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Experiencing the Ups and Downs of Motherhood

A few of the key parts to feeling capable as a mother.

Taryn Elliott/Pexels
Source: Taryn Elliott/Pexels

As a mother, joys are in abundance. And while sacrifice is no doubt a part of the process, appreciation of these joys and gain is critical. Seeing your baby smile at you for the first time (while meaning it), stare at you with their precious eyes, laugh with you, share their joys and achievements and more in different stages of life are parts of motherhood that are overwhelmingly nourishing. Experiencing—and appreciating—these joys make it easier to let the downs slide, which can bolster feelings of capability in motherhood.

Indeed, the sacrifices you make and the concerns you have for your children can make you forget the joys of being a mother, as motherhood is a challenge for any woman. However, leaving sacrifices aside, the love, appreciation, and amazement in motherhood, if it is possible to focus on, can make the joys of being a mother be felt. In many parts of the world, such a role played by mothers is even more difficult. The common thread held by mothers is that their role is both challenging and rewarding, at any given time and even, at times, both simultaneously. Having someone who understands your feelings—whether they be your own mother, a spouse, or other—can help lighten the load, if you are so lucky.

Here are four key parts to feeling capable as a mother, in times you'd want to be reminded:

1. Appreciate the ups—the gains—from motherhood. Let the downs slide, if possible.
The first time experiencing being a new mother is like no other challenge. It can be particularly challenging if as a mother, you forget all that you’re gaining. These include joys of love, tenderness, gratefulness, abundance, satisfaction, and emotional nourishment. When feeling like there’s "no escape," it is important to acknowledge that your life has changed. Recall that your sacrifice brings with it the noble title of "mother,” and that you have so much you have gained. Focusing on this is key to forgetting the sacrifice as mothers you may constantly feel like you’re making.

2. Practice self-care.
The art of self-care is best practiced when establishing an awareness of our physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being. As mothers, there are a range of emotions felt and well-being may be overlooked. Remember, however, you are still human. Taking care of yourself by becoming even more aware of your emotions is key to feeling capable and happy. Remember to take naps, eat well, and get the sleep you are able to. Try and exercise by walking outdoors or stretching at home. Self-care is an art; it requires focus, so try and remember to focus on yourself in order to help you feel capable in the role.

3. Build and use a support system (including at least one person to share your concerns with).
If you are lucky to have a supportive spouse, make sure to communicate your concerns to them or other support that looks out for your well-being. Knowing someone has your back can do so much good for your mental, emotional, physical, and social well-being. Keep using your supports to strengthen your own confidence as needed. Practically, the more "layers" of support for childcare you have set up will help in the event of an illness or emergency. Do not feel shy about asking trusted grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members who can help provide relief for times when you need to achieve the other items on this list.

4. Try to do some of the other things you love.
If possible, try to do some of the other things you love, including interests you had before becoming a mother. Things like baking, dancing, walking outdoors, running, reading, volunteering, or other such interests could be great ways to feel like you’re still invested in yourself while being a mom. You may need to schedule or block time for this in your busy week. It can be particularly challenging to maintain such activities and interests, so feel free to remember that you’re trying your best and that you have gained so much!

Motherhood can be rewarding and challenging and at times exhausting. Certainly, no one explains how difficult the journey can be, so, indeed, experiencing the ups and downs of motherhood inevitably happens for all moms. Remembering to appreciate the gains of motherhood, namely all the wonderful memories and more, is a big part of feeling capable and nourished as a mother. Using self-care, a support system, and trying to do other things you love can make your experiences easier and more satisfying. Go, moms! True superheroes at heart.

More from Najma Khorrami, M.P.H., and Homa K. Ahmadzia, M.D., M.P.H.
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