The unsaid #2: Motherhood and the confidence vacuum
Hands up if your confidence has taken a knock since you became a mum…
They say hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Becoming a mother has given my life a beautiful purpose. It has brought me more joy and gratitude than I could ever have imagined I’d experience. My son is my life’s single greatest triumph.
He is also the single biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, and I’ve found that’s not an easy thing to admit.
What I’m trying to do with this blog is to help and encourage mums to summon the strength to put themselves first so they can feel better, fitter and stronger. And I believe that a huge part of that is to bring to the surface all the things that all or most of us think and feel but find it hard to say for fear of being judged.
What I’ve realised though is that when I’ve found a way to say those unsaid things about what it means to be a mum, it doesn’t lead to judgment. All it leads to is loads of understanding and knowing nods from other mums who’ve been there and done that.
So why are we so afraid of being judged when we’re all in the same boat, doing the best we can?
I’m now two years in to this mummy lark, and the impact all this has had on my sense of self is only just dawning on me.
When I look back now, it’s bleeding obvious.
From what I’ve learned talking to lots of mamas, the erosion of our confidence is a common thread that ties us all together.
We’ve had to shift from having a decent degree of control over various areas of our lives…to being controlled by the needs of our precious little people.
We’ve had to shift from being competent working girls who knew what we were doing…to winging it all the time because there’s no training for parenting – and feeling like we get it wrong A LOT because we don’t get parenting appraisals.
We’ve had to shift from sleeping as much as we needed…to meeting the 24/7 demands of our dependent children.
And we’ve had to shift from basking in the glory of time that was ours to do with what we pleased…to dedicating all our time to meeting our babies’ needs.
Before I had my son, I had no idea that this happened to mums. Not a single one of my friends who had babies before I did had given me the slightest inkling that they were feeling this way. I was clueless.
It took me a long time to recognise that the reason I feel so overwhelmed by things I consider to be mundane was because somehow, when my baby left my body, so did a lot of the self-esteem, confidence and worthiness I’d worked damn hard to build.
And that’s why I’ve found it so tough to do many things since. I used to love working out five or six times a week and feeling super fit. Now I feel like a total clutz…it’s as if everything I know about working out has literally dropped out of my sleep-deprived brain.
I used to sing in a band, and haven’t done since I was pregnant. I miss it terribly and keep saying that I must get back to it. But a lack of confidence has held me back from doing something I LOVE. I used to feel confident that I was valuable and did a good job at work, and now I question my abilities constantly.
If we could tackle this epidemic of a loss of confidence in mums, I’m convinced we would all find it easier to make ourselves a priority. After all, if we’re not firing on all cylinders, the entire household suffers.
I reckon if we could all find the strength to talk to other mums about these unsaid things and admit how we feel about the magnitude of the task of being a parent, the areas of our lives we wish were better might just start to fall into place. Who better to help us than our own?
I don’t have the solution yet. I’m working on it.
But realising all of this has created quite a powerful shift in my mind and I’m writing all of this down in the hope that it might strike a chord with some of you lovely girls and empower you to take back some more control in your own lives, whether that’s getting back the confidence to work out, reassuring yourself that you are one hell of a mother, that you’re also brilliant at your other job (if you have one) or getting back to hobbies you loved before.
We are all worth it girls.