The “A Doubtful Mama” series was something I hoped would help create a safe space for conversations around the hardest parts of motherhood. As I was reading all of the supportive comments on my initial post, I came across one from a wonderful friend of mine, Kait. I read it several times over and over again. Her point of view and respectful parenting is something I admire with all of my heart. We have been friends through Instagram now for almost a year since our little girls are close in age and even though she lives all the way in Austria, I feel such a beautiful connection to her. The conversations we have had always allow me space to reflect and understand my own parenting even if it differs from hers. I’m so glad she agreed to write a guest post with some of her encouraging words on the topic of doubt in our motherhood journey. –meg
Power To The Mother
It feels like motherhood-especially new motherhood-goes hand in hand with doubt. Like you can’t have one without the other. “Here’s your new baby, and here’s your required helping of self doubt and insecurity. Have fun!”
To be honest, my own doubt shocked me. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in forest school education. I’ve worked as an early childhood educator for most of my adult life. I have counselled countless parents on a huge variety of subjects and I read parenting books for fun.
So personally, I felt totally prepared for motherhood.
And then I actually became a mom.
And the self doubt crippled me. Logically, I knew the answers to all my questions. But emotionally? That was another story completely.
It feels really hard to be the mom I always pictured myself being. Life happens. And shit starts piling up. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed and I start to forget about all my goals and the ways in which I wanted to parent. I live in survival mode, my own childhood triggering my capacity to mother the way I want to.
The questions (and the stress) start brewing… slowly at first but quickly gaining momentum until they all come exploding into my brain one rapid fire after another: “did I handle this properly?” “do other kids do this too?” “is this a phase?” “I need to find time to do this thing” “am I doing enough?” “is she missing out??”
Even when I can quiet my mind, the feeling is always there. Maybe you know it, too? That heavy, sinking rock plunging from your heart down into your gut and staying there a little bit longer than you’re comfortable with. Doubt.
It took almost a year before I came to terms with this new veil on my consciousness. Before I learnt to both accept it into my life, and, to use it to my advantage.
I’ve started embracing my doubt when it comes up. I use it as a tool, a compass if you will.
When I start to feel insecure, unsure, when I start to compare myself to other moms, I take it as an alarm of sorts: it’s time to sit down and reflect. I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and I try to figure out what’s causing these feelings.
That’s right, some good old fashioned cognitive psychology.
I ask myself:
What are my values when it comes to _________ (lets say, for example, how we’re going to celebrate a holiday, or how I handled it when my child hit someone else’s, or the fact that she never.seems.to.STOP.whining!)
When I think about my future self thinking back on this time in my life, what do I want to remember?