By Alexis Storms Aiger, LPC
Becoming a mother is the most wonderful, most important thing to happen to so many of us. We were once concerned with our careers, who we would hang out with Friday night, where we’d vacation. Then, as soon as that little bundle is placed in our arms, all of that fades away. Our heart swells with a love so fierce that the focus of our world narrows to a singular entity. All that we can see is that tiny, adorable human. They are all that matters.
This narrowing of focus makes complete sense. We are biologically programmed to have this be the case. After all, our newborn child is completely and entirely dependent upon us for life. We have to be enamored with our child and engulfed in their needs–it ensures the survival of our species. Societal expectations also support this narrowing of focus. Although we, as women, have come a long way in terms of equality in comparison to past decades, it is still rather widely expected that a mother will be the primary caregiver for her children. We incorporate these expectations into our lives, whether we realize it or not. We have an idea that being a “good mom” means doing everything for our children. We give up our Friday night social hours, vacations with our significant other, maybe even our careers. Our Fridays become play dates, our daily life becomes diapers and feedings, and our idea of a vacation is a full night of sleep. We believe, wholeheartedly, that our purpose in life is being a Mom. This is dangerous.
It’s dangerous because when we wrap our entire worth up in motherhood, we feel an immense amount of guilt when we find that this life isn’t as fulfilling as we think it “should” be. You see, while you can narrow your focus onto your child in the beginning of their life and potentially not experience negative consequences, it’s only a matter of time until you do.
When someone asks you what you do for fun, you find yourself answering, “Play dates,” or “The Children Museum.” This isn’t what you do for fun. This is what you do for your child to have fun. You have no idea what you do for fun, because you don’t do anything for YOU. It’s all about your child. This leads to your existence being rather lonely. Empty.
We need emotional connection with others, and the bond between mother and child alone does not satisfy this need. When your entire life revolves around for your child for months, and then years, you lose your own sense of self. You lose who you are, other than “Mom.” You end up disconnected from yourself, your friends, and maybe even your partner. You end up isolated. Even though you aren’t alone (after all, your child is ALWAYS with you), you are lonely. Research shows that loneliness is associated with poorer physical health, increased stress, and increased depression. When you’re lonely, when your physical health is suffering, when your stress is increasing, and when your mood is dropping, you cannot be the mother you truly want to be for your child.
Even if you manage to stave off the loneliness, you’re sending a disastrous message to your child. You are your child’s most important role model. By focusing solely on them, you are sending the message that caring for oneself is unimportant–that one “should” put everything and everyone else above themselves. Your child will learn this. Your child will mimic this. Do you want your child to lose themselves in parenthood? I’ll go out on a limb and say that your answer is no.
So what can you do?
- Get back in touch with your personal values. What is important to YOU? Sure, family might be listed as one of your top priorities, but what else? What is it that you’re really after in life, that makes your heart sing? Pay attention to those things that you value just for YOU.
- Journal. Get a pretty notebook and start writing. Ask yourself what is really important to YOU. If you didn’t have to worry about time or money, what would you be doing? What do you absolutely love doing? Or, if you can’t remember the last time you actually had fun, what things did you used to love doing? When you were a kid, what kind of life did you dream of having as an adult? Your past chapters have already been written, but you are the author of your story. What do you want the next chapters of your book to say? Write it out!
- Visualize. Once you have an idea of what you want your future to look like, what is truly important to YOU, focus on it. What you focus on, you create. Imagine yourself living that life. What will your future self be doing with her days? Most importantly, how will your future self feel? Get inside her head, her heart, and her soul. Notice how she shows up in life and then take a step back into your current self and ask, “Where am I not meeting that vision?” Those are the places to focus in order to create change.
- Make time for YOU. We all have the same 24 hours in our day, yet I hear women say again and again that they “don’t have time” to prioritize themselves. I call B.S. Other women manage to be great moms, manage a household, work outside the home, and still make time for themselves. It’s not a matter of having the time. It’s a matter of making the time and prioritizing you. Let go of the stuff that is less important. Who really cares if your house is spotless all the time or if you make a home cooked meal instead of picking up takeout every once in a while? Release the idea of perfection and replace that energy with more focus on your own needs.
- Get help. Team up with other women to help hold each other accountable to prioritizing yourselves. A strong tribe of women around you can help raise you up and will raise up the collective whole, as well. If you don’t have women in your life who want to create their own space and celebrate your success, it’s time to start finding them. Branch out in person, find groups online, enlist the help of a life coach. Whatever you need to do to increase your support, clarify your vision, and start reconnecting with YOU, do it. You deserve it!
About Alexis Storms Aiger, LPC: Alexis is a Licensed Professional Counselor who decided to take her knowledge and expertise in human behavior, mindset, and self-discovery out of the insurance-regulated mental health field, and into the broader arena of Life Coaching. Alexis is a mom of 2 a teenagers and experienced her own battle with losing herself to motherhood. She used her education and experience to learn to reconnect with her authentic self, accept herself, and a build a life she truly loves. Now, she helps other women do the same. As a Women’s Empowerment Life Coach, Alexis helps women who are sick and tired of trying to meet everyone else’s expectations, reconnect with their authentic selves, gain confidence, and start living life out loud.
Follow Alexis on Facebook at www.facebook.com/alexisaigerpage
Or Instagram at www.instagram.com/alexis.storms
Email at Alexis@AlexisStorms.com
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