Being Vulnerable: why mums who struggle should speak out
Being a mother is hard work. I’ve often had times when I’ve really struggled, some days to the point where I’ve wondered if I can keep going. Yet, if you’d asked me on some of those really tough days if I was OK, I more than likely would have said “I’m fine”. Like most people (I think), I’d rather pretend I am OK, than to let someone else see that I’m not coping. To say that you need help is to be vulnerable, and that’s a feeling that not too many of us like to experience.
Right now, I’m reading the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown which is all about vulnerability. I’ll put together a proper review of this once I’ve finished reading it, but what I’ve read so far has really resonated with me. She talks about how being vulnerable can be life changing, and in the context of motherhood I think this is absolutely true.
Being vulnerable allows us to accept help from others who either may not know that we are struggling (we Mums often make a pretty good effort of covering up our real struggles), or who can see that we are struggling, but don’t want to interfere if we don’t invite them in. I know there have been times where I have wondered if a friend could do with a little help, but I haven’t been too sure about how to approach them about it for fear that they might think I’m judging them (this in itself is probably an issue with my own struggles to be vulnerable).
Vunerability is not about oversharing. But it is about sharing enough about yourself to allowing others to see the true and authentic you. The thing about this is that because so many of us keep our feelings locked up inside (or at least locked inside the walls of our own homes), we often do not see that others are going through very similar struggles to our own. We see other mums’ highlight reels on Facebook and Instagram and we think, “geez, they have an amazing life, how do they manage it all? They seem to be coping so well, and yet look at me”. This pushes us further into our own minds and homes and can contribute to the feelings of isolation that so many of us suffer from. If only we were honest with others and show them our own vulnerability we could open ourselves up to a greater level of connection with other mums who feel like they are struggling or that they are not good mums, and based on some of the conversations I’ve had recently, that is most of us!
I’m so very guilty of this myself. I’ve had friends describe me as things like super mum or wonder woman. They wonder how I juggle renovating houses, with running my business, working part time and caring for kids. Generally, what they see is a tidy house and gardens, a mum with brushed hair and makeup on, or a well organised birthday party. Why, because that is what I choose to show them. What they don’t see is that on an average day my house looks like a bomb has gone off, there are dishes all over the bench and piles of washing on the couch. Those super organised birthdays don’t look like that until moments before they arrived, and literally 15 minutes before they got there was a crazy lady running around in her pajamas barking orders at hubby and the kids to pick up toys, hang decorations and generally clean the house before everyone arrives. Most of us do not want others to see us like this, but by hiding it we hide the struggle and can make ourselves less relatable to other mums because they think that somehow we have found the secret sauce.
Here’s the secret sauce though, this IS motherhood. This is real. This is how most of us get through the day, whether we like to admit it or not. So, here is what I encourage you to do. Be more vulnerable. Share more stories. Let friends come over when your house is messy. Why, because that is real. That is what motherhood is about. You are normal, I am normal, and by showing our reality we make other mums realise that they are normal too and we let them feel ok about that.
Hope you have a great week!