When the weight of motherhood feels too much

Our latest mama-loving mail has gone out today...

"How are you? Truthfully? 

Writing this email to you always reminds me to pause and check in with myself too. To ask myself - how am I feeling in my body right now?

...A bit sick in my stomach as if I've eaten something wrong. My face and eyes feel tired from getting up early (I'm trying a new morning routine to stretch, meditate briefly, write, and then "meditate" aka snooze again with the kids when I wake them up - I'm not sure if it's a good plan yet or not...!) 

Maybe I'm tired from giving blood yesterday too. I feel headachey in spite of or because of drinking a huge coffee at speed, and my back muscles are aching from swimming yesterday....

How about you? How are you feeling in your body?

Is there something you could soothe or stretch out? Would a glass of water help? Or a soothing honey and lemon? Some deep breaths? Does your body need some stillness and quiet - or some movement? And what about emotionally? What's going on in there today?

...I feel a little glum. I want to feel zingy after my early morning start, but I feel the opposite - maybe because today it's grey and rainy outside, and I haven't been able to get in the sea. I feel more self critical than is helpful. I feel sad - I'm missing my husband. And I also feel kind of angry at him for not being here, even though that's absolutely not his fault.

I feel guilty - because I wasn't a perfect mother this morning, and lost my rag at one point about the kids' behaviour. I feel lucky to be alive, to have my full physical capacity and warm shelter when others don't. But there's also a kind of resentment in there - as if I'm 'having' to remember to be grateful and feel lucky and even that's making me grumpy. 

Oh how our minds work...!

How about you? What mix of emotions are you experiencing right now?

There is a point to all these questions. To giving you the grisly details of my reality this morning... It's a way of practicing knowing ourselves - and what we need. Because so often, we expend our energy in noticing what everyone else needs, what everyone else is feeling.

Which child has a brow that needs stroking? Does that bruise need arnica? Do I need to remind them to drink water, or get them to run off some excess energy? What is that child really feeling? What's provoking their behaviour? What's going on underneath?

We spend so much of our time alert to our children's needs. So much of our brain, and our energy, is occupied by this. Even when we aren't consciously aware of it.
many fractured images of an overwhelmed woman
In this long period of my husband working away, I'm noticing the weight of this more. And as always, my awe and respect for single mothers increases.

With my husband's focus elsewhere, all of the daily practical stuff is solely mine to remember. This is the visible stuff - the clubs to get them to, the forms that need to go back to school, the meals to be shopped for, getting them to sleep...

But, there is that emotional load that is less visible: their ever-changing emotional and physical needs. That I feel are mine to hold and support.
And I find that even when they're off at school, my mind is whirring ahead - towards the things they will need, new strategies to help them through the latest challenge.

Sometimes it feels overwhelming.

And I just crave some time where someone else will take all of that from me, hold it all - just for an hour or so. An hour where I know the kids are safe, and their needs are fully cared for. When all I need to worry about is me. Sometimes that feels like an impossible dream…
And yet - the truth is, when the kids are at school, they are OK. My whirring mind, my holding of it all, isn't actually necessary in order to meet their needs. It's a habit, forged in my sense of duty.

Yes we want to parent to the best of our abilities - to screw the kids up as little as possible (because we know we can't avoid screwing them up a bit, right?).

Yes we want to be there for them when they need us. And yes, we need to be aware of their needs. But not to the extent that we ignore our own. Or that we deny our children their own internal awareness. We want them to be able to know and tend to their needs. And we can teach them that by tending to our own..."
This is an excerpt from this month’s mama-loving mail  - read the full email, or to get these love-notes personalised and direct to your email, my heart to yours once a month, sign up for mama-loving mail yourself.

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