During the early days after giving birth to my last baby, I was struggling a little. I don’t have lots of energy at the best of time, but my inability to do anything at this time was particularly difficult. Debilitated by a c-section and time-consuming feeding issues with my baby there was not much that I could do. I decided to focus on what I could do and used my time to start reading some self-help books. The plan was to get myself motivated so that when I did regain my time and health I’d make better use of them and hopefully get on top of it all.
The first book I picked up was Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. One part, in particular, asked the reader to reflect on the past ten years of their lives. It wasn’t really about the reflection, and it quickly went on to direct readers to plan ahead for the next decade, but nonetheless, it had an immense impact on my perception of what I have achieved. I’ve never been one to feel like a failure, but the truth is I’ve never felt particularly successful either. However, looking back on the past 10 years caused me to view things in a different light.
Without delving too far into my personal achievements the past 10 years have been busy, to say the least. I completed a post-graduate degree at university, worked and had three babies. I raised happy, healthy children while educating other people’s children, before going on to homeschooling one of my own. I breastfed and cleaned, taxied and washed, all the while juggling various roles. Did I do them perfectly? No. Could I have done more? Probably. But I am human, I get tired and need rest. And like many other mamas, I thrive on some quiet downtime after the kids are all in bed. I put my feet up, indulge in a guilty treat, and then inevitably regret it amid my blurry-eyed mornings.
During this time I felt I was struggling, some of the time I felt like I was drowning. I always felt I wasn’t doing enough. I was neglecting so many things. My house was a mess more often than I’d like to admit, and I was ridden with guilt over all the things I thought I should have been doing but wasn’t able to, either physically or mentally – usually both. Looking back on these past ten years, and despite my regrets, it made me realise, much to my amazement, that I actually did quite well. Despite my feelings of guilt, it helped me to recognise that even though my house didn’t look like a display home, that’s okay. I am not superwoman…really, what more could I expect from myself? Despite my daily struggles and thinking it was never good enough, it led me to understand that over the past ten years that I have actually achieved quite a lot.
I’m not writing this to boast, my achievements were not exceptional and pale in comparison to the accomplishments of many others. I just wanted to share that as individuals, and especially as mothers, we all face daily struggles, feelings of self-doubt and the overwhelming belief that we are not doing enough – most of us feel mother’s guilt. It’s really useful to just take a step back and think about what we have achieved over the past 5 or 10 years. And it doesn’t have to be a degree, work history, or something that society values. Seeing our children grow into the delightful individuals that they are is more than enough. We need to stop focusing on what we are not achieving and start focusing on what we are achieving.