Unrealistic expectations of Motherhood



I woke up yesterday with a plan for my day.  I’d been awake since 3am, restless after feeding Rory and getting up to Eamon a couple of times.  Ideas and tasks were swirling through my head. I willed my brain to be quiet, knowing if I didn’t get a bit more sleep I was going to be a wreck by 10am.  I also had a strange feeling, like there was something bad coming our way.


I hit the ground running rather than my usual slow mornings that involve couch sitting, instagram scrolling and coffee drinking.  I’m not sure where the sudden motivation to ‘do’ came from but I had this sudden urge to start hustling.


And then… vomit. Lots of vomit.  Projectile vomit.


I promptly threw my plan in the bin with the vomit chunks (yes I went there) and embraced the couch for the day.  I’m not going to lie. It still wasn’t a great day.  But I was  able to enjoy some parts of it because I’d let go of my expectations (something I was not very good at two years ago).


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The difference between a happy and unhappy Mama, really is gap between expectations and reality, isn’t it?  How often have you had a really crappy day only to realise it was mostly because you spent the whole day trying to tick things off your list whilst your kids ran circles around you?!


And why do we continue to judge ourselves based on what others ‘seem’ to be able to do?  Especially when we know the reality we present to the world (especially on social media) and our actual reality are so different.


– We see the happy craft activity organised for the kids, but we don’t see to the pile of glue and glitter already stuck all over the new floors.

– We see the freshly baked cake but we don’t see the dishes that haven’t been washed for days.


AND why do we insist on doing or managing everything ourselves instead of delegating or asking for help?  I am so guilty of this one.  Instead of just asking for help with x, y, or z. I’ll do it myself all the while fuming and having angry conversations in my head with the person who has yet again failed to notice x, y, z needs doing.  And yes for the record I have any number of witty comebacks when involved in ‘head arguments’ but fail to remember any of them when a ‘heated conversation’ actually occurs. Tell me I’m not crazy!?


We are a generation of women who have been brought up to believe that we can do anything we want. The girl power philosophy that we can do anything hasn’t found a way to also reconcile the fact that raising children, especially young children, leaves very little time for showering, let alone doing the things you want to do.


I think it’s time we let go of the expectation that we are able to have clean homes, well dressed and mannered children, that we will prepare nutritious meals three times a day, make time to exercise, still have a social life whilst also managing to chase our dreams and careers as well.   Or whatever else is on your ‘list’.


I’m not saying give up.  I’m just saying it’s a total lie that you can do it all.  You can’t, and shouldn’t.


We can do everything we want, just not all at the one time. And we can save our sanity by not expecting it.


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The reality is that when we’re raising children our ability to ‘do’ anything other than just being there for them is going to be small. It’s the season of slow and from the moment of conception our children are teaching us this (or forcing us to learn anyway).


During pregnancy they tell our bodies to slow down, then as newborns the instinct is to nest and cocoon ourselves from the outside world. As toddlers they show us the world through fresh eyes, taking their time with everything and asking in depth questions about EVVERRY thing.


Take their lead and embrace slow. Small efforts over a long period of time will move you forward, even if it doesn’t feel like it.


Do you find yourself getting caught up in unrealistic expectations of motherhood?


*This is a modified extract from the book Mothering the Soul, a guide to finding contenting and empowerment in Motherhood.  You can download your copy here.

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