Motherhood and Self Esteem
Motherhood is a beautiful time where you have given birth or adopted your little one. There is endless advice on how wonderful it is, but for many Moms, there are some dark times. From post partum depression to a ‘change’ or a ‘flux’ in the family and the extended family, Mother’s can feel like their self esteem is in the dumps. We spoke to our blogger of the year, Momma Braga about her thoughts and insights about this subject.
Why do you find so many Mothers have low self-esteem?
Self-esteem is something that many people struggle with even before becoming a mom or even a dad. Sometimes some women and men overcome any self-esteem doubts and others never really do. Also when we think of self-esteem many of us think it has to do with our looks; however, in motherhood it goes a little deeper than just looks.
Motherhood is one of the hardest jobs to do in the world and we often criticize ourselves harshly when it comes to raising our children. This in turn hurts our self-esteem and confidence in our abilities.
We also live in a world where the definition of a “good mother” is still rigid. The expectations on motherhood keeps getting harder to reach with the view that we need to keep it all together at all times. We are also expected to keep all physical evidence of motherhood to a minimum during pregnancy and erasing it all as quickly as possible after birth.
This is a lot to digest, isn’t it?! There are all these expectations on top of caring for the most precious life that you have created. It makes it impossible to achieve.
There is so much messaging out with so much advice on the right and wrong way of parenting but also that there is a more right way of doing it than what some are doing. It can be very exhausting and at worst, it evolves in significant self-doubt and depression.
Of course I can only speak of my personal experiences as I have struggled with my self-esteem during my motherhood journey and I am sure many other moms can relate.
My mothering skills were often judged and this affected my self-esteem where I thought I was not a good mother. In turn, I started setting high expectations for myself and when failed, it would put a damper on my spirits. This was more on the early sets of motherhood and I have slowly learned to not have this affect me as I know in my heart that I am doing the best job for my daughter. Of course I still hear many judgmental comments on how I do certain things in a certain way and I just let that roll of my shoulders as it isn’t worth my mental health for mindsets that feel that we still live in 1953.
When our self-esteem is affected, that is when it affects our mothering. At the end of the day, everyone misses out on the real person; the real you.
Did you experience a change in relationships with family and friends when your daughter was born? ie. Did they speak only about the baby to you?
Rarely I was asked how I was doing or feeling. A few of my relationships did shift and I became just a mom and the person behind the mom seemed to be disappearing in my circle.
But to be honest I never really noticed at first as my husband says that I focus on helping everyone around me that I don’t notice when I am being neglected. I am sure many people can relate to that as we sometimes give so much of us that we don’t notice when it isn’t given back.
Looking back now I do remember that the focus was solely on my child and my “mom ability” was usually challenged until one day I couldn’t anymore and silenced my critics. This took a lot of strength for me to do as my self-esteem was highly affected as I felt I no longer mattered.
What are some ways Mothers can bond with one another to help their mental health?
It starts with us as individuals as we need to break the circle of judging one another which will help many mothers feel better about themselves.
We need to be supportive of one another and offer a safe place to speak. If that means over a coffee at a coffee shop or even in your backyard, it’s a positive start.
We all have been in a situation where we felt bad about ourselves for a mistake we felt that we did in our parenting journey but we shouldn’t feel bad as mistakes happen. Without mistakes, how will we ever learn?!
Let’s empathize with one another as our journey isn’t always the easiest and let us be there when we need each other the most. I know that I sometimes schedule a girl night with one of my best friends were we just talk about everything that is affecting us in life. We have a few tears and laughs and then we feel so much better about ourselves when the day is done. This bond and friendship is what keeps me sane in this journey called motherhood.
Are there any facilities where Mothers can get help? If not, what do you recommend they do when they are feeling depressed?
There are facilities and support groups that can help deal with mental health and depression and it would be best to speak to your family doctor to direct you to the best resources available in your area. There are some recommendations that you can do to help maintain your self-esteem and to avoid feeling depressed. However, please note that these are only suggestions as everyone copes differently.
- Maintain strong relationships. Healthy relationships with your circle such as with your partner, children, friends and family members. These healthy relationships will develop your self-esteem in a positive way.
- Personal development. We have all been there where we as a mom comes last. However, booking some ‘me time’ is very important in maintaining a positive self-esteem. Therefore, book yourself time to do something that you love. For me, it’s my writing or watching one of my favorite TV shows on my own.
- Household Planning. When a household is busy with a lot happening then it is best to create a shared plan with everyone in the household. Meaning sharing the responsibilities. This can help create a smooth-running household which will help you feel great about yourself.
- Develop Self-Worth. Whether you are a working or a stay-at-home mom, it is easy to begin to feel as though you have little significance (been there!). You may wonder if you are really making a difference. Developing a sense of significance is something that you will need to continually work on. Get involved in an area that you are passionate about. Your involvement may be simple or it may be extensive, but being involved in something that changes lives will influence how you feel about yourself. Believe me, we all are very worthy!
- Follow your Dreams. Dreams have the power to change the world. As moms, we are often so busy looking after the needs of those around us that we tend to see our dreams as just dreams. Take time to see how you can make those dreams into a reality. It make take some time to achieve but it is worth a try. Remember, we learn from failure not from success.
- Take time for Fun and Laughter. There is always room and time for fun and laughter! Your family will beam as you take time to play and laugh with them (regardless of their ages). “Laughter, like love, has power to survive the worst things life has to offer. And to do it with style.” – Jim Butcher
I have started to do this myself and it is slowly helping me repair self-esteem lost and damaged. It takes time but I know I will get there.