Are You “Motherwhelmed”? By Maureen Eich VanWalleghan
“Being a patient, involved and understanding mother who’s also conscious and intentional, while simultaneously maintaining a strong sense of self, pursuing your passions, following your dreams, fostering intimate relationships, creating community, excelling in your work (for pay), sticking to a budget, cultivating a rich home life, keeping fit, volunteering at their school, cooking from scratch, supporting local farmers, saving the seas (in some small way!), raising respectful, well-adjusted kids and meditating every morning — though presented to us as possible – is really just madness in the making.”
So says Beth Berry under her coaching tab at her blog Revolution From Home. THANK YOU Ms. Barry for spelling out the craziness and enormity of mothering I feel most days!!! And really the madness of a mothering paradigm we live with and in today. “Motherwhelmed” is a concept that Barry created, defines and discusses that directly embodies her quote above.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning—when I couldn’t sleep and thought I might do my blog post for Motherhood Later—I decided instead to just zone out on Facebook.
This week is not over yet and by Wednesday night I felt exhausted physically and emotionally. There was a death in my family last week; I have been trying to finish materials for a business venture that I’m getting ready to put out into the world; I have been preparing tax documents; sending out job applications for myself and my husband (who is in ND working, working, working); and I have been trying to get ready for a trip to see family for a birthday and the holiday.
At 3:30am my mind was trapped in the spiral of ever crushing details that I still needed to complete; and how I had been hard on my daughter in the packing process for the upcoming trip. She had wanted me to be with her in the room as she packed, which she really didn’t need has she has been packing for herself since she was five years old. She needed my attention for some reason I couldn’t understand at the moment and I was so busy with needing to attend to other details I just couldn’t give her any time in the way she wanted. Lying awake I felt like a bad mom. Beyond the repetition of dancing details, my mind kept imagining different scenarios about how I could have handled the evening differently.
As rule if I have been awake an hour I will make myself get up and read. Some times print magazines and some times digital media, particularly articles friends have posted. It had definitely been more than an hour of tossing and turning. Cruising Facebook can be like watching TV except you once knew everyone. Anyway the headline: 17 Modern Myths That Are Making Motherhood Miserable came up in my FB feed. After scrolling a bit I decided that I would finish off with that piece before going back to bed for a bit more sleep before the day started.
The post is excellent. Please read it as a form of self-care. Berry’s concept of “Motherwhelmed” is so on target. How amazing is she? What a great word. And her observations from her personal experience touched me deeply. After I finished that piece I decided to peruse her site and checked out her coaching tab. Her site in general is very upbeat, positive and inspiring. The opening quote for this post is right at the beginning of her coaching section. I read that opening paragraph and started crying really intensely. There it was in black and white (or glowing iPhone light) everything I was trying to do (which she so eloquently articulated) and that I feel I’m not quite accomplishing. I ended up going back to bed with a profound sense of sadness.
But I woke up later that morning on Thursday and felt relief. The bar is set high and regularly I do many of things she describes, but given the list I have decided to relax about the snail’s pace in which I move. And I have given myself permission to edit and adjust that gigantic list. Every item cannot be a priority everyday. I do not have to beat myself up about my imperfections as a parent, activist, artists, employee, entrepreneur, etc., etc. etc.
I am doing a pretty good job on many fronts. AND SO ARE YOU…
P.S. Beth Berry has a book coming out. Keep reading my posts because I will let folks know when it arrives. I think we all could use her book.