It's hard work being a mum
I’m going to admit something that will put me in a bad light, when I was young I thought that mums were lazy. In my mind I thought mums sat around watching Oprah all day, having coffee with friends, and living the easy life. Before all you mums get mad at me I need to tell you that when I became a dad, when I was only 19, I realized how wrong I had been. Mums have the hardest job in the world!
I’m sure just about anyone who has children or who has spent time around a mother with children will totally agree with my last statement. Children, especially young children, take up a massive amount of energy. They are 100% dependent. They need someone to be there 24/7, to change nappies, wake up in the middle of the night to feed them, keep them safe, and give them that loving, caring attention that children need. When we think about the practical work that most mothers have to do it is easy to see that it is far more than a full time job, it’s a life consuming role. While this work is so hard to maintain there is one aspect of being a mother that is one of the hardest things to face. It’s the loss of self.
During the first period of a child’s life the mother’s life will often take a back seat to the child’s, she will sacrifice everything that is important to her because she has to. Although a mother will get a lot of rewards from the time and energy they put into their child they can struggle with the feeling that they are losing themselves. Before they had their child they may have had hobbies, a job, a social life, an exercise routine. These activities helped mold their identity. Often as soon as the child is born most of these activities have to stop as the child will be taking up every waking moment of a mother’s life. Suddenly overnight there is a change in identity, no wonder a lot of mothers feel that loss of self. Can you imagine having to stop all of the activities that create your sense of identity and step in to a role that is extremely hard work?
If we can start to understand that mums need some time to keep their sense of identity alive we can look for ways to support them through this. During the early stages of a child’s life a mother is never going to have a huge amount of time to commit to ‘stuff for herself’ but there is real benefit in having just a little bit of that time. I often see it with our runners who are mums, being able to get away from their role as a mother for a few hours a week and being able to go into an environment where they can do something for themselves, where they can talk about things that don’t involve kids, seems to do them a world of good. It gives them something for themselves.
I suppose the message I would like to get out there for those of us who aren’t mothers is: What are the ways you can support those mothers around you to allow them a little bit of time for themselves? While your support may not take up much of your time it will probably be valued beyond measure by those you support. For the dads out there the question I have is: Are you helping your partner have time for herself. This is a tough time for both parents but if you can both work together you can create a routine that allows both of you to have a bit of your own time which can help keep your relationship healthy.
Being a mum is a special thing, a role that is so important in this world. The more loved children we can create for this world the better, a mother is a big part of this. When a mother has a little bit of time for herself I imagine she is able to do a better job with her children. So for those of us who are around mums, let’s try to help them have this balance.
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