What is it about mothers?
I mean, we all had one at some point, admittedly not always for long. And we all know, at heart, that every mother has different ways of mothering – some choose not to mother at all. Despite these facts we do, as a culture, tend to hold on to some pervasive stereotypes and expectations about what mothers ‘should’ be and do.
Now let’s get this straight, being sad sometimes and feeling disconnected is all part of the process of being alive. Even with so-called “perfect” children and partners, there are still these little things called hormones and emotions to contend with. It is my strongly held belief that we are absolutely entitled to experience our feelings in their fullest form, whatever they may be (or however inconvenient).
Recently I was at a mothers’ networking event, the first meeting of this particular group. One of the speakers was an incredibly capable and successful mother who has started a business around wellness and fitness. When she came to the part about why she started the business she choked up. She was tired and a little nervous to be speaking publicly about her previous depression and naturally had a feeling about that. But what is interesting is that she apologised.
Suddenly it struck me that in a room full of people most likely to understand and want to give her a big hug, she still felt a bit of shame about her past experience of post-natal depression.
And it’s a real thing: if we need to seek cold medication for a bad cold, nobody blinks… but mention medication for depression and it’s a whole different story. Surely that is changing, but let’s be real, it undeniably exists.
My question today is, why? Why do we feel like being a mother means being Wonder Woman? Why do we feel shame around the most natural and common experiences of mothering if they fall on the wrong side of the social acceptability line?
I want to talk about this so we can change it. I want us all to know that there is no shame in experiencing the darker shades of mothering. I want to reach out to anyone out there feeling this and tell them it’s OK and to please talk about it with others. Choose to open up instead of shut down to that shame.
Get it into the light so it can be a little bit less dark in your world. It’s no big deal. Even Wonder Woman had bad days.