely inspired by what I have faced and more of what I have seen so many others face. Somehow everyone thinks a woman has to prove herself as a mother. She doesn’t. She doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone. Not her husband. Not her children. Not her family. Her children are proud of her today because she prioritized herself. If she has sons, they will know that their wives aren’t just mothers and wives. They will learn to share the load. If she has daughters they will learn that they are worth so much more than a role they have to play.
Excellent mothers are those that don’t have pent-up frustration and stress so they can be friends with their children and be the best advisors. To be the best possible versions of themselves as mothers, they have to be themselves and think of themselves before they think of others. Let us help mothers be the best version of themselves. Let us offer help and let us give them space to think about themselves. Let us change the status quo and admit that mothers are not superheroes. They are humans who need as much love and care as their partners and children. Let us teach all the young mothers of today to change the endings of their stories into happy ones and that they have the power to do this themselves.