Everyone has some degree of emotional weight on their shoulders. It is not easy to deal with, but it is unfortunately a very common struggle in life, especially for mothers. I wonder if others understand this type of weight a mother carries? What mom's emotional baggage really entails? Some people who aren’t parents may equate this emotional pressure with other stressors in life, job stress, family issues, whatever they may be. But what a mother feels is on a level that is difficult to comprehend, something I learned when I gave birth to my first child at 21.
This emotional weight only sunk in after I had my daughter. Once I started feeling it, I understood exactly what my mom meant when she told me, "welcome to motherhood." I was naïve to think that it would just be more house work having a child, completely neglecting all the emotions and fears that being a mother would bring. When it all of a sudden hit me, I was completely overwhelmed by it to the point where it took up nearly all the faculties in my mind.
It started when my daughter would go to sleep as a newborn. I was always going to check on her and make sure her belly was rising, confirming she was still breathing and still okay. If she slept for too long without waking for a feeding, I would get so nervous that something was wrong. I was so consumed by my fears that I rushed her to the pediatrician at any cough, runny nose or fever. I kept going even though I was reassured every time that my daughter was healthy. I worried about everything. Why is her poop a different color? Why hasn't she pooped in a few days? Is she sick? Why is she crying so much? Oh my God, something must be wrong! Was it something I did?
I now understand that I was overreacting, but I was totally unprepared for this extreme responsibility that I felt. How could no one have told me? How was I supposed to understand? I was also naïve to think that this feeling would lessen as she got older. Nope, not at all. It continues. From babies, to toddlers beginning daycare, these feelings, emotions, and fears do not go away. Are they okay without me? Are they okay socially? Are they having fun? Are they eating their packed lunch? Are they behaving? All these questions constantly live in a mother’s head. And it doesn't end there. Then they're in grade school. Are they going to succeed? Are they going to have friends? What if they get bullied? What if they are the bully? There is always something to worry about. Even to this day with my girls being almost 7 and 9 years old, I am still constantly in an emotional state of worry. It is so hard for me to accept the fact that they are okay and healthy, and that I am not a bad mom.
For most mothers - even my mom - this is literally an ongoing cycle that will always be a struggle. She still worries about me at age 30. When I was struggling with anxiety and depression a few years ago while she was on vacation across the world, she nearly cut her trip short to come help me and was in touch with me and my husband the entire time making sure I was okay. She told me it was hard to enjoy her vacation knowing that her daughter was having a rough time.
Psychology Today states that a mother who worries a lot about her children, her household, family, and so on is worried simply because she cares. But there is nothing simple about these feelings. Mothers feel that if they are not worrying about things that everything will start to unravel. Mothers always want to be there for their children, as well as their significant others when needed. Mothers only want the best for those they love and care about and they feel it is their duty to always make sure everyone around them is happy and successful. They are literally always on guard, even at the expense of their own happiness, and if they aren't, they feel guilty. That is the vicious cycle, they are either worrying or feeling guilty, and it causes a lot of stress.
As hard as it may be, mothers need to remember they have a moral duty to care for their children, but not to worry and ruminate about it constantly. Worrying about loved ones non-stop is only self-defeating and mothers should try to stop strangling themselves with constant worry, which is obviously much easier said than done.
There is a way to live without the stress caused by this emotional weight taking over a mother’s life. She must work on it and accept that she cannot exert control over everything, which is very hard to do but will bring at least some level of peace. Unfortunately, this worry will likely never go away because a mother will always be a mother, no matter how old her children get.
WANT TO READ MORE?
While the emotional weight may never cease, check out one mom's thoughts and feelings on transitions in motherhood the End of an Era - My Last Baby.
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