My last post, The Kids are All Right, elicited a lot of feelings and reactions. More than I expected actually.
I always view difficulties through the lens of mental illness vs health, but those I outlined last Tuesday struck a chord with many moms across the spectrum.
That doesn’t mean there is an epidemic of maternal mental illness – though there is an underreported and underserved population for sure. It only underscores what every mother already knows: motherhood is extremely trying.
Every age and every stage has its challenges, which usually present themselves directly after one set has been deciphered and conquered. But add in a post-pandemic, high-inflation, middle-age slump (at least for me and my contemporaries) and even getting out of bed seems like a monumental feat.
There are many systemic and cultural constructs that make up the fabric of our current constraints – and yes, there needs to be change at those levels. But what can one mother do as she looks at her own face in the mirror?
She needs to be clear on what motherhood means to her. What it looks like. What is non-negotiable and what falls under should. What has to occur/or not for her to be able to rest her head on her pillow at night and not toss and turn.
This does not preclude those around her from supportive responsibility. But the reality is, she likely will have to recruit this, too.
Self-care has been co-opted as a concept by the those who can make money off face masks and body poufs, candles and cocoa butter. But taken at its literal meaning, mothers need stop gaps to release the daily pressure of motherhood.
Mothers need stop gaps to release the daily pressure of motherhood.
In the everyday rush of responsibility and running on empty, however, caring for oneself can be just one more item on an already too-long-list.
Sometimes it is quiet and solitude. Sometimes it is community. Sometimes it is rest. Sometimes it is activity.
Surviving motherhood is a constant balancing act. Hopefully we don’t get turned around in the process.