Today I want to talk about your fantasies!
No, not that kind of fantasy... get your mind out of the gutter!
Your fantasies about being a mom!
I know you have them because we all do. I had them. For me, I wanted to be a mom from a really young age. I just never expected anything different for my life. It was never even a conscious decision I made for myself. I think I just assumed that when you get to be a certain age that every woman becomes a mom. And I can see how it starts young, because I have a little girl and already she’s asking me how to become a mom, and when she can be a mom, and she wants to be a mommy just like me — her mom.
It’s become the cultural expectation that we women all become moms. This kind of expectation also comes with the unspoken notion that because we were all “created to be” mothers that we will, as a result, love every second of being a mother.
Then, when we have bad days, it is easy for us to start to feel guilty and judge ourselves because we think, what is wrong with us? What is wrong that we don’t enjoy everything that we have? And then even more shame and guilt get piled on top..
In order to process the reality of motherhood, let me help you break down your fantasies about being a mom in one of three areas:
Your spiritual or cultural background may dictate your expectations about motherhood. You may feel less spiritual if you do not become a mother. Or you just see it as your duty as a woman to become a mother. First, make note of those things if that happens to be you.
Maybe you grew up in a family where your mom didn’t work or an otherwise traditional house. And so you just assumed that you would be a mom that didn’t work as well. But maybe times have changed and for financial reasons or otherwise, you are working and you’re feeling guilty about that. Or vice versa — maybe you grew up in a very progressive household where you came from two-income family and you always thought you “should” work as a mother and now you’re not working, and you have some guilt about that. Maybe you just saw the role of motherhood slightly differently; maybe your mom was an amazing cook when you were a kid, and so you just sort of assumed you would have to be an amazing cook. Maybe your mom, like my mom, had very natural easy deliveries and you had C-sections. Because your experience is different from your childhood expectations, you may be processing motherhood differently.
Maybe it took you a long time to get pregnant. Maybe you had to use outside means like IVF or IUI or some “unnatural” form of assistance to get pregnant. Maybe you adopted a baby. And then maybe because of that you’re feeling guilty, because you spent so much time and effort to get pregnant that you should be enjoying this experience much more. Maybe as an adult, you just thought your life would kind of come to a halt when you had kids and everything is just speeding up even more. Maybe you’re just so confused with everything that I’m saying, and you just don’t even know where to begin.
Make note of just any preconceived notions that you had about motherhood. I know one girl that I talked to once, she said that she assumed that maternity leave would be like a vacation, and straight-faced, she just really thought that it’d be fairly easy.
Another woman thought she’d be able to jump back into work and everything would just be fine. We don’t give ourselves credit for everything that’s happening. Motherhood is a paramount change in your life and thus, requires paramount level of processing and self-compassion.
Facing your expectations and confronting your expectations is the fastest way to making peace in your new life as a mother. Also, be mindful of comparing to others’ fantasy self. As I’ve mentioned before, we often publish our “fantasy self” to the world. Thus, that is who people think we are. Likewise, we compare ourselves to what is out there to the world.
It’s still a fantasy and we need to come to grips with reality. But before we could do that, we need to actually just make note of all those fantasies that we did really have about becoming a mom.