If there is one word that can define the feeling of being a new parent, it is exhaustion. It is the key challenge to our sense of self that being a mother brings. As you devote your life to your little one, you wear yourself down. You become so exhausted that you may feel like you can no longer enjoy the things in your life that make you who you are. And in the process, you burn out and begin to experience emotions that further eat away at your sense of self.
This is certainly something that I experienced, as I’m sure many of the mothers reading this have. And this guilt is a major barrier that stands in the way of the search for self that we neglect when we become mothers. We begin to question our desire to understand who we are and what our purpose is because it feels like we should have no purpose beyond taking care of our children.
The irony is that this guilt contributes heavily to the exhaustion that makes it more difficult for us to do the very thing that we believe defines us.
Guilt leads to questions of inadequacy and feelings of shame. And those feelings are compounded by other emotions we feel during motherhood, such as the intense loneliness that the endeavour brings. Admitting that raising your child is a challenging thing to do makes us feel like failures as mothers. The key point I want to make here is that motherhood affects our sense of purpose, which impacts how we take care of ourselves. “Mother” becomes our sole identity to the point where we lose sight of who we were before having our children. Whatever higher purpose we may have had or dreamed about before becoming mothers gets buried under the intense responsibility that motherhood brings. And any attempts we make to focus on ourselves bring with them feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy.
Thousands, if not millions, of mothers experience this loss of self, especially during the early stages of motherhood. However, I have an encouraging message for anybody who loses sight of themselves and their higher purpose when they become mothers.
History shows us that many mothers have achieved remarkable things while managing the responsibilities that motherhood brings.
Importantly, my advice is simply tend to your needs first. Fill your cup and this will enrich and energise you to be a better mother. Once I started to recharge myself, I found more joy and energy to tend to my children. Why don’t you take some time to care for yourself today?