Motherhood: what I learnt when I became a mother

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Motherhood: what I learnt when I became a mother

My initiation into mothering was at the tender age of 22 with giving birth to my first son. I continued in this ‘field of work’, giving birth to another six babies, but at 52, realised my youngest child no longer needed intense mothering. So perhaps some might think this would make me somewhat of an ‘expert’ or maybe a ‘consultant in the field’! Instead, giving birth to so many babies has been a project that’s been one big continuous learning experience for me ...

9 lessons that did NOT serve me in motherhood ...

  • Kids' needs come before my own (needs)
  • Breastfeeding is best, and breasts are only for food
  • Sleeping is optional
  • You eat last and you eat fast
  • Outdoing other mums in having a "good baby and well behaved" is a must
  • Don't ask for help as it’s a Mum’s job to care for kids
  • Be a yummy mummy
  • Juggle paid work and housework
  • Make sure I protect them from all the ‘nasties’ in life.

This list could be much longer but I think you get the drift that my approach to mothering was somewhat based, as it is for many other mothers, on martyrdom and self-sacrifice, should’s and ought to’s… things I had learned from my own experience of being mothered.

The ‘mothering world' ...

Like anything done out of a ‘should do’ or ‘ought to’, feelings of guilt, failure and resentment are endemic in the ‘mothering world’, as verified by a quick google search, with pages on:

  • The Pros & Cons of Mother Guilt
  • 5 Mother Guilt Cures
  • How To Deal With Mother Guilt

In my case, I haven't felt too many ‘pros’ of mothering guilt, and the flipside for me was always ‘to try harder’ from the same self-sacrificing position – which always just led me back towards having the same soul-destroying feelings of never feeling good or perfect enough and berating myself for never getting it right.

And I’ve reflected – in our position as mothers, what have we truly learnt from our own experiences of being mothered, and could we say that this (way) has really truly served our children?

After countless errors, many tears and some amazing moments, I’ve learned some great things that were certainly NOT present when I first started out in my ‘mothering project’.

10 lessons that have served me WELL in motherhood ...

Feeling and knowing that:

  • I am a woman first, before I am a mother
  • My breasts belong to me, and as a woman I choose whether or not breastfeeding feels right for me
  • I can only truly nurture or care for another when I nurture and care for myself first
  • Sleeping and resting is vital for a mother’s wellbeing – a well-established sleep rhythm being supportive of me as a person who is also a mother, often dealing with children’s night waking
  • That as their mother, I am not responsible to fix/prevent/resolve every difficult situation my children may encounter in their lives. But I do have a responsibility to ensure they feel loved in the process with a love that’s genuinely supportive of them and also myself and others… even if this means administering ‘tough-love’ at times
  • I am there as their mother to support, not smother my kids – which encourages them to be responsible for themselves and to not expect me (or others) to bail them out or ‘save them’
  • Children do need to feel the consequences of their choices
  • It’s okay to say no to children, in fact it is needed to allow them to feel that life is not always about just them, but also others too
  • Consistency in my approach – not only towards them in my role as parent, but also to myself as a woman and mother who takes care of herself
  • Allowing and accepting support from others (friends, relatives, staff, people you trust). - Different people offer different inspiration or insights helpful for our kids, which can serve them well in their growth and development as people.

Self-love is NOT selfish ...

In allowing myself to let go of the pretence and notion that looking after myself would be selfish, my whole world has changed. Over the past 30 years, I have gradually begun to understand that as a person I do matter, and have seen that in not honouring this fact and also feeling that I am not worth it, it is easy for me to buy into the whole idea that I should or ought to compromise myself for the “sake of my kids”. Yet this stance only results in the discounting of myself as woman who has her own responsibility to care and nurture herself – the very opposite of being selfish, but instead, self-loving!

Switching on Self-love ...

Choosing self-love has provided my children with an opportunity to take more responsibility for themselves instead of feeling disempowered with the ‘mothering message’ I used to administer early on in their childhood, fostering the notion that they need to always rely on others to do it for them. This does little to support the development of their own confidence or trust in themselves, and creates dependency and also drain.

No. 1 motherhood lesson: deep self-care ...

So could perhaps the greatest lesson in Motherhood be for us mothers to switch off our learned ‘autopilot mothering’ patterns and instead switch on a way of looking after ourselves as a first choice to restoring our innate knowing and beauty of how to mother – naturally?

Seeding the importance of self-love and deep care in our next generation of kids, inspired by us as their Mothers, was not an apparent or clear-cut lesson when I first became a mother. But in really understanding the greater importance of this message today, and after 30 years, I’d confidently say it’s perhaps the single invaluable lesson that I’ve learnt and can share today on lessons for true Motherhood.


"Whole and love-filled responsibility for self first does not translate into selfishness, but love for another and thus all others equally."

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings and Revelations, p 667

Filed under

Self-loveMotherhoodParentingRaising childrenChildrenBreastfeeding

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    By Sharon Gavioli, Registered Nurse, Adult Educator, Counsellor, Practitioner of Universal Medicine Therapies, EPA Accredited