There is something about our generation of women. We want to be able to do it all. It goes back to years of being subservient to men, to the generation of women before us that fought
basic human rights to be granted to us, to the fact that we still cannot seem to be able to balance the scales.
We have, thus, been taught that to survive in this world, to have a voice, to be respected, we must do it all, and do it better than any man could. We hustle at work to rise up the ranks, we keep the house spick and span to maintain our perfect wife status, we take on all the work, physical and emotional load of childrearing possible to demonstrate our unyielding motherly instinct.
Yes, this way we are both worthy women, that continue to fight and trudge along to rub it in the face of patriarchy, and worthy mothers, full committed to our family and home.
For years, the hustling and the climbing of ranks in my previous job served as a thrill to me.
I prided myself in having much more stamina than most men I know.
I walked so fast that I was once told I looked like I was just a hint away from ascending into the sky like a plane.
I felt superior for powering through illnesses and even procedures and showing up at work as though completely unaffected.
I was deeply proud for being able to carry out an intense workload throughout my entire pregnancy.
Until one day, a dear colleague and therapist confronted me about it.
"Why exactly is it a good thing that you voluntarily chose not to rest; not to spend more time enjoying your pregnancy and processing the entry to this new chapter in your life?"
She was talking about gentleness, compassion, release.
She was asking me why I could not allow myself to take a breath, to surrender, to just be.
This one question was a turning point for me.
I realized that sometime back in my early twenties, when I decided to dedicate myself to my work, I began to lose sight of my personal needs. Feeling passionate about what I do made it easy to shift my entire focus there. Long, grueling hours necessary to prove my worth to the institution made it even easier.
There were times that the cleaning crew would forget I was there and lock me in the building only to have a security guard get me out. Instead of taking this as a hint that all of the 200 employees, including the president, had gone home and that I should do the same, I asked for permission to make an extra key to continue pressing on crazy shifts without being a ‘bother’.
Looking back at that young woman, I know it had a lot to do with my identity; I did not get sucked into work - I subconsciously decided to fulfill my need for acceptance and love by creating this identity of a hard-worker, immersed in her craft, fully dedicated.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be these things, but not at the expense of my psychological wellbeing.
Recently, I had an interesting experience. I was walking my dog and the wind was blowing through my hair. All of the sudden I got this rush of a familiar, yet so distant, emotion; a love for life so deep that it jolts all the senses.
And then I recalled: I used to be in that state most of the time. I cannot remember, however, how long ago that was.
The joy of that instant was balanced by the sadness of how it’s eluded me. The fact that it happened though is positive. It means I am more open now, more ready to receive. It means I am making steps back to that younger version of me that, despite the difficulties, knew how to connect and to appreciate the moment.
A lot of this return to the core self has been initiated by motherhood. In becoming mothers, we are called back into our feminine energy; the one that fosters connection, embrace, flow, intuition - exactly all those things that made me feel serene but I had left behind, deeming them weak and ineffective.
When you’ve gone as far as I had in the opposite direction, motherhood’s calling can be quite a disturbance. It is one thing to love your baby and another to experience this interminable pull toward something that no longer feels safe.
Being in my masculine energy felt safe; for all the positives it offers, it is also highly accepted in our society - and that’s exactly what we are all looking for: acceptance. Letting part of that go in order to lean into the gentler side becomes scary. Inevitably there is a tug of war happening internally; one that does not let us rest.
I became very edgy and rough as I stepped into motherhood. Not with my son; he got the sweetest bits of me. Everyone else, however, including myself, got a much colder, alienated version. Because I was not all there. I was busy putting up resistance to the calling for a reconnection to my feminine parts.
How can I love him soooo much and still struggle as a mother?
Besides the obvious culprits - such as exhaustion, sleeplessness, hormonal imbalances, and the striking life changes, for me a big part of the difficulty lay in the invisible tug of war between surrendering into acceptance and needing to be in full control (and composure).
Now, I am stepping more into a ‘being’ state, rather than a ‘doing’ one.
I still have a long way to go. I still have to remind myself to step into my feminine energy instead of fight it; reap its gifts and use them alongside the other skills I have developed over the years to unleash an even stronger side of me. Because I know now that strength is not just endurance. It’s also vulnerability, faith, trust, surrender.
If you find yourself struggling in motherhood, I hope that sharing my experience can serve as food for thought. Below, I have some Actionable Steps to help you consider whether this is the case for you and suggestions for [gently, slowly, and forgivingly] reuniting with your feminine.
Reflect on your own expectations and societal pressures. Are you striving to do it all and be constantly productive? Take some time to evaluate whether this is sustainable and if it aligns with your own well-being and values.
Prioritize self-care and psychological well-being. Give yourself permission to rest and take breaks. Identify activities that bring you joy and make time for them regularly. (I know, there is no time - steal 5 minutes from scrolling on your phone and it’ll be enough, I promise!)
Embrace your feminine energy. Cultivate practices that help you connect with your intuition and flow. This could include mindfulness, meditation, journaling, or creative outlets.
Let go of the need for full control and perfection. Recognize that embracing vulnerability and surrender can be strengths in motherhood.
Seek support and connection. Reach out to other mothers who may be going through similar struggles. Consider joining support groups (like the one we have here!) or seeking coaching to help process and navigate the internal challenges of motherhood.