Have you ever seen those commercials where women try to define motherhood in one word?
Hugs. Love. Emotion. Roller-coaster.
When I was pregnant with my baby, those commercials made me tear up. Today, as the mother of a 4-year-old, they make me throw up.
Vomit, that’s a good word. Exhaustion. Frustration. Self-doubt.
These are much better words to describe what it feels like to parent actual human beings who do things like never sleep, scream for no reason, and break your stuff.
I mean, yes, we love our kids, and sometimes we even like them, but did anyone tell you ahead of time how hard this gig was going to be? Of course not — because then no one would do it.
It’s hard to feel #grateful when you haven’t slept more than three consecutive hours in two weeks, and when you aren’t sure which bodily fluid is currently in your hair.
You want to be mindful, but every time you try to concentrate on being in the moment with your beautiful child, that lovely, lovely baby needs a diaper change.
And once that lovely new baby glow wears off and your partner heads back to work, you’re left alone for hours every day with a very small, very demanding human who hasn’t really learned to communicate his needs effectively.
What’s a mama to do?
Find a sisterhood.
We were never meant to parent our children alone. There’s a reason they say “It takes a village,” and it’s not only about the children. It’s about you, too. You need your amazing women around you to lift you up. To help you find the joy in motherhood. To gently tell you that your shirt may be on inside out.
Seriously, though, having a group of other moms you can rely on to tell it like it is, spit-up and all — this is mandatory. You need a safe place where you can ask questions and get non-judgemental answers. You need friends who understand how exciting it is to watch your baby’s eyelashes unfurl, one by one.
You need girls who get it when you have to put your baby down because you really need to pee alone, and girls who get it when you just take your baby to the bathroom with you because you can’t bear to be apart.
Being MINDFUL isn’t about being zen all the time – I think that’s IMPOSSIBLE unless you’re a child-free monk in Tibet!
It’s time to redefine mindfulness for the modern mama. Let’s keep it real as we challenge ourselves to grow our hearts every day.
Also, being a Tiger Mum is so misunderstood. You can embrace the Tiger Mum inside you — the woman who fights fiercely for her child, encouraging independence and strength, from a place of love and understanding, completely grounded in the moment.
You CAN be a mindful mama AND raise a tiger!
During pregnancy, we strive to give our babies the best possible start, which is why I teach mamas how to Birth Like A Boss. We recognize that self-care matters, because caring for ourselves by extension helps baby.
But then, baby is born, and suddenly, our own needs cease to matter. What do the nurses call you in the delivery room? What does the pediatrician call you? Mum.
Hello, identity crisis!
Well, my darling, you are a mum, but you are also still a woman, and your baby will do as you do, not as you say.
So if you tell your son to respect women while modeling that your own needs are secondary to his, guess what he’ll learn? If you tell you daughter that girls can do anything, but you never let yourself go for your dreams, what do you think will happen?
Guess what? Motherhood is hard. It’s a challenge. It’s challenging us to be the best possible versions of ourselves so that we can lead the way for our children.
But guess what else? You can rise to that challenge, and it’s a lot easier when you have a whole army of women alongside you.
Shout out this affirmation loud and proud: “I CAN be a mindful mama AND raise a tiger!”
You were never meant to do this alone. So find your sisterhood, stop competing and comparing, and start living your dream life.
Lynn JT is a hypnobirthing practitioner, chartered physiotherapist and maternal mental health coach. With a unique professional background in mind-body healthcare, Lynn helps women all over the world to give birth without fear or severe pain, and continues her care with parenting support.
She’s the founder of the online pregnancy school, Achieve The Birth You Want, that includes digital hypnobirthing classes and unique coaching resources like Dance My Pain Away, the incredible weekly support group/exercise experience/therapy session/stand-up show that’s helping women rock this motherhood gig. Check it out here.
Lynn is also the co-founder of PerinatalMentalHealth.co.uk, which runs an international programme (accredited by the Royal College of Midwives) teaching medical teams how to improve maternity services for the people who matter most: you and your baby. Lynn has been featured in Midwives Now Magazine and has presented at Parent2Be Conference and at the Education Conference of the Royal College of Midwives.
Lynn Jackson-Taylor, BSc(Hons), BA(Hons), DipHB(KGH), Cert(APPI), MCSP, HCPC, AMRCM