Updated: Mar 6, 2021
When I was 25, I thought my life was pretty much mapped out. I would get married, have a couple of kids and that was how life was going to pan out. I felt utterly surprised when a work colleague felt it necessary to inform me that life was in fact ‘unpredictable’. I was engaged and had always planned children…how could there possibly be anything that could change what I saw as the plan for my life? Fast forward 12 years, I’ve been divorced, left teaching, remarried, trained to be a Hypnotherapist and had not just two children but four children. My adult life could not have turned out to be more different to what I had envisaged.
When life shows us that things don’t always go to plan, we have a choice. We can either stay stuck and search for reasons as to why it didn’t follow the plan. Or we evolve. We learn the lesson that life was trying to teach us and we grow.
Motherhood is one of the biggest opportunities for growth that life offers us but once again we often have the expectation of how it is going to be based on our own experiences of ‘being mothered.’
Cast your mind back, what was your childhood like? What were you taught about how to be a mum?
We usually plan to ‘do a better job’ than the person who raised us. Before we have our own children we tend to judge other Mothers. For example, I’m never putting my children on an iPad whilst we eat dinner.
However, the reality of being a Mum can be in complete contrast to the expectation. Sometimes you actually find yourself asking them to go on the iPad so you can do a bit of work whilst you eat your dinner standing up at the breakfast bar, for example! A far cry from how you imagined you would be.
There’s no point in beating yourself up over how different your experience of motherhood is from what you expected before having kids. It’s time to bid farewell to the mother that you thought you were going to be.
But how can we do this?
Acknowledge and accept
Firstly, you can acknowledge and accept that you are growing and developing into the mum that your children need. This is a different version to the one that you might have expected them to need. Give yourself a break and focus on all of the amazing things that you are doing. You can do this by taking time to reflect at the end of each day on the moments of joy. If your children are old enough to ask, you can even ask them what their best bit was about the day. This focuses your attention on the reality of what you are experiencing.
Secondly, a technique called ‘mirror power’. Think about a couple of your favourite affirmations. Stand in front of the mirror and say them to yourself. My favourite one is ‘I can begin again.’ If things haven’t quite gone to plan or if I have been a bit short tempered with my children this affirmation allows me to let go of any mum guilt and start afresh.
Thirdly, when you find yourself being triggered and a feeling of comparison creeps in remember to take a calm breath. Breathe in to the count of two through the nose and slowly release to the count of four. Feel your shoulders drop, feel relaxed and settled. Become aware that you are being triggered by a story that you have told yourself about how things ‘should be’.
This could perhaps create a feeling of disappointment, frustration or anger. But this is simply a story, it's not fact. Let go of the story and create a new one. Tell yourself that you are doing your best and that is good enough. Release and let go of negative feelings to make way for positive ones.
Nothing in life turns out exactly as you imagine it will be because it’s real, not imaginary. But embracing the real you, your real life and your children is what is important, not a story you once told yourself about how life was going to be. Life is messy, chaotic but also beautiful and magical and everything in between.
Motherhood teaches you that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect mum’ or in fact a perfect anything. Life experience teaches that empathy, love and compassion for others are what is most important and what better way to teach our children than being kind and understanding to ourselves.
It’s time to embrace the mother that you are in reality and let go of the fictional one that you though you wanted to be.
About the author
Emily is a clinical Hypnotherapist and mum of four. She is the founder of the Mumma Mindset Company and works with mums who want to ditch feelings of anxiety and discover clarity, calm and confidence in their lives.
You can connect with Emily over on Instagram @mummamindsetcompany.