Motherhood comes with enough expectations and pressures to make anyone fear doing it “wrong”, but instead of shaming ourselves into doing more for our children, we’re having an open conversation about the needs of mothers themselves instead. In this article, I aim to explore why tending to mothers is just as crucial as caring for their children and how we can overcome the dreaded mom guilt that often lingers anytime we try to carve out time for self care.
I don’t cook for my kids every night. In fact, it’s actually probably only about 2-3 times per week that I actually make a complete meal. I don’t do my kid’s laundry. And I don’t clean their rooms.
In my house, we all contribute to the household, not just mom.
And I don’t feel bad about it. In fact, I commend myself for it.
Now, some of you might read that and think it’s negligent or that I’m not fulfilling my role as a mother. You might even judge that I let my kids eat frozen foods more than half the week or that I don’t ensure their clothes are clean before they go into public, and that’s okay (but I urge you to read on).
This whole motherhood business is hard. And that struggle is what *should* unite all of us moms because it’s the one thing we can all attest to.
(And that’s also why I believe there is no space in motherhood for judging other moms).
Because the truth is that there are about a million things that need to get done in a day, most of them passing without ever getting even a hurried glance. So, can we just be kind enough to ourselves to admit that what we are doing is hard?
If I’m being completely honest, some days I wonder the dreaded question of whether I should be doing more with my life. And then there are other days that I stand firm in my belief that parenting my kids and being home with them, available and present, is the most important thing I could do with my life. It’s what I always wanted more than anything else.
But to be completely honest, the feeling of importance also sometimes comes with a lack of significance.
Hear me out. I love being a mom. I love being at home with them, teaching them new things, playing together, experiencing adventures together, and seeing the wonder in their eyes. I love going all in on their passions, even when every year brings a new one. I love seeing what they are capable of and watching them grow into their unique personalities. I love supporting them, helping them work through difficult times, and being the kind of mother I never had.
But none of what motherhood stands for involves self-recognition because being a mom isn’t about us. It’s purely about them. It’s not about accolades. It’s not about praise. You don’t get any awards or “atta-girls” to confirm you’re doing alright.
Being a mom often asks us to trade our lives for theirs. And that’s a big ask.
Because there are games to support and homework to help with, long nights and thankless mornings, strong personalities and misunderstandings, money flying out, and not enough coming in… every time, we must ensure they are good and well taken care of.
But we have to stop pretending that we don’t also need someone to make sure we, too, are good and taken care of because a burnt-out mom is never the best version of herself.
So much research has been done on a mother’s impact on her children (and rightfully so). Still, there needs to be more research about how we, as moms, function best because I’d put money that it’s not trying to do more & please more people while sacrificing our well-being. This is an important missing piece of the equation because if moms are constantly giving their all and practicing selflessness day after day, at some point, they are bound to enter a state of depletion because it’s unsustainable. Burnout is inevitable.
Numerous studies suggest that mothers today are excessively preoccupied with caring for the needs of their children (often by choice), referencing terms like “helicopter parents” and “child-centric.” Some research even suggests that motherhood has become a “religion” where all other personal relationships, including the relationship with her spouse, take the backseat.
But at what cost? Have we become so consumed with our children that we have lost sight of our importance, well-being, and identity in the name of parenthood? For many mothers, the answer is yes. This is a slippery slope for our well-being because “the well-being of mothers…rests as much if not more on the emotional sustenance that they receive.” A similar article confirmed that for “mothers experiencing difficulties as caregivers, ego-depletion can be attenuated if they themselves regularly receive tending.”
So that brings up an important question: Who is tending to Moms?
In a perfect world, fathers should take on the role of tending to a mother’s needs. But we all know we don’t live in a perfect world. There are way too many moms doing it alone, with no family and no time to find friends.
But I’m here to tell you that you must find time for friends in your busy schedule. Here’s why.
This study confirms the role that supportive connections play in offsetting the hardships that are commonplace to all mothers. So, as we strive to care for our children, we must also make cultivating and maintaining close, authentic relationships with friends a priority. But it’s not enough to have acquaintances. The quality of friendships we cultivate must meet these four factors: unconditional love & acceptance, comfort during distress, authentic connection, and satisfaction within the relationship.
But it’s not always that easy, is it? It gets even more complicated when a mom takes time to herself to try to cultivate friendships. She experiences the horrors of mom guilt like a raincloud, dampening the joy of personal space.
The feeling of guilt can be overwhelming, and many mothers grapple with it when they attempt to carve out time for themselves, friendships, and their well-being. It’s crucial to recognize that taking a break, nurturing your own needs, and fostering friendships is not selfish; it’s a necessary component of maintaining your well-being as a mother.
This mom guilt often stems from societal expectations and the relentless pressure on mothers to be selfless caregivers 24/7. But we must remember that a well-rounded, emotionally supported mother is better equipped to care for her children effectively.
So, when you struggle with mom guilt as you invest in your friendships, remind yourself that you are not neglecting your responsibilities as a parent; you are enhancing your ability to meet them with resilience and a healthier mindset. In fact, you are setting a valuable example for your children about the importance of self-care and maintaining meaningful relationships.
Ultimately, who is tending to moms?
Sometimes, it has to be moms themselves, consciously prioritizing their well-being and friendships alongside their caregiving roles.