The Challenges of Motherhood - Gina Waterfield
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The Challenges of Motherhood

A few days ago, I saw a post on Facebook from a friend about something worrisome happening with her little girl. In a private message I let her know I was available to speak with her. She said she wanted to, and we had a great conversation. Afterward, I wondered what made me feel compelled to reach out to her. I questioned why I would send her a message out of the blue since we don’t really know each other that well. I realized that I care. I care about women in need. I care about mothers. I care because I’m a mom too. A much older mom, now, with grown children and several grandchildren.

My life has changed dramatically since the days of raising a large family, but I still respond emotionally when I hear a child cry out “Mommy” in any setting. The sound of children playing outside my window still makes me feel a sense of contentment, but always alert! Motherhood really changes us. It adds an element of sensory awareness that is unlike that of any other role. Motherhood is hard. I mean really hard. It’s a job no one else can truly understand, unless they’ve done it.

Raising children requires utter emotional devotion and absolute responsibility. Then, we are expected to outgrow it, slough it off, and leave it behind as our children move out and move on. Most of us cannot do this.  It just doesn’t happen that way. We feed our kids physically and emotionally, we watch them fall, fail, and get hurt. We encourage them to get back up, and we watch them heal. Of course, eventually they do leave the nest. Sometimes it’s an easy transition for all involved, other times it is under duress. I’ve personally experienced both scenarios. All of it leaves strong memories and sometimes scars.

Many times, I’ve wished I could go back and change things for the better. But then I wonder if things weren’t just supposed to unfold the way they did. This awareness about motherhood has made me realize how much this responsibility can linger for some of us. It can still cause us pain and distress. It can cast a shadow on our current life. It can drain our energy, the energy we need to live today, right now.

What I’ve come to realize is this: at some point we each need to learn to mother our self. We need to give ourselves the love and dedication we gave our children. We need to deal with our own falling, failing and hurting. As I was talking about this with a friend, we laughingly coined the phrase PMSD – Post Motherhood Stress Disorder. The stress of motherhood can stay with us. Mothers cringe as they watch a child doing something that looks remotely dangerous. We become either numb to noise and chaos, or hypersensitive to loud sounds. If we see a child who looks scared, we either want to scoop them up for protection or tell them they’ll be fine. I’ve learned over the years that children, and all people, need love and compassion. That’s what we all deserve.

At some point, we need to accept the fact that while we love fiercely and infinitely, some relationships will change, with our children, with partners, with family, and even with ourselves. There will be times when it is important to let go, to heal and to renew our purpose for life. I realize that I am doing that.  I’m helping women heal, renew and gain purpose, particularly women who are mothers.

The process of letting go of old emotional responses and behavior patterns isn’t easy, but it is necessary and healthy. It’s almost impossible to do this alone. So, with a twinkle in me eye, I realize I’m helping treat PMSD. And the results make me glad that I’m doing what I do. I am grateful that I was a mother and that I still am. But, I’m a mother focused on today, full of joy and a sense of accomplishment. It’s a good place to get to. It’s a good place to be.

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