How to be a good mom
Mothers are not born but become. And not always on the child’s birthday. Because maternal instinct does not exist. And it takes time for a woman to find and acknowledge her mother. Some women take years to do this. Others need a lifetime to recognize themselves as good enough mothers. In this article, I want to tell you what it takes to become and remain a mother in the modern world.
When people lived in large families, it was easier with this – there was female continuity. Women in the family gave birth, and the older girls looked at their mothers and aunts and learned from them motherhood. And when the younger daughters were growing up, they saw the motherhood of the older sisters. Over time, the structure of the family began to change, losing that very continuity. And the list of obligations to a woman-mother, on the contrary, grew, filled up, became more and more sophisticated.
Today a mother-woman should work and earn good money, and be athletic, and look good, and give birth easily (“because before, after all, they gave birth in the field, and nothing”), and do everything in time, be soft/kind/loving, be in the kitchen a chef, in bed a passionate mistress, and in a nursery Mary Poppins, Ushinsky and the Mother of God at the same time. And she also has no right to be angry / cry/want / live her life/scream, but she must take care of herself because it is she, the woman, who is responsible for the atmosphere in the house.
I did not come up with all these obligations, they are brought to me for consultations by my clients aged 25 to 60+. And for some reason, a woman must cope with everything herself. I used to think so myself. Now (thanks to years of personal therapy) I don’t think, but I know something completely different about motherhood.
Where can I get the parent resource?
For example, real resources for a mother are not a hot bubble bath or a cake (by the way, it often becomes a resource substitute).
For me and many of my clients, the real resource is the support of another person, usually another woman.
Let me give you an example. When my first child was born, I was a “baby” and was going to swaddle the baby (because this is a proven environmentally friendly way for centuries). A close relative of mine came to help me. She had three children, even more grandchildren, and experience and knowledge that I did not have.
And now – the night. My tiny daughter woke up. Hands out (as it turned out later, she pulled these hands out after swaddling, because she did not like being swaddled).
A relative entered the room, took the child, and began to swaddle.
“Teach me,” I said. – Let me swaddle, and you look and tell me.
– Learn from toys, – flew back to me.
The next morning I went to the store and bought some clothes. And since then, the girl did not swaddle anymore. And the relative left. Because I expected other support from her. And “learn from toys” is not support for me.
Every time I ask myself questions: “Am I a bad mother or have the right to be good enough?”, “What does it take to become a good enough mother?”
Recently formulated. Quite briefly and concisely:
Supporting another woman, ideally a mother, but more often a psychotherapist, other older women in the environment;
Self-awareness (what I am myself – what advantages and limitations I have, what kind of mother I am), how I differ from my mother.
The skill not to compare yourself with “happy moms on Instagram” / not with ideal images from psychological books, films, articles on the Internet, etc.
There is an assumption that it is the mother who contains (read – supports emotionally, intellectually) her daughter, who became a mother. I first heard this from my woman therapist. And it took a long time to get used to this fact.
Well, that is, all worries about “I’m a bad mother” / “I cannot do it” / “I cannot cope” with a young mother is ideally discussed by her mother (and not minor children, and not always the husband or father of the child, although he also a participant in this process, but now not about him), a wise and experienced woman who was in motherhood, knows a lot and can.
A wise woman permits her daughter to be better than her (gives her the first time to win the competition from a woman). She supports her daughter in her feelings, inspires.
And it’s lucky if this mother is emotionally mature. Then there is a chance that the motherhood of her daughter will bring pleasure (whatever you say, but it is in living, and not in “correct and ideal” motherhood).
Another indisputable fact: no matter what our mothers are, they are the first to teach us to be a woman and a mother. Not by word, but by example.
And we, without realizing it, learn from them non-verbally, write off behavioral patterns. Even if we don’t want to be like them, we already learned a lot in early childhood.
It was one of the most painful places in my life and my psychotherapy when I began to discover my resemblance to my mother, from whom I had been running and hiding for so long.
This is always one of the most exciting places for me when working with clients.
Why is the support of another woman important?
Because if you don’t trust yourself, then no matter how hard the affirmation “I am a good enough mother” will not work.
The initiation into “good enough mothers” is often impossible to get through in one. We need a witness, a man, Another woman who sees you as a “good enough mother.” She is needed to say that it is normal to worry / fear / get angry / cry. It is also normal not to cope with everything in this life.
And for this, I bow deeply to my female psychotherapists. All my colleagues from the Gestalt community are wonderful women and mothers, whom I never tire of thanking for their support and experience, for imperfect, living motherhood. I never tire of thanking my older friends for the wisdom and generosity with which they share their knowledge of life.
By the way, you cannot call it supportive phrases “In your years, I still worked in three jobs and no one helped me”, “I had no such problems”, etc., when a crying young mother sits in front of you, who cannot cope. I don’t go for such support anymore, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.
Why investigate and be aware of yourself?
Because thinking and feel allow us to assume that not all mothers have the same starting conditions. Starting with temperament, and ending with psychological characteristics.
Well, it’s true, I knew a choleric woman who was capable of leading a project, playing with children, and cooking dinner. And all this in one day.
I understand about myself: I am not her. I admire her, but I can’t, and I don’t want to be like her. Me, a melancholic, is only enough for one thing at a time, and for all this in turn. And that’s okay. The most normal activities will not be to remake the melancholic into a choleric but to master yourself and your characteristics.
Why do you need the skill not to compare yourself with Instagram / book / psychological examples?
Then, we don’t know what happens in families behind closed doors and off cameras. It is difficult to know at what cost, by what efforts any parental positive is given.
And I also know that comparing with another person will always (hear? Always!) It Will, is not in my favor. Because in beautiful stories it is not customary to talk about a kilometer of doubts, about months of depression, about wasted energy, and minutes of despair.
Do you know how I know this? From experience (I am already an experienced, wise woman).
I sometimes ask my clients to write a laudatory ode to myself.
And do you know what’s going on? Many cannot write it, faced with terrible resistance and self-depreciation. Those who still manage to overcome it, while writing the ode, experience many feelings and are angry at me, at the nasty psychologist who distributes such “stupid tasks”.
But then they wrote an ode, but it turns out to be even harder to read the eulogy out loud. And if someone manages to do it, then these people always cry. Because only they know at what cost this success was given to them. The author of this exercise, wrote the truth. Why I was crying myself.
How to stop comparing yourself to others?
As my colleague, Gestalt therapist Polina Gaverdovskaya writes, master yourself. For this, they go to the gestalt therapist.
In therapy, sometimes it is possible to do the impossible – to believe what psychotherapist Alla Dalit writes about: “A good enough mother is one who is a little better than her own”.
How do I know this? Based on our own and customer experience.
You can enjoy motherhood. The main thing is that it is alive, and not full of obligations and evaluations. Alive does not mean easy, simple. In life, different things happen. And this miscellaneous can be not only difficult but passionately interesting.