Well the answer to the first question is obvious isn’t it?
But maybe not. When I asked this question to the women I interviewed for my book, the majority felt that it was once they had given birth, while for others it was on becoming pregnant. Either way, for all mothers, there is a point at which we feel like a mum. It normally comes hand-in-hand with the feeling of being responsible for another life; it is that moment when we understand that we are inextricably linked to our child. However, if we consider motherhood with all it entails then we can see that our whole lives have an impact on how we approach being a mother.
Our childhood, our life experiences and the demands of the society we grow up in play a big part in how we perceive motherhood, particularly in the early days. We have expectations of what motherhood will be and what we ‘should’ be as mothers. What we hope for, fear and expect of ourselves already exists prior to having a child in our arms.
So what is the point of asking this question or even thinking about the pre-children influences on our motherhood experience?
It may sound all a bit abstract but actually, what we expect of motherhood has a lot to do with whether we feel we doing well enough. Here are some examples:
- Good mothers are often portrayed by society as fairly selfless individuals who are all about giving to others. Yet, all of us have moments when we need time and space for ourselves. It can, initially, feel as if we must not be quite good enough when we find ourselves needing that time for ourselves, unless we realise that this is a social idea and not one founded in reality (the reality being that we are all human with our own needs and motherhood does not change that very basic fact).
- One of the women I interviewed spoke of how she had inadvertently painted such a rosy picture of motherhood in her mind that when she found herself exhausted with a newborn baby she automatically thought she was failing. It was only with hindsight that she realised there was no way that the experience could have ever lived up to her expectations. Through readjusting her idea of motherhood she could be kinder to herself, allowing her to discover motherhood for what it was rather than what she thought it would be.
- Being raised to be high achievers in life left some of the women I interviewed feeling at odds with motherhood. They expected to apply the same standards and work ethic to raising a child that they had to achieving in life so far. But for these women the days with a young baby, where they didn’t feel that they were achieving anything tangible, was disorienting. Some then felt that they must be doing something wrong, until they examined their life learning.
Our lives prior to having children have an inevitable impact on us as people and so as mothers; what we do, how we think and how we feel. We all have expectations of what motherhood will be and what sort of mother we will be. But the reality is that we can’t know what it is to be a mother before we get there as it is a constant learning process. Some of the things we expect will be present, some aspects will surpass our expectations but others won’t and that is all normal.We can't know what it is to be a mother before we get there as it is a constant learning process Click To Tweet
Starting to consider what our expectations are (and have been) at any point in our motherhood journey is useful.
If you are interested in reading more about motherhood and our expectations then you can click on image of The Guilt-Free guide to Motherhood in the sidebar and read for free the first chapter of my book using the Amazon ‘Look inside’ feature which covers this topic in much more depth.
What expectations did you have of becoming a mother? Are you the mother you thought you would be? How is motherhood different from what you expected? I would love to hear about your experiences. I reply to every comment.
So what is next?
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