While all women wish to be good mothers, most look back on their mothering and wish they could have done many things differently.
Susan Maushart, author of “The Mask of Motherhood”, writes about mothers, “all of us are making it up as we go along, and wishing we knew better”.
Mothering is tough whatever way you look at it. It is challenging, tiring, confusing and uncertain. It is relentless. Our children are the most meaningful and rewarding parts of our lives and everything in between. We love our kids, and yet sometimes they drive us to distraction, and, for a minute or two, we even experience hateful feelings, but we can’t admit this. We hide from and worry about these shameful and secret moments and feelings. They are scary, so we calm ourselves by giving them another name and quarantining them from our loving feelings as if they might contaminate us and our children. However, all of our feelings are valuable, and momentary hating feelings are a key to sparking our love.
We are hounded by myths of good mothering, from within ourselves and from others on the outside, myths of being a”supermum”, which is an impossible and senseless goal.
The twenty-five years I have invested in researching and writing about women’s experiences of infertility and their feelings of maternal ambivalence, together with what I have learnt from my own and other’s personal mothering experiences, has returned two themes: honestly naming the truths of everyday mothering and forging a place to hold all feelings together without censoring. This is embracing ambivalence.
We need to disrupt the stereotypical expectations of mothering and replace them with a more productive option. By opening this conversation and providing a platform for mothers to gain the insight and the tools they need to replace their unhelpful maternal notions I will provide a productive inner dialogue. This will begins to question traditional beliefs about mothering and to recognise failures as opportunities for learning, growth and change.
Join me as we discover and embrace new truths about mothering.
My new book, ‘The Maternal Experience’, explores maternal ambivalence, and is available now.