After having watched the movie „I don’t know how she does it” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSi3LdUrq18 (trailer), on an evening meant to be dull, I was appalled by the shallow view this movie shared.
I had today in front of me a working and breastfeeding mother of a 6 month old. A colleague who drove 250 km to the meetings location in the morning and returned back home in the evening. She did that for three days in a row. She looked dismantled. She worked hard to make a ‘I have it all under control” impression. Her eyes were telling a different story.
I’ve done that. I’ve been in her shoes. In working mothers shoes. “I’ve got it all under control’ was my mask for 2 years. I breastfed at day and at night, I divorced sleep, I worked hard running back and forth to breastfeed, I did conference calls with my baby on my lap, I studied for my second post-graduate degree… My free time was all for my baby and her needs. I had two-minute express showers. I rejoiced when I managed to wax a leg – preferably mine. I put my relationship with my husband on hold. All I read were reports for work and books on babies. I have implanted myself into an emotionally sterile environment.
I had no time to connect with my self and allow myself to feel what I felt. When an additional demand for my time came, I screamed out loud “ cant’ YOU see I am collapsing!?!”. I came to realize that it was ME who did not want to see the signs my body and soul were posting.
At the hospital, they prepare you for the “do part” of motherhood: how to change diapers, how to bath the baby, how to breastfeed, how to feed you baby… They do not prepare you for the ‘feel part”. What is often forgotten/ignored is the emotional world a mother enters into. It is a world of an extreme joy and superiour excitement. It can be quite overwhelming, at the very same time. It has also scientific explanations: the rise and fall of an entire army of hormones. And you have no control over that. And you do not need to.
The lesson I learned from this experience is that it is fundamental to allow yourself to embrace, accept and acknowledge your emotions. If you want to cry, cry. If you want to laugh, laugh. If you want to shout, shout. If you need a hug, ask for one. Family, friends, support groups, which you find emotional safe, are one strategy. You may want to keep a diary to pencil your thoughts, feelings, desires. You may want to try meditation when you can spare a minute just for yourself. Yoga or karate classes may work for you. Or maybe painting may fit best your needs to express what you feel. Or just paint your nails in different colours for a rainbow effect! Anything that helps un-bottling your emotions is welcome. And, do it early in motherhood, even if you are challenged time-wise. With lots of love!