I usually write with a lot of humour, but today I want to touch upon a more serious topic. One that many mothers avoid and do not admit, even to themselves. I want to talk about anger and guilt.
From the moment the bundle of joy is put into her arms, to the last breath that we take, love and happiness are the only feelings that are expected and socially accepted from the mother. She is never to fail and doubt herself and she is always expected to be kind and patient. There are never to be any situations over which she is to feel guilty or incompetent… However, one will know that it is only over a glass of wine and with shushed tones that mothers admit to their closest ones that sometimes, these expectations are far from reality.
Raising a child is difficult and often frustrating. Any woman that tells you otherwise is either lying or has a live-in nanny. When a newborn screams for hours on end with no visible or invisible cause, it is hard to keep your composure and remind yourself that he is still only a newborn. Mothers walk miles in their bedroom to calm down the colicky child and while loving their bundle with all their heart, most feel frustrated, angry and lonely. It is hard to admit and even harder to keep it a secret that when a mother is powerless in calming her child, she is not overfilled with joy and happiness. It is a sort of taboo to admit that every mother has moments when she is not happy. When her child is acting up and does not listen, when he throws food and tantrums, when he refuses to nap and plays rough. There are and always will be moments when motherhood is far from ideal. There are always times when mothers need time-outs for themselves and they leave the room to scream their lungs out and punch a wall. Feelings of anger and helplessness are all part of being a mother and they need to be addressed more and discussed more and not put under the ‘bad mother’ cliche.
Once in a while, the anger will overpower and we will all raise our voice. It is when the little eyes look up on us with hurt and disappointment that Guilt comes. Guilt is another feeling that is not discussed enough. As mothers are supposed to always be patient and rightful and loving, their feelings of guilt are ignored. From the time that some are unable to breastfeed, to the time that a mother has to be back at work and leaves her child with a stranger. Guilt follows us wherever we go and we are constantly reminded by others that we are not good enough. Mothers are judged if they raise their voice or softly smack their child’s bottom. We are looked down upon if we are not exhibiting a loving gaze upon the world at all times. Yet, we almost never admit to ourselves or others how we feel.
I often ask other mothers how they are holding up. Most will say how much they love their bundle of joy and how they finally found their place in life. It is only after some additional questioning that most would admit that there are times when they feel angry that the child does not listen, that there are times when they feel lonely and their husband does not help enough, that they regret yelling at their child after hours of nightly screams and that they are often overwhelmed and lonely and sad and insecure. We often talk about postpartum depression, however, we do not speak enough about the psychological issues and feelings that mothers face later on. Most are not open enough to admit when they need help. Others lie to themselves that they can manage. Guilt, anger, insecurity and helplessness are feelings that need to be discussed more. If more mothers knew that others feel the same way sometimes, that not everyone is supermom and that everyone of us has her dark days, such feelings would be more accepted and dealt with better. Mothers need to stop judging each other in order to eradicate the enormous amount of guilt that is burdened upon us. We need to have more open forums where there is more support. We need to be more open and honest with each other and offer help when we see someone i struggling.
One mother wrote an article about how she resents having her children… (link to article here) The criticism that she got was overpowering and I do not agree with the method she chose to tell her story. However, there is one thing that she did do right – she told the truth about how hard it is sometimes and how we all have our regrets. Some regret going to work early, some regret having kids too early or too late, some regret raising their voice or spanking their child. We are not just mothers, we are human being with real feelings. We are not robots that are always happy-go-lucky. I think it is time to crash and burn the notion of the Supermom with no regrets and no feelings. Yes, we all love our children, but we can not lose ourselves in the process. We need to remember to take a break, to break the guilt cycle and open up to others. That way we can all be happier and be better mothers, as a result.