Some days are much harder than others. Some days feel exactly the same as the day before, like groundhog day. Motherhood is a mixture of indescribable wonders and utter exhaustion, we all know it, there’s no need for me to reiterate what every mother before me has written, or what every mother is thinking - it’s tough.
I have days where I want to scream and cry, and I often do.
I have days where I’m so tired, my eyes are blood shot and stinging and the thought of physically getting out of my pyjamas seems so overwhelming!
We all have days like that, but it’s not a competition to see who’s day has been harder, or who has managed to fill their time with the most amount of chores or errands.
As mothers we need to stop comparing ourselves and our children to everyone else. For goodness sake, aren’t we tired of the comparison trap? As women it seems we can’t escape it! I feel as if we are ingrained to compete with one another, but for what or who’s benefit?
I’m a mother, with one arm. I can tell you right now that nothing has been more physically and emotionally challenging for me than having a child. But that certainly does not mean my motherhood journey is more difficult than any other mother’s.
We all face challenges, and those challenges are relevant to us in that moment.
When my daughter was born I was overcome with anxiety, and for the first time ever I found myself looking at other mums wishing that I had two arms … thinking it would make me a better mother.
My whole life I’ve managed to push boundaries and break down barriers, I represented Australia for 7 years in the sport of swimming and during that time I pushed my body to every possible physical extreme, but when I became a mother I started questioning myself … How would I bath her, how would I hold her while breastfeeding, how would I change her and dress her?
I had never felt so helpless and alone. I was terrified.
I looked at other new mums and thought you have nothing to complain about! When they did complain, I would find myself becoming angry, wanting them to walk a day in my shoes as I struggled get my daughter in and out of the car, not to mention how I struggled to assemble the pram.
The first 11 weeks were extremely difficult for me, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. My daughter has never slept through the night (not even now, and she is 15 months old!) Getting used to the sleep deprivation was torture (but again not need to elaborate, because we all know what that’s like!) I had no family support, I was living in Perth at the time and my family live in NSW and my husband’s family all live overseas. I felt isolated.
When my daughter was 11 weeks old we travelled to the UK for Christmas. It was during this trip that I realised just how capable I was and that motherhood isn’t the same journey for every woman. A lady stopped me as I was walking up and down the aisle with my daughter, and she told me that I was a ‘wonderful mother’.
I’d never met her before, and I have no idea why, but hearing those words in that moment, I felt validated. Sometimes hearing positive words from a stranger can make us feel so empowered. And from that moment on, I thought, hell yeah – I’ve got this under control!
In the same row as we were seated another mother was travelling on her own with her 10 month old, as she struggled to eat her meal, I switched places with my husband so that I could feed her while she cuddled her daughter as she slept. We didn’t say much to each other, there was no need.
Our struggles are personal, they may be different, but nevertheless they are struggles, and no struggle is more significant than another.
When we compete or compare ourselves with one another in our everyday life as mothers, we only doing ourselves an injustice, because when we compare ourselves to one another we objectify ourselves, and when we objectify ourselves we reduce ourselves to things, rather than people.
Since becoming a mother I have witnessed the harsh reality of women wanting to prove to each other that ‘they can do it better.’
We are all doing the best we can with the resources available to us.
Some days I don’t accomplish much, but that’s OK because other days I accomplish a lot, and I remind myself that “I’ve got this.”
I’ve even flown back to the UK (by myself!) when my daughter was 8 months old. Talk about struggle. I am so proud of myself for getting through that flight… just imagine if you will, an 8 month old teething baby on a jammed pack flight, now imagine trying to go to the bathroom while holding her, eating while trying to hold her as she tried to literally jump out of my arms (I’ll forever be reminding my husband of the flight he wasn’t on!)
The point is, we all face challenges, some bigger than others. Most of us can overcome whatever is thrown own way. You might need to adjust your actions or your thinking, but as long as you find your own way of doing things, you’ll be fine.
I know that as my daughter gets older I will face tougher challenges, for example when she wants me to plait her hair (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that) or when she is teased at school because her mum looks different.
I know these times will be hard for me, but also for her. As her mum, all I can do is show her through my own actions, that I’m doing the best that I can.
I need to empower her, to believe in herself and her abilities. That’s only possible if I am demonstrating it to her every day. I don’t want her to grow up feeling as though life is a competition.
As mothers we have enormous responsibility to our children, we want them to be the best version of themselves. And that will only happen if they see us being the best version of ourselves.