Being a Mom is, by far, the most challenging work we will likely ever do with a close second or tie with being a woman.
For the most part, we have the tendency to rely on models (parents, friends’ parents, television parents, book parents) as a foundation for what to do , what not to do and, probably most importantly, why to avoid or incorporate those aspects of parenting into our own parenting.
In the process of selection, we also pick up role characteristics, standards and expectations from our models and once again go through the process of elimination or incorporation.
Some of us will be mindful and intentional around carrying out parenting and adulting plans but most of us will struggle with finding the right balance while working hard to stave off the guilt and shame that comes along with measuring ourselves against an unspoken social and cultural standards of being a Mom in a society where image and productivity matter more than our authenticity.
Whether you are a working Mom, stay at home Mom, step Mom, adoptive Mom, LGBTQ Mom, divorced Mom, widowed Mom, single Mom, teen Mom or surrogate/stand in Mom, we all want one thing – to give our children the best of ourselves.
What we may find is that the best of ourselves does not jive with what’s been modeled and may also be vastly different from cultural and social expectations. The problem is that – like most humans – we fear change and especially the discomfort of showing up outside of social/cultural norms.
Here are some signs that our perceived balance may be misaligned with our true selves:
1. Struggles with being the breadwinner – Women are making huge strides in the workforce. Black women represent the most educated segment of the population and are likely to make more money than their husbands. In a society that upholds the model of men being financial providers, many women may find themselves feeling resentful, uncared for, unsupported, unseen and question the purpose of the relationship.
2. Unfair work distribution – let’s face it, many of us have been socialized to be caregivers, it’s in our DNA. We’ve watched our grandmothers and mothers sacrifice their own well-being for the husband and children’s needs and wants. In 2021, many of us are realizing that that ain’t it! We do not want to carry the brunt of the workload but also don’t know how to allow ourselves to be helped, have trouble communicating or expressing our needs, self-sabotage by creating unrealistic expectations for the way our needs should be met or maybe our partners are downright uncooperative.
3. Motherhood as a whole was not what we were expecting – Motherhood is romanticized as an enchanting experience. Many of us find ourselves waiting for the moment that we will be enchanted with motherhood and may not find it and that is ok. We don’t talk enough about the physical, emotional and psychological sacrifices it takes to become and be a Mom. Many of us may find ourselves secretly struggling with guilt, resentment and seething anger. We may be disappointed or ashamed that our experiences do not match what’s been modeled or taught. What’s more is that we are afraid to say it, afraid of being judged or shamed. Motherhood is _____ fill in the blank. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel about it.
4. Balancing career and Motherhood – You are a boss, moving up the corporate ladder or in the process of beginning or expanding your business while also trying to show up as the “best Mom” except the version of “the best Mom” you are envisioning is one who is all sacrificing, unrelenting and shows up well dressed, well prepared with a smile with her well-dressed, well-mannered, socially positioned children in tow. Just typing all of those ‘wells’ was exhausting.
How can therapy help?
Our approach is to first create a safe space to thoughtfully examine the intricacies of being a woman and motherhood.
We will begin the work of helping you parse out what’s working and what’s not working. Using the therapeutic relationship and your relationship with yourself and others as context, we help increase self awareness to help you better understand what’s driving you to show up in a way that’s not aligned with the best version of yourself.
Through values based work, we help you translate the context of your pain points into your personal values AND use them to help identify new and workable ways they can be flexibly demonstrated.
We also provide couples therapy to address issues of communication and emotional expression.